Charles Moore's Mailbag

Old Macs Worth Millions, TV on Your Mac, a Spotlight Plugin for Word Perfect, and More

Charles Moore - 2005.06.15 - Tip Jar

Passing Along Your Old Mac Worth a Million

From Brian Gray


I have an article to send in to Low End Mac My Turn series. When I am finished I will send it to Mr. Knight, but I thought you might be interested on the subject.

A while back you gave me some advice about fixing my ailing Pismo's screen. Well, after some inspection (and some good and bad days), I stopped using the laptop. It sat for months with no use and no serious buyers.

A few months ago, I was still trying to make a decision. As I sat staring at the laptop in it's bag, I decided that the best thing to do was to give it to my father! My dad has never used a computer for more than a few minutes at a time; he was completely scared of them. Now he is learning OS X, using the digital cameras I bought him, and enjoying the Internet for the first time.

The value of the Pismo at that point was probably around $550-575. I gave it to him absolutely free, yet I feel like I received a million dollars.

I thought you might find this interesting, since the Pismo is one of your favorite 'Books. This taught me a wonderful lesson in giving. I learned what it takes to be rich without receiving one single penny.

Brian Gray

Hey Brian,

Great story. The Pismo is a super machine for folks who want decent power and the PowerBook mystique for not a lot of cash (or, in your father's case, no cash).

Handing down used Macs is an excellent policy.


Pismo Upgrade and TV Tuner Question

From Ben Funk


A few weeks ago I emailed you regarding Pismo CPU upgrades. I'm happy to report that I went the Daystar route, and it was quite fantastic. A 550 MHz G4 (mostly the "G4" part, I'm sure) has added quite a bit of usefulness to my aged 500 MHz G3 Pismo for work in OS X. Thank you for that.

I have another question today, though, about TV tuner cards and Macs.

I own exactly one Windows/AMD-based computer, and it can do exactly one thing that my Macs cannot at this point: It serves as a TV in my computer room, and my wife and I play on our Macs and let the TV run in the background, mostly for watching baseball games on the tube.

I'd like to see it gone. I've got a Sawtooth G4/400 dual-booting OS X and OS 9, and I'd like to add either a FireWire/USB or PCI TV tuner, but I'm having a hard time telling what's Mac compatible and what's Windows compatible. I know for sure, though, that no software exists for my current Hauppauge WinTV PCI card (standard analog tuner).

Is there any advice you could give me on the subject?


Hi Ben,

Glad to hear that the DayStar upgrade is working out well for you. It certainly does give the old Pismos a new lease on life.

Actually, Apple pioneered the TV tuner in a personal computer concept way back in 1994 with Macintosh TV. You can read more about it at Dr Bott's Apple Museum.

Two possible solutions: ATI still lists the ATI Xclaim TV for PowerMac G3, and a more up to date product appears to be Alchemy TV.

Let me know if either of these proves suitable


From Ben Funk


Oh, hey, that MacTV looks pretty sweet. I'll have to think about getting my hands on one of them sometime in the near future. I'm so in love with older Macs that my wife thinks I've lost my mind. I'm just a recent convert at that - my Sawtooth was my first Mac, and I got it back around New Year's.

In the meantime, I'm taking my chances on eBay and ordered an Xclaim VR 128 and Xclaim TV packaged together. and that should suit my needs just fine. AlchemyTV looks excellent, but their OS X requirement would require additional upgrades (more than 128 MB of RAM, for instance) that would actually make buying a TV cost less.

Thanks for your time and thanks for your excellent articles on both LEM and MacOpinion.


PlainTalk Microphone with iMic?

From Eric Kaminetzky

Hi Charles, my name is Eric.

I've got a 12" iBook 1 GHz, a Griffin iMic, and an Apple PlainTalk microphone.

Is there an adapter that will allow me to use the PlainTalk with the iMic?

Should I give up on that idea and buy a microphone that already has the right jack and technology for the iMic?

The PlainTalk has never been used, so I hate to throw it out.

Thank you for your time.


Hi Eric,

The short answer is no; at least not that I know of, which is sad, because I really like this iParrott stereo microphone headset I'm using to dictate this reply with on my Pismo PowerBook. however, I expect that the Pismo will be my last PlainTalk Mac.

It might be possible to splice a standard mini jack onto the PlainTalk's cable, but your best bet is probably just to buy a compatible microphone.


External Wireless Antennas for iBooks

From Sandy Mitchell

I haven't been able to find anything in such an antenna for my 12" iBook - so far I've only found info on antennas for PowerBooks. Do you know of anything that extends the wireless receiving range of an iBook?

Sandy Mitchell

Hi Sandy,

Not that I know of. One problem is that the iBooks don't have PC card slots. Of course, neither does the 12" PowerBook, and QuickerTek does offer an external whip antenna for that model, which is claimed to increase range by up to 70%.

Presumably a similar solution for the iBook would not be an engineering impossibility, but given that the iBook already has substantially better range performance with AirPort then the metal PowerBooks do, I assume that the reason no external antenna is being marketed for the iBook is that there is not a lot of perceived demand.


NotePad Deluxe vs. DEVONnote

From Brett Campbell


Thanks for your informative review, as always. I've been using DEVONnote for the last year after reading your recommendation (I think) for DEVONthink.

Devon seems similar to NotePad Deluxe - what are the pros and cons? Do you use both?


Hi Brett,

I use both NotePad Deluxe and DEVONthink. It's really a bit of an apples & oranges comparison. The DEVON programs are much more powerful and deeply featured than NotePad Deluxe.

OTOH, I find NotePad Deluxe more convenient for stashing stuff quickly that I will be able to find easily without a search.

The DEVON search engines are much more powerful.

They're all great programs. Depends on your particular needs which one will suit best.


From Brett Campbell

Thanks, Charles. Think I'll stick with DEVONnote; it's done practically everything I've asked of it. Keep those reviews coming. Maybe in future you can include a quick comparison of the app under review with similar apps, as in your reply to me. I value your judgment.


SMTP Authentication Problems with Claris Emailer

From Ernie Jones

Re: Low-end Macs and Email Authentication


I have had the email client SMTP authentication blues off and on for some time. My ISP added this feature last year, and I managed somehow to magically get Claris Emailer Lite to do the right thing. I just upgraded to DSL and have had the same problem again and nothing worked - not even unknown magic.

I found a free program called Baton Mail, written by Chris Bartlett, that solves the older email client problem. I fount it easy to configure. It can be downloaded from

Thanks for your Low End Mac info.

Ernie Jones

Hi Ernie,

I should probably refer this question to Dan Knight, who was a big Emailer fan, although I think he's moved on to a more modern email client in OS X. [Editor's note: Yes, I have. I use GyazMail and Apple's OS X Mail app for all my non-webmail accounts. dk]

It's possible that the authentication protocol used by your DSL provider is different from one you were able to work around with your former ISP.

I experimented with Baton several years ago trying to get Eudora Light to work with authentication, but I didn't have much luck. All things must pass, and it's probable that if Emailer was available in an OS X version, it would be very much like the OS X Mail app.

If you're still running the Classic OS, Eudora, Nisus Email, or even Outlook Express still work fine and support authentication.

My latest roundup of available Mac email clients, Moore's Omnibus Guide To Mac Email Clients - 2005 Edition, is available on Applelinks.


Any iTunes Music Store Bad Track Resource?

From Owen Strawn

Hello Charles,

I appreciate and enjoy your regular roundups of what's new in the iPod world. One thing I haven't been able to find though is any kind of resource discussing what to do about poorly mastered tracks purchased from iTunes. It seems like there should at least be a forum somewhere with a list of "Do Not Buy" tracks. For example, I just bought the Casino Royale soundtrack, and one of the tracks (Flying Saucer - First Stop Berlin) has a section with extremely prominent clipping. So prominent that even I can't miss it, and I have an extremely poorly trained ear.

Have you seen anything like this? I've Googled every phrase I can think of and have come up with nothing so far.


Owen Strawn

Hi Owen,

Glad you enjoy the news roundups.

If an intensive Google search turns nothing up, that's a strong indication that it doesn't exist.

I don't know of any such forum.


Spotlight Plugin for WordPerfect

From John Rethorst

Hi Charles,

I don't know if news affecting only Tiger users qualifies, but the other part of it is a high-end word processing program that's still free, so here goes: An independent developer has written a Spotlight mdimporter for WordPerfect, and it works like a charm. Free, as is the rest of the program. Downloadable from <> in the Files section.



Thanks for the tip and link, John.


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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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