Charles Moore's Mailbag

More Laptop Cooling Ideas, More on FireWire Installation of OS X, Flash Player and iCab, and More

Charles Moore - 2006.07.31 - Tip Jar

Two More Laptop Cooling Suggestions

From Nancy,

Dear Charles,

Thank you so much for this column (7 Tips for Keeping Your Laptop [Uh, Notebook] Cool). Like you, I've collected all sorts of solutions to the hot laptop issue. I used the LapBottom, which is no longer made, and when my Titanium G4 PowerBook functioned as my desktop computer, I used the Griffin iCurve, which I loved.

I've long had a Podium CoolPad and love that, too. However, living in Georgia with temperatures routinely near 100 degrees F and high humidity, heat is an issue. So to augment the internal fan on my new 12" PowerBook G4/1.5 GHz, I use an Antec Cooler with USB-powered fans. It seems similar to the Targus ChillPad.

However, for use on my lap, I needed something different. And I found a product called the Lapinator.

Again, it seems similar to the Xpad, which I just ordered for my son's iBook. The Xpad hasn't arrived yet, so I can't speak to how it works, but the Lapinator is great. It feels sturdier and more solid than the LapBottom, and my sense is that the Thinsulate insulation works better, too.

Just thought you might like to hear about another alternative.

Nancy Butts

Hi Nancy,

Thank you for your comments.

I agree that in your Georgia summer heat, an active cooling pad is advisable. The Lapinator looks like another good solution where passive cooling will suffice.

My review Xpad just arrived today, and I'm quite impressed with it. Nice standard of finish, and surprisingly light in weight, with lots of insulation.


Cheap Laptop Cooling, OS 9.1 Problem

From Tim Conroy

The prize winning letter in a recent UK MacFormat was for a cheapskate solution using a 12" HELIX aluminium ruler and two helix ru . . . err, erasers that slot into the groove in the ruler and give the PowerBook an incline on the desk.

I have also used a book holder: This enables me to get the 1400's screen at eye level and allows me to use my trusty Nimitz extended keyboard. Only drawback: You have to lift the 1400 up to access the CD bay, but this does not apply to a WallStreet.

Finally can I ask: Is there any known snag with OS 9.1? After a clean install, it will crash after a reboot, saying system error, hold down Shift - this produces a bus error.

This happens on both the WallStreet and a black 5400 + Sonnet 300 MHz G3 accelerator. It is driving me insane.

Tim Conroy

Hi Tim,

Thanks for the reports on the innovative laptop stand solutions.

As for your OS 9.1 issue, it's not something I've heard of or experienced, and I've installed OS 9.1 on a lot of machines.

If the issue were not manifesting on two different computers, I would be inclined to suspect a hardware problem.

Could it be a defective or corrupted installer disk?


Re: Cooling laptops

From Tim Conroy

That's crossed my mind. I'll have to see if I can find my original geeenewine OS 9 CD - no easy task given my clutter.

Must say I've enjoyed and appreciated your columns at LEM and elsewhere down the years. The first Mac I worked on was a IIsi. I do like my black 5400/300 + 40 GB HDD, and the WallStreet I got for £120 is in good nick. Having been redundantised some years ago, I can't just go out and pony up for a nice new Mac Intel or whatever (much as I'd like to).

Thanks for taking the trouble for an individual reply.

rgds - Tim

Thanks for FireWire OS X Install Article

From Scott Schuyler

Thank you sooooooooooo much for your column on installing Tiger on older 'DVD challenged' Macs (see Installing OS X 10.4 'Tiger' on DVD-challenged Macs Using FireWire Target Disk Mode). I am trying to install it on an original dual USB iBook with the 10 gig HD. Yikes!

Anyway, my first thought was to install via my PB using FireWire Target Disc Mode, but the iBook wouldn't let me boot from the DVD in the PB. I thought all night long trying to come up with a way to do this - the only thing I could think of was buying an external DVD, which I didn't need!

Anyway, I'm about to try your method, and I sincerely appreciate the logic of your solution. I'm actually kind of ticked with myself for not thinking of it!!!

Have a great weekend!


Hi Scott,

Hope it worked well for you. It certainly proved the charm for my DVD-less iBook.


Any Problems with OS X Install Using FireWire Disk Mode?

From Alex Wenzel


After I read your article, I was glad to have found a way to solve my installation problem to get OS X on my Pismo. I have a Pismo with a broken DVD drive and a G3 iBook with a working Combo drive (quite the contrary to your case).

But now (I haven't tried it yet) I'm in doubt that this way of installation is correct. Most OS installers install customized versions of the OS for the hardware of the respective machine. I don't know much about the innards of OS X, but that's certainly true for Windows and the Classic Mac OS. If the installation of Tiger is tailored to the hardware of the machine the installer is run on, you get an installation that is suitable only for the machine with the DVD drive, not the target machine with the "FireWire drive", which is the machine you really want to install OS X on. In your case, e.g. you wouldn't get the drivers for the iBook's video card onto the iBook.

Could you clarify this?


Hi Alex,

I'm not an authority on this topic, but based on experience, the installation of Tiger that I did on my 700 MHz G3 iBook using the DVD drive in my Pismo PowerBook has been completely successful over the past 14 months. I've had no video card support or other hardware issues.

I also have a copy of OS X 10.3.9 installed on an external FireWire hard drive. I can't remember if I installed it using the iBook or the Pismo, but it happily boots and runs them both - and my 17" G4 PowerBook and my daughter's 1.2 GHz iBook as well.

All four machines have different video cards, but there seems to be no difficulty in that regard.

I can't say categorically that there are no potential issues associated with doing the FireWire Target Disk Mode install, but I haven't observed any.

Of course, there is always the risk of possible problems with any unsupported procedure.


Flash Player and iCab

From Tom Gabriel

Hi Charles,

Recently there have been letters (including one of my own) commenting on the difficulty of getting Flash Player to recognize iCab and install a plugin for it, including one which offered a "work around". I decided to go to the source, emailed Alexander Clauss of the iCab development team, and this is his answer:

"This is not the fault of iCab, because iCab can't do anything to force the installer to recognize iCab as a browser. The installer just looks for exactly the three browsers: Netscape, IE and Opera and will only install the plugin into the private(!) Plugin folder of these browsers. Since Mac OS 8 there's a special 'Internet Plug-ins' folder in the System Folder, which is a public folder where all browsers (with the exception of the old Netscape browser) will look for plugins. This is the folder where all plugins should be installed (but even years after Apple introduced this folder, Macromedia still didn't know about this folder and insists on using the private Plugin folder of the browser).

"Fortunately under Mac OS X, Macromedia has learned about the plugin folder of the system and will finally install the plugin into the right place where all browsers will find it and where there's no need anymore to install a private copy of the plugin for each browser that is on the disk.

"So the only way to install the Flash plugin under 'classic' Mac OS so that iCab can find it is to install it first for Opera, IE or Netscape and then move the Plugin from the private Plugins folder of this browser into the public 'Internet Plug-ins' folder of the system folder."

Seems to work, thus making a very good browser that much better.

God Bless,
Tom Gabriel

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the report and forwarded explanation and tip from Alexander.

I'm still an iCab fan, although I tend to use Opera and SeaMonkey most of the time these days.


Advice for eMacs

From Clyde Kahrl

Where do I get advice for eMacs? Even though there are more eMacs out there than anything, there seem to be no eMac lists.

Hi Clyde,

Try these forums:

MacNN Forums

Mac Owners Support Group Forum


Editor's note: The eMac is also covered in Low End Mac's iMac List. dk

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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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