The Low End Mac Mailbag

AirPort Base Stations Rock, Sawtooth Upgrades, When Leopard Is not the Way to Go, and More

Dan Knight - 2008.05.19 - Tip Jar

Apple AirPort Base Stations Rock

From Chris Kilner following up on $40 Wireless-G PCI Card for Power Macs:


I'm still using an original Graphite AirPort Base Station that I picked up in 2000 (as a refurb!) - it has been on 24/7 since then. Most of my network sharing is streamed music and documents (backups are to local FireWire drives), so the 802.11b speed has been adequate. I always expected the capacitor to fail on it and planned to upgrade when it bit the dust . . . but it keeps going, and going, and going....

Our home network connects to 8 machines wirelessly - of which only two (an eMac and a Wii) officially support 802.11g speeds (the G3 iMac, two G3 iBooks, two Power Mac G4s, and the Cube all have slots for original AirPort cards), so I'll probably wait until I replace more of the machines before I upgrade to a faster wireless router. For the moment, the WEP encryption of the Graphite ABS is probably okay, since I can pick up 4 unprotected routers from my house (i.e., a war driver has easier choices!).

After using an Apple Base Station with my home network and helping neighbors and friends set up other brands (D-Link, Linksys, Netgear), I can truly say that Apple's products offer the most seamless integration - not only with setting up the Internet, but with printer sharing, file sharing, iTunes music sharing, screen sharing, etc.

I have a Wireless-G ethernet adapter I could have used with the Power Mac, but it is a total pain to use with printer sharing, music sharing, etc. I really really like that the Linksys PCI card is treated as an AirPort card.



You make some good points. Apple does a great job of making things "just work" - and good enough is good enough. With even one unprotected router nearby, odds are very close to zero that anyone would try to break into a protected router, no matter how "outdated" the encryption.

I think that the "good enough is good enough" principle is also impacting both Apple and Microsoft in a big way. My aging G4 Power Mac with Tiger is good enough for all the work I do. Leopard may be better in some ways, but I have a good enough WYSIWYG HTML editor in Claris Home Page, and that requires Classic. Intel Macs are definitely a lot more powerful, but they don't support Classic.

Windows XP users find the old, familiar operating system good enough - especially with SP3 giving them a lot of Vista features without the Vista headaches (maybe I'm assuming too much there). Unlike Macs, where you can't run an old OS on new hardware, you can run Win XP on the newest PCs. Microsoft may blame pirates for declining sales, but I can't help but think that people are avoiding and abandoning Vista in favor of using an existing copy of Win XP. My wife's aunt finally told Best Buy to get that horrid Vista off of her new computer and install XP so the thing would work properly.

Between an aging OS and a flawed one, Microsoft has made it that much easier for Apple to laugh at PCs in their ongoing television ads. Given the choice between troubled Vista and plagued (by malware) XP, I can understand why a lot of making a third choice: Macs.


Upgrading a G4 Sawtooth

From Patrick O'Grady:

Hi, Dan,

Thanks for the site - it's been invaluable to me as a dedicated low-ender. You should see some of the relics cluttering up the joint here.

I have a question, and I hope you haven't had to answer it too often. I picked up a G4 AGP Graphics Power Mac for a song a couple years ago, using it to liberate a G3 500 MHz Pismo (then my main workhorse) for road tripping. I've added a few upgrades since, including a 1.1 GHz brain transplant, and the AGP runs OS X 10.3.9 without issues.

Here's the question: Should I sink more money into this machine or snag a mini? My work involves writing and editing in Microsoft Word and Excel; light photo editing for a website using Photoshop (I use v4.0 in the Classic window); and some heavy copy editing for the same site that requires a lot of monitor real estate. But I also fiddle with low-end video and podcasting for my own amusement, and here is where this machine falls woefully short. Picking up a MacBook 2 GHz Intel Core Duo (OS X 10.4.11) showed me just how far off the back the old AGP is in the 21st century.

The AGP could do with another gig of RAM, a DVD burner, and maybe a few other upgrades (USB 2.0? a better video card than the ATI Rage 128 Pro?). Would I be better off spending that money and a bit more on a mini? I already have a keyboard, mouse, and 22" ViewSonic monitor, or I'd think seriously about an iMac.

Thanks in advance for any advice you care to provide.

Patrick O'Grady
Mad Dog Media


Except for video work, there's really no reason to even think about replacing your Power Mac G4, and the fact that you use Photoshop 4.0, which requires Classic Mode, gives you a good reason to stick with it. That said, you'd probably find that Photoshop Elements does everything you use Photoshop for, recent versions are OS X native, and it sells for a song compared with full-fledged Photoshop. (I used to use Photoshop 4.0, then 5.5, and now use Elements 3 for almost all of my image editing.)

That eliminates the need for Classic Mode, and an Intel-based Mac mini will blow your upgraded G4 into the weeds for video work. Boost RAM to at least 2 GB and consider a bigger, faster hard drive - either a 7200 rpm notebook drive inside the mini or an external 3.5" 7200 rpm FireWire drive - for best performance.

You might want to keep the G4 as a server and for times when you need Classic, but I think you'd be thrilled with the mini.


Leopard Is Not the Way to Go on G4 Macs

From Bernard Davis:

On G4 Macs, no, it's not! You'll lose Classic & VPC: No Windows. For many (such as myself) these are life & death, can't live without necessities. I'll stick with Tiger.


As someone living with Tiger and dependent on Classic, I agree that there is a subset of PowerPC Mac owners for whom Leopard isn't an option. I only had Leopard up and running on my dual 1 GHz Power Mac G4 for the first time yesterday, and I have to say that I enjoyed the experience. No, I can't do my work in Leopard (not until I find a replacement for Claris Home Page, but that's starting to sound like a broken record), but I can get familiar with it.

My wife made the switch from Tiger to Leopard yesterday, and as a casual user she really hasn't noticed much of a difference. The Finder and Dock look different, but Camino, Word, and Excel - which is what she uses over 90% of the time - look and work exactly the same. For anyone not dependent on Classic Mode, it's definitely worth considering.

As far as Virtual PC goes, even the most underpowered Intel Mac ever, the Core Solo Mac mini, could run circles around it using Boot Camp, virtualization, or WINE. If anything, that's an argument in favor of leaving the G4 behind at some point.


CF in PowerBooks via Adapter

From Joseph Sis:


I just read your article about using CF IDE adaptors. Great article.

Perhaps the Addonics is a better adaptor than the one I found. I found a $2 adaptor from Hong Kong, however it has the extra pin on the IDE interface, the pin that is "blocked out" on my 1400 ribbon (and my 2300 ribbon as well).

Do you know of any work around for this? Such as opening the blockout on the ribbon connector or even removing the offending pin from the adaptor?

Also, have you had a chance to test a double CF adaptor? I am wondering if the PowerBook IDE interface would recognize both CF cards as "master" and "slave".



Since that pin isn't used, removing it shouldn't be a problem.

I haven't had a reason to test Addonics' double CF adapter, but I've heard this it works very well. In fact, Addonics no longer makes the single CF adapter.


Leopard and PCI Graphics

From Rowan:

Is there some way to stimulate someone with technical skill to investigate a hack for 10.5 on PCI graphics? Is it a needed graphics driver or ??? 'Sure would be nice to have for my upgraded Yikes and B&W.

Runs great on G4'd Pismo. But so far no trick will work on the Yikes or B&W, so think a real hack is needed.



I agree that it would be wonderful if Leopard could run on g4-upgraded Macs with PCI graphics - the Lombard PowerBook as well as the Yikes and B&W Power Macs. There was G3 and PCI support in very early developer versions of Leopard, but they disappeared quite a while before Apple decided to remove support for both.

I think it's going to take more than a simple hack to do this. In addition to creating an installer that will work with PCI graphics, drivers for those graphics processors would probably have to be created as well. Since AGP came to the Power Mac in 1999 and PowerBook in 2000, I suspect there's not a sufficiently large installed base to give anyone the financial incentive to make it work.


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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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