The Essential PowerBook User’s Handbook

Unfortunately, not everyone knows the joys of networking with a friend in a coffee house or the pleasure of completing a report on your front porch. However, to those of us who do, or soon will, we at the Menagerie of Macs have created this handbook for your edification, enjoyment, and daily use.

Menagerie of Macs

First of all, allow me to go through a list of things you’ll need, enjoy, or want on your mobile computing voyage.

The Goods

Here’s a list of the essentials. You absolutely, positively, cannot do without these.

The ‘Book – Duh! If you haven’t got one, get one, now. Depreciation value is brutal, so unless you’re made of money, used is a good bet. A modest 100 series laptop will cost you between $250 and $800 dollars. If you’re looking for a PowerPC, you just jumped to $1,000 and up.

Case – Laptops don’t take kindly to flopping around a smelly backpack. A case will keep it in good shape as well as hold a bunch of other useful things. You can get one for anywhere between $25 and $200.

The Extras

These are a few things that would be pretty awesome to have, but you could probably do without.

RAM – Look, more apps, more functions, less crashes. Any questions?

Other Upgrades – I have dreams about a 2400c with a G3 upgrade and a 5 Gig hard drive. Even if it’s a G3, pump that sucker up.

Modem – Modems come in three varieties; wee, not so wee, and FRIGGIN’ HUGE! Stick to a PC Card if you can. It’s not fun trying to stuff an external modem into a laptop bag (you’ve all got one, right).

Battery Tips

The best thing that you can conceivably do is buy another battery. Of course, this isn’t always cost effective. In fact, it isn’t usually cost effective. In the meantime here are a few tips to keep the juices flowing.

  1. Quit spinning your drive – A great waster of energy is the hard disk. On any system with 7.5 or better you can simply click on the control module to stop it cold. However, for those of us that are still using 7.1 you need to use a trick. Though it doesn’t work on my computer, I’ve been told that the key combination shift-control-1-0 does the trick.
  2. Turn down your screen – The backlighting of your screen takes up half – that’s right, half – of your battery power. When you turn off the backlighting, your time estimation shoots up by about an hour. You can turn it off when you’re beside a bight light or when you’re outside. The sun can light up your screen so much you can hardly tell if the backlighting is on or off.
  3. Rock the baby to sleep – Put your ‘Book to sleep. Never shut it down, unless you’re adding SCSI devices or you won’t be using it for more than about a week. The startup process takes up time and power. Besides, isn’t it nice when you hit a key and the article you were working on pops back up?
  4. Turn off AppleTalk – For some reason, unbeknownst to me, leaving AppleTalk on uses up CPU power and, more importantly, battery power. Regardless of whether you’re connected to a networkm your Mac is still looking for network services.
  5. Use a RAM Disk – If you really want to save battery powerm you can set up a RAM Disk for that long flight. The first thing you have to do is create one in the Memory control panel. Remember to only use as much RAM as you’re going to need (more on that later), because you still need the use the rest of your RAM to run programs. After you restart, you need to create a System¬†Folder. Bare minimum is the Finder, the System, the startup disk control panel, and the fonts you’ll be using. If you want, you can keep a few control strip modules, like the battery and the hard disk spin down, by keeping those modules and the control strip control panel. Copy all of these things to the RAM Disk that is now on your desktop and into a folder called, you guessed it, System Folder. You’ll also have to include the applications and documents you’ll be using. Now set the startup disk to the RAM Disk and restart. If all goes well, your PowerBook is silent and blazing fast (it probably started up in about five seconds). Now is the moment of truth. Drag your hard disk to the Trash. Yes, that’s correct. And finally, spin down the hard disk. Now you’ll have a battery conscious, very fast ‘Book. It’s off to the races!

When the 5 Commandments Fail

Look what you’ve done now. You’re all out of batter power, and you expect me help you. Yeah, sure. I haven’t got anything better to do.

What you’ve got to do is plug it in. I know, occasionally this is easier said than done. If you’ve got a nice long layover in Tulsa, you should be okay. Start searching for a plug on the base of the wall. They’re designed for the janitors, so you’re going to have to think like one. Chances are it’s not going to be close to a chair, so it looks like you’re on the floor, pal.

If you’re already on the plain, train, or automobile, then things are slightly more complicated. If you’re willing to receive a few funny looks from staff grab your ‘Book and head to the head. Don’t forget your power adaptor. If you look near the mirror, there should be a plug there. It’s for electric razors. You’re got two choices, finish that brainstorm or wait for your recharge. Either one could take a while.

If your really lucky, you’re sitting in first class, sipping complimentary wine. Now look down. Rumour has it that new planes have special jacks on the seats for your very purpose! It looks like a lighter holder and your car adaptor will fit right in. In which case, why are you reading this? Oh yes, my undying wit.

Wires and Cable and Adapters. Oh My!

When you’re on the road, you’re probably going to check your email or do some surfing, and you might even have to connect to some peripherals. But you’re going to need a few things before you do anything fun. Okay, whip out your credit card.

For your Internet needs, you’ll need two things, a phone cable and something to check the line. Some phone networks don’t take kindly to modems. They fry them. Road Warrior (, 714/434-8600) makes a great toy that checks the line for you. The Modem Saver Plus will cost you $30 and save you potentially hundreds.

If you’re going to connect to any SCSI peripherals, you need an adaptor. It’s about thirty bucks, and you can pick it up from you local Apple dealer. If you want to take advantage of SCSI Disk Mode, you need another cable. Apple conveniently left out one tiny, little pin that allows you to connect to a desktop machine. That’ll cost you another thirty deniros.

Where, Oh Where, Has Connectivity Gone? Where, Oh Where Could It Be?

Isn’t it nice to be home? Maybe not to all of us. Well anyway, you still need to get your files straight with your home computer, your office network, or whatever. Here’s a few ways.

The simplest method is to set up a LocalTalk network. Plug a serial cable into a free serial port in each computer. If your info isn’t in the File Sharing control panel, go there and fill it in. Be sure to turn on File Sharing and AppleTalk – and then restart if you have to. Do the same on the other computer, and then go to the Users and Groups control panel. Choose New User from the file menu. Name it with the same thing that is in the File Sharing Setup control panel on your laptop. Also, open it up, then give it full access and the same password. Now go to the Chooser and select AppleShare. If everything went as planned, the other computer should show up. Double-click on it and click Okay. You’re ready to go!

Now you’ve got two choices. You can either do simple drag-and-drop copying or you can use the much neglected File Synchronization Assistant. It links two folders, keeping only the most recent items. You can find it in the Apple Extras folder and information on how to use the utility inside the program.

For more information on your ‘booking needs, you can check out PowerBook Central at <>.

Brad wrote most of the issue on his Duo with a battery that is on it’s last legs. He had to plug it in approximately 700 times. Donations to buy Brad a new battery can be sent to…

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