Charles Moore's Mailbag

Pismo Won't Boot from Hard Drive, Firefox 4 Requirements, Extending USB Mouse Range, and More

Charles Moore - 2010.08.26 - Tip Jar

Pismo No Longer Boots from Internal Hard Drive

From Anthony:

Hi Charles,

I was looking through Low End Mac this evening and thought I would send in a question in case you might have a solution. My Pismo [PowerBook] and I have had a great working relationship for the last ten years; all of my major academic papers have been written on it, and I hope to have it around long enough to finish my dissertation.

This March a friend tripped over the power cord, and my Pismo fell from a table. From then it would not boot from the internal hard drive. The drive, in an external enclosure, still works and mounts on a friend's desktop. It also will boot the machine from the FireWire enclosure. I tried installing a spare hard drive (the original, which I know still works) in the drive sled; alas, the machine will not recognise it and boot.

As far as I can tell, the drive ribbon cable is connected securely. Might the cable itself have been damaged in the fall?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,

Hi Anthony,

Unless something is visibly disconnected, addressing this sort of issue is pretty much a trial and error dynamic. So far, you've done all the right things.

It is possible (but seems unlikely) that the ribbon cable might be damaged, but a dislodged connector somewhere in the bowels of your Pismo is a more likely probability. A damaged logic board circuit would be a possibility as well.

You're probably looking at a teardown and inspection, hopefully finding that it's a loose cable connection. iFixit's teardown guide to Pismo will show you what that would entail and walk you through it if you decide to proceed.

Hope you can isolate the problem and get your Pismo in good health again.


Firefox 4 for Macs Requires Intel and OS X 10.5 or Later

From Luke:

Unfortunately, Firefox 4 Beta is only available to Windows. Not sure why. But for when I am forced to use Windows, I thoroughly like using FF4. I loathe IE and will not use it unless it's for some required training. Am still using only PPC Mac, but it has one drive with Tiger and one drive with Leopard. So on Leopard on the PPC Mac, Firefox 3.6.8, Safari 5.0.1 and Opera v? I have been using.


Hi Luke,

Firefox 4 is not supported by OS X 10.4, but it does work fine with 10.5 Leopard on Intel Macs. There has been some confusion due to the Mozilla FireFox 4 Release Notes page still linking to system requirements for version 3.6, which say it supports OS X 10.4. It doesn't. However, OS 10.5 and up are supported for Intel.

More on this topic in Firefox 3.6 Likely the Last for PowerPC Macs.

The marquee FF4 feature is Tab Panorama - a tab organizer that lets you group and prioritize open tabs, and with one keystroke bring up an overview of all tabs so you can quickly locate the tab you're looking for and switch among tabs or groups of tabs.

You can view Aza Raskin's (the son of "father of the Mac" Jef Raskin) video introducing Tab Panorama (née Tab Candy).

For more information on Firefox 4.0b4 see Episode 4: A New Look on the Mozilla website.

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.5 and later (Intel only)
  • G4 or G5 processor
  • 128 MB RAM
  • 200 MB disk space

System Support:

  • Intel

Release Notes (see comment on system requirements above) here:

Download link 4.0b4, English (US), Mac OS X (19 MB):


Extending Range for a USB Mouse

From LEM columnist Adam Rosen in response to 'Perhaps the Mouse Is Passé' in last week's Mac News Review:

Bradley also declaims that "wired mice have the obvious handicap of being tethered to a limited range and constantly getting the wire tangled or caught."

Editor's note: Why in the world do you need extended range with a computer mouse (aside from perhaps the odd unusual circumstance)? Personally, these days I lean toward gaming mice like the Razer Orochi and the SteelSeries Ikiri, partly because they still offer the option of hard-wired connectivity, unlike current mainstream mice which are overwhelmingly wireless. Serious gamers won't put up with the imprecision of wireless connections. cm

Other editor's note: The USB specification supports cables up to 3 meters (9'10") for low speed devices, which includes most mice and keyboards, and up to 5 meters (16'5") for high speed devices. And when that's not long enough, you can always use a powered USB hub to extend your reach. Really, how far away from your computer are you going to use your mouse? dk

Hi guys, love the dual editor's notes! You're both right about computer mice generally not needing extended range, but I can give you one example of where this was in fact necessary.

At the recording studio where I used to work, the studios all had separate machine rooms to hold amps, power supplies, computers, and other noisy items with fans. This kept the control rooms quieter and provided for proper cooling of the equipment. The engineer sat at the mixing console with the monitor, mouse, and keyboard on a side table or swing arm. KVM cabling ran between the two locations, which for some the largest rooms could be a 50 to 100 foot run.

Back in the days of ADB Macs (or serial mouse ports on PCs), running a single cable this entire distance was sufficient. When USB became the interface, we were faced with the 5 meter limitation. Our solution was to extend the cables using a series of powered USB hubs, which acted as repeaters. This worked, but had less reliability than a single cable or hub solution - occasional reboots of the computer and all hubs were required.

Subsequent redesigns of each room shortened the distances, and now the whole thing can be done wirelessly. But there are indeed unusual circumstances requiring using a USB mouse 50 feet away from a computer!


Hi Adam,

As I said, "aside from perhaps the odd unusual circumstance". :-)

A device ideal for those who do need remote pointing is Targus' "for Mac" Bluetooth Presenter, which Targus claims is the only wireless presentation remote control device of its type currently on the market dedicated to Mac users.

I reviewed it for PBCentral in 2009.


Dualling Comments

From Dan Knight, Low End Mac's publisher:


LOL. Sometimes Charles and I agree; other times we have different viewpoints. It's nice being able to add those comments to some news briefs.

Thanks for the info. I sometimes wish my 3 dual-processor G4 Power Macs were in another room, as they generate so much heat. On the other hand, that's a nice thing in the winter!


Looking for a SCSI-to-Ethernet Adapter

From Troy Phillips:

Hi Mr. Moore,

Back in 2004, you had a couple sources for SCSI-to-Ethernet adapters for older Macs (in my case, trying to get the SE online). Those sources lead to dead pages.

You don't happen to know of any others? eBay was a bust today.



Hi Troy,

I did find this page, Old Macintosh System Software and TCP/IP, which may be helpful.

Perhaps Dan Knight or some of our readers can help.

Getting a 68k Mac online will be a challenge for sure nowadays. My old Mac Plus was barely marginal for email a dozen years ago.

Good luck!


Original Software for Vintage Macs

From Amir:

I now have over 80 different Macs. From Mac 512K, Plus, SE, SE/30, some Quadras/Performas, Power Mac 7100AV, 8550, 9600, beige & blue/white G3, G4's, G5's & a Mac mini. There are a number of PowerBooks: the entire 100 series, Portable, Duo's, 1400, 5300, G3's, 12" G4 & 17" G4. I also have retail CD's of 7.6, 9, 9.21 and others that are machine specific.

My question: How do I find what was the software originally installed on specialty Macs, such as AV models and servers?

One of my recent purchases was the 7100AV - the seller told me that his friend "cleaned" it. After starting it - all that I found was the System Folder. This is in contrast to other Macs that have a lot of applications installed and personal data.

Thanks in advance.

PS - One of my WallStreets is 300 MHz, and it has 8.6, 9.22, and 10.2.8 on separate partitions.

Hi Amir,

There's a list for very early machines in Apple Macintosh before System 7.

This Apple page should also be of some help: Macintosh: System Software Version History

As will this one: Mac OS 8 and 9 Compatibility with Macintosh Computers

This might be helpful as well: Mac System: From System 1 to System 7


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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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