The Low End Mac Mailbag

Scanners and Scanning Software, Macs and non-Apple WiFi Hardware, Midrange Macs, and More

Dan Knight - 2008.03.10 - Tip Jar

Scanner Software Recommendation

From Ron in response to Scanner Advice:

Hi Dan, (love the site, btw)

I just read the letter from Patrick O'Reilly asking about scanners, thought you might like to check out where you will find the Swiss army knife of scanning software. I have an older no-longer supported flatbed scanner, and Hamrick's VueScan was just the ticket to bring new life to what had become an oversized paper weight. For more info see (And no, I don't work for the company ;-) )

Ron (Mac enthusiast since 1985)


Thanks for writing. I have a copy of VueScan on my Power Mac that I'm hoping to use with my Dimage Scan Dual III film scanner some day. The program has received many enthusiastic reviews, including one on Applelinks by Charles W. Moore. Unfortunately it doesn't support the Brother all-in-one I have on order.



I have a Samsung SCX-4200 that VueScan doesn't officially support, but the software does recognize it. I originally intended to use VueScan with an old Microtek Scanmaker X6. The software works with either piece of hardware, the only quirk I've noticed is sometimes I have to turn on the Samsung before I start my Mac (single processor G5 I bought used) for VueScan to "see" it as a scanner and not just as a printer! And here I thought sacrificing Twinkies™ to the computer gods would be enough! You may luck out and find your scanner shows up in the app!

Good luck with it all,


Thanks for writing. eCOST canceled my printer/scanner/copier order, but I got an equally good online deal through Costco and should have the printer this week. I'll give it a try with VueScan, although they list Brother across the board as unsupported.


Macs and Scanners

From Roger Harris:

Patrick O'Reilly as about a good and I presume cheap, scanner. I have a lot of scanning experience on Macs and PC since 1991. I use to do a lot of scanning every day, but now I only scan once or twice a week. When buying scanners for myself or companies I worked with, I always use tests that often surpassed many of the tests you find from sources like Macworld Magazine.

I recommend a refurbished or new Epson scanner. Anything from the Epson Perfection V350 PHOTO at $100. (4800 x 9600 dpi scanning) on up the Epson product list will do everything he could hope to do. Even the transparency adapter is great for all but high end professional work.

Roger Harris


Thanks for your advice. I've heard great things about Epson, and the company has always had decent support for Apple products - going back to the Apple II era.



Some of the reviewers like Macworld give rave reviews on Canon scanners and are very positive on HP and such. HP has pretty good hardware and the same for Canon; but Canon software often is very bad. I have seen Macworld give rave reviews on Canon scanners that you have to have an IT department to get it running. Canon and HP scanner software often breaks with OS updates and Epson only rarely has that happen.

A test that reviewers almost never use anymore, is to test the distortion from the middle to the edges of the bed. If you scan a very large item (photo or some kind of art) in three or more sections and then assemble it in Photoshop you will easily see how much distortion there is. Even scanners that have very good color and detail scans can fail this test in a dramatic fashion.

Your site is gold

Roger Harris


Thanks for the kind words, and a great suggestion for testing scanners for distortion.


Running a 12" PowerBook from Compact Flash

Hi Dan.

I was reading an article in the Low End Mac Mailbag and was curious about a project I'm undertaking.

I've decided that I should put a CF card in my 12" PowerBook 867 MHz. I haven't found anywhere on the Web where this has been done, but I'd find it difficult to believe that I was the first. I bought a cheap IDE - CF converter and a 16 GB Kingston Elite Pro 133x card, but I had issues with formatting when I got the drive in there. I didn't test out the flash card before I put it in (which I regret), but now even when it's out diagnostics show that it has issues. My main question, I suppose, is if I could have damaged the card somehow by possibly installing something incorrectly.

On the cable inside the PB there is not the typical missing pin, so I was absolutely sure that I didn't have the IDE-CF converter in upside-down, however I still think I did have it in correctly. Do you think there was some way that I zapped the card or something I should do differently when I get a replacement CF card? Or even more importantly, is this, for some reason, an impossible upgrade? I'd find that difficult to believe, since the converter should misinform the computer that it is an ATA drive attached.

Hopefully this question isn't too out of left field. I was reading the following article when I thought you might have some answers "Compact Flash Faster than a Hard Drive, CF in a Clamshell iBook, eSATA for PowerBooks, and More"

Feel free to post any of this information if it would be it or your answer would be helpful in any way to your readers.

Thanks in advance.

- Cameron


As long as the Compact Flash card supports UDMA, it should be possible to boot from it. That said, I can't find any mention on the Kingston website that any of their card support UDMA, so it may not be possible to boot from this card.

I suspect it is possible to damage a drive or memory card by plugging it into the IDE interface the wrong way, and my limited experience with flash memory leads me to believe that once a card or flash drive has become unusable, there's nothing you can do about it. (My flash drive died a month or two back, and none of my Macs recognize it when I plug it in now, so Disk Utility can't touch it.)


Re: Diablo II, Leopard, and PowerPC Macs

From Mike following up on Diablo II, Leopard, and PowerPC Macs:


Thanks for the info. Blizzard did eventually get back to me, and it looks like we found a solution. This would likely apply to everyone having the same issue.

Apparently, the install program does not support the Mac OS Extended Case Sensitive file structure. In my case, I was not necessarily ready to reload my Mac, having just got it how I like it. However, I had a spare 40 GB HDD laying around, and thanks to the FW800's support for 4 hard drives, I installed it and performed a sort of striped-down installation of OS X (none of the extra fonts, printer drivers, and so on). When I did this, I made sure to format the drive in Mac OS Extended Journaled (without Case Sensitivity). Lo and behold, the Installer performed just as expected.

So, if others are having the same problem, it is likely that they are using the Case Sensitive file structure. Reformatting the drive without it, or doing what I did and just installing another boot drive just for the game should take care of it.



Thanks for sharing the solution. We'll post it in the Mailbag for others to see.


Re: Extreme Wireless for Older Macs

From Angela Edwards in response to Extreme Wireless for Older Macs:

Your article was very helpful to me! I was surfing all the manufacturers' web sites trying to find out which ones have wireless PCI cards for my older G4 tower. They rarely mention Mac compatibility so it was a guessing game until I stumbled on (Google) your article and the lowendmac web site. This gave me everything I needed.

thank you for the research!

Graphic Designer


It's frustrating that Apple's hardware is so expensive while most other vendors don't say a thing about Mac support. In addition to the brands mentioned in that article, I've also had very good luck with Netgear equipment.


30 Mistakes

From Paul Gronke in response to 30 Top Mac User Mistakes: How Many Are Apple's Fault?:


I'm sure you've received more than enough emails about this column, but I'd like to commend you and add one comment.

The commendation is just for having the column up - the "30 Mistakes" serve as a useful way for a new adopter like myself, who has been on PCs all the way back to the first 5 meg hard drive IBM (what a wonderful keyboard!), to manage the switch.

One comment on the Ctrl/Alt and Ctrl/Option/Command key confusion.

I understand what the Apple layout does - that did not take me long to learn. What I still find frustrating is simply the layout. When typing in Word or other programs, the "Command" key is the one I want to get to most often, for turning on/off bold, italic, etc.

Apple's keyboard setup has the least used keys on the outside, where they are most accessible to your pinkie, and the most used keys on the inside. I think it goes back to the Apple being fundamentally a GUI/mouse driven interface and the IBM/Microsoft being designed from the ground up for touch typists. Yes, there are things in Word that require a mouse, but as some of the comments in your blog noted, you can still function, albeit awkwardly, on a Windows system if your mouse is not working. I can't even imagine trying to maneuver around a Mac if the mouse or touchpad go on the fritz.

Just last note on this: The fact that "Ctrl" on the PC maps to "Command" on the Mac, and "Control" on the Mac does something else is just one of those frustrations of life.

Thanks for a helpful column
Paul G.


Thanks for writing. I go back to the early days of the floppy era. I was using Apple II and Commodore gear years before IBM joined the fray. I've also been a Mac user since 1986 and a Mac owner since 1990, so I never really go to know Windows. I know the Macintosh Way, which has been pretty consistent in the 22 years I've been using Macs, and only know enough about Windows to find it endlessly frustrating when I have to use a Windows computer. Thus I have a sense of the frustration Windows users have going the other way.

You're right in noting that Macs are almost useless without a pointing device, as the Mac OS was written from the ground up with a GUI that uses a mouse. I always keep a spare nearby, as my wireless mouse tends to need recharging at the most inopportune times....


Low End Macs and Road Apples

From Robert Blanton:

Ohh, I had my checkbook out and was ready to send you the dough until I read the sentence about Mac Pros not being able to run Classic. But then, no new Mac will run Classic, so even if Apple took your advice and offered up your dream machine, you wouldn't buy one. So I would guess what you really want is a Gateway Mac that runs OS 6 through X. Well, dream on.

What I can't get over is how you keep asking for what is essentially a crippled Mac Pro, while your site is littered with criticism of low-end Macs of the past. Maybe it would be helpful if you allowed for other peoples needs and wants. "Road Apples" like the PowerBook 150 and the LC and LC II and Performa 630 may not be your cup of tea, but I loved mine, and got a lot of use out of them, and I know that many other people have done the same with other "Road Apples". Ask Charles Moore about his old 5300 or his PB G3. It may be a shock to you, but I still use my G3 iMac, even though it has no expansion slots and only one hard drive. And most people will be perfectly happy with a new iMac with the same "problems".

I do believe you have jumped the rails when you start talking about the amazing expansion capabilities of the old Apple II's. There is no real way to compare those computers to today's computers. You are comparing Apples to Oranges. It does not work simply because the II's were always for committed computer users. The were Apples, but they were not Macs. There is an essential difference between a Mac and an Apple. Simply put, anybody can turn on a Mac and figure out what to do, but you have to read a book to figure out how to use a II, and you have to read other books to figure out how to get any real use out of it. And then you had to buy the card for the serial port, and the z-80 and so on. Then you had to install it and hope it works. Then you had to hope it worked every time you turned the computer on. I have a II and a IIGS and I like them, but I am glad I don't have to rely on them like I rely on my Macs. Most people don't want to have to build their computers and hope they work. They want to buy their computers and turn them on and have them work, period. Remember, "There is no step three!" sold a lot of iMacs. "You can fix its shortcomings!" will never sell anything.

Maybe it's time to accept that Apple and Steve Jobs are going to make the computers that they want to make, and it's very possible that they don't want to make the kind of computer you want them to. It is true that Apple used to sell the kind of Macs that you want, but that was during the Dark Ages, when the company almost died. Since Jobs returned, things have changed. He does not seem to want to compete with Dell and Gateway for the low end market, and maybe he is right not to. After all, why sell loss leaders if you don't have to?


You do a great job of setting up straw man arguments and then knocking them down. I'm not the least bit interested in a Mac that can run everything from System 6 through Leopard. I have a personal need for Classic Mode, and until I can find a suitable, affordable replacement for Claris Home Page or someone creates a Classic Mode emulator for Intel Macs, I'm sticking with PowerPC hardware.

While there have been a couple dozen Road Apple and "compromised" Macs over the past 24 years, the vast majority of Macs were wonderful computers. My ex had a PowerBook 150 and loved it, and I supported many LC and LC II users at my last job. I'm not saying these were bad computers, only that people should be aware of their limitations, some of which were arbitrary decisions by Apple management to keep them from competing with more expensive models.

Sure, the top-end Quadra 900 was awesome, but so were the Quadra 700, 650, and 800, which had less slots and drive bays. Why? Because Apple didn't arbitrarily limit them. We'd just like to see Apple continue that tradition, offering a Mac with more expansion options than the Mac mini and less than the Mac Pro. Most computer users - including most Mac Pro owners - don't need eight cores, four PCIe slots, two optical drive bays, four hard drive bays, and room for 32 GB of RAM, nor do they want to spend over $2,000 just to have some expansion options.

Apple offered lower-cost expandable alternatives to the top-end models long before the company went into its 1996-1998 tailspin, and Apple continues to maintain the highest profit margins among personal computer manufacturers. Why do you believe the company would resort to selling loss leaders to build up its market when that it the antithesis of its corporate philosophy?

Apple could very profitably sell a midrange Macintosh with less expandability and a lower price than the Mac Pro. Its failure to do so has in great part created the Hackintosh movement and kept longtime Mac users using older gear rather than buying a $2,800 Mac Pro. Apple could sell a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Macintosh with integrated graphics, a Combo drive, a 250 GB hard drive, 1 GB of RAM (8 GB maximum), two PCIe slots, and one spare drive bay for US$599. How do I know this? Because Dell sells its 2.2 GHz Core 2 Inspiron Desktop with a SuperDrive, 320 GB hard drive, and 19" widescreen flat panel display for US$649.

I'm not asking Apple to compete for the low end of the market, as nobody makes a profit there from hardware sales (service contracts is a different story). I am hoping Apple will compete in the middle of the market, where people are willing to pay $600-1,000 for a powerful enough computer with enough expansion options. And thanks to Book Camp, it could be the perfect machine for getting Windows users to buy a Mac and learn OS X while still being able to run the OS they're used to.

I can't understand why Apple is ignoring this market, as it could be a very profitable one if the model included a host of build-to-order options: faster dual-core and quad-core CPUs, different video cards, a SuperDrive instead of a Combo drive, a second hard drive or optical drive, etc.

Sure, most users most of the time don't need any expansion slots or extra drive bays, and some of the users who need those need lots of them, but there are a lot of user who want some expandability at an affordable price - and the Mac Pro is not an affordable computer for most of them.


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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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