Charles Moore's Mailbag

Camino Pros and Cons, Notebook Video Reliability, Overheating Since 10.5.4, and More

Charles Moore - 2009.01.21 - Tip Jar

Camino on Older Macs

From Simon in response to Is Camino Now the Best Browser for Older Macs?:


Interesting article, and I agree that Camino is excellent for older Macs.

Safari is also good. Have you checked out Stainless (it is Leopard only). It is a bit basic, but it rockets along.


Hi Simon,

I have to report that my initial favorable impression of Camino 1.6.6 didn't hold up on my Pismo, as explained in some detail in my follow-up report on Monday.

I have of course used Safari in pretty well all versions since it debuted, but I've never really warmed to it although it's definitely a decent browser. I did try Stainless, but prefer Cruz and Shiira as WebKit browsers.



Camino looks good on the outside, but after using it for a while you do notice a few annoying blips in it. I found it would hang every so often.

Safari is good, and version 3 has to be the best, but it still isn't quite there. Shiira sucked in my opinion, and version 2 was worse that the first.

I am loving Cruz at the moment, and Stainless will be great once it has a few more basic features.

As an all round compatibility browser, I use Firefox, even though there are faster ones out there - what is point of speed if it doesn't quite work as it should do.

It will be interesting to see how Chrome runs on the Mac, but that is a few months away yet.


End of the Road for Camino 1.x

From Greg:

Dear Charles,

Unfortunately, Camino 1.x, like Firefox 2.x, will not be updated any further, and Camino 2.x won't run on Panther. This presents a problem for my father, who has an iBook G3 running Panther. I'm thinking of installing the latest version of Opera, which runs on Panther, for him.

I read a comment somewhere on Lifehacker that said that Firefox 3.x (and, presumably, Camino 2.x) can be "tricked" into running on Panther by editing the appropriate setting in about:config that checks the version of OS X that's on the Mac on which the browser is installed, but I have no idea how to do this myself.


Hi Greg,

I have no computers with Panther installed any more, but I can put in a good word for how well Opera 9.63 works on my Tiger-booted Pismos.

Opera is actually my overall favorite browser for general web surfing on both my Tiger and Leopard machines. Opera has its annoyances - it is sluggish to start up, but that's mitigated somewhat by its having the best, no-hassle session resume support of any Mac browser. It also has far and away the best download manager of any browser I've ever used, with a pause and resume feature that works dependably and excellent progress monitoring.

I prefer the way Opera renders text, especially if it's to be copied and pasted into a text editor, to most other browsers, I'm massively impressed with its stability, and I also love little things about Opera like the buttons to toggle image loading on and off (huge when you're stuck with dialup access) and instant page zooming on the main interface without having to root around in menus.


Camino Eats Memory and Bogs Down

From Jody:


I have the same problem with Camino on my MacBook Pro with 4 GB RAM as you've experienced on your Pismo. There will come a point where Camino has gobbled up a ridiculous amount of system memory and there's no more to grab, so it just stops working. New pages don't load, links won't open, etc. The only way round it is to close the application and start again. I like Camino too much to switch to another browser though.


Hi Jody,

That does sound like the symptoms. Must be a memory leak.


Very Happy with a New 17" PowerBook

From John:

Hi, Charles,

Having followed your PowerBook reviews for a good while now, I today received a 17" G4 PowerBook that I bought on the Low End Mac Swap List. Wow, what an awesome PowerBook! You're right, it qualifies as a genuine desktop replacement candidate. More later after I get my feet wet with this machine.


Hi John,

Congratulations on your new (big) baby. If it turns out to be anywhere near as good as mine, I'm sure you will be happy with it.

I am planning to get a Macintel machine in the not too distant future, but this 17" G4 makes me in no particular hurry.


From John

This PowerBook looks almost new, Charles. I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I'm an architect. I've recently been teaching myself to use Google SketchUp to develop client presentations.

The graphics are pretty intense, and they exceeded the abilities of my hot-rodded Pismo. In checking around, I found one Mac user who said the software was a dog even on his MacBook 13". Here at home though it cruises on our OWC-powered Digital Audio 1.7 GHz G4 tower. I concluded from that that I needed a 17" PowerBook that I could take to my Windows-only office network. I tested it out this afternoon, and SketchUp works great. I got it for less than a third of the price of a MacBook Pro 17". It'll take care of my needs for a good while, I believe.

Thanks again for your reviews. Your "Great 'Books" column is one I still refer to when I'm shopping.

God's blessings to you,

Hi John,

Thanks for the follow-up. Sounds like you got a great deal on a machine that suits your needs well.

Speaking of architecture software, have you ever tried BeLight Live Interior 3D v1.1 for presentations? Here's my review of the software.

I found that it works well on my 1.33 GHz G4 PowerBook.

There is also a Java-based freeware application with similar capabilities that you might like to check out called Sweet Home.


Unibody MacBook Pro a Work of Art

From Andrew:


I made it three months on my early 2008 MacBook Pro before video glitches set in, though different from the ones described relating to the Nvidia defect. In short, everything is fine when working on AC power, but if I put the machine to sleep and wake on battery, text would skew and distort to the point of being illegible, but correctable in small batches by scrolling.

Needless to say, the tech at the Genius Bar easily duplicated the problem, said that there was an article about it from Apple, though he wouldn't show me the article, then told me to call Apple Customer Relations. Customer relations was very apologetic, said there is no known fix for this issue, and that my only options were to return my computer for a full refund or to have Apple replace it with a new Unibody MacBook Pro. They arranged for the replacement locally at my nearest Apple Store and even replaced my extra battery.

So, while I honestly preferred the matte screen on the older model, I now have a brand-new Unibody 15" and paid only $1,600 clearance price for the old model. Not sure which I like better. The unibody enclosure really is everything that it's cracked up to be, and the glossy screen is incredible in situations where glossy excels, such as movies and games or working away from harsh lighting. The keyboard is far better than the one in my older plastic MacBook and is actually better than the old MacBook Pro, which is opposite of my initial impression.

I've had absolutely none of the glitches that the earliest adopters had, and both of Apple's firmware updates were already built-in at the factory, suggesting a newer logic board revision than the first ones three-months-ago. I still have serious Rev. A worries, but I do have AppleCare on this, so hopefully all will be well.

I noticed absolutely no speed difference whatsoever, and my favorite Windows game (Mass Effect) was a bit smoother on the old MacBook Pro, no doubt due to the video drivers.

Furthermore, Windows Vista recognizes the graphics card, and it has the latest driver, but for some reason Aero won't work. I am sure that this will be cleaned up with the next Boot Camp update.

If you don't mind the glossy screen, I can give a positive initial impression of the new MBP. The thing really is a work of art, and the trackpad is a major advance. Four finger swipe for Exposé is one of those things that I can't imagine living without.


Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the report.

Subsequent to our discussions on this topic last fall, I have read enough horror stories that I've been completely spooked off ever buying any MacBook Pro with a GeForce 8600M GT GPU.

If I can scratch up the cash, I would like to follow your example and get a Unibody 15" MBP, but I'm still chary of the Revision A blues. Perhaps more likely at this point is a Unibody MacBook, but the same caveat applies.


Laptop Video Reliability

From Roger:

Hi Charles,

I have been servicing some Macs for several years and have been somewhat disappointed by white iBook failures. MacBooks are just now getting old enough to get some perspective, and they are looking pretty good. I think most iBook and PowerBook problems are video related. It appears to me that when the video cables start going bad due to the hinge movement, this often causes a short that takes out the video on the motherboard. The antidotal view from me shows that iBooks and PowerBooks that are used in a more stationary manner have less failure on average. I hope that wiring and motherboard changes will avoid much of these problems.


Hi Roger,

I think you're probably correct in your deduction that a fair bit of the iBook and PowerBook video issues result from ribbon cable chafe in way of the screen hinge. I recall this happening at least as far back as the Lombard PowerBook. There is also a pretty well documented issue with failed solder joints on both the G3 (the subject of an Apple extended service program for some models) and G4 dual USB iBooks

Probably with either of these problems being used in mobile mode, which usually goes a long with a lot of lid closings and openings, would hasten the onset of failure, and my G3 iBook, which has had some road work but not a lot under either my or now my wife's usage, has remained trouble-free due to being used mostly in a "stationary manner", as you put it. On the other hand, my daughter's G4 iBook, which has been used extensively on the road since it was new, began manifesting problems before it was two years old.

Glad to hear that the MacBooks seem to be more robust in that department.


Recycling iMacs for Cats

iCatFrom Andrew:

Attached is a pic of what's left of a dead iMac I salvaged. The power supply and monitor were shot, so I sent them to the recycler and kept the remaining components for use later in other iMacs. It seemed a shame to send the case to the recycler, so I took it off and put it back together with transparent packing tape (probably a glue gun would also work) and pulled a cheap flannel blanket out of storage to stick inside. There were a couple of plastic chunks inside that would have made for an uncomfortable perch, so I used a hobby iron with knife attachment to melt them off first. My neighbors' kitty really likes it, though she tends to dig around and mess up the blanket a lot!


Hi Andrew,

I like cats and Macs, so this pic rubs me the right way. :-)

Nice to see an old Mac still giving someone good service and pleasure!


G5 Users Not Missing Much without Snow Leopard

From Brian Reilly:

Hey there again Charles,

I just wrote an article investigating the advantages of 64-bit capable processors, particularly the G5's, due to the fact support for them will be dropped in Snow Leopard. I after a lot of sifting, I actually found G5 owners will not really be losing much once 64-bit applications are continued to be developed only for Intel Macs. The link to the article is here: What 64-Bit Will Mean to the Rest of Us

Just something I think G5 owners will be interested in reading.

Thanks, Brian.


PowerBook Overheating Since Mac OS X 10.5.4

From Marty:

This is a comment/reply to your adventures with an Overheating PowerBook, the 10.5.6 Update, and Other Things entry.

I too have noticed the same if not exact issues you have with your G4. My PowerBook is constantly running at 54° to 58° Celsius due to the G4 fan controller . . . it was well into the 60s left to the Apple defaults. I too have had no issues with speed and performance until late . . . the 10.5.4+ updates I've noticed the higher heat and lower performance. With the fans cranked and keeping the processor cooler, the performance is much better, understandably, but, as you ask, what's changed? I believe, though I have no proof, that it's the OS/kernel that is not optimized for the PPC. I seem to remember the early adopters of the Intel Mac's having the same issues with PPC apps and the like.


Hi Marty,

My G4 PowerBook has been behaving fairly well since I updated to a clean reinstall of OS X 10.5.6. Of course, we've been having cold weather here in Nova Scotia in January!

I am inclined to suspect that your surmise about Apple not putting a whole lot of effort into Leopard PowerPC optimization is probably correct.


Need a Password to Install Drivers

From Bill:

I bought a G4 Mac OS 10.4.6 tower on eBay. I need a password to install drivers for an ATI 9200 video card. I got the drivers, but I need to get past the password to install them.



Hi Bill,

Unless you can contact the previous owner and get the Administrator password, the only suggestion I can think of is to reinitialize the hard drive and reinstall the system, backing up any of your own files and applications beforehand, of course.


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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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