Charles Moore's Mailbag

Depreciation Game a Gamble, Best OS for 12in PowerBook, Opera 9.5 Fast with Unique Features, and More

Charles Moore - 2008.07.02 -Tip Jar

Depreciation Game a Bit of a Gamble

From Jeffrey:


Like you, I see the value of buying"low". I tell my friends that I live on the dull edge oftechnology.

A while back, I purchased a refurbished PowerBook G4/867 MHz forabout $610. They still sell for about $560. And I guessed well, becauseI happened to pick the slowest model that runs Leopard, and it has heldits value well. I'm happy with it.

I could have very easily ended up with an 800 MHz model with a RadeonMobility 7500 or a faster G3 iBook, and I am rather fortunate todaythat I didn't. But there was no skill involved in that decision. It'sjust that playing the low-end game is sometimes a gamble.

So now there much discussions that Snow Leopard will be Intel-only.You know, my Quicksilver, recently upgradedto 2x800 MHz, is not getting any younger. It is inevitable that I willbe in the market for a replacement project machine in thenot-too-distant future. In fact, I've already been looking. Used G5sare a lot more cost effective than Xeon Machines right now, but Icertainly would not want to purchase any machine whose maximum possibleOS is the same as my Quicksilver.

So to me right now, playing the low-end game means playing a waitinggame. I just feel now is not a good time to be buying in the used Macmarket.


Hi Jeffrey,

Yes, you just got in under the Leopard wire with that867 MHz PowerBook. How do you find it handles Leopard. My 1.33 GHz PowerBook struggles abit with 10.5, but then I push it pretty hard.

As for Snow Leopard, I will be extremely surprised ifit ships with PowerPC support. Dropping PPC code is a major element ofthe Mac OS X 10.6 slimming-down program, and some of the newfeatures are integrated with Intel chip technologies so that nominalsupport for PPC would not amount to much difference from Leopardanyway. My guess is that OS X 10.5.whatever will be the ultimateOS version for PowerPC.


Best OS for 12" PowerBook

From Craig:


I found yourarticle when I was looking for info on my "antique" 12" 867 MHz PowerBook G4. Theproblem I am having is finding out what may be the best configurationfor my machine. The strange sense that this computer is getting old andslowing down has me wondering if there is an optimal version ofOS X to use to return this puppy back to when it seemed moresnappy. I guess that means I am fine using whatever older versions ofsoftware are compatible, but I really love this little guy so much andwant to keep it useful as long as possible.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!



Hi Craig,

The 867 MHz 12" PowerBook originally shipped with OS X10.2 Jaguar, as did my own contemporaneous 700 MHz G3 iBook.

Based on personal experience with that machine and mytwo 550 MHz G4-upgraded Pismo PowerBooks, all of whichare still in active service, my pick for optimum performance isOS X 10.4.11 "Tiger", which strikes a "sweet spot" balance betweenfeatures, speed, and stability.

While your 867 MHz G4 is officially supported byOS X 10.5 "Leopard" (indeed, it's the slowest Mac that makes theLeopard cut), I wouldn't recommend it. Leopard is sluggish enough on my1.33 GHz PowerBook G4, and I really wouldn't want to run it on a slowerMac. I still have OS X 10.4.11 installed on another partition ofits hard drive, but Leopard's features (especially Spaces and TimeMachine) have roped me in, so I've resolved to put up with theless-than-stellar performance until my imminent upgrade to an IntelMac, but for your 867 MHz unit I think Tiger is the ticket. It's whatIn would use on that model anyway.


Opera 9.5 Is Fast and Has Unique Features

From Leif:

Charles W. Moore 2008-06-18 06.18:

Thanks. Glad you like the review. I'm already gettingused to the new interface, and I'm pretty happy with it, although Inever found the old one particularly confusing.

Yes, the tab behavior is improved (iCab had tabconfiguration nailed nicely years ago).

I've experimented a bit with Opera's email module butnever used it for serious work. If they don't get Odysseus working withreasonable dispatch I may give it more consideration as an alternativeto Eudora. I like it better than Thunderbird or OS X Mail.

Hi Charles,

What is so great with Opera is that it is so snappy. Windows andtabs opens fast! Including the email tab. And the IRC tab and othertabs. It is clear to me that Opera care about many things that theothers are no near caring for. Just think about the "adapt page toWindow" features it has. It reminds a lot of how Opera Mini does it onthe mobile. Or think of the panels - press it, and the page adapts.

What analogy can I make? Have you been aboard a not so large boat ofwood in heavy weather? Comes a wave and hit the boat, and you feel howthe whole construction shakes. You know you will survive. But it is notlike a elegant Viking ship, which just "cuts" the sea, without buzz andfuzz or shakiness. ;-)

Back in Mac OS 9 and below, windows opened so fast. OS X slowedthings down. Opera give me that old feel - sort of.

I love iCab - of course, but on my computer it is frequently a bitsluggish.

I too have not given the email part of Opera enough "heed". But itis tempting to go for one app with all included.

I like the Scandinavian design analogy ;-) Elegant withoutgetting in the way.

PS: Have you tried Scribe?


Hi Leif,

You're right again. Opera's responsiveness is a bigreason why it's such a pleasure to use.

I like your sailing analogy. I'm a sailor, although Ihaven't had time (or a boat) to do any for several years. I've lived onboats ranging from an 85' ferro-concrete schooner to a 26' FaireyMarine Atalanta mahogany sloop we used to own. I've never sailed on aViking ship, but I have sailed multihulls - the largest a PiverLodestar 35' trimaran, and the smallest the Hobie Cat 14' I owned forabout 15 years, so I do know what you mean about "cutting" through thewaves without drama.

Also agreed about the snappiness of OS 9 compared withthe sluggishness of OS X. The Finder is quicker and moreresponsive on my old 233MHz PowerBook WallStreet running OS 9 than it is on my 1.33GHz G4 PowerBook running Tiger or Leopard. Maybe the cure is an IntelMac.

I actually prefer to use separate applications for Websurfing and email, but I must check out Opera Mail again, since it'sreportedly improved, and it wasn't bad before.

I hadn't even heard of Scribe before, but it looksinteresting. I'll check it out. Thanks for the tip.


I'm more a poet than a sailor. ;-) I guess I was a bitcarried away in the way I described it. I have only sailed a little inmy youth, with friends and in school, including with a "modern"relative of the old Viking ship. (SeeÅfjordsbåt.)However, that was all very nice experiences.

I have a WallStreet, BTW. But it has long since stopped working. . . I tried to revive it last year - because the issue isthat pressing the keyboard makes it restart. (I read that it is a knownissue.) So I regret I tried to upgrade it. (I have become morereluctant to many such things . . . it takes time andconcentration and investigation to keep old horses in order.)

Understand using separate applications for Web surfing and email.However, Opera Mail is very "invisible" you could say - I understandthat was one of your goals.

Also, have you tried the Hugin adaptation of Opera? Basically itdisables all browser functionality so it becomes a standalone mailapp.

I have experimented with, with Opera 9.2. However, there might beMac incompatibilities - still. However, I have not tested it with Opera9.5, for which the Hugin skin recently was updated. See this post:


Hi Leif,

Thanks for the follow-up.

Hadn't heard of Hugin.

Since I basically always have Opera open, the separateapplication thing probably shouldn't be an issue for me, and as younote, the Mail module is pretty much invisible unless you want to seeit.

WallStreets are essentially antiques now. Ours hasn'treally been used since my wife switched from it to an iBook last fall.It still works fine though.


Tighty Righty

From Marc:

Hi, Charles!

I enjoyed your politicalanalysis of Mac users. I'm also an Apple devotee (one PowerBook, anApple TV, and Time Capsule to back it all up), and I'm ascience-fiction writer - so most people naturally assume I'm a flamingliberal bomb-thrower. Ah, if they only knew the truth of mytax-cutting, oil-drilling, free market ways!

Of course, that only makes it more fun when they buy my books. Ilove capitalism!

All Best,
Marc G

Hi Marc,

Cool. Glad you liked the article.

Capitalism rocks; the most potent engine of generalprosperity, high living standards, and social freedom ever devised.

Be thankful you live in the US - the most congenialenvironment for conservatives on the planet. Much less so here inCanada, although we do have fairly robust capitalism, but also hightaxes, nearly three times the rate of labor unionization as the US, andlots of liberals.

Tax Freedom Day for the average Canadian family fellon June 14th this year - the median date they paid off the total taxbill imposed on them by three levels of government - federal,provincial, and local - and finally commenced working for themselves. Idon't have this year's figure, but US citizens typically celebratetheir Tax Freedom Day sometime in April.

In a poll released on the weekend, Canadianrespondents asked how to define their political views answered:

  • Very liberal: 12 per cent
  • Liberal: 39 per cent
  • Conservative: 38 per cent
  • Very conservative: 3 per cent

In the same poll, respondents in the United Statesanswered:

  • Very conservative: 10 per cent
  • Conservative: 47 per cent
  • Liberal: 30 per cent
  • Very liberal: 7 per cent

So, despite Mr. Obama's current popularity spike, youAmericans are still majority conservative by a comfortable margin.


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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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