Charles Moore's Mailbag

Browsers, Bus Errors, 'Books, OS X, Clones, Microsoft, and More

Charles Moore - 2001.11.07 - Tip Jar

Note on speed in Web browser downloads

From: Marc Bookmeyer

Found your article to be rather insightful and got me interested enough to check out Mozilla (downloading as I type). I read Evan's article and had a hearty laugh and a sigh of disappointment.

I don't know if you would be set up to check this out, but I had an interesting finding when comparing IE to iCab. IE would download file from a website at 20k/sec while iCab proceeded to download from the same website at 100k/sec on 3 counts! I was shocked and felt conspiracy or crapware - probably impossible to decipher the actual culprit, but I found rather shocking.

Hi Marc,

Hope you like Mozilla. I do.

That's interesting about IE vs. iCab speedwise. I purged Microsoft software from my hard drive a year ago, so I don't have IE around for comparison.


4.7 anything exclusion

From Jim Corti

Mr. Moore,

Thank you for the good article on browsers in Low End Mac.

Terrific point in asking why the NC [Netscape Communicator] 4.78 was excluded in the original article. There must be tens of millions, or more, of us that are still using it effectively. I still use 4.77, about the same as 4.78 I think(?), and cannot for the life of me figure out what happened to it's continuity, except for Mozilla's progress. It is a great browser.

I wish you had mentioned one or two or three features that IE had that NC4.7x didn't.

And also, just how differently do things appear in an IE browser window, than in NC4.7x in your opinion.

I cannot see any differences, and I build websites, and it is obviously important to me, when I am testing.

Your comments on 6.2 are just enough to send me to take a look. I am running 9.2.1 rather than X, at least until Photoshop gets here [for Mac OS X].

Can you comment on the differences in what you see of the exact same page, in 6.2, 4.7x or IE5? If that is a bunch, sorry, but you seem to have a better handle on this than other that I have read, and it is valuable to me. I bet it would be valuable to a bunch of other people, too.

And thanks for mentioning Opera.

And, thanks for what you do, I have enjoyed reading you over the years.

Jim Corti

Hi Jim,

Please see my answer to Marc above vis a vis me and IE 5. As I recall, it defaults to 96 dpi, as does NS6/Mozilla, which does make pages look substantively different.

Non-techie users I know who have 1024 x 728 or better resolution Macs tell me they really like the larger-appearing text compared with the 72 dpi in NSC4.7x.


BIG MESS...bus error

From rObERt mcCLiNToCk

Hi there!!

I picked up an old Umax S900 - figured I'd soup it up to use as a printer server.

I was swapping out the 2 gig drive, BUT during the process I did not power down, and I FRIED the 2 GIG and the CD drive. Nice huh? They don't work no mo....

So I replace the two drives, and NOW I can't for the life of me get the machine to boot.

It chimes and gets started but always ends up freezing with a BUS ERROR. All the SCSI IDs are checked and correct; they all work (tested on another Mac)

What'd I DO??...fried the BUS too???



Hi Robo,

Can't say for sure, but that certainly would seem to be a possibility. My son fried the mobo in our Power Mac 9500 by installing the wrong RAM (the RAM slots melted).

There may be some sort of motherboard diagnostic than can be employed to confirm or disprove bus damage, but that is beyond my lever of technical expertise.


PowerBook advice

From George Mogiljansky

Hello CWMoore,

Hello from Montreal. Please see below details of PowerBooks on sale as of Tues., Oct. 30.

Want To Sell


2 - G3/233MHz/96MB/2.0GB HD/12.1" DUAL
2 - G3/233MHz/96-160MB/2.0GB HD/14.1"
1 - G3/450MHz - UPGRADED FROM 266MHz/192MB
1 - G3/300MHz/192MB/8.0GB HD/DVD/14.1" TFT.

1 - G3/233MHz/32MB/2.0GB HD/NO VIDEO/NO AC/
1 - G3/450MHz - UPGRADED FROM 300MHz/192MB/8.0GB

Best offer, need bids today.

I need some advice, of course. First thing I asked was about the AC cords that were/are a fire hazard. Should I have asked for serial numbers? I kinda think this guy just wants an offer (I also asked if individual items were available). You might notice that the details don't include any cables or other peripherals that might be very expensive yet very necessary just to use a PowerBook. And, of course, no indication of "Lombard", "Wallstreet", "Pismo", etc. Thanks for any advice forthcoming,

George (Mac user (G3 beige and other desktops, natch))

Hi George,

These machines are all WallStreets. Depending on the price, they could be an excellent value or a rip-off. As always, caveat emptor.

For the working/complete units, if in good condition, I would suggest as fair prices in Canadian dollars:
  • 233 dual-scan - $1,000
  • 233 14.1" - $1,100 (I'm assuming that these are the cacheless 233)
  • 450 MHz - $1,500
  • 300 MHz - $1,450
The others one would have to see what's missing.


Ramblings: laptops vs. desktops

From John Konopka


Just a personal comment. I am apparently going against the tide in this debate. Rather than use just a laptop or desktop, I think the best way to work now is with a combination of the two. I am investing in a rather high end tower system and will soon buy an iBook for traveling. With the wide availability of broadband I hope to keep the iBook lean and access the tower when I need to access information or special peripherals.

For the tower I just bought a QuickSilver 867 with Cinema Display. Compared to a laptop, I get a much faster processor, a SuperDrive, a faster and larger hard drive and a much superior display and graphics card. If you look at them side by side, you will see that Apple's desk top flat panels look much better than their laptop displays (which are not bad). I also have PCI slots for adding options and the tower is much more upgradable than a laptop which extends the life of my investment.

Early next year I will probably trade in my Pismo for a next version iBook (assuming they come out).

I will add that this is still very much a work in progress. I am still settling in to the QuickSilver. And while I have DSL both at home and the office I use Asante routers at both places so I will have to figure out how to access the server through the firewall. Also, we connect by PPPoE and not with a fixed IP address. These are things I can deal with and it all looks much easier in OS X, but I still have to get my regular work done while I work on these things.

Best Regards,
John Konopka

Hi John,

If you need the power and expandability of the tower, and the portable is to be a dedicated road warrioring machine, no argument. For me, it would be a waste, as the PowerBook does everything I need a computer to do and more.


Solution: laptops vs. desktops

From John Konopka


Recently I emailed you regarding my goal to keep a G4 tower as a base station and a small, light laptop for traveling as opposed to using a laptop for everything. One problem is how to access the base station over the Internet. Here is a product that solves that problem.

Haven't tried it but it looks like the solution is at hand.

Best Regards,
John Konopka

OS X boosting old Macs?

From Iwane Christopher

Hi, Charles,

I just finished reading a couple of your columns on OS X, and I was wondering if you have a sense of what's going on with people who are dissatisfied with OS X. Are they going to grin and bear it, stick with Classic Mac OS and older hardware, or go to Windows?

I purchased a B&W G3 in August of 99 and a Pismo in January of this year so I would be able to run Apple's next generation OS, and now that I've had the chance to work with OS X full time, I'm putting both of my Macs on eBay. I haven't been happy with OS 9's stability, so I'm going back to a Power Mac 8600/300 with System 7.6.1. Whatever I can't do on that I'll do on my Windows 2000 machine.

I was wondering if you've heard of any other people who are going back to the Classic OS after trying X.

Thanks for all the great columns,


Hi Chris,

I haven't heard of very many people reverting after switching, although many are taking a gradual, cautious approach to adopting.

As long as an older version of the Mac OS will do what you need it to do, there is no reason why you can't go on using it indefinitely, although with the passage of time you will find yourself shut out of more and more of the latest software.

I'm interested in your comment about OS 9 instability. On my two PowerBooks and my former Cube, OS 9.0/9.1 has been the most stable version of the Mac OS since System 6. I can sometimes go a week or more without a restart, and this is in heavy, daily use with 20 or more programs open.

I am planning to start making the transition to X soon on my new-to-me Pismo, although I expect to be using OS 9.1 as my primary production OS for the foreseeable future.



From Shaun

Hi Charles,

I have the same DSL problem. It seems that my fax software will not work with the line.

The problem is not addressed by any fax software programs that I can find.

I have to have the DSL on the fax line, and I get tons of junk faxes that my machine spits out ad nauseum.

Please help!


Hi Shaun,

Wish I could. My ignorance of DSL practical issues is voluminous.

Can anyone in readerland address this problem?


Editor's note: Junk faxes are illegal. These people shouldn't be sending them in the first place and are required by law to stop doing so at your request. The incidence of junk fax should have absolutely nothing to do with the presence of a DSL connection, since fax is sent over the "regular" side of the phone line.

Upgrading StarMax 3000

From Sam Shastri


I came across your website regarding low-end Macs and want to find out if my StarMax 3000 is upgradable to OS 8.5 or OS 9.2.1


Hi Sam,

OS 8.5 yea; OS 9.2.1 nay, to the best of my knowledge. OS 9.2.1 reportedly requires a G3 or better.

However, OS 9.1 and the earlier OS 9 builds work great on my Umax S900, and should happily support your StarMax as well. You wouldn't want OS 9.2.1 anyway. Not the most stable version, and some really nasty bugs have been reported.


Windows XP and Others for Christmas

From Alvin Chan

Good morning, in spite of the crisis will people still buy Windows XP and OS X on Christmas or will they buy consoles instead, either way Microsoft earns because it's got Xbox.

Are we after Microsoft, without which there's no Intel, because it doesn't deserve the richness it made by cheating and copying ideas? It all started with Word 1 with Apple licensed windows interface which Apple did not just restrict to Word 1 for Mac and eventually it became Windows 1.0?

I guess we should make sure Apple becomes at least 50% of the market as it doesn't deserve to be just 7% of the market. Companies, especially are using Apple's ideas/designs so that they won't have to develop much - that's a bad thing and shouldn't be tolerated. I do hope Apple makes this ASAP by taking advantage of Windows XP's exclusion of standards like HTML, MP3 and other formats that are already the best. Also, since nobody would really buy Windows XP as they've just bought ME and 2000, Apple must now release an onslaught of the best designs in hardware and digital gadgets and upgrade OS 10.1 to something more - make it even easier to use.

Apple must try to strengthen it's strongest points which is the OS, GUI, industrial design, AppleWorks must be compatible perfectly with XLS, doc and all kinds of txt and HTML formats and must include a very Metacreations like GUI starting with menus (already present in the buttons of OS X) and integration of hardware-software and must now listen to customers but would still have quality in mind (a hard thing to do if it's too low cost).

Since its strength is industrial design it must have a lot of new gadgets for the digital hub (Macintosh) that have triple roles, iPod (an easy to develop gadget, for it just combined things) could have been like a stripped down OS X Handspring Visor like device (version 2 maybe) that's also and MP3 player and a hard disk.

Being best really starts with being very low priced but that would almost certainly sacrifice quality...I'd rather pay a bit more. If this is so then I would accept the 7% market share. Better to be few but have the best for it will always be there because nobody can have 100% of it all (it doesn't deserve the wealth anyways, it wasn't gotten properly in general). 50 - 50 would be better and the time is now to do, I do hope Apple can do that even if it uses 2/3 of it's resources- I believe it can- payback time in a good way :-)

God bless,
Alvin Chan

Hi Alvin,

Apple seems to have fulfilled some of your wish list with iPod.



From Eolake Stobblehouse

The poor quality of Microsoft Windows costs the world economy $170 billion per year in lost productivity due to crashes. This is four times Bill Gates' net worth, so we are not talking pocket change, even for him, if he were forced to cover the cost of his deeds.

Yours, Eolake

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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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