Charles Moore's Mailbag

SuperMac C500 Upgrade, PowerBooks and Flash RAM, Word 5.1, and More

Charles Moore - 2002.11.26 - Tip Jar

Upgrading a C500 SuperMac

From Fred M. Turner

Is it possible and economical to upgrade the UMAX C500? Processor; RAM; Graphics; Drives.

I really appreciate your help,


Hi Fred,

It is possible to upgrade the C500 in all of the categories you mention. Whether it is economical compared to, say, replacing the computer with a used iMac, is another question.

The best "one stop shopping center" to do price research on various upgrades is here:

Just click on the appropriate tabs, and follow the menu selections.


1400 Using Flash Card

From Frank Fox

Dear Mr. Moore,

I've seen it a couple of times, but I can't get it to work, using CF [Compact Flash] card for extra memory on the PowerBook 1400. I have a CF card reader and a 1400 with OS 8.6 installed. To format the card, my only choice is a DOS format. It is still recognized after formatting. When I go the the Memory control panel, under virtual memory, the pull down is for select a hard drive, and the only one that shows up is the main hard drive. Do I have to have OS 9.1 installed to do this? I need better details on how this works.

Frank Fox

Hi Mr. Fox,

I wish I could help, but as I've noted previous columns, I have no hands-on experience with flash cards and the PowerBook 1400. It wouldn't surprise me if you need OS 9.x installed to support these cards, but I can't say that for sure.

Dan Knight recently posted a fairly comprehensive article on this topic. There are lots of links, and perhaps you could contact Dan directly for more information.



Word 5

From Andrew Main

Charles & Dan,

Re the notes in MR, 2002.11.13, FYI, here's a little essay I wrote a while back about Word 5:

About Word 5

Micro$oft Word has long been the dominant word processor application on the Macintosh - not so much because it is superior to all others, but because Microsoft was the first company to offer an alternative to the primitive MacWrite during the Mac's first year, and so completely took over the market that no one's been able to challenge them since.

Many users feel that Word 5.1, dating from 1992, was the best version ever produced; Word 6 was such a monstrosity that Microsoft was forced to continue selling and supporting version 5 even after version 6 was released - a unique event in the history of the software industry. Word 98 is a considerable improvement over version 6, but remains a ponderous, expen$ive piece of bloatware that runs poorly on any Mac earlier than the G3 family. Thus, even though Word 5.1 is not PowerPC-native, many continue to use it even on current model Macs. So far as I know, M$ Word 5 can run on any Macintosh from a Plus to a G4. (I suppose it could even run in Classic under OS X, if you really want to.)

I use Word 5 specifically to open/convert Word 6 & 98 docs to Word 5 format, which can then be opened by AppleWorks 5 (and earlier versions of ClarisWorks). (AppleWorks 6 can open the later Word docs, but has forgotten how to work with Word 5, along with a lot of other stuff it used to know.)

(1) I've read of some having trouble installing Word 5 on newer Macs, possibly because its installer is confused by disks larger than the ca. 20 MB that was gigantic in its time. I haven't "installed" Word 5 in years; I have it in a folder with all its parts and just copy it over to any Mac where I want it. If you need to install it, best to find an older Mac (68K if you can) to do so, then copy it over. Word 5's installer doesn't put anything (nothing necessary anyway) in the System Folder other than the MTExtra fonts used in its equation editor - and it puts those in the System file and Extensions folder, a la System 7.0 (before the Fonts folder was invented). The only thing Word 5 needs in Extensions (only on PowerPC Macs) is "FixWordSystemMemory" (see below).

(2) If you have Word 5.0, it's a good idea to update it to v. 5.1a, the final version of generation 5. I don't remember exactly what the differences were (have never used it myself), but believe they were significant. Unfortunately, a quick look at Micro$oft's Web site (I don't like to spend any more time there than I have to) failed to locate any 5.0 to 5.l updater (see below). Perhaps, as with WriteNow, there is some private Word 5 user in the "Vintage Mac" community who can help.

(3) Word 5 is, of course, a 68K app, so runs in emulation mode on a PowerPC-based Mac, where it's not entirely happy, sometimes showing a message that it cannot start up because there's not enough memory (though it requires all of 1 MB by default). A freeware extension named "FixWordSystemMemory" prevents this glitch. For some reason, the usual download sites don't seem to have this invaluable fix, but it can be found at the author's Web page: <>

(4) One of the nicest things about Word 5, besides the fact that it doesn't require 100 MB of disk space and 20 MB of RAM on a 500 MHz G3 to run comfortably, is that-since it doesn't have the macro functionality of Word 6 & later-it isn't vulnerable to the multitude of cross-platform Micro$oft-specific macro "viruses" that are the only serious class of pathogens in the Mac environment these days. However, keep in mind that, as with Micro$oft Outlook Express, Word 5 can pass on such viruses in documents received from later & PC versions that harbor them.

(5) Despite all the wonderful features of later versions (especially for those unfortunate Mac users who are burdened with extra, unused memory), Word 5 has remained amazingly popular for an "obsolete" application, so much so that Micro$oft apparently felt obliged to provide ways for Word 5 to open documents produced in later versions. This back-compatibility is available for Word 6 & 98 docs (& PC equivalents), but not later versions (such as Word 2000), so far as I know. Of course, if you open a Word 6 or 98 document in Word 5, you may lose high-end formatting and features that the earlier application doesn't recognize, but not that many people use these features anyway-which is why Word 5 is still a very usable application.

(5a) For the Word 6 to 5 converter, go to: <>. Do a search for "Product Name: Word 5.0" in "Operating System: Macintosh." The first item in the list is the updater to patch Word 5.1 to 5.1a. There doesn't seem to be an updater from 5.0 to 5.1, I don't know why. The second item, "Word 6.0/7.0 Updated 32-bit Converter (Mswrd32.exe)" contains utilities that allow Word 5 to open documents created in Word 6/7 for Macintosh or Windows. Basically, this is a set of translator files that go into the "Word Commands" folder in Word 5's folder. (Despite the ".exe" in the name, this is a Macintosh file.)

(5b) For the Word 98 &c converter, go to: <>. Under Office 98, get the "Microsoft Word 97-98-2000 Converter." Again, this is a set of translator files that go into the "Word commands" folder in Word 5's folder, along with a Batch Converter utility.

(6) Keep in mind that Word 5, like most Macintosh programs, works best when the application is in the same folder with its other parts, including the "Word Commands" folder. If it is outside its folder, it won't be able to find its spelling checker, converters, etc. If you want a quick way to open Word (or any other app) from the Desktop or Apple menu, make an alias to put in those places.

Andrew Main

Installing Word 5.1

From Byron Desnoyers Winmill

The easiest way: create a small, blank disk image with Disk Copy, and install it onto that. This method seemed to work on my machine, but I probably didn't let it install any components in the system folder.


Installing Word 5.1 onto a virtual disk

From Gary Shelton

Perhaps the person (Christian Schlier) who contacted you regarding his inability to install Word 5.1 onto his new PowerBook G4 could use a mounted read-write disk image of sufficient size as the install target for Word? After the installation is finished, he could then copy Word to his hard disk. Just a thought.


OS X upgrade advice

From Alvin Chan

Thank you for your time. I'd like to serve people better and want to upgrade. I have a G3 350 iMac and I have 64 and 64 memory for 128 MB already with OS 9.2.2. I want to upgrade to OS X, for OS 9 crashes a lot. Where is the best to buy software and memory and other hardware online besides OWC?

I use: Netscape, Virtual PC, AppleWorks and Eudora, AIM, Codewarrior, Norton SystemWorks or Virex, SurfDoubler - usually 3-4 of those at the same time. I also plan to turn off virtual memory as well. Though we are networked I don't like to share files via ethernet with the PC which the Internet is shared with via SurfDoubler.

I would want to have the best but there are limitations with resources. Which of these combinations is good enough for my needs?

  1. OS 10.1 with 256 MB + 64 MB
  2. OS 10.1 with 500 MB + 64 MB
  3. Jaguar with 256 MB + 64 MB
  4. Jaguar with 500 MB + 64 MB

OS X is just $45 at OWC. The extra 64 MB I will give to my bro's PC btw. By the way we use SurfDoubler as the DSL client. Can we like dial first to DSL using that in OS 9 then switch to OS X and permanently connect to the Internet? I don't turn off the iMac (sort of server) anymore as dad uses it around 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. in the PC.

God bless,

Hi Alvin,

The rule of thumb with OS X is to buy as much RAM as you can afford. Some people suggest that one gigabyte is not too much. I have 640 MB and seem to get along reasonably well. I would suggest that 256 MB is the bare minimum that you should try to get along with, and that isn't really enough.

I have had good service from Other World Computing, but there are many suppliers of RAM. Your best bet is to go to ramseeker and follow the links from there.

Go with Jaguar.

I have no personal experience with SurfDoubler in either the Classic Mac OS or OS X, but I presume that you would have to dial into it using OS X in order for it to work. Classic networking is not supported in OS X under Classic Mode.


Response to "Kanga Whine"

From David


I believe the answer to this question is that "Kanga"'s AC adapter is in the last throes of death. I've had four Macs: Bondi blue iMac, blueberry iBook, a 2001 iceBook, and a IIvx.

All the "new" Macs have had major problems with their power adapters. The iMac would spark and crackle electrically over and over due to a failing in its flyback transformer.

When my blueberry and my iceBook both exhibited whining noises, unplugging the AC adapters would solve the problems. Plugging the adapters back in recreated the whining. Both had adapters where the wire could be rolled up inside. The blueberry was sold, so I don't know the fate of its adapter.

But the iceBook's adapter recently died with a "splutter". I have heard some of them had actually caught on fire while being used by their unsuspecting mac owners. It these cases, we're paying Apple hundreds more for the privilege of having cr*ppy AC adapters supplied with our notebooks. Sadly, the IIvx is the only Mac I've owned that still runs without a hitch. They sure don't make them like they used to, nope.


Hi David,

Yes, my 9-year-old LC 520 is still functioning flawlessly. My wife uses it daily for email and word-processing. For the sort of stuff she does with computers, she really wouldn't benefit whole lot from a newer machine. The old LC, Eudora Light, and Word 5.1 are perfectly suited to her computing needs. And that old LC is as dependable as an anvil.


Re: OS X and dot-matrix printers

From Joe Ballo

Like many people, I was initially disappointed that there was no way to print to Apple dot-matrix printers in OS X. There must be millions of them out there, soldiering on year after year after year. That there were no serial ports was bad enough, but the ultimate disappointment was when I tried to put one of my ImageWriter LQs with an AppleTalk board on the LocalTalk serial bus out of an AsantePrint box. I had this sort of hanging around to be able to print my invoices to my LQ in 9.0.4 and, of course, it didn't work under X. What was infuriating was that, like a good ethernet device, it showed up when I ran atlookup in the terminal app, but there were no drivers for it [Steve knows best] and, hence, no printing.

When I installed OS 10.2 I saw that it supported CUPS [Common Unix Printing System], and a little digging around showed me that there were drivers for most of the common Linux distros. But still nothing for Apple. It said that the vender was responsible for the drivers. Suuure.

However, as a last step I put out a message on the list:

and lo and behold got a reply from one Tyler Blessing who, after making sure that I understood that I had to have an ImageWriter with an ethernet card, directed me to:

When you go there you will find the latest version of GhostScript and another URL that will download drivers for the original ImageWriter, the ImageWriter II and the ImageWriter LQ [a.k.a. the printer-from-hell a.k.a. the-loudest-dot-matrix-printer ever-made]. Install both packages and you will find that IT WORKS. I can now send out three part invoices. The printers show up in Print Center. I am in heaven. Spread the Word. My ImageWriter is BAAACK.

Dr Joe

Hi Dr. Joe,

My only Mac printer is an ImageWriter II. ;-)


Write CD-RW

From: Andrew Main


From the 11.13.2002 MR:

"There used to be an Adaptec program enabling you to simply dump data on the CD-RW - and it should be easy to implement, since the CD-RW uses the UDF data packet storage structure (a la DVDs) - but while it still exists (now called WriteCD-RW!), it hasn't been updated for the Mac for several years. This means that there are no drivers for new CD-RW drives - as opposed to the PC version."

Maybe this has happened in just the last few days, but when I went to the link for WriteCD-RW (, I found both Mac OS 8-9 versions and a Mac OS X version. Looks like a good deal.

Andrew Main

Mac-Friendly Nationwide ISP now as low as 4.5 cents per minute

From Russell Ain

Hi Charles,

To make our service even more affordable, we've recently lowered our rates to as low as 4.5 cents per minute. These new rates can be viewed at:

Thanks for all the assistance!

BAMnet Corporation

iCab Stability

From Ian Orchard

I've noticed a big increase of occasions when a particular Web page causes it to simply disappear without trace. (Version 2.8.2 with OS X 10.2)

Your math, while good, is flawed :)

From Kai Cherry

You are basing your theory on the fact that each window is its own OpenGL surface.

It isn't. That would be clever and allow for all sorts of funky tricks. (If you zoom the display, its pretty obvious that all of the windows, etc. are mapped to a single surface.)

However, as you noted, this would eat VRAM like crazy.

That being said, QE [Quartz Extreme] works great on iBooks *that are designed to use it*, and I submit that you *might* want to actually try one out.

Not saying that you haven't, of course. Your analysis just seems to make it seem that way.


Hi Kai,

It was neither my math nor my theory, actually; it was from a Web tutorial that I quoted and linked to.

In point of fact, I have not had the opportunity to try one of the new iBooks yet. live 150 miles from the nearest Apple dealer. ;-)

However, I was delighted to note in a comparison test of the two new 12" iBook models by MacUser UK that Quartz Extreme seems to work very well on both of these machines, even the 16 MB VRAM model.


New iBooks with extra 10 GB hard drive space for $39 extra

From Bill Saunders

MCE has extended their "Super Size" promotion to the new iBooks until 12/31.

Basically for the list price (+$39 install fee) you get 10 GB extra hard drive space and double the RAM.

On the 14" iBook you get the max RAM and a 40 GB drive.

Optionally, you can order the iBook with a 60 GB drive instead (5400 RPM, I asked) for $250 (on the 12" combo), and $275 on the 14".

That's what I did - for $350 extra I'm getting a maxed-out new iBook (640 MB, and as many times as I've filled the 20 GB drive on my iBook 600 I went for the 60 GB, 5400 RPM drive).

Still, for a nominal $39 fee you get a larger drive and double the RAM.

Stock was expected middle of this week.

I expect they will do the same for PowerBooks, but that web page was not yet updated when I checked.

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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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