Charles Moore's Mailbag

What Happened to the Mac, Sick WallStreet, When a Mac Is Not a Mac, and More

Charles Moore - 2005.03.21 - Tip Jar

What Happened to the Mac?

From Andrew Main's Peter Rojas asks: "So how does Apple avoid what happened to the Mac?"

Haven't read the article - don't have time - but this one sentence makes it plain where this typical computer writer is coming from, i.e. that "what happened to the Mac" is some kind of fate worse that death that must be avoided if at all possible.

What happened to the Mac? Yes, the Mac didn't become the worldwide 95%+ standard computing platform, and I for one am thankful. Apple is arrogant enough now and probably would be very like Micro$oft if it occupied Micro$oft's "niche." However, though the herd animals may be mystified, the Mac didn't cease to exist either.

What happened to the Mac is pretty much what happens to all truly excellent products in a world where mediocrity (or less) is good enough for most. What, after all, "happened to" Rolls Royce? To BMW? These companies are not considered failures (certainly not by themselves or their stockholders - or their customers) because they sell only a tiny fraction of the numbers sold by Ford, GM, and other purveyors of barely-good-enough, quickly-obsolescent, forgettable junk.

As for the iPod, even if - as seems likely, assuming Apple continues its policy of keeping close control over its products instead of licensing them so the world can mess them over - its "market share" declines down to 20%, 10%, or less, like the Mac it will continue to serve the market of those who appreciate quality. We may be a minority, but we will always be here. The bulge at the middle of the bell curve may be all the myopic can see, but it's not all there is, and so long as there is anything approximating a free market, there will always be a market for excellence.

Andrew Main

Hi Andrew,

I agree with your analysis.


Sick WallStreet

From Adrian Carter

Hi Charles,

I was wondering if you could help me with a problem I have encountered on a WallStreet 266 MHz PowerBook.

Basically a while ago the machine sheared it's screen hinges and as a result tore the left hand ribbon cable from the logic board to the screen itself. I replaced the hinges and the ribbon cable, but that didn't solve the problem. The 'Book powered up, but there was no display. I wondered if perhaps the cable getting broken had damaged the screen, so I replaced it with a known working WallStreet screen I had in stock. Again the machine powered up but the display didn't work.

One thing worth mentioning with this machine is it is running OS X 10.3.8 courtesy of XPostFacto, when I connect it to an external monitor the external display functions when booted into OS 9 but not when booted into OS X.

Is there anything you could suggest that I might want to try to resolve this issue?


Hi Adrian,

Since the external video works, at least in OS 9, it seems that your video circuitry is still functional.

I'm wondering if your replacement ribbon cable might be defective.

Were I troubleshooting this myself, I would concentrate first in getting things working in OS 9, and then tackling OS X.

It's a tough problem to diagnose hands-off (or probably on in this case).

Hope this helps a little.


Re: Sick WallStreet

Hi Charles,

Thanks for the reply. The cable itself looks fine and appeared to be new old stock when I got it. Unfortunately these days WallStreet parts are pretty expensive and very thin on the ground (non-existent in the UK), so I have no other cable to try. As I think I mentioned before, I have a gut feeling the logic board might have took damage when the original cable sheared (it was switched on at the time). I've had partial logic board failures on other Macs in the past, and I don't think this is beyond the realms of possibility.

Another thing I'm going to try is another hard drive in the machine, essentially one with a plain vanilla OS 9 installation, just to put my mind at rest that XPostFacto isn't involved.

In the meantime I intend to put the Mac into cryogenic suspension and simply wait around for WallStreet bits and pieces to come available at decent prices, I could be waiting for a long time but I like this machine too much too even think about stripping it for bits, it was my first proper laptop and the amount of times it has bailed me out of tricky situations means I'll keep it if only to show my grandkids the machine that got me through my adult education degree :)

Thanks again & all the best

Adrian Carter

Hi Adrian,

Yes, I'm no expert on these matters, but it seems entirely plausible that there could be circuit damage that could affect the output to the LCD while the external VGA output still worked.


When Is a Mac Not a Mac?

From Peter da Silva

If it doesn't run Mac OS it's not a Mac.

Hi Peter,

But is a Macintosh brand computer not still a Macintosh when it's running Linux? If not, what would it be?



From: Chris Smolyk


I was rereading the emails that come up on my name in Google, and saw your mention
of ColorIt. Is that still available somewhere?

chris s

Hi Chris,

It sure is.

Color It! 4.0.x works great in System 7.x through OS X Classic Mode and is faster than any native OS X graphics application that I'm aware of, but it does require that you keep Classic Mode up and running in X.

Color It! 4.5, a Carbon application that supports both OS 9 and OS X natively, is almost ready for prime time. It is definitely no longer vaporware. I have a beta copy on my hard drive that I've been using for several months.

The full price for new users of Color It! 4.0 is $49.95 (Electronic Delivery - CD $5 extra for shipping).

To receive an email notification when the OS X version of Color It! will be available, click here <>


Note Pad Replacements

From Richard Lindsey

Just read your review of Jotz 1.3, in which you mentioned a couple of other note pad programs. I thought I'd mention MoosePad, found at It may not have all the features of Jotz, but then again it may - I use it strictly as a note pad, which is probably the biggest thing I miss from the older OS's in OS X.

Enjoy your column - keep up the good work!


Hi Rich,

Thanks for the report on MoosePad. I once requested a review copy, but never heard back from them, although I've heard other fan reports from time to time.


Battery for Pismo

From Michael

Hi Charles,

I've read your article on and you mention the Newer Tech replacement batteries for Lombard/Pismo PowerBooks - but do you have information on where to buy these? Through the online store at OWC but is it available in US stores?

Hope you can help me. Thanx!

All the best,

Hi Michael,

To the best of my knowledge, these batteries are only available through Other World Computing's online store.


FireWire Chipsets

From Peter da Silva

When you review combo (FW + USB) enclosures, you should make a note of whether they use the Oxford 911 chipset or not. I've bought two enclosures with the Prolific chipset and sent one back and relegated the other to the PC world. The Oxford chipset works, reliably, and so do older Prolific products that use the Oxford 911 chip, but the current generation of PL chips are junk.

Hi Peter,

I haven't reviewed an enclosure for quite some time, although I frequently post news releases on various products.

I'll keep your suggestion in mind.


ATI Versavision on New PowerBook

From Michael DeJong


I just want to confirm, I am eyeing up a PowerBook 15 with the 128 MB 9700 mobility chip. I have the new HP 2335 23" monitor which will do landscape and portrait mode. Will the ATI update with Versavision work, or do I have to stick to buying a G5 tower with the proper ATI card?


Hi Michael,

I don't know.

I would suggest contacting ATI at 905-882-8440 or through this Web page:


PowerBook Tech Advice

From Steven Hunter

Mr. Rocek should contact his credit card company as soon as possible.

More PowerBook Tech Advice

From Joshua DeHart

When using a credit card, one can dispute a transaction if they are not getting a satisfactory response from the company posting the payment. In the case if you can't contact the supplier posting the charge, you start the dispute process with the company/bank providing the card and state the reason as "I can't contact them but my card has been charged."

Joshua DeHart

PowerBook Tech Follow Up

From Martin Rocek

I am glad to tell you that they have finally got in touch and promise to send the logic board in the next few weeks.

I will let you know if it arrives.

The problem may have been some spam-filtering that my system manager was doing - I am not sure.

Thanks for your advice.


EasyWatch Elgato DVB-T PCMCIA Module

From Jacques De Witte in response to EasyWatch Brings Mobile Digital TV Reception to PowerBooks:


Wouldn't you have any other comments or feedback about this module please?


Hi Jacques,

I'm sorry; I don't. I haven't used it. Perhaps some of our Mailbag readers have.


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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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