Charles Moore's Mailbag

Love My MacBook Pro, Excellent Upgrade Advice, Unexpected Opera 10 Alpha Behavior, and More

Charles Moore - 2008.12.18 - Tip Jar

Love My 'Early 2008' MacBook Pro

From Mike:


I recently "rediscovered" LEM and have been following your columns on whether to purchase a refurb last-gen 15" MacBook Pro, MacBook, etc. I was in the same position, and for reasons which were pretty much the same as the ones you mentioned went with the "early '08" MBP. At the time, Apple had sold out of refurbs, but I found a semi-local dealer selling them for only $50 more ($1,400). I had to pay sales tax, as I would have purchasing from Apple, and I drove the 30 miles to save on shipping and to have it in my hands as quickly (and safely) as possible.

All I can say is that I love this machine. The unibody MBP's certainly are nice, but for my money, not quite $600 more worth of nice. I'm really glad that I had read your column, as it helped confirm that I really had made the right decision. Good luck with yours!


Hi Mike,

Glad you've found my musings interesting and helpful, and delighted to hear that you're pleased with the previous generation MacBook Pro.

I'm still dithering on the fence myself. A refurb 2.4 GHz plastic MacBook would probably be a rational choice for me, but I've been spoiled by the 17" display in my PowerBook.


Great Upgrade Advice!

From Ronald:


Regarding your article: The 'Better Safe than Sorry' Guide to Installing Mac OS X Updates

Great article!

I agree that taking these steps and using the combo installer results in smooth installations.

And I also "Safe Boot", since this dumps the caches and performs other basic routines prior to installation as well as activating the bare minimum number of applications.

Another thing that I have found that people do wrong (in addition to simply using the 'Software Update') . . . is to regularly use way too many utility applications. (Norton, Micromat, Cocktail, etc., etc.)

I know someone that does this all too often - and has what appears to be constant ongoing problems with her system.

It seemed like every couple of days she was posting on the Adobe forums about how she was having constant trouble with her system '...even though she was very often doing preventive maintenance...' with a ridiculous number of utility apps.

I kept telling her to at least give it a test and to stop using them (and just use Apple's Disk Utility and DiskWarrior for a while). But she 'knew' she was doing what was best, so I finally gave up trying to help her.

I stopped using almost all of them many years ago and have far fewer problems.

FWIW, I use Apple's Disk Utility, DiskWarrior (an absolute must, of course), Leopard Cache Cleaner, and Onyx. That's it. I've been doing this for many years, and I haven't used virus software in approximately 5 years.

Years ago one version of Cocktail caused me huge problems so I stopped using it. Other than the occasional corrupt cache or preference file, my system is virtually trouble free.

And of course . . . I keep two complete backups of my main 320 GB hard drive . . . which mainly has given me peace of mind. But it also allows me to test/experiment more and it's great for the occasional bad preference file or lost/deleted email.

Also two full backups are essential.

One time when I was backing up my main drive, I made a mistake that trashed all the data on two of my drives - and had I not had a third drive with a second full backup, years of clients' files and personal files would have been lost forever. I lost several days work, but that's certainly better than years of work.


Hopefully users will not be lazy and instead take your advice.

Again . . . great article!

Have a great holiday season!

BTW . . . is a great site and I scan it daily in NetNewsWire.


Hi Ronald,

Thanks for reading and for the kind words about LEM.

I use, but not to excess, OnyX, DiskWarrior, and Drive Genius, which is coming on strong as a competitor for DiskWarrior in the defrag and optimization department, and does a great deal more besides.

I also agree that there is no such thing as too many backups. I do double-redundancy global backups on two external hard drives - one with Time Machine and the other with Carbon Copy Cloner, plus I keep the internal drives on my PowerBook G4 and one of my Pismos manually synchronized.


Unexpected Behavior from Opera 10 Alpha

From Doug:

Thanks for another great article [7 Favorite Mac Browsers], enough depth to be worth reading, not so much detail that it gets boring. Masterful.

Wanted to let you know, I installed the Opera 10 alpha on your say so.

The first thing I noticed was all my speed dials were gone, then checking bookmarks and sessions, they were all gone as well. I have grown to depend upon those features for daily survival. I am guessing until 10.x goes past beta, the developers do not feel the need to expend the effort to capture old preferences.

I reinstalled 9.62 and it all came back just fine. Maybe I am the only one to have this problem, but your readers should be aware something like this could happen.

I don't know if you have ever tried to download or capture multimedia content from the browsers, but that is one big confusing mess as near as I can tell.

I had been keeping an old Mozilla browser 1.7.12 version around to listen to one local radio station on the fringe of their coverage area. Nothing else would stream their feed. Whether it was an update to my machine, their feed, or what, suddenly I can no longer stream the feed. I believe the problem is tied more into the OS X subsystems than the browsers themselves, but if someone knowledgeable with your gift for presentation could make some sense of it, I don't think I would be the only one to benefit.

Congrats on another very well done article!

Hi Doug,

Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the column.

The reason your speed dials were gone is that Opera (prudently I think) programmed the Opera 10 public alpha release to create its own discrete Preferences Folder rather than tap into the preferences of your current Opera 9 final install, which remains undisturbed. I haven't tried it, and I'm not sure which Preferences file contains the Speed Dial data (Bookmarks maybe?). but with a bit of trial and error I think you could probably find the file with the SD data and copy it into the Opera 10 Preferences folder. The alternative would be to just reconfigure Speed Dial in version 10.

When 10 goes final, I expect that it will assimilate version 9 final's Preferences settings, or at least that's what's happened with earlier versions.

Multimedia content is basically terra incognita for me on my home setup, since I'm limited to a dialup connection over badly-maintained rural copper lines that gives me 26,400 throughput on good days. Internet radio is likewise beyond the practical capability of my Internet bottleneck.

Broadband is promised here by the end of 2009, but with the economy tanking I'm not holding my breath.


iCab Is Also WebKit-based

From Ken:


While I have no problems with your "favorite" browsers, it should be noted that iCab 4.x is also another WebKit-based browser. 3.x and earlier used the developer's own rendering engine. I never thought those earlier releases were very compatible across the Web, nor particularly speedy in rendering pages. Not surprisingly, iCab suddenly became much more snappy, stable, and compatible (Safari-like in its rendering) once it became a WebKit-based browser. But it does have some unique features. For one thing, it works with 10.3.9 and later, whereas Safari and most of the other WebKit browsers require Tiger or Leopard.

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

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

Ken Watanabe

Hi Ken,

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


Firefox 2 and 3 Are Processor Hogs

From John Campbell:

Thank you, Charles, as you are always a good read. I agree with all you have said about browsers over the years, especially the latest group from your #1-#4 and #5. My only real problem is with Firefox, v.2 and 3. It hogs my processor 50-75% when loading pages. Is this common? Or is it a sign of not enough processing power? Opera and Camino seem to create the lightest load.


QS G4/867 MHz, 10.4.11, 1.5 GB, ATI Radeon 9200

Hi John,

It's interesting, since Camino uses the same browsing engine as Firefox, but I've experienced something similar on my Pismo - with Firefox 3 at least.

Firefox 3 (I'm currently using version 3.1 beta 2) is a happy camper and good citizen on my PowerBook G4 running Leopard 10.5.5, but when I try to use it on my Pismo G4 550 MHz running OS X 10.4.11" Tiger", it and everything else quickly slows to the speed of cold molasses running uphill in the wintertime. It's essentially unusable on that machine, although Camino and Navigator 2 (my current fave Mozilla Gecko browser) work just fine.

I didn't mention this in the article, since a 9-year-old hot-rodded Pismo is hardly mainstream hardware, but you may be encountering a similar difficulty with your 867 MHz Quicksilver in OS X 10.4.11.


You hit on my only guess that FF 3's design is more efficient on, and perhaps coded more specifically for, Leopard and/or Intel. I like FF's design a lot but can't complain with the other many good options available.


Don't Expect Snow Leopard Support for PowerPC Macs

From Jack

I just read this article and thought I'd throw in my two cents. If the next 10.6 beta released to outside developers doesn't include a PowerPC build, I think you can count PPC support out of the running. At this point, Apple has probably compiled a majority of the system code for 10.6, so if PPC builds haven't been made simultaneously, the chance that they ever will be is slim.

I also can't see Apple releasing a semi-major OS version without the requisite outside testing; that is, without testing on multiple machines with multiple configurations (of which outside developers will have many). I cannot fathom how a software release would fare with only internal testing at Apple as opposed to outside testing with developers that will have myriad different system configurations and specifications. The possibility for bugs and issues at time of release is way too high.

I have one of those last Power Mac G5s that is mentioned (the Dual-Core 2.0 GHz), and while I would love for it to run the next big cat from Cupertino, I'm not holding my breath.


Hi Jack,

I agree with your deduction and would rate the chances of Snow Leopard supporting PPC as slightly greater than zero perhaps, but not much. Could be mistaken, of course, but I'm personally discounting any prospect for Snow Leopard running on my G4 PowerBook, and I'm guessing G5 owners are out of luck there as well.


Eudora Withdrawal Woes

From Serafina following up on Eudora Woes:

Thanks for your help. I tried the IDS website again after getting your reply and beta 9 had just been posted - turns out that's why the download link was missing for a few days. I was happy with how easy it was to set up Odysseus but I haven't been able to use it. over the last couple weeks I've tried it when I have the time, but it crashes whenever I try to check send/check mail - something with the sending UIDL. It's discouraging since they say their next release will be the official version - no more betas.

So I've been using Apple Mail in the interim and compiling a list of Eudora features that I sorely miss. some things I've found alternate solutions but others I'm just doing without.

I use 2 providers and since one of them recently went through an upgrade I tried Eudora again today and was able to send and receive mail for the first time since switching to Mac OS 10.5. so now I'm wondering if I can use Eudora after all? I'd like to know what problems you encounter and what are you doing at this point for an email client?

Features I miss without Eudora:

  • multiple personalities for a given ISP account!!!!!! Apple Mail won't allow it as far as I can tell. for one account, I had as many as four different personalities set up and even varied what the return email address was. How are you dealing with this?
  • good search function - for example can specify a window of time to search in
  • labels - using color coding so things stand out in a mailbox or I can tell at a glance what topic area they are in and can sort by that
  • task progress
  • filtering better than Apple Mail rules
  • mailboxes opening up when new mail goes into them so I don't have to keep looking for new messages all over the place - but don't want them all coming into one inbox and then having to apply rules - got spoiled.
  • having multiple mailbox windows open is easier and having the app remember how I sized the windows and where I placed them on the screen
  • I could change the subject line that I look at in the mailbox so that it's more informative and tells me some of the content inside. it does not change the subject line in the header of the message itself.
  • queuing message for future sending - this was handy. I can use iCal and to-do's but it was quicker in Eudora.
  • in Mail I can't drag and drop text in the same way while editing like I could in Eudora
  • Odysseus won't let me change the port number and it needs to be 465 for outgoing mail for one of my ISP accounts - buggy?
  • in Mail, if I scroll past a message in a window (without opening and reading) it gets marked read (loses the unread mark more accurately). and if I delete a message above an unread message, then the unread message below is now selected and loses its unread status. very hard for staying organized. I would like messages to only be marked read if I open them up and read them.

I'd love to hear any advice or thoughts. It's nice to talk to someone who is familiar with Eudora.


Hi Serafina,

Yes, I don't find Odysseus 1.0b9 even close to being ready to replace Eudora, although I haven't had any trouble with it crashing in my tests.

For me, one make-or-break feature that's still missing is the ability to check individual email accounts separately. I have some 25 accounts configured in Eudora 6.2.4, which is what I'm still using in OS X 10.5.5 "Leopard" as my workhorse email client. It's simply impractical to do mass checks, especially over my bog-slow dialup connection, so that one is a deal-breaker until individual checks are supported.

Another lingering problem is that Odysseus still can't send mail through my ISP's (Sympatico Canada) SMTP server. This is partly a Sympatico problem, and it afflicts Eudora as well.

The progress bar enhancements are appreciated and are closer to being comparable with Eudora's excellent Tasks window, although not quite there yet. But I haven't found any way in the Odysseus Preferences to make message windows display the data strings at the top, which I want.

Soooo, it's still Eudora for me. I may check out the Thunderbird 3 beta, but not with any lively hope. Eudora works in Leopard, although it's slow and not the rock of stability it was under previous OS X versions. No email client has a search engine that holds a candle to Eudora's.

You've listed a nice summary of Eudora's manifold superiorities, which is why I keep using it despite the angularities under Leopard. I'm hopeful for the future of Odysseus, but it may take a while. I'll be delighted if the next release turns out to be usable, but I'll be surprised if it happens that quickly.

I would suggest trying Eudora 6.2.4 again. What I've done as a partial workaround is switching to Gmail Webmail with a browser for some of my email traffic. It can still be configured to work with Eudora as well, and thanks to them being SSL I think, my ISP's port 25 block to prevent sending email with SMTP servers other than their own doesn't work with Gmail, although the Gmail server works awfully slowly with Leopard.


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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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