Charles Moore's Mailbag

Mac Pro Musings, No Pismo Startup Chime, Changing a User's Short Name, MacBook Drive Upgrades, and More

Charles Moore - 2006.06.26 - Tip Jar

Macintosh Pro Musings

From D F Stein

I guess there will be [an Intel-based replacement for the Power Macintosh], but why does everyone assume Apple will have a new user tower. They just might be obsolete in modern computing or Apple's business model. I don't sense any user group is "waiting for them." Graphic and scientific communities will probably move on to Windows without difficulty.

Good point. We'll know pretty soon, I think. I'm still anticipating new professional Macintels, but the form factor could be a surprise.


No Startup Chime on Pismo

From John Wilson M.D.

Mr. Moore,

I've recently upgraded a Pismo 400 with the Daystar 550 G4 package and a 40 GB hard drive. It was working very well and still does, except that after the latest Tiger update I have lost my startup chime. I can get it back if I boot into Classic and then boot into Tiger, but on the next startup it is gone again.

I also noticed that when I do a safe mode startup in Tiger I have no support for Audio Out hardware and therefore no sound. I've been using Tiger for a while, and this is pretty new, so I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about what could be causing the problem and a possible work around. I know that the chime is not essential for the function of the Pismo, but I miss it.

Thanks for your helpful articles.

John Wilson M.D.

Hi Dr. Wilson,

The Pismo has had issues with loss of the startup chime, modem sound, and so forth, even dating back to Classic Mac OS days. I've noted it from time to time in the past on my own Pismo, but I have never been able to nail down the cause. Currently, running OS X 10.3.9, the sound is working fine.

One thing you could try is downloading the latest (currently OS 10.4.6) combo updater and running it over your current installation - even if you've already updated to 10.4.6 via incremental updates.

A clean archive and install is another potential fix.

If those methods don't work, downgrading to OS 10.3.9 is a possibility.


Re: No Startup chime

From John Wilson

Hi Charles,

Thanks for your reply.

Actually, I feel rather sheepish about this thing now. I had thought pushing the reset button on the back of the computer would reset the PRAM, but I found out yesterday from Gary Daily that it only resets the PMU [power manager]. So I reset the PRAM, and the chime is back. It is a little weird that I was able to get it back by booting into OS 9 without resetting the PRAM, but whatever. I'm just glad to have it back.

I actually wasted a lot of time on this silly bong. I archived and installed Tiger, I did the combo updater thing, and I was just about to take my top RAM card out, because it started after I put it in. Luckily I saw Gary in iChat yesterday and bent his ear about it, and he filled me in on the PRAM vs. PMU thing. I swear, if it weren't for the users these computers wouldn't have any problems at all :-)

Have a great day.


Hi John,

Sometimes the simplest things! Thanks for sharing the PRAM reset tip.


MacBook Hard Drive Upgrade

From John Daugherity


Thanks for the articles.

Can you recommend what hard drive I should use to replace in my MacBook?

My main concern is that I want to keep the "safety drop" feature. Is this a mechanical improvement, or is it controlled by software? I can't find anything about it anywhere.


Hi Johnny,

The MacBook uses SATA drive technology rather than the ATA/IDE drives used in iBooks and PowerBooks.

Other World Computing offers a selection of SATA 2.5" hard drives from Hitachi, Seagate, and Western Digital. also has a selection of these drives, as well as Samsung units. There are, of course, many other vendors.

The Sudden Motion Sensor technology is built into the 'Book and will not be lost by upgrading to another drive.


OS X Installation Questions

From Tom Gabriel

Hi Charles,

I hope I'm not presuming too much in asking, but I've noted that you have a levelheaded approach to Mac hardware & software issues, and I really need some advice & perspective.

I recently acquired a Power Mac G4 Gigabit Ethernet dual 450 MHz machine running OS 9.2.2 which is in excellent shape, and I've recently upped the RAM to 768 MB with an eye to installing Mac OS X 10.3 Panther. I think it might do pretty well.

My question: I've read a lot on the Web about troubles installing OS X, how it might freeze the computer, how it can even cripple the computer so that it won't work at all, etc. Have you heard of things like this? What has been your experience with OS X installations (if any), and what is your perspective on this?

I'd love to install X, but not if I'm facing the likely possibility of major problems such as have been described by others. I'd be thankful for any information you can give me.

God Bless,
Tom Gabriel

Hi Tom,

I think OS 10.3.9 would be a good choice of operating systems for your PowerMac. It won't be any speedster, but with 768 MB of RAM, it should work fine.

I've installed OS X dozens of times on a wide variety of machines and have never encountered any disastrous problems. You want lots of hard drive breathing space, and it's a good idea to run all the disk maintenance tools you have at your disposal before installing OS X, but by the time 10.0 came out, the installation process was pretty straightforward and dependable.

My own preference is to give OS X its own partition and keep OS 9 on a second partition (which still works fine for Classic mode).

My daughter has succeeded in getting Panther and Tiger to work on such machines as a G3-upgraded Umax SuperMac S900 (unsupported), on an iPod as a bootable volume, and on her 400 MHz iMac, and encountered no severe problems - other than it proved too much for the little iPod's drive, which failed prematurely.

The cool thing with your machine is that you can still keep OS 9.2.2 as a bootable alternative.

I think you will like OS X, though.


'Short Name' Change

From Laurie

Here's an problem I cannot solve: How do I change the "short name" on the PowerBook administrative accounts page so it's mine and not his? I can easily change it to have my name as the administrator, but that "short name" won't budge! Any ideas? I don't want to totally erase everything. It's not worth it just to have a name I chose!


Hi Laurie,

It's not something I ever considered before, but you're right. The Short Name stays grayed out in the Accounts configuration dialog. Beats me how to get around this, although it might be accessible in the Unix world that lives beneath the GUI.

My suggestion would be to just create a new account with the name you prefer and leave the original one as it is.


Editor's note: I have used and recommend ChangeShortName for this. dk

Cool Hard Drive Gadget

From David Chilstrom

Thought you'd be interested in this gizmo that can be used to power and connect an old laptop or desktop disk drive.

David Chilstrom

Thanks, David.


Mark Pilgrim Switching from the Mac

After reading Switching from the Mac, Jim Hartneady writes:


Why did you feel it was necessary to include his article? He liked every thing about the Mac except its software and the hardware which locked him into a single vendor. Ya know, when you strip out SW and HW there isn't a heck of a lot left!

I didn't feel much difference between him and the whiners about DRM that protested at the Apple stores. It seemed he was whining about the fact that his Mac wasn't Linux on a Wintel PC.

Jim Hartneady

Hi Jim,

In a news review column, I feel journalistically obligated to report a broad cross-section of opinion. Free speech and all.

As a journalistic consumer, I'm usually more inclined to read opinions of those I disagree with than those I do. It helps identify any weaknesses in my own position.


Re: Upgrade Pismo or 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz?

In response to Upgrade Pismo or Go with 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz?, Laurie writes:

Thanks. I haven't tried the G4 on my own yet. I'm not quite ready to stop using my trusty Pismo (which, of course, is now behaving perfectly...). I am a bit slow to try new things, but I am sure, in time, I will love it. I am relieved to know that you think I got a good deal and that it's a great little laptop.

I hope you keep writing your columns. I do enjoy them, and it's been fun communicating with you via email. I hope you won't mind me sending you an email if I have a tricky question re: my new (fangled) machine take care,


Hi Laurie,

Happy to help any way I can.


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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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