Charles Moore's Mailbag

External Mac Modems, PB G4 Speculation, UPS vs. FedEx, Virus Software, Thoughts on the G5, and More

Charles Moore - 2003.07.15 - Tip Jar

Mac LC 520 modem

From Jeff Hampton

I just read your article on Low End Mac about the wonderful Mac LC 520. I've recently acquired one myself and would like to know of a good modem that I could use with it. Since I figured you'd have one yourself, I thought you might have a suggestion or two. I appreciate any help.


Jeff Hampton

Hi Jeff,

Most any good Mac serial port compatible modem will work with the LC 520. I've used a number with ours over the nearly 11 years we've had the machine, including a Global Village TelePort Gold II 14,400; a Global Village Platinum 33,600, and a US Robotics Sportster 28,800.

I prefer the GV modems because of the excellent fax software that shipped with them.

If you live in an area with decent phone lines, a 56k modem would be worthwhile. I've never been able to get any modem to connect here at more than 28,800, so for me the older, slower modems are adequate.


G4 'Book speculation?

From Timothy E. Larson

Mr. Moore,

Would you care to speculate on the near future of the PowerBook line? Are we going to see the G5 'Book anytime soon? If not, will the 15" TiBook be revved to a AlBook similar to the 12" and 17" models? If so, might it feature a faster bus and memory (like the new G5s) so that it's G4 will finally reach full potential? Is a staggered release schedule like this sustainable, or will Apple sync up the features of all three sizes?

You're very knowledgeable about Apple's notebook offerings, so I'm hoping to gain some insight into what Apple might be thinking. We're all waiting for something to happen on this front (Apple clearing out the 15" channel is a good indicator), but we don't know what it will be. How soon do you think we will?

Tim L

HI Tim,

Apple doesn't confide in me, so this is pure speculation, but I see the near term PowerBook/iBook future unfolding something like this:

We should see an aluminum 15.4" PowerBook replacement for the Ti soon, possibly with a 1.2 GHz G4.

Speed bumps of the 12" and 17" machines will likely be announced along with the new 15.4" machine. I'm guessing 1 GHz for the LittleAl and 1.2 GHz for the BigAl.

The crystal ball is murkier where the iBook is concerned. IBM has announced new G3 750GX chips up to 1.2 GHz, but not to ship before very late in the year.

Don't look for a G5 laptop before 2004, and I'm skeptical that we'll see one before May, earliest, and maybe not even then. However, Macworld Expo would be the extreme long shot earliest date we might see one (IMHO).


RE: g4 'book speculation?

From Timothy E. Larson

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule, Charles. Your guesses reinforce my own.

I've really been contemplating buying a new PB as my primary machine. (I only just bought my first ever, a used 3400 now running Linux, last month.) Until the G5s were introduced, which completely blew the doors off the G4s, a G4 notebook made sense as primary computer. Portable and almost as fast as desktop machines. Now with dual 2 GHz G5 desktops, a 1.2 GHz G4 laptop seems a very weak substitute, especially given that the slow bus has so far hobbled the G4 more than anything.

Based on this analysis, I'm beginning to rethink my decision to get a new PowerBook at this time. I don't know if the extra portability is worth such a substantial performance hit. If the PB gets revved to 1.5 or 1.6 and includes a faster bus so the processor speed isn't wasted, that would be reasonable, but I'm not optimistic.


Hi Tim,

I don't disagree with your analysis. The G5 has altered the landscape drastically, and the gulf between desktop and PowerBook performance has never been wider than it will be in August. (Interestingly, it was narrowest about the time your 3400 shipped new).

However, I speak as one who works on a 700 MHz G3 iBook and finds it more than adequately speedy, so it really depends on your needs. I'm a computer professional of sorts who spends 8-12 hours a day on my computer, and for the sort of work I do, the iBook is quire satisfactory. Indeed I spend a couple of hours most days drafting and editing text on a 117 MHz PowerBook 1400. ;-)


re: Unmountable SCSI drive

From Steve Goodwin

Hello Charles! Like your column! In re: the gentleman who could not mount his external SCSI HDs after replacing his PRAM battery, he might try SCSI Probe.

I have used it many times to mount recalcitrant drives. I have a huge (physically, that is, only 20 GB storage size) Seagate drive that I just couldn't get to mount from a cold start (because I had the jumpers set wrong. <g>) After Drive Setup found the drive, SCSI Probe mounted it every time. I have mounted all kinds of drives with it, internal and external bus. (On a StarMax 3000/180, both before and after a G3 upgrade)

I think it would be worth a shot. It's freeware, only 30.2 KB, and it has saved my bacon (well, data) on numerous occasions.

Keep up the good work.

Steve Goodwin

Hi Steve,

Yup, SCSI Probe has saved my bacon more times than I can count. Well worth a try.

Glad you like the columns.



Form Katherine

Hi Charles,

I have exactly the opposite problem here in the US. The USPS and UPS have never given me any major problems. In fact, I once had such good and competent help from UPS that I called their main office to let them know how happy I was.

I've had nothing but grief from FedEx including:

A package with $700 of artwork missing for several days.

A package dropped off at the Homeowner's Assn. Office, but they failed to tell me this on the slip. (BTW, the office in question was open 9 am to 4 pm, I work from 8 am to 5 pm.)

Digging through FedEx office trash cans to help find important paper work thrown away by the incompetent person on the other side of the desk.

In the ten times I've had something sent to me by FedEx (never at my request), 9 of 10 times I've had to go down to the local office and pick it up myself.

I'm so fed up with them that I refuse to take any packages sent to me FedEx.


PS. Amongst my friends, FedEx is called "Incompetence Overnight."

Hi Katherine,

It would be hard to imagine that UPS got to be as big as they are without offering somebody good service. Unfortunately that somebody isn't us Canadians. I've never heard any Canadian who's done business with them say a good word about them.

At least here in the Great White North, FedEx offers substantially better service (although there's room for improvement with them, too).


Re: Hosed by UPS

From Ryan Coleman

Tom Wyrick wrote:

"The last 3 times I tried to ship packages with them, I was turned away. They've gotten so they have an incredible number of rules and regulations on how an item must be packaged up before they'll accept it. For example, they refuse to accept any music synthesizers for shipment unless they're actually in the original manufacturer's box or a several-hundred dollar 'flight case' (which you'd be crazy to use to ship an instrument in, unless the receiver wanted to pay you for the case too)."

I must disagree with this. Here in Minnesota, UPS has been nothing but good to me (I am a business account holder), and I have never had problems with them in the past. I shipped a computer to Washington, DC, in 1998 when I was going away for school, and it took some harassing, but they did ship my monitor and computer (a Q610) in plain brown boxes.

UPS's standards have loosened since then, and I have noticed that they rarely object to damage claims. My recommendation is find a company that will ship your items out for you and have a daily pickup you will save yourself at least $2 for a ground shipment and around $5-15 for a Next Day/SonicAir? package.

Ryan Coleman
System Administrator,

Hi Ryan,

Ever ship anything to Canada by UPS? As I said to Katherine above....


NoSleep v3.0

From Ben Brenker

Hi there, I had been looking for something along the lines of NoSleep for OS X, and when I read your article I was excited, to say the least. I've always wanted to be able to play my MP3s while driving (my Subaru has an audio in!), but I didn't want my display flopping about.

With a good amount of enthusiasm, I set about the install, sans backup, and got to it. After finding not much in the way of documentation, I threw caution to the wind and installed the app. After checking the menu item, it has you download a patch that swaps your kernel. Well, holy nervous Batman, I wasn't thrilled to hear about that, but considering the reputation of your site and authors, I gambled, and it paid off handsomely.

So far so good; it's working on my WallStreet 266. Now I can drive and enjoy my Mac at the same time! Keep it up!

Ben Brenker

Hi Ben,

Glad to hear that NoSleep is working well for you.

However, I am constrained to advise that the brief in The 'Book Review was based on information from the developer, and I have not personally tested the software.

Thanks for the report.



From Peter da Silva:

I've had something like this for a year now. It's not as cute, but it's just as practical - it's just a little 2" USB extension cable, came free with my Kanguru hub.

Hi Peter,

Do you know whether it's sold separately?


Temperature sensors

From Peter da Silva

You can add the Sonnet Crescendo to your list of processors with temperature sensors. I use ThermoInDock rather than Temperature Monitor, and it's always just worked.

Thanks for the report, Peter.


New G5s

From David Stein

Beside the advanced architectures, the most promising improvement to me is the hard-wired audio input/output, something missing since the Beige G3 AV card. I have tried two USB multiport audio devices already, and neither has worked well in a Beige G3 or Blue & White. Not mentioned so much in first reports, but welcome.


Thanks David.


Virex for OS 9?

From Alvin

Thank you for your time. Is there anyway to download the OS 9 version of Virex. The only one available in the .mac is the one for OS X, which I don't have. I should have backed up the the Virex installer for OS 9.

God bless,

Hi Alvin,

Apparently not from Apple. Have you checked with the developer?


Editor's note: Has anyone running antivirus software on their Macs detected any Mac viruses in recent years? I wonder if the paranoia of the Windows world is infecting us. I can't recall the last time there was a new Mac virus. dk

Time to save up for G5

From Alvin

Thank you for your time. Looks like we're gonna get everything before the this year, G5, rumored iWorks bundled for 100% compatibility with PC files, fuel cells, probably OLED LCD, etc. It's the time of Apple, the up slope, it's heaven for this year.

Do LCD screens become white at the bottom, which is about 1 1/inches thick from below? Sometimes it tries to get the color back but are just stripes. Anyway this can be fixed?

God bless,

Hi Alvin,

I've never seen an LCD screen do that, and it is definitely a malfunction. If it's a freestanding monitor, try it on another computer. If the same phenomenon manifests, you've ruled out software or video card issues. Could also be a connector cable issue (common on laptops).

I know of no way to repair defective LCD monitors if the problem in in the monitor itself.


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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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