Charles Moore's Mailbag

Best Low End Macs, Religious Computer Wars, Email Diversity, and StarMax 3000 Questions

Charles Moore - 2001.05.01 - Tip Jar

We haven't done a Miscellaneous Ramblings Mailbag for a while,so I thought I should catch up with recent correspondence.

Re: The Best Low End Macs

From Barrett Benton

Dear CWM,

Great article (The Best Low BudgetMacs) - especially so since I've been going through enormouschanges with my setup at home and on the go.

Due to economic factors (politesse for "have to pay off otherstuff before even thinking about more shiny new stuff), Ihad to keep my sights below the G3 line for the time being.Fortunately, I didn't have to stay well below that line anylonger.

About two months ago I came across a flyer from someone sellinga Power Mac 7600/132 for $100. Atfirst I thought this was either a serious typo or possibly someonetrying to quickly unload ill-gotten goods, but it turned out to bea legit offer, which amazed me - 80 MB RAM, original 1 GB HD,internal Zip drive, keyboard, original mouse, and KensingtonTurboMouse 3. I had planned to slog on through with my 7200/120, which wasn't terrible, but I waswishing I could run through my Photoshop files just a tad faster.Now I can almost rip through them with the 7600 (with a little helpfrom a 200 MHz 604e pull I picked up very cheaply). And, of course,whenever I get the urge for a G3/G4 fix, the tab will be much lowerthan with the 7200.

Unfortunately, this put the onus on my somewhat frail andoverstressed PB Duo 2300c. About twoyears ago I put together a fairly killer Duo system around this PBwith the intention of making it my Main Axe (to borrow anIhnatkoism) for everything I did on a Mac - I had gone the two-Macroute before (Quadra840AV/PowerBook 160) before, butafter trashing the 'Book due to a failing shoulder strap on mycarry case, I decided I wanted it all on one machine. And, with the2300c, I did have it all, and loved it -until I got my first filmscanner, CD burner, and Epson Stylus Photo 1200 printer.

Suddenly, everything was taking longer to do, because I wasdoing more things than before. I didn't care much about multimedia,and still don't, but reasonably swift scans of my negatives andslides was and is important, as well as printing. The scanningproblem was mostly solved by getting a faster film scanner, butprinting the resulting image file literally choked the Duo - I wasessentially thrashing the system within a few inches of its life(printing out a 13"x19" print meant clicking Print at 10.30 atnight and saying "See ya in the morning").

When I came across the Power Mac 7200 for an attractive price, Ithought, "Well, I could use it as a print server." That idea wasshort-lived when the person selling the 7200 told me he was alsoselling a clean 17" Apple Multiscan for a screamingly cheap price.I was working with two 15" monitors on the Duo system (Applemultiscan and their old greyscale Portrait), so I was backsliding,if you will, to the two-Mac model, but it seemed unavoidable.

When the 7600 came along, the 7200 was passed on to mygirlfriend, who is quite happy with the extra power and capacity.Meanwhile, the Duo was struggling, with a slipping hinge clutch andflaky speaker cable to add insult to injury. The obvious answer wasa new(er) PB, but what? Cost-wise, a G3-anything was out of thequestion. A 5300 was essentially aDuo with ports and PC slots, but no performance boost. The 1400 looked promising (especially with a G3upgrade later on), but had barely more RAM capacity than my 2300'salready maxed-out 56 MB (yes, you can run Photoshop 5 on itif you're careful, but it's real work), and that slow system bus -ouch. Briefly looked at a 2400, buthave you checked out battery prices for that baby (that is, whenyou can find 'em)? Scary.

That left the 3400c. Frankly, Iwasn't looking forward to lugging a full-on 'Book again, eventhough the payback comes in having to lug fewer accessories anddongles (Ethernet, CD-ROM, video-out, etc., all built-in). And thethought of that 12.1-inch active-matrix screen in thousands ofcolors - but the cost? Especially since I wanted the max, 240 MHzand a 3 gig drive.

It came in a PowerBookCentral posting. Someone had what I wanted for well under $600!More good luck came in the way of a freelance client who inheriteda pair of non-working 5300s, which I've offered to try and make oneworking 5300 out of. Both had floppy drives in their bays, andsince I'm sacrificing one 'Book to make the other work, I now havea floppy for the 3400 (which came with only the 12x CD-ROM).

So, everything has worked out - I have more than enough power athome and on the go, and with ethernet tethering the two at home(didn't know how fast 10Base-T really was until I had two fastmachines networked), everything from Photoshop to my DSL 'Netexperience is marvy.

Sorry about the article-length post, but I'm just this happywith this pair. Keep up the great work.


Hi Barrett

Thanks for the interesting letter. I always enjoy gettingchronicles like this about how other people work out theomnipresent performance vs. cost dilemma. Sounds like you have hitthe sweet spot for the present.

I'll warn you, though; once you cross the threshold into G3/G4speed, it's pretty tough to go back!


Re: 'Religious Computer Wars Revisited'

From John Solorzano

I enjoyed your column (Religious ComputerWars Revisited) very much! In particular, I enjoyed beingreminded of Umberto Eco's notions about platform acolytes and thenature of the doctrinal differences between them. For some time,and until very recently, I worked at Catholic University inWashington DC, a community which routinely insists on beingaddressed by its full, official name: "The CatholicUniversity of America." Note the insistent initial article,"THE."

Not so different from the Mac community's (also sometimescantankerous?) insistence in the importance and gravity inherent inthe details, perhaps?

And perhaps another shared trait is the breezy implicitdismissal of misguided contenders.

Delving too deeply into such patterns and analogues is risky(and it is probably apt that you cite Ecco's "Foucault's Pendulum"in your column). I would say, however, that Microsoft's assumptionof divine right seems to me non-denominational - rather, itunfortunately smacks of the institutional arrogance shared by toomany denominations and religious practitioners throughout the ages,and it is therefore not exclusive to any particular expression offaith.


Odessa Elliott wrote: "Steve Jobs has a messianic complex thatdoes him no personal good and that almost wrecked Apple - and mightwreck Apple again. One might say he's a Pentecostalism, relying onthe Holy Spirit for 'gifts,' esp. since the epiphany given him asto solving the 'bitmapping' problem."

Without signing on to the preceding assessment of Steve Jobspersonality, I would say that the term used most commonlyfor the Catholic brand of Pentecostalism is probably most apt:Steve's really a "Charismatic".


Again, thank you for your entertaining column. I have longenjoyed your rich contributions to the Mac community!

John Solorzano

Religion and the Mac PC

From Thomas Eberhard:

Apple won the concept, the GUIs of Win 9x is more similar to aMac than to a Win 3.11. Microsoft won the market and the money.

Apple have gotten help from Linux in an indirect way. Linux issomething that is perceived to be cool that MS can not kill likeOS/2 (that nobody cared much about despite having IBM behind it).Something that hurt Apple is the perception that MS is thestandard and nothing else is worth working with or learning.

About the religious overtones both in Mac, PC, and between thevarious Unix variants, I find them incomprehensible. I am anatheist in this regard as well :-)

I have a cousin that is religious and a Win NT administrator. Ishocked him by saying that I think Christianity, Judaism, and Islamis more or less identical. They all believe in a god called"God."

They all believe in the ultimate day of resurrection andjudgment. They all expect a prophet: For the Christians andMuslims, they have arrived and departed, and the Jews are stillwaiting. Compare the difference between these and say Hinduism,Shinto, or Buddhism, and it really looks as stupid as Unix geekswho go hopping mad over if TCP should be stream or socketimplemented.

Computers are like cars. Any solution can be well or poorlyimplemented be it front wheel drive back wheel drive or 4/6 or 8cylinder. Claiming that a sport car must have at least 8 cylindersis pointless. Not only is the Porche 611 with 6 cylinders andseveral Lotus cars with only 4 cylinders excellent cars there areseveral "sports cars" with 8 cylinders or more that was really badcars for other reasons.

It all boils down to good implementation and marketing asperceived value is more important than real value. Apple have donenice implementations of PC stuff like IDE disks PCI cards and USBthey should take from Win GUI any useful idea and implement it aswell or even better than MS does.

When I got a computer in 92 it was Hellcats and Mac OS 7.1instead of DOS 6 with Win 3.1 taped on top that got me to buy a Maceven if I got a LCII instead of a 40 MHz 386. Had I started 3 yearslater and had Win 95 and DOOM etc. I might have gone to the otherside who knows, and it is really not a big deal either.


Hi Thomas

As an amateur theologian, I can assure you that the differencesamong the various religions you cite are considerably more profoundthan you suggest.

I think you mean Porsche 911.

Thanks for your comments,


Re: Will Mac OS X Mail End EmailDiversity?

From Jeff Hellige


I read your article (Will Mac OS XMail end email diversity?) concerning Mac OS X Mail withinterest. I've been testing Mac OS X for nearly a week now andreally like it, with the exception of the fact that it will nolonger connect to file servers that Mac OS 9.1 and below willhappily connect to. Apple's answer to this is to modify theconfiguration of the servers themselves, but one can imagine howfew network administrators of mixed LAN's like mine (Macs, NT,Novell, Win95/98) will actually be willing to go this route. Let'sjust say that, since the servers worked fine before and continue todo so with the other clients, the servers will remain as-is,meaning OS X will not be able to be used on our variousb/w G3s and graphite G4s.

As for Mail, it should be remembered that nearly every versionof Unix ships with it's own included email client - after all,networking and email have always been an integral part of UNIX.NeXTstep/OpenStep also included their own Mail application, and,since OS X is a direct descendant of those operating systems,it stands to reason that it would include an improved version ofthat application. I'm a big fan of Eudora and have used it forquite a long time on both Mac and Windows platforms, but I thinkthat Mail is a nice basic email application. Certainly nicer thanOutlook and it's proprietary Exchange server format that forces youto only use Outlook. Outlook is also very inconsistent betweenversions and platforms as far as data format, settings andcapabilities, unlike Eudora.

Take care

StarMax 3000

From Mark Chally

You know, that ailing StarMax has a 5 year warranty.

Yes, he got in under the wire, but still thinksit's time for an upgrade.


StarMax 3000 Ethernet Question

From Michael T. Baxter

Hi, I'm a network admin, and I have a Motorola StarMax 3000/160 which appears tohave a bad NIC. Otherwise the computer is fine. I was wondering,could you tell me where I can buy an ethernet board, and, ifpossible, a restore CD that will work with one of these machines? Iwant to not only replace the bad NIC but also erase the HD andsetup the computer with a clean configuration again. Is it possibleto do this without a software restore CD?

Thanks for your time,

Hi Mike,

The ethernet board I'm not sure about. You've got lots of PCIslots, so probably a PCI board would be the best bet, and availablefrom a number of sources.

As for the hard drive reformatting, just use Drive Setup on the MacOS install CD. I would suggest upgrading to at least OS 8.6, butessentially any version that supports this machine will do thejob.

Small Dog Electronics iscurrently selling OS 9.1 for $95.00.


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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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