Charles Moore's Mailbag

Why Choose OS 9 Today?, OS 9 WiFi Security, Mousing with Parkinson's, and More

Charles Moore - 2008.08.06 -Tip Jar

Why Choose Mac OS 9 Today?

From Stephen:

Dear Charles Moore,

While I love Mac OS 9 and have fond memories of using it back in itstime, I've noticed that since installing my old copy onto a laptoprunning SheepShaver it's been surprisingly difficult to get MacOS 9 programs with the features that I'm now used to in currentprograms.

If you don't need too much functionality, it'll work perfectly, buthaving seen it from the outside in 2008 I've discovered that I now useit as a minimal typing engine that I use when I don't want to bedistracted by the various toys I've set up on my more modern operatingsystem and as a way of accessing games from my childhood that are notavailable on the Intel architecture.

The original mailer asksabout security, which to me seems to indicate it is better to move to asystem which is still being currently updated rather than one from theturn of the century. He also mentions maintenance as a reason not touse Windows, which I do not understand; he knows and uses Windowsalready and must know the tricks that will get XP/Vista to fly throughthe undemanding tasks they will be asked to do. However, since he isprepared to support a second computer on another operating system italso seems strange to jump in at the deep end and chose an older,unsupported system over the supported and currently updated version. Ihave not used Mac OS 9 since 2001, and I discovered that goingback to it was familiar and nostalgic but not immediate, thedifferences that came from emulating it aside, and I cannot imaginethat it would be as natural as a more familiar system

I'm interested to know the reasons that Seth has for settling onOS 9 for his mother; it's an unusual choice for a first system in2008.


Hi Stephen,

Yes, I really wouldn't be a happy camper using OS 9these days. Too limiting compared with OS X, especially browsers.I've been surprised at how little I miss Classic Mode on my PowerBook G4 since upgradingto Leopard last fall.

My wife switched to Tiger (on a 700 MHz iBook G3) from OS X10.2.2 (on a 233 MHzWallStreet) last fall, the last holdout in our house.

I'll always have a warm regard for the Classic Mac OS.I loved it in its day. However, that day has passed in the context ofusing it for a front line OS.


WiFi Security for Mac OS 9

From Alex:

Hi Charles,

This is an answer to Seth's question about WLAN and WiFi securityfor OS 9:

I used to use a Lucent WaveLAN/Orinoco Gold (actually, it was a"Silver" card upgraded to "Gold", which gives 128-bit encryptioninstead of 64-bit) and a Dell TrueMobile 1150 (rebranded version of thesame card) with OS 8.6/9.x and WEP-WiFi. Those cards can probably foundvery cheap on eBay.

There are instructions available:

The driver is probably available here:

However, I would advise against the whole idea for two reasons:

  1. WEP is not considered secure any more. It is very easy to hack. Youshould use a newer standard, which AFAIK is not possible w/OS 9.
  2. Given the ever-increasing amount of hard-to-handle JavaScript/AJAXin web sites these days, a browser as old as the only browsersavailable for OS 9 is severely outdated, even when you only lookat browsing. Plus, there is a severe lack of up-to date plugins formultimedia content or even newer PDFs.

Another factor is OS 9's tendency to pause, freeze, or crash whenbrowsing. Several years ago (when Jaguar was brand-new) I tried to getmy father on a OS 9 machine, and he didn't like it at all. I'drather use Panther or Tiger, especially for someone who never used aMac and might get frustrated with a sub-par web experience.


Hi Alex,

Thanks for the tips, links, and advice.


UJ-845b into a Pismo

From Jeff:

I have recently purchased a UJ-845b and was wanting to know if you feel that the install isjust an enclosure swap and installing PatchBurn, or is there more I shouldknow?

I would like it to act as much like a factory unit as I can do discburn and iTunes are not workarounds


Thanks for your help

Hi Jeff,

My knowledge is well short of being encyclopedic onthis topic, but the UJ-825 Panasonic drives in the SuperDrives I havein my Pismos work just fine in Tiger with PatchBurn installed. I can'tthink of anything more offhand that I can tell you.


Mousing with Parkinson's

From Elaine following up on Tricking Out Your Notebook:

Hi Charles,

Wow, didn't expect such a long response nor explanation, but havingseveral friends with Fibro, I know well how its pain inhibits movement.I have major osteoarthritis in my thumbs that's slowly spreading to myother fingers and find that not having to move my hand from thekeyboard-keypad is the least painful of my choices. In fact I'm writingon my lap "as we speak," sitting next to Jim who is watching a movie onTV that I've already seen.

He has been battling Parkinson's Disease for the past 15 years butnever had been able to work a trackpad or trackball and barely manageda mouse, even before his PD blossomed. His salvation is the Contour RollerMousethat we bought for him in 2001 and is still going strong. Though ahefty $200, then and still, it allows control to move the cursor as noother input device has, especially as his PD progresses. If I'm notmistaken, I first learned about it from one of your columns way back then andprobably wrote to you back then to say thanks if it was fromyou....

At least my soon-to-be 69 year old memory still works: whilesearching for something else, I found a PDF of your article that Isaved. Interesting that your peripheral neuropathy turns out to beFibro. Not sure which is worse....


Hi Elaine,

Sorry to hear about the osteoarthritis andParkinson's. My grandmother had the latter.

I indeed have a Contour RollerMouse, and it's a veryneat rig. Using it never became intuitive for me, but I can appreciatethat for some folks it would be just what the doctor ordered - perhapsliterally in some cases.

With pointing devices, it's very much what works foryou.

Fibromyalgia is a sort of grab-bag diagnosis and asyndrome rather than a species of disease. I should have saidperipheral neuritis, I think. Whatever, it hurts a lot.


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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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