Charles Moore's Mailbag

Used iBook Value, Lemonade vs. iBook, Pismo Hinge Repair, Email and Older Macs, and More

Charles Moore - 2005.07.26 - Tip Jar

2003 iBook Value

From Eve


I have a Mac question, and I wasn't sure who to ask, so I thought you guys might be good people to direct it to. A friend of mine is offering to sell me her 2003 Mac iBook LSX for half what she paid for it. I am afraid of being ripped off, so could you please tell me if this is a good deal or not? And what I should be paying for it? Or maybe you could at least tell me who I should address this question to?

Thank you for your help. It is greatly appreciated.


PS. She paid $2,114.79 for it brand new at the Mac store, so I my price would be $1,057.39, and the computer is supposedly in excellent condition, no known problems, etc.

Hi Eve,

Both of those prices seem awfully high, particularly if you are talking US dollars. you didn't mention whether the iBook is a 12" or 14" model, or whether it is a G3 or a G4 model, both of which were sold in 2003.

In US dollars, current, brand new 14" iBooks sell for $1,299 and $1,499 (SuperDrive), and 12" models are $999.

Used and refurbished examples of the latest 12" model sell for as little as $799, and 14" models for about $1,150 up. if you purchase a refurbished unit from Apple, you also get a one-year warranty.

The market value of your friend's 2003 iBook would be in the range of $550 to $750 depending on size, clock speed, processor family, and condition. I have a 12" 2003 iBook whose market value is at the low end of that range. Unfortunately, computers depreciate with the trajectory of a falling rock.

My 'Book Review column (Fridays on Low End Mac) contains a summary of the week's price deals on used and refurbished Apple portables.

Hope this helps,

Pismo Graphics Faster with OS X 10.4.2?

From Jim Strickland

Is it my imagination, or does OS X's performance improve a bit on the Pismo with the 10.4.2 upgrade? Things seem somewhat smoother in the graphics department. Still poky, but not as poky as before.


Hi Jim,

I was quite satisfied with the performance of my 550 MHz upgraded machine running OS X 10.3, but I am much less so running Tiger 10.4.1. It's not horrible, but it is sluggish by comparison. My 700 MHz G3 iBook now outperforms it (reversing what I obtained comparatively with OS X 10.3), presumably by virtue of having twice as much video RAM and a video card that supports Quartz Extreme.

However, I've now installed the OS X 10.4.2 update on my iBook, and the speed improvement is quite satisfyingly and notable. The Pismo will have to wait for a bit, because 10.4.2 seems to have broken support for my Lexmark printer driver, and I need to keep one machine that I can print from - but I'm hoping for better things there as well.


Happy MainStreet User

From Jack Thompson


I have been using the MainStreet version [of the PowerBook G3 Series] for some 18 mos. now, and altho it leaves a bit to be desired (12" dual scan screen and no L2 cache; not to mention the 233 MHz CPU), I must report that it has been quite a reliable unit. It has never had a disabling problem, such as battery or screen or any of myriad other reports I've seen.

After having it for over a yr. running OS 9.1, I finally discovered that "Panther" is not the only version of OS X. (Oh, I should mention I spent US$525 from one of the resellers and this unit arrived w/192 MB RAM and a 10 GB hard drive) - and that within 2 hrs of opening the box, I dropped it from a desk to a hard floor - GULP! - she never batted an eye.

This spring I spent less than US$75 from OWC; upgrading RAM to 384 MB and an OS X 10.2 Jaguar disk. The RAM upgrade required the nerves and eye/hand coordination of a surgeon, but it was successful. Installing Jaguar was problematic, but it works. A visit to the local library to download and burn the Combo upgrade to 10.2.8 to CD was a breeze. I currently have the drive partitioned to OS 9.2.2/OS X 10.2.8.

This allowed me to upgrade my ISP from 33.6 to DSL.

So for a total investment of about US$600 I have gone from 0 CPUs to a very reliable OS X machine.

The problem, as all LEMmers know, is saving for a new machine.

Thanks for your ongoing articles and advice.

Jack Thompson

(mother a native Nova Scotian)

Hi Jack,

I used a MainStreet like yours for a couple of months back in 1998 and liked it a lot. It was a big step up from the PowerBook 5300 I had been using.

Glad to hear it's doing the job for you. They are tough old beasts, and I think the quality of the early MainStreet/WallStreet machines built in Ireland was superior to the later Taiwan-made PDQs, like the one I still have.

A bluenose greeting to your mom.


Lemonade Kills iBook?

From Noah Austin

Hello, hello.

I know this is entirely random and probably an imposition, but I was hoping you might be able to help me. I bought an iBook about 4 months ago (1.2 GHz, 30 GB, Combo, 12.1", 512 MB) and accidentally spilled a glass of lemonade on my laptop. Now, this isn't the issue. The issue is that I had got it to work fine. No problems. I opened it up, did a spot of cleaning, and assembled it back together. One screw was misplaced, so I opened it up again, fixed the screw, and tried to boot up.

And now: nothing. I was hoping that you may have some insights into why it would do this. Was it something that had to do with the spilled liquid? Could I have totally screwed it up upon opening it? Or is it something else. Any advice you can offer me would be fantastic. Thanks very very much.

Kind Regards,
N. J. Austin

Hi Noah,

The thing is, it could very reasonably be either. However, my speculative guess would be that it is more likely related to the lemonade then your disassembly and reassembly. On the other hand, it's also possible that you didn't hook something up quite right.

A couple of years ago I managed to spill grapefruit seed extract into a keyboard twice in the same week - an amazing coincidence. I had never spilled any liquid on a computer before, nor have I since.

On the first occasion, I dried out the 'board, and it appeared to work fine. The second time around, I was unable to restore it to function, even after taking it apart and cleaning everything carefully. The liquid was acidic and probably had a delayed action effect.

If this incident is not covered by your insurance, you probably have little to lose by taking the computer apart again to try to identify and rectify the problem.

The teardown guides from PBFixIt may be of some help. They haven't got one out yet for the G4 iBook, but the one for the G3 model should give you a bit of guidance.


USR PCI Modem Not Compatible with OS X

From Karl Letcher

I bought the USR PCI Modem advertised on the PriceGrabber website as being Mac compatible, brought it home, and in fact it is not OS X compatible. I can't vouch for whether or not it is OS 9 compatible. Anyway, I contacted PriceGrabber, and you'll see that they've now removed Mac OS from their Required Operating System listing. I guess the moral of the story is "Always look at the manufacturer's website."

In any case, I thought you might want to remove the erroneous link from your site.

I didn't get to the link from your site - I'm not trying to assign blame here. I got to it, from of all places, the Macworld site.


Karl Letcher

Hi Karl,

Thanks for the heads up. One is somewhat at the mercy of suppliers' and manufacturers' claims in such matters.

My guess would be that it probably is OS 9 compatible, but they decided to remove the Mac support claim after you brought it to their attention that OS X is not supported.


Image Browsers for OS X

From Robert Flaugher

Dear Mr. Moore:

I enjoyed your review of Photoshop Elements 3.0. I recently switched from Windows to an iMac G5 and am debating whether or not to use iPhoto. I've heard a lot of bad things about it (e.g., it stores its photos the way it wants to, and it takes up a lot of room saving intermediate image files) and am wondering if I might be better off using PSE 3.0 and a third-party image browser. Can you recommend good image browsers for the Mac?


Robert Flaugher

Hi Mr. Flaugher,

iPhoto is a good program within its limitations, but I am not a particular fan personally. I prefer something leaner and faster that gives me more manual control.

Happily, there is an embarrassment of choices in Mac OS image viewers. Indeed, there must be well over a dozen.

A few that I particularly like are:


ToyViewer is an image viewer, and the one that I use most in conjunction with Photoshop, which was developed originally on NeXTstep and then OpenStep. Currently it is for Mac OS X (Cocoa). ToyViewer has simple editing functions and filter services to other applications. If ToyViewer is installed in your Mac, you can see image files in all popular Mac Image formats, as well as PCX, PPM, Sun Raster, etc. on other Cocoa applications.

ToyViewer is freeware.


VitaminSEE is image viewer that focuses on interface responsiveness and speed and is claimed to be the fastest image viewer available for the Mac. The program also has sorting features and the ability to add IPTC keywords to JPEG files. It generates thumbnails for all supported image files (these thumbnails are stored in the file's resource fork so the image file isn't modified and so the Finder will use them.)

VitaminSEE is freeware.


ViewIt is an OS X native, fast and easy to use image viewer that supports most popular image formats: JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PSD , RAW, DNG, animated GIF, and more. Now even corrupted JPEG files load in no time.

Important ViewIt features include: unique, intuitive interface, full screen mode, quick image sorting, printing, digital cameras, and EXIF tags.

ViewIt is $19.99 shareware.


CocoViewX is an cocoa native Image browser and viewer for the common graphic formats. Supported are PNG, JPEG, JP2, PSD, TGA, PDF, TIFF, GIF (animated), SGI, bmp.

CocoViewX features include:

  • DropBox: easy access to files and folders
  • Rename series of images
  • export images as PNG, TIF, BMP and JPEG with geometry changes.
  • quick export. Export every file with the same option to the same folder as the last one by one shortcut
  • full screen view
  • full screen slideshow
  • full drag & drop from files
  • copy/paste/link files.
  • auto refresh of changes in current directory.
  • set images as desktop wallpaper
  • simple GUI

CocoViewX is freeware.

Hope this helps,


Pismo Hinge Repair

From Ken Payson

Charles -

You have answered my questions in the past. With your help, I kept my PB 1400 running until recently, when my daughter, who had been using it for instant messaging (perfect for a teenager, since all the "bad" Internet stuff is too processor hungry to show up on the 1400!) dropped it.

No point in getting this one fixed.

Now it's time to work on the Pismo. It runs Tiger just fine(!), but after 5 years, the hinge is very loose.

Can you recommend a service company that will repair this hinge, and while it's gone, I'd like to upgrade the RAM and maybe even the processor.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Ken Payson

Hi Ken,

RIP 1400.

For hinge repair, try:

Wegener Media also sells processor upgrades and RAM.


How About InteliMac?

From Scott Tolbert

It would be better to call them InteliMacs, the computers for smart people. Hope you enjoy the pun.

Scott M. Tolbert

I did.


Slow PowerLogix Warranty Replacement

From Rhett McClure

Mr Moore,

Do you have any info or other readers complaining about PowerLogix being very, very slow to replace faulty processor upgrade cards?

I sent in my defective Dual 1 GHz upgrade card in March, and my shipping date gets bumped back about every 2 weeks.

Tech support is always very vague. I could understand if they were straight up honest with me.

Any other complaints?

Rhett McClure

Hi Rhett,

I haven't kept detailed records, but my impression is that there have been more than what one would normally assume to be a fair share of complaints about PowerLogix's warranty and customer service.


Email Issues with Older Macs

From O.J. Lougheed


Thanks for the older article Anti-spam Measures Marginalize Low-end Macs [2001.07.09].

I'm sending this through Nerdshack/Mailshack using Musashi on a [PowerBook] Duo 250! They require authorization of sorts. I have used Eudora forever and can't get 3.1.3 to work on the Duo with Mailshack - or anything else now.

But sadly I can't get Musashi to work with the smtpauth server. Drats!

Macs forever - or until they start using Intel....

O.J. Lougheed

Hi OJ,

Yes, Internet support is getting more difficult for older Macs. It's even a bit of a challenge with my wife's PowerBook 1400 running OS 8.6. Eudora 5.2 will work with some email service providers on that machine, but sadly not with Google Gmail, as its SSM support is too primitive. I had no luck with Outlook Express 5 either, although had been told that it should work.

She will be taking over my WallStreet PowerBook anyway after my next system upgrade.


Letters sent may be published at our discretion. Email addresses will not be published unless requested. If you prefer that your message not be published, mark it "not for publication." Letters may be edited for length, context, and to match house style.

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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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