Charles Moore's Mailbag

Product vs. Brand Loyalty, Source for 160 GB PowerBook Drive, Lying to eBay, and More

Charles Moore - 2010.04.07 - Tip Jar

Brand Loyalty vs. Product Loyalty

From Chris, following up on Thoughts on the Mac-PC Divide:

Greetings, Charles,

I've thought for a moment about two things: your reply to my comments on the Mac/PC divide, and use of older, supposedly "obsolete" products and technologies.

I am not loyal to brands. I am loyal to products.

First off, your "I am a fan of the Mac user experience who is not a particular fan of Apple the company" struck a chord with me somehow, and that's where it hit me: I am not loyal to brands. I am loyal to products. I don't care who makes it, so long as it does what I want reliably.

For those of us who use the Mac OS or are dependent on an app exclusive to it, that pretty much only leaves Apple. Fortunately, the Macintosh line is mostly a solid computer lineup, though I find their non-Mac products rather disappointing for my tastes with their overly-locked-down nature and lack of one or two hardware features I would've really liked.

As for the other topic - old, obsolete technology - I'm not going to focus specifically on anything in that list of 10 things that needed to be dropped by 2010, according to one writer, but keep it rather general.

One thing that came to mind recently was printers, especially those all-in-one units with built-in scanners that can also thus act as copy machines, and some even have a built-in modem for fax machine use.

Why? I scored this HP Photosmart 3210 from a thrift store for under $8, mostly because I wanted an ethernet-enabled printer that wouldn't need an old computer turned on to act as a print server. I wasn't sure how much of it was working, but it did turn on and tell me that there was no ink, which there clearly wasn't, since whoever put it there took out the ink cartridges.

I figured I'd test out the scanner function, at least, but . . . wait, I can't scan because there's no printer ink? Really? Then there's all the online complaints of black-and-white prints using color ink somehow, not being able to make B&W prints if there's no color ink, chipped cartridges that can't be reused and maybe even rejected if removed and reinserted, said cartridges expiring after a few years, and of course, the fact that modern printer ink is insanely expensive! (US$70 for a complete set of HP 02 cartridges, if you have to buy OEM!) Would that kind of thinking have possibly worked in the past? Seems like greed (through ink sales) has won out over customer convenience! (At least the printer/scanner itself did work just fine, but that ink had better last, even if I'm not making too many prints!)

Then I look at older printer units and wonder if anyone still has old ink cartridges and toner drums to sell, and if said units will do things like deny B&W prints if out of color ink. I don't think the manufacturers would want to keep making supplies for the old products when they can push their customers toward the newer ones with the more egregiously price-gouged ink and toner. Planned obsolescence at its worst. (I did read a story on LEM about someone getting an old Apple LaserWriter working again.)

Another thing I look at is the ol' Pismo I haven't been using much as of late. I found that Classilla had some updates (up to 9.1 now), so I installed them and found the browser surprisingly usable on the modern Web for once, with greatly reduced layout and rendering issues. Now I'd almost feel comfortable with handing it to someone for use as a basic Web browsing machine, but before that happens, the NoScript interface needs to be redesigned to look more like the Firefox one (mostly because it doesn't show what other URLs may be blocked, aside from the main site). Even then, there may still be a few sites that are just total non-options unless run on a browser that only supports OS X Tiger, and I'm not installing that again on a system with only 256 MB of RAM and a 6 GB hard drive!

Is this rush toward the new stuff all because of planned obsolescence? I have a feeling it is. At least when it comes to the computer side of things, I want something with some fast hardware under the hood, because even simple things like Office suites and the Web (largely thanks to bloatware like Adobe Flash) demand it for even reasonably lively performance, negating the speed gains of newer hardware. I won't rant on the concept itself, because Tom made a nice one that got posted on LEM on the same mailbag page that has my Mac-PC divide thoughts.


Hi Chris,

We seem to be pretty much on the same page on these topics.

I have no hands-on experience with those all-in-one printer-scanner-copy machines. My suspicion has been that jacks of all trades tend to be masters of none, and inkjet printers of all sorts seem to be sold as loss-leaders to support the lucrative ink cartridge market.

I have an old Canon IP2000 that still works fine with my MacBook, and a source of inexpensive third-party cartridges for my printing needs and flatbed and transparency scanners (both old but serviceable.


Photoshop Elements 6 Feels Like Windows

From John:

Hi Charles,

You mention Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 as your favorite must-have application in your August 2009 article My Five Favorite OS X Apps (and Several Other Useful Ones). I recently started using PE6, which I got from an Amazon seller for $50. It's definitely a bargain, and it does everything I'm used to doing with Photoshop CS 3 on our Mac mini. Its smaller footprint works great on my 17" PowerBook G4. I like the three choices in levels of tools to use; sometimes I use "full", but "quick" has some handy features that help with my work.

My only gripe with PE6 is it's apparent Windows-style interface. I wonder if Apple begged Adobe to port this application to the Mac, and Adobe agreed but only put minimal work into making it OS X compatible. With no familiar red/yellow/green buttons in the upper left corner and the dark background, I was at a loss briefly as to how to put away an image. Simply using command-W or File > Close was the solution. I've grown so accustomed to the familiar OS X conventions, however, that I was momentarily lost in this unfamiliar interface. I was happy to find that opening a jpg file in PE6 brings up a window with the OS X interface, so there's some familiarity there.

I hope spring has arrived in Nova Scotia. Flowers are starting to bloom here in Middle Tennessee, and we are told we're likely to have 80º by Friday.


Hi John,

I agree about the Windows-y lameness of the PSE interface, which IMHO is worse in version 6 than it was in version 5, but the power and versatility of the program combined with its modest price still keep me using it.

We never had much winter in this part of Nova Scotia this year - three modest snowfalls that didn't stick for long and one week of cold weather in early February was about it. We're about four-to-six weeks ahead of normal now temperatures-wise, with all time records being broken (by astonishingly wide margins) for the past week or so, with more to come according to the long range forecasters. I've never seen anything like it.


Where to Get a 160 GB Laptop Drive?

From David,

Hi Charles,

I remember awhile back an article of yours with a source for a 160 GB laptop drive suitable for a Pismo or iBook.

I have lost that article and haven't been able to sort it out on a search.

Do you still have that source? And could you send it to me?

Thank you in advance,

Hi David,

Other World Computing has the following 160 GB ATA/IDE drive available, which should work fine in a Pismo or iBook: 160 GB Western Digital Scorpio 5400 RPM 9.5mm SuperSlim IDE Notebook Drive with 8 MB Data buffer - $84.99.


Editor's note: OWC also has 120, 250, and 320 GB drives for $79.99, $97.99, and $112.99 respectively. Note that pre-2001 Macs, including Pismo, can only see up to 128 GB on an internal IDE hard drive. (See How Big a Hard Drive Can I Put in My iMac, eMac, Power Mac, PowerBook, or iBook? for more details on this issue.) dk


Thanks ever-so-much. I noticed a few bigger ones for a few dollars more.


Pismo Blues Could Be a Daughtercard Problem

From Pieter in response to Pismo Thermal Paste Blues:


If there's no chime, no boot message, etc., it might just be that the CPU daughtercard isn't seated properly - a common problem. You need to press down over the card socket until you feel or hear it snap into place.

Of course it wouldn't hurt to remove all that extra gunk from the CPU. I'd also check to make sure none of it got onto the circuit board itself.

Just in case, the 400 MHz CPU cards are available on eBay dirt cheap.

Best regards,

Hi Pieter,

Good point. Those Pismo daughtercards do require a firm push to seat them properly.

Forwarded to Jesse.


A Little Ego Booster

From "Philalethes":


This weekend one of my favorite writers, "libertarian author and columnist" Claire Wolfe wrote on her "Living Freedom" weblog a piece promoting Linux.

I posted a response which referenced you and your article Linux, Freedom, and Frontiers. Relevant excerpt:

"I've never quite understood the antipathy to the Mac in the freedom community; all right, Apple *is* a corporation, and 'proprietary', but other than that, it is definitely *not* Micro$oft in all the ways that matter - including the Mac's ease of use (and security) for non-geeks. And yes, Apple's politics are decidedly liberal, but that doesn't mean you can't use a Mac while retaining your own political convictions - as prominent Mac journalist and avowed conservative Charles Moore makes clear, while non-liberals as diverse as Rush Limbaugh and Lew Rockwell are Mac users.

"(See also Moore's 'Linux, Freedom, and Frontiers' 'I've often mused that were it not for my affinity for the Mac OS user-experience and my admiration and appreciation for the superior industrial design, reliability (usually), and longevity of Apple computer hardware, I am more philosophically and temperamentally a Linux person.')"

This morning, Claire writes:

"Philalethes linked to this excellent article, 'Linux, Freedom, and Frontiers.' Would it be egotistical to say it sounds like something I'd write - only better? Maybe I should just stick with, 'I wish I'd have thought of that.'"

Were I you, I'd feel highly complimented.

Best wishes,

Hi Philalethes,

I do indeed.

Thank you kindly for the referral, and for turning me on to Claire Wolfe's blogsite, which I had been previously unaware of.

Her article on Linux is great, and also thought your comment on it was superb.


eBay Asked Me to Lie

From Lee, following up on Broken G5:

Hi Charles


It looks to me like eBay wants me to lie about my purchase - specifically to file a "Significantly not as Described Dispute". Now it is not "Significantly not as Described", just broken. And not all broken, just the lower bay hard drive cable end!

This (lying) seems not to be in the interest of either buyers or sellers. I can only hope that this person is new or just plain uninformed. I would have liked to have had it on record that I was and am having a problem with the seller of my new (to me) G5, but I am not going to out and out lie about it.

HOT (How On That )

Re Safari, I wonder how many others have had the same problem? I don't iChat, and as I was unable to get through to customer service on my Mac, I had to go to the local library and use their PC. Had no problem there, but as I don't do Windoze I do not know if I properly cleared the memory on their PC or if someone later could access my passwords and other I.D.

I don't know if I should bring this to the attention of the B.B.B., but I think LEM users should know.



Form Message

PowerMac G5 64-bit 1.8 GHz(x2) 2.5 GB-RAM OS X 10.5


1. Did not ship till 08 March by USPS. 11 days after bidding closed. Had they shipped Monday March 1 by 8 PM UPS it would have arrived 8 March It did not arrive until 22 March 25 days after closing. It was damaged in transit. Hard drive in lower bay came loose breaking the power supply cable end. I did not pay for USPS, I paid for UPS, a courier.

2. Communication has not been prompt regarding making an insurance claim.

3. The seller sent me several offers for extended warrantee. If they knew there was a problem with this machine it should have been in the listing. After 7 years, if it was going to break down it would have.

On eBay

I was unable to check-out using either PayPal or eBay checkout. I do not know what Gecko is, but either eBay's server or my browser, Safari 1.3.2, do not communicate well. This is not the first time I have had this problem. On check-out, I get to stage 3, and the transaction stalls. (Spinning beach ball). I have more than enough memory so that is not the problem. I have tried at different times of the day and night so traffic on your servers is not the problem. ? ?

Customer Service: I have tried repeatedly to try to access customer service to make you aware of this problem. I should not have to go to the library to get in touch with a rep. My Phone Number is ***-***-**** please have someone call to try to resolve these issues.

Thank You

Mr. Lee *********

Begin forwarded message:

From: eBay Canada Customer Support

Date: March 31, 2010 5:01:49 AM MDT

To: <*******@*********.net>,

Subject: Re: RC=CU0281 Other [#CA ?01 ] (KMM20885446I15977L0KM)

Dear Lee,

Thank you for writing eBay in regard to the item you bought.

With regard to your problem on the seller what I can advise to you is to file an Item not Received or Significantly not as Described Dispute against them so that you will have your refund for the item and so that we can take the appropriate action on this seller for their actions on this transaction.

However with regard to the browser issue other members using MAC have been reporting this happening as well to them. We are aware of this issue, and we're working to get this resolved as quickly as possible. I apologize for any inconvenience. But Safari is not yet compatible on our site.

With regard to the phone support however As an online company, eBay strives to serve our member online via Live Chat and email. Because of this, we don't currently offer phone support. But you can chat with us using this link:

We are committed to making your eBay experiences pleasant and fulfilling.

Jayson Sa
eBay Customer Support

Hi Lee,

I guess the operative dynamic for buying stuff online from other-than-established businesses is caveat emptor.

I expect most transactions on eBay are completed satisfactorily for both buyer and seller, but I've known too many cases not to be wary, including a $2,000 dead loss for a family member for a laptop that turned out to be fraudulent vapor.


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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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