The Low End Mac Mailbag

Compact Flash Faster than a Hard Drive, CF in a Clamshell iBook, eSATA for PowerBooks, and More

Dan Knight - 2007.06.12

Compact Flash Faster than My Hard Drive

Following up on Compact Flash Hard Drive Options, Jeffrey Bergier says:

I have a success story for you.

Bought the Addonics adapter, and I ordered an A-Data Turbo 266x 8 GB from for $85 I think it was. There was no mention of UDMA on the spec list, but it did have a blurb that said 266x was only in IDE mode. So I risked it. They both came, I imaged the Compact Flash card from the Pismo via my PowerBook G4 and FireWire Target Disk mode and Carbon Copy Cloner.

Plugged it in and it booted. No noise at all. I also notice significant improvements in boot time and application launch time. It must be from the faster seek times inherent to flash memory. Strangely, not a big improvement in battery life. But I will cure that on eBay with some batteries that have a higher mAh rating than the Pismo's did new.

Thanks for your help, keep up the great stories in LEM,


Great to hear of your success, your PowerBook's silence, and faster boot and program launch times. Except for limited capacity, flash memory has a lot of advantages over hard drives.


Compact Flash in a Clamshell iBook

Kathleen McGregor writes:


I have been reading the articles about using Compact Flash to boot from with a lot of interest. I am one of those that the fan noise drives insane.

I have a 466 Paris iBook SE that I just loved. The fan noise drove me crazy though, so I replaced it when the 867 PowerBook 12" came out. (I am a little sorry about that purchase too, as I should have known better with the lack of ability to upgrade).

Long story short, I took the iBook in today to purchase a 512 [MB] chip. I am planning to pass on the iBook to my niece who is nine and would get a major bang out of it. However, I also learned that the fan noise is not the fan at all but the hard drive, which is getting ready to fail, wouldn't you know.

Last night I came across my FireWire Compact Flash reader, and I put two and two together, and wondered if you think I could load Panther onto a Compact Flash card and boot from there? I could use a plain old flash drive to save documents. Basically, I just want something quiet to do my word processing with, and it is so fun to take the iBook around by the handle even though it weighs a ton.

If you think this might be possible, let me know. Then let me know how big the CF card ought to be to hold Panther and Office. This would be so totally cool, and then I'll have to think of something else for the niece.

I hope you don't mind my picking your brain. Since I wasn't willing to do something like this with the PowerBook having just replaced the hard drive, I literally just thought of this.

Thank you,
Kathleen McGregor
Loyal LEM Reader for years (Paris book was bought after iceBooks came out)


This should work. I've heard of people running OS X and Office with an 8 GB Compact Flash card, and Addonics has dropped the price of their 2-card adapter to the same $26 as the single-card adapter used to sell for. You might want to consider an 8 GB card for the OS and apps plus a 2 GB or 4 GB card for data.

Or you could buy a cheap flash drive for your documents....

Be forewarned that putting a clamshell iBook back together is a real challenge.


Hi Dan,

I figured it out from another article, but it was not as complicated as the author made it, as he was using a flash drive. My P'book runs from the Compact Flash, although when I used the battery up (which does not last much longer, probably due to the FireWire), the fan came on as the battery charged.

As for the iBook, I am still working on it. As I set it up with the P'book in the interest of time - one of the steps I skipped (repairing permissions) I am working on right now. I will let you know if it works.


More Tips on eBay Feedback

Ed Eubanks Jr writes with regards to eBay Feedback: Proceed with Caution:


Good piece recently about eBay feedback. I've had a lot of experience with eBay, and here's a little of my wisdom from experience:

  • Wait to give negative feedback. eBay won't allow feedback after a certain amount of time after an auction (maybe 60 days?), so on the rare occasion that I've left negative feedback, I've waited until the very last day. This serves two purposes: It gives as much time as "possible" to resolve the conflict, and it helps to prevent false negative feedback in response.
  • Be patient. While there are plenty of "eBay businesses" out there that try to act like a real, professional store, most of the sellers (including many of these operations) are just folks selling stuff out of their garage or basement in their spare time. Thus, they may realistically be unable to respond within hours or get your package shipped the same afternoon. My guess is that 90% or more of all negative feedback on eBay is from buyers, and I'd bet that more than half of this is because the buyers simply weren't patient enough with the sellers.
  • Disclaim as much as possible. As a seller, I've taken to spelling out as much about what I'm willing to do or not do as I can think of. This sometimes doesn't help-- I've accepted things returned or given refunds for auctions I clearly labeled "As-is" and "All sales are final." But making such claims in the description will give me grounds for reluctance, at least, and then if I end up accommodating them then I've done them a favor.

I don't know if you'll benefit from any of these tips (or if readers would), but there you go.


eSATA for PowerBooks

Bill Pandos writes:

Dear Mr. Knight,

My name is Bill Pandos and I have been using Macs for the past four years (mainly third-party software).

The reason of my contact is because lately I've been thinking of purchasing an external hard disk for my PowerBook G4 (17", 1,5 GHz), and the one I'm thinking of buying is an external eSATA from Western Digital. So, I was wondering if my PowerBook supports such kind of hard drives; is it possible to connect this type of hard drive to my PowerBook and how?

Thank you for your time and attention to my email. I'll be waiting for your news.

Best Regards,
Bill Pandos


No PowerBook supports eSATA by itself, but you can buy an eSATA CardBus card for any PowerBook with a CardBus slot. Here are three Mac-compatible one's I found using Google: - Tip Jar


The Importance of G3 Support in Leopard

Cecily Wood writes:

I have been a techie, but I also live in a real world where my mother-in-law still has dialup (still has analog dial phone service - funny to listen to it dial her ISP), where friends will not do email, won't buy online because it is "not safe" but will give out credit card numbers over the phone to a person who audibly repeats it so you know they have it correct! They will not check Snopes, but persist in forwarding the hysterical virus hoaxes, send chain letters the USPO would prosecute for, believe Mr. Rogers was a sniper in the Marines, or Bill Gates is giving away money if you give Microsoft your ID info because somebody sent them an email, and in general are really not safe to cross the electronic street. Naive and gullible don't even begin to describe the depths of many computer users.

Even in a large school system, no matter how much training (Mac or PC), the users still can't or won't set margins or tabs ("It's tooo Haaard!"), so whenever you try to "fix" something, the whole thing goes haywire, but even here, the support staff and techs are miles above the crowd, and it is too easy to assume most people are like us. Maybe we can't afford the newest, fastest, but want reasonable performance, but also - particularly as you retire - need to keep your machines working longer than you want to.

There is a real and huge disconnect between the people who design the newest, coolest, fastest, stuff, who review and test it, who play with it, who support it - and one of those disconnects is you simply cannot imagine that 80 percent of the populace is either technophobic or technomoronic or technoinept. When you look at all the people buying the HDTVs with the 720 pixels, they have no idea they are being shafted. At it's worst, the upper echelon and technogeeks display techno-arrogance, and at it's best, techno-obliviousness.

It really has been a machine for the rest of us.

But the Mac, cool design, and snazzy interface, is more than just that. It really has been a machine for the rest of us. Once set up properly, it's like the Energizer bunny, it keeps going and going and going. I have 10.2.8 running on a Bondi iMac for a grandson (3 GB HD), and it's worked for years (but it took a lot of tweaking, I admit, to fit it on there). Still, in that time my son has been thru three (four?) separate hardware meltdowns and new machine/Windows operating systems.

Washington Apple Pi does amazing things with old Macs as servers, etc.

On a Mac what takes three commands routinely (and still does) takes 6 to 10 commands on Windows. Mac users, because all interfaces are alike, don't tell you to use F7 (save in one program, when you are in another that uses F3). They all know how to save once they learned it in one program.

I have a G3 clamshell, gen 2 - no FireWire, and I have, over the years, given it a much larger hard drive, doubled the original maximum memory, etc. Replacing it with a much newer used iBook isn't practical - cost, and the newer machines on sale have far less memory and storage. I use it traveling and to hold reams of photos as I travel. Not being able to upgrade it is really annoying. So I don't get the extra pixels - it's good at what it does, but . . . I only want to use a single system.

I have stayed behind so I could support my mother's computer east coast to west coast, because keeping a range of OSes working isn't the most practical solution to supporting other Macs. When you can get them all on one level - the one you also work on - you have a whale of a greater chance of finding and fixing something quickly.

Now that I can get the newest OS, I not only want it, it is affordable - except for the grandkids old iMac and my clamshell. Apple will do itself a big disservice if it doesn't help build in some more support for earlier machines. Many of the iPod youngsters won't have a problem, but the older parents who got those kids their iPods, and then one for themselves, found out how easy and cool Apple and the Mac really is - those are people who will also be miffed, big time, if they bought an older affordable Mac for themselves.

It's simply bad PR when they are finally beginning to up their market share.

Thanks for having your wonderful service!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cecily Wood


You make a good point about the techno-clueless among us. The people who believe Windows is a secure platform because of all the commercial anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-malware programs out there. Who can't imagine that free software is worthwhile. Who can't fathom a virus-free computer and are thus skeptical of our claims as Mac users.

(Speaking of the techno-clueless, I saw the best deal ever on a flat panel TV over the weekend. Maybe a 15" or 17" one for just US$229! How many people would buy it never guessing that 480 lines of resolution isn't going to satisfy them as HDTV takes over?)

Also the issue of support. At my last job, supporting 80-some Macs, we standardized on Mac OS 7.5.5 as long as practical, then on OS 8.1 because it worked on all the Macs we used. Supporting the same OS for all users is a real plus - and something Apple currently benefits from with 2/3 of all OS X users on Tiger.

No word from Apple on G3 support. You may have to stick with Tiger for the long haul. Much cheaper than getting everyone to upgrade to G4 hardware.


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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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