Charles Moore's Mailbag

Multiple Input Bug Squashed, eBay Tips, 160 GB Hard Drive Recommendation for Pismo, and More

Charles Moore - 2010.04.15 - Tip Jar

Multiple Input Bug Finally Squashed

Charles Moore first reported on the return of the multiple input bug (which had been present in OS X through version 10.3.6 or so) after installing the OS X 10.5.8 update over Labor Day weekend 2009. This bug makes it impossible to use one USB device for pointing and another for clicking, which is important to many users with physical issues. dk

From Danielle:

Hi Charles,

I just thought I'd send you a quick note to let you know that 10.6.3 gets rid of the multiple input bug.


Hi Danielle,

Thanks for the very welcome intelligence.

I finally got around to buying a copy of OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard; now to find the time to install it (I'm still also held back by the continued non-availability of 10.6-compatible WindowShade X - living without it would find more painful than living with the multiple input bug).


eBay Advice

From Dean:

Hi Charles,

I enjoy your articles on LEM very much and make a point to visit several times a week to see what is new. I would like to give your readers three basic tips to protect themselves when purchasing items on eBay. I've been an eBay seller (and buyer) for almost 10 years, so I've been on both sides, good and bad.

First tip: This may seem silly to have to point out, but Read The Auction Carefully. Know exactly what you are buying and the condition it is in before you bid. If there is something you do not understand, ask the seller a question. There's a link right under the seller's name called "Ask A Question." It's there for a reason. Don't understand the condition or shipping prices/method? Ask. See something in the picture that isn't described in the auction? Ask. If the seller doesn't reply to your questions, cross that item off your list. Make sure you know what you are bidding on before you bid. Shady sellers often try to hide details in the auction description, often in smaller fonts or different color fonts. I've seen Macs and HDTVs with fine print that contradicts the rest of the auction, which claims the item is in perfect condition, then the fine print says it is "motherboard, hard drive, and memory not included" or "won't power on." When the item arrives and the buyer complains, the seller says, "it was listed that way in the auction." So read everything carefully, especially one final time before you place that bid.

Second tip: Know Your Seller. Don't bid on any item until you've read the seller's feedback. If they have more than 1% negative feedback, I'd advise not to purchase from them. Especially if they have thousands of feedbacks. A feedback rating of 98.2% positive may sound good, but if they have 10,000 feedback, that's 180 people who have complained about their purchase. Also, look at what the negative feedback says. If it's simply a buyer complaining that shipping took too long, that's one thing, but if they are complaining that the item is vastly different from represented, or never arrived, I suggest you find a different seller. Another red flag is if the seller is leaving insulting replies to negative feedback. That shows they do not care about their customers, and I won't do business with a seller who doesn't care.

Third and final tip: Always Pay with PayPal. PayPal is a buyer's best friend. If there is any problem with an item, the buyer can file a dispute through eBay, and 99.9% of the time the buyer will get a refund. This is one of the reasons sellers hate PayPal, but it's there to protect buyers from shady sellers. I've used PayPal disputes several times in the last few years as a buyer and always had success getting a refund or the problem fixed. As a seller, I've never ripped anyone off, so I've never had a dispute filed against me, but I have had buyers complain about shipping times taking too long. I try to ship within 48 hours of receiving cleared payment, but once a seller ships the item, they have no control over how long USPS or UPS takes to deliver an item. They've lost items on me and had some take 6 weeks to show up instead of one.

If more buyers would just follow those steps, they would drastically reduce the chances of being unhappy with an eBay purchase.

Best wishes,

Hi Dean,

Thanks muchly for the prudent counsel.


How Long Since I Restarted?

From Robert after reading Hot 'Book? It Could Be Your Apps:

Dear Charles,

Many Unix geeks have probably deluged you with this tip, but if you can't remember how long it is since you restarted your Mac and you really want to know, open Terminal and type uptime <return>. This will return a line that looks like this,

9:36 up 7 days, 21:02, 2 users, load averages: 0.18 0.15 0.16

I ran the command at 9:36 a.m., and the time given is days, then hh:mm. Someone further into Unix than myself would be able to explain the load averages to you, but the uptime figures are quite straightforward. It can be quite useful to know this, on occasion.


Thanks Rob. A very useful tip and news to me.


Try Running Activity Monitor

From John:

Hi Charles,

You could try running Activity Monitor - it's installed as part of Mac OS X by default - to keep an eye on the heat source. Besides for GPU while gaming and hard drives during massive file transfers, the CPU is the be all and end all of system heat. Set Activity Monitor to show all processes sorted by CPU consumption, and even show a CPU history chart for its icon in the dock, and you're all set to find out exactly which apps are hogging the hardware, and when; instead of having to infer it from overall temperature values.

iStat Menus is a nice compact alternative, and I expect there are many more options as well. I keep it minimal on my old PowerBook: I'll hit F12 and check with the iStat Pro widget in Dashboard when I want to see what's going on.

Let me guess that Flash plays a part in it on your MacBook, as well as my G4. Just a hunch....


Hi John,

Thanks for the advice. Flash probably does play a role, but the key for me was switching back to Thunderbird 3.0.3 from the T-Bird 3.1 beta. MacSpeech Dictate causes the temp to spike upwards to the mid-70°s when in use, but happily seems benign when idling. I'm cruising at a cool 61° right now with four browsers, T-Bird 3.0.3, and Dictate, as well as a gaggle of smaller programs running.


Don't Hold Your Breath for WindowShade X

From John

Hi Charles,

I wouldn't hold your breath, or your OS update, for WindowShade X coming to Snow Leopard. Unsanity's Haxies rely on Mac OS X's now deprecated Input Manager system for code injection. Input Managers weren't intended to be used that way, and Apple took a firm stance against them with 10.6. I've no idea how Unsanity expects to find a new route to make its haxies work. It's a tough task, and from what I've heard they've stumbled.

I was reading up about Keyboard Maestro recently, considering buying it to tweak my workflow, when I found this article at Daring Fireball: Using Keyboard Maestro to Intercept Keyboard Shortcuts Usurped by the System.

"Ideally, I try to run with as few system modifications as possible, and when I'm using one simply to enable a habit, I try to break that habit. Sometimes it takes a while - I ran Unsanity's WindowShade X for at least a year back in the 10.1 era before my window-shading habit faded away."

I think John Gruber has the right idea. The deeper your customisations and the longer you get used to them, the bigger the trouble if and when they eventually break. I had a similar rough landing when Google discontinued Google Browser Sync back in the Firefox 2.x days.


Hi John,

Well, that explains a lot. I knew Apple took a dim view of Unsanity's Application Enhancer add-on, so I guess they may have proactively taken measures to block it's viability in Snow Leopard. Boo, hiss to them. Depressing intelligence though.

In general, I'm philosophically in agreement with the policy of running as few system mods as possible, but windowshading is more than a habit with me - it has been an integral element of my workflow habits for about 15 years and is embedded in my "muscle memory". I may use it literally a hundred or more times in a workday. I really hate (not too strong a word in this case) not having it available (which I suffered through for four months on the cusp of 2007/08 after installing OS X 10.5 Leopard). I didn't miss it a scintilla less on the last day than I did the first.

Apple's decision to dump windowshading from OS X was spectacularly boneheaded. There is simply no other substitute for its function that isn't woefully lame, e.g.: collapsing documents to the Dock. If it's truly gone for good, it removes a major element of the argument why I shouldn't consider migrating to Linux, which would be a more congenial environment to my temperament than is Apple's increasingly locked-down and control-freaky space.

Thanks for the info and comment.


Hot Mac? Disable Flash

From Peter:


Have you installed ClickToFlash?

I am not the CEO or related in any way to the developer. Promise!!!!

My heating problems are completely gone.

Honest to God gooooonnnnnnnneeeeeeeeee....

Try it out.


Hi Peter,

I hadn't yet, but it's now on my to-do list!


160 GB Drive Recommendation for Pismo

From Chris:

Greetings, Charles,

Just read the mailbag and saw a message from David regarding what 160 GB hard drive would be suitable for a Pismo or iBook.

The Samsung Spinpoint HM160HC* I used to have didn't have any problems in my Pismo (though that wasn't the computer it was intended for, hence why my Pismo still uses its original Fujitsu 6 GB drive), aside from the 128 GB addressing limitation of the Pismo's own IDE/PATA drive controller. FireWire Target Disk Mode works just fine, unlike certain Hitachi TravelStar 40 GB 4,200 RPM drives.

The best part, though, was the price. US$50.98 shipped off of NewEgg when I got it, but most unfortunately, they seem to have become unavailable there.

As usual, I suggest shopping around on various sites for the best price, be that OWC, NewEgg, Micro Center, or who knows what else, regardless of what drive you do settle on. (I just happened to pick that Samsung drive because it was cheaper than the 160 GB offerings from Western Digital and Seagate while not having a notorious reputation for failure.)

- Chris

Hi Chris,

Glad to hear that it worked out well for you.

I expect that IDE/ATA non-SATA hard drives will be gradually fading from the scene, so it's probably wise to grab one while the getting is good.


* Editor's note: This drive has been discontinued, although it is still available on eBay. dk

iMac G5 System Support Dilemma

From Jim:


I have a dilemma with my iMac G5 that I purchased as my primary home computer about 10 years ago. (I did so partially in reaction to your enthusiasm for Apple, I might add. You were quite a significant influence on my thinking.

Anyway, I have been having a lot of trouble with that Apple machine. It increasingly will not work programs I want or need. I discovered at tax time last year that it would not accept Turbo Tax (ditto this year). Turbo Tax is the standard USA income tax figuring program. My college has a license for Word for Mac that my machine will not accept.

I bought the exact same (I thought) machine for my stepdaughter about a year later, and she is not having the problems I am. It seems that there was switch in chip but not in name of machine.

I just got a really nice deal on an HP printer, only to get it home and find that it requires OS X 10.4 or above. My machine tells me it is OS X 10.3.9.

One of my college IT guys told me that there are upgrades available for me to go to OS X 10.4 and even 10.5. But he also said that Apple does not make them available online anymore.

So, I drove to an Apple Store about 25 miles from here and asked if I could get one of the upgrades. The Apple guy there told me that Apple no longer makes available anything but current products.

I could not believe this. What kind of customer loyalty is that?

Knowing that you are an Apple expert and consultant, I thought I would ask you if you have any idea how I can make my iMac OS X 10.3.9 operating system work with the new HP printer that is sitting in my living room unpacked until I figure out whether or not I have to take it back.

I will appreciate your counsel, Charles.

Many thanks,

Hi Jim,

It's not quite 10 years old. The G5 iMac was unveiled in August 2004, and I think yours is a bit newer than that.

However, it's still a really old computer in computer years. That said, while I have a nice, contemporary year-and-a-bit old Unibody MacBook, I also have two 10-year-old Pismo PowerBooks in daily service and like them a lot within their limitations, running OS X 10.4.

My brother-in-law is running a G5 iMac like yours, also with OS X 10.4, although your machine has plenty of processor power to run OS X 10.5, which will be the last supported system on PowerPC Macs, and it is what I would recommend for you, provided you have or upgrade to at least 1.5 GB of RAM.

OS X 10.3 is über-obsolete, and I'm not surprised you're running into compatibility problems with contemporary software and peripherals. It's doubtful that there is a driver for your HP printer that supports OS X 10.3.

Unfortunately and maddeningly, Apple no longer sells OS X 10.5 install disks - a policy that makes it prudent in general to keep up to date with Apple OS upgrades. You will need to shop for an install DVD elsewhere. I've checked around and they're very thin on the ground. eBay might be a possibility.

MegaMacs still lists some multi-user family packs, but they're not cheap (however, cheaper than buying a new computer).

There are still a few OS X 10.4 install disks to be found, although software support is thinning out for that version now. Try eBay and Low End Mac's Best Mac OS X 10.4 'Tiger' Deals.

The good news is that your new printer does support OS X 10.4, and it's a lot better system than 10.3 for a variety of reasons, so it will solve your present dilemma.

Note: Make sure that any 10.4 or 10.5 DVD you buy is the full retail install disk, not a software restore disk for a specific Mac model. The latter probably won't work with your iMac.


Charles -

Thank you very much for going the extra mile for me in trying to recommend a solution to my Mac OS X problem.

I have never used eBay, however, and rarely make an Internet purchase. The sites on which I have made Internet purchases can be counted on the fingers of one hand and include Laser Monks, Barnes and Noble, and The Teaching Company. You get the idea, I am sure.

I am not a geek - and I fear digging myself into an even deeper whole.

The lesson I get from this experience is not to trust Apple. By refusing to help a good customer update a purchase, Apple has proven itself unreliable and insensitive - since the company has the solution ready at hand but refuses to make it available.

Henceforth, I will not purchase any Apple products.

Once again, I very much appreciate your efforts to help.


Hi Jim,

Apple: I'm frequently frustrated by the company's arrogance, but nobody else offers anywhere near the overall user experience.

Frankly, every time I'm on a Windows PC, it mystifies me how so many folks put up with it, let alone the relentless malware onslaught that is essentially nonexistent on the Mac.

The positives far outweigh the necessity and relatively minor expense of keeping up to date with operating system upgrades.

You could well be running into current software and device driver issues with a six-year-old Windows PC as well, if you hadn't kept up with the Windows OS upgrades and patches. Computer years are even longer than dog years.



Thank you for the advice and the assistance re: my computer difficulties.

I'm kind of spoiled, I guess, having a college-supplied PC for my principal computer. It is constantly updated by the college IT staff, and any glitches are fixed immediately.

The need to update operating systems is something I was totally unaware of.

Again, thanks for the help.


Hi Jim,

My pleasure.

I expect your college IT folks have been doing the updates on your PC there.


A Great All-in-one Printer/Scanner Alternative

From Brian:


You are right - all-in-one printer/scanner/fax machines are jacks of all trades but masters of none. A better little-known alternative that is especially good for Mac users is Axis brand Network Document Servers.

These small standalone network-attached units do two amazing things:

  1. turn a USB or SCSI scanner and a network-attached printer into a copier
  2. scan documents, convert them to PDF format, and email the PDF'd documents as attachments to a user-defined and user-selected list of email destinations.

The unit is easily configured by navigating to its built-in Web page and supports both monochrome and colour scanning and printing.

The best bets are the current models 70u (USB) and 7000 (SCSI). The Axis site has a list of supported scanners for each model and work best printing to a Postscript printer (mono or color).

They regularly appear on eBay, where I got both my 7000 (home) and 70u (office).


Hi Brian,

I checked out the Web page, and it looks like a great concept.

Thanks for the tip. I wasn't previously aware.


Go to Charles Moore's Mailbag index.

Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Google+, or subscribe to our RSS news feed

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.

Links for the Day

Recent Content

About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

Follow Low End Mac on Twitter
Join Low End Mac on Facebook

Favorite Sites

Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
The Vintage Mac Museum
Deal Brothers
Mac Driver Museum
JAG's House
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ

The iTunes Store
PC Connection Express
Macgo Blu-ray Player
Parallels Desktop for Mac

Low End Mac's store


Open Link