The Low End Mac Mailbag

PCs Not Like Macs, Claris Home Page Fan, iMac G4 Upgrade Tips, iBook Prices, and More

- 2008.08.18 - Tip Jar

The Mac Is a Personal Computer, PCs Aren't

From John Muir:

Hi Dan,

A couple of corrections for your article: 1997 should be 1977, and "four months" presumably "four years".

As for the case you make, I quite agree. Windows and DOS before it have always been about office use first, and home use second. PCs were machines for cubicle farms and information desks, ideally connected to a corporate intranet but not the outside world. Many of the platform's hideous security woes - which brought words like "malware", "worm", and "Trojan" into the mainstream - originate in the PC platform's design as a corporate computer running on a trusted network and supported by an IT department. When you bought one for yourself, you were on your own. And when you hooked it to the internet, you were pushing your luck!

There are some people out there who like to keep believing that Macs and PCs are almost identical. For them, Apple's advertising is absurd and the growing OS X user base is proof the world's gone mad. If the industry's trend away from the dominant Microsoft model of the 1990s doesn't make sense to them, the problem is evidently in the assumptions underlying their view. Key among which is that Macs are just PCs, and iPhones are just phones.



Thanks for the corrections. One of the drawbacks of being Low End Mac's copy editor is that I have nobody to proofread my articles. I appreciate it when you and others let me know of mistakes like that - and they've been corrected.

Yes, the PC/Windows world is far less secure than the Unix (including Linux and Mac OS X) world because it has its roots in the one user/one computer world of personal computing. Unix is rooted in the world of multiple users and accounts, so it has always been far more secure by design.

As for other differences between Macs and PCs, it's easy for many people to see them as "the same" because they can often run the same programs and produce the same results. By that kind of reasoning a Hummer and a Ferrari are "the same" because they can get you from home to work and back again. You have to ignore an awful lot to pretend there's no real difference between the way Macs (hardware, software, and OS) work and the way Linux and Windows PCs work.


I Agree with Your Comments on Claris Home Page

From Philip Mayor:

Hi Dan,

I want to strongly agree with your comments about Home Page. In fact, I found your article searching the web to see if maybe there was a version of Home Page or something similar that would run under Mac OS X. I still use mostly my PowerBook G4 for web designing because it will run Classic, and therefore will run Home Page. It's amazing what a great program Home Page is.

I thought I'd email you because your article was from several years ago, so (you guessed it) I'm hoping maybe you might have heard some news you could let me in on.

Just this one simple thing that Home Page can do that none of the other programs seem to do for some reason: When you click on a link, it will open up that page. Maybe I'm missing something, but none of the other programs do that, and I have DreamWeaver and a bunch of others.

I learned a lot from your article too as had no idea about the changes in HTML no longer supported by Home Page. It's always seemed to work just fine to me. I'm someone who really has little interest in following the development of HTML into XHTML and whatever.

Philip Mayor


Thanks for writing. I've written so many times about Claris Home Page that I can't even be sure which article you're referring to: Claris Home Page 3.0: Still Irreplaceable? (2003.02.19), Nvu and SeaMonkey Can Supplement, but Not Replace, Claris Home Page (2006.08.30), KompoZer 0.7.7: Getting Closer to a Replacement for Claris Home Page (2007.08.22), and numerous mentions in other articles as well as the Mailbag.

After a dozen years using it, working in Home Page has become second nature. It is the only Classic app I use these days and the only reason I'm not migrating to Leopard or an Intel-based Mac, as tempting as both are. There's a simple elegance to the way Home Page works, and I haven't found anything that comes close.

KompoZer is the closest I've come. It's pretty stable, fairly easy to work with, and supports things like Cascading Style Sheets so I can actually preview content while I work and add styles to text and images. But it's slow and unpolished. It works, but not as smoothly as Home Page, and it crashes more frequently as you have more files open. It does work, and I have great hopes for it, but version 0.7.10 is definitely beta.

Home Page may never have produced totally standards compliant HTML code, but it always produced code that "just worked" with every browser I could lay my hands on. I would love to find a similar program with the same speed and polish, and I've had DreamWeaver recommended as the best of the commercial apps, but I have a hard time justifying spending money on new software and learning how it works when Home Page works so well for me.

Of course, my workflow would benefit from a single app that could replace TextSoap (for cleaning up text before I paste it into Home Page), Home Page, KompoZer (mostly for applying styles), and TextWrangler with the Tidy to XHTML plugin (for converting the Home Page HTML to XHTML after KompoZer has added its own mods to the code).

Home Page absolutely rocks as a WYSIWYG HTML editor that also lets you quickly and easily edit the underlying HTML code. It may be over a decade old, but for many of us, it's still the best tool for writing, editing, and maybe even designing pages and managing websites.


Important Tip for iMac G4 Upgraders

From Florian Dingler:


here is an important hint to the 17" iMac G4. I think it'll be useful for other user who plan to expand the RAM on their G4 iMacs. RAM is cheap nowadays, we paid only 18 EUR (US$25) for 512 MB PC2700/333.

This machine (iMac G4 17" FP 1,25 GHz) can be expanded to 2 GB RAM. It has 2 slots:

  1. One user accessible slot is on the underside of the sphere: Just open 4 screws, and you have access to a SO-DIMM DDR 200-pin slot.
  2. The other slot is inside the sphere, where the "factory installed" RAM sits. This is easy to open too, just unscrew the 4 T15-TORX screws on the underside and lift of the bottom plate of the computer.

But now its gets difficult!

Inside you find a memory module in a 184-pin DIMM slot(!) - not SO-DIMM but normal size (we bought two SO-DIMMs, *rats!*).

To put the baseplate back on, you absolutely have to attach some 'thermal paste' (which transmits heat) to two places so the heat of the CPU can get away. If you forget to do this, you can easily fry your CPU and kill your iMac. We found this out after searching the Net for advice on opening the iMac to get to the second slot. We should've read the whole article, not only the first paragraph.

Nevertheless, the G4 iMac is running again, it has 1 GB now instead of 512 MB, and my girlfriend is happy again and able to go drawing her sheep.

Best regards


Thanks for writing. I have no real experience with the G4 iMacs (or anything later, except for the MacBook Pro that my wife uses), so I'm not at all familiar with how they're put together. Apple has an online tutorial, but it only covers the "user accessible" slot.

Accelerate Your Mac has a good article on iMac G4 upgrades: iMac G4 - Exchanging Optical Drive, Hard Disk, and RAM. It looks like this covers every version of G4 iMac, and the do point out the importance of removing the old thermal paste and replacing it with new.


G4s and PC3200 184-pin DDR 512 MB DIMMs

From Jesse Carroll:

I have been promised a "Mac G4" as I may have mentioned.

The "go between" is a nice PC person . . . he has family working in Cupertino, but he has no idea just what model G4 it is . . . just that it's been heavily upgraded and maxed out . . . something I take with a grain of salt . . . it really could by almost any Mac made since about 2000 . . . even a B&W G3 for all I really know....

Jim did say it was only a "few" years old . . . maddening, these PC people, no??

Besides being my personal therapist, he's become a truly good friend, we have similar interests in computers, sports cars, the sciences and politics. He once was our couples counselor . . . so he knows just about everything about me....

But I digress.

I take it that only the last two models of G4 will take the 18-pin DDR RAM.

They came to me in a upgrade deal, done by a third party!! People gave them to me for my efforts at the Mac recycling program . . . I only was a matchmaker in this deal . . . funny how things go . . . I think they came from a G5 iMac....

And I understand only the next to last model G4, the one with the Mirrored Door, will take this RAM and work with OS 9.2.2 . . . correct? That last is important to me....

I have two 512 MB PC3200 DIMMs, in case it turns out to be one of those last two models . . . and is not as maxed out as he says....

A crap shoot....

I also have some FW 400, USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 devices, PCI cards . . . USB 2.0 cards and devices that I bought by mistake or given to me unknowingly....

I do use a Seagate 100 GB USB 2.0 2.5" portable hard drive that Kathy found in a trash can in front of our Newberry Library, actually in Chicago's "Bughouse Square" . . . summer, 2005 . . . still in it's box and shrink wrap, with cards and cable . . . I should put it in a FW 400/USB enclosure someday so it can be bootable . . . I never sent the cards in, as it's bound to be "hot" . . . very slow with USB 1.1 . . . but it works as storage....

I just want something better than my iMac 600 SE to play DVDs with. Something that will handle a 19" monitor and with much better, external sound . . . no room for either anywhere near the iMac....

I do search local dumpsters on "moving days" . . . it's amazing what people throw out....



Yes, the MDD Power Macs take the same RAM. Some are designed for PC2100 RAM, faster ones for PC2700 RAM, but your faster PC3200 should oughta work. And if you get an MDD model that doesn't have FireWire 800, you will be able to boot into the last version of Mac OS 9.2.2 (there are two versions - the earlier one will not boot it).

If you end up with a 1.25 GHz or 1.42 GHz eMac, it takes the same RAM as well, as do last generation G4 iMacs.

Yes, it is amazing what some people will throw out.


Cloning the Classic Mac OS to a New Hard Drive

From Sean Sheridan:

Dear Low End Mac,

I have two older systems that I absolutely refuse to let die. One is a Performa 631CD running 7.5, and the other is a WallStreet PowerBook running 8.1. Both of the hard disks are failing, and I need to get the data off so I can replace the drives and get them back to original working condition. The problem is, I don't know what I would use to make an image or clone of a hard disk running those OSes, and I'm not really sure how I would get that image off of the machines and then back on again. You seem to really know your stuff and it doesn't look like it's limited to just what's out right now so I was hoping you might be able to help. If you have any suggestions, I'd really be very grateful.

With high hopes,
Sean Sheridan


It's probably not going to be cheap. The replacement drives will be relatively inexpensive, but the external drive you back up to probably won't be.

These classic Macs can boot from an internal IDE hard drive, a floppy, CD-ROM, or an external SCSI hard drive. Unless you have access to a newer Mac that supports two or more internal IDE hard drives (which would make it easy to dupe your drive), you're going to have to use an external SCSI hard drive - and for the WallStreet PowerBook, you're going to need a SCSI adapter for its oddball SCSI port. I suggest finding a used one with higher capacity than your Peforma and WallStreet have, as new SCSI drives are not cheap.

The Classic Mac OS makes copying a bootable installation easy. You don't need to image a drive. All you need to do is copy everything to your new Mac-formatted hard drive, "bless" the System folder (if necessary), and you have a bootable hard drive. If you're copying your drive while booted from it, it should automatically be blessed on the new drive. If you're copying while booted from a floppy or CD, the copied System Folder won't be blessed.

To bless a System, open the System Folder, locate the System file, double-click it, close it, and you're done.


Used iBook Price Doesn't Match

From Chi:

Thanks so much for what you do - its so helpful to someone that wants to switch to Mac but knows very little.

I was looking at the G3 iBook page & saw the BetaMacs price of $299 for a 900/combo - its the last one on their list. When I clicked on it I could not find it - I think it may be a mistake.

Also - when I read about the failure problems w/the G3 I wonder now If maybe I should not get one of these - I see some of these on Craigslist for around $300 & up but now I am thinking the G4 would be better - unfortunately I think they are too expensive right now for me. I want one to learn Macs & don't have the room for a desktop & anyway where I live - Hurricane threats mean everything - grab & go makes sense. For a novice computer user w/a PC switching to a Mac - yes - it sounds crazy & dumb - its confusing to know what makes sense to start with if you can't spend a lot. I guess its about OS & how similar the older ones are to the newer. For example - if I learn Tiger or an older - one will it be anything like a newer one when you upgrade? Most people say - why bother - everyone knows PCs - I don't mess with Macs.

Anyway the $299 price must be a mistake.



We make sure we include the date when our price trackers are updated, as it may be two or three weeks between updates, and we have a note that prices may be subject to change and are limited to inventory that was in stock when we last updated prices.

BetaMacs doesn't list a 14" 900 MHz iBook G3 now, but it did when we did the previous update to our Best iBook G3 Deals. It wasn't a mistake, but when you're dealing with used equipment, stock may be depleted quickly - especially on a deal like that.

The dual-USB iBooks had a spotty repair record, but at this point most of the ones on the market have either had the fix or never had the problem. For the money, they're a decent way to get started with the Mac OS, but the G4 iBooks are significantly more powerful and better suited to Mac OS X.

Mac OS X is pretty consistent from version to version. If you learn how to use version 10.2 or 10.3, you'll be able to apply that to 10.4 and 10.5.


How about a Windows App Store?

From Matthew Reed:

I enjoyed your Low End Mac article "The Mac App Store". Ever since I heard about the iPhone App Store, I have wondered if a Mac App Store is the next logical step. It makes sense to me for many reasons, although I suspect that Apple might have to reduce their cut slightly to compete with shareware payment services.

Here's another idea: if a Mac App Store became successful, then how about a Windows App Store? Many people would welcome it, and the idea is not as preposterous as it might sound. It would be amusing if Apple made a dent in the Windows software market. That is looking much too far into the future, but I think it could happen under the right circumstances.

Matthew Reed


The same thought crossed my mind, but I can't imagine Apple ever doing a Windows App Store, since the only Windows Apps it makes are freeare - iTunes and Safari. If that were to change, I could definitely see a Windows store happening.


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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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