Charles Moore's Mailbag

WallStreet Kudos, New vs. Used Batteries, What's on My 'Book, Best 'Books Ever, and More

Charles Moore - 2004.02.16 - Tip Jar

WallStreet Zip Thank You

From Christopher Beaver

Hey, Charles,

I'm a devoted fan. Start every day with a read of Low End Mac. Love your roundups of information, news, thoughts, opinion. Kind of eases me into my fairly solitary work as a documentary filmmaker.

As soon as I read your column that mentioned the 250 Zip for a WallStreet, I ordered one. I already had a 100 Zip but at thirty-five bucks and the greater flexibility who could argue.

I love the WallStreet PowerBook. I have a ton of legacy devices and floppies, and the WallStreet sits at the perfect juncture before Apple closed out so many existing options.

I would definitely upgrade if I could afford it. A new PowerBook would be fantastic, let alone a dual processor G5. However, most of my gear (scanner, CD burner, and so on) was purchased with a one-time equipment purchase grant before the switch to no floppy drives, the end of SCSI, etc.

So until the next equipment grant arrives (about the time we land on Mars I'm expecting) hooray for the WallStreet and my upgraded Power Mac 8500 (with all those PCI slots) and, of course, Low End Mac!

Very best always,
Christopher Beaver

Hi Christopher,

Thanks for reading!

The old WallStreet is indeed a formidable beast. Mine is back in daily use now that I replaced the failed processor.

You do have a bit of upgrade path leeway leeway with your old peripherals. The Lombard supports SCSI, and if you can find a VST SuperDisk expansion bay module, it will happily read and write floppies. I have one for my Pismo and it works great in both OS 9 and OS X.

Those old PCI Mac towers are great machines too. I still have my Umax S900, and my son just upgraded his S900 to 500 MHz G3 power.


PowerBook Battery Replacement

From Robert Gruber

I just came across your article from 10/6/03 regarding a Pismo battery replacement. I was wondering if you are happy with the Wegner Media battery you purchased. They are down to $99 now, and, on the other end, OWC offers an even higher capacity Pismo replacement for $160.

I'm leaning toward the Wegener Media one to keep my Pismo going for another year or two and wanted to know your experience.

Thanks for the helpful column.


Hi Rob,

It's still working. I was getting about 2-1/2 hours running time (OS 9) when it first arrived last fall, but after I installed OS X 10.3 I noticed that charge life took a steep dive (even when booted in OS 9).

I'm not sure whether this is coincidental or not. It's pretty hard to generalize about the batteries from Wegener because they are pulls and their condition is not likely uniform.

If you were planning to keep the Pismo for a long time, the OWC unit would probably be your best bet. If it's just a stopgap, the cheaper alternative might be worth a roll of the dice.


iBook Repair and General Mac Musings

From Run

Hiya Charles,

I've since heard from my friend that her seemingly rugged Vaio laptop is kaput. Thus, your quotes of woe befalling other owners of the same was indeed the closing argument against the brand. What about those cool looking Alienware laptops? On the coolness scale, they rival the Apples, but guts [are] still Wintel. I also am curious about these Lindows units Walmart has experimented with selling.

Nevertheless, nothing beats this Pismo. Like you, I am opting for a G4 upgrade. I am also thus far very pleased with the TiBook I acquired. Not as sturdy a case, no upgradeable CPU, as far as I know, but slick. So very, very slick.

I wonder what Apple has up it's sleeve regarding G5 laptops...

Well, aside from writing and day-to-day business, what tasks do you task your 'Books with? Might make for an interesting article. I would be happy to contribute a portion: I use a laptop in nearly every room for dedicated purposes. One is an iTunes server, another is dedicated to my exercise room, another acts an entertainment center, etc. A 1400c, a 3400c, a TiBook, my Pismo, and the iBook, too (if I can repair the video cable). All [were] acquired used, except the 1400c. All [are] trouble free, except the iBook and the Pismo processor failure. All [are] working very, very hard.

Dare I say, Macs are more popular in Canada than in the US? I've been visiting Vancouver, BC, quite a bit lately, and Macs are even in municipal use. Amazing.


Hi Run,

Interesting about that Vaio....

As for uses my Macs get put to, I'm afraid it's a pretty boring story. I work at journalism probably about 10-12 hours a day, and that's about all the computing I need. The only game I have on my hard drive is the Chess program that installs with OS X (I've never opened it), and any music listening I do is background for work.

Aside from my work on the Mac Web here and at Applelinks and MacOpinion, I write four weekly newspaper columns, another every second week, and I also contribute regularly to about half a dozen magazines, and maybe a dozen more on a sporadic basis. It keeps me busy.

I like your idea though. It reminds me a bit of Apple's old "What's on Your PowerBook" magazine ad campaign, which I think were my favorite Apple ads ever.

I'm not sure whether Macs are more popular in Canada than the US on a proportional basis. They certainly aren't in my part of Canada. Coastal British Columbia is sort of Canada's California - more San Francisco than LA in flavor, so I'm not surprised to hear that Macs are popular there.


What's on My Pismo?

Hiya Charles!

What's on my Pismo? I can't believe it. In addition to FCP4, I hacked LiveType, CinemaTools, SoundTrack, and Boris to load and function on this Pismo. Gotta tell you, with a gig of RAM, the whole suite runs like a charm, even FCP4. But can't seem to hack the Compressor pkg to install. Long shot: Some hack ideas? Barring that, any good substitutes for Compressor that will compress on a G3 in 10.2.8?

In any case, what all this shows me is that Apple has made a purely sales driven decision to render some of its programs incompatible with G3 units with code instructions only. The programs themselves run fine on a G3. Wow. This means that even the company knows it's machines are keepers and has to work to make them artificially obsolete. That is a story.

I'm heading back up to BC this weekend. What other journalism do you do aside from Mac reporting? I used to cover the arts. I kind of would like to get back to journalism...

Talk to you from Canada next.


Hi Run,

Thanks for the WOYPB report.

'Course, Apple was still selling brand new G3s up until three months ago (iBooks), so they had to keep them compatible. I anticipate that we will see a falloff in G3 compatibility now, especially with G5 PowerBooks likely by the end of the year with that IBM low-power G5 chip announcement last week.

My other journalistic endeavors? I write about current affairs, politics, culture, religion, health, and environmental topics in my newspaper columns. I'm a generalist in that capacity, I guess.

I also write for several specifically Christian magazines and newspapers. I have a regular marine tech column in Canadian Yachting magazine and also appear frequently in West Coast Mariner. I've been a columnist for Atlantic Fisherman for 17 years, covering the commercial fishing industry here in Atlantic Canada.


Pismo Upgrade Info

Fro Joel Mueller

Hi Charles,

I wanted to write about my experiences upgrading my Pismo PowerBook. Originally, it was the 400 MHz G3. I sent it in to get upgraded to a 900 MHz G3, and that hardware upgrade along with the Panther upgrade made the computer quite usable, but still slow compared to the iBook 900 MHz machines.

Then recently I purchased a 60 GB 7200 RPM PowerBook drive from, and that made all of the difference. I was simply amazed at how much of a difference the 7200 RPM drive made inside of the Pismo. If you're going to upgrade your Pismo's processor, I'd highly recommend upgrading the hard drive as well.

Joel Mueller

Hi Joel,

I agree in principle, and perhaps I'll be able to put it into practice when the budget permits.

I'm very pleased with the performance of my new 550 MHz G4 upgrade, and a faster HD would be another step up.


USA Today Top 10 'Books List

From Ruffin Bailey

You wrote, "The 140 and 190 would not make my seven best list. I agree about the PowerBook G3, which I think is the best-ever Apple 'Book so far, and the 17-incher is delicious."

I think the issue is that the author just listed the PowerBooks he'd owned, which is a shame. Sure, I'm partial to the ones I owned as well, but that hasn't stopped me from looking anew now with a little hindsight as I try to eBay "The Perfect Word Processor." It's a shame an article with this much play misses the really great 'Books like the Duos and the 1400.

Actually for the price today, the 500 series 'Books look like they might be the best old school PowerBook. Batteries are expensive, but built-in ethernet and the ability to run PCMCIA cards (so wireless capable as well, apparently) - as well as the trackpad and price - make them pretty nice machines.

Ruffin Bailey

Hi Ruffin,

I included the Duo and the 1400 in my most recent "Great 'Books" list on MacOpinion. :-)

Also the 500 Series, which, as you observe, in the context of its time is pretty tough to beat (although IMHO the G3 Series books were the best-ever PowerBooks - time contextual)


Power Mac 6500

From Mark Lappe

Mr. Moore,

I recently read your article in Low End Mac and wanted to ask you several questions. I have been out of the Mac arena for several years, but I still have an old 6500/250 that just won't die - not very fast, but dependable. I figured if I watched the price on G3 upgrade cards I might just catch one at a good price for the L2 cache upgrade. Here is where my questions come in.

I am currently running OS 8.6, if I remember right, I either installed 8.0 and upgraded to 8.5, downloaded the 8.6 and updated from there or did clean install of 8.5 and upgraded to 8.6.

If I use the G3 card, I am interested in going to OS 9. Is it a new OS? in other words, it if I install OS 9, am I upgrading from OS 8.6, or is it like a totally different setup?


Hi Mark,

The OS 9s are not a radical departure from OS 8.6. Just slicker with more features, and in my experience somewhat more stable. You should have no trouble at all adjusting, and you can run an OS 9.x install over an existing OS 8.x installation, thus retaining your settings and so forth.


Navigation Software on the Mac

From Peter Howson

Hi, I read an article that you wrote about Navimaq, and since they have stopped development, I was wondering if you were planning on an article on OS X navigation software.

Hi Peter,

I haven't researched that topic for a while, so I'm not sure what's available in Mac navigation software (other than a gaggle of GPS applications) these days. I'll keep it in mind as an article topic.


OS 9 Booting

From Scott Selby

Mr. Moore,

I have a reason to be somewhat thankful for OS 9 at the moment. I am finishing my BS degree at the University of Maryland University College. I have been taking the classes mostly with our OS X Macs (a grape iMac, a 450 MHz B&W, and an 800 MHz iBook). Last semester, all of these systems worked. This semester, none of them do. It seems that the only way for me to do the current class is to boot into OS 9, start Win2k under Virtual PC 6.1, and then bring up IE. I have been working with tech support for almost two weeks without any success. I can only wonder how many other Macs are having these problems?

Scott Selby
Griesheim Germany

Hi Scott,

Beats me. It sounds like the university must have changed something on their system.
Hope you get to the bottom of it.


FireWire 800/USB 2.0 PCI Combo Card

From Derek Morton


Regarding your Ramblings of 2 Feb 04:

I have also desired a combo card for my Quicksilver that would give me both FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 capability in a single PCI card. After an exhaustive search, I did manage to find a single card. I am not certain if it is actually being manufactured yet, but it is available for order... Here is a link :

There are two adapters shown on the page, the seven port model is the winner! My only question (and I plan on writing them next) is whether the adapter is a 32-bit or 64-bit PCI card.


Hi Derek,

Looks like a great solution. I have no idea as to the 32-bit vs. 64-bit question. I trust they will be able to tell you.


Re: FireWire 800/USB 2.0 PCI Combo Card

From Derek Morton


I ended up purchasing one of these cards (after asking the 64-bit question, and yes it is). The card is nice, but I was thoroughly unimpressed with the packaging (or lack thereof). The card arrived in a loose static bag (no ESD sticker) stuffed in a brown cardboard box for shipping. No manual or proper product packaging. All that aside, the card does work well and is truly plug and play with no drivers required (OS X 10.3). Other than not being able to start my computer (QS 1.33 GHz) from a keyboard attached to the card, I am quite happy.

I don't know if the price is good or not ($99), since it seems to be the only one of it's kind available (so far). It does give my system all the latest external I/O goodies though.


Thanks for the report, Derek.


Re: iTunes Libraries - From iPod to Hard Drive?

From Guenter Plum

Hi Charles

I found a way, with help, which is a piece of software for OS X called iPod Access that allows you to read what's on the iPod and copy it to your HD, after which you can update the library on the iPod. However, since this works only under OS X, I don't have access to the new music on my iPod under OS 9 - very odd, but never mind.

But a piece exploring some of the pitfalls or oddities of iPod/iTunes wouldn't go astray I'm sure.


7500 Audio Sound Card Problem

From Dana Walcott

Dear Charles:

I have a Power Mac 7500/100 with the a/v option. I have upgraded it to G4 status with a PowerLogix CPU card. It now runs at 450 MHz. I have four 128 MB RAM modules installed.

The computer locks up about every ten minutes, so I am moving the RAM modules around to try to fix this.

I am running OS 9.2.2,

Here is the real problem:

I have an Ego Systems Waveterminal 2496 pro audio sound card installed in a PCI slot. The Apple sound manager does not "see" the inputs on the sound card. It sees the outputs, but not the inputs.

I have pro audio recording software installed. Namely, Nuendo by Steinberg.

The software runs properly. It has these special ASIO drivers for driving the sound card. However, the ASIO driver is tied to the Apple sound manager, so the inputs of the card are still not seen by Nuendo.

The outputs are seen and work fine.

Do you know if I can disable the onboard a/v? How can I get the OS to recognize the PCI sound card fully?

I would be eternally grateful for any insights or help you could provide.

Dana Walcott

Hi Dana,

I wish I could help, but I'm completely out of my depth on this question, I'm not a tech, and my experience with computer audio amounts to playing MP3s with iTunes.

Hopefully some of our readers may be able to help.


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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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