The Low End Mac Mailbag

Upgrading a Power Mac G4, Used Mac Dealers, Tiger on a Blue and White G3, and AAUI

Dan Knight - 2007.09.06

New-to-Me G4

From Jerry Crenshaw:

I purchased a G4 Power Mac desktop from our local school district, which was entering a new 3 year contract deal with Dell after 15 years with Macs. I cannot explain that, but I have the computer tower and two cords but no discs and no user manual. I am having trouble getting both and happened upon your site and thought, what the hay, give a call.

I have an old slow beige G3 and have loved it for years, but 9.1 is about all the 266 engine will handle - and now many software and accessory manufacturers have left G3 behind, and so has Apple, so I jumped at the chance to get the G4. It is model #M8570. Apple has a download for the G4, but it is not for my model. Mine has no fan on the back and the back looks like a beehive honey comb. Any assistance you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Jerry Crenshaw (ret)

Jerry,

The part number indicates this is a Power Mac G4 with Mirrored Drive Doors, but whether it's the earlier version that can boot into Mac OS 9 or the newer model with FireWire 800 that only boots into Mac OS X is something I can't tell from the number. These models share the same case, and the visual difference is the presence or absence of a FireWire 800 port on the back.

Both models can run Mac OS X 10.2 or later, have two bays for optical drives, four bays for hard drives, four PCI slots, and support up to 2 GB of RAM.

You can probably find a manual and Mac OS install discs on eBay or our Swap List.

Dan

Memory for 1 GHz Dual PowerMac G4

From Linda Hicks:

I just bought some memory but no-one at Micro Center was sure what I should get.

I got 2 Kingston 512 MB, 333 MHz, PC2700, but on returning home read that the bus speed of the memory should be the same as on the computer. I bought mine October 02, and I think this model w/0S 9 included was discontinued soon after in January 03.

The bus speed listed on my machine says 167 MHz. Do I still go with the faster bus speed tho the companion book at time of purchase says speeds must be the same? Is Kingston okay as a brand (off the record :*)

Thanks, LH

Linda,

Your Power Mac G4 takes PC2700 DDR memory. The DDR stands for Double Data Rate, and 333 MHz is double 167 MHz, so you've got the right stuff.

Dan

Thanks Dan. I since learned my model is M8570, which is sometimes listed and other times not. I appreciate your response and will load tonight! I am assuming the Kingston brand is okay, and it is okay to load both at the same time and they will magically appear if I turned the computer off and did not fry the RAM with electric static.

Thanx again. LH

Yes, Linda, Kingston is a good brand. Installation is easy, just be sure to power down and ground yourself by touching the power supply before installing the new RAM.

Dan

Rating Used Mac Dealers

From Mike Murphy:

I have no depth of experience in the Mac world. But I need a low end G5 Power Mac platform (1.6 - 1.8 GHz range) to run an application.

Your site has been a godsend for a newbie like myself. I read the general how-to and model comparison articles with great interest. But I'd like to research the performance reputation of the used Mac dealers. My concern is quality; I don't mind paying a little more to get some security that I won't become a repository for someone else's lemon. I'd like to buy Apple Store refurb, but they no longer sell refurb G5s at the low end.

Is there a discussion site/bulletin board to which you could direct me on which the ecstatic and the burned customers of the dealers you cite post the happy or tragic endings of their stories?

I'm afraid I don't know enough about Macs to discover a serious problem in 90, much less 30 days. So I need to seek out a dealer who is committed to good after-sales service.

Thanks for putting seriously helpful content on the web,
Mike Murphy

Mike,

Thanks for your kind words. There's a lot of value in older Macs, as eBayers, members of our own Swap List, and many used Mac dealers understand.

As far as the performance and reputation of used Mac dealers, I don't know of anyone who collects that kind of data on a broad basis. Your best bet is probably the local Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce for the store you're interested in dealing with.

Dan

Problem with Mac-Pro

Dan -

Just to keep you apprised:

I discovered on your Web site a link to Mac-Pro, from which I subsequently purchased a G4 PowerBook.

Contrary to the description on Mac-Pro's Web site and the answers given on the phone by the salesperson, the reportedly refurbished laptop I received had a dead USB port and two streaks of dead pixels on the screen. (I've yet to determine whether there are other problems as well.)

Of course you do not explicitly endorse and are not responsible for the behavior of the vendors that you feature on your site. And presumably you do not profit from the links to their sites.

Still, inasmuch as you do not have the resources available to other Web sites to track customer feedback and vendors' ratings, perhaps it is not a particularly good idea to advertise on behalf of such vendors.

I know that for myself - rightly or wrongly - the trust earned by the information provided on your Web site led me to assume that the vendors you featured had stood the test of time in terms of customer service.

Frankly, irrespective of disclaimers out the wazoo, I wouldn't feel comfortable advertising offers made by third-party vendors - even if considered as a "public service" - as long as I could not assure my Web visitors that these were legitimate and trustworthy.

Of course, if by chance you were profiting from those ads, that would be much shakier ground indeed.

I'll let you know whether Mac-Pro resolves the problem.

Regards,
jeff k

Jeff,

Watch out for the word refurbished, as it can indicate either a Mac that was sold and returned to Apple, tested, and resold with a full Apple warranty - or a used computer a store has refreshed itself. In our listings, we only refer to Apple refurbished units as refurbs; the rest we simply label used.

I've visited the Mac-Pro website, and every PowerBook I've seen listed includes a 90 day warranty. If they refuse to honor that, be sure to let me know. We don't want to link to a dealer that won't honor its promises.

I began tracking prices at Mac-Pro on the recommendation of a reader and satisfied customer. To the best of my knowledge, Mac-Pro is not advertising on Low End Mac. We link to them and several other sites as a public service, and we only list dealers recommended by our readers.

Dan

AAUI Article

From Steven Hunter:

Well written and informative; this is why I love LEM.

I never knew what AAUI stood for until now. :) Heck, I didn't even know they were called "AAUI" for the longest time. My coworkers and I at the time always called them "FriendlyNet" adapters which was, IIRC, the brand name for Asante's AAUI to RJ-45 adapters.

Keep up the good work!

Steven Hunter

Steven,

Thanks for the kind words. That's the kind of article I love to write, covering something generally overlooked on the rest of the Mac Web. And you're right about FriendlyNet, it's Asanté's name for some of its networking hardware.

Dan

That ol' AAUI

From our own Adam Rosen:

Hi Dan,

To address this, Apple invented its own AUI, the Apple Attachment Unit Interface (AAUI)

You know I've always wondered what AAUI stood for, never looked it up! An interesting story as to why Apple chose this proprietary connector - not just to be different, but to permit the use of RJ-45 or BNC connections. NuBus ethernet cards of the same era also had both jacks to support 10Base-2 and 10Base-T networks, and at least one of these cards had a DB15 AUI connector.

Gotta love Apple and proprietary connectors: DB15 (Video Out) - HDI-45 (Quadra AV Video Out) - HDI-30 (PowerBook SCSI) - PDS (many flavors) - ADB - ADC - MagSafe....

Adam
Oakbog - Macintosh Tech Support & Consulting Services

Yeah, Adam, they march to the beat of a different drummer at Apple.

Dan

AAUI Not Just for Macintosh

From Tom Buskey:

Zenith used the AAUI connector on at least one notebook. I have a 386SL base one. It works with a few different Mac AAUI adapters I have. In the end, it was just an expensive version of the AUI with a smaller form factor. Everything moved to RJ-45 so providing multiple options was no longer required.

Tom,

Thanks for writing. I wasn't aware that anyone else had used AAUI.

I have fond memories of Zenith notebooks, as I worked in a Heath/Zenith store in Virginia Beach, VA for 18 months in the late 1980s. Even the earliest ones had well thought out designs, great keyboards, and were very rugged.

Dan

Upgrading a Blue & White G3 to Tiger

From David:

Hello Dan,

My name is David, and I love my old Mac. I am a graphic web designer and would like to know where I could go to find directions on how to upgrade a G3 blue and white 400 MHz (with FireWire in it) with Mac OS 10.2.6 to Tiger successfully?

I also have a 9 GB SCSI hard drive instead of the newer ones and would like to increase the hard drive memory without destroying anything.

I don't really want all the Tiger bells and whistles, just a system that will let me work with content management systems using PHP 5.2 and MySQL 5.0 and still let me use my old reliable design software all at the same time.

Is this too much to ask from my old Mac?

Thank you,

-David-

David,

As long as you're happy with its performance, there's no reason to retire your old computer. A new hard drive can give it a whole new lease on life - pick a 7200 rpm drive with an 8 MB or larger buffer. Be forewarned that the regular hard drive bus in the blue & white G3 doesn't support drives over 128 GB without special drivers, but if you've made it this far with a 9 GB drive, I think you can live with that limitation.

You will need a drive than can read DVDs in your G3 to install Tiger. Apple doesn't sell it on CD. Fortunately, DVD-ROM drives were common on this model. If yours lacks one, you might want to consider a "combo" drive that will let you read DVDs and burn CDs.

RAM can also make a big difference, and your G3 can reach 1 GB. That can really help unleash Tiger.

Dan

Hi, Dan,

Thanks for the hopeful response. I just feel like I'm pursuing a hopeless cause.

Memory uses: I don't download MP3s or videos and am still on dialup. I don't need massive storage space. I just need to have RAM and ROM to hold and run the current design (which already exceeds 6 GB of hard drive space) and future developer software and store files in-progress on the desktop. I store old work files on an external 200 GB drive I bought over two years ago that still has plenty of room remaining.

DVD capabilities: My computer has a DVD player on it, but the burner capabilities lack so we have an external burner to cover that and to read burned CDs.

Back to the dilemma.

  1. I've talked to the local Mac expert in town, and he advises against putting Tiger on the G3 based on his experience with loading it and then having the system crash (he's only attempted this a couple times and has sworn off doing it again). His suggestion was to buy a used G4 and go from there, since it should have most of the hardware upgrades I am considering for the G3 as well as obviously being a faster machine.
  2. Given my naivety about doing anything inside the computer besides adding RAM, I wanted a second opinion since I do need Tiger to do Web development work with current PHP and MySQL. I would prefer not to put down $400+ for a newer computer when I think I only need to upgrade the hard drive a little ($60+?) and max out the RAM ($60). I already own a copy of Tiger as well.
  3. Am I correct in understanding my hardware needs, or am I in for a surprise with Tiger on my G3?
  4. Besides following the instructions on the Tiger installation disks, is there anything I should do before making the attempted upgrade? Like should I remove all of my software, or will Tiger fill in around them? I ask since I no longer possess installation disks for all of my software.
  5. As for replacing the hard drive, is there a tutorial online for doing this? I also wasn't sure if I should swap out the SCSI drive for the new one or add, etc.?

Thank you,
-David-

David,

I don't have any experience running Tiger on a blue & white G3. Looking ahead to Leopard (OS X 10.5), you'll need a G4, so this might be a propitious time to make the switch. My personal favorite on the low end would be a Power Mac G4/533 MHz dual, which should have plenty of horsepower for the next several years.

When installing Tiger, it can either archive and replace your current version of OS X or overwrite it. I've done both, and overwriting is the easiest way to make sure that all of your software, support libraries, etc. remain where they need to be. Still, it's always a good idea to make a full backup of your hard drive before a major OS upgrade - a good use for that 200 GB drive.

My blue & white G3 doesn't have a SCSI drive, so I don't know if yours has the cables to support an IDE drive. If it does, it's trivially easy to pop in and connect the new drive - and you can leave your SCSI drive in place as a way to retain access to your current OS installation.

Dan

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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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