The Low End Mac Mailbag

A FireWire Flash Drive, 'Refreshed' Mac Bargains, Santa Rosa or Merom in New MacBook Pro?, and More

Dan Knight - 2007.06.07

A FireWire Flash Drive Option

John Muir writes:

Hi Dan,

Seems to be a busy season for flash at the moment. I've been following the news about those SSD flash drives which are intentionally designed for use as hard drives, as you've also mentioned. They sound quite promising, and I think are likely a much better solution for any reasonably modern laptop with a decent hard drive bus like Ultra-DMA. My main problem is being in Britain, which makes access to such new kit somewhat slower.

But here's another tantalising option: news/2007-06-07/#6848

A FireWire thumb drive could boot any PowerPC or Intel Mac with a spare FireWire 400 port. It should be fast and even better: portable between different machines. They sound an ideal boot disc for repairs and diagnostics. And I've already proven that 8 GB is more than enough for such work, depending on which apps you want to install.

It could be a great way for all FireWire equipped Macs to try out flash with no tools involved; an experimenter's dream. Hopefully these drives will be reasonably priced and find their niche.



Thanks for the link. According to Hard Mac, it these OCZ Rally 2 flash drives will be able to use nearly full bandwidth on a FireWire 400 port. According to Hexus, throughput measures over twice that of a USB 2.0 flash drive.

The same size as many USB flash drives, these should provide plenty of speed and capacity, also making them great tools for booting Macs and running diagnostics on the internal hard drive.

I can't find any indication of price, but they should be available during the third quarter.


Don't Forget 'Refreshed' Macs

Mario Cajina writes:

Dan Knight,

In your article, you ask: "What About Refurbished?"

I would suggest to not forget "Refreshed" MacBook Pros. "Refreshed" is the name given to open box customer returns at the Apple Stores. When a new model comes out, they get a lot of these back because people want the latest and greatest within the first couple of weeks of introduction. There's nothing refurbished or repaired about them: They're brand new computers that got returned within 14 days.

Also, the Apple Stores replace the floor models with the new machines and these previous models can go for substantially less than Refreshed. So there are some really good deals to be had at Apple Stores when a new model is introduced. Check it out.

Mario Cajina


Thanks for writing. I don't spend much time in Apple's retail stores or know of any way of determining online what they may have available. I'll pass along your tip in the next mailbag column.



No problem. There are a lot of people who don't know this.

Another nice thing about "Refreshed" Apple products is that they have their full one-year warranty again when they're repurchased and are eligible for the AppleCare Protection Plan [APP]. This applies to iPods, Macs, and displays. I don't know about Apple TV, since I haven't asked. A "Refreshed" AirPort Extreme Base Station, for example, has a full year warranty starting on the day of repurchase and can be covered by an accompanying computer's APP for the extra two years (if you have that much left in APP coverage).

I've bought three "Refreshed" AirPort Base Stations, and they're all covered by my Intel iMac's APP if they crap out. I used to have an MDD Power Mac G4 that had been a floor model for a year at an Apple Store, and the support coverage was as if it had been new (it had never been purchased before). It was a $2,500 computer that I got for $800! I bought "Refreshed" Apple RAM and APP for it, which came in handy, because about a year after I bought it the SuperDrive needed to be replaced. Since I didn't run Mac OS 9 in it at the time, they replaced it with a faster one that only worked in OS X.

I highly recommend "Refreshed" Apple products for this reason.


Santa Rosa or Merom?

Per Grenerfors writes:


Just wanted to say that Santa Rosa is not a CPU, it's a chipset. The CPU used in the latest MBPs is still the Merom (although running with a faster bus), and will be until Penryn is introduced (late '07/ early '08). I suggest you check out Wikipedia for some more info.

Best wishes,
Per Grenerfors


Thanks for writing. According to ars technica, the Santa Rosa chipset (marketed as Centrino Pro in the Windows world) is using a revised version of Merom. The original didn't support dynamic bus speed switching or an 800 MHz memory bus. The new CPU also uses a different socket (Socket P) than the first generation Merom.

Trusted Reviews states, "Santa Rosa will feature an all new Core 2 Duo chip with a number of enhancements over the outgoing processor. Like the Merom chip before it, the new Core 2 Duo will feature up to 4 MB of on-die cache, but there are plenty of other changes."

In its Centrino entry, Wikipedia also distinguishes the new second generation Merom from the earlier one used with the 'Napa' platform, Santa Rosa's predecessor.

In short, the CPU used in the new MacBook Pro models isn't simply a faster Merom chip; it's a second generation Merom CPU with new features that's specifically tied to the Santa Rosa chipset.

We will revise our article to indicate that the CPU itself is a new generation Merom tied to the Santa Rosa chipset.


G4 Processor Upgrade vs. Used G5

Michael Goodroe follows up on MDD Processor Upgrade vs. Used G5:

Dear Dan!

Your email showed deep understanding of musicians on a budget who are learning to be engineers and confronted with ever increasing demands on the "top of the line" computer we went into debt for only 2-3 years ago.

By way of conversation, I was the bassist for a 80s group on Capitol Records called The Motels. We had two top ten singles: "Only the Lonely Can Play" and "Suddenly Last Summer"; both went to #9. It all lasted 10 years, and I garnered 8 gold records and so much travel it boggles the mind. Also, more recording in top studios with great engineers and producers (Mick Guzauski & Val Garay) than I can recount.

That was then, and I exceeded my goals by more than you can imagine; but I will always be a musician, and this is a great time to be an older musician. A renaissance is in motion and I want to be part of it. I record, write, play, sing, mix and do the art work. But the technical aspects are overwhelming and distracting . . . you can't compose when your computer is arguing with you! I appreciate your "to the heart of the matter" answer.

Very sincerely,
Michael Goodroe

P.S. I think an eBay Dual G5 2.0 GHz with 3 GB RAM makes sense. Thank you!


I understand living on a budget and trying to make the best economic decisions. It's part of our core philosophy at Low End Mac - knowing when to upgrade, when to replace with something newer (but maybe not brand new).

Glad to be of help - and best wishes as you move forward with a new computer and continue to develop your career.


Authorization Dongle

Duncan Rayner writes in response to MDD Processor Upgrade vs. Used G5:

Hi Dan,

Love the mailbag, no hang on, the whole web site!

You have created an invaluable resource for the Mac community. Ironically I find out about new Mac releases from your website before I see them on the Apple site because I visit yours more often. Including the new MacBook Pros this morning (Australia Time). Thank you.

With regards to Michael Goodroe's protools system: To fix the problem he has with his plug-in authorizations, Michael could purchase a PACE iLok™ USB Smart Key and transfer all his authorizations to the key and have them to use on any machine that he can plug the dongle into. This becomes a very handy tool if, for instance, you want to have a desktop system for power and a laptop for portability, circumventing the need to purchase the same authorizations twice. Plus, as a bonus, he can take his dongle with him to a big studio (if he isn't one already) and use the plug-ins there on his own sessions if the studio doesn't own those plug-ins yet!

I hope I have been of help to you and Michael.

Send me a line if you need any more help.

Duncan Rayner


Thanks for the kinds words - and your tips. I've forwarded your email to Michael Goodroe.


Removing the Hard Drive from a Mac IIcx

Dawn Murphy writes:

Hi Dan,

I'm reluctantly giving up my old Mac IIcx. Actually, it's not booting up and seems to have given up first. I would like to remove the hard drive, for security reasons, before I trash the box. How the heck can I get it out of there? I've removed all visible screws (except a couple of really tiny screws that look to be holding down parts inside the drive). After getting a big blister from squashing my hand in a pair of needle-nose pliers, I've decided that I need some professional advice.

Thanks for any help,

Dawn Murphy
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

Hi Dawn,

I'm sorry to hear of its demise, but after 18 years, I think you got your money's worth out of it!

It's actually very easy to remove the hard drive - but not if you're looking for screws. The IIcx was designed for fast and easy assembly, so the hard drive is mounted on a sled, not screwed directly to the computer.

I'm a visual guy - probably one reason I've been a Mac user for so long - so I've dug out an old Mac IIci (same case as the IIcx), taken some photos, and posted a quick tutorial, Replacing the Hard Drive in a Mac IIcx, IIci, and Quadra 700.

I hope this helps.


Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dan.

Last night I tried pressing in on those two metal tabs, but it didn't budge. But now that you've told me this is correct, I'll be more aggressive with pressing on those tabs (while trying to keep from getting myself any more black-and-blue than I've already gotten). I'll give it another go when I get home. This should save me the task of carting the IIcx carcass into my IT dept. at work and getting derisive snickers.

The best part is that I've discovered your website and how great a help you are. I'll let the other Mac users at my work know about this!

Thanks again for a dazzlingly quick response,

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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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