The Low End Mac Mailbag

Keeping G3 Macs from Becoming Ewaste, My Other Mac Is a Pismo, and Thoughts on a Midrange Desktop Mac

Dan Knight - 2008.01.10 - Tip Jar

Bringing G3 Macs into the Tiger Age

From Richard Sato:

Hey Dan,

First of all I have to congratulate you on Low End Mac. It has been and continues to be a huge resource for us Mac Maniacs.

I enjoyed your article about Bill and his efforts at refitting iMacs. I do the same thing here in Chicago.

One point you note: "Remember that a tray-loader G3 iMac cannot run Garage Band, iMovie, and iChat"

I am the de facto Mac guy at Baker Demonstration School here on the NorthShore. I have run iLife 05 (Garage Band 2.0) in our iMac G3s for some time now, and it runs fine.

I dumpster dive, gather, restore, upgrade, and repair computers here. These computers are then donated to schools in the inner city. These are typically high needs schools. Many have no computers at all!

Harry Porterfield did a piece on me some months ago. Here's the link to the TV station site.

Currently I am helping Baker Demonstration School set up a Mac Lab. Here's a link to their web site. The donation is mentioned in the middle of the page.

There are a ton of still viable Macs out there just going into the ewaste stream.

I heard last year that the state of Iowa has made a deal with Dell and is dumping all of their iMacs. I heard this from a recycler down there who was ripping them apart; sending the glass to China (which I just read in Geographic is illegal) and the boards go to Belgium for precious metal recovery.

I see Apple is now offering to recycle old Macs, but you have to buy a new one to qualify.

Why doesn't Apple have a support program that would divert old usable Macs to people like Bill and Me?

Anyway, thanks for your efforts.

Macs forever! (actually they do practically last forever - hence the problem)

Richard in Evanston


Thanks for writing. I cringe when I think of iMacs being parted out like that - working ones, at least. As Bill Brown has demonstrated, these can be perfect computers for those who just want to do email, surf the Web, write, and do other basic tasks. They're worth more as working computers than as scrap.

I looked up the iLife 05 minimum system requirements: 400 MHz G3 for the suite, 600 MHz for GarageBand, G4 for software instruments in GarageBand and advanced image editing in iPhoto, 733 MHz G4 for iDVD, 1 GHz G4 for iMovie HD. That rules out the tray-loading iMacs, since the fastest is 333 MHz. Not to say these apps may not be able to run on a slower iMac, but it would be far from ideal.

Keep up the good work!


My Other Mac Is a Pismo

From Christopher Ruffell:

I just saw the article [This Old Pismo by John Hatchett] and have to say that I'm still using a Pismo, loaded with OS X 10.4, upgraded with 80 GB HD and 192 MB of RAM and wireless G card - works just fine. PC users see it half the time and think it's a black MacBook - talk about ahead of it's time, or at least staying somewhat current.

It needs a new battery - bad - but with that upgrade, it'll have more uptime than it's ever had.

Works great as a communication, student using machine.

Oh, my other Mac is a Mac Pro - but I use each almost as much ;) A Mac is a Mac is a Mac. With it's OS, it works great!

- Chris


Thanks for writing, and those old Macs do seem to run nearly forever, and there's something almost timeless about the curvy black PowerBook G3 design. With RAM as cheap as it is, you could really improve performance (and probably battery life as well) with a memory upgrade. 128 MB goes for as little as $12 these days, 256 MB for $29.


Too Good to Be True

From David Stein in response to New Macs Before the Expo? What Is Apple Thinking?:

"What would it take to attract this market? Two or three PCIe expansion slots. Three drive bays: one for a 3.5" hard drive, one for an optical drive, and one for either. A socketed CPU, because these folks just love to upgrade. My recommendation would be a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo entry-level model with 2 GB of RAM, a 250 GB 3.5" hard drive, a SuperDrive, and the same Intel X3100 video found on the MacBook. With expansion slots, those who want or need better video performance could easily drop in the video card of their choice. Sell it for US$799 and watch it move out the door!"

Indeed. Great article all the way through.

The Modular Desktop Mac

From Joseph Blasi :

A few things.

The desktop Mac: 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo and onboard video with desktop parts at $800 is little high in price for a desktop without a video card [and] a slow CPU like that. Price it starting at the mini price levels and maybe even drop the mini for this system.

There should be a $1,500 or less Mac laptop with a real video card - an ATI Hyper Memory or Nvidia Turbo Cache would be okay for a low-end video card. $2,000 just to get a 8600 with 128 MB SDRAM is high, and you have to add $500 to get 256 MB SDRAM and a 0.2 GHz CPU speed up + 40 GB of hard drive space. Why can just pay $50-$100 more just for 256 video card?

Network Attached Storage does not need a video card/onboard video at all, and if it has 4-port gigabit ethernet hub and 802.11n WiFi along with some USB 2.0 ports it should also have 1 more gig-e port and also be a Cable/DSL router + FireWire and maybe eSATA for adding more disks. If not then 1 or 2 for teaming gig-e ports + WiFi and USB / FireWire and maybe eSATA should be okay.

Also, real servers have onboard video low-end video cards with there own RAM if they do have a video port.


I agree that $800 is a bit high for a modular desktop Mac, but bundle it with Leopard (of course), iLife 08, iWork 08, and one year of .mac to get users hooked on the total Macintosh experience. We all know that if Apple wanted to, they could sell a $500 desktop computer like this if they wanted to - maybe even $400. I just don't think Apple wants to grow their market that fast.

As for the home server/NAS device, my idea is that it would be set up as a ethernet/WiFi router with a WAN port and four gigabit ethernet ports, 802.11n WiFi, a modest Intel CPU, video so it could be hooked up to a monitor if you wanted to. Or you could just put it on the network like a regular NAS device. Several USB 2.0 ports for printers, keyboard, mouse, whatever would be a must. FireWire would be nice, especially since Macs can network a very high speeds using FireWire. eSATA would go beyond the scope of a low-end home server, but perhaps a business version would include it.


Apple and Dell

From RJay Hansen:

Hi Dan,

Reading your column today [New Macs Before the Expo? What Is Apple Thinking?] about the new Macs and possible products/announcements at Macworld I had the thought while reading about "Imagine the impact of all of those Dell kiosks in shopping malls demonstrating Leopard. Imagine the way being able to offer Mac OS X would distinguish Dell..."

Imagine Apple reworking that ugly Dell logo into something sleek, sexy and cool. (That might be quite a challenge!)

Best regards,
RJay Hansen


Ugly as it is, the Dell logo is recognized everywhere. And imagine letting Jonathan Ive have a go at redesigning Dell's computers.


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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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