The Low End Mac Mailbag

USB for Wireless Networking, the Rev. A B&W G3, Beige G3 Memory Upgrades, and More

Dan Knight - 2003.03.12 - Tip Jar

USB and Wireless Networking

In response to More on wireless networking, Ed Hurtley writes:

I have to agree that USB is a non-optimal solution for networking a computer. But for an older iMac, where you aren't going for speed anyway (like with mine, which is used as a 'recipe and email' computer in the kitchen), I've found that a USB 802.11b adapter works just fine. The two times I have wanted to transfer large files (actually, lots of files: my iTunes and iPhoto collections), I just took the iMac out of the kitchen and put it next to my Power Mac, then transferred them via wired Ethernet. After that large transfer was done, the small updates to keep my iPhoto libraries synced (I have the screen saver on the iMac using my photos) are plenty fast over the slow USB/AirPort connection.

My main concern was the expense of a .11b (or .11g) to Ethernet bridge is more than is really justified for getting an older iMac online. And putting the base station near the 'remote' computer means moving the Internet connection, too. I know that I don't have a cable outlet near my kitchen iMac, nor a phone jack, so any Internet connection would require serious rewiring anyway.

Now, at some point in the future, I'd love to have a diskless Cube in my bedroom, with a 15" LCD. I think a dead-silent computer (using NetBoot) would be wonderful in the bedroom. For that, I'll have to string some wire, or get an Ethernet/AirPort bridge, but that seems to justify the cost to me. (Because I'll already be spending lots of money on the Cube and LCD, plus having to get OS X Server for my server.)

At $75, the Belkin F5D6050 is a good $50 cheaper than the 802.11g access points I mentioned. And if you've got one Mac that already supports AirPort or AirPort Extreme, you could use it as a base station and avoid the expense of a wireless hub.

Setting up an AirPort base station via software - now there's an article just waiting to be written by someone who has two AirPort equipped Macs.

Can You Update a Rev. A B&W G3?

After reading about the differences between the Rev. A and Rev. B b&w G3, Sandy Mitchell asks:

...given what you've said about the much better quality of a Rev. B Blue & White, would changing the card in my Rev. A bring it up to that quality? Or do I need to get a whole different machine?

The CMD646 IDE controller is soldered to the motherboard (see photo on Accelerate Your Mac!), so the only way to upgrade to a Rev. B would be to replace the motherboard or pick up whole Rev. B computer.

As best as I can reconstruct these issues from early 1999, the Rev. A seemed just fine with a single device per IDE bus, although even then data corruption could be an issue. The problem was especially prevalent with slave drives and high speed hard drives - and least likely to impact the original drive Apple installed at the factory.

The problem could be addressed with drivers, and Accelerate Your Mac! notes remarkable success with Intech's Hard Disk SpeedTools.

If you are considering replacing the stock drive or adding a second hard drive to a Rev. A Yosemite, I urge you to read the above link to Accelerate Your Mac! and make an informed decision. As of this morning, I have begun noting "Rev. 2" on our Power Mac G3 Price Tracker when the dealer notes which model is for sale.

Anyone buying a b&w G3 with the intention of upgrading the hard drive should avoid the Rev. A model.

.mac Restrictions

Alvin wonders:

Thank you for your time. I haven't used really some parts of .mac like homepage since 2nd quarter of last year. I really just use the email and Norton, not even Virex, don't use it that much. It's really a waste we can't control, sort of.

Though I'd like to ask if .mac's Homepage, email and everything can be used for business. I'm planning to make the homepage display the pictures and description then they can reply on my .mac email? I'm in real estate by the way. If this is legal and moral, that would be good news now I can really use it.

If ever it's not legal to do that (but I think it's moral), can you recommend a the best but not necessarily the cheapest for domain name registration and Web hosting with email where they can send their replies.

Do you need a company to have a .com domain or you can use that even if you're a freelancer but would be for business - to display the houses and listing, sort of ads for real estate (I will design, program if needed as I'm in IT)?

I use .mac primarily for email. Instead of routing email about Low End Mac through my spam-laden mailbox, I now link all my articles to my email address. This way Apple's spam filters can clear out a lot of the spam before I ever get the chance to see it. That alone might be worth $50/year.

I haven't used the homepage feature, but during the iTools era a lot of shareware and freeware authors used it to distribute their software. I don't see any restrictions on the site limiting it to personal use, and I know that a lot of small businesses do use .mac for emai, online slide shows, etc.

If you want to register your own domain, I've had very good luck with, where I can usually register or renew my domains for under US$10 per year. I'm not affiliated with them; just a very satisfied customer. They made it easy to consolidate all the domains I had signed up for through 3 or 4 different registrars.

If you're running a business, having your own domain helps reinforce your brand. For instance, if your business was called Alvin For Real Estates, you might try to register Some businesses have gone so far as to rename themselves to match their domain name - right down the the dot-com - which I think is a bit excessive.

We are preparing our own ala carte alternative to .mac at We haven't quite hammered out all of the details yet, but we will be offering low-cost email accounts, online server space (for Web pages, FTP, backup, and accessible just like iDisk), and may also offer PHP, MySQL, and iCal services. We'll

More on Beige G3 Memory

Adding to the discussion of memory possibilities in Maximum RAM in a beige G3 , Ric Davis notes:

AFAIK, electronically all beige G3 Macs are indeed compatible with 256 MB DIMMs. The problem is that the desktop and the tower case have differing amounts of space over the DIMM slots, so RAM that fits fine in the tower, may not fit in the desktop. I think the height limit is 1.15" for the desktop. <> mentions this in the 'before you buy' section.

Thanks for the note. I'll update the profiles to reflect this.

Memory Upgrades: Your Mileage May Vary

Also responding to Maximum RAM in a beige G3, Torsten Enn says:

It's the good old YMMV thing - and you wrote it yourself: We also note that what works for one may not work for all, something we've seen in two seemingly identical iMacs - one accepts a 256 MB upgrade, the other doesn't.

I have a beige G3 (Rev. B) and my wife a 350 MHz iMac, both equipped with 100 MHz SDRAMs. The iMac came with 64 MB installed, which I had ugraded with a 256 MB module. The beige G3 has the 32 MB module it came with back in 1998 and a 64 MB and a 128 MB module I upgraded it with over the years.

Last year I wanted to use the beige G3 as a "home server," so I exchanged the 128 MB module with the 256 MB module from the iMac. But what a surprise - the G3 accepted it as a 128 MB module! No matter what slot or combination of modules I used, it just wanted to use half of the 256 MB, while the iMac still can see all of its 256 megabytes.

So while I know that Apple's 192 MB limit is not true, I also know that there might be another ceiling, depending on the luck you have. Right now the G3 is equipped with 256 MB (128+64+64) and the iMac with 288 MB (256+32).

That's the odd thing. One user after another after another may be able to use 256 MB DIMMs in an iMac or G3, but for some reason unknown to quantum physics or voodoo, it just won't work in some other machines that seem exactly the same.

I suppose I could open up both iMacs to find out whether the low profile DIMMs are identical. In fact, I do have to open up the one with the 256 MB module to determine whether the CD-ROM is dead or only improperly reconnected after the memory upgrade. I still wish this was all a bit more predictable, a bit less subject to Murphy's Law.

More on the Sawtooth AGP Slot

Adding to the discussion in Which AGP cards for Sawtooth?, Andrew Prosnik writes:

AGP card with "toothI think he means this extra "tooth" (reduced image at right - click link for larger view):

I believe it's just for an AGP Pro/AGP Pro150 slot. I think you already know this and drew a conclusion re: ADC power. Still, though, this might be a handy reference:

p.s. I hate Tom's Hardware more than anything in the universe . . . it pains me that it has handy articles from time to time!

You'll hate it even more if you use Safari. What an abominable mess!

Yes, Tom's has some great stuff, but also a tragic reputation for mistreating people who write for the site. Van's Hardware was one of the great sites to spring up by someone so mistreated. One of my favorite PC tech sites, along with ars technica. And Van's even has a Mac related article now and then.

As for the extra "tooth" on some AGP cards, I was unaware of it until this week. Since it seems to exist on cards that provide monitor power, I guessed that it prevents installing the card in machines that can't provide sufficient power to drive Apple's monitors.

Apple in Trouble over Unix in OS X?

Just got my eWeek today.

SCO, which owns the intellectual property rights to Unix™ is suing IBM for $1 Billion. Why? Because IBM has been making parts of AIX, based on their software, available to the open source community.

Why is this article of interest?

A note later down: "SCO has employed high-profile attorney David Boies and his law firm to investigate whether Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and versions of BSD infringed on the Unix intellectual property it owned."

I believe BSD wasn't covered by that, and given that OS X drew from NetBSD (or FreeBSD, one of those) I'd think it should be safe, or distant enough not to go after... but I'm (a) not a "high profile attorney" (and we know what they can do, and (b) not all that clear on *nix history anyway...

Eric McCann

I'm not terribly clear on Unix history, either. In broad outline, Unix was developed at Bell Labs by Ken Thompson, who later taught at UC-Berkeley, where BSD was developed by a grad student in 1977 - one year before SCO was created. Where BSD began by taking ideas from Unix, soon things were going the other way, and a lot of work on BSD found its way into Unix as well.

BSD was perhaps the first large scale open source project, in many ways an ancestor of Linux. Unix remained a proprietary commercial product. Due to lawsuits by Unix, BSD development began to lag in the early 1990s, at the same time that Linux was emerging.

As far as I know, and I am neither a *nix guru nor a lawyer, BSD is considered a legally free alternative version of Unix, although because of trademark law, the term Unix should only be applied to the commercial OS now owned by SCO. This is the reason you'll often see the word "*nix" used to encompass both Unix and the Unix-variants, such as Linux and BSD.

I have no idea whether SCO has a legal leg to stand on because of the parallel history of Unix and BSD, but you can bet dollars to donuts that the lawyers will earn their money regardless of the outcome.

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Dan Knight has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. Mailbag columns come from email responses to his Mac Musings, Mac Daniel, Online Tech Journal, and other columns on the site.

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