Charles Moore's Mailbag

Pismo Won't Start, Spotlight Finds Too Many Files, and Panasonic SuperDrive in Pismo

Charles Moore - 2008.08.20 - Tip Jar

Dead Pismo

From James Nakashima:

Dear Charles,

My old Pismo was limping along with dead battery for a while, but it still worked when plugged in. Now it won't work at all - even when plugged in. The cords all seem to work okay.

Could this still be a battery problem?

Kindest regards,

Hi James,

It seems likely that it's a power management issue or possibly a dead PRAM battery. The Pismo should work fine on its AC power adapter alone.

back of Pismo

You could try a hard reset if you haven't already. Here's how to proceed:

  1. If the computer is on, turn it off.
  2. It's worth a try pulling the power adapter plug, removing the battery, and letting it sit for ten minutes or so.
  3. Press and release the reset button located on the rear panel of the computer between the external video and modem ports.
  4. Wait 5 seconds.
  5. Press the Power button to restart the computer.

Of course there's a chance it could be a hardware failure.


Finding Too Many Files with Spotlight

From Gerhard:

Hello Charles!

One question and a lengthy introduction, sorry for it:

I am a long time reader of Low End Mac, from around 1998 onwards. I really appreciate your work and Dan's, providing so useful information for us who like to keep their Macs for some more years - thus ending with a low-end model sooner or later. I started to use Macs in 1987 and had so bad experiences with NeXT-OS on a NeXT Workstation that I avoided OS X until 2006.

My first year with my MacBook was disastrous, caused by a faulty original installation, buggy SheepShaver, early versions of Parallels, an incompatible xDSL-modem, and my incompetence. After receiving some coaching, browsing through many OS X books, and a complete reinstall, I finally got a working laptop. But until now I feel not as productive as I had been with System 9. I had a set of well sorted applications, collected over years, the oldest dating from as early as 1985.

Where I really need your advice on is Spotlight.

Since System 7 or 7.5, searching for files on a Mac was flawless and fast (before, I relied on Norton's file search). In Sherlock, it was easy to deactivate content searching by removing one system extension. But whenever I do a search with Spotlight, I get dozens or hundreds of hits. I name my files in a way that is good enough to help me find everything, but Spotlight insists in adding hits where it found the search string somewhere deeply buried in a cache document or similar abstruse.

How do you deal with this situation? How do you accomplish an efficient file search, esp. in Tiger? Please, tell me your search strategy.

Is there is a way to deactivate content search permanently? I have heard of a rather complicated way to deactivate it for a single search, but I do not want to go through this process every time I use Spotlight. Or do you know of alternative search utilities for OS X? Probably you may pass my question also to Dan Knight.

Thank you very much.

Kind regards,

Hi Gerhard,

Thank you for the kind words, and I'm delighted to hear that you find Low End Mac interesting and helpful.

Sorry to hear about the bumpy start with OS X. There are still a few things I miss about OS 9 (and I still run Classic Mode on my Tiger machines), but after using OS X as my production OS since late Jaguar/early Panther, I'm now totally addicted.

However, I agree with you that filename searches in OS X are pathetic, and while I find Spotlight a useful tool, it does have a big problem with "too much information" results.

As you probably know, you can do file name searched using the Find (Command-F in the Finder) dialog, although it is vexingly cumbersome compared with the way it worked in OS 9.

What I have found works best for me is a little freeware search utility called Spotinside, which still does indexed content searches but orders the search returns much more intelligently than Spotlight. It's not perfect (for example, it routinely crashes if you try to preview large files), but it is the fastest and most efficient tool I've found for finding stuff with OS X. There are several other third-party search utilities, some quite powerful, but also too feature bloated. Spotinside is simple, fast, and effective. Works for me!

You can find my most recent review on Applelinks.


Question about Panasonic UJ-850 (or UJ-825) Drive in Pismo

From James Rohde:

Hi (again) Charles,

First, thanks for all your articles (I appreciate them all, even those that aren't directly usable for me).

Read your Low End Mac reply to Russell on the UJ-850 Panasonic DVD/SuperDrive, and when I looked, there were several on eBay. I won one with shipping for only $21.50 (yay!) and anticipate installing it in place of my DVD/CD-ROM original drive in my Pismo. I have an article printout showing how to take apart the original drive bay/mechanism but was wondering if the Panasonic needs anything special (cabling, drivers, etc.) to work with the Pismo. Mine has Tiger 10.4.11 installed, 1 GB of RAM, and 120 GB Hitachi hard drive. I'm pretty sure I have PatchBurn downloaded on my drive, but I'm at work currently (so may need to download that if I don't have it).

Any special tips or tricks to get the drive working? I know that my 500 MHz G3 won't be able to do iDVD, but would like capability to use the Panasonic for data backup as its primary use (other than reading DVDs and importing music CDs).

Thanks in advance,
Jim Rohde

Hi Jim,

My experience using these drives with Pismos over the past several years in Panther (Mac OS X 10.3) and Tiger (10.4) has been that they're pretty much plug and play, although you do need PatchBurn for full features support.

PatchBurn is fairly frequently updated, so you should check from time to time to see if you're up to date.

You might also check out Simon Royal's recent tutorial, Replacing Your Lombard or Pismo Optical Drive with a SuperDrive, if you haven't already.


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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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