The Low End Mac Mailbag

iTunes for Windows Precursor to OS X for Intel?, Flashing a Radeon, Kanga Feedback, and More

Dan Knight - 2003.06.02 - Tip Jar

I'd hoped to post a mailbag column last Friday, but we woke up to find our cable modem wasn't working. Spending three days with a shared dialup connection was a tedious experience, and the problem was further compounded by Claris Home Page refusing to upload page changes via the shared connection. We're all very glad that things are back to normal today.

iTunes, Safari on PC, IBM

Alvin writes:

What do you think is Steve Jobs' strategy on porting iTunes and possibly Safari to the PC when they can use Musicbox instead of iTunes? Is this a smooth way to switch to Intel and AMD but what about IBM's planned chips for Apple? Is distributing songs and possibly video a means to get the must deserved 50% or more market share hopefully (and finally)?

It would be nice for the Mac people to know what is going on from very reliable source for analysis like LEM :)

It's a well known fact that Apple has been seeking a programmer to port iTunes over to Windows. I'd guess that Apple would rather control the whole user experience with the iPod and iTunes Music Store rather than leave it to Musicbox. It's also very likely that Musicbox doesn't support the AAC files Apple provides via the iTunes Music Store and doesn't support Apple's copy restriction scheme.

A way to switch to Intel or AMD? I doubt it. It's a way to market the iPod and the iTunes Music Store to about 30x as many potential customers (OS X installed base <3% of total market while Windows over 90%). Apple is evolving beyond hardware and software to become a media/digital hub company - QuickTime, iTunes, the iPod, iPhoto, iMovie, etc.

I don't think porting iTunes to Windows says anything about Apple moving away from the PowerPC architecture. FileMaker Pro, Claris/AppleWorks, and even the long discontinued Claris Home Page have been available for Windows for ages. If you have a good solution, why restrict it to users of a single hardware platform? This is especially true if you want to position your computer as the better cross platform machine; you don't want people to object that even your own software isn't cross platform.

As for the IBM PowerPC 970, I think it's a done deal. There are rumors that Apple already has PPC 970-based Power Macs ready to ship, and if IBM has been able to produce several thousand CPUs, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Apple has thousands of developer systems ready to go - as well as hundreds of machines to demo at the Word Wide Developer's Conference.

Fifty percent market share? You're dreaming. The computing market is very fragmented, a lot of people will never switch from what they know (whether Windows or the classic Mac OS), and there are better ways to make money. Better to sell iPods and 99¢ tunes to Windows users than seek a market share that nobody in the history of the industry has ever had.

The iPod is already the #1 MP3 player, and iTunes for Windows could make Apple the clear cut top dog in the online music field. And if that helps sell some Macs along the way, that's good too.

Flashing the Radeon 7000

Teg Bains writes:

The Radeon 7000 instructions are at:

and the ROM is at:

Also, the instructions are for a Radeon 7000 PCI. I actually flashed an AGP Radeon 7000, and it works. I get Quartz Extreme and DVD Playback. The only problem I have on my Dual 450 is with deep sleep: I get screen artifacts upon wake up that only clear with a restart.

1394b CardBus

Looker writes:

1394b requires a 64 bit/33 MHz bus to function

CardBus is a 32 bit bus

If you look at the 1394b spec, you will see that if you place a 1394b card into a 32 bit bus, it will automatically down step to 1394a speeds.

If used in a 33-MHz/32-bit PCI slot, FireWire 400 speed will be maximum attainable.

FireWire is a serial protocol; the width of the computer's bus is irrelevant. The only critical factor is that the computer's bus be capable of handling the 400 Mbps of the original FireWire standard or the 800 Mbps of the FireWire 800 standard.

To process 800 Mbps of data on a 32-bit bus, the bus would have to run at 25 MHz. The 33 MHz 32-bit PCI bus is able to do that.

But on the Mac, it doesn't have to. Ever since the blue & white Power Mac G3, Apple has been using 64-bit PCI slots in the Power Mac. That provides plenty of overhead and would allow the use of more than one 1394b card.

I don't have the CardBus specification available right now (our Internet connection is down), but I believe it's the same 33 MHz 32-bit bus as PCI, so there's no reason a 1394b card wouldn't be able to provide the full speed the specification allows.

Of course, the other factor is drives. To the best of my knowledge, unless you're using a RAID array, there are no drives available that come anywhere close to moving data at 800 Mbps. FireWire 800 is a high-end protocol that's designed for servers and the future. The average user today has no use for it, but that will undoubtedly change over time.

Review of Original PB G3

Eric Schneck writes:

Just a few comments on your review of the 3500:

...this 'Book really could be a desktop replacement.

I am a professional programmer and consultant, and it has been my only computer at home since I bought it in '98.

Kanga was a fairly rare beast, since it was only in production for six months and very, very expensive.

$5,700 new. The third-most expensive Mac ever, AFAIK. I got mine for $3,000 when the Series came out.

The hard drive can be replaced with a standard 2.5" IDE hard drive, so it should be no problem to upgrade from 5 GB to 60 GB if you so desire.

Mine has an IBM 20 GB drive installed.

Kanga's biggest drawback is probably the 160 MB memory ceiling.

Never noticed it as a problem. I added the 128 MB memory the week I got the machine.

All things considered, Mac OS 8.1 and 8.6 are probably your best bets on Kanga.

Why? 9.1 runs great, and 9.2 can be hacked to run if you are so inclined.

Kanga is the only PowerBook G3 not officially supported under Mac OS X....

No, it's the only Apple G3 not officially supported under Mac OS X.

With the classic Mac OS and ClarisWorks, MS Word 5.1a, or something similar, it would be a great writing machine.

You are not serious, are you? I run Office 98, and my wife, a PC nut, has never had any complaints about it. I upgraded the PC card slots to CardBus and use the machine to edit digital video with iMovie 1. I have done serious programming on it in CodeWarrior and REALbasic, and I can edit dozens of pictures at a time in Photoshop. And the latest IE and Netscape run great.

Maybe you should try to get your hands on one of these machines. They are as ugly as they come, but it is still a workhorse six years later.

That article was part of a four-part series evaluating four different G3 PowerBooks to determine which provided the best value both under the classic Mac OS and as OS X machines. The 160 MB memory ceiling is not terribly important under the classic Mac OS, but it's a huge drawback under OS X, which can be installed using XPostFacto. So is the 800 x 600 display, for that matter.

Under the classic Mac OS, Kanga was a wonderful successor to the 3400 - and the great little PowerBook 1400 before it. It's got plenty of power for word processing, spreadsheets, database work, and light Photoshop work (not the kind of industrial strength stuff graphics professionals do with 100 MB files). It's a decent performer on the Web at 250 MHz.

I have no experience with Office 98; I gave up on Microsoft bloat when they introduced Word 6 for the Mac. Microsoft Word 5.1a is arguable the best version of MS Word ever created - fast, small memory footprint, even comfortable on a Mac Plus. For a writer who wants a responsive word processor, that or ClarisWorks (before version 5) is a great choice. These programs don't get in the way.

Ditto for the Mac OS. Although Kanga and WallStreet can run Mac OS 9.x, the smaller footprint and sprightlier responsiveness of Mac OS 8.1 make it an excellent choice, especially for those who don't have a lot of RAM installed.

But we were comparing Kanga to WallStreet, Lombard, and Pismo. For someone buying a used G3 PowerBook today, Kanga pales in comparison. WallStreet offers a 768 MB memory ceiling, a faster data bus, the availability of 1024 x 768 displays (beware the 13"), allows for two batteries, and is supported under OS X. There are some drawbacks when comparing WallStreet to Lombard, but it offers a lot more than Kanga and is readily available on the used market, while Kanga is a rare beast.

In short, if you were buying a 250-300 MHz PowerBook G3 on the used market today, I'd suggest you look at the PowerBook G3 Series instead of Kanga.

Replacement slot-load DVD drive

Richard Aronson wonders:

I found your site through Google, and I was wondering if you know where I can buy a replacement DVD or CD-RW slot-load for my 600 MHz iMac?

I was able to get it out, but I don't know where to start looking. Can you help?

Baucom Computers has DVD drives for $73 and CD-RW for $225. Other World Computing has DVD drives for $38. MacResQ has the DVD drive for $59.99. I'm sure there are other sources as well.

Flash Memory Question

Paul Ord writes:

I have a personal question for you with reference to the article you wrote entitled Flash Memory Improves PowerBook published on November 14th, 2002. Would you happen to have a list of Compact Flash PCMCIA Adapters which are compatible with the PowerBook 1400, 2400 & 3400 families?

To the best of my knowledge, all PCMCIA (PC Card) Compact Flash adapters will work. PCMCIA is directly related to the IDE bus, and so are Compact Flash cards. When I bought such a card for my 'Book, it was simply a matter of plugging it in and using it - no additional drivers necessary.

Hinky Apple keyboard

After reading my letter posted on Applelinks, Sanford Lung comments:

I read your post to Chas Moore's column at Applelinks regarding your problems with copy and pasting.

FWIW I had a similar problem which turned out to be a defective keyboard. I complained to AppleCare at their 800 number and they sent me a new keyboard which has resolved the sometimes hinky keyboard response, or lack thereof. It hasn't totally solved the problem, but it occurs less frequently.

You might want to try switching keyboards.

Thanks for the suggestion, but it's not an Apple keyboard. I use the Logitech Cordless Elite Duo, and it works just perfectly under OS 9 and in every other respect under OS X. If I had another USB keyboard, I might give it a try, but I simply can't stand working with the pathetic little keyboard Apple supplied with the iMac, and that's the only other Mac USB keyboard I have available here.

I could try using the keyboard built into my PowerBook G4, but I've become very accustomed to having a full keyboard and to having my laptop display at a much more comfortable height (on a 5.5" riser).

PowerBook Static

After reading PowerBooks and Static, Brian Mastenbrook writes:

Regarding the question about PowerBook static issues in the latest LEM mailbag:

I had one of the second-generation PowerBook G4 machines (667 MHz, Gigabit Ethernet), and it should have been honorarily code named "Zap!". I got my machine shortly after introduction at the beginning of winter, and I quickly learned to ground myself before touching the machine - and that didn't always help. Nearly every time I touched the machine, I would be greeted with an electrical discharge. Though it never seemed to crash the machine (as your report suggests happened with a first-generation under OS 9), I was never completely comfortable about routinely zapping my machine like that.

A fiasco with AppleCare and a faulty lid sensor caused Apple to replace my PowerBook with a 667 MHz DVI machine, and the static issues are vastly improved, though still not completely perfect. I certainly wouldn't consider it a detrimental issue anymore, as just grounding yourself before touching the computer should prevent all shocks with the latest line.

I don't know anything about the aluminum 'Books, but I would only think that the problem would stay fixed.

Regards & keep up the good work!

Thanks for your feedback. I had a chance to go to CompUSA with the boys this past weekend and spent some time with the current Macs. The Power Macs look far less cool than most Windows PCs these days - that side of the industry has really turned its attention to design.

The eMac looks great, and it's especially sharp at up to 1152 x 870. The 1280 x 960 resolution isn't bad, but it's not quite as crisp. I'd definitely consider getting one of these as my primary work machine.

In looking at the aluminum PowerBooks, I was at first struck by the color of the keys. Not white, like the iBook, and not dark gray, like the titanium PowerBook. They matched the aluminum case and had black letters on them. The keyboard is also the best I've put my hands to since the WallStreet. Nice. Very nice - and one more reason to want to replace my 400 MHz PowerBook G4 with a newer model, although neither the 12" nor 17" models quite meet my needs.

Some day Apple will release an aluminum 15" PowerBook.

Glad to hear the static problems have been minimized on the DVD models, although switching to an external keyboard has made static a non-issue for me.

Power Mac 5200/6200 G3/400 upgrade

Eby writes:

I found this site who sells upgrade kit for 5200/6200 Power Macs.

G3 400 MHz 1 MB L2 & 128 MB Ram

It costs $275+shipping, they say upgrade is from Sonnet, but I couldn't find this information at I'm not sure about the performance (400 MHz G3 on a 37 MHz system bus, can be worse than Power Mac 6300 160 MHz) and an used G3/300 or 350 will cost more than $300, I like beige models because of SCSI, serial ports, keyboard, mouse & design.

They haven't mentioned any details about maximum RAM, which board is used, etc. Any advice?

If this is a very good upgrade or useful one you should list Power Mac 5200/6200 section.

This isn't a single upgrade. If you read the description, you'll discover that it's a motherboard upgrade (to a 5400) combined with a G3/400 processor upgrade. That gives you a 40 MHz system bus and eliminates all of the architectural problems of the x200 motherboard. When you add in PCI expansion, improved video, and a higher memory ceiling, you've turned the Road Apple 5200 or 6200 into a whole new computer simply by replacing the motherboard.

When you add to that a 400 MHz G3 with a 1 MB level 2 cache, which helps offset the slower system bus, you've got a lot of machine for a $275 investment. The card appears to be the Sonnet Crescendo G3 L2; Small Dog Electronics has one in stock for $189 this morning. They also list the same thing with a 500 MHz processor for $239.

With a whole Performa 5400 computer selling for $50 or less on eBay and 128 MB memory sticks going for $20 on ramseeker, it might be more economical to simply buy a 5400, G3 upgrade, and memory stick and leave your 5200 intact.

Sleep on Blue & White G3 with OS X

In response to A Question about B&W G3s, Peter Lindsay says:

I have a heavily upgraded B&W G3 running OS X (500/G4 processor, Ultra Wide SCSI RAID, ATI Radeon, 1 GB RAM, Internal Zip, Sony CD-RW, etc.). I run both OS X (10.2.6) as well as OS 9. The machine does sleep normally as it always has. The drives spin down - all 4 of them, including the SCSI RAID - but it does not enter deep sleep (the fans do not spin down or slow down). I don't recall that it ever has. The behavior is the same on both OS X as well as OS 9.

Thanks for the feedback. Have you noticed the same thing as Chris Kilner : the power button showing amber when sleeping in OS 9 but staying green in OS X?

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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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