Charles Moore's Mailbag

Apple's iOS Offensive, Android vs. Eudora Email, and iBook G4 Motherboard Failure

Charles Moore - 2010.07.21 - Tip Jar

Macs and the iOS Offensive

From John in response to Is the Mac Facing a 'Walled Garden' Future?:

Hi Charles,

I understand your central point: that Apple's focus has moved from the Mac to iOS, and that much of the philosophy of the latter really doesn't appeal to you. I quite agree this is going on. But we differ on where we see it headed.

You mention Apple's "beleaguered" days in your post. Cupertino certainly remembers those. Indeed, the entire historic experience of the Mac is hard wired in the company's culture. It was Apple's hard work which brought technological breakthrough with the Mac - and what they learned from Xerox they paid in shares - but it was Microsoft which reaped the riches in their eventual cornering of the desktop market.

Steve Jobs got to see this happen twice, given his experience at NeXT, which was another platform asphyxiated by the generic choice. The lesson was: who plays hardest wins. When you have the product, and the platform, of the future lying in your hands, you are only halfway to the finish. The real contest is who wins in the market.

So, my take on the rapid progress in iOS and the App Store is that Apple is as focussed as it has ever been on doing everything it can to bolster the platform's success while it has the lead. Notice how at every iOS event and quarterly AAPL investor call, Jobs and Cook highlight iPhone uptake in the enterprise. Big business was, of course, the Mac's most critical weakness when taking on the IBM PC. Notice, too, how every time the App Store is mentioned, the story is all about the sheer volume and diversity of apps. It was the scarcity of third-party software which made the Mac a risky choice even when it was a clear generation ahead of the competition. And for every charge of walled garden paternalism, Apple does respond that there's nothing locked down about the Web, and Mobile Safari is at the forefront of supporting the latest, greatest, and downright weird it has to offer.

True, some of us - especially those like you and I who have drawers filled with cables and adapters - flinch at the notion that our hardware is not our own. We dislike the lack of ports and plug-ins, and we feel worse unease that every piece of software we want to run must first be blessed by Apple. But we know all too well, along with every other go to/family tech support, how much chaos and downright malice can be done on people's computers by crafty hacks and Trojans. With administrative power comes great responsibility. The App Store is one way to address this, and quite possibly it is one which will not scale to last the long term. But right now it's a benevolent triangle which is quite the envy of the industry: mainstream users don't have to fear malware and untested software, developers don't have to battle rampant piracy or worry about a myriad of compatibility concerns, and Apple ensures its platform.

But will this come to the Mac? I don't think so. Firstly, you need a Mac to develop iOS software. When working on code, you need the keys to the ignition, as it were. I can't see how Apple could wrap Xcode up inside the App Store without all manner of technical mess. Secondly, I doubt Apple sees a need. The Mac is the Mac. Our platform's doing quite nicely, in full maturity, dominating the high end of personal computing.

The iOS offensive is Apple striking while the iron's hot. That time has long passed for the Macintosh. This is not to say the platform's doomed, far from it: Windows' best days are far behind. But even the most optimistic among us finds it a stretch to imagine the Mac having the same leading market share as iOS. We're decades into a very different history that Apple is quite determined not to have to repeat with the iPhone.

How I see the future panning out is fairly simple. The Mac sees slow but steady improvement, hardware and software, for the next few years ahead as its maturity is reached. The iPhone, and perhaps especially iPad, flourish to become the truly personal computer for the mainstream, draining the Windows market. I'm quite sure this is what Steve Jobs was talking about at the D8 conference: that full blown personal computers like the Mac will be around for as long as we can imagine, but fewer of us will need them as the iOS class of devices grows to suit our needs.

And for those of us with other ideas, yes, there's always desktop Linux. I await the day it finally surpasses Windows in user base. Though I expect that they will both be behind iOS and the realm of its competitors. Definitely interesting times ahead.


Hi John,

Thank you for the thoughtful, insightful, and interesting commentary. I can't find anything to disagree with in your analysis, other than perhaps your confidence that desktop Linux will someday eclipse Windows. I wish, but DT Linux has remained in the 1% market share slot for as long as I've been following HitsLink's monthly reports.


Verizon Android vs. Eudora 8.0

From Toni:

I read your column on Eudora 8 with great interest & great dismay. I am not a Mac user, instead stuck with a PC. I am a huge devotee of Eudora and am still using the last Qualcomm version. It was great to read of someone else who was still a fan. I am also a user with many multiple accounts that I must check daily and really appreciated Eudora's speed (agility maybe is a better word?) and ability to give me a combined "in" box, plus all the control over what accounts to check when.

I would probably use the old version forever, except for the fact that I now have a Verizon Android phone, as do several of my staff. Unfortunately, something about how Verizon transmits the messages will not come through in plain text to Eudora (which most of my staff uses as well.)

Anyway, I just wanted to write and say thanks for the info. Despite the fact that your article was for a different platform, some of it was very much applicable. Call me still in search of a good replacement for Eudora!


Hi Toni,

Glad my article was useful to you.

If you want the closest to classic Eudora appearance and operation in an up-to-date application, you should check out MailForge, version 2.0.1 of which was just released.

MailForge is a new, classic Eudora-style email client that Infinity Data Systems started developing in late 2007. It's a nice email client and quite Eudora-like. It supports both Mac OS X 10.3 and up, and Windows 2000 or later.

MailForge is $39.95 commercial software, but currently on sale for $19.95. It's also 30-day demoware, so you can check it out with no commitment.

Perhaps your search will be over.

I'd be interested in hearing your impressions of MailForge if you decide to try it.


iBook G4 Motherboard Failure

From Adam:

A friend of mine was helping another friend try to get her 800 MHz G4 iBook working again, and they both finally gave up in frustration. He asked me if I was able to disassemble and format the hard drive to clear off all the personal data before it went to recycling. Knowing the sought after nature of the 12" model, I offered him $20 for the whole thing, thinking I could strip it for parts and at least get my money back (imagine my happy surprise at opening it to find an AirPort Extreme card, well worth the $20 alone). I got it home, and through repeated restarts and PRAM zappings I was able to get it to run long enough to install a fresh copy of OS X 10.4 before it would go black and spin up the fans to full speed.

Imagine my joy upon reading your mailbag column to find that very issue discussed! As soon as I get home from work, I will be breaking out my soldering iron to try to restore this little guy to it's former glory. Usually I get first dibs on obsolete tech from my friends, and for that reason have an office (and basement) full of old Power Macs, iMacs, and various non-working systems. I will be thrilled if I can move something so nice as a G4 laptop from the non-working pile to the usable pile. I'll finally have a laptop newer than the old 145b I got from my dad when he moved.


Hi Adam,

Delighted to hear that the Mailbag entry was an inspiration. I would be very interested to hear how things go with your repair attempt.

PowerBook 145b, eh? That goes back a bit. What version of the OS are you running on it?



The 145b is running 7.1. From oldest to newest, I have a 512K with video problems, an SE SuperDrive running either 6.0.8 or 7.1, depending on the startup disk (my first computer, and what I learned my first programming language on), PB 145b. Then I skip a bunch of years and go straight to G3 iMacs and Power Macs of various speeds (I recently acquired a mint iMac DV with all its original packaging), 3 G4 Power Macs of the 450 DP, 500 DP and 800 Quicksilver varieties, a 1.42 GHz eMac with a hole burned in the analog board (which I intend to do an LCD swap into), and a 2006 Mac Pro. I haven't yet figured out where this little iBook fits in there yet.

The various G3s are loaded with Mac OS 8 through OS X 10.3, the G4s all have 10.5 (aside from the iBook, which has very little RAM), and I'm running the latest and greatest on my Pro, which is my main production machine. Once I get my garage set up as my workshop, I will be moving the SE out there along with its Ethernet bridge so that I can use it, its wonderful Extended II keyboard and Grackle68k to post to my business Twitter account. Most everything else between the SE and the Pro is for sale or in pieces.

The problem with the 145b is that while it runs great and has no problems as far as disk errors or RAM, the display gets really terrible ghosting once it warms up. So while it's fun to play Dark Castle or Tetris on for a while, after so long it just becomes annoying to use. I think it will probably be resigned to the display case of weird and interesting stuff.


Hi Adam,

Quite a collection. They do tend to accumulate. I have a Mac Plus (my first Mac) which dual boots Systems 7 and 6.0.8; an LC 520 running a hybrid System 7.5.5 with Open Transport from System 7.6 grafted in; a PowerBook 5300 (OS 8.1), a 200 MHz 604a SuperMac S900 clone running OS 9.2, a PowerBook 1400 (OS 8.1), three G4/SuperDrive upgraded Pismos - two of them working - running OS 10.4; a G3 iBook (not running), a 17" 1.33 GHz PowerBook G4 in daily use by my wife in OS 10.5, and a Late 2008 Unibody MacBook running OS 10.5 and 10.6. They all are in working condition, save for the iBook (suspected motherboard) and one of the Pismos (power manager board).


Ooof. Leave it to the pros. Or at least people with really good eyesight. I tried the soldering method. Luckily I didn't break the iBook any further (that I can tell). But unless you have a needle-tipped soldering iron, don't even attempt something like this. I'm pretty handy with a soldering iron - I've been putting together and taking apart (mostly taking apart) electronics since I was a young kid, but even my fine tipped soldering iron dwarfed anything on that board I was working on. In my attempt to reconnect the solder joints of the problem chip, I accidentally touched the iron to a surface mount resistor. It of course instantly melted its own solder joints and stuck to the side of my iron. No amount of coaxing and careful placement with tweezers could get that thing back in place. I'm not sure what it does, but the computer doesn't run any worse (or better) than before. Maybe if I were to use a sewing needle, vise-grips, and a small blowtorch, I could get everything back to where it is supposed to be, but that seems like an awful lot of effort for something I got for so cheap. I think at this point I'm going to chalk this one up as "experience" and throw the AirPort card in a G4 tower.


Hi Adam,

I think that's a wise decision, although it was a worthy experiment. I haven't yet heard of anyone who's successfully repaired one of these iBook mobos, although it may be possible.

The thing is, however, that you can buy a working iBook so cheaply that it's hardly worth the effort to try and repair one other than as an interesting challenge.


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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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