Charles Moore's Mailbag

Why Use Spaces?, Chemical Sensitivity and Older Electronics, Replacing HyperCard, and More

Charles Moore - 2009.12.09 - Tip Jar

Tex-Edit Plus Going Cocoa

From Tom Bender, the author of Tex-Edit Plus:

Hi Charles:

Thank you for all the great articles. (It's how I'm keeping up with the Mac universe.) I hope life is treating you well.

I'm still relying on my trusty old G5 Power Mac and OS X 10.4. (Do you ever wish that OS X 10.7 simply consisted of the guts/power/stability of 10.6 underpinning the elegant user interface of OS 9? Yeah, me too. Maybe I'm getting old.)

Since Piovanelli dropped development of the WASTE text engine recently, I am gearing up to recode the whole Tex-Edit Plus app into Cocoa. Getting the app running in Cocoa is not such a big deal, but getting the app running well enough not to break the myriad of existing scripts is going to take a while!

What I need is a 3 month hiatus from my day job! :-)

Happy Holidays,

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the kind words and the update on your TE+ roadmap. TE+ remains my do-all (almost) right-hand factotum application. A backward compatible Cocoa-based version sounds delicious.

My bro-in-law is still happily getting along with his G5 iMac. I have to say, now that I've tasted life in the Intel lane, I would find it difficult to go back. That said, I'm still getting really great service from my old G4 Pismos within their realistic limitations.

Your idea for OS X 10.7 is appealing. I've always liked the Classic OS interface better than OS X's, but my personal fantasy is OS X 10 guts/power/stability with a System 6 UI skin, which remains my ne plus ultra favorite Mac OS look.

Getting old? Need a sabbatical? I can identify!


Yep, System 6 was right purty! :-)

Take care,

Spaces: I Don't Get It

From Bruce:

Regarding your Spaces article:

I'm one who doesn't "get" Spaces, and your article seemed more like a "how" than a "why".

I work primarily on a laptop - a 13" MacBook Pro, which recently replaced a 12" PowerBook. Most of the time I work with a single window from a single program "on top". If I need to switch to another window or program, I use the Window menu or the Dock. I tried Spaces but still had to click the menu to switch to another space (never quite got the hang of the keyboard shortcut - always ended up in the wrong space), so Spaces didn't seem to save any effort. How is changing Spaces different from just changing windows or programs?

When I need to have two windows visible at once, I use an external monitor. I don't see how Spaces can replace the external monitor.

If I frequently needed to view multiple windows at once on one screen, perhaps Spaces would be useful to me.

I couldn't really tell what was going on in the screenshot in the article, but if that is your set up, it looks like most of your Spaces (6/9) are primarily showing one window.


Hi Bruce,

For me the advantage of Spaces is organization - the ability to keep multiple projects and works in progress open and neatly in their own Space without having a lot of windows open, overlapping, hidden, etc.

I work on a 13" Unibody MacBook with Spaces and a 14" Pismo (running Tiger) without Spaces, and Spaces is what I miss most in Tiger compared with Leopard.

I mostly use an external keyboard with the MacBook, and switching Spaces using the numeric keypad quickly became second nature.

Incidentally, I cut my Leopard teeth, so to speak, on a 17" PowerBook and even with the larger screen I soon became addicted.

But different strokes.... (keystrokes? ;-) )


Editor's note: I'm new to using Spaces, and I'm using it primarily to keep apps such as iTunes and iPhoto from cluttering up my primary workspace. Each of these apps is assigned its own space, so there's no additional clutter when running these programs either. dk

Chemical Sensitivities

From Greg:


I read with interest your recent Low End Mac article, Handing Off My 17" PowerBook G4.

I am finding not sensitive issues with regards to computers but everyday scents: i.e., colognes, household cleaners, etc. Seems the scent gets caught in my nose and will stay there a long time. My issue started about four years ago in that everything had the smell of Freon®. I had my nose checked for polyps, and nothing was found.

I had not heard of your predicament with smell and am sympathetic to you. I miss my smell before the change - I actually felt I had a more broad sense at that time. Now it is confined to certain odors and is exaggerated by dairy and other milk products of which I am challenged to avoid. But avoiding the dairy, as I am lactose intolerant, does not matter.

Though like the sensitivity you mention, I am generally not sickened by the odor. I just get very stressed of smelling the scent over and over all day long as it "hangs" in my nostrils.

Best of luck.


Hi Greg,

Thanks for your comments.

If computer chemical emissions were my only problem with environmental chemicals I would consider myself very fortunate.

Increased awareness of particular odors is a common characteristic of developing chemical sensitivity.

In 20-20 hindsight, I realize that I've been struggling with this since the late 1960s at least, and the onset was gradual. Spending a cumulative month-plus flat on my back with bad flu infections (serially four illnesses over about six months) in 1989 is what seems to have pushed me over the edge from chemical sensitivity being a moderate annoyance and inconvenience to full-blown semi-disabling MCS. I recall opening my dresser drawer after recovering from that 4th bout of flu and being overwhelmed by the laundry detergent odor - something I'd previously been essentially oblivious to. Thank God for Tide Free and equivalents, and forget about fabric softeners!

Heck, I used to work in auto body shops, in boatyards, and was a marine paint and chemical sales specialist - a history my docs tell me is probably not coincidental to my developing MCS in conjunction with a presumed genetic predisposition. Seems like another life now, and in many respects it was.


Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and Older Electronics

From Kurt:

Re: Handing Off My 17" PowerBook G4:


That's a really cool setup you have there.

I have a friend who lives in Houston, Texas, and has an amazing number of health issues - including chemical sensitivities (moving out of Houston would help her boatloads, I'll wager, but that's another story).

For years I've kept her supplied and supported with the "trailing edge" of Apple tech - currently, she's running a WallStreet that I built for her out of spare parts that's running Mac OS X 10.3.9, along with an old AirPort Base Station she can use for her dial-up service.

As modern inkjet printers also wreak havoc with her, I've got an ImageWriter II with network card rigged into the Base Station via a Farallon EtherWave LocalTalk to Ethernet Transceiver* so she can print drafts and the occasional labels or whatnot without all the chemical stuff from the inks. Bonus - the Farallon and the ImageWriter have also out gassed.

[I actually really miss that ImageWriter II rig myself - I used it for literally decades. Wireless printing to an ImageWriter II - how cool is that? :D ]

I've actually thought this aspect of Low End Mac - and indeed low-end computing in general - is extremely important; it allows folks like my friend - and yourself - access to modern technology without having to deeply impact their health in a negative way.

Good luck in your endeavors.


* Editor's note: See Bridging LocalTalk and Ethernet for more on Farallon's clever LocalTalk/Ethernet bridges. dk

Hi Kurt,

Thanks, and good on you for helping your friend with the obligatory low-end hardware solutions she requires.

My wife spent a semester at the University of Houston in the early 70s, and from her recollections the air quality there must be a nightmare for anyone with MCS.

I get along okay with inkjet printers, my current one being a Canon Pixma IP2000.* I also still have an ImageWriter in excellent condition, and I loved that printer, but none of the Macs I have in use these days have the necessary serial port. I think my old WallStreet (still in service with my daughter as her beater) was the last that did.

BTW; are you still able to find ribbons for the IW?

Is there some sort of USB to serial adapter that you know of?


* Editor's note: Discontinued. The current equivalent is the Canon Pixma IP2600, which is available for under US$50. dk

Hi Charles,

Good to know about the inkjets; I was concerned about the inks (so is my friend). We may upgrade her to one at least to try.

[Not entirely altruistic - I really miss my ImageWriter II... ;) ]

Don't use a serial; she's running it on her Wallstreet via Ethernet (OS X sadly turns the Serial Port off of the WallStreet. I tried to recompile a driver for it a long time ago; hours later, I gave up).

Download the FooMatic Drivers for the ImageWriter and ImageWriter II, load in GhostScript, and you're totally ready to rock and roll. Works great over Ethernet with a Farallon EtherWave LocalTalk-to-Ethernet Transceiver; I also have used a Dayna LocalTalk to Ethernet Transceiver - worked great in 10.3.9 and 10.4.11. I never tried it in OS X 10.5.8 (I gave it to my friend before that update), but as it's PPC, it'll work fine I wager. Mac OS X 10.6.x removes the PPC Code - to allow it to work, you'll need a PPC machine to bridge it. It should work on a 10.6.x machine though, if it's shared from a computer running 10.5.8 on down.

I used to get ribbons for it at Office Depot; they were about $4 to $5. Another reason I love it - it's cheap to feed.

Where can I get ImageWriter II ribbons?

Several common printers use this same ribbon: the NEC 8023, some C. Itoh, etc. Office Depot sells the black ribbons - Nu-kote brand, part# NK160 - for about $5 each. They also carry the Color ribbon. Sam's Club may still sell them, or, you can order the ribbons through Staples and Hallmark stores.

Another source is In a newsgroup posting he offers to supply black ribbons for about $.75 each plus shipping ($3.55 for up to around 10) and color ribbons for about $3.00 plus shipping.

By: Mike Ford, Sandra Warnken, michaelhint, Donald L Johnson

Here ya go: WOW - 6 for $20. that's even better.

Only Serial to USB connector I've ever looked at is for a Garmin 12. Never bought one (I have an old Garmin 12 that a friend gave me; built like a tank, I love it, and have considered connecting it to my PowerBook 3400 to make a nifty interactive mapping rig). It might work....

Oh, the other thing I like about impact printers - they can sit around for a long time without use and don't gum up like inkjets do. My friend doesn't print often (neither do I), so it was a perfect solution for her.

That's for emailing back; I enjoy reading your work on the 'net and have enjoyed corresponding with you from time to time over the past few years.


Hi Kurt,

Thanks for the further advice, information, and links.

One cautionary note on the inkjets - just because I tolerate them doesn't guarantee that your friend will, although it's worth a try. Chemical sensitivity is nothing if not idiosyncratic from one individual to another.

Also agreed about the dormancy virtue of impact printers. I am not an intensive hard copy guy either and can go a month or more between printing jobs.


Runtime Revolution Can Replace HyperCard

From Aaron:

For Bruce, who's using HyperCard under OS 9:

Runtime Revolution, which is out for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux, will import and run HyperCard stacks, and is a very HyperCard-like programming language.

When I got it, revMedia was still commercial; now it's free to use.

Thanks for the tip, Aaron.


Connecting Old Printers to Modern Macs Using Low Cost Adapters

From Bill:

Dear Charles,

I think you did not give Jean Lee as much info as you could have in Snow Leopard vs. LocalTalk.

Please feel free to forward the following to her, and she is welcome to contact me directly at [full name and email address redacted for publication] for details.

You linked Sept 9 to these sites:

The best suggestions that would work with a LaserWriter 600 were a "Print Server" such as:

  1. $46 is about the cheapest: StarTech PM1115P Print Server RJ45 1 x Centronics 36 Male. This type supports only one printer and needs no additional cables, but you would probably want to pay just $4 to $7 more and get one that simultaneously shares both a USB and parallel printer:
  2. $50 TRENDnet TE100-P11 Print Server RJ45 USB 2.0, Parallel
  3. $53 Hawking HPS12U 2 USB + 1 Parallel Internet Print Server RJ45 2 x USB 1.1 Ports 1 x Parallel Printer Port

Might not work with all USB printers, but will work fine with LW600, since it is postscript.

Both of these support AppleTalk (which is easier to setup) or LPR protocol (which works fine with Snow Leopard, I can confirm.)

What would be ideal is a print server similar to above that supported the Rendezvous [editor's note: now Bonjour] protocol and an parallel port printer, but I don't think that is easy to find at a reasonable price.

Of course, if you have even a very old non-Mac PC laptop or desktop - even with a dead hard drive - that could be setup as a print server, booting from a Linux live CD. Besides the usual (Knoppix, etc.), this SLAMPP looks encouraging.

It might even be possible to get this to do wake-on-LAN so it's not running all the time!

Or an old Mac can share it out, but you probably would not want to leave it running.

- Hope this helps,


P.S. I posted part of this info on the OWC blog, and I'll update that with a how-to for the live CD method when I have time.

Hi Bill,

Thanks muchly for the helpful information, which I've forwarded to Jeany.


Jeany's New Printer

From Jean:

Hello Charles:

Thank you for your email.

It's really nice that the users are willing to help me, but my dad actually bought me a new printer for my birthday, since he couldn't get why I couldn't let my printer go.

But I still have it, and it's kicking. I use the other printer as a copy machine only. (It's one of those Samsung all-in-ones.)


Go to Charles Moore's Mailbag index.

Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Google+, or subscribe to our RSS news feed

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.

Links for the Day

Recent Content

About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

Follow Low End Mac on Twitter
Join Low End Mac on Facebook

Page not found | Low End Mac

Well this is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching, or one of the links below, can help.

Most Used Categories


Try looking in the monthly archives. :)

Page not found | Low End Mac

Well this is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching, or one of the links below, can help.

Most Used Categories


Try looking in the monthly archives. :)

Favorite Sites

Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
The Vintage Mac Museum
Deal Brothers
Mac Driver Museum
JAG's House
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ

The iTunes Store
PC Connection Express
Macgo Blu-ray Player
Parallels Desktop for Mac

Low End Mac's store


Well this is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching, or one of the links below, can help.

Most Used Categories


Try looking in the monthly archives. :)

at BackBeat Media (646-546-5194). This number is for advertising only.

Open Link