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iBook Logic Board Failure, Free Internet Service, USB for Older Power Macs, and More

Charles Moore - 2003.09.29 - Tip Jar

Article on Dead iBooks...

From Scott Strungis

How old is your iBook? I ordered mine right after Xmas last year. It's an iBook 800. Am I a candidate for a dead logic board?


Hi Scott,

That's what I'm trying to draw a bead on. Is this a sporadic and scattered issue, or are all we recent iBook owners sitting ducks for a big repair bill if we don't pony up for extended AppleCare coverage?

I bought my 700 MHz iBook at the same time you did - between Christmas and New Years last December. So far it's performed flawlessly.


Mine's performed really well, too. About two weeks ago I have found that the Combo drive door gets stuck once in a while. But that's no biggie, as I don't do much with it beside burn. I use my 800 MHz every day at work as a schoolteacher and at home. 99.9% of the time it is also perched on a Podium CoolPad, so it rarely overheats in spite of being on or sleeping some sixteen hours a day. I hope that all will be well because I can't see paying for AppleCare. It sorta tweaks that Extended Warrantee nausea in me.


The prospect of having to pony up nearly one-third of the price of a new iBook for two more years of warranty coverage makes me queasy, too, and if all goes well for the next three months, I probably won't do so. My iBook has been on 24/7 since it arrived, either working or sleeping, and it too resides on a Podium CoolPad. :-)

Of course, we will both be sorry guys if our 'Books crap out next March.


iBook Logic Board

From Scott Ragland

Hi Charles,

My 800 MHz Combo drive iBook's logic board failed after about 9 months and - fortunately - I was able to replace it under warranty. Question - do you know if the logic boards that Apple is now using fix this? Or might mine fail again in a year or so?

Scott Ragland

Hi Scott,

Glad you got your 'Book fixed for free. The guy who wrote the AppleCrap article I cited said that he was told that if the logic board fails once, there's a stronger likelihood of it failing again, and in his case it did. There was no explanation of why this might be.

If you're still under warranty, it might be worth considering AppleCare extended coverage.


From Scott Ragland

Thanks, Charles, for the info. I've already ordered a new 12-inch PowerBook - I couldn't resist! - but this is good to know. (You know, my iBook is a refurb - maybe it'd already had one logic board go bad!)

Take care,

Re: 11 Free and Low Cost Alternatives to .mac for Email

From Jay Ruuska


Thanks for the article about email services. I run a small nonprofit program for middle-school students in San Leandro, California, that lets them refurbish a donated Macintosh - and they get to keep them when they are done.

I have been looking for a free dialup email service for the kids, too, so that they can send and receive simple text messages. Have you run across anything like that? The service would need to be compatible with Mac OS 7.1 and higher, 14.4 baud modem speed.

Best Regards,
Jay Ruuska

Hi Jay,

I'm in Nova Scotia, Canada, and there is one such service in the capital city, Halifax. Not much help to you in San Leandro!

However, check out this website, All Free ISP, a comprehensive database of free ISP local dialup access numbers. You can quickly find free Internet service providers in your local calling area throughout the USA and Canada. They also provide detailed information and ratings for each free ISP to help you compare the free ISPs and select your new free Internet access provider.


USB Cards in Power Macs

From SkiSkywalker

Hello! I've got a question, and I'm not sure who to ask, so I thought I'd ask you, since I found a Miscellaneous Ramblings article of yours which seemed to be on the right subject. In my house there are three Power Macs - two 7200/90s and a 7500/100. Our ADB mice are gradually disintegrating, and there aren't any shops near me that sell them as far as I know.

I thought it would be a good idea to get some USB cards - that way I could get nice new mice and other fancy things if I wanted to. My concern is that I don't know what to look for in a USB card. Can these computers cope with USB 2, or should I just stick to 1.1? Also, I like to multi-boot - at the moment I use OSes 7.6, 8.1, and 8.6. The cards that I have seen so far say "Mac OS 8.6 or later," but I want to be able to use a USB mouse in all three Systems, which seems unlikely.

I noticed an extension installed in OS 8.6 called USBHIDUniversalModule, so I copied it into the 7.6 System Folder. The Mac boots and runs with no trouble in 7.6 (no errors caused by that extension), but I don't know whether the extension is running or not.

I haven't bought any cards yet, because I'd like to know whether there is any way I can put USB software into systems earlier than 8.6 (and, if so, is that USB extension all I need, and will it work?).

Thanks very much for your time,

Hi Mark,

The good news is that any Mac-compatible PCI USB card adapter should work fine in your old Power Macs. Don't bother with USB 2.0. It isn't supported by the Classic Mac OS, although I think USB 2.0 PCI cards will work with OS 8.6 and up - but limited to USB 1.1 throughput speeds.

The bad news is that OS 8.6 is the oldest System version that supports USB upgrade cards. I won't say that it is categorically impossible to get older versions of the Mac OS to work with these cards, but the system requirements specs of ones I've seen and used call for OS 8.6 or later. There would certainly be no harm in trying it our with OS 7.6 to see what happens.

I've had great success with my Umax S900 and a Macally PCI USB card, and my son likewise with a Keyspan card in his S900, but we both use OS 9.1. I do keep a USB keyboard and mouse hooked up, because the power button is not supported in USB and there is no USB mouse support in the ROM, but once you're up and running, the USB peripherals work fine.


RAM for 12" PB

From Keith T. Eng

Hi Charles:

I read your response to a reader regarding the use of a 1 GB RAM module in the 12" PB. I am curious: Does this RAM have to be the one that Transintl puts out, or can one use "generic" PC2100 DDR RAM chips for this? If the latter is the case, then I see there are various types that can be used. Which one, then, is the correct one to use? Any help on this would be appreciated.

Thanks very much in advance,

Keith Eng

Hi Keith,

I'm not an authority on this topic by any means, but my understanding is that you need to use a 1 GB RAM module that is tailored to the PowerBook. Transintl's is one, and I think a German supplier also offers a similar product. There may be others. However, if generic RAM would work, my deduction is that nobody would be making a big deal over Transintl's announcement.


RE: Inexpensive Combo Drive Upgrade for Pismo, Lombard

From Richard Yaker

Hi Charles.

I followed your advice and got the Sony CRX700E.

It worked great in my Lombard PowerBook for a number of months and then stopped being recognized by OS X.

Any word on why this would happen or others who tried this upgrade.

Thanks for any help.
Richard Yaker

Hi Richard,

I've had no other reports of problems with this unit (although that doesn't mean there have been none). However, Sony stuff is usually pretty reliable.

You need to determine whether you're experiencing a software or hardware problem. Have you tried connecting the drive to another Mac to test it? Of course, another Lombard or Pismo may not be conveniently available.

If the drive mounts on another PowerBook, it's probably okay and you're have some sort of software support issue. If so, a system or driver reinstall is probably in order.

Also, does the problem manifest in both OS X and OS 9?

Less likely, but still possible, is a hardware issue with the Lombard. Do other devices still work okay?


Mac Plus on eBay

From Welles B. Goodrich

About eighteen months ago I conceived the notion of following the history of the Mac operating system from it's inception to OS X, which was loaded on my G4 system (1.5 MB RAM, Cinema Display, LaCie Blue II second monitor, 240 GB hard drive space, etc.). My Odyssey began with looking on eBay for a Mac Plus.

I purchased a Mac Plus with 1 MB RAM, original keyboard, mouse, an external 20 MB hard drive, and an Apple StyleWriter II for less than $25 shipped! Admittedly this was one rarely cheap buy, but it is a valid anecdotal benchmark. I can run system 0.85 (a prerelease Mac demo OS loaded from a floppy) to 7.1 on that fine little machine. On occasion I take interested parties on a brief tour of the evolution of the Mac OS starting with the Mac Plus, proceeding to a Mac IIsi for the rest of System 7 versions, on to an iMac for OS 8.1 and up, ending up with the G4.


Hi Welles,

We've picked up old compact Macs for as little as $15 Canadian in working condition. They're getting harder to find, however.

The particular thing about the one I have is that it has it's original boxes, a full set of manuals, software backup floppies, etc. I'm told that enhances its value substantially. However, I've had no offers that tempt me yet.


Old Macs versus Recycling Centers

From Peter da Silva

I wouldn't do that with an old Mac [send it to a recycling center]. What I've been doing with most* of the ones that have come through my hands recently (a trio of 8100s, a 6100, Quadra 840AV, SE, SE/30, Performa 475) is fix them up and give them to friends of my kids. The worst that can happen to them is that they'll end up in the same state they would if they were recycled, and odds are at least a couple will have some kind of effect on people's attitudes.

* One of the 8100s seems to have a power problem, so it's mostly gone to parts, and one I traded for a NeXTstation - anyone want any remaining 8100 parts?

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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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