Charles Moore's Mailbag

Web Leaving Mac OS 9 Behind, Pismo and Tiger, USB for PowerBook 5300, and More

Charles Moore - 2006.12.11 - Tip Jar

The Web Is Leaving OS 9 Behind

From Clare

Dear Charles,

Many thanks for your recent article on the Low End Mac site about the viability of Mac OS 9. I am working with OS 9.2.2 on two beautiful Cubes and am also about to purchase a Lombard laptop (for email and a bit of word processing and HTML text web design when I'm on the road).

I can't use OS X because it gives me really bad eye strain (headaches and blurry vision), so I am constantly seeking for ways to maximise the effectiveness of 9.2. I love the functionality of OS X but simply can't read the way it renders fonts, so I am stuck with OS 9 (which is still a great OS - but nothing new is happening with it!). I know a number of other people are in the same situation.

Re the browser problem: You have confirmed that my only option here is to use a PC when I want to browse the Net. Even IE 5.1 is not good, and iCab doesn't access everything by any means.

Do you have any other good tips about how to keep working with OS 9.2 or know of any discussion forums or good websites about how to maximise OS 9?


Hi Clare,

I'd never thought about the screen font issue before, but now that you mention it, I can see that it might cause difficulty for some folks, although I've personally never had any problems.

Browsing is getting very compromised in OS 9, and if you have access to a PC with modern browsers, the surfing experience is going to be superior. These days I find Netscape 7 or Mozilla 1.3 the most capable OS 9 browsers, but there is really no truly satisfactory solution, and the lack of compatibility will only get worse and browser technology marches on, leaving OS 9 behind.

As for OS 9 coping tips and info, you could try the Low End Mac Mac OS 9 List.


Pismo, Memory, and Tiger

From Tom Gabriel

Hi Charles,

Your information and your perspective on same are a consistently reasonable and gratifying read, and I compliment you on both. One of the ways I compliment you, of course, is to quiz you on what is bothering me. ;-)

I recently got a very nice, lightly used 500 MHz Pismo with the original 12 GB hard drive, 384 megs of RAM, and two good batteries. I think I'm in love. It came loaded with OS X "Tiger" 10.4.6 (no backup disks), and there begins the story.

For the things I use the computer to do, for the most part, this much RAM actually seems to be okay, if not great. I have so far had none of the problems, modem or otherwise, which I have read about in your columns. Things are very smooth, if not blazing fast, but I know more RAM would be better. I would switch the present 128 MB stick with a 256 MB one (for 512 MB total), which would at least be comfortable.

System Profiler says DIMM-0 in slot J2 is 128 MB and DIMM-1 in slot J1 is 256 MB. Do you know if this means that the smaller 128 MB stick is in the upper or lower RAM slot? (Upper would of course be much easier to replace.)

Secondly, do you continue to feel that OS X 10.3.9 is truly the best choice for a Pismo? I would surely consider going back to Panther, which I use with my Power Mac G4, with no complaints. I also have backup disks for it, which I feel are necessary "just in case", and none for 10.4.6 - nor really the money to spend on a set right now.

Tiger is a beaut of an OS, though, and I like some of its improvements, especially the later versions of Safari & Mail, plus Spotlight. (Needless to say, I do not like that it asks for twice as much RAM as Panther - very hungry cat.)

I would really value your perspective on this. What's your take on it?

Thanks and God Bless,
Tom Gabriel

Hi Tom,

Way cool - another nice Pismo. I still love mine and use it every day, although my 17" PowerBook is now my number one production machine.

And yes, I'm still running OS X 10.3.9 on the Pismo, although I sorely miss Spotlight, to which I'm increasingly addicted.

If I were you, since you like Tiger even with 384 MB of RAM, I wouldn't bother downgrading unless problems arise. I never got past 10.4.4 with my Pismo, and I may someday get ambitious and install Tiger again for another go, but 10.3.9 really works so well . . . decisions.

Honestly, I'm not sure which slot is which by name, but I deduce that the number one slot would be the bottom one. It's extremely easy to pop the module out of the upper slot and see what remains showing up. Actually, even getting at the bottom slot isn't that bad - the processor daughtercard is fairly easy to remove for access.

Thanks for the kind words.


Pismo with Dead Video

From Andrew McGilvery

Hi Charles,

Have a dilemma with my trusty Pismo. Having maxed it out with a new hard drive and RAM, the lovely thing decided to take a video vacation, with the screen no longer booting up.

Ah ha, you say, the inverter has gone! Well, I happen to have a trusty supply of G3 laptops and have tried both Lombard and Pismo inverters to no avail (noting Lombards don't fit due to different plugs). Have also checked the screen with the good spare ones and again have got nothing, I am dreading the fact its "video card" related.

From the searching I did on the Net, I couldn't come up with anything about whether you can replace the video card or whether it's part of the logic board, apart from that its 8 MB and the last model may have had space for more memory. I am hoping it's not requiring a logic board change, as the other Pismos we have here at home have a different logic board problem (one requiring PRAM battery disconnection to start, and the other is selective as to when it wants to boot up).

I have lived for five months without it but am really getting itchy about buying a new MacBook, even though I would much prefer to use my far sexier, curvy Pismo. :D

Any help would be most appreciated.

Andrew McGilvery

Hi Andrew,

If the inverter and screen check out, the most likely culprit is the video circuitry in the logic board, although one can't be certain - but what else? Bad ribbon cable?

Wegener Media has Pismo logic boards for $199 with a trade-in. Of course they will also sell you a whole Pismo for $350.

Best of luck,

External Drive Enclosures

From Andrew J. Fishkin, Esq.


Just read your article on the external drive enclosure ($20 i-Rocks IR-9200 USB 2.0 2.5" Drive Enclosure a Good Value) and thought I'd tell you about the one I use. It's a Macally that is also aluminum, about the same size, but does two better in being both USB 2.0 (1.1 compatible) and FireWire - and not requiring add-on drivers for Mac or Windows with either USB or FireWire.

I have an 80 GB 5400 rpm Travelstar hard drive installed in it and have mixed results using it bus-powering with USB (iMac G5 needs the dual cable, ThinkPad X22 does not, etc.), but I've used it with Panther, Tiger, and both the XP and 2000 versions of Windows and never needed a driver.

It's also fast, in either USB or FireWire mode, and has a second FireWire jack so you can daisy-chain it.

It cost me about $70 last year, but in my opinion it's the best such product out there, especially if you use both Mac and Windows PCs. I've got mine with a massive FAT32 partition that all computers can read and write, and a smaller partition with a bootable OS X on it for my PowerPC Macs.


Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the report. Sounds like a nice drive enclosure. I've had good service from various Macally products.

The USB/FireWire ambidexterity would be really convenient. Of course, it's more than three times the price of the i-Rocks enclosure.


RE: External Enclosures

From Andrew J. Fishkin, Esq.

Yup, price is always an issue. In this case, however, I believe it was money well-spent.


USB for the PowerBook 5300?

From Ashwani Vasishth

Hullo Charles,

Came across your article on the 5300, and wondered if, by some long shot, you might know of how I might either hook up my 5300ce to a USB port or connect it to a USB device.

Ashwani Vasishth

Hi Ashwani,

Unfortunately, USB support for the 5300 (and 1400) is pretty much ruled out by the fact that the PS Card slot is not CardBus spec. PowerBook 3400s and 3500s have PC Card slots that can be hacked to support CardBus, which is necessary for USB adapters, but the older 'Books can't. WallStreet and later have full support for CardBus.


Free WordPerfect 3.5e Download

From Lonnie Buchanon

Hi Charles:

I'm afraid the link to download WordPerfect 3.5e from Corel is now dead, and Version Tracker does not have it available either. Do you know of another source where I can find this version?

Thanks very much.

Lonnie Buchanon

(still using a WallStreet)

Hi Lonnie,

You can try here:

Some time ago David Whiteley, ITS, Deakin University, wrote me:

"Regarding Corel WordPerfect 3.5e for Macintosh, available from our website, I'm pleased to let you know that as a courtesy to fellow Mac users, it and CorelDRAW 8 LE can now be downloaded without requiring a Deakin username or password. The above URL is still correct."

I hope that deal still is in place. The download link is still working.


From Lonnie Buchanon


I am very happy to report that the Deakin University link you gave me is still good, and I was successfully able to download WordPerfect. Thank you so very much for your kindness and help.

Lonnie Buchanon

Canadian Supplier of iListen?

From Douglas Taylor

Hi Charles,

I'm wondering if you know of any Canadian sources of iListen. I know a person who is interested in running it, but cross-border duties are a going concern.


MacSpeech's Chief Evangelist Chuck Rogers supplies these Canadian resellers:

 • CDRom Store - (800) 250-9229
 • Mostly Digital - (800) 942-6227


Go to Charles Moore's Mailbag index.

Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Google+, or subscribe to our RSS news feed

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.

Links for the Day

Recent Content

About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

Follow Low End Mac on Twitter
Join Low End Mac on Facebook

Page not found | Low End Mac

Well this is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching, or one of the links below, can help.

Most Used Categories


Try looking in the monthly archives. :)

Page not found | Low End Mac

Well this is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching, or one of the links below, can help.

Most Used Categories


Try looking in the monthly archives. :)

Favorite Sites

Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
The Vintage Mac Museum
Deal Brothers
Mac Driver Museum
JAG's House
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ

The iTunes Store
PC Connection Express
Macgo Blu-ray Player
Parallels Desktop for Mac

Low End Mac's store


Well this is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching, or one of the links below, can help.

Most Used Categories


Try looking in the monthly archives. :)

at BackBeat Media (646-546-5194). This number is for advertising only.

Open Link