The Low End Mac Mailbag

More on Claris Home Page, Overclocking a Beige G3, Designing with CSS, CPU Competition, and AirPort Extreme USB Printer Sharing

Dan Knight - 2003.02.28 - Tip Jar

For the record, I'm getting closer to catching up on my email. Some of these arrived as recently as this past Tuesday.

Claris Home Page 3.0: Still Irreplaceable?

After reading Claris Home Page 3.0: Still Irreplaceable?, Neil Hokanson writes:

I have used Claris Home Page since 1999 to create my classroom web pages. It is definitely irreplaceable to me! I now have Dreamweaver (educator's edition), but I can't seem to get comfortable with it. I'm sure as I train myself I will learn to like Dreamweaver, but Claris Home Page is my first choice in a WYSIWYG editor: It's simple to use, does everything I need, and it has been very hard to part with; plus, it works on low-end Macs!

It would be nice to see Apple create a similar product to make my "iLife" better. Most of the educators in my school district were trained to use Claris Home Page to make classroom web pages and to train students in basic web design. Students loved it! It is a missing piece of the puzzle in Apple's wonderful line of software. Keep up the great work and content on your site.

I ordered an AirPort Extreme Base Station and a couple of AirPort Cards via the Club Mac link on your site last night. I am looking forward to going wireless with my G4 PowerBook 400 MHz (I upgraded my RAM to 1 GB and hard drive to a 40 GB Toshiba in December to get me through another year) and iMac (Summer 2001). We have base stations at our middle school, and I check one out each summer (I have a school AirPort Card in my PowerBook).

It is always tough to take the base station back at the beginning of the school year; however, I've saved enough to fund my wireless needs at home. We have a new baby on the way the end of April, and I was able to convince my wife that we needed to be wireless so that we could move our computers anywhere and make space for the new arrival. My daughter and three sons lobbied hard as well, and my wife finally gave in! She never had a chance! Take care.

Maybe Dreamweaver will grow on me like OS X did. Given a year of playing with it and some significant improvements from 10.1 to 10.2, I finally made the switch. The Mac OS has been so comfortable for so long - and the same applies to Home Page (and Claris Emailer, for that matter).

I think iPage or iHTML or whatever kind of cutesy i-name Apple can come up with for an easy-to-use WYSIWYG web page design program would be an absolutely huge hit. It would fit with the unique image of Apple as not a hardware company, not a software company, but a solution provider.

I'd like to get an 802.11g base station this year, but I'll probably skip Apple's costly offerings and go for a Belkin or D-Link base station, which not only includes a 4-port ethernet switch, but cost a lot less than Apple's AirPort Extreme hubs.

I'm also debating how much longer to keep my 400 MHz PowerBook G4. Quicksilver is two years old, has 512 MB of RAM, and a fast 20 GB IBM hard drive. It's a bit sluggish under OS X, although bumping RAM to 768 MB or 1 GB might help there (at $85 per module minimum, I'm in no hurry there).

The same goes for doing a clean Jaguar install - I'm using 10.0 updated to 10.1 updated to 10.2 updated step-by-step to 10.2.4. From what I've read on the Web, a clean 10.2 install followed by the comprehensive 10.2.4 update can result in a perkier, more stable system. Of course, a full Jaguar (instead of the update) is yet one more investment.

Or I can hold off in hopes of snagging a 667 MHz DVI TiBook later this year. That will give me a higher resolution, brighter screen, two-thirds more speed, Quartz Extreme, and the ability to burn CDs without an external drive. They sell for about US$1,500 used, and a 400 MHz TiBook 512/20 should bring in over US$1,200. Something to think about....

Overclocking a Beige G3

On the subject of overclocking, Thomas Keller says:

I was reading your update on overclocking the beige G3s and thought I would drop my 2 cents in.

I've been running my G3/Dt 266 (Rev. B mobo) at 300 MHz for some time now without any problems whatsoever. I didn't run any bench test, but the speed increase was extremely noticeable. The G3 wouldn't boot at all when I tried to go higher or change the bus speed - just strange noises and a black screen. I used the info I found at this site: http://www.bekkoame.ne.jp/~t-imai/g3ae1.html (good instructions & visuals). I can't remember where I got that link; I always thought it was from your site.

Wow, your beige G3 lets you know quickly when it doesn't like a configuration. I hope ours will be as easy when I try to bump the 333 MHz CPU to 366 MHz and maybe even 400 MHz.

A 33 MHz boost might not sound like much today, but on a 266 MHz computer, that's about 13%. It's not a huge amount, but definitely perceptible.

On Designing with CSS

After reading my reply to his email in What About Layout Master?, Scott Earleywine comments:

You could use the sniffer JavaScript created by Netscape to (http://www.mozilla.org/docs/web-developer/sniffer/browser_type.html) to direct specific OS and browser combinations to the appropriate HTML page or load appropriate CSS designs. Seems like a lot of work, but once you got it going, it might be easier to change and implement design. If you did implement CSS fully, the download times for Power Macs and Windows machines would more than likely improve because there is less HTML tags to decipher (FONT, HEIGHT, WIDTH, etc...). I'm sure you already knew all that though... :)

Try loading www.westciv.com on one of your older Macs (SE/30, Plus, etc.) to see how they've done it . . . if at all. I would try it myself, but I don't think my SE/30 even has an ethernet card in it (I'm at work right now). If it did though (I'll check when I get home), I will give it a try.

We switched the site to partial use of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) by March 2000, when I published an article about it. Because of the great diversity of support for the CSS specification in browsers, not to mention the different ways various browsers interpret CSS, we found that we could only use a minimal level of CSS and remain compatible with pretty much every browser.

The kind of "sniffers" you found on the Netscape site are one solution to those incompatibilities, and some sites take great pride in tweaking their appearance based on the browser a visitor is using. For a site that uses CSS for overall design, not just text, that might be important, but our layout at LEM is pretty straightforward.

By moving to CSS for text, we reduced the size of our files by 10-15%, which speeds up loading, which makes everyone happy, whether on a 2400 bps modem or broadband.

I'm hoping to find the time in the coming week or so to experiment with alternative style sheets and create a system whereby a visitor can choose to see everything a bit smaller or a fair bit smaller than the current size. (LEM uses the default browser size on the assumption that visitors have changed or left it alone for a reason. The few attempts to use smaller text have met with resistance from those with elderly eyes.)

When we get that ready to go, we'll make a big announcement.

Mozilla Composer

After reading my reply in Try Mozilla Composer, Christian Loweth notes:

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I'm puzzled about sluggishness. I'm using OS 9.1 on a PowerCenter 150 upped to 400 Mz G3, seems plenty responsive to me.

One may choose what components to install via custom install. I nixed the ICQ client. Maybe that's a factor in speed. It may even be possible to just install composer! Wouldn't that be wild? Though you'd prob want the browser at least.

They got gobs of tech info at Mozilla and related sites (mozillazine among others). Perhaps you can get answers at one of those sites. Just 'cuz it's free doesn't mean it doesn't cost anything in time & learning. :-)

You're running it on a much more efficient OS. Mac OS 9 is visibly faster than OS X, especially on older hardware without Quartz Extreme support.

Regardless, I still don't like the brain-dead way it puts breaks between paragraphs that should be styled at regular individual paragraphs. It's a frustrating behavior also exhibited by a lot of HTML export in word processing programs, AppleWorks and MS Word among them.

It may work, but I consider it bad HTML and won't work that way.

More on CPU Competition

I was more taking your assertion of proprietary to mean, "no one else can compete or offer an alternative for that platform." I mean, in theory ethernet is also proprietary since Xerox patented the protocol, but I don't think that's the notion you were trying to get across? Maybe I was reading into things too much.

I had thought that the Pentium 4 Xeon CPUs had more integrated L2 cache, but it seems as though 512 KB is the max so far. There are some 1 MB ones but that's L3 cache... Odd!

I had also thought that the Pentium 4 Xeon had been shipping for quite some time, actually, as that's where Intel first debuted the HyperThreading that's only now found its way to the desktop Pentium 4. I'm not sure what extra the Pentium 3 Xeon was above the Pentium 3 - all it really added was more L2 cache. The Pentium 4 Xeon does seem to be a bit of a departure from the consumer Pentium 4 line, though rumors did abound that the Pentium 4 consumer line had the same HyperThreading support that the Xeon line did - only it was deactivated.

To be honest, I would be surprised if the Pentium 4 Xeon and the Pentium 4 consumer CPUs were all that different. I would think it would make sense to keep the designs around the same and just deactivate features on the chips in order to segment the market. I'm not saying that they all have 512 KB of integrated cache, but who knows . . . maybe Intel just gets the ones that have defects in that part, deactivates half the cache, and boom there's a consumer CPU.

I still think that the G4 is being crippled (ok, maybe that's too harsh) by the horrible FSB. I guess the Pentium III does "ok" at around the same MHz, but one of the strengths of the G4 is the multimedia processing and that's generally shown to improve when the memory subsystem and FSB improve as well.

Ah, either way, I guess we'll see once Apple gets a PPC970-based system out for general consumption. I might have to start saving my pennies... ;)

By proprietary I mean something that they own and can prevent others from using. By controlling the licensing fees, they can make it inexpensive for motherboards to support their socket but very expensive for other CPU makers to adopt it.

I'm sure the PC side geek sites could provide the low down on Pentium 4 vs. Pentium 4 Xeon. Intel is sure pushing HyperThreading - I even heard an ad on the radio the other day from a local computer dealer pushing the feature. It's almost like getting two processors on a chip; the ad said about 30% more efficient than without HyperThreading.

On the Mac side of CPU competition, the hot news this week is that IBM is showing blade servers designed around 1.8 GHz to 2.5 GHz PowerPC 970 processors. These are just prototypes at present, but they're 50% faster than anything we'd heard about a week ago. This could be the power Apple needs to get Pixar's next rendering farm contract....

That said, unless IBM has changed their specifications, the PPC 970 requires a pair of busses running at half CPU speed. At 1.8 GHz, that means two interleaved 450 MHz busses providing 900 MHz access to motherboard memory. And if you think that sounds fast (and prohibitively expensive), a 2.5 GHz PPC 970 would need a pair of 625 MHz busses to move data to the CPU at 1.25 GHz.

I'm wondering if IBM has really done that - or maybe decided to support a higher multiplier to allow use of a slower bus requiring less costly memory. Regardless, these things are going to rock.

And on a related note, Intel's marketing department - already challenged with the reality of Itanium 2 at a much lower clock speed than Pentium 4 Xeon - now has to push their more efficient Centrino processor. According to Intel, a 1.6 GHz Centrino is more powerful than a 2.4 GHz mobile Pentium 4.

Maybe we'll all learn to bury the MHz Myth in the coming year.

Final Word on AirPort Extreme USB Printer Sharing

Taking up the challenge in More on AirPort Extreme Printer Sharing, Jeff Preischel reports:

I know you're busy and I appreciate all the effort you put into LEM. Here's Apple's documentation about the AirPort Extreme Base Station and Wireless Printer Sharing.

Section #5 talks about Wireless Printer Sharing.

"5. Enables wireless printer sharing AirPort Extreme lets everyone in a house or small office share a single Internet connection - and an Ethernet or USB printer - wirelessly.(3)"

Footnote in gray at bottom of page is;

"(3) Wireless Internet access requires a wireless-enabled computer, a base station or other access point, and Internet access (fees may apply). Some ISPs are not currently compatible with AirPort and AirPort Extreme. Wireless printing over USB requires Mac OS X v10.2.3 or later and a compatible printer."

I searched the knowledge base for "airport extreme printer" and found article #107456 (dated 02/12/2003)...

2. USB printing with an AirPort Extreme Base Station requires Mac OS X 10.2.3 or later.

3. Mac OS X Rendezvous technology is used to share the printer over your network. In the event that a compatible printer is not available to you using the steps below, remember to troubleshoot factors such as network configuration and firewalls that may affect Rendezvous.

...article #107430 (dated 02/01/2003)...

Note: Mac OS X 10.2.3 or later is required to use a printer that is connected to the USB port on the AirPort Extreme Base Station.

...and article #107455 (dated 02/12/2003).

Note that USB printing with an AirPort Extreme Base Station requires Mac OS X 10.2.3 or later.

Hope that helps a bit.

Thanks for digging that up. I think a lot of AirPort Extreme Base Station buyers may be very disappointed when they learn that USB Printer Sharing only works with Rendezvous, but at least they have a footnote mentioning that it requires 10.2.3 or later.

Thanks for clarifying this. I hope it will help others understand the limitations of printer sharing on the AirPort Extreme hub before they buy.

Dreamweaver

In the Feb. 25 Mailbag, Kelly Jones suggested I look into Dreamweaver, which I have downloaded but not installed yet. Brian Warren responds:

Greetings from Snowy Arkansas! (Did I just say that?)

Kelly Jones suggested you use Dreamweaver. I grant that it is most likely the best currently produced WYSIWYG editor. I take issue with the idea that, as she said the "OS X version is on par with the Windows version."

I've been a little disappointed with Dreamweaver MX for Mac, especially in comparison to the Windows version. I've found Dreamweaver to be very sluggish. I don't run a top of the line Mac - a G4/466 with far more RAM than I need - but compared to my other applications, Dreamweaver (and the entire MX line, for that matter) runs comparatively slow.

And then I saw my friend's (also not top of the line) Windows XP box running Dreamweaver, and it was fast. Very responsive. I thought, "Ah, I just need a faster Mac." I inspected the performance of Dreamweaver MX on a friends Power Mac G4 Dual 867. Also sluggish (though not quite so much as on my G4/466).

Also, I am disappointed to find that Dreamweaver MX for Windows has a feature that the Mac version does not. It has "Homesite View." It allows you to view Dreamweaver with the layout similar to how HomeSite was. (I'm assuming that as Macromedia annexed Allaire, they decided that they liked the way HomeSite was organized and adopted it as an option, also, in hopes of not alienating a bunch of homesite users out there).

This option is kind of a convenient one - it allows a tabbed interface (much like Mozilla, Chimera, and the (unreleased) Safari, allowing you to immediate access to any of your pages by clicking on a tab. It also shows your files in a column on your left, where you can toggle between viewing your local and remote files. This self-contained environment is classy and depending on how you work would be handy (at least as an option). I'd be glad to send you a screenshot.

I remember a day (not too long ago) when performance of Macromedia applications far exceeded that of those on Windows. I'm disappointed to see the pendulum swing the other way.

I'm intrigued by Contribute. I'd really be interested to know how it does on authoring pages from scratch, as the way it seems to be presented is as a content publishing tool - filling in existing templates with content.

I do all my coding in BBEdit these days. A nice and speedy solution for me, although it is completely the opposite of Home Page. Maybe that was too harsh - maybe it's the other side of the same coin. A wonderful fast editor, just for the codemonkeys instead of the WYSIWIGers.

Dan you are doing an awesome job.

Thanks for the kind words. I'm watching the snow slowly melt here in Michigan. I want to see green grass again.

If I recall, Macromedia really started out on the Mac side of things. Always a shame to see another great Mac company decide to provide a better version of their program for the dominant platform - but that's where the money is (not to mention the tech support costs).

I'm running a PowerBook G4/400, which is already stressed handling OS X despite 512 MB of RAM and a fast (5400 rpm, 8 MB buffer) hard drive. With well over a dozen applications open almost all the time - the classic environment among them - I'm often on the edge of using up all my memory.

We'll see how Dreamweaver work when I have the time to try it out.

Claris Home Page for Free?

Among several emails praising Home Page, I found the following from "NoSpam":

If one can locate the demo version of Home Page 3.0, it runs for 30 days as the full version. To restore the functionality after 30 days, all you need to do is throw away the Homepage pref file while Homepage is not running. I used to do this about twice a year for a page or two. At this low usage level, I could never justify paying for it.

About 6 months ago I inherited a Homepage CD but without a serial number as it was lost. I just used a random made up serial number (I think it needs 7 or 8 characters) and it accepted that just fine. So this should work with a demo version as it the same as the standard version.

I googled but was unable to find a working link to the demo version of Home Page 2.0 or 3.0. FileMaker has abandoned the project. What a shame, since it's not considered commercially viable, it would be nice if they'd at least put it out as abandonware so people can download it.

And don't tell anyone, but I don't think Claris or Apple ever released a product that required a serial number. You can usually just leave it blank.

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Dan Knight has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. Mailbag columns come from email responses to his Mac Musings, Mac Daniel, Online Tech Journal, and other columns on the site.

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