Charles Moore's Mailbag

'Obsolete' Tech, Better YouTube on G4 Macs, a New Paint Program for OS X, and More

Charles Moore - 2010.01.06 - Tip Jar

'Obsolete' Technology?

From Scott:

Blue and White Power Mac G3While I might agree that labeling my 10-year-old Blue and White [Power Mac G3] out of date might be accurate, I still do most of my writing on it. As soon as I pick up another monitor, it will be moved upstairs next to my TV chair so that I don't have to go to the icebox that is my office.

On the other hand, I do think that landline phones are going towards their ends. It has been a while since we have had one (2004, in Germany to be exact). We currently use Skype and phones from two carriers. I process my credit cards via phone, and I needed a backup in case one was out of range or service.


Hi Scott,

Glad to hear you're still getting useful service out of that Blue & White. Obsolete is a partly subjective term. I expect some folks think the early Core Solo and Core Duo Intel Macs are "obsolete".

In the interest of objectivity, here are Apple Support's definitions of vintage and obsolete:

"Vintage products are those that were discontinued more than five and less than seven years ago.

"Obsolete products are those that were discontinued more than seven years ago. Apple has discontinued all hardware service for obsolete products with no exceptions. Service providers cannot order parts for obsolete products."

So according to Apple, your B&W and my beloved Pismos are all obsolete. ;-) For the record, my (now my wife's) 17" 1.33 GHz PowerBook G4, released in Sept. 2003, is nearly there as well.

So far, 75% of Americans - and I think a higher percentage of Canadians - disagree with you, at least in practise, about landline phones. I do hope you're mistaken about them being on the way out anytime soon.

Here's a topical, concrete example of why.

On Saturday, Jan. 2, we had a major storm here in Nova Scotia. Very strong winds here. The precip came as rain, unlike in many other parts of the Canadian Maritimes, so I didn't get to try out the new snowplow we just got for the 4x4, but that's fine with me. Perfectly happy to have bare ground and above-freezing temperatures nearly a week into January. I digress.

Anyway, on Saturday the barometer reportedly dropped 50 millibars in 24 hours - twice the ampount of drop in that time interval needed to qualify as a "weather bomb". The wind tore shingles off our roof and the rain gutters off the front of the house - I think the strongest winds I've experienced here, or at least the most damage from wind we've ever had. That went on for about seven hours on Saturday, beginning in late afternoon. Our power went off at 7:00 p.m. and was restored at 11 a.m. Sunday, but not for the broadband Internet wireless tower until 7:30 p.m..

Ironically, I had canceled our dial-up Internet service just five days earlier, our new wireless broadband having been completely reliable for nearly four months. Happily, however, our landline telephone kept right on working (I can remember it being offline only two or three times in the past 15 years - all less than one day outages). A friend took pity on me and allowed me to log on to the Web on her dial-up account, so I was able to keep working and stay connected online for the duration. It was interesting to be back on a 26,400 bps connection for a day.

I was glad when power was restored at the wireless transmission tower, but it was an object lesson that if you really don't want to be offline during power outages and such, there's no substitute yet for good old hard-wired landlines. There is only one carrier here for either broadband or cellphone service respectively, so service redundancy is not an option - and then there's the cost. Cell service plans, to say nothing of data service plans, are absurdly, astronomically expensive here in Canada.


Better YouTube Options for G4 Macs

From Dr. Dave:


Tried André's suggested YouTube hack of going to Mobile YouTube, and QuickTime can't open the 3Gp files. Tried copy and pasting the link into VLC and opening it as a URL, and that didn't work either. What am I doing wrong, or is there another step I am missing?

My G4 iBook can still play most YouTube videos if I let them load all the way, and for those that don't, MacTubes is an excellent free solution for searching and downloading YouTube videos. You can download them as Flash or as MP4s - plays great in QuickTime on older PPC Macs. If you don't like third party software in Safari, you can open Activity under Window and look for the big file, double-click on that, and Safari will download it. That works for most other Flash-based video sites like Daily Motion or Veoh too.

When I get on my wife's MacBook and all videos, even HD ones, play with shocking ease, I begin to realize how far I am being left behind, but I am committed to get as much life as I can out of this ol' iBook, which is only four years old for Pete's sake. That isn't that old.

Dr. Dave

Hi Dr. Dave,

Thanks for the comments and tips.

Four years seems pretty young. I've got an 8-month-old MacBook, but my 17" PowerBook (now my wife's machine) is a 2004 model, and my two Pismos, still in active service, are pushing 10 years old.


PowerPC Optimized Browsers

From Michael:


Greetings! I wanted to let you and LEM readers know about some PowerPC optimized Mozilla web browsers that I've had terrific results with that I highly recommend. There are optimized Mozilla products optimized for Power G3s, G4s, and G5s.

On the page, there's a link to the Mozillazine build threads, links to the optimized build of your choosing, and lastly, these builds are very, very fast!


Thanks Michael;

I've downloaded the G4 7400 optimized builds of Firefox 3.5.6, Camino 2.0.1, and the SeaMonkey 2.0.1, and they work really well on my Pismos. I would seat-of-the-pants rate the optimized Camino build the fastest browser I've used yet in OS X on that machine.


Editor's note: For more on this subject, see Optimized Software Builds Bring Out the Best in Your Mac. Intel-optimized builds are also available. dk

Pismo WiFi Problems

From Larry:

Hello Charles,

I was happy to stumble upon your article Pismo WiFi Networking Issue Finally Solved?, as it echoes what is currently the very problem I am encountering with my Pismo FireWire - recently upgraded to Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4.11) and trying (so far unsuccessfully) to wirelessly access the newly installed cable Internet through a new Linksys dual broadband WRT400N router, configured and hardwired by ethernet cable to my desktop computer, a G5 also running 10.4.11.

Everything has been working well, but for my ability to bring the Pismo to participate wirelessly.

I can't even begin to know how many times I entered that WEP key sequence in the few places on the Pismo that would accept it. I am able to connect the Pismo to the Internet directly with an ethernet connection - but then rebooting the laptop and trying without the cable got different results. It will accept my WAP info network name/security key code if I make a computer-to-computer network (and remain unconnected to the Internet), but to try and make a successful connection to the Internet wirelessly has so far not worked out . . . not quite sure what I'm missing, but with system prefs under AirPort the "preferred networks" include my network, but it's never accessible from anywhere I can see. To try to connect, I always need to go to "Internet connection" with AirPort "on" and using drop-down network menu will either select "other" and re-enter all the info anew each time, resulting in an "error joining my AirPort network" or I'll select "create" and have my info accepted but only as a computer-to-computer network and not connected to the Internet.

I am not sure where else to go on the Pismo to enter my router/network info . . . I am really hoping you can point me in the right direction - just need to establish my network as something recognized and made accessible with the Pismo.

Please send a quick email to acknowledge receipt of this, even if you will not respond just yet . . . but my fingers will be crossed that it's a simple thing you'll suggest that I am too close to see, and will solve the whole issue neatly.

One way or the other, I hope the holidays are good ones for you.


Hi Larry,

I wish I could help, but I'm anything but an expert in wireless network troubleshooting.

With my Pismos running OS X 10.4.11, I've never had any difficulty with getting AirPort to detect the wireless router, WiFi hotspot, or whatever. All I've ever had to do is to turn AirPort on in the Network preference panel and then select the detected network (I always check the "Ask to join new networks" and "Show AirPort Status in menu bar" options).

I've never had to enter any router/network info manually.

Perhaps other readers can offer some advice.


New Paint Program for OS X

I read your review of Paintbrush and thought you might be interested in a new alternative Paint program of OS X. myPaint will be released soon, and is now available for review at

Supports most of the the functions of MSPaint, with several additions such as GrayScale, Sepia Tones, RGB, and Brightness controls and much more.

Editor's note: I've downloaded and installed myPaint (currently known as PaintDS), which requires OS X 10.5 or later, on one of my production G4 Power Macs, the one running Leopard. myPaint reports that it is not compatible with my hardware, leading me to believe that this is an Intel-only app. The program is $15 trialware. dk

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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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