Charles Moore's Mailbag

Core Image and Radeon 9200, Don't Like the Dock, PowerBook vs. iBook, and Donating a 5300

Charles Moore - 2005.08.22 - Tip Jar


Radeon 9200 and Core Image Support

From Michael Vandervort

Yeah, like you need another one. : )

Before I get into it, love to read you - way too much.

I'm sending this to you, because I'm continually reading people saying the same thing. Rather than correct all of them, I figured I would just tell you about it and hope the Mac community picks up on it through you.

the story:

In Mac mini Updated to 512 MB Memory, SuperDrive Model Added

However, I find this update a bit underwhelming, given that video support remains a non-programmable Radeon 9200 GPU, which does not fully support Core Image graphics in OS X 10.4 Tiger....

except from ATI's site:

Offering full support for the AGP 8x standard and extremely programmable geometry and texture engines, Radeon 9200 series produces the sharpest possible graphics and video imagery.

just PR? Then:

A highly programmable graphics environment with four independent rendering pipelines gives Radeon 9200 series the pixel processing power to drive today's leading 3D applications. Matching high performance with competitive pricing, Radeon 9200 series delivers barrier-free entertainment to the most demanding PC enthusiasts.

Also, there appears to have already been an update put out there by ATI in April of this year:

Versavision - screen rotation on a Mac mini with Tiger. I'm hoping enough minis get sold that ATI will continue to provide future updates to it.

Perhaps Core Image can happen someday?

Hi Michael,

First, thanks for reading.

It appears that I have erred in referring to the Radeon 9200 as "non-programmable".

However, according to Apple's Core Image information page, I'm correct that the 9200 does not support Core Image.

It states:

Core Image-capable graphics cards include:

  • ATI Mobility Radeon 9700
  • ATI Radeon 9550, 9650, 9600, 9600 XT, 9800 XT, X800 XT
  • Nvidia GeForce FX Go 5200
  • Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 Ultra
  • Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL, 6800 GT DDL

The context of the discussion on the page implies that graphics processing units that do not support Core Image are non-programmable, but that is too much of a generalization, I guess.

You can check it out at:

Anyway, thanks for the additional information. Always useful.


WorkStrip vs. Dock

From Matthew Daniels

Mr. Moore,

Your Miscellaneous Ramblings on WorkStrip couldn't have come at a better time, since I'm nearing the end of my evaluation period. I wish its application switching behavior were like the Dock's, because it includes a feature I've been searching for ever since the Dock arrived: tabs. Assigning WorkStrip's tabs to act as part of the application icons allows you to activate applications from the edge of the screen. The Dock's inability to do so tramples all over Fitts' Law and makes auto-hiding almost unworkable.

Do you know of any other app/extension/haxie that makes the whole screen-edge beneath the Dock clickable for app switching? There must be a thousand ways to do it - with tabs, by increasing the width of the arrows, or submerging the dock icons part-way, to name a few. If you could point me in the direction of one of them, I'd be really grateful.

Matt Daniels

Hi Matt,

Can't think of anything that does exactly what you describe, but that doesn't mean no such thing exists.

Another Dock substitute I like is 3D-Space VFS, also with a free demo available.

For more information, visit:


Don't Like the Dock

From Christopher Beaver

Dear Charles,

Thanks for your latest regarding alternatives to the dock.

I'm somewhat stuck in OS 9 due to legacy software and hardware, particularly with my video editing system, an older and yet still superb Avid Xpress. To shift to OS X with the Avid would be very, very expensive. Hardware and software both.

However I have also been working in OS X on a PowerBook that I use to log footage.

I have to say that I do not like the Dock. It seems to me that it doesn't let me do what I want to do.

I want to put my various icons individually and idiosyncratically wherever I want to put them. Even after having stopped the bouncing Dock icons and eliminated the background, I still don't want them all in a row on any side of the screen. I want them here, there, and everywhere.

Am I the problem? Have I missed a way of emulating the freedom of OS 9 icon placement in OS X?

One other question: Is there a systemwide means of having files open in OS X without all the folderol of multiple panes on the left showing applications and so forth, or must it be done window by window?

Overall, no matter what anyone says, wasn't the desktop simpler and cleaner prior to OS X? Even if you love the Dock.

With all the fancy semitransparent windows, etc. why not use some of that computing power to give users the option to use the OS X desktop or the OS 9 - whichever we choose?

Just pondering the whys and wherefores of interface design.

Christopher Beaver

Hi Christopher,

I'm not a Dock fan either, and I am likewise of a mind that the OS 9 GUI was more functional, at least for my tastes and purposes.

I'm not aware of a means to globally get rid of the window sidebar, although there may be one.

You can put any icon you like on the desktop, including applications (or aliases from the Applications Folder. I usually have in excess of 200 icons scattered about my OS X Desktop (and I usually know where everything is). Exposé makes access convenient, so there are some good things about the OS X UI. ;-)


Re: Don't Like the Dock

From Christopher Beaver

Charles, thank you as always for taking the time to respond.

I just returned my PowerBook with OS X on it to its owner, so I can't fool around with its interface for the time-being.

Your comments were helpful and encouraging.

There must be a way of triumphing over the OS X clutter.

I've also been noticing more clutter in the news-oriented websites. It's as if everything has to be included all the time.

I wonder if someone is waiting in the wings with a new paradigm of Web design - something that will spring us all directly into simplicity and clarity. Sartori!!

Oh, well, onward and upward with the GUIs!!

Christopher B.

Hi Christopher,

I've made this comment elsewhere before, but I really did like the simplicity of the old System 6 user interface.

One Dock alternative that appeals to me aesthetically is 3D-Space VFS (link above), which combines Launcher, Dock, and Finder features with 3D drawers to give you easy point-and-click access to your files and applications, without having to sift through folders.


Re: Don't Like the Dock

From Christopher Beaver


Thank you for the tip. I'll give it a try.

It's always great to have your thoughts on these things.

From a Low End Mac diehard with my beloved Power Mac 8500 upgraded twice now a G4!!

Best always,
Christopher B.

12" PowerBook or 12" iBook?

From JD


I had some few questions about the PowerBook, especially the 12". How does it compare to the 12" iBook (with SuperDrive)?

Can anyone help me decide whether to get a PowerBook or iBook - kind of what's best bang for the buck? Can you show me the benchmarks to both? I kind of know the differences in the things they have, but how do they compare in performance? How much faster is the PowerBook compared to the iBook? What are the main differences?

Does anyone know any websites that have articles comparing the two? I'm look at a 12" for either one. I want a SuperDrive.

I mainly use my computer for office utilities, Internet, AIM, email, organizer (Palm Desktop), music, some games (poker), movies, burning CDs, file storage, photos/photo editing, audio editing.

Also, how does the Macintosh computer compare to security threats, viruses, worms compared to Windows PC?

Thanks, JD

Hi JD,

If you want a SuperDrive in a 12" Apple portable, your only choice is the 12" PowerBook. The 12" iBook is not available with a SuperDrive - only the 14" model.

For a detailed discussion of the iBooks vs. the 12" PowerBook, see 12" PowerBook January 2005 vs 12/14" iBook August 2005 - Value Comparison Revisited (last week's The Road Warrior column on MacOpinion).

Based on your description of the sort of things you use computers for, either an iBook or PowerBook should fit your needs admirably. There isn't a big performance difference, but the PowerBook does have more powerful video support.

At this point in time, malware (viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware) are almost a non-issue for Mac users. There are no significant OS X viruses, and most Mac users of my acquaintance don't bother with virus protection software, although it is available. For more background on this topic see Mac OS X, BSD Unix Top Security Survey (Computerworld).


Re: 12" PowerBook or 12" iBook?

Thank you so much, Charles. I think that solves my question. But do you know any benchmarks as in terms of numbers for performance comparing the two? If I have any more questions I'll let you know.

Thanks, JD

Hi JD,

This one should give you a pretty good idea of the differences: Performance Comparison Data Between a PowerBook G4/1.33 GHz and iBook G4/1.33 GHz

More benchmark info here: iBook G4 Benchmarks: New Models Fare Well (Macworld).


Donating a Power Mac 5300

From David Shor


Have read many of your articles and appreciate your work. Have a Power Mac 5300 that has been sitting in my closet for a long long time. Don't want to throw it in the trash if a good use can be found for it. Are you aware of any organizations that could put this to good use.


David Shor

Hi David,

There are organizations that ship older donated computers to developing nations. However, my suggestion would be to see if a local youth or senior citizen's center might be interested, or perhaps a local social services agency could hook you up with an underprivileged child who has no home computer.

Thanks for reading.


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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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