The Low End Mac Mailbag

Mac vs. PC Design, FireWire 800, Slow OS X Adoption, and More

Dan Knight - 2003.06.11 - Tip Jar

PC Design?

Eric McCann writes:

I read the following in one of your mailbag responses:

Thanks for your feedback. I had a chance to go to CompUSA with the boys this past weekend and spent some time with the current Macs. The Power Macs look far less cool than most Windows PCs these days - that side of the industry has really turned its attention to design.

With a few minor exceptions (Alienware's unique cases, a new NEC, and arguably the Vaios) I have to say, "Are you nuts?" No, no, hear me out.

Okay, they've gotten away from beige. And they've been cutting windows in the side of the system, sticking in colored plastic and lights. Aftermarket places even have vinyl "wraps" you can put on (if you don't want to airbrush the case.)

But, IMHO, this is less "paying attention to design" than "tarting out a case." Oh, sure, a few good things have come of it (round IDE cables for looks and airflow, side case fans - which with today's hotter PC CPUs make a difference of several degrees C.), but in general they look like they were "designed" by the same kids who stick neon under their cars (which have been reduced to 1" over the ground), put an ugly wing on the back, gold trim everywhere, and give odd window tints to their cars. (Then add on the loud mufflers that make the car sound like it had too many bad burritos.)

Apple: iMac, eMac, even the Power Mac's design looks far better and well thought out. Okay, the case might be getting "old" in general, but it still stands out.

PC: How many holes can you cut in a rectangular box? (Or one of the worst examples - TechTV's Yoshi's "YBoxx 2003," which looks like a collection of random parts hacked together.)

Hardly "attention to design." Apple's still far ahead there.

I think the "snow" G3 iMac, half-volleyball G4 iMac, and stark white eMac are some of the ugliest computers on the market. The old iMac was great in color - ruby was a personal favorite - but just got boring when Apple eliminated the contrast between the opaque white and another color. Although the iBook isn't bad looking in plain white, the few painted ones I've seen show what Apple could do if bland wasn't their goal.

In most respects, Macs are far better designed machines than PCs. The integration of all the pieces and parts is fantastic. The aluminum PowerBooks look great, the titaniums are starting to look pedestrian, and the Power Mac - sorry, but I just don't see the point of fingerprint-attracting mirrors on the drive doors.

In the PC world, you're not limited to white or shades of gray. The worse examples of "let's copy the iMac with splashy color" designs have fallen by the wayside, and buyers can choose white, black, titanium gray, and several other colors, either by building their own or buying computers made by major manufacturers.

Yeah, some of them are reminiscent of the compact cars with neon, huge rims, wide wheels, oversized spoilers, and tinted windows, but most of them would look comfortably at home in the workplace. It's the kind of innovation that you see when you have competition, something SuperMac C500 & C600Apple shut down 5-6 years ago as they gobbled up Power Computing and refused to relicense Motorola, Umax, and others. (Granted, the SuperMac C500 was as close as any of them came to an innovative case design, and it wasn't all that different from the old Power Mac 6100.)

Yes, Apple's designs are better thought out, but they no longer offer any cosmetic options. No ruby eMacs or indigo iBooks. One appearance for all, imposed on us just like the Aqua GUI we get with OS X.

1394b & FireWire 800

In response to Re: 1394b CardBus, Ed Hurtley writes:

I agree with you on the letter about 1394b seeming to require greater than 32-bit.

The two big things that get tricky are that 1394b is not the same as FireWire 800 and that it isn't really 32-bit vs. 64-bit that matters; it's data transfer speed.

First, 1394b is the second-generation standard of the IEEE-1394 protocol. 1394b is more than just a speed bump, it has all new signaling, which earns it a redesigned set of ports. There is the 'bilingual' port, which is what Apple is using, which allows both 1394b and 1394a communication, then there is the 'beta' port, which is 1394-only, then there is the capability of the protocol to work over optical fiber (much like optical Gigabit Ethernet,) and finally it can be run over CAT-5, just like 10/100 Ethernet. The 1394b protocol defines three new speeds, 800 Mb/s, 1600 MB/s, and a whopping 3200 Mb/s. (100 MB/s, 200 MB/s, and 400 MB/s respectively.) For the record, 1394a (also known as 1934-1995) has two speeds, 200 Mb/s and 400 Mb/s, 25 and 50 MB/s respectively.

FireWire 800, on the other hand, is just Apple's trade name for their implementation of only the 800 Mb/s speed of the 1394b protocol. So, even though the later, higher speeds are part of the same standard, they'll still be 1394b, and won't be called 1394c and 1394d, they will have a new name only for Apple (Presumably FireWire 1600 and FireWire 3200.) Likewise, Apple has back-named 1394a as FireWire 400. (Even though there was a 200 Mb/s 1394, Apple never implemented it.)

Second, 32-bit, 33 MHz PCI (the 'common' implementation, at least on PCs) has a max speed of 125 MB/s, fast enough for FW800, but not quite enough for the higher two speeds. Either 64-bit, 33 MHz or 32-bit, 66 MHz (as on the B&W G3,) are both 250 MB/s, fast enough for all but the top-end 1394b. So it's not the 64-bit part. A 32-bit, 66 MHz slot is fast enough for even a 1600 Mb/s 1394b card. And, yes, CardBus is a direct implementation of the 32-bit, 33 MHz PCI bus, so it's 125 MB/s. So it's plenty fast for FW800.

Thanks for the additional information on 1394b. The original FireWire/1394 specification supports three speeds: 100, 200, and 400 Mbps, although I can't imagine why anyone would implement less than the maximum speed.

It would be more precise to say that FireWire 800 is a subset of 1394b, since it only implements one of the new speeds. Except for the fastest RAID arrays, FireWire 800 is overkill today, but Apple is looking to the future, as always, and to the server market, where Xserve is making inroads.

OS X Piece

After reading my musings in Thinking Too Different: Why Mac Users Are Slow to Adopt OS X, Walte B. writes:

You wrote:

In short, if Apple wants to gain converts, they need to make OS X as easy, as elegant, as simple, as powerful, as friendly, and as comfortable as the best OS these people have ever used - the classic Mac OS.

Just wanted to congratulate you on your 2003.06.03 piece about slow migration to OS X. I think you hit the nail right on the head.

I tried Jaguar for three months on an indigo 366 MHz iBook (in my opinion, Apple's sexiest machine ever) and went iBookback to OS 9 because of its sluggishness, as well as the irritating need to repair permissions anytime I installed something - which happens all the time under OS X, given the rush of updates to both applications and system software.

In my view, apart from things such as the save dialog box, which should be easy enough to improve upon, the biggest stumbling block (apart from speed on older machines) is the multi-user environment.

If Unix is inextricably linked to multi-user setups, then I doubt that I will ever make the transition to OS X. I can't for the life of me see the point of having to deal with the immense overheads in terms of housekeeping that a multi-user environment imposes on me. I have my own machine, and so has my wife. We have no use whatsoever for multi-user facilities.

And yet if you use OS X, you have to cope with the huge complications of that kind of environment. A few examples, that are surely familiar to you:

  • There are four (FOUR!) Fonts folders to wade through if you want to reduce the number of fonts that clutter your application font menu (why should I have to go through 70 fonts names to pick up the one I want to use when under OS 9 I could so easily trim down the normal font sent to 20 or so?).
  • The commonest maintenance task to avoid over-sluggishness is repairing permissions. Why, oh why, should I have to watch Disk Utility going through the motions of repairing owner permissions when I am the only user? I know about the need to separate the root owner even from the actual user of the machine to prevent mucking up essential files, but what is wrong with the old locked file trick that prevented deletion, etc.?
  • There is simply too much stuff installed as default in OS X that no average user will ever need. Who needs the ability to run an Apache web server? Because of all these add-ons that are absolutely useless to the average user, the folder structure of one's hard drive is a nightmare to navigate. Too many folders have the same name (if you read your Mac lists, lots of people wonder which of the many such folders is the documents folder they are supposed to save their files to), and there are far too many folders that are not needed and that clutter navigation needlessly.

Someone commented on the lists that OS 9 users should stop complaining about these things and get used to the idea that under OS X you don't mess around with files the way you were doing under OS 9. Well, maybe this is so, but then two things spring to mind: Where is that different from Windows? One thought the Mac was supposed to be about a different philosophy of computing altogether. Secondly, if we are not supposed to muck about with files, why not make them invisible in the first place or tucked away in a locked folder?

It seems to me Apple are trying to ride along a very uncomfortable path that forces them to develop an OS that is attractive to industry (hence the Unix/multi-user structure) while their established customer base is by now largely confined to the home consumer, who normally does not give a toss about multi-user features and just wants an easy and simple experience with as few complications as possible.

Which is exactly what OS 9.2.2 provides. It runs fast, it is at least as stable as Jaguar, and it requires almost no maintenance at all - despite what zealots like Charles Martin shout in the iMac list to the contrary. I may have a crash once a month, and that is invariably IE getting stuck over a Java site. Other than that, I probably run Norton and DW once a month and that's all. No cron tasks to worry about; no blasted repair permissions to have to run endlessly.

Why should I ever switch away from a comfortable life? I loved my three months with Jaguar. The interface is gorgeous, and it matches my iBook to a T. But I want to be productive on my computer, not find myself having to update components every couple of days (one of the blessings of running OS 9 now is that there are no updates being churned out anymore!).

Don't get me wrong. Thanks to the David Pogue book, I realised how powerful OS X is in lots of areas, and I can see why Apple is heading in that direction.

But they definitely need to look at a consumer version for OS X that goes back to the true simplicity of use of Classic.

If that is impossible on coding grounds, well, I think that unless the 970 chip proves to be all that is cracked up to be (and more!), I don't expect Apple has a future stretching beyond the next couple of years or so.

The worry, ultimately, is that in two years of tinkering with OS X, the OS is still significantly slower than OS 9 and still too much un-Mac-like. Either they have not got sufficient human resources to accelerate the improvement process or there is only so much you can do to make Unix feel 'human'.

Maybe after all these fast-running (but pretty intimidating) felines, we need a more homely code-name for a 'family friendly' OS X at last - maybe Felix the Cat?

Sorry for the blather, but I thought your piece was the sanest piece of reasoning on OS X to appear in the Mac press ever.

Keep up the good work.

Thanks for the kind words. We have to remember that Apple is being run by Steve Jobs, and Steve Jobs left Apple and the Mac OS in 1985. He formed NeXT in 1986 and shipped the first NeXT Cube in October 1988. For the decade prior to Apple's acquisition of NeXT, that's the operating system Jobs and his software engineers (who followed him to Apple) used.

The Macintosh Way was always faster and more user friendly than the NeXT Way, but as they evolved, the Mac OS became bloated with a lot of add ons that hadn't been envisioned in 1983-86 when the OS was young. Unix includes things like file sharing and web hosting, things that Apple added to the Mac OS ages ago. If you don't need Apache on OS X or Personal Web Sharing on the classic Mac OS, don't use them. They take no overhead when they're not being used.

Mac OS X is a very different Mac OS than we cut our teeth on. It's got Unix at the core, which is a fast, powerful, stable operating system. Shoot, you can run BSD versions of Unix on a 16 MHz Macintosh IIcx and get nice performance. Unix itself isn't the problem; Unix-based computers don't have to be as slow as OS X machines.

The problem is the interface. Aqua. Quartz. Display Postscript. The whole imaging model does Pixar justice, but it bogs down even the fastest Power Macs with Quartz Extreme. It lacks the efficiency of QuickDraw, the imaging model used in the classic Mac OS and developed for 8 MHz computers.

It's not the multiuser environment that makes OS X slow; it's the interface. For instance, after you boot into OS X, open a folder with a bunch of files inside. See how it initially tells you that the folder has zero items and then gets around to correcting that misinformation. Open, modify, and save a file. See how the Finder doesn't always change the time stamp right away. The old Mac OS never did that; the new one shouldn't.

I'm running OS X on a 400 MHz PowerBook G4 with 512 MB of RAM and a fast 20 GB hard drive. It's not perfect, and it's not terribly fast, but I'm pretty much hooked on it. I hardly ever have to reboot, outside of software installs and system updates. When the classic environment or a classic app has problems, I have to reboot the whole classic environment, but not the whole Mac. (Alas, that happens more often these days than it used to. Maybe time to repair permissions.)

This morning I found my next Mac, a refurbished 700 MHz eMac with a Combo drive selling for $749 plus sales tax (free ground shipping) at the Apple Store. I've been wavering between it and the 1 GHz eMac, waiting for Apple to offer refurbs at their store (they have great prices and free shipping, but they do collect local sales tax), hoping to see a refurb 1 GHz eMac for about $900.

This will give me a more up-to-date G4 processor, a 75% higher clock speed, Quartz Extreme, and a larger display (up to 1280 x 960). With a memory upgrade, I'll have 640 MB of RAM. The 40 GB hard drive is twice as large as I've ever used. It's going to replace my TiBook as my main production machine, allowing me to send the laptop to Apple to have the backlight fixed.

Because of the eMac's power and the efficiency of OS X, the eMac will not only become my main production machine, it will also be the home file server and backup server, allowing me to retire two dedicated machines in our basement cyberlair. I'll use external FireWire drives for almost everything; I may even use one as my boot drive. And I'll finally have a computer designed for the realities of OS X, not simply an older Mac that's supported by the OS.

Another advantage of buying the older eMac is that it boots into OS 9, and I can't rebuild the message database in Claris Emailer unless I'm booted into OS 9 (it doesn't rebuild in the classic environment). I'm really looking forward to the new computer, and I think that OS X really does demand a lot more horsepower to provide the responsiveness we're used to in the classic Mac OS.

Because of the imaging model, OS X is always going to be slower than OS 9. There's not a thing anyone can do about that. The velocity engine in the G4 helps. Quartz Extreme helps. Faster processors, drives, and memory will also help. But the display model is one of the big reasons longtime Mac users find OS X sluggish.

I don't anticipate that changing, since Display Postscript was one of the cornerstones of the NeXT operating system. That's a shame, because Color QuickDraw was really efficient. But Steve Jobs has set his course and refuses to look back.

You can pretty much ignore the multiuser stuff by using automatic login, but you can't escape the Quartz rendering engine.

Mad Idea for 6100

Frank Da Silva writes:

I have a 6100 with a G3 card installed, and thus the video card is no longer functional nor installed. I have a 17 inch monitor at 800 x 600, and its color depth is only 256 colors. I would like to bring it up to thousands. My mad idea is to allocate more RAM to the video map.

Do you know of a ResEdit patch/hack that will allocate more VRAM to the system? I have 128 MB of RAM crammed into this beast.

No, I've never heard of any sort of hack to allow the video circuitry to access memory outside of the first MB available. If you want or need thousands of colors, you're going to have to run at 640 x 480 resolution. (BTW, I'd love a video card for my 6100 - is yours available?)

Why Mac Users Are Slow to Adopt OS X

Konrad Waibel writes:

I remember when people squawked about switching to System 7. OS X is really different enough that some thought is needed before taking the plunge, especially if Classic/OS 9 software and OS X software are used on the same computer.

From my first batch process using SPSS around 30 years ago, managing a Mac computer lab in a community college 10 years ago, up to today as a retiree, I am an end user. From Leading Edge word processor to Pine, Word Perfect, Word, VAX mail, or whatever programs the system used, I had to learn how to use it to be productive and communicate. I am a technology acceptor, not a real innovator, more like an early to middle get on the bandwagon person.

I enjoy new technology devices most of the time, and I'm a sucker for design and packaging. I've been a member of the iMac List since October 1999. I mostly email and Internet surf.

Recently my iMac DV SE G3 400 MHz had a HD failure. I had it fixed, and I'm giving it to my son for the grandkids, because I decided to get a new iMac 1 GHz 17" FP and go OS X. Love the computer, but boy-oh-boy did some of the frustration stuff I read on the iMac List really make sense once I began using OS X 10.2.3.

I'll skip most details and just say I understand why some folks don't switch to OS X. It is complicated from login on, keychain mysteries, requiring me to unlearn some of OS 9.2.1 ways of moving around, another new Mail program, a new and still beta browser Safari [my choice to dump IE and OE, and no regrets here]. The little details and endless possible choices of settings in Mail for autotrashing are nice, but I can hit flower-K and the job is done.

Bottom line for me is I'm willing to accept the learning curve for OS X because I like the machine it runs. My DV SE HD broke, and I used the excuse to get into what I knew was hard work for me, but it'll be worth it down the road, and I really like the new iMac and the incredible capabilities offered to me by Apple. Other end users won't want to make the commitment which is why they won't switch until forced to for some reason.

Hope your job situation works out. Have you ever considered applying for a John and Catherine MacArthur grant to work on your projects? I think you'd be just the person they might seriously consider, you've done a lot for the information access community.

I remember the transition to System 7 very well. I actually had a Golden Beta on my Mac Plus - very nice, but very slow. There was an immediate 15% or so slowdown compared with System 6.0.x because System 7 was always in "MultiFinder" mode. And both 6 and 7 could be slowed much further by using TrueType and/or Adobe Type Manager. And, of course, some software broke.

The performance hit with each Mac OS upgrade has been relatively small - until OS X changed everything. My guess is that the display engine is what really makes OS X inefficient on slower Macs, since BSD Unix can run responsively on positively ancient Mac hardware.

I had a good idea what I was getting into with OS X, but a lot of Mac users don't. They bought Macs because they just wanted to be productive, and OS X throws a whole lot of changes at them all at once. In the long run OS X is a better OS, but the GUI overhead and sheer level of differentness are two immediate reasons people will be tempted to switch back.

My job situation has taken a turn for the better. The camera shop where I've been working part time for nearly two years just changed hands. Bit of a messy situation. The parties who had first expressed interest ended up not acquiring the shop, but not before they had closed our smaller branch store and "unscheduled" most employees while negotiations took place.

Thankfully that fell through, since most of us knew exactly what had happened to the local camera shop they had acquired about 15 years ago - and we didn't want history to repeat itself. Fortunately another local shop with a good reputation came into the picture, final papers were signed yesterday, and I'm again working half time at the camera shop.

On top of that, it looks like I may be doing Web work for both the local store and the store that bought it - as well as a local video transfer service. Yesterday was a very encouraging day for me.

I've never considered applying for a grant. Site finances have reached the point where we're no longer running a deficit every month. Where I started the year 14 weeks behind on payroll, that number is now down to 11 weeks. I have the cash to buy an eMac, and I hope to get caught up on payroll by the end of 2003. We're not out of the woods yet, but we're heading in that direction.

Why Mac Users Don't Switch

Anthony Ilardi Jr. writes:

I stumbled across your article. I would add another: OS 9 never has a kernel panic. At the moment, OS 10.1.5 on my G4 is "broken." I am loathe to erase the entire drive to reinstall OS 10.1 and may get OS 10.2 to try to beat the rule that you can't install from a lower release CD to a computer that had a higher release already installed. Still, everything is getting backed up to a new (for the occasion) external hard drive.

Actually, I really don't need OS X, as the principal program I run is my scanner software, which cannot run on OS X (and will never be upgraded - it went out of production) or in Classic.

The classic Mac OS does suffer from kernel panics. It's just that Apple doesn't call them that. But when the programmer window comes up giving you the opportunity to type in an obscure command to get the OS working again, that's essentially the same thing as a kernel panic.

Of course, the classic Mac OS also has bombs, freezes, and hangs. I wouldn't let the fact that OS X has the occasional kernel panic deter me from using it, any more than I let the almost daily forced restarts in the classic Mac OS keep me from using it.

Re: Thinking Too Different

Dan Frakes writes:

Enjoyed the article. I think you hit on a number of excellent points. As someone whose was generally an "expert" in OS 9 and has now fully transitioned to OS X, I have a few comments.

She knows how to use the Chooser, but where the heck do you choose your printer in OS X?

Most printers are set up automatically, so there's no need to deal with a Chooser-like utility. Most users never need to touch Print Center. I'm continually surprised at how well this works for supported printers. In fact, even many unsupported printers work great - our unsupported Samsung laser printer was immediately available just by plugging it in.

In terms of choosing a printer, if you have multiple printers connected, every print dialog has a "Printer" menu that lets you choose the printer to which you want to print. (You probably knew all this, but I think it's important to point out that you're asking an OS 9 question that most users no longer have to ask with OS X.)

And how the heck do you connect to the file server?

I personally think that for new users, connecting to file servers is actually much easier to figure out in OS X than it was in 9 and earlier. In the Finder (which makes sense, since you're trying to access files) select Go -> Connect to Server. Since the dialog only deals with servers/remote volumes (instead of AppleShare volumes, printers, scanners, etc., as well), it's much clearer how to connect: Either click on the server/volume if it's local or enter the address if it's remote.

I think the bigger issue in this particular situation is that OS X is just different. People coming from OS 9 (and earlier) are used to the Chooser, but that doesn't mean the Chooser is/was easy to use. In fact, from a usability standpoint, the Chooser was always pretty horrible - we all forget how little sense the Chooser made when we first started using it :) It made sense as a way to let you "choose" a printer (even then, most users had to be told where to look for it), but it ended up having so much additional functionality that it was incredibly confusing.

Think about the first time you learned how to connect to a server in OS 9 and earlier:

  1. go to the Apple Menu - why the Apple Menu?
  2. select the Chooser - what am I "choosing"?
  3. click on "AppleShare" - what am I sharing? What's this have to do with a server?
  4. figure out where to click - if it's a local AppleTalk volume, double-click the volume icon, but if it's remote, click "Server IP Address."

Who would have ever figured this out on their own? ;) We know how to do it because we learned how to do it, but it's not at all intuitive. When I worked in IT, it was the single most confusing part of the OS for the majority of users.

I think there are legitimate complaints about the OS X interface, but I also think that many complaints made by OS 9 users (and I was one of them and made similar complaints when I first switched over) are due to unfamiliarity rather than inherent "badness."

In fact, my personal experience with OS X and working with switchers from OS 9 is that the transition takes a general path: First, feeling uncomfortable with OS X because it's so "different" (often phrased as "bad" ;) ). Second, attempts at adding things to OS X to make it work like OS 9 (FruitMenu for the Apple Menu, ASM for the classic Application Menu, etc.). Third, if the user doesn't give up and go back to OS 9, a growing familiarity with OS X and a growing appreciation for some of its benefits. Fourth, a grudging respect for some of the cool features of OS X and a bit of affinity towards some of the things that were initially "bad." Finally, a gradual disposal of many of the "make it like OS 9" utilities.

Of course this progression isn't universal, and the time frame differs for every user, but I've yet to see a user who got to stage three and didn't end up at stage five.

That said, as I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of legitimate complaints about OS X.

And then she tried to save a document. Do the folks at Apple have any clue how unnerving it can be to go to their stark Save dialogue box - especially for someone who has been living with the power of Default Folder on the classic Mac OS for years?

To be fair, if you're going to compare OS 9 and OS X Open/Save dialogs, you should compare either the stock dialogs or the Default Folder-enhanced dialogs :) OS 9 dialogs using Default Folder are of course going to be far superior to standard OS X dialogs. But the good news is that Default Folder X gives you most of the functionality it did in OS 9. There are still a few things in OS X dialogs that aren't up to par with OS 9's dialogs, but at the same time OS X dialogs have a few advantages of their own.

Sorry for the long email - you just brought up some interesting opportunities for discussion :)

The point of the article is that Apple could have made it a lot easier to classic Mac OS users to switch to OS X. I played with X for a year before I finally got a copy of Jaguar; then I switched the very day I installed it. But I had over a year of dealing with the differentness - going back to the Public Beta.

My wife and my boys are getting used to it slowly, something longtime Mac users buying almost any new Mac can no longer do, since almost none of the current models will boot into OS 9.

I like your thoughts on making OS X like OS 9. I can't for the life of me understand why a graphical user interface would eliminate support for color coding files and folders, but what we had in System 7 is gone in OS X. Ditto for being able to easily navigate the hierarchy of files in the old Save dialogue vs. the new one.

As Steve Watkins likes to point out, almost everything from the old Mac OS is present in the new one, just in a different place or working a bit differently. That's good to know, but it takes some time to get used to all the changes.

And once you're used to OS X, you'll find yourself booting into OS 9 for some reason and suddenly find yourself thinking how alien an operating system the classic Mac OS is....

TV Card in a 6400

After reading Putting a 6400 power supply in a 6200, Bob Dull corrects me:

You stated in an article on LEM (mailbag section) that:

"Another issue might be the TV capabilities you're so fond of. The 6200 had a special slot for the TV card; it's not present on the 6400."

The 6400 does have a TV slot. I just got one of these things last week at a thrift shop for $10 and it does have the TV card slot. I pulled a TV card out of an even older LC 630, and it worked just fine in the 6400.

Thanks for the update. I guess I should have checked the Low End Mac profile before writing about a machine I've never used.

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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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