Charles Moore's Mailbag

Sub-laptops, Trade-ups, Tex-Edit, and Small Vessel Navigation

Charles Moore - 2001.08.20 - Tip Jar

Time to open up the ol' mail bag again and attend to some questions and comments.

Sub-laptop computers

From: Jay Kuri


I wanted to email with regard to your great article on sub-laptop computers. I am a Mac User and PowerBook / iBook owner, as well as a Palm owner. Though I felt a small pang of guilt, I just recently bought a Sony laptop computer, the "Picturebook." The Picturebook is a great little computer, 2.2 pounds. It lasts a couple of hours on the stock battery and is a real computer. The downside is that it runs Windows (though it could run Be or some other OS - mine runs FreeBSD, OS X's brother) Oh... and it's more expensive, to the tune of $1,600+. It is, however, as small as you can get with a usable keyboard.

Ultimately, though, I got it for two reasons. I had to replace my old FreeBSD laptop, and I wanted something really small I could use to unload my digital pictures onto when I go to Europe later this year. I won't be going online, and I doubt I'll be using it for much aside from pictures.

All the same, though, I'd happily take it with me when I don't want to be bogged down with a 'normal' laptop. It's small enough to be really portable and enough of a real computer that you can do real work on it.

As a Palm owner, though, I have to point out that for less ($200ish) you could get a Palm with a foldable keyboard which works really well. Not much of a reduction in cost, but the size and weight are significantly less when stashed in your backpack. Plus you can get any number of apps for the palm pilot, many of which integrate really well with the Mac.

Just wanted to share my own experiences for whatever it is worth to you. :)

Anyway, great article... Thanks,


Hi Jay,

Glad you liked the article, and glad to hear that you're running FreeBSD on that Picturebook.


Trade-up programs for the 190 and 5300

From Chris Calatrello

Hello Mr. Moore,

I was wondering if you could clue me in on just how and when Apple announces its trade-up programs for the 190 and 5300 series PowerBooks.

The PowerBook 190 I acquired for $40 a couple of weeks ago is a pretty functional machine aside from the broken screw sockets underneath the palmrest. Because the sockets are broken, the trackpad button is slack and can't be clicked. I just double tap the trackpad. Overall, I am pleased with my purchase, but have read about the Trade-Up programs.

I'd rather have a newer, faster machine with a color monitor.

Can you clue me in on where to check for information from the mothership on this question?


Chris Calatrello

Hi Chris,

Apple does not have any schedule for the 5300/190 trade-in programs, and there is no guarantee that there will ever be another one. Apple stated that both of the most recent ones would be the last.

Most of these programs have been run when Apple had a glut of soon to be discontinued models that they wanted to move. Your only hope is that the will get stuck with a bunch of the current TiBooks when they bring out a speed-bumped model with a CD RW drive.


Do you really use Tex-Edit Plus for serious word processing?

From: Chris Calatrello

Hi Charles,

I think even with the hypothetically possible trade-in, the TiBook would still be beyond my present means.

I wound up selling (for $60 - a 50% profit) the 190 yesterday to a woman from my church. My wife was pleased that I actually sold a computer.

I've been enjoying your columns - first found them doing Google searches about that 190 and my 280c.

Do you really use Tex-Edit Plus for serious word processing, as your email signature implies? I installed an earlier version on the 280c as a low power, low RAM alternative to Claris or Word.

Thanks for your reply,


Hi Chris

It depends on how you define "serious word processing." I do about 98 percent of my word crunching in TE+, but I prepare very little formatted text and rarely print anything in hard copy. It must be two months since the last time my printer (an ancient ImageWriter II) was turned on. If I absolutely need a word processor, I usually turn to Nisus Writer, although I have Mariner Write, AppleWorks 5, and an old copy of Word 5.1 as well. I have TE+ fairly heavily customized and tweaked using its wonderful implementation of AppleScript, with which I have automated most of the repetitive functions of HTML markup and text editing, which are my main needs in a word processing application. That gives me a lean, fast, small, and very stable application tailored to exactly what I want to do with it. I use SpellTools for spellchecking. This works for me, although while TE+ does support styled text and a fair bit of formatting (plus pictures, movies, and MIDI music files), someone who did a lot of hard copy preparation might well be more comfortable with a full word processor. Check out: A Tale Of Two Text-Editors Revisited: Tex Edit Plus 4.1.2 and BBEdit Lite 6.1 Compared [Update: Also see Tex-Edit Plus: Powerful Styled Text Editing for OS X and the Classic Mac OS, 2007.02.05.


Small Vessel Navigation on the Mac

From David M. Ensteness

Just read your article (Small vessel navigation on the Mac). At first I thought it was just what I was looking for, but on closer inspection, while it was helpful, it didn't really do the whole trick. Still a great article, though. I love reading about uses for old Macs; I am the kind of Mac user that can't stand the thought of throwing one away. Thought I would drop you a line and see if you can help me out with my specific need.

I do a lot of fishing with my father in our 16' Johnson on Minnesota lakes, both on large and small water. My dad uses the combination of the depth finder, paper maps, and his GPS unit to locate the areas we want to fish, but we have been talking forever about how to find a better way to do it.

I have an old PowerBook 5300c that is doing a lot of nothing lately - I finally replaced it last year with a used 1400c with a G3 upgrade for use at college - and I would love to be able to hook up his GPS to it. The problem is on the software side.

We need some mapping software, something affordable that hopefully does not require a CD-ROM to run and can have maps added to it somehow so that we are able to add maps for the lakes we use. I realize this is a tall order but any help would be great. Thanks in advance.

As Always,
David M. Ensteness 

Hi David,

As you said, it's a tall order. I don't know of any Mac compatible charting software that does not depend on CD-ROMs for media.



Small Vessel Navigation on the Mac

Good article, but how about one on us land based people? :)

I'd like to know about driving maps and GPS system hook ups. I think that be a good article, IMHO.

Thanks, and I enjoy reading your work.

Matthew Butch

I'll see what I can do.


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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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