The Low End Mac Mailbag

Millions of Colors Is an Illusion, Getting a Dell Printer Working with a Mac, Core Image, and More

Dan Knight - 2007.05.23

Millions of Colors at Reduced Resolution

John M writes in response to Apple Sued: Can 262,144 Colors Be Considered 'Millions'?:

Hi Dan,

You say:

"By using the pixels above and below, we've got 8 bits of color per channel and the 16 million plus that Apple claims."

but what if a pixel is used by all its neighbors? All that does is trade off resolution for color. You can have the claimed resolution or the claimed colors but not both (unless a lawyer has redefined "pixel" . . . which is sadly possible.)

Still, I agree the suit is snarky, and indeed only the lawyers will get rich.

Best Regards,


I agree, it's just plain snarky. The question is whether the LCD can display millions of colors, as Apple claims, and the simple fact is that it can, albeit not on a strict pixel basis. (One other trick, which I didn't mention in my article and which may be behind the "sparkle" some people see, is varying the level of the R, G, and B elements many times a second, visually creating an intermediate level and thus producing the equivalent of 21-bit color with some visual distraction.)

It would have made more sense to sue over the sparkle and over the number of colors being displayed. Even if Apple doesn't claim a "sparkle free" display, it could be seen as a product flaw.

If this one does go to court, I'm just waiting to see the plaintiffs demonstrate the difference between a 'Book's display and a true 24-bit LCD mirroring the same image. Will the judge see it?


MacBook Video Circuitry Supports Millions of Colors

Chris Kilner says:


As a lawyer, it seems silly. All of Apple's notebooks have 8-bit circuitry and video-out so, at a minimum they all have "support for millions of colors" - the LCD's themselves "support" millions of colors through dithering.

Chris Kilner

Millions of Colors Is an Illusion

Steven Hunter writes:

Interestingly, the lawsuit maintains that using dithering to achieve "millions of colors" is simply an illusion....

Perhaps these lawyers should read a book on human vision; at the very least they need to read up on Pointillism. All video displays (LCD, CRT, or otherwise) are an illusion. They are only capable of showing three colors (red, blue, and green) at various intensities. These colors combine in our eyes and can be made to appear as different colors. Dithering is just an extension of that effect.

Steven Hunter

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate."

Getting a Dell Printer to Work with a Mac

"The Real Mike G" writes:


I have a solution for John Hatchett regarding his mailbag entry titled "A Fallback Plan for Losing G3 Support". Dell printers are actually rebranded Lexmark printers. If he wants to attach his printer to his OS X server, he can find the drivers at:

< 0,6959,204816596_666691854_682634834_en,00.html>

There is no guarantee that his printer will be on the list, but it likely is. Please pass this message along to him. Thanks.

- Mike (An avid PC user that thoroughly loves his iBook G3)

Thanks for the tip, Mike. I'm forwarding your email to John.


Problem Installing OS 9 on a Beige G3

Pongsak Suvanpong writes:


I read your article on <> about installing OS X on a Power Mac G3.

I have a PowerMac G3/233 MHz, 640 MB RAM. I want to run Tiger on the Mac, so I put in a 10 GB hard disk. Using an OS 9 CD for my G4 Cube, I partition the HD into 2 partitions, then installed OS 9 on it in order to run XPostFacto. It went fine; I could install and run Tiger without any problem.

Then I found a new HD which is bigger. It's a 15 GB Quantum HD. So I did the same process trying to install Tiger on it, but this time after I partition the HD (7.5 GB and 7.5 GB), I then dragged System Folder from the OS 9 CD onto the first partition like I did last time. After that, I reboot the machine to boot into OS 9, but the Mac won't boot from the HD; it's reporting "error no bootable HFS partition".

I have tried with many HD - some smaller like 4 GB, 6 GB, and 8 GB - but got the same error. I even tried with the same process with the 10 GB that used to work but got the same error. I wonder if you have any ideas what should I try next.


I've never used XPostFacto, so I'm only guessing here. You might be able to get more help from our Unsupported OS X group.

First question: Did you "bless" the System Folder (by double-clicking on the System file) after you copied it over to the new drive? If you don't bless the System, your Mac can't boot from it.

Second question: Did you attempt to run the OS 9 installer to install OS 9 on these drives? Sometimes the System Folder on a CD won't work properly on a hard drive. You have to run the installer, not just copy files.

Hope this helps.


Autofocus Webcam for PCs (and Macs)

Patrick Tufts writes:

In your Low End Mac column from 2005 [ Where Are the Autofocus, Zoom Lens, Low Light Webcams?], you mentioned that PCs don't have anything close to the iSight.

I too have been waiting since the iSight came out for a PC webcam with autofocus. There's finally one: Creative's LiveCam Optia AF. List price is $130, retails for $110-$120. Here's the product page:

- Pat - <>

Thanks for the heads up, Patrick.

Best of all, for Mac owners bemoaning the disappearance of Apple's iSight webcam, Creative's LiveCam Optia AF is also compatible with Mac OS X 10.4.9 or higher.


Upgrading an eMac's Hard Drive

Nathan Brubaker says:

Hi Dan,

I've been following the letters about the dangers of working on CRT based Macs, and I have to say I've been pretty surprised. I upgraded my 1st generation eMac's hard drive a few months ago, and although there was a good amount of disassembly involved, none of it was near the dangerous part of the CRT. I'm not sure about the iMacs, but I feel pretty confident in saying that anyone with a reasonably amount of computer repair experience shouldn't have any problems.

Nathan Brubaker


Right you are - and congratulations on upgrading your eMac's hard drive. I've done it myself, and it's a full-fledged pain in the posterior. In fact, that was what convinced me to start using an external hard drive with my later eMacs rather than fight to replace the internal one and put everything back together properly.


AFP Connection Problem Solved

Randy C says:

I just read your posting, Translucent Gray Box in OS X, AFP Connection Problem in Classic Stump Mac Daniel [2006.07.12].

I was getting the same message. Along with other webpages, yours helped - thanks! Since I fixed it, I thought I'd share it with you, even though your issue occurred over a year ago.

The AFP Connection Status was not only popping up every 3-4 seconds, my Finder was doing the "I'm busy thinking" spinning wheel thing so long it was not responding. Usually a simple relaunch and restart works via the click-holding the Finder icon on the Dock or via the Force Quit Applications window (Apple-command key+Option+Esc).

However, upon restart the same turning wheel. Usually one program is tweaking out; I can still use others. So did a Google search and found several people receiving the same error. There was some reasonable advice, but only one out of 4 or 5 solving their issue. Then I read about pros being stumped and thought "Uh Oh!" I could be in for a long night.

I tried saving what I read to reference later and then the thinking wheel consumed Safari. Force Quit Safari > Press Power button for a sec . . . Do I want to restart? YES! Finder is still thinking . . . Relaunch Finder again, and finally it restarts.

I try to do everything to avoid hard forced restarts. I keep my Dock loaded with apps and files and folders. One utility I have learned to appreciate is Activity Monitor (located in Applications > Utility folder). I opened this up and went down the list of open programs. Anything not responding shows up in red. There it is: Finder (not responding) with the AFP Client (not responding) directly underneath it. I scrolled down some more and found the culprit (for my situation).

Normally I run everything on an external via my laptop or desktop. Since I've been house sitting, I hooked up my external to my friend's Mac, since they have a large screen. Then I wirelessly networked them together via the AirPort wireless router and read my mail on my laptop and ran processes, while I ran other processes and surfer the Net on the desktop.

This worked fine until I was finished and disconnected everything. My comp kept looking for the server. I turned off AppleShare, disabled the AirPort connect on the laptop, etc. In the Activity Monitor, I saw the Microsoft Daemon and just below, it's sub-program, AFP Client (not responding)! Ah HA! It's the aliasing. I never created an alias, but MS Office Entourage [did] and runs a little app. I quit them, plugged my external back into my laptop, and was on to my next problem solve . . . sleep.

Good luck! I hope this helps!


Thanks for sharing your story. I ended up wiping my OS 9 partition and copying everything over from another Mac that didn't have the problem. I haven't seen it since.

I hope your discovery will help others.


G3 Support in Leopard & AirPort in G3 Machines

Dear Dan,

I just thought of a reason why Apple may not have support for G3 chips in the Leopard beta. Apple probably realizes that no one would use a G3 to develop much with, so there could be some reason why Apple may not support G3s in the beta.

I do know about llamastyle, and that is probably the way for me to go, if I want to add AirPort support for my mom's iMac G3. (Now the other problem is getting an AirPort cage for the iMac). You said that some USB products are not Mac compatible, and that it is a hit and miss. Actually, Ralink offers a driver and a utility program for wireless cards with Ralink chips in them. Even that is a hit and miss sometimes.

Some people have written that Apple is most likely to drop support for the G3 in Leopard. We all must remember that most of the OS X code is written mostly for the G3. That may not be the case anymore, but the kernel is.

Alexander "Sasha" Ivanoff

Core Image on G4s

Isaac Smith


Great site! I read it daily, and whenever I'm wondering something about an old Mac, or how much a computer is worth, I just click on the "LEM" bookmark in my Safari toolbar.

On to business, though. I think it would be a shame if Leopard required Core Image. I have a 1.25 GHz 2004 eMac, which is just getting to be 3 years old (it was purchased in the fall of '04), and it is not Core Image supported. While I realize that the computer that I have is not brand new, it would be terrible to see Apple drop support for a computer that's not even on their "vintage" list. As Jeff Wiseman pointed out, even the last G4 Mac mini would lose support in Leopard, because it shares the 32 MB ATI Radeon 9200. This card, as both Apple's website and my System Profiler tell me, does not support Core Image.

While Leopard needs to be supported on these "older" Macs, I would really hate for Apple to "pull a Microsoft", and do what Microsoft did with Vista. One of Apple's main arguing points against Vista is that there is only one version of Mac OS X, and that you get all of the features of it on any compatible computer. With Vista, you've got Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Ultimate - and it's really just too confusing for the average consumer. Which system to get? Which has the right features? To upgrade or not to upgrade?

Apple has repeatedly made fun of Vista in their commercials and the "Get A Mac" section of their website. They're talking about all the different versions and how you need to upgrade your computer to get everything to work well. I would find it hypocritical of them to essentially do the same thing with Leopard. If they want Leopard to run on all Macs, and what everyone says about requiring Core Image is true, Apple is essentially just offering two different versions of the OS. Yes, this is easier than what Microsoft is doing with Vista. However, many of the older systems would need the new graphics card and more RAM.

There is yet another sad thing about this. While a recently discontinued Mac mini or an eMac would not be able to run Leopard, were it to require Core Image, an upgraded Sawtooth would. You can put in lots of RAM, a compatible graphics card, perhaps a processor upgrade, and you're good to go. You've got a computer that's much older than your Mac mini, even on the "vintage" list, and it can run Leopard. This essentially makes the age of a computer worthless. It means that all that matters is expandability. And if consumers realize this, they're going to be driven away from the baseline Macs, which aren't exactly expandable.

I'm not able to put a new graphics card in my eMac. But someone who bought a bottom-line PC is able to upgrade their graphics card. New computer sales would suffer. Why buy a new, un-expandable computer if it could essentially be obsolete the next time Apple releases a new version of OS X? Why not buy an expandable PC or an expandable older Mac?

I can understand not keeping support for a G3. The G3s are getting old. But making it such that the G3s would not be supported because of their lack of compatibility with Core Image would just make so many more computers unable to run the new version of OS X. I was even planning on buying a webcam, just to try out the new features in iChat. All those new features just look so cool. I can say that I would be far from happy if I couldn't use them on my fairly new computer.

Isaac Smith


Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You make a good argument for the value of G4 Power Macs with AGP video, and they're getting cheaper and cheaper. (I found a 500 MHz Sawtooth for $150 this morning!)

Thankfully you don't need a graphics processor that supports Core Image; the G4 CPU itself will handle it if there isn't a supported card present. No word on how much of a performance hit you'll see, but when Bare Feats compared Core Image benchmarks for the old G4 Mac mini with its unsupported video and the new Intel Mac mini, the newer mini ran the iMaginator test almost 15x as fast!

Still, the fact remains that while Core Image is already part of Tiger, the OS doesn't depend on it. If the hardware supports Core Image, the OS uses it. If not, there are other tools for displaying images that are compatible with G3 Macs.


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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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