Charles Moore's Mailbag

CardBus WiFi, the Shiira Browser, Ridding the Web of Flash, and Macs vs. PCs

Charles Moore - 2010.03.18 - Tip Jar

CardBus WiFi and the Shiira Browser

From Ben, following up on WPA Support for Original AirPort Card:


It's unfortunate that the limitation exists for the AirPort slot internally, but that's how it is! However, I think the firmware update will work for 50% of my WPA needs; for the other 50% I'm going to just break down and throw in a CardBus card, I believe. Oh well, I'm sure I'll survive! :)

Isn't it neat to see how many old Macs are still in regular service? I know that my work PC laptops last 3-4 years, and then basically fall apart - my 6-year-old Dell is now the "kids' laptop", and I feel bad for them. I can't remember the last time I've seen a 9-year-old PC laptop in regular service. :) And the kids, well, the kids keep mentioning how much better the school computers are (eMacs and iMac G's) - I don't blame 'em!

Again, much appreciated, including the article on Shiira - it's definitely been a breath of fresh air for my old Mac. Sites that were absolutely unbearable before are working great now.

Thanks again,

Hi Ben,

Yes, for anyone with the LEM philosophy, the more old Macs in service the merrier.

It simply blows me away every day how good my old Pismos are. My MacBook gets more use than they do, but not by a whole lot. I usually log 3-5 hours a day on Pismos.

For another glowing testimonial to the excellence of older PowerBooks, see Apple Computers vs. PC Computers in Heather Kant's Design Blog.

Delighted to hear that you're finding Shiira helpful. Notwithstanding the frustrating no access to preference settings bug and occasional crashiness, I'm using it more and more for the raw speed.


Macs vs. PCs: Yawn

From Blaine:

I find it just blindingly funny, the absolute holy war that's still, 25 years on, still being fought between PCs and Macs. Very strange.

I've been a lifelong PC user, simply because (where I live) that was what was available. There were no Mac stores, no one carried Macs, you didn't see Mac software. Granted, I'd seen Apple IIs growing up, but they were few and far between. The Commodore 64 was king with all the little proto-hackers I went to school with.

I made it through high school and the beginning of college typing my papers on an electric typewriter. My folks finally took pity on me, scraped together the money, and bought me an XT-compat for my senior year. I saw Macintoshes, but only from a distance. My college had a very few of them, but they were restricted to only certain duties. (My advisor wrote the final draft of his doctoral dissertation on a Mac Plus that the college loaned him.) I remember finding a copy of a Macintosh software catalog and being amazed at the cool stuff therein.

I didn't get to fool with a Mac until I was in grad school in the 90s. A couple friends had them. One had a Color Classic, the other ended up buying a Performa. I remember helping set the Performa up to access the Internet by dialing in through our university's IBM 3090 mainframe. Scary.

It's strange, but I never really saw the Mac as a "different" computer based on personality. I saw them as different based on price. It was a sort of "elite" machine. I didn't really see it as better or worse, but as something you had to have money to buy. I was doing the same things my friend with the Performa was doing, but I had to do it on an old Panasonic CF-150 laptop with DOS 3.3 in ROM. He had the money to get a Mac; I didn't. Even when I was out, had a job, and could afford it, I still bought PCs, because they were cheap and available. And all my stuff was in DOS (and later Windows) formats.

Only recently have I made my way into the Mac world, and that's only because of the access the Internet gives to various online dealers. I bought a used 15" AlBook G4 to use as my "other" computer. In my work life, I use a high-end 17" Toshiba Satellite "superlaptop" to do document processing, spreadsheeting, and GIS mapping.

When I said I was going to buy a Mac (let alone a used Mac), my friends looked at me like I had lost my mind. But I did, and I fell in love with my "little silver computer" - so much so that I have a somewhat souped up Pismo on the way to me. But I also still have my Toshiba, as well as an Acer desktop running Vista, and an Acer netbook, and I have no intention of getting rid of any of them any time soon.

To be honest, I can't say one computer is superior to the other. I slip back and forth between Win7 and OS X quite easily. Both do what I want them to do. I certainly don't put myself in either camp. Personality-wise, I'm about as middle of the road as it gets. Politically, I'm a solid moderate. I drink office coffee just as well as Starbucks. I drive an '06 Murano and can give you a solid, practical reason for owning that type of vehicle. I don't see myself in any camp - on anything.

I think people just like to fight about stuff. No matter what that "stuff" is. it's human nature. Guess the world would be a pretty boring place without it....

And, after all that long-winded bit, let me add that I only recently landed on Low End Mac, and I'm glad I did. You and your fellow columnists do a marvelous job of providing straightfoward, commonsense material that's enjoyable to read. I really wish more sites out there on the 'net would take that cue. Keep up the good work.


Hi Blaine,

Thanks for the kind words about LEM, and you're right. Different strokes. Some of our contributors (e.g.: Andrew Fishkin, Simon Royal) are platform ambidextrous like you.

Actually, I live in PC country myself. There might be one Mac in this county for every 100 PCs, and I own a disproportionate number of the Macs. The nearest Mac reseller until quite recently was 150 miles away, although since a university 50 miles distant switched from PCs to Macs a few years ago, a small shop catering to students and staff now sells them there.

The Murano was somewhat ahead of its time, being sort of the first crossover.

Hive fun with that Pismo!



Thanks for your reply to my ramblings. And thanks again for your writing at LEM. I've been learning so much from you and your fellow columnists there.

And I'm having a little too much fun with both the Pismo and the AlBook. Reminds me too much of being back in college, when all this "computer stuff" was (to steal from Douglas Adams) still a "really neat thing!"

Thanks again, and best wishes!


Hi Blaine,

Pismos (and AlBooks - my wife is loving the 17-incher I handed off to her) will do that to you. I was past 40 when I got my first Mac, but the GUI was indeed "a really neat thing" for me after cutting my computing teeth as it were on text-based interfaces.


Ridding the Internet of Flash

From Scott:

Hey Charles,

I was just reading the story about Virgin Atlantic dumping Flash because Apple doesn't support it on the iPhone. While I completely agree with Apple and everyone else who can't stand Flash, I must point out that Flash is a major reason people upgrade consumer computers that are mainly used just for Internet surfing. I mean, why buy an expensive new computer if your old PowerPC Mac still does everything you need on the Internet? I do hope Apple succeeds in ridding the Internet of Flash. That would be really wonderful, and I completely support them, although it does give me one less reason to upgrade my old computers.


Hi Scott,

I'm no particular fan of Flash, but I do think rumors of its death are greatly exaggerated.


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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.

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