Charles Moore's Mailbag

Getting By on Dial-up, Sharing Dial-up with AirPort, Power Outage Suggestions, and More

Charles Moore - 2012.01.16 - Tip Jar

Getting By with Dial-up When Necessary

From Alex:

I hear you say how you can get everything you need done on dial-up when you have to, but then I also hear you say (in at least one article, that particular one was a while back it's true) that several - if not many - of the sites you have to use are not at all dial-up friendly, and I thought I also heard something about the browsers quit keeping their dial-up optimizations (like what Opera used to provide, for example) available and Safari quit doing much of anything on dial-up after version 4 at the latest (before then it already wasn't doing much of anything at all), so if all that is true, how can you access the sites you need?

Where I live we have pretty much rock solid (just slightly shy of that) landline DSL, and it may be slow compared to cable, fiber optics, etc., but we don't have a problem with it's speed (bandwidth usage caps are by infinitely farther a bigger problem.)

I just really don't like Apple deciding to dump Rosetta. I know Adobe and Microsoft have to have reasons to sell new software, but that combined with the outfitting costs of a brand new low-end model MacBook Pro (and reports of OS X 10.7 Lion being stressful - which means shorter lifespans due to overheating and processor wearing out - on Core 2 Duo Macs even with OpenCL capable graphics like your 13.3" aluminum unibody MacBook's 9400M or my 13.3" Spring 2010 MacBook Pro's 320M) make me feel like I really don't want to adopt it, and iOS 5 taxing the first generation iPad that I have makes me say, "Well, I won't touch 10.7 Lion or iOS 5 until I touch them both at the same time, which I am more and more dreading."

I guess I just got too used to the Classic Mac OS for my own good. I still miss it. Stupid me.


Hi Alex,

I don't recall the exact verbiage I used, but I probably should have said that I can get pretty much everything I absolutely have to do done on dial-up, a least if the outage doesn't last too long. Once I get to needing large(ish) graphics or anything larger than very small software downloads, dial-up is simply inadequate.

You're right. Opera's Turbo Boost feature, which I relied on extensively during my last year or so before I was finally able to get broadband, seems to not work any more, and there is no really satisfactory Web browser for use with dial-up. I find TenFourFox about the best of the ones I use.

If a power outage is anticipated, I try to make sure that I have the usual Web pages I frequently visit open in tabs, because it takes forever to load them on dial-up. But as I said, dial-up is still a whole lot better than no Internet at all. Email works pretty well, and I can still post columns and blogs, keep tabs on weather sites, and so forth.

iOS 5 works great on my iPad 2, and even if I had a slower machine, the gesture-based app switching would incline me to put up with some sluggishness in order to use it instead of 4.3. I'm still holding out on an upgrade to Lion, and the fact that I'm beginning to use the iPad for more production work will probably let me postpone making a system upgrade well into 2012.

However, I'm beginning to encounter software that I'd like to use (e.g., Olive Tree's New BibleReader Bible study app) that require Lion, so we'll have to see. At this point, I'm at least provisionally resolved that OS X Snow Leopard will be the definitive ultimate OS version for the Core 2 Duo MacBook, like OS X 10.4 Tiger has been for my Pismos.


Sharing a Dial-up Connection via AirPort

From Gavin:

Hi Charles,

Just reading your Power Blackout Adventures.

Why can't you start a dial-up connection on your Pismo and then share that over wireless using connection sharing? That way you could get online with your iPad and still have the option of moving your Intel Mac beyond OS X 10.6.

Obviously not going to do anything to extend your overall runtime on battery power...


Hi Gav,

Interesting suggestion. Something I've never tried. Can a Pismo function as a wireless base station? Part of my WiFi in blackouts problem is that my WiFi router requires wall current (through a power brick) to function.

If it would work, It would certainly be a novelty to get on dial-up with the iPad.


Hi Charles,

I would have thought it could. I've never had a Pismo, but we used to use my wife's clamshell iBook as a wireless base station back before we got broadband. That would probably have been on OS X 10.2. She would dial our ISP through the iBook's modem and that connection would be shared out to my TiBook over the iBook's AirPort Card (WEP encryption). I've no idea how we managed with so little bandwidth between us though. ;-)

I don't see why that wouldn't work today; the iPad supports WEP.


Coping with Power Blackouts

From Einar:

Hi Charles,

Thanks for all your interesting articles! Hope your back will be better soon! :-)

Have you considered solar panels? Might be an idea if you have roof(s) facing south. It's backache free and environmental friendly emergency power with the added bonus of saving you money in the long run on your electricity bills. With a big enough battery pack, it could last for a while if the power gets knocked out. Even here Scandinavia (which is approximately at your latitude, and thus not too brightly lit during winter) people are saving huge amounts in the long run, even if buying and installing the panels are a bit of an investment. In Sweden, power companies are letting people that produce more power than they use themselves supply power onto the grid and get paid for it. I'm thinking about getting some panels. Sort of a a 21st century Walden thing.

One tip to make your freezer more power outage safe and save some energy is to put it in a room that is not heated, like a garage, carport, or shed. We have our freezer in what used to be a stable in the barn. I have to go to the mailbox anyway, and the freezer is right on my way back. During winter, the average temperature outside the freezer might be -5°C or lower, which means that the freezer doesn't have to pump out as much heat (if any) as if the temperature on the outside is +21°, as it might be inside a heated room. So the electricity consumption goes down and the contents of the freezer will stay fresh longer if power is lost. We keep some cooling elements of the type one would use in a portable cooling bag lying in the freezer as well. This will continue to keep the freezer cold for a while longer, even during summer. If the box is not opened, food will keep fresh for a few days without power. Usually that is enough.

Best regards,

Hi Einar,

Thank you for the suggestions.

Solar power and/or a small wind generator are alternatives that have intrigued me. As you say, the up front costs can be pretty steep. In areas where the local power utility lets you feed the grid with power excess to domestic needs and pays or credits for it (ours doesn't), the economics would be more favorable. As it stands here, power restoration from outages is usually reasonably prompt, usually a matter of a few hours, so while they're frustrating, the occasional longer outage due to, say, major weather events, are seldom enough as to make it hard to justify a large capital outlay for alternative energy on the basis of economics.

Locating the freezer outside or in an outbuilding is also an interesting concept. It would work here in the winter if the accommodation logistics could be worked out, although we get a lot hotter temperatures in summer than 21°C. We are located almost on the 45th parallel, so I think I'm probably farther south than you. We did have some snow for Christmas, but it all rained off yesterday, and the ground has been green and brown again through most of January so far.


Hi again Charles,

Seems like wind or solar power aren't good alternatives for you. If your freezer is presently warming up a room that is electrically heated to room temperature and governed by a thermostat, then you wouldn't save any money on your electricity bills by moving it, because your electrical power will have to heat the room more instead of the heat the freezer is pumping out into the room. In the case of power outages, having it located somewhere cold will keep the food as cold as possible for as long as possible, but it is slightly inconvenient having to get dressed with outer clothes during winter to go to the freezer when it's snowing and windy. The reason why we moved our freezer was a lack of space in the house, but we soon discovered it helped on the electricity bills and for keeping the food cold during blackouts.

You are right, I am living close to the 60th parallel, further north than you. You would be more parallel to southern Italy or northern Greece than to Scandinavia. In my hometown Fredrikstad in Norway, we refer to other countries as nerante, which translates to further down (i.e. south). Unless people are traveling to Iceland....


8 GB RAM in a Late 2008 Unibody MacBook

From Alec:

Hello Charles,

Just as a follow up note - upgraded my Late 2008 Unibody to 8 MB RAM (cost me about $40, if I remember) about a month ago.

Works beautifully. If I am only running Mac applications, no big difference (but then I run any Mac memory hogs) - however, if I'm running Windows 7 in Parallels, I can now assign a good 3 GB to the virtual machine w/o having to worry about affecting the OS X (Lion) side. And, with a bit more memory, the Windows 7 is definitely running faster (not that it was ever particularly slow). So, for my case, definitely worth the upgrade. In your case, it would depend on what you were using your memory on.

Doubt I'll upgrade the MacBook for at least another year - (though I'd love an Air, just can't justify it - this is running beautifully for me).

Take care,

Hi Alec,

Thanks for the update. Sounds like the 8 GB upgrade was well worth the modest cost for your purposes. For me perhaps not so much at this juncture, given that I don't run Windows, and the MacBook is drawing near to the end of its tenure as my main system.

I could, I guess, pop in a larger capacity hard drive (or hybrid drive or SSD), some more RAM, and maybe a fresh battery, install Lion, and maybe squeeze another couple of years front-line service out of this machine. It has never missed a beat and still runs flawlessly.

However, the assorted upgrades begin to look like real money, and I think I'll probably apply the funds that would have to be allocated to a mid-life refit to the purchase of a new Mac, although I'm in no compelling rush. I'm using the iPad more and more, and that is scratching some of the three year itch.

Stay tuned,

Hiya Charles,

FWIW, I got a $40 knockoff battery off Amazon which is working very well (though I was nervous about it turned out to be a good gamble - hated to give Apple $128!). I'm running Lion with no probs, and upgraded my hard drive to a 7200 rpm 500 GB one about a year-and-a-half ago (which really did make it faster - but made it slightly less quieter). I totally get where you are - particularly since I still don't have an iPad - (would love one, but still can't quite convince my partner of its usefulness at the price point - sigh).

Would agree that if you're not running anything memory-heavy the 8 GB upgrade doesn't make sense, however cheap - and of course would totally agree that putting in an SSD would not be worth it (besides I really like having half-a-terabyte!).

For me, will likely be a MacBook Air in maybe 1.5 years - hope by then they will have reasonably-sized SSDs.

And maybe an iPad, if I can somehow work the at-home politics... :-)

Anyhow, take care - nice to chat with a fellow Late 2008 Unibody owner.

And BTW, if the battery is driving you crazy (like it was me) - maybe the gamble on a non-Apple one is worth it - though it is a gamble.


RAM Upgrade Giving More VRAM to Integrated Video

From José:

Dear Mr. Moore,

I have read your article entitled How to Upgrade Your MacBook Pro's RAM [on MacPrices], which is very nice. I recently bought a 2.0 GHz MacBook Pro (the previous generation of quad-core MBP 15.4") at a very good price. This model has only 4 GB of RAM, and I feel the computer some slowly, even after a complete system reinstall (take in account this one was a demonstration unit I picked out from one Apple Store in Mexico City). So, I install 8 GB of DDR3 RAM (4 GB + 4 GB modules). Immediately I notice the difference, as it was expected from such upgrade, but surprisingly I found that the Graphic Card (Intel HD Graphics 300) that was using 256 MB of RAM (integrated) change to using 512 MB of RAM as a consequence of the 8 GB Upgrade. This data is new for me and may explain in part the increased performance that can be getting from the MacBook Pro.

Have you read about this? Can it be possible to allocate more RAM to the graphic card if I put in 16 GB, which is possible in this quad-core MBP?

Thanks a lot for any information you wish to share...

Hi, José,

This is new to me and fascinating. I had not heard of this phenomenon before.

I wonder if the integrated graphics chipset is able to utilize a certain percentage of available system RAM, with the nominal spec based on the standard Apple RAM configuration? I have no idea whether that is actually the case or not.

If so, however, it would be interesting if you could get 1,024 MB of memory support with that Intel HD Graphics IGPU by installing 16 GB of RAM.


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