Charles Moore's Mailbag

Clamshell iBook Upgrades, Choppy iTunes Video, Netscape 7 for Mac OS 9, and More

Charles Moore - 2007.04.09 - Tip Jar

Clamshell Upgrade Questions

From Christina:


I want to get a clamshell iBook for watching DVDs and going online. Low End Mac has been very helpful in educating me in the features each clamshell comes with.

I just have a question: Would an indigo clamshell have the same quality for playing DVDs (with a DVD player connected to the USB port) as a graphite with the DVD-ROM drive installed? If not what - if any - upgrades would help bring the quality up to the Graphite's?

Thanks so much!


Hi Christina,

Remember that the USB port in the Indigo iBook is USB 1.1, not USB 2.0, so throughput is pretty slow. I can't say with 100% certainty that this would cause difficulty playing DVDs, but I'm apprehensive that it might.

The built-in DVD-ROM drive in the Graphite (or 466 MHz Lime) iBook would be a more promising solution, and the extra 100 MHz of clock speed can't hurt either for video performance.

There are no upgrades available that would help with this issue, although I suppose it's possible to swap a DVD-ROM drive from the 466 MHz iBook into the 366 MHz model.


Fix a Flash Drive by Repartitioning

From Steven Hunter:

Whenever I've had strange issues with USB flash drives, about half the time it's a problem with the partition table.

I suggest he backup all his data, and then use either Window's Logical Disk Manager (Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Computer Management -> Disk Management) or OS X Disk Utility to delete all existing partitions and create a new one. Format it FAT32 for best compatibility.

Another possibility is if the drive supports the U3 standard that this is somehow interfering with OS X. There should be a utility that came with (or sometimes on) the drive to remove this functionality permanently.

Flash Drive Drag and Drop Problems Solved with Disk Utility

From John Muir:


I had something similar happen with my 256 MB USB flash drive recently. Just after installing the 10.4.9 update, my 12" PowerBook G4 started saying the drive was full when it was far from it. The same thing then happened on my Intel Mac mini, despite it still being on 10.4.8 at the time. Weird, I thought.

I fixed it by the doing the following:

  1. back up the flash drive by copying its contents to a new folder on the Mac
  2. run Disk Utility
  3. select the flash drive and erase it with an MS-DOS (FAT) format (for PC compatibility - or try HFS+ for Macs only)
  4. copy the original data back to the drive

This did the trick for me. The problem came as a surprise in the first place, as I have used many different flash drives with my Macs, including the two thumb drives I've owned (a TwinMOS and an Omron), and this was the first time I've had a glitch.

A reformat is definitely what I'd suggest.

John Muir

Thanks for the information, John and Steven.


Choppy Video with iTunes, QuickTime

From Christopher Norbury:


Judging from the posts on message boards and feedback forums on the Web, this seems to be a problematic theme, but I've never seen it covered on Low End Mac. The video playback of purchased videos in iTunes and QuickTime becomes very choppy and out of sync as the time for which the video has been played increases.

I am running a G4 with a PowerLogix 1.6 GHz processor and 1.5 GB RAM, so those shouldn't be an issue. I also installed an Ultra ATA 133 PCI card and corresponding hard drive, as well as an ATI Radeon 9200 video card with 128 MB RAM.

The picture is still very choppy after a while (approx 15-20 minutes), and it's basically unwatchable. If I quit iTunes and then start the video again from the place where I stopped, it gets better for a while.

Is there anything I am overlooking to be able to get a good video product?

Chris Norbury

Hi Chris,

You seem to have ample hardware capacity to handle QuickTime video playback (a lot more power than my 1.33 GHz PowerBook, which does a decent job) and then some, so I'm stumped as to what the issue might be.

I'll put it to readers in the Miscellaneous Ramblings Mailbag, and hopefully someone will be able to help.


Many thanks for the reply. I am still playing with some things on this. if I reduce the monitor resolution to 640 x 480, then I can watch for longer before the video becomes choppy and the sound is out of sync with the video. That's about the best solution I have come up with, and it still doesn't allow me to watch for much more than 35 minutes without having to quit the program and then start again.



'Lombard' Turns Out to Be Pismo

From Lee Shartau:

Hi Charles

If it were not for bad luck, I would have no luck at all (see Best Dead Lombard Replacement? and Problems Dragging Files to Flash Drive on B&W G3).

The Lombard I was expecting turned out to be a Pismo. The listing was in "Bronze Lombard" and the bus speed was listed as 66 MHz, but after running a hardware test suite and noting a bus speed of 100 MHz, I dropped the back panel. No HDI 30 port. Two FireWire instead. So while it has been "rode hard, and put away wet". It is what it is.

Q. I downloaded FireWire Update 4.1.8. Is there anything else I need before partitioning drive and loading 10.3.9?

Q. The power port seems to have excess slop. Any way to stiffen it up before it breaks?

Q. The yo-yo AC power supply seems to be leaking RF, as the TV gets snow when AC adapter is plugged in. And some browning where cord exits center of yo-yo to PowerBook. Is this a good assumption? I can use AC from MainStreet if this a fire hazard.

Q. In light of Low End Mac's "how much Mac do you need?" - the Lombard does everything I need. Has any after-market supplier built/refurbished a motherboard that addresses the "issues" with heat that may plague this PowerBook.

Thanks in advance

Lee Shartau

Hi Lee,

A lot of people are (understandably) confused as to the PowerBook G3 families, and the Lombard and Pismo being virtually identical in appearance to the uncritical observer doesn't help. The upside is that the Pismo is more powerful and more stuff is available for it, it officially supports Tiger, etc.

The firmware update you have should be all you need. Actually, Panther (OS X 10.3) worked fine on my Pismo before I installed that update.

The AC port sloppiness doesn't sound good. It could be coming unsoldered from the motherboard. This happened a couple of times to my nephew's WallStreet and once to my son's Lombard. In all cases, he disassembled the machine and resoldered the joint - it's doable, but not a DIY project for someone not handy with teardowns and soldering.

I'm no fan of the yo-yo AC adapter and still use a WallStreet/Lombard M4402 black adapter (the one that was recalled as a fire hazard) with my Pismo. I think they recalled the wrong adapter (just MHO). If the cord insulation is compromised (a common problem with the yo-yos), the adapter should be retired. FastMac makes an excellent replacement adapter for $39.95.

DayStar markets a 433 MHz G4 upgrades for the Lombard; as far as I know, that's the only currently available logic board-related upgrade.


Problems Booting a Secondhand iMac

Hi Charles,

I didn't quite understand that answer [see Problems Troubleshooting a Slot-loading iMac]. I've bought this FireWire drive and this set of Mac install DVDs and I thought I would simply be able to plug in the FireWire drive and start the computer.... Does the message imply I need to move a cable to another place?

Sorry for being so dumb! I am really a bit in the wilderness on this one!

Hi Steve,

The eBay items look like they should work, provided the install DVDs are real, generic installers and not System Restore disks from a particular Mac model.

Getting back to your original problem, have you ever yet managed to get the iMac to boot from any system since the RAM swap go-round you described?

The behavior you describe could be caused by many things, but in context, a RAM issue seems likely. You need to have known-good RAM installed for diagnostic purposes.

My son once fried the motherboard in a Power Mac 9500 by installing the wrong voltage RAM, but in that case there were smoke and sparks.

Try booting holding the option key down with the Tiger install DVD in the FireWire drive (a straightforward FireWire cable connection is fine). If a selection of bootable volumes appears, select the system on the FireWire drive and proceed.

It is possible that there is no problem with the system installed on the hard drive and that the issue is something other.


Netscape 7 a Great OS 9 Browser

From John Kocijanski:

Hello. I just read your article on OS 9 compatibility. I have a WallStreet II 266 MHz and run Netscape 7 as a browser and for email. So far I have had few problems. I like it better than anything else I've tried. Luckily someone gave me a Netscape 7 install CD for OS 9 and OS X. I still use OS 9 at times for some classic software and use my WallStreet once in a while rather than booting into OS 9 or using the classic mode with my G4 tower that I run Panther on.


Hi John,

My wife still uses Netscape 7 with the WallStreet under OS 9.2.2, and it works very well. Gmail tells here that its not a "fully supported browser", but it seems to work fine on their site.

Netscape 7 (and ll other archived versions of Netscape are also downloadable from:


Thanks for your reply. I discovered last night that Yahoo mail no longer works with Netscape 7 on my WallStreet. It seems to work with IE 5.1 and iCab though. Maybe I'll switch to Gmail.


PowerBook Ramblings

From Joe Leo:

My original AC [adapter] died a slow death; I think it was something with the cord, or maybe it was the brick, but I ended up using the power adapter from the VST battery charger I had bought later on to power the laptop.

My colleague came upon a Pismo from a production company that was donating all their old equipment to our school, and he gave it to me since he knew that I was using a Pismo at the time. I got excited about having two, but it was a dead unit. Though now I have the original AC [adapter] that came with it, the round UFO thingy.

The one the seller gave me was from an older PowerBook, probably a Lombard. It was rectangular, like the one FastMac is selling.

So, how many computers do you have? I read your story earlier today on PBCentral. Did you own all of those that you reviewed?

I just got a "new" computer on eBay, a Mac mini to replace my aging G3 iMac at home (I'm getting annoyed at its slowness). I decided I wanted a G4 model instead of an Intel one, since I still use a lot of Classic apps. It was a great deal because its got AppleCare until 2009. It's going to be my sixth computer.

By the way, how's your Pismo doing? I have to say I miss it, but don't miss it that much ever since I got my 12" PowerBook. Though I don't think I will ever get rid of the Pismo. I had planned on selling it to get my money back on the amount I shelled out for the 12-incher but changed my mind.

(Though I guess I should sell it while it still has resale value, right?).

P.S. Do you know of anyone who's upgraded their 12" PowerBook with a glossy screen from TechRestore? It's very tempting as I, um, damaged my screen when it dropped (ouch! I almost died when it happened) from the table onto the floor. It's under CompUSA warranty, and I can get a free replacement screen, though a matte one only. I've somehow taken a liking (hell's frozen over) to the glossy type. People would certainly take a second look if they saw my shiny screen. (I was so ticked! I never dropped my Pismo ever. I don't even remember how it happened. I was seated at the computer using it, and I looked up at the TV to watch something, and next thing I knew, thud! Amazingly it fell not on a corner or side, but landed flat, lid side down, and the whole thing was closed when it fell - from open on the desk, to completely closed when it landed.

Hi Joe,

The WallStreet and Lombard shipped with a rectangular black adapter, and that's probably what you have. Adapters from the 1400 and 3400 will also work with the G3 Series PowerBooks and Clamshell iBook.

The FastMac adapter is a much better unit than any of the Apple OEM adapters - very robust and relatively inexpensive. An excellent product.

I have to think about how many computers there are in this house. Nine at present, I think, the oldest being my ancient Mac Plus. They are all in working condition. I haven't owned all of the 'Books outlined in the PBCentral article, although examples of most of them have been in the family at one time or another.

My Pismo is working fine, still in daily use, although the pink screen issue is getting worse. I'll never sell it.

I don't know anyone who has bought the TechRestore screen upgrade. Sorry to hear about your screen mishap. I one time jounced an open 1400 off a bed onto a hardwood floor. No damage.


Lower Memory Slot Failure

From Douglas Barrett

Dear Charles Moore

So glad to see that you are taking an interest in this problem, which seems to have affected so many.

All the best

Douglas Barrett

Hi Douglas

Wish I had something useful to say about it.


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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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