Charles Moore's Mailbag

Importance of FireWire, Replacement Battery Advice, RAM for WallStreet PowerBooks, and More

Charles Moore - 2009.06.24 -Tip Jar

The Importance of FireWire

From Jim in response to Low-end MacBook Pros: SD Cardand FireWire In, ExpressCard Out:

Dear Charles,

You so hit this one on the head. I was all set to buy a 13" Unibody MacBook, but thelack of FireWire changed my decision. I work in an elem. middle school.We have all these video cameras - all FireWire!!! I do lot of movies.I'm sure this is true of many schools/colleges/universities. What wasApple thinking? This was a show stopper for me.

At 61 years of age, I can afford pretty much any computer I want.The MacBook Pros are beautiful machines! I just like small laptops.They are just easier to lug around. I'm sure Apple will not go back,but I'll continue to stick to my 12"PowerBook till it quits.

Thanks again for giving expression to my pain! ;-)


Hi Jim,

As we've now seen, Apple has fixed that deficiencywith the 13"MacBook Pro and sweetened the spec in several other ways.


iBook G4 Replacement Battery Advice

From Yoram:

Greetings Charles, and thanks as always for your help.

My trusty 1.33 GHz,12" iBook G4 battery is coming to the end of its life (about 50%capacity after 314 cycles), and I am wondering about a replacementbattery. One option is the one from NewerTechnology for ~$119, another one is from IntelligentBatteriesfor $49. Obviously they are not identical, the NT is 55.5 Watt-Hour andIB 48 WH, so I will get a little less time. The NT is tempting, but Ido wonder if the extra cost is worth it given the computer does not getyounger.

What do you think? Any other options come to mind?


Hi Yoram,

I can't really comment on the IntelligentBatteriesproduct, because I have no firsthand knowledge of it, but the price iscertainly attractive.

I do have a Newer Technology extended life battery formy Pismos, and it'sbeen excellent. Gives me a good, long runtime and has been reliable forseveral years.

To further complicate your decision making, anothersupplier at a price between your two candidates is FastMac, whose extended life iBook G4 battery is currently sellingfor $99.95. I have a couple of FastMac TruePower Pismo batteries, andthey've been good performers as well.

In your shoes, it would partly depend on how long Iexpected to use the computer. If you're planning on upgrading yoursystem in the not too distant future, the IntelligentBattery wouldprobably make the most sense. OTOH, if I was thinking in years and notmonths, I would go with one of the more expensive unit.

I'm just guessing, but I suppose there is a reason forthe wide disparity in pricing.


What Use Is IrDA?

From Scott:

The Pismo is running Panther just fine on the Seagate 120 GB harddrive, so I guess this particular ATA-100 hard drive is one of thedrives that works with the Pismo. I'm typing this on the Pismo now infact. Like you, I've never had a hard drive fail, except for one thatwas in my Roland VS-890 digital audio workstation.

A lot of my friends have lost all their work on cheap hard drivesthough. One of my friends lost all his work two or three times with oneparticular brand. I finally sold him a Seagate drive, and he hasn't hadany more trouble. People should back up their work though, no matterwhat hard drive they use.

Just out of curiosity, what, if anything, is the IrDA porton the Pismo good for in today's world?


Hi Scott,

Indeed. The only hard drive I've had outright fail wasa 6 GB Fujitsu 2.5" unit in a Que external FireWire housing. Ithad less than 50 hours on it, so it was likely defective.

I don't think the IrDA port is much use these daysunless you have some old IR peripherals. The only thing I've ever usedIrDA ports for is file transfers between laptops when no ethernetcrossover cable was handy.


Memory for WallStreet PowerBook

From Manara:

Dear Charles

Could you please tell me if a SO-DIMM 256 MB 133 MHz memory can fitinto a this Mac?


Hi Manara,

The RAM spec. for the WallStreet is PC 66 RAM. PC 100RAM, which is pretty dirt cheap these days, will work You can find itvery reasonably priced at OtherWorld Computing and many other vendors.

PC 133 RAM may work in the WallStreet too, but theWallStreet has a 66 MHz system bus, so the RAM will be limited to 66MHz anyway.


Editor's note: I'm in the process of upgrading arecently acquired 266MHz WallStreet as cheaply as possible. I bought several secondhandSO-DIMM modules formerly used in Lombards, including at least two 256MB modules. (Why are so few memory modules clearly marked as to theircapacity?) However, my WallStreet only sees them as 128 MB modules,giving me 384 MB of RAM. Still, it's a lot better than the stock 64 MBand lets me play with Mac OS X. dk

Kodachrome: Subtle, Rich Color

Hello Charles,

Absolute wonderful reminiscence with absolutelywonderful shots! Such subtle yet rich colours. Thank you for remindingme why Kodachrome was so important.


Hi Christopher,

Thanks for the thumbs-up. Glad you enjoyed the articleand the photos, for which Kodachrome and my Konica/Minolta DiMAGE ScanElite 5400 Film Scanner deserve most of the credit, not to mention theZuiko lens on the OM-1.


Kodachrome Moments

From Andrew:


Wow, what an exquisite article.

Like you, I was a very serious hobby photographer in the 70s and80s, and just last month I finally sold my old Nikon cameras and lensesand went fully digital.

I last shot Kodachrome about a decade ago, as most of my shootingwas and remains black and white, but I do have more than a fewKodachrome moments in my past.

Of course, it was sadly inevitable. Similarly excellent results areavailable on more modern films that are far cheaper and easier toprocess, though of course the unique look will likely never bereplicated.

Thanks for the memories,

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the kind words about the article. It wasdefinitely one from the heart. I loved Kodachrome back in theday, although (like you) my first love in photography was black &white, and in the '70s I had a darkroom set up in a spare bedroom andspent a lot of time there.

Oddly, I find that using a scanner (I have a Minoltatransparency scanner and an Epson flatbed) and Photoshop Elements (andmore recently Pixelmator as well), hasmany resonances of darkroom work.

But I also have (rough estimate) somewhere between oneand two thousand transparencies in my archives, and a large proportionof them are Kodachrome. It was truly one of the greatest commercialproducts of all time. The adjective "iconic" is overused, but itlegitimately applies to Kodachrome.


Velvia 50 and Medium Format Cameras

From Scott:

Have you used Fuji Velvia 50? I just started using it in my 35mm recently, andit's wonderful. I intend to get a medium format camera at some point totake with me in my travels to beautiful places.


Hi Scott,

I don't think I've bought a roll of any sort of filmsince maybe 2003 or 2004. I guess I've pretty much totally gonedigital. I've heard that Velvia 50 is very good.

I still have my old OM-1, which I bought in 1974, anda slightly newer medium format Rolleicord Vb twin-lens reflex, which ismy favorite camera I've ever owned, but I haven't run any film throughit for at least a decade.

I'm not sure how much of a future it has, but mediumformat photography is wonderful. I love composing on the Rollei'sgroundglass screen - much better than squinting through a 35mmviewfinder.

Time is part of the problem for me. Most of myphotography activity these days is taking product shots to illustratereviews and such, and digital is ideal for that.


From Scott,

It's possible the best digital cameras will be able to match theresolution of "obsolete" 35mm cameras at some point, but I doubt it'llmatch the resolution of medium format cameras anytime soon. A 35mm filmcamera is the equivalent of at least a 25 megapixel digital camera.What would that kind of technology cost today, if it even exists yet?Maybe after digital photo technology is mature I'll buy a very niceobsolete digital camera at a great price.

Today's best digital cameras are obsolete so quickly, and I can'tafford to lose a thousand dollars like that. I can buy the finest filmcameras ever built, use them for as long as I want, then sell them forwhat I paid for them - or possibly even more. I love free stuff!(laugh) I do that with "obsolete" Macs all the time. Sometimes I runMacs for several years and then sell them for at least as much as Ipaid . . . (satisfied smile) . . . It'll be yearsbefore I can have a free digital camera at this rate. Meanwhile I'llenjoy the finest "obsolete" film cameras.

I bought a 210mm zoom for my 35mm for $15 shipped the other day oneBay. It works great. Nobody bid on it because it's manual focus!(laugh) Hey, I'll take it for $15, thank you very much. I'm absolutelysure I can sell it for more than $15, even if I use it for manyyears.

Hi Scott,

I don't even like autofocus. Great deal on thatlens.

No argument about quality of images being better withmedium format, and I agree with you about the price of high-end digitalcameras being prohibitive given the ephemeral nature of "high-end" inthat context. I mean, my 35 year old OM-1 and the Rollei twin-lensstill deliver image quality at the higher end of the range. They weremoderately expensive back in the early '70s, but they have lastingvalue no digital can match.


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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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