Charles Moore's Mailbag

Dvorak Adoption Notice, Tips for Apple's Yo-yo Power Supply, Old iMac a Good Value?, and More

Charles Moore - 2006.02.27 - Tip Jar

Dvorak Adoption Notice

From Mark McKenney

Dear Charles:

The Dvorak piece (see Will Apple Adopt Windows?) is not worth the time it takes to read it.

My MUG buddies discussed it over beer and chips. Dvorak is a rabble rouser (i.e., just wants to make people upset).

Someone needs to come up with a parody at Low End Mac called:

Will Microsoft Adopt Dvorak

He has spent a lot of time complaining about Apple, that Microsoft should just adopt him as there next operating system.

Mark McKenney

Yo-yo Power Supply Advice

From Geoffrey Peters

Sad to say, but I agree that the Yo-yo style power supplies (which I've taken to calling UFO's - Unusable Frying Objects) are pretty woeful. However, I do have a tip for users that can extend their usable life-span.

I'm a service tech. I've worked for dealers, authorised service centres, and schools. One thing I've seen so often is that people don't full unwind the cords of their power supplies!

It is vitally important, especially with the UFOs, to fully unwind the power fly-lead from the spooler before powering up.

It is vitally important, especially with the UFOs, to fully unwind the power fly-lead from the spooler before powering up. If you leave a few loops wrapped in the spooler, the current flowing through the lead - coupled with the reduced airflow - result in the innards baking themselves into an early grave. And as they're a sealed unit, they are essentially irreparable.

Another tip: If you can find a power-brick from the PowerBook 1400, this can be used as an alternate or backup power supply for all of the black PowerBooks. It's output voltage is the same, and it uses the same style of J-connector. The bricks' current-load output is not rated as high, officially, but the circuitry in them is better than that in the UFOs - they can withstand the extra pull from a G3 'Book as long as said 'Book is not maxed out or running continually under high processor load.


Hi Geoffrey,

Thanks for the tips.


'Pismo Up in Smoke' Update

From Laurie Russo

Hi Charles,

It's been a long time (see Pismo Goes Up in Smoke, 2006.02.06) so I thought I'd update you. I still don't have the Pismo back, though.

This is apparently what happened (the seller's words):

The good news is that it was neither of us that caused this "meltdown." It was, for lack of better words, "a freak event." It appears that a very small piece of the case must have broken off in shipping (I went through the entire computer before putting it up for sale and nothing was amiss) and lodged in the spot where the burn mark is after being moved around until it lodged there. It shorted out and destroyed the logic board, battery, and more than likely most of the rest of the electronics as it shorted long enough to burn. Other good news is that the hard drive is alive and well and your information is secure. Also, the AC power supply is OK. Beyond that, only time will tell.

He's been collecting parts to put the thing back together, and I am still waiting.

I'll update you again when I receive the "new" computer!


Hi Laurie,

Sounds like a good guy.

As I noted in earlier correspondence, this sort of thing is almost unheard of in Pismos, so a freak occurrence sounds about right.

Hope you get your Pismo back soon.


Lombard Up in Smoke

From John Phillips

Charles / Laurie

The same thing happened to my Lombard about two years ago (see Pismo Goes Up in Smoke), burnt a hole right through the bottom of the case. It was the ribbon going to the hard drive that shorted out. Had the ribbon replaced and it works fine. Still going strong (10.3.9).

John P

Thanks for the report, John.

Perhaps that's what happened to Laurie's Pismo too.


Old iMac a Good Value?

From Krista,

I am not really sure where I came up with your address, but my situation is this. I have purchased an iMac G3 333 MHz with OS 9.2.2 from someone on eBay.

This is my first experience with Apple. I don't know if this is a good purchase or not. I am looking for some advice. Here are the specifics which mean nothing to me!

  • Power PC G3
  • 333 MHz
  • 512-L2 Cache
  • 64 MB RAM
  • Network - Ethernet Built In
  • CD ROM
  • Video is ATI RAGE PRO C
  • Hard Drive - Quantum Fireball 6 GB
  • Apple Talk Installed
  • Open Transport Installed

This system seems to have a 2nd Hard Drive Installed. I am not familiar with Macs, so I am not sure, but it says "MAC 03 Extended 6 GB"

That is what the eBay item description said, which means absolutely nothing to me.

I don't know if my current PC modem will work with this computer - or does it need a different one? Or is this not a smart buy?

All I do on my computer is surf the Web and download and listen to music. Is this the computer for me. I am basically computer illiterate. I bought the thing 'cause it was pink, so that should tell you something about who I am! I really appreciate any help you can give me.


Hi Krista,

That's an old, fairly slow Mac, but it should be serviceable for light duty stuff like email, word processing, and casual Web surfing. A contemporary version of iTunes should run fine for music listening. Running Mac OS 9.2.2, it should be reasonably lively, but 64 MB of RAM is only marginal.

The iMac does support OS X, but I wouldn't recommend it with less than 512 MB of RAM and a bigger hard drive.

It's worth maybe $150 in good condition.

The G3 iMacs did not support multiple internal hard drives, and that 6 GB unit sounds like the original configuration.

Your PC modem will not work, as the cabling is different, but the iMac includes an internal modem, so you're covered.

My daughter uses a 450 MHz G3 iMac and gets along reasonably well running OS X 10.4, but she has 640 MB of RAM and a 20 GB hard drive.

Hope this helps.


Re: Old iMac a Good Value?

From Krista,

So if I understand correctly, I can just hook up this computer to my cable connection and be good to go, right? If I wanted to add more memory or whatever it's called, that is possible, right? Is it compatible with Morpheus or Kazaa?

I really appreciate all the information. I don't know one person that is Apple friendly.


Hi Krista,

It should work fine with your cable connection. You'll have to configure your user name and password, etc., in the Network settings. Your cable Internet supplier's customer service should be able to walk you through that for Mac OS 9.2.2.

You will need different file-sharing software. Two free ones that work well are Poisoned (currently requires OS X 10.2. or later) and iSwipe. iSwipe has an OS 9.2.2 compatible version. I'm not so sure about Poisoned, which may be OS X only.

RAM upgrades are definitely possible.

Try or, to name two of many sources.


Editor's note: The 233-333 MHz iMacs are a challenge to get inside, and they require a fair bit of disassembly before you can upgrade RAM. Also note that some iMacs work with 256 MB memory modules while others won't recognize more than 128 MB. There seems to be no way to predict this in advance. dk

Lombard Upgrade Options

From MoraHish

Dear Moore,

I found your email address on Low End Mac and wondered if you could help me. I have a PowerBook G3/333 MHz (I guess it is called Lombard) and am desperate to upgrade it. I need a faster processor, a larger RAM, a larger storage, a R/W internal CD, and maybe a FireWire port. I would be appreciate it if you could let me if you could do this for me and how much would it cost you.

Best wishes,
H. Mortada

Hi H. Mortada,

I'm a writer, not a computer tech, but the upgrades you want can certainly be done.

DayStar offers a 466 MHz G4 processor upgrade for the Lombard for $229. You ship the computer to them, and they could also upgrade the RAM in your Lombard at the same time - and possibly do a hard drive upgrade as well. Price would depend on several variables.

Wegener Media has 24x Combo Drive expansion bay modules that fit the Lombard for $149.99.

My son used a Keyspan FireWire PC Card adapter with his Pismo several years ago, and it worked well. I checked the Keyspan Website, and it appears that these cards have been discontinued, but you may be able to find one at an online reseller (do a Google search) or on eBay.


iBook G3 Logic Board Problems and Possible CPU Upgrades

From Matthew McNaught

I've been reading around on Low End Mac for quite some time. I've been a Mac user since I knew what a computer was. I've heard of the iBook logic board problems (see G3 iBook a Risk Due to Logic Board Problems?) and had a friend that recently had to replace his board. But I just ordered a used iBook - I guess I decided to take my chances. So I was wondering if you know how widespread this logic board problem is. Should every iBook G3 owner expect to replace their board. Also, I've seen around the Web processor upgrades from various manufactures for Apple towers and PowerBooks, are there any known for iMacs, eMacs, and iBooks?

Thanks for your time.


Hi Matt,

It's hard to draw a bead on how widespread the iBook logic board issue is. Apple is close-mouthed on the topic.

However, the 700 MHz iBook I'm using right now is 37 months old and has never missed a beat - essentially zero problems in more than three years of intensive use. The hard drive is still whisper-quiet.

There are processor upgrades for some G3 and G4 iMac models. I don't recall ever seeing any for the eMac, and the iBook is for all practical intents and purposes not processor upgradable, since its CPU is soldered to the motherboard. That doesn't make processor upgrades technically impossible, but highly unlikely.

The practical processor upgrade for an iBook is to buy a faster one.


EPS Images with PICT Preview

From John Frizzo


I saw the article you wrote about ToyViewer (ToyViewer, a Cool Free Graphics Tool for OS X), and thought you might be able to help me. You mentioned some [things] I hadn't heard of, and I'm hoping you could point me in the right direction. I've been pulling my hair out trying both PC and Mac utilities, but none have been quite right.

I'm looking for a software solution that pulls in various graphics files and pumps out an EPS with a PICT preview. We have software that requires that format to allow end users to view the preview while working.

What would make the setup even better would be a watched/hot folder. End users could take a variety of image types, place them in a folder, then look in the output folder for the correctly formatted version. I'd even be able to live with the cost of Photoshop, if that's all there is, but even that doesn't do watched folders.

I couldn't find a live location for downloading ToyViewer and am quite frankly at wits end. Would you have any ideas?

Thanks for your time.

John Frizzo

Hi John,

I think ToyViewer might do at least some of the things you describe. I find it the slickest file-conversion utility, and it supports both EPS and PICT.

The developer moved servers several months ago. The new one is

I just checked, and it's up and running.


Download Demo of VueScan Scanning Software

From Robert C Mehaffie

Dear Mr. Moore,

In a review you made for VueScan software (see VueScan 8 Makes Quality Scanning Easy, 2004.06.21) you mentioned that "Classic Scanning VueScan" software only went to 7.6.64.

I am using a 7500 Macintosh and an Epson 1000C scanner. I had Scantastic software, but after I changed to PhotoShop 6 it stopped working. My OS is 9.1

Is it possible to get a demo of VueScan ver. 7.6.64 and info how to use it? I could download it to save shipping and handling.

Bob Mehaffie

Hi Bob,

You can download VueScan for Mac OS 9 (7.6.64) from Hamrick Software.

The Getting Started Guide contains step-by-step instructions for using VueScan, and it can be downloaded as a PDF file from that same link.

For best results I would also suggest downloading Apple's free system updaters from their software support site to take your system up to version 9.2.2.


Wangwriter Appreciation

From jb royal


I was researching some old Wang history and came across your statement below [in The Mac Plus, my first Mac, Turns 20].

The Wang was actually a very decent tool, with the most user-friendly command line/menu-driven interface I've ever used and an excellent keyboard. It had a decent daisywheel printer built in. I still have it, and it still works, running off 5-1/4" floppy system disks.

Thanks for the kind words. As the primary software designer and code writer of the original Wangwriter, I'm glad to see that someone noticed what a decent little tool it was. Did you know what hilighting a word and pressing the underscore key does?

I can't believe it still works?

jb royal

Hi jb,

It is indeed a very nice interface. Beats the whizz out of MS-DOS.

I, of course, don't use it much any more - only for accessing stuff archived on floppy disks. I may have one time known what hilighting a word and pressing the underscore key does, but if I did I've forgotten.


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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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