Charles Moore's Mailbag

Extended Warranties Debated, Giving 'Other Red' Benefit of the Doubt, MacBook Closed-lid Cooling, and More

Charles Moore - 2006.11.27 - Tip Jar

The Case for Extended Warranties on Notebooks

From Alan Zisman:

In general I agree with your article re. AppleCare; my rule of thumb: always buy extended warranties on laptops; never buy them on anything else.

It is a gamble . . . I don't find phone support very useful, but I've had enough hardware problems on laptops (both Apple and non-Apple) to make these extended warranties worthwhile. Here are brief summaries of my last five laptops:

  1. Compaq Presario laptop, bought in 2000 (Pentium III-750). I forget the problem, but this had one issue covered on the extended warranty. I no longer own this system.
  2. iBook G3/500, bought in April 2001. This one has run without problem through all warranty periods; it finally had a power-supply issue last month, when it was 5-1/2 yrs old, requiring about CDN$120 in repairs.
  3. Dell Inspiron 8200 bought Feb 2003. These Pentium 4 models were notorious for having a CPU that was probably too hot for laptop use; it required a motherboard replacement, covered by the extended warranty.
  4. iBook G4/800, bought in Oct 2003. This was a real lemon - it required 2 keyboard replacements and 3 hard drive replacements, all covered by warranty. It's still up and running, and hasn't had any problems in the last 18 months . . . but I certainly got my money's worth from AppleCare.
  5. Dell Inspiron 6400, bought June 2006. So far no warranty issues, but it's a bit early to tell.

So not counting #5, three of my past four laptops required repairs that were covered by the extended warranty. While admittedly unscientific, it seems suggestive to me!

Alan Zisman

Hi Alan,

Thanks for the comments. As I said in the article, it's a dice-roll.

My history with laptops:

PowerBook 5300, bought November 1996 - No problems in 12 month warranty period. The trackpad button failed about year four, after it had been handed off to my daughter. Apple insisted on replacing the entire case plastics under the Extended Service Program, although the rest of the original stuff was fine. Long retired, but still runs after ten years, although the HD makes alarming noises.

PowerBook G3 Series II 233 MHz, bought January, 1999 - Zero problems until the processor suddenly expired at the 3 1/2 year mark (AppleCare wouldn't have helped). Replaced it with a scrounged one and no further problems. Currently my wife's email machine.

PowerBook G3 Pismo, purchased (used) October 2001 - Zero problems, still in daily use.

iBook G3/700, purchased December, 2002 - Zero problems, still in frequent use.

PowerBook 17" 1.33 GHz, purchased Apple Certified Refurbished February, 2006 - Zero problems, still in daily use.

I understand the arguments, but so far I'm way ahead of the game not buying AppleCare even if I do someday get a lemon.


An Alternative to AppleCare

From Shaun James

Instead of or in addition to depending on your clumsy factor is plain old insurance. I bought insurance for my personal PowerBook from and when a client dropped it and Apple wanted $1,000 to fix the dent in the lower case, my insurance picked up the tab. No fuss. No hassle.

Shaun James
Macintosh System Analyst

Hi Shaun,

Good point. I have an all-perils personal articles rider on my homeowners' insurance covering our computers. Paid off big time when my son's WallStreet was stolen back in '99.


Confusion from Reading Article on AppleCare

From Sebastian Soyka

Hello there,

I just read your article To AppleCare or not to AppleCare.

Maybe I got something wrong, but the final statements don't make sense to me.

IMHO, the MacBook and Mac mini have pretty much become "disposable" computers in the sense that out-of-warranty major repairs make less sense than with PowerBooks. Replacing a bad logic board or broken display will most likely run you close to or even more than what you can get a refurbished example of the same model for - and with a fresh one-year warranty if you buy an Apple Certified Reconditioned machine. Currently, Apple Certified Refurbished 1.83 GHz Core Duo MacBooks are selling for just $850 with a full year warranty, 90 days of phone tech support, and yes, AppleCare eligibility.

However, if you'll sleep better knowing you have AppleCare coverage, don't let me talk you out of it. The degree of risk one is comfortable assuming is a personal matter, and statistical probabilities notwithstanding, with any mass-produced product there will always be a percentage of lemon units - so if you do decide like me to roll the dice, be aware and prepared that once in a while they turn up snake-eyes.

IMHO you are stating the high out-of-warranty repair costs being a strong point against Apple's extended warranty. But these costs will be covered anyway, by Apple, during that extended period.

And further above, you just claimed that signing up for AppleCare coverage is (less than) 25% for exactly that machine....

Each of these views makes sense to me, but the math example invalidates your last statement I think.

Please let me know if I misread your article.

Best wishes,

Hi Sebastian,

AppleCare for MacBooks costs $250, actually representing from 16.6% to 22.7% of the retail price of the computer depending upon model. There was a math error in my article, for which I apologize.

My point was that if you get a MacBook or a mini, don't buy AppleCare, and something major fails at, say, 18 months, it probably makes more sense to buy a refurbished replacement with another 12 month warranty than paying to fix the broken machine. With a MacBook Pro, it would be a tougher call, and the potential payoff to buying AppleCare is certainly higher with more expensive machines.


From Sebastian Soyka

But 18 months are 1-1/2 years to me, and AppleCare will cover for 3 years (from the shipping date) - so why should I have to pay for the repair in that case?

This is the point I'm trying to make.

Thanks for your reply!


Hi again Sebastian,

Eighteen months make a year and a half here too. ;-)

But what I said was :

" get a MacBook or a mini, don't buy AppleCare, and something major fails at, say, 18 months...."

The syntax is grammatically correct, but perhaps my meaning would have been clearer if I had included the (implied) "and" before "don't buy,:

" get a MacBook or a mini, [and] don't buy AppleCare and something major fails at, say, 18 months..."

In such an instance, you would be six months out of the basic warranty period and have no AppleCare because you didn't buy it, so would be obliged to pay for any repair necessary.


From Sebastian Soyka

Yes, that changes the meaning of that sentence radically - from imperative to conditional!

I think I'm "with it" now.

Thanks for replying,
Sebastian Soyka,

Problem Using Target Disk Mode to Install Tiger

From Max Steward (see Installing OS X 10.4 'Tiger' on DVD-Challenged Macs Using FireWire Target Disk Mode and Using FireWire Target Disk Mode to Install OS X on Macs without DVD Drives)

Mr. Moore,

I need your help; for I'm sure you know how Apple tech support can be unhelpful. I'm a college student and a musician who has run into a small problem using Target Disk Mode to install Tiger.

The computers:

  • iMac G3 (slot loading), FireWire equipped. - running 10.1 &,
  • MacBook (for DVD drive) - running Tiger

All is well until the installation needs a volume to install it on. - the disk (iMac) is read, but the error message lying underneath the icon says "Mac OS X will not boot from this volume".

The FireWire cable is a $30, thick cable bought three days ago.

If you could help me, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Max Steward

Hi Max,

I'm not surprised that Apple tech support isn't much help with this issue, because the procedure of using Target Disk Mode to install Tiger is not supported by Apple,

Which machine are you attempting to boot the installer disk from? When I did it with my Pismo PowerBook and G3 iBook, I booted from the Pismo, and it worked for me, but it has subsequently come to my attention that the better method is to boot from the machine you want to install Tiger on and mount the DVD drive on the other Mac via Target Disk Mode. Worth a shot if you haven't tried it that way unless....

You didn't say what you were using for an installer disc. If it is the software restore disk that came with your MacBook, then that is likely your problem. Apple puts software blocks in system install disks that ship with new Macs so that they can (usually) only be used with the model they were purchased with.

You need a generic OS X 10.4 install DVD (or a set of 10.4 install CDs ) in order to install Tiger on your iMac.


From Max Steward

Sorry, I'm booting the DVD from my MacBook and trying to get Tiger on the iMac G3. When I tried it the opposite way, with the MacBook in TDM, I got a kernel panic error after restart ("panic: we are hanging here...") right before the installer began. The error also said "driver not found - powermac4"

The CPU is a PowerPC G3, so I was confused quite a bit.

I am however using the Tiger install CDs which came with my MacBook, (purchased three months ago) - so thank you for saving me the greater confusion. I've heard that Apple does not take back the DVDs in trade for CD media anymore; and all links I've clicked have proved the same. I wish I had the 100+ bucks to buy Tiger, but I'm running on a musician's budget. If you know of any way I could get Tiger on this clunky, yet still very useful machine, please let me know.

Thanks again Mr. Moore

- Max Steward

Hi Max,

It's very possible that there are issues and complexities with respect to booting a PowerPC Mac from a Macintel in Target Disk Mode of which I'm not aware.

In any case, the Tiger install CDs were only ever available in an exchange deal swapping the generic Tiger DVD (and 20 bucks) for them.

One alternative might be to try to find an OS X 10.3 installer CD at a reasonable price on eBay or remaindered somewhere. I'm inclined to think that Panther is a better choice than Tiger for older, slower Macs, and I practise what I preach. I'm running OS X 10.3.9 on my 550 MHz G4 Pismo PowerBook.


Editor's note: I suspect that part of the problem is trying to install from an Intel-based Macs. As I understand the process, when you install a "universal" version of Tiger, the installer either chooses to install the PowerPC or Intel version of the Mac OS depending on the CPU in your Mac. Further, Intel Macs use the newer GPT partitioning scheme, where PowerPC Macs use Apple's older AFM partitioning scheme. Since Intel Macs are not designed to boot from an AFM drive, this would explain the "Mac OS X will not boot from this volume" warning. dk

Giving 'Other Red' Benefit of the Doubt?

From Monk

Man, you'd think I'd have included the link the first time! Sorry!

From some of the comments, it appears he has a past involving convictions for fraud and tax evasion. All the references you gave are from sites under his control, etc.

In that Ars Journal, he defended himself and linked to:

That in turn seems to link (near the bottom) to some of his past issues.

The bottom of the Ars Journal also lists another charity with no such issues in the past or questions over legitimacy.

I'm all for giving people a second chance, but in the interest of disclosure it should be noted that there may be some reservations about this Other Red charity. The fact that Product (Red) might not deal with smaller companies is no real justification for trying to ride on their coattails and free publicity in addition to what amounts to a deliberate attempt to confuse the two charities. I mean, why else choose such a similar name?

Figured the LEM readers would want to know as much info as possible before giving money away.


Hi Monk,

Thanks for the links. I had seen the second one but not the first , which I have now read, including the comments.

Here's the way I see it.

Jack Campbell is quite up front about the Other Red program being a frank "clone" coat-tailing the Product (Red) program.

Being as the point of all this is (or should be) helping people who need help badly, I don't perceive any ethical failure here. Other Red isn't in direct competition with Product (Red), and the two programs logically compliment each other. Obviously, Other Red will benefit from coat-tailing Product (Red), but if that means the African orphans get more support than they might have if they had called the program "Alternative Purple" or some such, isn't that a good thing?

I also don't think anyone has a copyright on the name or color red, which is about as generic as it gets. Here in Canada, there is currently a "red" program in support of our troops fighting in Afghanistan.

As for Jack Campbell's past legal problems, whatever they were (as you say, they apparently had something to do with fraud and tax evasion), he says that they took place 14 years ago and that he completed his post-release supervision seven years ago, so unless anyone can produce contradictory documentation, it's time to let that matter rest.

Somebody on one of the forums you referenced even took him to task for still having an address and perhaps a pied a terre in Tennessee even though he lives in Kenya. Well, the MacMice Danger Mouse (white model) I'm using right now has "Designed in Tennessee, USA" prominent on its label, so the Tennessee connection is not something Jack's trying to downplay.

What I do know is that I've been a fan of MacMice products for several years now based on their design and performance. If someone buys an Other Red Danger Mouse, they get a top notch product at a good-value price that is no higher than the standard white Danger Mouse - and ten percent of the price goes to the charity. MacMice may be able to recoup some of the ten percent in increased sales volume thanks to enhanced publicity, but after you deduct the overhead costs of manufacture, shipping, distribution, and advertising, ten percent of the retail price will amount to a much larger percentage of the actual profit, so I don't see Other Red as being a commercial windfall for MacMice.

Reputations once damaged are very difficult to restore, and it's extremely easy to be cynical in these distempered times where scams and chicanery abound. However, my inclination is that I would rather risk the (in this instance remote, IMHO) possibility that Other Red is some sort of elaborate fraud than to risk tearing down and derailing a project that seems highly commendable if it's legit.

Just my 2¢.


MacBook Doesn't Cool as Efficiently with Lid Closed?

Responding to that statement "You should also be aware that the machine doesn't cool as efficiently with the lid closed, so keep an eye out for signs of excessive heat buildup" in Avoiding Deep Sleep on the MacBook Pro, Ed Hurtley writes:

Why not? The fans are on the back, not the top. With the LCD off, it is not generating any heat. Apple specifically allows 'lid-closed operation', as they call it. I ran an original 12" PowerBook G4 'lid-closed' for probably 5-6 hours a day, 5 days a week, for close to three years, and it never had any issues.

I can play Windows games on my MacBook Pro (via Boot Camp) with the video chip speed turned up to non-Apple defaults with the lid closed for hours on end without having any issues. Yes, the fans run a little faster in lid closed than without, but I have never had any heat-related issues. (I also run Folding@Home the entire time I'm in lid-closed mode, so the CPU is constantly at 100% usage, often for 48 hours straight [weekends] with occasional games thrown in to stress the GPU, as well.)

And, as various MacBook Pro disassembly photos show, the major heat-producing components (CPU, GPU, Northbridge) are on the underside. You can significantly improve cooling by putting the notebook on one of those silly 'laptop cooler' stands. (I just use two empty 'Altoids' tins to lift my MBP a little off the desk top to improve airflow.)

Ed Hurtley

Hi Ed,

Heat rises, and while recent Apple 'Books don't depend as much on heat egress through the keyboard as older ones did, it still stands to reason that the machine is going to cool more efficiently with the lid open (as you have noted yourself, the fans run more with the lid closed).

IMHO, a laptop can never run cool enough, and I keep mine on RoadTools CoolPads or other laptop stands most of the time. My 17" PowerBook still runs too hot for my liking, but then I don't want to hear the fans at all. ;-)


Kudos for Afterthemac USB 802.11 g/b G54SL Adapter

From Robert Morrow


Thought I would drop you a quick note about my experience with the Afterthemac USB 802.11 g/b G54SL+ Wireless Adapter. I think you mentioned it one of your columns? I read so many I cannot remember where I read it, but I digress.

My thoughts can be summed up in on word. Fantastic! I am currently running an AirPort Extreme wireless network with two AirPort Expresses acting as signal boosters (I have a mother-in-law's studio in my back yard with several brick walls to go through). Using my trusty 400 MHz Pismo with AirPort left me craving a little more oomph in my download speeds. It is also the last Apple computer running 802.11b in our family.

After following the instructions provided in the box (repairing permissions) and after making sure my AirPort software was turned off (I have an older Apple AirPort card installed), I installed the driver for Mac OS X 10.3 (Mac OS X 10.3 and 10.4 are provided on the CD). After the restart, I plugged-in the G54SL wireless adapter, went to the network selection in preferences, selected the Ethernet Adapter (en2) device, and "shazam" I had AirPort Extreme speeds instantly on my 6-year-old Pismo laptop. I even check it against my 20" iMac and was getting the exact same download speed. I would really give Afterthemac bit kudos for making a product that works exactly as advertised.

I have a good friend that has an older 667 MHz TI PowerBook that I am going to try this on. His AirPort reception has always been pitiful. I will let you know the outcome. Thanks for the "heads-up" on this device. Great deal!

Onward and Upward!

Robert F. Morrow
Tomorrows Designs

Computer Tested: 2000 400 MHz PowerPC G3 Pismo Laptop, 512 MB RAM, 40 GB hard drive, Mac OS X 10.3.9, AirPort card Installed (now turned off!)

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the thorough report. Glad the Afterthemac adapter works well for you.


iEmulator a Good x86 Emulator for PowerPC and Intel Macs

From Bruce Thompson


I don't know if you have ever looked at or reviewed this software, but I bought it about a year ago and it works perfectly! From their web page:

iEmulator 1.7.9 is a high-performance PC emulator for PowerPC and Intel Macs running OS X 10.3.0 or later. It has been tested with Windows 95, NT 4.0, 98, 98SE, ME, 2000, XP, Vista beta 2, and various flavors of Linux. iEmulator is a low-cost solution for Mac users that require the use of Windows-only applications.

The complete iEmulator 1.7.9 package includes:

  • The iEmulator 1.7.9 Universal Binary Application
  • A DOS Operating System, including a boot disk for Windows 9X installation
  • Comprehensive documentation, including step-by-step instructions for installing Windows 98, 98SE, 2000, XP and Vista beta 2
  • Fast-Response Email Support
  • Unlimited free updates

We recommend the use of Windows 98 or Windows 2000.

For those of us that still have a G4 iBook but need to run a WinDoze app from time to time, this works just perfectly. You can install the entire thing on a disk image, ZIP it, and copy it off to a USB jump drive or burn it to a CD-R. If it ever gets a virus you can't remove, just erase the disk image, copy the one you archived back on to your hard drive, and off you go!

Thanks again for finding Green for me.


Hi Bruce,

I generally try to steer clear of the Windows orbit, as I have never had any objective reason to miss Windows compatibility, but thanks for the report and info.


Windows 98 as 'Unsupported' as OS 9

From Ed Hurtley regarding Netscape 7 and Mac OS 9:

...on the lack of support for OS 9, and the 'full' support of Win98.

Both are now 'retired' OSes. Microsoft officially stopped supporting Win98, 98SE, and Me earlier this year. They are officially non-supported. While some new software still does support Win98, the vast majority does not. New hardware is also unlikely to include drivers for Win98. I also second your 'Windows for the Internet?' comment. Even Win98 with Mozilla 2.0 isn't the safest browsing computer. Want antivirus? Sorry, Norton 2006 or newer won't run on 98, and Microsoft's 'Windows OneCare Antivirus' most certainly will not.

The main reason for the even grudging support of Win98 by major companies? Large corporations. Large corporations like to keep products around much longer than computer companies would prefer. Heck, Windows NT 4.0 was officially supported long after MS would have preferred to end it in 2001, but the deadline was pushed back twice, finally ending support at the end of 2005 due to feedback (a.k.a. complaints) from corporate customers. Mozilla still supports Win98 because they are specifically choosing to target older computers as part of their strategy. For 'average consumer' products, 2-3 years is the limit.

I just bought Microsoft Flight Simulator X (the only reason I have Boot Camp on my computer), and even on the fairly new MacBook Pro (2.0 GHz Core [1] Duo, 2 GB RAM, 256 MB Radeon X1600 overclocked to 400 MHz from the Apple-stock 230 MHz) it is slow as a dog. I've seen reviews that the brand-new Nvidia 8800 GPU can't even handle it at its highest settings on a Core 2 Extreme system. And that's just hardware reality. Software-wise, it is much happier on Vista than on XP (I tried it on my Vista-beta machine, but it only has Intel 950 integrated video, and while the game does play, it is painfully slow, even at minimum settings. That's with a 3.8 GHz Pentium 4 and 1 GB RAM; even then, it stalls less often on Vista than on XP on the same machine.)

Ed Hurtley

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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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