Charles Moore's Mailbag

Used Mac vs. Hackintosh, Macintosh Keyboard Layout, Used iBook Value, Old Chevies, and More

Charles Moore - 2010.02.25 - Tip Jar

Not So Much About Macs...

Old Macs a Better Bet than Going Hackintosh

From Owen in response to Going Hackintosh and Aperture 3: Leaving PowerPC Behind:

Hi Charles,

Let me chip in my 2 cents about Hackintosh Luke's iMac/AIO [All-in-One] comments. It's true - iMacs are not as expandable. You can't really add multiple drives internally, and you can't upgrade the graphics. But my G3 & G4 iMacs have served me very well up to about 8 years old just by upgrading the RAM, hard drive, and optical drive - and adding WiFi. I've played with external stuff but always find that one bigger drive is far more useful than two smaller ones.

Some models can be trickier than others to work on, but none should be a challenge for someone capable of building a Hackintosh. Dig around on the Internet to find the service manual PDF, or better yet one of the photo-illustrated how-to sites, and just print it out or follow along on a backup machine.

If something breaks, replacement parts are available. I've had to replace the monitor bezel and fan on my G4 - I waited until I found cheap "pull" parts on eBay. The only problem I've had with the G3s is when I installed a new hard drive & it failed - so I had to put the old one back in.

Though I have to say that, by reputation, I am glad to have skipped the G5 iMac series.

I think the more relevant point here, for both Hackintosh Luke and Aperture Dan, is why buy new when you can buy a 2-3 year old model for a fraction of the price? Compared to the 5-7 year old machine you have been using, a 2-3 year old model will still a huge performance improvement. This is Low End Mac after all - if you needed to live on the bleeding edge, you wouldn't be using those older machines anyway.



Thanks, Owen.

Good points all. I agree that the best and most hassle-free Mac upgrade is usually a newer old Mac - unless, of course, you have a Pismo. ;-)


Dialup and Such Unhappy Things

From Pat:

Hello Charles,

Has been a while since my MacHome days, has it not? I find great comfort in reading your words still, a rare constant in an ever changing industry. Good work.

Back at MacHome I did one of the first reviews for Nexland, a PPPOE bridge company, now within Symantec. The WaveBase was groundbreaking at the time and really set the standard, but what is of interest here was its fallback mode, which would use dial-up as backup if PPPOE failed.

Perhaps could you use one, or something similar and more contemporary, to bridge dialup and your home network?

I am unsure if it could solve your issue, but your Macs would be fooled into thinking they are connected to a high-speed network on the LAN side, albeit a low speed one on the WAN side. It did connect on demand, and connections time to live on inactivity were customizable.

Plus, it's purple. Any piece of technological equipment is better when purple, everyone knows that.

In regard to Eudora, what desperate news you bring. I have the same email account bloat you have, though I did aggregate a few to pass them through Gmail before pulling the lot from that one POP3 account.

After so many years of loyalty - Claris Emailer was my only other program before switching - I am quite upset at Qualcomm for that "Eudora" 8 decision. I strongly dislike Thunderbird, a big and bloated crow of a software if I have ever seen one. I can, however, understand it from a business decision, since Apple Mail removed much of the market for third party commercial email programs. Apple has had a way of biting the feeding hands of resellers and developers alike since the iMac came into the world.

Aside from multi accounts management, the two key points Eudora offers for me are the text format used for storage of mail and the almost unlimited, deep customization possibilities. I do not expect to see that in any modern software. They use proprietary database files for storage and lock you in a "we know better what you need" interface. I am not keen on that.

One could hope that the original Eudora code would fall in Open Source. One could also dream winning the lottery and not needing to work using email, too. Meanwhile I will have a look at the alternatives you mentioned.

I should go to NS one of these days for more than airplane transfers. My wife is a d'Entremont too, so if you are anywhere near Pubnico, you'll know what that means. I'll make sure to buy you a pint so as to have someone my own age to commiserate with about olden Apple eras and yesteryears ;)

Pat in Montreal

Hi Pat,

Great to hear from you again. Thanks for the kind words, information, and suggestion. Right now my dialup fallback is ultra-low tech. A friend who has stuck with dialup generously lets me log into her account during power failures, and the thus far rare (once to date since last Sept. 10) wireless broadband outage.

You're right about purple. ;-) The LinkSys router I have now is sort of a purplish-blue.

As for Eudora, have you tried MailForge? It's definitely Eudoraesque in appearance and function. Not as refined yet, but not a bad interpretation of what Qualcomm might have done with Eudora Classic had they stuck with it.

Personally, I'm actually finding Eudora 8/T-Bird easier to live with than I ever anticipated. It's still not as slick or versatile as real Eudora, but it has some neat features I like, such as the latest version's browser-like tabbed interface. It's also proved to be admirably stable and reliable. Absurdly big, of course, and you're right about the proprietary archive format being a pain after open-archives-with-virtually-anything classic Eudora text archives, but not a bad tool, really, and I like it a lot better than Apple's Mail app.

Pubnico is in the other end of Nova Scotia from me - a six or seven hour drive - but thanks for the thought.


Macintosh Keyboard Layout

From Antonio:

Dear Charles,

Thanks for the informative article about the diNovo models - I hadn't seen too much written about them, unfortunately!

Apple Extended Keyboard
Apple's original Extended Keyboard.

Logitech diNovo for Mac
Logitech diNovo for Mac.

Apple's aluminum keyboard
Apple's aluminum keyboard.

That said, I was a bit puzzled by your explanation of the supposedly nonstandard layout. Based on your description and the images provided, the layout of this keyboard is identical to Apple's current extended keyboard: They put the Fn key in place of the Help key that nobody uses anyway, and put 19 F-keys along the top, plus an Eject key. Aside from Help becoming Fn, the keys in the center block (including forward delete) are in the standard locations, exactly the same as on the original 1987 Apple Extended Keyboard, which set the standard for Mac keyboard layouts.

Is there something I'm missing?

Best regards, and keep up the great work on the site!


Hi Antonio,

Glad you enjoyed the article in spite of my key layout comment blooper. I've been using my Kensington SlimType keyboard for so long now that I guess I've come to regard its slightly unorthodox key layout as "standard". A brain fade lapse on my part. You're correct, and my comment was mistaken.

Kensington SlimType keyboard
Kensington SlimType keyboard.

Thanks for the heads-up.


iBook Purchase Query

From Donna:

Hi Charles,

Let me apologize in advance for my lack of knowledge and incorrect language usage in referring to computers. I have very limited computer literacy and with the help of the one to one that I purchased with my new iMac, I am hoping to expand my computer literacy skills going forward.

My sister sent me the link to your column. I am a very new Mac user. I recently bought a new iMac which I am still learning how to use. I have been looking for a used laptop which I will use at work.

I will only be using the laptop to access the Internet and for email. I would also like to use the laptop while I recuperate after my hip replacement surgery. That said, a friend of a friend is selling an iBook G4. These are the specs that she sent to me. I don't know if they are accurate.

  • 133 GHz Power PC G4 Processor
  • Memory is 60 GB hard drive
  • 256 MB RAM OS 10.3.
  • 13" screen.
  • No wireless card but wireless capable
  • 5-6 years old.

She is asking $150. I don't have a lot of money to spend, $150 to $200. is the maximum. The computer needs to be wireless capable, because we don't have Internet access at work. I will have to access public wireless service to use the Internet.

Do you think that this computer is worth considering, or should I continue my search? I found an amazing MacBook Pro this past summer at a yard sale, and I made a deal with the seller to hold it while I went to the bank to get the cash. When I returned, he had sold it to someone else. Only 2 years old and $100 - a great deal which I am still kicking myself about. The seller was in the movie industry and was updating his computer and was selling very cheap. Any ideas where I can get one of those deals?!

Many thanks in advance for your expert advice


Hi Donna,

$150 is about the right price range for a G4 iBook, but you'll also have to find a wireless card and have it installed, since there is no expansion shot in the iBook for a PCMCIA CardBus or ExpressCard wireless adapter. That could easily put you over $200. 256 MB of RAM is pretty marginal as well. I don't like less than 640 MB for running OS X efficiently.

Also be aware that the dual USB iBooks - both G3 and G4 versions - have a very spotty record for reliability. I had a 700 MHz G3 that lasted six years and then died suddenly. My daughter had a 1.2 GHz G4 model that was troublesome for the four years that it lasted before dying, but our experiences were a lot better than some folks'.

However, in your price range, it's more the individual machine's condition and the particular deal that are more important. I still have two nearly 10-year-old Pismo PowerBooks that are still in daily production use and have never missed a beat, and they support both internal or PC CardBus wireless.

A two year old MBP for $100 would've been a tremendous deal.

Hope this helps a bit.


Hi Charles,

Thank you so much for responding so quickly. your email was very helpful. I passed on the computer and will continue my search.


Not So Much About Macs...

If you're inclined to take umbrage at non-Mac/IT topics being discussed on Low End Mac, this might be a good place to stop scrolling, as most of the rest of this column is about cars. Personally, I've always thought there is a good deal of crossover in these respective technological interests/passions, and it's likely to increase in the future as automobiles become more electric and computerized as well as integrated with entertainment and communications technologies.

For example, Electronista reported this week that BMW's sub-label 2011 Mini Countryman SUV will be one of the first cars to have tight app-level integration with the iPhone and will support an optional central computing system known as Mini Connected that will tie into Apple's handset through two native apps. At its simplest, a "web radio" app will use the iPhone's 3G connection to reach any one of a set list of Internet radio stations; the car's center column display will give control over radio stations using the Countryman's own interface.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are both longtime car nuts (motorcycles too, in Jobs' case), and I know lots of motorhead/computerheads. Driving Sports TV, in partnership with Wizzard Media, just announced the immediate availability of the official Driving Sports mobile application for iPhone and iPod touch, which brings together news and entertainment from Driving Sports TV, as well as bonus features from the Driving Sports editorial team, to create a continuously updated and engaging digital magazine that will appeal car enthusiasts.

"Think of this as a form of digital magazine for a new generation of car enthusiast," stated Driving Sports founder and producer, Ryan Douthit. "Automotive magazines have done their job for the past century but the days of ink are numbered. Our new App allows Driving Sports to deliver more depth and entertainment by combining and connecting video, audio and pages to create an optimized mobile experience. It's simply better."

I don't know about that, and I'm still a subscriber to Road and Track, Automobile, and Car & Driver in their hard copy forms, although even these traditional car mags all now have a major online presence.


Old Chevys

From Steve:

Hi Charles,

Actually, the original Corvairs were 1960 models. The Corvair just passed it's 50th anniversary of going on sale (October 2nd, 1959). Also, the Monzas were a late introduction to make the Corvair more "upscale". I still own two 1966 Monza's. It's nice working on a car where the closest thing to a computer is the fuel gage.


Hi Steve,

I should've said "original series" Corvairs - i.e.: the 1960 to '64 models with the Volkswagen Beetle style swing axle rear suspension that got Ralph Nader's knickers in a knot and made his Unsafe at Any Speed a runaway bestseller (I at one time had a copy, but I have lost track of it).

A book about cars by a litigation lawyer, and about as technically accurate and erudite as a book about legal technicalities by your average auto mechanic would be, but it sunk the Corvair.

In the Spring and Summer of 1971 (two years after GM discontinued the Corvair) the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finally ran an extensive series of comparative tests during to demonstrate the handling of the 1963 Corvair against four of its contemporary market competitors - the Ford Falcon, Plymouth Valiant, Volkswagen Beetle, and the Renault Dauphine plus a second series 1967 Corvair (which, as you know, had a full four-link rear independent suspension) for reference. I had a '66 Monza coupe.

The NHTSA 's resulting 134 page report exonerated the Corvair from Nader's charges, noting that "The 1960-63 Corvair compares favorably with contemporary vehicles used in the tests" and "The handling and stability performance of the 1960-63 Corvair does not result in an abnormal potential for loss of control or rollover, and it is at least as good as the performance of some contemporary vehicles both foreign and domestic."

A moral victory, but too late, alas, to save the Corvair from Nader's calumnies. He was as wrong about that as he has been about most every windmill cause he's tilted at since then.

I well remember the market intro of the new compact models from Chevrolet, Ford, and Plymouth in the fall of 1959, even though I was only 8 at the time. The Corvair was the most interesting and imaginative, and the Plymouth probably the best car of the three, but that rather prosaic original Ford Falcon design formed the basis for Lee Iacocca's Mustang four years later.

I agree about pre-electronics automotive iron being much nicer to work on, but I have to concede that electronic fuel injection and engine management (as long as it keeps working) makes cars much better appliances. Of course, Toyota is now experiencing the downside of drive-by-wire technology.


Hi Charles,

Actually, Nader may have extended the life of the Corvair. If you look at the Corvair history, the Corvair was introduced in 1960 to compete with the Falcon and Valiant. The Falcon outsold the Corvair by a considerable margin. Chevrolet's response was the Chevy II in 1962, a conventional vehicle to compete with the Falcon. In the meantime, Chevrolet took the Corvair upscale by introducing the Monza, and in 1962 the turbocharged Spyder, convertible, buckets seats, and "four on the floor". In effect, the 1962 Spyder was the first "sporty compact" (the term "pony car" did not exist yet).

The tables turned in April 1964 when Ford introduced the Mustang. There was no way a turbocharged 6 cylinder (150 horsepower in the Spyder) could compete with even a mild V-8 in straight line acceleration. The Corvair beat the Mustang in handling (the 1965 Corvair was a good handling car and was praised for its handling in Unsafe at Any Speed. Nader actually criticizes the handling of early Mustangs in Unsafe at Any Speed) and gas mileage, but straight line acceleration ruled.

Chevrolet used the Mustang model (deriving the Mustang from the Falcon) to create the Camaro for 1967 (the Camaro is derived from the Chevy II). Chevrolet stopped development of the Corvair, except for safety and emissions changes, in the 1965 to 1966 time frame. There are indications (e.g., deleting the turbocharged engine, special order for the four carb engine) that Chevrolet wanted to drop the Corvair in the 1967 model year so it would not compete with the Camaro. Speculation is that Chevrolet continued the Corvair through 1969 so it would not look like they were capitulating to Nader. The production numbers in 1967 through 1969 suggest this is true (27,300 in 1967, 15,400 in 1968, 6000 in 1969), as these numbers are similar to or less than Corvette production.


Hi Steve,

That's a fascinating analysis (sincerely) and food for thought. I think you're the only commentator I've ever heard suggest that Nader might've done the Corvair any good.

Gotta wonder, however, what might have been if not for the storm of negative publicity Unsafe At Any Speed generated, which essentially doomed the second series Corvair from the get-go.

I do have to dispute your contention that "There was no way a turbocharged 6 cylinder could compete with even a mild V-8 in straight line acceleration." Think Porsche 911 turbo, or for that matter Porche 911 normally-aspirated.

The Chevy II was indeed rushed into production (they did a pretty good job with it even so) for 1962 as a Falcon-fighter while the '65 Corvair was still being developed, so had GM really wanted to drop it, it seems that would've been the logical time. However, I agree that a certain inevitability was in play once the Chevy II/Nova-based Camaro with its available small-block V-8 made its debut in 1967. I liked the Camaro (a friend of mine had one of the original 302 CID Z-28s, which was awesome), although I thought the overhead cam six-cylinder Pontiac used in the (same floorpan and chassis) early Firebirds was more technically interesting.


Hi Charles,

The second generation Corvair engine (for installation in a third generation Corvair) had been built in prototype form. It was an interesting engine in that it copied aircraft engine practice of separate "jugs" for each cylinder. Also, the heads were integral with the cylinders in that design and the pushrod tubes eliminated. One could imagine that engine in some of the Corvair show cars, e.g., the Monza GT and Monza SS.

The Porsche 911 engines are quite capable, but they also are proof of the old adage, "There are two ways to make power, cubic inches or cubic dollars". In the 1960s context, the turbocharged Corvairs were rated at 150 - and later 180 - horsepower. The base 283 Chevy and 289 Ford two barrel V-8 engines were rated at 195 and 200 horsepower respectively (depending on year). Higher output small blocks or big block engines easily exceeded 300 horsepower. In the long run, the Corvair engine may have been doomed by its air cooling and difficulties in meeting emissions requirements (Porsche has thrown lots of technology at that problem).

Finally, I agree with you that the OHC Pontiac straight 6 is an interesting engine. Apparently they were quite smooth and had good power when equipped with a 4 barrel carb (I think they called it the Sprint). The straight six does not fit current design trends, because it is tall (unless you slant the engine, like Chrysler did), long, and relatively heavy.

I've enjoyed talking cars with you,

Hi Steve,

I've enjoyed this thread immensely, and I am thoroughly impressed with your historical erudition on this topic. For instance, I was previously unaware that there ever had been a second-generation Corvair engine, even in prototype. Those wretched pushrod tubes were, of course, the bane of Corvair owners and the most prolific source of oil leaks and puffs of smoke from the heater vents on vigorous cornering.

Too bad that GM devalued the Monza name with that execrable Vega-based monument to mediocrity back in the 70s.

My reference to the Porsche pancake six was slightly tongue-in-cheek. As you say, there are some economic realities that obtain in countering cubic inches with technological sophistication that could never have applied to the Corvair.

I love inline sixes of pretty much any sort - my favorite engine configuration, although not as musical to the ears as the throaty burble of a V-8, but soooo smooth and with lots of torque for displacement. The Chrysler slant six was one of the great engines of all time.

BTW, do your recall that Car & Driver magazine shoehorned one of those Pontiac OHC sixes into an E-type Jag coupe as a project car? It was a modestly successful swap, with the GM engine proving more reliable but not as gutsy as the stock Jag DOHC six.


Chevies and LaserWriters

From Rick:

Hello Charles,

My parents had a 1965 Impala 9-passenger station wagon that was the car that I learned to drive with. It came with a 396/401 engine and was an absolute pain to parallel park. I got fairly proficient at parking it, though, and years later amazed several friends by parallel parking a Winnebago motorhome in downtown Berkeley CA! When it came time to purchase my own car, despite my 6'5" frame, I chose a 5-year-old Nash Metropolitan and have been a small car guy since...

I have an old LaserWriter that I use with my SE and 9600, and I had a similar problem to the one that Owen described in his letter to you. In my case, the cooling fan had deposited a dusty buildup along one edge on the mirror inside of the printer, resulting in a smudged area on the right side of the printed page. While it's not a procedure that I'd recommend for the faint of heart, the printer can be taken apart and cleaned. The mirror is an easy part to miss while doing a casual cleaning, and the realignment is fairly critical. There are some professionals around here (Salem, Oregon) that still clean the old laser printers, so I would expect that their counterparts could be found in most larger cities!


Hi Rick,

That Chevy with the 396 would be one potent big wagon!. My '65 Chevy was only a 230 CID six-cylinder, but it had manual steering (about seven turns lock-to-lock, if I recall correctly) which also made parallel parking a workout challenge.

1957 Nash MetropolitanInteresting coincidence: My first car was a Nash Metropolitan as well, purchased for $125 when I was 15 - a year before I could drive (legally ;-) ). Mine was a '59 model, which was the best-selling year for Metros, in two-tone "Sunburst Yellow" and white. A cool and interesting little car - one of several I now wish I'd held on to. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo, but this Metro in "Coral Red" (courtesy of is pretty much a dead-ringer except for the color.

I like all sizes of cars, I guess. My hotrodder daughter has a very cool '68 Imperial convertible, which is about as big as the USS Nimitz and has a honking great 440 CID V-8.


Hello Charles,

I was also 15 when I bought my Metropolitan in 1967, but mine cost a whopping $250 - still, half as much as my '59 MGA that I bought three years later!

The 396 in the '65 wagon was eventually replaced with a 425 hp 427 cid salvaged from a wrecked Corvette. On a good day, it could manage 9 mpg, but my teenaged lead foot often pushed the average down to about 5 mpg. My sister finally got the wagon so that she could tote around her double-bass violin. It eventually got traded-in for a new Toyota Corolla in the early '70s. The Corolla made a lot more sense, but it was much less impressive!


Hi Rick,

1957 MG MGAI also had a MGA - a '57 of which I do have a photo.

Cool car (literally, in Canadian chilly weather). I have to say that I preferred the '67 MGB that I had later on. My then-new wife and I made a couple of long road trips in the "B". I remember driving through the grape-growing district of upstate New York in the fall of 1976 with the top down and the aroma of the ripe grapes redolent (we stopped at a u-pick). Ah, to be young again!

1967 MG MGBThat 396 must have been one of the first built. 1965 was the year of the changeover from the 409 to the 396 as the big block used in Chevies. I remember seeing a 409 in a '65, but no 396s in full-size models.

A 427, eh? It gets better and better! Was your dad a hotrodder, or was that your update? How did your sis like having all that power?


Hello Charles,

The 427 transplant was the result of some calamitous engine failure of the 396. The economics of dropping in the 427 must have made sense at the time, but I can be certain that the power increase had a certain allure to my father! My sister has always had a thing for big cars (my favorite of hers was a 1955 Oldsmobile), and the last time that I visited her (2008), she was driving an early '70s Chrysler. By contrast, I was driving my Subaru Justy.

I've had a few British cars over the years - the Metro and the MGA, a '59 Austin-Healey 100-6, and three Jaguar E-Types (1963, 1964 and 1967). The MGA was, by far, the most fun to drive, and the Healey was my overall favorite, but the Jags were the best looking cars broken down alongside the road! I finally gave up on British cars when my work took me further from home than I was prepared to walk.


Hi Rick,

I've owned somewhere between 30 and 40 British cars, but never anything as exotic as an E-Type or a big Healey. I agree that the Healeys were one of the most desirable sports cars ever built - the mid/late '60s 3000s would be my ideal pick. Those early E-Type Jags are near the top of my short list of the most beautiful cars ever built, but as you say left a lot to be desired in the reliability department. They were a real cash cow for a British car specialist shop where I worked for a while as a mechanic - specializing in doing engine jobs on Austin 1800s.

I loved the Farina-bodied Austin Cambridges and Morris Oxfords (I owned 17 - not all at once obviously), and I had a couple of Riley 1.5s, which were a sort of factory hotrod built by BMC with a MGA engine shoehorned into what was essentially a tarted-up Morris Minor. The favorable power-to-weight ratio facilitated a relatively high rear axle ratio that in turn resulted in higher speed capability than one would expect from an early '60s 1.5 litre four-door sedan. It had formfitting leather bucket seats and a real wood blond walnut dashboard as well. Yet another one I wish I hadn't sold.


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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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