Charles Moore's Mailbag

Mac Browser Options, Rain and Internet Problems, Strange Keyboard Behavior, and More

Charles Moore - 2010.06.10 - Tip Jar

Camino a Great Browser for Tiger

From Alejandro, following up on Another Browser for Tiger:


Opera is indeed a great browser. The new version, 10.60, is on the horizon - let's hope that it resolves the issues you're having.

I actually tend to use Camino on my Tiger machines. Though it is not as rich in features as OmniWeb or Opera, it is light (particularly the optimised versions maintained at and so runs excellently on older hardware. Also, it is likely to support Tiger for a while yet: It supported Panther 'til just recently.


Hi Alejandro,

I love Opera, and the version 10.60 public alpha is available for download. I've been using it for several days, and it's the fastest Opera build yet.

Notwithstanding its alpha status, I've encountered no stability issues or bugginess, other than that it, like versions 10.52 and 10.53 before it, performs abominably on the Pismo in OS X 10.4. I've found that Opera 10.51 is the last decent-behaving Opera build on that rig, but 10.60 is excellent on the Intel Mac.

Opera's developers have done a major rewrite of the Opera Framework, replacing Carbon with Cocoa, then gone back and further removed as much Carbon code as they could, which perhaps helps explain issues I've encountered running 10.52 and 10.53 on the PPC machine, along with the fact that there is no Java support for Mac OS X 10.4 at all in version 10.60. My advice: If you're still running Tiger, stick with version 10.53 (the current Opera final) or earlier builds if you find 10.53 crash and/or stall prone.


Editor's note: The number of excellent browsers is another reason to love the Mac. You can try them all for free and decide which one best fits your needs and work style. Here are Low End Mac headquarters, Camino is the default browser on all of my Macs, whether with OS X 10.4 or 10.5. Firefox takes the #2 spot, and I rarely used Opera or Safari. Think (and work) different! dk

A Fast, Free Browser for Dialup Internet

From Mike:


Read your article on going back to dialup Internet. I have had a couple of slowdowns in the recent past, which it turns out was tied to my cable modem. While waiting for a replacement, I used an emergency dialup account, and like you, was supremely frustrated waiting for my usual websites to load in. In desperation, I downloaded a text-only browser that runs in a Terminal window, called Lynx.

I downloaded it from Apple's website at this link. It took some time to download, but it was worth it for emergencies.

It is text-only, using keyboard navigation, so no fancy web pages graphics or videos. Just a terminal window and text, with the barest of page formatting so you can see what you are looking at. But it did allow me to read my news websites and Low End Mac during those dialup days effectively, and any text in whatever website that I needed.

The big advantage here is that even on a slow dialup connection, it runs beautifully since it is only pulling in text. Kind of reminded me of the bygone days of "bulletin boards", which I am just old enough to remember.

Anyway, just thought I'd share.


Hi Mike,

Thanks for sharing.

I used a little text browser called WannaBe on dialup for years and found it a great speeder-upper. Unfortunately, it is a Classic app., so was a goner for me when I updated to Leopard, although I can still use it in Classic Mode on the Pismos in OS X 10.4.

WannaBe text-based browser
The WannaBe text-based browser for the Classic Mac OS.

It's got a GUI interface, so is nicer to use than Lynx - I'm not much of a command line artist.

I've found that Opera with either the Turbo compression feature enabled or the images turned off - or both - speeds things up considerably on dialup.


Rain and Internet Problems

From Adam:

Hi Charles,

Saw your column today about your Internet access problems with heavy rain:

"I've been revisiting the alternate universe of dialup Internet this week - and not liking it a bit. Well, except for the fact that it works, which my wireless broadband has decided not to do whenever it rains, or even when a heavy dew is down."

This isn't uncommon. Often it indicates a moisture problem with a damp connection or wire with failing insulation, not a problem with the wireless transmission. If the transmitter or receiver cabling has gotten damp in your downpours, you could see those results.

Do you have cell phone data service in your area, as an alternative to dialup?


Hi Adam,

The thing is, this issue just manifested suddenly last week after nine months of non-problematical service through many heavy rain events. The coincidence with the appearance of the new leaves on the trees seems too close to dismiss.

Charles Moore lives in rural Nova Scotia.

The first questions both the support tech and the service dispatcher asked me was whether there were trees in line between the antenna and the wireless tower. I cut down a dozen or so more trees yesterday, and so far reception has been great, but it's dry.

Cell coverage is not so hot here. The nearest fringe for GSM is about 30 miles away as the crow flies. We had only analog cellphone service here until a couple of years ago, and you often had to be on top of a hill to get it. I think there's digital service here now from one provider, but I haven't researched it and am not sure whether data is offered. I don't have a cell phone.

There's DSL available about nine miles away in two directions, but we're outside its reach. The only alternative to wireless and dialup I've heard of anyone using here is satellite, but it costs about twice as much as the wireless service aside from the hardware, setup, and licensing costs.


Hi Charles,

Maybe you should move? :)

There may be some new growth near the transmitter antenna, perhaps that's blocking the signal at the source and with lots of moisture scatters things even more. Did your ISP tech support note if anybody else was experiencing problems?

A soaking rain for a few days in a row often causes problems in wiring that normal rain and weather does not. My last job was in a old building in downtown Boston served by decades-old copper phone wiring. Our phone and T1 service often took hits when we had heavy rain for multiple days and the underground cables got damp. Things finally got fixed when Verizon was browbeaten into running new fiber to the building to keep our business!


Hi Adam,

I know you being facetious, but we did experimentally put the house up for sale three years ago, and lack of access to broadband was one of the major reasons.

However, we had only a few nibbles at the price we were asking, and even with the vicissitudes of dealing with broadband problems and living 50 miles from the nearest town, it would be hard to give up this lakeside property of 130 wooded acres half a mile from a lovely ocean sand beach, in a quiet, virtually no-crime community.

As for significant new growth around the tower, it's doubtful, since it was only built last year. The tech support folks checked other customers in the area and found that a few were having problems. The topography in this area is very hilly with varying amounts of foliage, so immediate local reception is quite idiosyncratic. There are homes less than two miles from here that can't get the wireless signal at all.

Also, the local landline phone infrastructure is ancient copper wiring with contemporaneous vintage switching equipment, which is why dialup connections are limited to 26,400 bps on good days. It's maddening, because a fiber optics line runs past us within sight of my office window, and there's been a spur of fiber optic cable coiled and hanging on a pole by the switching station since 2005, but it's not supported by the antiquated switching hardware, and a Telco service guy told me it would cost some C$200,000 to upgrade it. With fewer than 25 homes within range, the business case isn't there.


Keynote Disables Screen Saver

From Steven, following up on OS X 10.5 Works on the Late 2009 Mac mini:

"I've noted several silly problems is Snow Leopard that don't manifest in Leopard."

In our case, Snow Leopard would disable the screen saver when Keynote was running. I guess that's a feature, but not when you're running a digital sign and don't want people to see the desktop when the slides loop.

Sent from my iPhone


Strange Keyboard Behavior

From Vic:

Hi Charles,

I have enjoyed reading very many of your columns.

I am puzzled by strange behavior with my machine and am hopeful that your readers may point me in a direction to resolve a curious issue.

Please excuse that it will take a number of words to explain this:

I recently decided I could not take my G3 Pismo's inability to play video. I love the Pismo, but the G3 processor doesn't work well for lots of video on the Web.

So I returned to my G4 Titanium. I copied lots of files to the Titanium, from the Pismo. I attempted to copy all the OS 9 files from the Pismo. It mentioned some couldn't be copied because of permissions. There was a problem with OS 9 hanging during installation, I rebooted. OS 9 seemed to work.

Here's the strange behavior:

I first noticed in Google email, then in TextEdit, and in Mail. My cursor jumps wildly over the page. I will be typing something, then the 'focus' of the cursor will jump elsewhere on the page.

! The text would write from right to left! Yes, right to left! To left - this is what it looks like!

??gniyonna yreV :TFEL ot thgiR

When I type a word and touch the spacebar once, it becomes two spaces. It is not consistent. The backspace delete key may forward delete, perhaps not. When I type a space after a word, there will then be two spaces. Typing a comma, followed by a space becomes two commas. Same for single quote, question mark followed by a space.

The spacebar somehow causes two spaces to appear, and the cursor jumps around the page. This means a word I am typing can wind up elsewhere on the page.

Lastly, sometimes a backspace/deletion will have odd effects.

It seems to me that there used to be a way of getting a computer to write left to right as a joke, to consternate people sitting down at your computer. I've never done it, but I am sure I've read it in one of the books on operating systems, either OS 9 or OS X.

This is a sample of what I get:

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog,, and the

** When I touch the spacebar, another space is added. Two spaces between each word.

What''s going on??

The second question mark happens when I touch the space bar..

The second space comes after I start typing the next word..


When I type the space after a word,, a second space is inserted after the one space.. When I type a space after a single quote, double quote.

The worst is when typing and the words become right to left - very disconcerting: I don't expect people to use a mirror to read my email.

Any thoughts you or others may have would be greatly appreciated. For now I've reverted to the Pismo, which works, but video is lacking.

I'd like to return to the G4 Titanium, as I don't think I can find an affordable G4 for the Pismo.

Sorry for so many words, but I'm trying to be clear.

Oh, and sometimes it won't send email.

Backspace gives the message:

"Are you sure you want to leave this page? Your message has not been sent. Click OK to continue, or Cancel to stay on this page"

Thanks in Advance.


Later: Strange Behavior Resolved

Dear Charles,

I am breathing better. The problem has been solved.

I looked at my notes, realized the problem subsequent to my turning off the machine when it locked up while installing OS 9.

Therefore, I copied OS 9 from my FireWire drive to the Titanium: Now email works as it should, TextEdit works as it should, and I had left out in my message that Pages would crash when I tried to open it. Now Pages opens & I can use it.

Simple solution: Reinstall OS 9.

Strange Behavior, indeed.

God Bless Ya!


Hi Vic,

I'm very happy to hear that you were able to sort this one out, because it was a real head-scratcher, and I wouldn't have been much help.

Ah, for the days when one could just drag a known-good copy of Mac OS Classic from drive to drive, or for that matter, create a quick, bootable System Folder by simply making a new folder, dragging in a System File, an Appearance file, and a couple of others, naming it System Folder, and you were good to go. Life was so much simpler then.

Thanks for reading and for the kind words.


Hi Charles,

It is nice to hear from you, as I have enjoyed many, many columns of helpful, interesting thoughts from you over time.

I thought I was out of the woods, but when I went to partition my drive I found I didn't have OS X Disk Utility: Apparently when I copied over OS 9 I excised some OS X files.

Knowing I will need OS X Disk Utility at a future (or sooner) date, I reinstalled Tiger - it is sooo good to have System disks handy. It's nice to have OS 9 (on a separate partition). Things are well.

I am soo glad I backed up my data to a FireWire drive. Much quicker - only one day into the night moving from the FireWire drive back to the Titanium.

I love my Pismo, but I like to look at video, and haven't seen an affordable G4 upgrade to the Pismo.

Life goes on,

Thanks for your great work in your columns,

God Bless Ya,

Hi Vic,

I make sure to keep my System Restore and OS installer disks in a safe place. If you use any computer long enough, you're going to end up having to reinstall the OS for one reason or another.

I agree with you about video support and the Pismo - the non-upgradable video card with its paltry 8 MB of VRAM is probably that wonderful machine's biggest Achilles' heel. I just don't bother on the Pismos. Video performance is fine on the MacBook with its Nvidia GeForce 9400M integrated graphics and 4 GB of RAM.

With the horizon in sight for OS X 10.4 as a practical Web OS (although Apple did upgrade Safari for Tiger to version 4.1 this week with some of the Safari 5 tweaks, which was more than I had expected), it's getting hard to justify the cost of a G4 upgrade for the old Pismo. Since you've got the TiBook, why not use it?

I'm also a fan of FireWire hard drives as the ideal backup medium and alternate boot media if your Mac supports FireWire, which unfortunately my MacBook does not. It will boot from an external boot drive, but not with the grace and speed of a FireWire drive.

Good to Know I'm Not Alone

From anonymous by request:

Dear Mr. Moore,

During one of my occasional perusals of Low End Mac, I was surprised to find a correspondence between you and another with regards to beliefs. What surprised me even more was your not being ashamed to say exactly what you believe and feel, in an age where Christianity is quickly becoming a social taboo. I just wanted to tell you that your writing on this subject was encouraging to me.

You see, I'm going into computer science . . . and I am also a believer in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But I don't know whether any of my classmates are also Christian. One has told me she is, but I don't really know her that well. The rest I can only speculate about. It's such an awkward thing to ask someone about these days. Worst of all though, my own professor, while he's a good guy and a great teacher, hates creationism and basically worships computers.

I, of course, find Christian fellowship in and serve at a local church, and that's good . . . but I feel I want to see if there are any groups of Christian Computer Scientists/Engineers that I could explore. Do you know of any such organizations?

Hi Anonymous,

I'm delighted to hear that my musings were encouraging to you.

I've been a newspaper op-ed commentator for a long time, no stranger to controversy and debate, and people sometimes vigorously disagreeing with me, so I'm comfortable stating my personal perspectives publicly on almost any subject, although one tries to be contextually and situationally appropriate in doing so. I appreciate that it can be difficult in many circumstances nowadays to boldly declare one's Christian faith, and this has been the case for probably longer than we might first imagine in academic circles. Theodore Roszak wrote in Where the Wasteland Ends that (pardon the lengthy citation, but it speaks to your dilemma):

"When I was in college (the middle fifties) I learned the death of God like a data point in freshman survey courses."

"Of the needs of the spirit one simply did not speak; the very word was without negotiable meaning in educated company. This, I rapidly learned, was the most intellectually intolerable aspect of personality and accordingly the most repressed. One might discourse in luscious detail about one's sex life in fact and fantasy; but how gauche, how offensive to introduce anything even vaguely religious into serious conversation."

"For many committed intellectuals and radical activists - those who have spearheaded the struggle for social democracy - [transcendence] has been imperiously crowded out by the demands of conscience. In the moral conviction of these crusaders without a god, a science-based humanism and the left-wing anti-clerical legacy have combined to make religion an intolerable distraction from social responsibility. And how the religious, who came to the cause so late in the day, have learned to blush and cringe before the moral fire of militant humanism!"

"This is unique - terrifyingly unique. Never before have those who would speak for the transcendent ends of life had so little cultural purchase. In times past the saints and sages have had to suffer the hypocrisy of the world, and its neglect; but their vision was never denied its validity or righteously eclipsed. They have never had to apologise for their knowledge of God or hide it away like a guilty secret."

St. Paul is inspirational on this: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith'." (Rom. 1:16-17).

The Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences has a computer science subgroup of computer scientists and mathematicians who teach computer science.

There are also quite a few Christian colleges and universities with computer science programs. Here are a few links:


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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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