Charles Moore's Mailbag

Writing, Pig Latin, Faxing & DSL, sSublaptops, Portable CD Burners, StarMax & SuperMac Advice, Mac Navigation, and Spell Checking

Charles Moore - 2001.09.11 - Tip Jar

You must write sun up to sun down every day.

I find your work everywhere!

Hi Marvin,

It certainly does seem that way a lot of days.

And you don't know the half of it....

Actually, my Mac Web work is only part of my journalistic output. I also syndicate four political/cultural commentary columns a week to newspapers across Canada, have a column in my local weekly paper every second week, have regular columns in Canadian Yachting Magazine, The Interim, Atlantic Fisherman, The Nova Scotia Business Journal, ChristianWeek, and Continental Newstime, and I moderate a very active email discussion forum.

Keeps me busy....


From Ned Morell

Subject: Google giggle

My wife and I were wondering about fax software for OS X, and she remembered reading a column of yours about it some time ago. I went to Google and searched for "Charles W. Moore", "OS X" and "fax". The reason I'm telling you this is because Google categorizes you as "Science > Social Sciences > ... > Constructed Languages > Play Languages > Pig Latin"! I can't imagine why...

Ned Morell

Hi Ned,

As I noted to Marvin above, I write in many venues, and frequently find myself popping up unexpectedly in my own Google searches.

I wrote a column for Applelinks a while back about people using Pig Latin as a foil against copyright snoops on Napster, which is probably where the reference you mention came from.


From: Robert Herring

Subject: Fax Software & DSL

Mr. Moore:

I recently became DSL user and am wondering if there is fax software available for this connection. It appears that the programs all are looking for a "traditional" modem and do not recognize the DSL modem. Am I doing something wrong? What are my options?

Robert Herring

Hi Robert,

I'm not a DSL user, and have thus not encountered this issue, but I would be surprised if it's not addressed by somebody making fax software.

If it hasn't been, I guess the only alternative is to connect via modem when you need to send or receive a fax, although I appreciate that is not a really satisfactory solution.


From Niran Sabanathan

Subject: Sublaptops

Hi Charles,

Thanks for the article about the QuickPad Pro. I have not had any experience with the Quick Pad, but have used the Alphasmart for the last 3 years. In fact, I just bought the new Alphasmart 3000 model. Despite having a (gasp) AcerNote Light, I really prefer using the Alphasmart for word slinging in the field.

These beasts are light (2.2 lbs.) and cheap(er) - $319 Canadian. Now I know that does seem a bit expensive compared to some low-end PowerBooks, but the Alphasmart does the job of basic word processing with the least amount of hassle and back pain. They are easy to carry in a backpack or knapsack; you almost don't know they are there. I can not say the same for my laptop.

The batteries (3 AA) last forever - apparently 300-500 hours with the Alphasmart 3000. This is great for travel, because you are not constantly watching a powering down battery meter. If you do run out of power, how hard is it to find 3 AA in most places in the world ?

The only real disappointment is the lack of screen real estate. These machines are not good for revision of substantial documents, but they are not meant to be. I like to think of them as electronic notebooks. Once you have everything down, just download and compose. The advantage of not using a "real" computer for jotting down your thoughts - no email, no Internet, no distractions. It is just you, the keyboard, and a black and white LCD.

By the way, I don't work for Alphasmart, Inc.

Niran Sabanathan

From Scott Thomas-Fitch

Subject: QPS M2 FireWire Hard Drive

Thank you for your article on the QPS M2 drive on Low End Mac. I am in the market for a small portable drive. How would you compare it to the VST small drives though?

Thank you in advance,
Scott in Barcelona

Hi Scott,

From what I hear, the VST drives are very good as well, but I have no hands-on experience.


From Harvey Lazar

Subject: StarMax 3000 OS upgrade

Hi Charles,

Just found out about the Low End Mac Web site and read your "ramblings" on upgrading the StarMax 3000. I have a StarMax 3000/180 and just added 64 MB RAM (from Crucial Technologies for $60 w/tax). However, it is running on OS 7.6. What options do I have to upgrade the OS? I'll be satisfied with 8.1 but even more so with 8.6. I would appreciate any advice you can offer.

Thank you,

Hi Harvey,

I have used my Umax S900 (200 MHz 604e) with the following Mac OS versions: 7.5.3; 8.0; 8.1; 8.5.1; 8.6, 9.0; 9.0.4. and 9.1.

All have worked with no problem. I expect you would find the same with your not-that-much-slower StarMax. I am currently running Mac OS 9.1.


From Anonymous by request

Subject: c500 info


Here are a couple of other sites that might help the guy with the wonky C500. They're not exactly troubleshooting sites, but I've found a lot of useful info for my C600 there.

SuperMac C500/C600 Info Page

(and since it's the same motherboard as the 6400/6500 ...)

The 6400 Zone

Power Mac 6500

Of course, the Low End Mac page for the C500 might have some other sites to check out.

A couple of things come to mind about his startup freeze. He said booting from CDs didn't help. How about disconnecting the hard drive and then starting from a CD? That way you can tell if it's the HD or something more fundamental. If there's a video card installed, then switching from that to the Umax's built-in video port would eliminate another possible source of the freeze. (Might need a Mac to VGA adapter for that.)

Good work on the columns!

Thanks for the info and the links!


From Wayne

Subject: S900

Hi Charles,

I was reading an article on Low End Mac and you mentioned you had an S900. I recently found a deal on a 1400cs and an S900 package. I resold the 1400cs (I have a PB G3 PDQ) and kept the S900.

How the heck do you get this thing to boot using a Norton CD!? I know that CD ROM Toolkit is required for the CD ROM. This is what I have tried: Creating a rescue disk from the internal Zip and using Norton as the utility. System freezes before happy Mac. The Norton CD does the same.

The SuperMac CD works, but it is System 8.0 with no network drivers. I would just mount the Norton CD from another Mac and fix away. So I figured I would burn a bootable CD using the SuperMac CD and add OS 8 network drivers and Norton Utilities.

Burned CD did the same thing, freeze before happy Mac. Any ideas?


P.S. What kind of upgrades do you have in the S900? HD? G3/G4? USB? FireWire? DVD? RAM?

Man this thing is a beast...

Hi Wayne,

I've never encountered this one before, although I had some weird and frustrating problems with my S900 that were finally determined to be a very cranky Seagate 2.15 GB 7200 RPM Barracuda hard drive. I replaced the latter with a Quantum 4 GB unit and have had no further problems. It took me several months and a lot of hair tearing to figure it out however.

I doubt that your problem is the HD. Does the machine boot up OK otherwise?

Maybe you should try Micromat's Tech Tool Pro as an alternative to Norton.

My S900 is a Frankenstein machine. I bought it new (that is, it had never been used) in May 2000 as a bare chassis and motherboard, and have added:
  • A 200 MHz 604e processor from a PowerMac 7300
  • Hard drives as above - the Quantum is a pull from a Power Computing machine.
  • An Apple 8x CD-ROM drive
  • An odds and sods assortment of scrounged RAM DIMMs - no two alike, totaling 120 MB (and I still have an empty slot or two
  • A video card out of a Umax J700 (it's not great)
  • A Macally USB PCI upgrade card
  • A Macally FireWire PCI upgrade card
I have used the following Mac OS versions: 7.5.3; 8.0; 8.1; 8.5.1; 8.6, 9.0; 9.0.4. and 9.1. All worked well. It's currently running OS 9.1.

And yes, it is a beast!


From Vance A. Butler

Subject: Navigation on a Mac


David M Ensteness recently queried you about using a PB 5300 for this purpose. It appeared the major problem was the lack of a CD drive. I, too, had pondered that when using DeLorme Atlas 4.0, as it required the CD for 100% functionality. I simply made a disk image of the CD and placed an alias on the desktop, now when I want Atlas to launch, I boot up the disk image and it "fools" the 5300 into thinking its running off a CD. A very simple yet elegant solution, one caveat - you have to have the disk space available, although Atlas does allow you to extract their map database into smaller, I don't remember the exact feature name I think its called Extractor. Anyway thought this might be of general interest to those whose PB are CD-less


Thank you! A very useful tip.


From Frank C. Modica

Subject: Spellchecker


After reading your article about spellchecker, I downloaded it. I've been using it on a PB 170 running OS 7.1 with Thread Manager and Drop and Drag. Though it's a bit slow on that machine, I've found it very useful. I also use it on my G3 powered 6100, and it is quite a bit faster there.

Frank C. Modica

Glad you're finding it useful. I find it indispensable, and don't know what I will do when I switch to OS X.


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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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