Charles Moore's Mailbag

Pismos on the Cheap, Firefox 4 Beta 3 for PowerPC, No Companion Drives for New Mac mini, and More

Charles Moore - 2010.09.16 - Tip Jar

Pismos on the Cheap

From Scott Cook, in response to My Pismo Won't Come Back from the Dead:

Hey Charles,

In response to your response to Steve's Pismo problems, he should be able to get a stock Pismo in nice condition very inexpensively if he's patient and watches Craigslist every day.

I just bought a beautiful Pismo for $30 from Craigslist with a working battery that lasts 2 to 3 hours in actual use, a working built-in AirPort Card, a working DVD-ROM, extra RAM installed, a bunch of software CDs, original Pismo adapters and accessories, and the original Pismo manual.

Over a year ago I bought another beautiful Pismo that I'm typing this on for $50, and the guy even delivered it to my house! I live in the middle of the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area, so my selection of used Craigslist Pismos may be different than readers in more rural areas.

On a slightly related subject, I just bought a Maxtor FireWire CardBus from MWave the other day for 99¢ with shipping included! I wanted it for the new Pismo I just got so I could burn CDs and DVDs at full speed with my Plextor PX-708UF FireWire burner. I keep all the files on an external FireWire drive, and the Pismo's built-in FireWire isn't fast enough to run both the hard drive and the burner at full speed simultaneously. I plug the burner into the Maxtor FireWire card and plug the hard drive into the Pismo's built-in FireWire, and I can burn discs at full speed without using the Pismo's built-in hard drive.

The Maxtor card works great in OS 9 after installing the drivers according to the included instructions from the included CD. I very briefly tested in it OS X, but not enough to really know if it works perfectly. The Maxtor card also works with Windows, although I don't have a Windows laptop to test it with. If any of your readers are interested in this super cheap FireWire card, I'll do some testing for you... You'd only be out 99¢ to get one yourself and test it though.

Scott Cook

Hi Scott,

Great prices on those old Pismos. I would stock up too, if I could find some good ones at those price points.

I have a couple of FireWire CardBus cards, including a FireWire 800 adapter. However, the FastMac 8x dual-layer SuperDrive expansion bay module does a pretty good job of burning CDs and DVDs for me.


Hey Charles,

I only buy Pismos in nice condition at low prices. I don't really need any more, but if they're nice enough and cheap enough, I'll buy them. I'm sure I'll be able to sell them to my friends when they want to try out a Mac. New switchers often aren't anxious to spend $1,000 just to try out a new Mac they're not sure they'll like. They'll buy an old Pismo, though, if I have it all set up for them and show them how to use it.

I just discovered the T-Mobile webConnect Rocket USB 4G modem, which is actually a Huawei model UMG1831. It doesn't necessarily play well with my Pismo running OS X Tiger, even though the T-Mobile website says it works with PowerPC and 10.4.11. The Mac software seems to be poorly written, and T-Mobile tech support appears to be kinda clueless. I manually configured OS X to connect without using T- Mobile's software and got it to work somewhat. The card shuts down often for no apparent reason. I presume I'm in a low signal area or something (?) Sometimes it crashes my whole computer when the card goes down.

I bought a Cradlepoint MBR-900 3G router and ran all the firmware updates on it until it worked with the webConnect Rocket. Now the modem isn't directly connected to my Pismo, and it can't crash my computer anymore. I have 13 more days to decide if I want to keep the modem or return it to T-Mobile. I'll let you know how it goes, if you think your readers would be interested.

Here are the settings I used to manually configure OS X to connect through the T-Mobile webConnect Rocket.:

Run the T-Mobile software that you download from their website. Instructions pop up as an .html file that Mac users are supposed to click on when the card is inserted in the USB slot. You'll need an Internet connection other than the webConnect Rocket, because it won't work with a Mac right out of the box.

In the Apple menu in the upper left corner of your screen, select System Preferences > Network > Network Port Preferences, and you'll see the T-Mobile software installed 5 (yes 5!) new ports. The only port you need is "HUAWEIMobile-Modem". You can delete all the other ports that start with HUAWEIMobile-. In the Show menu, select HUAWEIMobile-Modem and fill in the blanks of the settings to this:

  • Account Name: GPRS
  • Password: gprs
  • Telephone Number: *99***1#

Then click the Modem tab and select "HUAWEI Mobile Connect - 3G Modem" as your modem script, which the T-Mobile software should have installed.

At this point OS X should be able to connect without using T-Mobile's application, which is good, cuz it doesn't even work. I threw the application away so it wouldn't try to connect. You can connect manually through the Network pane of the System Preferences, and the Internet Connect application will launch. I checked the box to have the modem status displayed in the menu bar so I can just click on the little telephone receiver icon and connect. You can also check the box in the Network preferences that allows OS X to connect through the modem whenever it needs to.

I hope this information saves somebody a lot of time that I had to waste to figure it out.


Hi Scott,

Thanks for the helpful T-Mobile tutorial and good on you for keeping those old Pismos in circulation!


I couldn't actually get the T-Mobile webConnect Rocket to work with 10.4.11 on my Pismo as T-Mobile advertised, nor could I get it to work with the Cradlepoint router. It worked for a little while with each, but now it won't work at all. I'll try Clear next and see if their 4G works as advertised. I'll let you know how it turns out if you think your readers are interested in such things. I'm at Schlotzsky's Deli right now, using their free WiFi, because mine doesn't work. (sigh)


Pismo Power Manager Problems

From Bob, following up on MailForge Still Not Ready for Everyday Use:


Maybe it is because my PowerBook is a G4 with the PowerPC chip rather than the Intel.

If it won't run on the Intel chips, then I hope they get MailForge or something running okay.

My PowerBook G4 will be five years old this coming November.

I too have a Pismo, but mine will not work. It used to be fine, but then the last time I tried, it would not power up. Nothing. The light does not come on showing that it is charging.

Any thoughts as to what I could check?


Hi Bob,

I have a Pismo like that too. It will boot from a charged battery, but it won't run off the AC adapter or charge the battery itself.

This started after I had an arc plugging it into an old extension cord, and the best guess is that it somehow fried the Power Manager board. According to Wegener Media techs, when the Pismo Power Manager fails, it can often take the motherboard with it. Since the machine will boot from a battery, that may not be the case with mine, but I opted for buying a stripped Pismo from Wegener Media and swapping over my CPU daughtercard, SuperDrive module, RAM, hard drive, and so forth. A quick fix with no major tearing down and experimenting, although if one has the time and can pick up spare parts cheaply.....

One thing you could try is unplugging the PRAM battery to see if it will fire up then. The battery is below the keyboard toward the lower right. Check iFixit's Pismo teardown guide for pictures.

If you can rustle up a charged Pismo battery, you could try booting from that as a diagnostic.

Definitely try pressing the Reset button a few times (beside the modem port in the port array on the back).

Make sure that your AC adapter is good.


Hard Drives to Match New Mac mini and Firefox 4 Beta 3 for PowerPC Downloads

From Aaron:

Has anyone released a hard drive enclosure that matches the new Mac mini? I used to have a PPC mini, and it was nice to have the miniStack enclosure that matched, but I cannot find anything similar for the new Mini. I recall several companies, including big names like Iomega, making such drives for the original Mini, but all of them still sell the old-Mini versions.

Also, in a recent mailbag a publisher's note went:

Publisher's note: currently has PowerPC builds of Firefox 4 Beta 5. I've just tested it on my Power Mac G4 under Leopard and can report that it launches, handles some pages correctly, and has problems loading many pages (including Yahoo Mail and Facebook). Not recommended.

If any reader knows where you can download Firefox 4 Beta 3, the last PowerPC version (which runs very nicely on my G4 with Leopard), please let us know so we can post the link. Thanks! dk

The place to go for that is - just scroll down the list. It's there. With multiple builds, in fact. The direct link [for the G5 version] is

- Aaron

Hi Aaron,

Thanks for the Firefox links.

As to your question, I can't recall seeing anything like the miniStack for the new Mac mini, but it would be a business opportunity for an enterprising peripherals maker.


Publisher's note: states:

"7400 and 7450 are the series identifiers for the different versions of the G4 processor." "In general, if you have a G4 that's faster than 533 MHz, you almost certainly want the 7450 builds. I've been told that there are some Pismo upgrade cards that used 7410s that don't fit this pattern, but otherwise, it's pretty accurate." "If you have a Mac with a 7440, 7441, or a 7447/a processor, you want the 7450 build."

Here are links for the G4 versions:

Firefox 4.0b5 Somewhat Supports PPC

Hi Charles,

Firefox v4.0b5 was officially released today - and it appears to still be a Universal app. It launches on my G5, but it doesn't seem to work correctly. You can't load a site via the address bar, but you can load bookmarks. The search bar does not work either. Maybe they just haven't unchecked "PowerPC" yet in Xcode?


Hi Mike,

Perhaps not. However, I've found that support for older systems isn't always complete.

For instance, the version 10.61 builds of Opera are pretty buggy on officially supported OS X 10.4. I see the version 10.2 release has addressed at least some of this. Waiting to get broadband back so I can download it and try it out.


Mailsmith 'Really Doesn't Do Everything I Need'

From Farokh, following up on Eudora 6.2.4 with OS X 10.5 and 10.6:

I actually use Mailsmith for one account, since I wanted to try it (I personally know Rich Siegel), but it really doesn't do everything I need. I have 29 different personalities in Eudora, and so far nothing seems to be up to the task :(


Hi Farokh,

Wow, somebody with more email accounts than me! (Albeit not by many.)

FWIW, I've found that Eudora OSE/Thunderbird handles multiple accounts with reasonable grace, although it's nowhere near as slick and friendly as Eudora Classic,


Eudora on Leopard and Snow Leopard Update

From Dan, following up on Eudora on Leopard and Snow Leopard:


Thanks for the reply.

Just for reference, I'm running Eudora 6.2.4. I can't remember whether there were important changes from 6.0.4 to 6.2.4, but suspect there may have been some - and 10.5.8 is what I have running on the mini, 10.6.4 on the MBA.


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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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