The 'Book Review

World's Lightest Laptop, Lombard SCSI Bug, MisFox Restores User Control of Defaults in OS X, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2003.11.21

Except as noted, prices are in US dollars.

Sony Unveils World's Lightest Laptops

Financial Times' Michiyo Nakamoto reports (registration required):

"Sony on Wednesday unveiled a line of notebooks and desktop PCs in a bid to breathe new life into a business it considers crucial to its future growth.

"The new Vaio notebook PCs, which go on sale in Japan over the next two months, use highly advanced materials to provide a strong, light casing.

"The lighter of the notebooks, which uses carbon fibre casing and has a 10.4-inch liquid crystal display, weighs just 785 grams and is less than one centimetre thick, leading Sony to claim it is the world's lightest and thinnest notebook PC."

An interesting comment in the article is from Richard Chu, electronics analyst at ING Securities in Tokyo, who observed:

"Sony was never good at making standard products like desktop PCs, for which a company has to be 'a grinder'. 'Sony is a finesse player'..."

Workaround for SCSI Bug with Mac OS 9.2 and PowerBook G3 Lombard

According to Apple, PowerBook G3 Lombard (Bronze Keyboard) computers with Mac OS 9.2, 9.2.1, or 9.2.2 may unexpectedly use SCSI ID 0 when starting in SCSI Disk Mode. The PowerBook hard disk will not appear or be available to the host computer because the internal SCSI hard drive on the computer attempting to mount the Lombard's drive also uses SCSI ID 0.

Solution: Prior to starting up in SCSI Disk Mode, use the PowerBook SCSI Setup control panel and set the SCSI ID to 6. This will result in the PowerBook using SCSI ID 5 instead of 0. The hard disk will be available to the host computer as long as SCSI ID 5 is not in use by another device in the SCSI chain.

Important: Only SCSI ID 6 may be used as a workaround.

MisFox Replaces Missing Panther Default Internet Apps Dialog

If you're running OS X 10.3, there's a great reason for downloading iCab 2.9.7 that has nothing to do with the browser. Included with the download is a cool little helper application called MisFox.

The application is only useful for Mac OS X. Under OS X several Internet settings that were available under Mac OS 8 and 9 are still present and are still used by most Internet applications, but they are no longer easily accessible by the user. In OS X 10.3 Apple has removed the settings for the default browser and the default mail application from the System Preferences. If these settings get corrupted for some reason, there's no easy way to repair them anymore. MisFox makes some of the most important Internet settings accessible again.

MisFox will show the "default Internet applications," all the "file mappings" settings, and the "protocol helpers." You can inspect these settings and also edit, delete, and create new items for these settings.

The "Default Applications" define which application will be launched if a URL of a certain kind will be opened. For example, when opening a "mailto" URL in the finder or if you click a "mailto" link in your Web browser, your default email application is launched.

File mappings are used for many tasks. First they will translate the "content-type" and file extensions which are used in the Internet into the file type and creator codes which are used on the Mac. Second they do define what to do with files of a certain file type after they are downloaded from the Internet (for example they define that ".sit" files should be processed by Stuffit Expander).

"Protocol Helpers" are used to find the right application to handle certain Internet protocols. For instance, a Web browser will use the protocol helper settings to find a news reader when clicking on a "news:" link.

Version History - 05.11.2003: V1.2

  • It's now also possible to select the "Finder" as helper application (by selecting the Finder application file located at "/System/Library/CoreServices/Finder"
  • It's now possible to select more than one item so you can delete multiple items at once (usually only necessary if the Internet settings contain a large number of broken entries).
  • Increased the stack size to prevent crashes because of broken Internet preferences with thousands of invalid entries.
  • New settings panel "Default Applications" added which allows to easily select the most important default Internet applications (Web Browser, Mail, News and FTP). Even these settings could be also modified in the "Protocol Helpers" panel, the new panel should be much easier to use for the normal user.

MixFox is freeware.

BatteryStatsX 2.0b1 Battery Status Program with Dock Menu And Icon

BatteryStatsX is a little utility that gathers detailed information about your computer battery (if any). The program only runs on a PowerBook or iBook in Mac OS X 10.1 and higher. BatteryStatsX works by using the shell command ioreg. ioreg provides information about various parts of the computer. The full command that is used is:

"ioreg -p IODeviceTree -n battery -w 0| grep IOBatteryInfo |cut -d'{' -f2 | cut -d'}' -f1 | tr -d '\"' | tr , '\n'"

Open up (or Oxygen O2 then go to "Command-Line") and type in the above command. It will return the same results as you see in the program.

Explanation of the "flags" field: Flags indicate whether the computer is running from the battery or the charger.

Tips for prolonging battery life:

Zap the PRAM several times (hold apple-option-p-r as soon as you turn on the computer)

If zapping the PRAM doesn't help try:

  • restart the computer
  • go into open firmware (hold apple-option-o-f as soon as you start up the computer)
  • type reset-nvram and then hit return
  • type reset-all and then hit return
  • finally type mac-boot to continue regular startup

Upcoming features:

  • help section
  • graph showing the battery stats
  • changing dock icon

New in this version:

  • remade application window with battery display
  • Dock Icon with percent charge and charging indicator
  • Dock menu
  • battery charge graph (still in development)

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.1 or higher, PowerBook or iBook

Auto AdapterAuto Adapter for Apple PowerBook G4

With the PowerBook G4 Auto (DC) Adapter from SmartDisk, you're free to work and play on the go! Compatible with any standard automobile cigarette lighter socket, this auto adapter is specially designed for the Apple Titanium Series PowerBook G4.

The Auto Adapter- PowerBook G4 sells for $79.95

SportFolio Sleeve OrcaSkin/Sharkskin/BarracudaSkin Apple Laptop Cases

The SportFolio Sleeve offers rugged, high-tech neoprene construction and minimal bulk. The exterior features top quality neoprene with a zipper closure. The zipper is fully lined so it will not scratch your laptop. The all-black interior features a soft, plush fabric lining. Use the Sleeve to protect your laptop when placing it in a briefcase or backpack.

Case features:SportFolio Sleeve

  • Rugged, high-tech neoprene construction.
  • Plastic inserts on sides for edge protection
  • Zipper is fully lined to protect laptop
  • Plush-lined interior.
  • Easy-grip bottom for carrying as a folio
  • Slim design for a snug fit.


  • 12", 14", 15": $29.95
  • 17": $39.95

mongoworks Wrap Cloths


Furoshiki is a cloth used to wrap things, comes from the word 'furo' (bath) and 'shiki' (spread). As the name describes, Furoshiki is a wrapping product. It accommodates objects of various sizes and shapes. The inner material of 5-mm polyurethane can sustain shock, and keeps your electronic or other gear safe and handy. It can be carried by the outside belt, or in your bag. It is a novel Furoshiki for our generation.

Price: $69

Squid LED Flashlight

Designed by Mac-users, the Squid LED Flashlight is a playful and functional area light for any occasion. The SquidLight comes in five colors for US$29.95 each

Squid Features:

  • Hang for tent illumination
  • Great handheld light
  • Branches flex up to 180° for directed light
  • Tent Light
  • Table Lantern
  • Task Light
  • Traditional Flashlight
  • only 5 inches long
  • Long-lasting LEDs
  • Water and Impact resistant

Four color choices

  • Eggplant/Smoke
  • Spruce/Smoke
  • Slate/Brick
  • Melon/Lime

Two brightness settings

  • 20 hours high
  • 7+ days low

ATI's Mobility Radeon 9600 Family Available in 37 Leading-Edge Notebooks

Delivering a powerful combination of innovative technologies and revolutionary performance levels, the Mobility Radeon 9600 family of mobile VPUs (visual processor units) from ATI Technologies Inc. is now available in 37 cutting-edge notebooks from 17 of the world's top PC manufacturers.

The multiple award-winning Mobility Radeon 9600 and Mobility Radeon 9600 PRO are the world's first mobile graphics processors to ship with hardware support for the richest DirectX 9.0 feature set and version 2.0 programmable pixel and vertex shaders, which are required for dramatic, true-to-life cinematic special effects. The Mobility Radeon 9600 and Mobility Radeon 9600 PRO mobile VPUs deliver up to five times the performance of the fastest competing mobile graphics processors, according to recent press reviews, and are the first and only mobile graphics solutions to support HDTV component output, for an incredibly realistic visual experience. The Mobility FireGL T2 mobile workstation processor delivers unmatched performance in key industry-standard benchmarks such as the Viewperf 3dsmax-02 and proe-02 test suites.

"We are extremely proud of the unprecedented market acceptance, awards and enthusiastic reviews received by the Mobility Radeon 9600 family of mobile VPUs," said David Cummings, Director of Marketing, Mobile Products, ATI Technologies, Inc. "Mobility Radeon 9600 processors continue to be chosen by our customers for 2004 performance and mainstream consumer and commercial notebook designs, even against unannounced next-generation competing solutions."

Apple systems featuring the Mobility Radeon 9600, Mobility Radeon 9600 Pro and Mobility FireGL T2 include the 15" and 17" PowerBook G4.

ExtremeTech: Nvidia Updates Mobile Line

According to ExtremeTech:

"Nvidia Corp. has announced the GeForce Go FX 5700, a significant step up in performance from the company's earlier mobile graphics chip, the Go FX 5600.

"Nvidia's latest chip contains three vertex pipelines to the 5600's one, a boost that will translate into significantly higher graphics performance, according to Nvidia executives. By tweaking some of the chips' attributes, allowing the chip to run at a lower voltage, Nvidia maintained the same power budget as the Go FX 5600."

Bargain 'Books

There are two different versions of WallStreet running at 233 MHz, the cacheless MainStreet version and the later Series II with a level 2 cache. It's not always possible to determine from the vendor's listing which is being offered, so we've included links within this paragraph to the two models. The same goes for the PowerBook G4/667 (Gigabit Ethernet/2001) and G4/667 (DVI).

Baucom Computers


Small Dog Electronics

Apple Store Special Deals

New G3 iBooks
Refurbished PowerBooks
Refurbished iBook G3

For more deals on current or recently discontinued models, see our Best PowerBook G4 Deals and Best iBook Deals.

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