Charles Moore's Mailbag

New iPods vs. Old iTunes, Some Netbooks More Flexible than MacBooks, iCab 4 Uses WebKit, and More

Charles Moore - 2008.12.10 -Tip Jar

New iPods vs. Old iTunes

From James:

Dan and Charles:

I like the new 2nd generation iPod touch and the 4th generation iPodnano, but I have no plan to get one, and here is why:

I have a 400 MHz iMacrunning Mac OS X 10.3.9 and a Mac mini running 10.4.11, and I do nothave the budget for a new iMac or, if ever Apple makes a new Mac minithat is interesting to me, a Mac mini. I can not run the newest versionof iTunes on the iMac without upgrading the operating system to MacOS X 10.4.x, and I do not have the budget for that. On the Macmini I could run iTunes 8, but every time I move to a newer version ofiTunes, I hate it and end up reloading an older version - so I haveiTunes 7.4 on the Mac mini and iTunes 6 on the iMac. I like the olderversions of iTunes, because I can click on the EQ button instead ofhunting through the menus in the bar, and I can not transcode podcaststo my favorite bit rate (48 Kbps) and sample rate (24 kHz) with newerversions so I can save hard drive space and iPod memory space.

I would love for Apple or some enterprising software "engineer" tomake a patch or plugin for the older versions of iTunes so I could usemy 3rd generation nano with iTunes 6 and make the newest 4th generationnano work with iTunes 7.4 or 6.0. Maybe Apple could simply improve theiTunes software so I can do what I want with the newest version. . . Like that's ever going to happen. I will get a computerrunning with Linux so I can use Banshee or the Linux version ofSongbird, and I will see what kind of success I have with an iPod. Toobad SongBird requires an Intel-based Mac.

In this economy and with shortsighted politicians growing in power,can Apple really shut out those of us who are not rich?


Hi James,

Apple has never shown much consideration for low-endusers of its products other than to keep designing and buildingcomputers that seem capable of going on and on indefinitely.

Software advances (?) are one way of boosting demandfor current models.


Many Netbooks Have Better I/O Options than Apple'Books

From Jeffrey in response to Netbooks Tempting, Cry Outfor Mac OS X:


Good point regarding the better I/O options on some Netbooks. Thosemachines give up little beyond screen space and raw CPU capability. Itoo find them tempting, as must numerous others. For example, I notedthat one entrepreneur was selling MSI Wind Netbooks on eBay with Leopard preinstalled!

Your comment about FireWire hit a nerve. I cannot imagine purchasinga Mac without Target Disk Mode. I find it a valuable capability.Whereas one can add FireWire to any desktop Mac with a free internalslot or any portable with a CardBus or ExpressCard slot and such anupgrade will give one access to FireWire peripherals, it will notreplace FireWire Target Disk Mode. I am curious if the new MacBookshave a USB Target Disk Mode.

Finally, my comment regarding openSUSE and "prime time" was intendedto convey that it meets the minimum usability criteria. In other words,close to Windows XP. I have yet to encounter an OS that I wouldconsider on par with the Mac experience, although Mr. Shuttleworthwants to give it a try. Sure, people can make the Linux desktoplook like a Mac OS, but it still does not behave as well and aswell integrated as a Mac OS.

I work my Macs hard, often several at once, and the Mac OS makes iteasy to use them and to set them up to do what I want them to do andhow I want them to do it. There is nothing else that I've touched thatcomes close. This is based upon my experience installing, configuring,and using three different BSD distributions and more than a dozen Linuxdistributions on at least four different computer architectures.


Hi Jeffrey,

I would probably have pulled the trigger and ordered anew MacBook on Black Friday save for the FireWire issue. Like you, Ican't imagine trying to get along without FireWire.

There is definitely not an USB equivalent to TargetDisk Mode at this point. I have no idea whether one is underdevelopment. Given USB's spotty bootability support, it would probablybe a formidable challenge.

Bang on about the Mac's superiority as an efficienttool that gets your work done with a minimum of hassle and bother. Somefolks like, or at least don't mind having to muck about with and do alot of maintenance on their systems. I detest the tediousness and wasteof time. Using a Mac cuts that to a minimum.


Linux More Resource Hungry, Less Responsive than OSX

From Dan in response to OS X MoreEfficient than Linux:

For years I've always found Linux to be significantly moreresource-hungry and less responsive than Mac OS X, on a widevariety of both PowerPC and Intel hardware.


Thanks for the comment. I haven't used Linux on a Macsince my 233 MHzPowerBook G3, so my frame of reference is rusty to say theleast.


Value of a Used 17" PowerBook

From Dan Bargen:

I have a the 1.67 GHz17" PowerBook (January 2005) model will the following specs:

  • 1.67 GHz PowerPC 7457B (G4)
  • 100 GB 7200 rpm Ultra ATA/100 hard drive
  • Sudden Motion Sensor
  • slot-loading 8x SuperDrive
  • ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics with 128 MB video memory
  • DVI (Dual Link for 30" support), VGA, S-video and composite videosupport
  • Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
  • optical digital audio input and output
  • scrolling trackpad

Bought in July of 2005, I've upgraded two things on it: The RAM ismaxed out at 2 GB, and I've used MCE's OptiBay toreplace the optical drive with a second hard disk - 250 GB, 5400 rpm.The optical drive is sitting in an external chassis that connects viaFW400 (bus powered). At the time, the upgrade was $400 and well worththe extra space, since I could afford to take my entire Aperturelibrary with me. Now I'm wondering as to what these upgrades amount toin added value.

I'm considering selling this machine towards buying a used Mac Pro, as long as the payout isenough to offset not being able to do on-site photography edits. Youseem to be up oncurrent rates for these machines, so I thought you might haveexperience with the resale of similar configurations - perhaps in adifferent PowerBook size or processing power.

What's your opinion?

Hi Dan,

Most users will appreciate and value having maxed-outRAM, although RAM is relatively cheap these days.

Regarding the second hard drive, that is an esotericenough tweak that in order for it to substantially increase the priceof a used Mac laptop, you would have to find a buyer to whom it wouldparticularly appeal.

As ever, the market ultimately determines used prices.You could take the going price of used 17"PowerBooks (see Wegener Media or other sites that traffick in them oneBay), add $150 or $200 as a price premium for the mods, and see if youattract any takers.


17" PowerBook Presses On

From Eric Schneck:

Just installed 2 GB of RAM and 250 GB of disk in my 'Book for barelyover $100.

Ready for another 5 years of rock-n-roll.


Hi Eric,

Good on you for that. Love to hear of satisfied usersgetting long-term service from their older Macs.


Looking Forward to Logitech diNovo Mac Edition

From John Q:

Hi Charles:

Enjoyed the review of the diNovo Edge.

Hope to see a followup when Logitech ships the diNovo Mac Edition,as that would (will?) be my choice as well.

As a (picky) keyboard enthusiast, it's great to see moreno-compromises truly Mac-oriented options appear on the market.

No more extraneous keys to remap or Windows-key labels toignore!


Hi John,

Thanks for the comment. Logitech has done the Maccommunity proud with the diNovo series of keyboards. My personal faveremains the Kensington SlimType, but the diNovo's are very high on mylist of desirable keyboards.


iCab 4 Uses WebKit

From Ken:


While I have no problems with your "favorite" browsers, it should benoted that iCab 4.x is also another WebKit-based browser. 3.x andearlier used the developer's own rendering engine. I never thoughtthose earlier releases were very compatible across the Web, norparticularly speedy in rendering pages.

Not surprisingly, iCab suddenly became much more snappy, stable, andcompatible (Safari-like in its rendering) once it became a WebKit-basedbrowser. But it does have some unique features. For one thing, it workswith 10.3.9 and later, whereas Safari and most of the other WebKitbrowsers require Tiger or Leopard.

You did mention Sunrise, Shiira, and OmniWeb as a WebKit-basedbrowsers. Thought iCab should get the same mention, because being basedon WebKit (and adding new features to it) is a good thing.

That's why so many developers, including Google, are doing it.


Hi Ken,

You're entirely correct, and I should have mentionedthat iCab 4 .x uses the WebKit browser engine. Thanks for thecomment.


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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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