Charles Moore's Mailbag

Getting OS X 10.5 from Apple, WindowShade X for 10.6, USB Adapter for G3 PowerBooks, and More

Charles Moore - 2010.04.29 - Tip Jar

OS X 10.5 Leopard Still Available from Apple

From Tom:

Dear Charles,

Just a point of issue in your exchange with Mark in your Miscellaneous Ramblings: [Mac OS X 10.5] Leopard is still for sale at Apple for $129 US. One would have to phone a sales agent to order it, as it is not listed online.

Whether or not one should actually use Leopard on a PowerPC Mac is a different question. Invariably it runs slower than [OS X 10.4] Tiger, and the video requirements make it a poor choice, especially on a G4. Apple did us a disservice by dropping support for Tiger. Windows XP is its equivalent in the Microsoft world, and they will continue supporting that until 2014.

Apple is in business to sell you a new computer or gadget. Anyone who thinks it is still the same beleaguered company it was in the late nineties when it had to cater to the needs of loyal Mac users to survive is really kidding himself.

Yours truly,

Hi Tom,

Thank you for the information. Evidently the Apple Genius who informed Jim with the iMac G5 still running Panther who started this thread was unaware of that availability.

I agree that Leopard slows down PPC Macs. It certainly did our 1.33 GHz PowerBook G4. However, I was smitten from the day I installed it - with Spaces and QuickLook especially - so I deemed the performance hit a justifiable tradeoff.

OTOH, I've never seriously entertained the notion of using XPostFacto to hack an install of Leopard on my Pismos, which continue to run very nicely with Tiger, but I'm certain would bog down badly trying to meet Leopard's graphics demands.


Apple vs. Microsoft OS Availability and Support

From Mark:


I was probably looking in the wrong place, but I could not find a place at [the online] Microsoft Store for anything other than Windows 7 for sale. It may just be that I am looking in the wrong place, but I could not find where you could purchase just XP. If Microsoft does things similar to some companies, such as when you tried to dig the old tech support files from Apple's website, I could have missed the correct web page.

Unlike Microsoft, Apple is in the fortunate [or unfortunate] position of controlling the hardware and software. Some see that as a plus, while your points make it more of a problem. To sell new hardware, you keep changing the OS that goes with them, so that you cannot keep installing the latest OS on your older computer. I like that the same company that makes the hardware, makes the software, hopefully that is a better synergistic effect . . . but it also allows Apple to make rather arbitrary decisions on supporting OS for older hardware. Similar to you, I also enjoy getting the most out of my Macs, for as long as I can, and I also believe in using every hack possible to put the next OS onto hardware that Apple does not officially support. I got almost eight years out of an LC III, four years out of a Performa 6400, six years out of a G4 iMac flat panel, and now using my Jan 2008 Mac Pro so that I can run those programs that require an Intel CPU. The LC III and 6400 are downstairs in my Mac museum, while the G4 is more then adequate for my 16-year-old teenager for his school work.

Apple shutting off the OS supply except for the current version is not an economic policy I agree with . . . and I think it also leads to a large number of people, such as Jim, who are lucky enough to know someone with the appropriate retail install disk, getting a bootleg copy of Tiger, Leopard, etc. I do not believe that should have to happen, but I know it does. Mac users who try to find one of the few remaining legit install disks end up paying a fortune for their attempt at honesty.

I do like your idea of continuing to sell legit copies of the previous OSes. They have already spent the large R&D costs to get to the point of releasing the particular OS, so printing more copies is negligible as you mentioned.

Ignoring Apple for just a moment, is there not some blame to be put on the peripheral manufacturers [TurboTax and the HP that Jim could not use] that no longer provide support for the OS on his older Mac? It does turn into a cart-horse/horse-cart dilemma. Makes for some good discussions at my local Mac user group.

Look forward to your columns at LEM. I continue to learn new things each time.


Hi Mark,

Thanks. It's a two-way street. I learn a lot from readers like yourself.

I like the advantages of Apple's vertical integration too. Makes for a much more elegant synergy, which is why, I guess, we love the Mac - if not necessarily Apple.

Actually, I've since learned more about Microsoft's scale of residual Windows XP support. According to Wikipedia, Direct OEM and retail sales of Windows XP ceased on June 30, 2008, although Microsoft continued selling XP through their System Builders (smaller OEMs who sell assembled computers) program until January 31, 2009, and XP may continue to be available as these sources run through their inventory or by purchasing Windows Vista Ultimate or Business - and then downgrading to Windows XP.

Wikipedia says Windows XP Service Pack 2 will be retired on July 13, 2010, almost six years after its general availability, and according to Microsoft's posted timetable, general licensing of Windows XP to OEMs and retail sales were terminated on June 30, 2008, 17 months after Vista's release. However, an exception was announced on April 3, 2008 for OEMs installing to ultra low-cost PCs (ULCPCs) until one year after the availability of Windows 7, which will be October 22, 2010.

Further, on April 14, 2009, Windows XP and its family of operating systems were moved from Mainstream Support to the Extended Support phase, during which Microsoft will continue providing security updates every month for Windows XP, but free technical support, warranty claims, and design changes are no longer being offered. On April 8, 2014, all Windows XP support, including security updates and security-related hot fixes, will be terminated, which seems fair enough - 13 years on!

You can find more info at these URLs:

Further complicating the discussion, another reader informs me that you can still obtain Leopard from Apple for $129, but it's necessary to phone a sales agent to order it, as it is no longer listed online. But at least Apple hasn't completely thrown G4 and G5 owners, some of whose machines are not yet five years old, under the bus.

As for continued software availability, the best citizen has to be Netscape, which has continued to make really old versions available for download.


WindowShade X and OS X 10.6

From John:

Hey Charles,

I switched from Windows to the Mac back in 2003, so never saw WindowShade in active service. I have, however, played about with Classic and even Mini vMac over the years since and know what you're talking about. Double-click a window's title bar to have it roll up like a blind, so you can manage more of them within your screen space. I've tried it while experimenting with Classic software and can see how it would have been a great step up from how things were on Windows 2000 and the like I was running at the time. But since I was exposed to Exposé first, it feels like a step backward to me.

You do have my sympathy though, because like anyone who's been computing long enough, I too have been through a few of these forced breaks of habit.

My first Mac - still in active duty - was a 12" PowerBook. I bought it this time seven years ago, and it blew my socks off. Mac OS X was absolutely stunning. It looked gorgeous, was as stable as a rock, and made my previous system on Windows 2000 look like the horrible mishmash of dark arts and bad decisions that it was. No longer was there the need to consult a horoscope and break out the crystal ball before configuring a network.

But I really missed maximizing windows.

My first six months on the Mac were in [Mac OS X 10.2] Jaguar. I tried a fair few hacks to regain maximize and the other things my habits were calling out for. But hacks are seldom the solution, and never as graceful as doing things the way the system is designed. Gradually, I got used to the Macintosh - and specifically the OS X - way. Yet not so for maximize. "Why couldn't I just learn to live with zoom instead?" I wondered. But you know muscle memory's cruel imperative.

Then [OS X 10.3] Panther came out, I upgraded, and fell in love with Exposé, which is still one of my favourite Mac features. And somewhere in the playing around with hot corners, function keys, and Command+Tab shortcuts, I forgot about the once all important maximize. Somehow it was gone. The first I noticed was my vexation with a Windows machine at "doing the wrong thing" when I hit what had finally become the zoom button....

That's not the first muscle memory I've rewired over the years, nor will it be the last. It seems to be a matter of digging in and getting involved with a bigger shift. I'd been using computers in full screen mode for most purposes for donkey's years, and it was only Exposé's magic which made me stop and think again. All while simply having fun, too.

WindowShade X, as I understand, is a way to work around having to use the Dock for window management. I might well have latched onto it before Exposé, if I'd heard of it at the time. Minimized dock windows are indeed quite lame - and unworkable beyond a handful. Windows made the same mistake in 95 and kept on making it in all my years on the platform: jamming ever smaller shrunken windows down there the busier you were while using it. Yuck. That's why Panther was such a breath of fresh air for me: It wasn't just a break from my half-year of OS X, but half a decade of Windows behind that. Wham. New way to juggle, find, use, and think about all your open windows. I was delighted. Still am in fact. Not least with how well it works with Spaces and [OS X 10.6] Snow Leopard.

Something else to try is "minimize to dock icon" in Snow Leopard. This makes minimized windows much more sensible, as they shrink to their app's own icon and reappear only when asked, such as when opening up the app's dock menu or - very smart - in Exposé itself. Both Leopard and Snow Leopard have made solid improvements on Exposé. I dare say Apple likes it.


Hi John,

Thanks for the further observations.

I'm not an early adopter by nature. I began experimenting with OS X on a Power Mac G4 Cube back in late 2001, but I never really switched to "System 10" for production work until Panther came out in the fall of 2003.

Interestingly, I've never developed an affinity for Exposé, although I absolutely love Spaces - and of course WindowShade X.

Incidentally, I got hold of the latest Application Enhancer and WSX betas, which were downloaded from links available by becoming a follower of Unsanity Software's Twitter account. They installed smoothly and seemed to work fine, so I initially thought happy days were here again. However, after a few hours I discovered that the Bold, Underline, and Italic commands had quit working in text editing applications - at least in Tex-Edit Plus and TextEdit - which was too crippling to live with. Uninstalling APE and WSX and rebooting restored normal text formatting behavior, so I guess there are still some bugs to work out.

However, your suggestion that I try the "minimize to dock icon" feature, of which I had been unaware, sent me scurrying to David Pogue's Mac OS X Snow Leopard; The Missing Manual for full details. I've got to admit it's pretty cool and removes one of my biggest objections to collapsing open windows to the Dock. And the associated Dock Exposé feature may finally win me over to Exposé. In fact, after several days I'm beginning to think that when used in conjunction with Spaces, I may even like it better than windowshading in some ways. Maybe the old dog can learn some new muscle memory.

As I've mentioned before, I agree with the philosophical view that it's ideal to get along with as few system add-ons as possible, so I'm going to give this a good shot, and maybe it will finally wean me off WindowShade X, as a must-have at least - although I still think the windowshading concept is excellent.


P.S. As this edition of Miscellaneous Ramblings Mailbag gets filed, Unsanity Software has released WindowShade X 5.0.1 and Application Enhancer 2.6, which are OS X 10.6 friendly. Indeed, WSX 5.0.1 requires Snow Leopard, although Version 4.3 remains available if you are running OS X 10.5. That version is now unsupported, but your currently valid registration code will continue to work with older releases of WSX.

You can download the previous version of WSX from

Unlike previous WSX upgrades, the version 5.x upgrade is not free to all registered users. For those who purchased on or after August 28, 2009, this upgrade is free. If you bought WSX before August 28, 2009 and you have a previously valid serial number, you will be given a 33% coupon if you wish to update. The full price is $15.

Finally Installing Snow Leopard

From Adam in response to Charles Moore Finally Installs Snow Leopard:

Hi Charles,

LOL on your latest column title - that says it all, I suppose! :)

I agree with you about Rosetta:

"I was really surprised to discover that the Rosetta dynamic translator that lets PowerPC vintage Carbon applications run on the Intel version of OS X does not install by default and had to be downloaded separately, which fortunately worked fine in Software Update...."

Fortunately this is a small update and quickly gets loaded as a one-time deal, but it's omission is puzzling. When I install Mac OS X on client systems, I always click the Customize button and choose things like Rosetta and QuickTime 7 (in S.L.), X11 if needed, disable unnecessary fonts and printer drivers, etc. You can also force the Snow Leopard installer to copy all available printer drivers, which solves some problems with missing printers in updates.

You also mentioned the problem with Application Enhancer being needed for WindowShade X. Some software which requires that capability does run on Snow Leopard - I'm using Audio Hijack Pro, which uses the "Instant Hijack Server.ape" Application Enhancer and works fine through 10.6.3. I wonder why what's different about this than the code needed for WindowShade?


Hi Adam,

Back when I used to do a lot more frequent Mac OS installs than I have for the past few years, I maintained the habit of routinely clicking the Custom button and tailoring the install configuration.

Simply forgot this time.

I now have the latest Application Enhancer beta, and it works, but either it or the Snow Leopard WSX beta introduces a text formatting bug that still needs squashing (and probably other issues, although that's the only one I noticed before uninstalling both.


Problems with Creator Codes in Snow Leopard

From Sam:


Although the fix you found [for opening Tex-Edit Plus documents in TE+ with a double-click in Snow Leopard] was happily very convenient, the problem that underlies it is much broader.

In 10.6, Apple dropped support for "creator codes", which allow an application to "own" a document that it had created. This document would always open in that application. Newer applications have been updated to work with the new way of doing things, but older apps (not just Carbon apps or ones compiled for PowerPC) aren't designed to work without them.


Thanks for the supplemental information, Sam.

I had inferred that there must be something like that behind the behavior, but was ignorant as to what it was exactly.


Speeding Up Office 2004 on 10.6

From Ruffin:


I was glad to see Evan's comment from the last mailbag that,

"One thing I noticed is that MS Office '04 became almost unusably slow on my 2007 MacBook. I presume this would be the case for any Rosetta app."

Personally, I've found Office 2004 to be the most serious Rosetta offender and have always considered Rosetta's continued existence in 10.6 to be primarily driven by a desire to keep Office users on the Mac passably happy. And I bet Office 2008 is getting the vast majority of the time in the Rosetta testing lab now. Evan and I are probably (in Bill & Steve's minds) supposed to upgrade. Personally, I've found myself using Office 04 more on older G4 Macs I have, and it's good to read confirmation that my thinking the performance of 04 on 10.6 stunk wasn't all in my head.

When I thought I noticed increasingly bad performance with each update from Microsoft for 2004 on my Late 2009 MacBook, I eventually erased the up-to-date version and reinstalled the original from the Office DVD - and haven't updated it. There are some serious drawbacks to doing so - security concerns, obviously, as well as small pains, like a smaller number of characters allowed in an Excel cell - but I've convinced myself that I've noticed a substantial increase in speed and performance. YMMV.


Hi Ruffin,

Thanks for the comment. I haven't used Word regularly since Word 5.1 (which I still fire up occasionally in Classic Mode on my Pismos to access the old Word format files I have archived), but I do notice that Carbon apps are relatively sluggish running in Rosetta on 10.6. Fortunately for me, the two I use most - Tex-Edit Plus and Color It! 4.5 - are so inherently fast that it's not a big deal with them, but another Carbon app that I use regularly on a limited basis, MailSmith, has really slowed down in 10.6, especially for functions like deleting multiple message files.


Hackintosh: I Gave It a Go and I Was Wrong

From Luke:

Dear Mr. Moore

You may recall, I ranted over the idea of the Hackintosh. Well, I am recanting my rant from before because for the past 4 months I've tried everything I could, and I have yet to succeed. The reason for this email is to tell you that I tried to build my own "Hackintosh". To make a long story shorter, let me say its freaking hard to setup and configure. I thought I knew what I was doing. In the end, though, a real Mac is always the best option.

I did, however, end up with a decently spec'd Windows game machine that can triple boot: Windows XP Pro, Mac OS X 10.5.8 Leopard, and Ubuntu Linux 9.1. I figure I ended up spending over $800 for my efforts. All said and done, the Mac OS X side has never fully worked . . . it literally took me one month to get the LAN to even recognize. For that, I ended up scavenging some ancient 10-year-old 10/100Base-T PCI card, and amazingly enough the Mac OS X side saw it and allowed me to use email and the Web. However, the Mac OS X side feels crippled. No matter what I did, I could not get it to recognize the Intel HD Audio. Ha ha ha. I can only laugh after fruitless hours wasted over weeks of tweaking Kexts and mind numbing hours of trying to understand EFI-X and OSx86.

Yep, the Hackintosh route is only for the tried and true hard core geek. If it was not for the fact I've learned a ton of What Not To Do, I think I should have just bought a new Mac mini and built a basic Windoze computer for all the other crap ( ha ha . . . I am still a gamer).

I still keep my PowerPC Dual G4 fired up though. It runs a nice scanner and color inkjet printer with my trusty Photoshop CS. For the Windows part of my new "Gigamac", as I refer to it, I have had to find and use Open Source or freeware apps, as I ran outta cash. The most interesting point though is this: In the four months the Windows part of the computer has been running, its suffered through over 32 virus/Trojan/malware, the Mac OS X 10.5.8 Leopard side has had none, and whereas my trusty Dual G4 Mac in its entire eight year run has had only 1 Trojan attack, and that sucker was from Microsoft Word.

Peace & thanks for letting me respond.


Hi Luke,

Thanks for the report.

I think, as you say, that hackintoshing is a pursuit for those who like to tinker and fuss with their computers. An associate of mine has been running OS X on an old Pentium 4 Dell for about four years now and claims to have just about everything working, but a real Mac would've been an awful lot easier, and definitely more satisfactory for someone who wants it to "just work."


USB Adapter for PowerBook G3

From Shea in response to CardBus USB for PowerBooks (published in 1999):


I read your old article about USB adapters for PowerBooks and was wondering if you have any updated info.

I think I have a WallStreet, and I need an adapter card (if that's the correct terminology).


Hi Shea,

It's been quite a while since I had a Mac in service that didn't have built-in USB, and the topic of USB adapter availability isn't one I've kept up with. I expect the selection available has thinned out substantially since I wrote the article you reference.

What you need is a CardBus or PC Card USB adapter. CardBus has been superseded by ExpressCard, and I would be mildly surprised if anyone is still making CardBus USB adapters, although perhaps someone is. There may be some remaindered old stock around, and used units available on say eBay.

Check out and NexTag.


Editor's note: You might want to read Adding USB 2.0 to a Titanium PowerBook G4 - the same card should work in your WallStreet. Mac OS 8.6 and later support USB 1.1 on PC Card/CardBus adapters. Mac OS X 10.1.3 and later are required for full USB 2.0 support. Some cards that claim Mac compatibility:

iPad Wireless with Dial-up

From Lloyd:

Greeting, Sir:

My wife's 40th birthday present (last week) was a 32 GB iPad. Like your household, we were long-term dial-up users, only switching to DSL last weekend. Since I prefer wireless for laptop usage, we'd been using an AirPort 'Graphite' base station to broadcast FasterMac's dial-up signal. Since the DSL hookup happened after the iPad arrived, it's first taste of the Internet was via dial-up. (I had to start the WiFi with my PowerBook 1400, but the iPad picked up the signal just fine. With some experimentation, it might be able to start the WiFi on its own)

With the world of dial-up shrinking daily (at least in North America), the chances of there being many dial-up experiences for the 'Pad community is fairly small. But it can be done, and I wanted to share that knowledge with you and the LEM community.

Best Regards,

P.S. The 'Pad is a nice entertainment device, but I prefer my Newton MP 130 for productivity uses.

Hi Lloyd,

Thanks for the insight and info.

No iPads (officially) here in Canada yet.

Dial-up is fairly rapidly disappearing in Nova Scotia, although some users are hanging on despite wider availability of broadband. I sure feels slow now that I'm acclimatized to broadband. Hard to imagine how I managed, although part of that dynamic is that websites continue to get more and more graphics heavy and complex.


Using Compact Flash as a Hard Drive in a PowerTower Pro

From Mike:

Hey, just a tip to let those interested in quiet computing with older desktop Macs know that it can be done. I was inspired to follow this path after reading the LEM articles on using Compact Flash as a hard drive* for the Pismo G3. I am now in mobile silent computing heaven!

However, my main graphics/writing machine is a PowerTower Pro with a very annoying high-pitched SCSI drive. (And, yes, I had tried everything under the sun to quiet it.)

Here's what I did. I installed a SATA FirmTek card (from OWC), the SATA-CF adapter (from Addonics), and a 16 GB CF SLC card (from NewEgg). Then I booted from CD, formatted the CF card in two partitions, and copied over the files from the hard drive to the new partitions. I used the old partition names for the new, just to make life easy. Success!

Now the only thing I hear are the case fans, the CPU fan, and the power supply fan (and those are all very quiet, due to installing quiet fans and a Seasonic power supply). The machine boots up and shuts down just as quickly and demonstrates very few hiccups. Initially I noticed some "spacing out" as performance slowed to a crawl. I turned off virtual memory to solve that, which didn't cause a performance dip, because the PTP has 768 MB of RAM. Also, indexing doesn't complete. I'm not sure what's going on there, but other than that, it's been smooth sailing. The main adjustment I've made is trusting that the computer is working even when you don't have the hard drive sounds as audio feedback.

The only other thing that I saw was that my ATTO SCSI card and the FirmTek SATA didn't play well together. Only booting from a CD allowed them both to be active at the same time. I suspect both wanted to be the boot device and this caused a failure to load the OS.


LEM articles on using Compact Flash to replace a hard drive:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the report.

Silence - even relative silence - is golden, as I fondly remember from running my PowerBooks off RAM disks back in the pre-Internet days (in this neck of the woods) with their hard drives spun down.


Blocking Flash in Firefox

From Michael,

I use AdBlock Plus for SeaMonkey and FireFox. Works for me. :-)


Sent from my G4

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the information and link.


Word Processor Perfection

From Alvin:

Hi Charles

There's something about word processors that has to be done right, I agree. There's something dreamy about having the right experience when it comes to writing. I found OpenOffice Aqua is powerful, affordable, and clean after you set it up to be as uncluttered as possible by unclicking things in the View menu. Optima font is a great font - it's like a cross between Arial and Palatino, and its very relaxing for writing. It's a great font if you're going to print it right away (it's not as legible, though, when it's smaller than the standard 12 size).

Optima font at 14 points
Optima font at 14 points - very easy on the eyes.

OpenOffice Aqua 3.2 seems to follow the WYSIWYG engine for Snow Leopard too. It does save in the standard .doc [format] as well by default. If you set the Finder's background to Nature and put it to random to frame the application. It's better to use the the right mouse button using the Ctrl-plus-mouse combo for font formatting so you can just palm grip the Magic Mouse, which is very relaxing as it's close to the hand's natural position as possible (System 9's right button mouse by holding the mouse for a few seconds would have worked, but you still have to hold it to retain the context menu). You can hide other and just focus on OpenOffice, but you could also use Spaces and just click the app's icon to switch. It takes just one time to setup things, but it's worth it after. I do like word processors like OmniWeb that goes full screen, but I think framing OpenOffice with the Finder's background is a balance, because full screen will hinder your accessibility when you want to look at the Web or if you need to paste photos on your document.

With all these in place, it becomes a balance between accessibility with the Finder, the ambiance of Ommwriter as well as its unclutteredness, the cleanliness of Pagehand, and the power of major word processing applications. Nothing will be perfect as long as it's man-made, but this setup is very close to perfect I think. Copy-paste might not be it's strength though, as you can see, after Gbu, there's a one line between Gbu and Alvin which I can't get rid of which is not present in OpenOffice .


P.S. For an affordable live partition resizer, try Ubuntu 9.1. It's just hard to resize that partition that OS X puts in the middle of partition (it's 128 MB) using that. If that 128 MB partition could be resized larger without any ill effects, then this is truly an affordable partition resizer. If not, then maybe iPartition is still better (Disk Utility is picky with resizing partitions I noticed). I'm using OS X now solely.

I still think having separate drives is safer than partitioning for another OS, even if it's USB external or FireWire - if it's just for Windows 7 for games at least. If there's more than enough memory, it'll just load everything there, and you're okay, I think. I think it's better to have USB 2 1.5 TB for Time Machine and another one for Windows 7 with less than 500 MB for games if you still have USB left in your iMac or laptop, LOL. Maybe if you're going more than one external drive - it's better to just have a DIY server (I'm thinking about it) for it (PC parts) and just install Ubuntu in an extra Flash drive to run it. For Snow Leopard to see Ubuntu, which is all that matters for Time Machine to work or maybe even the Boot Menu (hold Option shortcut) when OS X boots, it might be tricky, but once you've done that, you can use that DIY server (just make sure you have a good PC casing like my former affordable Lancool casing from Lian-Li). You can equip it with wireless if you like or use CAT5 or higher. You can have more than three drives for not much money compared to buying external drives or external enclosures. Ubuntu's system is also a great backup when your Mac fails; it'll run and save using the CD or the Flash drive (it's very easy to install in a flash drive). Ubuntu 9.1 is Dvorak recommended (very skeptical, but he does makes sense too, LOL). It's also a great backup OS when you need to edit files on your Mac hard disk and OS X won't boot right.

Hi Alvin,

Thanks for the comments, and glad you've found a word processor you like.

I still find that my tag team of Tex-Edit Plus and TextWrangler do about 98% of my text crunching lately. When I need word processor capability (e.g.: Word document open/save support) lately, I've been using Bean, which is a nice little program, but I miss the text manipulation features and superb AppleScriptability of TE+.

I have two partitions on my MacBook's internal drive (currently with Leopard and Snow Leopard installed respectively) plus an external hard drive dedicated to Time Machine backups - and two others for hard drive clones and overflow storage. Probably an external drive is the way to go for running Linux.



Those two are pretty powerful and small, lots of automation. I just tried them a little bit just now. I might be using TextWrangler every so often, 'cause it's integrated with Xcode. Ommwriter is really something else; it just needs a little more powerful and make it more technical, as I've suggested to it's developer, without cluttering it's cool interface, which would be a tough challenge. Maybe having it full screen is like going back to the past when we used to be more focused and lasted longer, 'cause we were more relaxed. Nowadays, there's so much going on, so much information at one time, on top of multitasking we find it a little hard to focus and finish one thing.

I think multitasking is a kind of an illusion anyway. You're really just doing one thing at a time. We could actually get rid of the Dock, interfaces, buttons, and menus and focus on just the document just as you would in real life, if say you're drawing or writing on your pad or notebook. Although you're focused on one thing, it's possible that you're waiting for something you started earlier to finish. So multitasking seems to be just doing one thing now while the others run in the background. It doesn't have to be presented all at the same time.

I think the iPhone/iPad OS should be on the desktops too, soon (the iPhone is really multitasking, 'cause it could run the stopwatch in the background while a song is playing while you're surfing the Web in there, it's just not presented at the same time), because it is very efficient, the apps are small but are powerful (you could combine things at the same time with your fingers as opposed to the keyboard and mouse where you really are just doing one thing at a time when you type a letter or point the mouse come to realize it now as I type this). It just looks like you're multitasking, because the keyboard and mouse, the elements on the iMac i7's screen is presented at the same time, which may be another word for cluttered computing, LOL).

For the normal user and those who are a little technical and don't want to tweak the insides of the OS's system or need to monitor things like a stockbroker or nuclear technician would, apps free of menus and scroll bars in full screen and multitouch is a savior. If they could just make a screen that wipes out grease from our fingers instantly and make the display lighter (OLED or something else), it would be nice to have a 90" surround Avatar-like iMac soon (or at least a 30"), and if that Light Peak tech makes the Web faster, I think we won't need a CPU or hard disk or a GPU in our homes or offices. We just need a multitouch screen and a gesture that is an equivalent to Command-Tab to switch between other full screen apps.

And then it would be 2012 and the second coming, LOL (I strongly believe that because as a sign, light technology for transmitting binary info to and fro is the limit. Maybe it's God's sign that when you've reached that, He will come again)

Ommwriter's full screen and ambiance concept is the app of the future (it's just recycling the past actually) I think in our high stress world (brought about by technology, ha ha - iPhone in one hand, iPad on the other, Facebook, emails telling you someone sent you a gift on FB, WOW addiction, etc.), which is really caused by people's lack of absolute control though. The things have owned a lot of people nowadays instead of the other way around. The background photo is perfect too; it's icy and feel very soothing. I'm sure the combination of those alpha waves or beta waves that helps us work better, LOL. I noticed I keep coming back to Ommwriter and even making up for its shortcomings by copy/pasting what I've done there to say Xcode's text editor (or soon to an HTML5 editor. There's so much tools for the Internet to format the page the way you like it - Flash, Java, CSS, HTML, etc. I hope HTML5 simplifies them and really replaces Flash and Java).

Try Ommwriter again, at least for simply the therapeutic/relaxing effect of writing (it's really a psychology thing, when you express yourself either by talking or something else, or through art maybe, it relaxes you - again maybe it's those alpha and beta waves the brain produces again, that it produces, he he . But really, for me for those waves to be started it starts with the individual's soul being uplifted when it shares itself and the gifts God gives it who would give opportunities for use to share it or not).



Hi Alvin,

Well, the world does seem to be going your way with the popularity of the iPad (and soon myriad Windows and Android competitors), touchscreen smartphones, and so forth.

Personally, I'm not enthusiastic about touchscreens, much preferring conventional keyboard and pointing device input.

I have to say that fullscreen application windows have never much appealed to me either. I tend to prefer keeping tabs on what's going on in the background.

However, if touchscreens and fullscreen float your boat, more power to you. It's a matter of subjective taste I guess.


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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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