Charles Moore's Mailbag

New MacBook Pro Makes Old Affordable, Say No to DRM and Intel Graphics, No Rosetta in Lion, and More

Charles Moore - 2011.03.03 - Tip Jar

New MacBook Pro Makes Previous Model Affordable

From Jacek in Poland:

Dear Charles:

I kept silence not because I forgot you and your splendid (for me) writing that I follow with joy and admiration, but because I am afraid that you are rather busy - and when you are not, you deserve some rest. So I just would like to confess that I am very happy indeed because of the last line of the MBP's introduced just few days ago. Why? because of the prices of former edition 13" 2.4 GHz MacBook Pro went down, specially if refurbished, and all this allowed me to get for money imaginable for me such machine. I expect to receive it in few weeks, and I am so happy, that because of this run for newer and newer solutions prices of older machines are going down, making them available for some of us. Long live low-ending!

As always

Hi Jacek,

Always good to hear from you. I'm delighted to hear that you're getting a 13" MacBook Pro at an attractive price. As you probably remember, the 2.0 GHz Unibody MacBook I'm typing this reply on is an Apple Certified Refurbished (ACR) unit, and like the other three ACR Apple products I've purchased over the last several years, it was cosmetically perfect and has been a reliable and trouble-free performer.

I've pretty much decided to upgrade to one of the new Core "i" 13" MacBook Pros but will wait until Certified Refurbished ones become available and are sold with OS X 10.7 Lion installed.


Editor's note: We've just published our Early 2011 13" MacBook Pro Value Equation and Early 2011 15" and 17" MacBook Pro Value Equation. With the US Apple Store selling 2.4 GHz refurbs for $929, we see a great opportunity to move to a MacBook Pro for just a bit more than a refurbished White MacBook. Also available is the 15" 2.4 GHz dual-coar i5 MacBook Pro for $1,269, a great price for a 15-incher. dk

2011 MacBook Pros: Say No to DRM and Intel Graphics

From Alex:

I couldn't believe they didn't pass go, didn't collect $200, and didn't go directly to optical drive-less wedgie. With that said, the DRM that they pumped into the Sandy Bridge chipset (and pumped into it liberally, if reports are to be believed) ruins the whole more powerful hyper-threaded dual-core processor with Turbo Boost. If I have to accept Intel integrated graphics (which, in my mind, makes it a 2006 MacBook White midrange model but in a 2011 chassis), don't force the DRM on me too. I'd give up playing DVDs on my MacBook Pro 13.3-incher and wait until I got home to my Power Macintosh G4 Quicksilver before I would accept both Intel integrated graphics and that high a load of DRM.

I know the Core i-series chips sound amazing, but they're retarded DRM-ruined versions of what should be great chips.

I mean, I seriously doubt the Intel HD 3000 graphics would measure up to your 9400M, much less my 320M - and even if they did, would it be worth having your privacy compromised any further than pre-Sandy Bridge computers do it?

I have read 1984 and see it coming more and more true everyday, and I want you to have a minimum of DRM frustration as a result.

You may have a different opinion, but I would hold off on the 2011's until I see how much the DRM cripples the 2011 MacBook Pro 13.3-inch user experience. If it isn't as bad as I have read (Vista wasn't, thank goodness - had to use it for a college class :-<) then I might feel a whole lot better, but I don't want you saddled with a computer that won't work as you expect through throwing up DRM forcefields.

Kindest regards,

Hi Alex,

I have to admit that I hadn't given much thought to this Sandy Bridge/DRM issue until I received your note. I've since done a Bing crawl to bring myself up to speed on the controversy.

I can appreciate that for users who watch a lot of movies on their laptops, this would be an unwelcome development. As for me, I've never watched a feature film or anything longer than a 10 or 15 minute YouTube clip on my current MacBook, so as best I can judge (the matter is nothing if not controversial), I would be essentially unaffected. From what I can gather, the Intel Insider feature only impacts some streamed movies. See:

As for the super-slim wedgie form factor not this time, I always thought a redesign of the less than 2-1/2 year old (fewer than two in the case of the 17" model) unibody enclosure was no more than a 50/50 probability at most. I expect that Apple will take that route when it's time to restyle the MacBook Pro series, but the current aluminum Pro housings are still fresh, sumptuously attractive, and since their engineering and manufacture tooling was almost certainly an expensive proposition, I expect that Apple would want to amortize those overhead costs for a longer period than 2-1/2 years before moving on to a redesign.

From a historical perspective, the original aluminum PowerBook form factor that was carried over to the original MacBook Pros remained in production with a few relatively minor facelifts for seven years. The Dual USB iBooks had a five-year production lifespan. I love the look of my Unibody MacBook and would be completely satisfied to use it indefinitely. After all, I'm in my tenth year of using my oldest Pismo (typically 3 to five hours a day), and I never was partial to the Pismo's styling, although I love the machine for its functional excellence. The MacBook Air is great-looking too, but I can't say I like it better than the 13" aluminum unibody.

I am also happy that Apple decided to stay with conventional hard drive technology for the present. The speed, quietness, and low heat generation of SSDs are all of course very appealing, but the small capacity and high cost are not. If they could have shipped the $1,199 MacBook Pro with a 256 GB SSD, that would have been great, but 64 GB or 128 GB are just not satisfactory for my needs, and the $650 256 GB option is too expensive.

I think you're probably being a bit rough on Intel's HD 3000 IGPU. I've checked some benchmarks, and it's not as horrible as has been suggested. See:

As always, thanks for the discussion.


Editor's note: Also see Charles W. Moore's Is Intel's HD Graphics 3000 IGPU a Dog as Some People Suggest? on AppleTell. dk

Cloning My iBook's Hard Drive When I Upgrade

From Levi:

Hello, Charles

I recently (about a month ago) purchased a 500 MHz Dual USB iBook. I'll be getting a 40 GB hard drive for it from a friend soon, and I was wondering if you could help me with swapping hard drives, especially the process of connecting and cloning them.


Hi Levi,

I used a 700 MHz 12" iBook as my main production workhorse for four years, and I liked it. Toward the end of its tenure, the little 20 GB hard drive was getting pretty crowded out, but I never installed an upgrade due to the need to pretty much strip the computer completely down to execute the swap. I can whip the drive out of a Pismo in about five minutes, but the iBook is a whole different dimension.

If you're not experienced, comfortable, and handy at working on electronics devices, I don't recommend that you tackle the job yourself. It will be well worth paying a professional tech to do it.

However, if you're determined to proceed please carefully study iFixit's free online illustrated teardown guide carefully before commencing. Note that iFixit rates this job as difficult, and they're not alarmists.

The order of progress (disassembly) is as follows:

  • Battery 1 step
  • Keyboard 7 steps
  • Lower Case 12 steps
  • Upper Case 13 steps
  • Top Shield 4 steps
  • Hard Drive 5 steps
  • Hard Drive Replacement 2 steps

Tools needed

  • Coin
  • Paper Clip
  • Phillips #00 Screwdriver
  • Push Pin
  • Small Flathead Screwdriver
  • Spudger
  • T8 Torx Screwdriver

To transfer your files to the new drive, there are several ways to go about it. My top pick would be to clone your old drive to backup media using Carbon Copy Cloner (donationware), SuperDuper, or Drive Genius 3 (both the latter commercial software). Then just clone it onto the replacement drive once it's in. The 500 MHz iBook doesn't support USB 2, so you will want a FireWire device for the backup. The slickest way to go is to purchase an external housing that supports FireWire and install the pulled drive in it for use as a backup drive, and just clone its contents onto the replacement drive.

Hope this helps.


PowerPC vs. Intel Mac Drive Formats

From Dan Knight in response to An Amazingly Useful G3 iMac:


As long as a hard drive is formatted on a PowerPC Mac and OS 9 drivers are installed, it can be used from any Mac that can connect to it. On Intel Macs, you have to choose APM when you format or partition the drive. If you don't, it won't be usable by PowerPC Macs running less than 10.4.4 (IIRC).

There's no need to use a DOS/Windows format for universal Mac compatibility.


Thanks, Dan. Forwarded to Dave.


WallStreet Was Great, but PowerBook 1400 Was My Favorite

From Thomas in response to WallStreet Was Great, but Pismo Is the King of Expandable 'Books:


I enjoy reading your articles each week and often feature them on my own iFix Old Macs blog. You certainly love your Pismos. I had one, too, but it developed a bad case of "pink screen" just after the warranty ran out. That made me trade it off for a PowerBook G4 "Titanium", which wasn't the greatest machine in terms of longevity either.

PowerBook 1400We all have our favorites. Mine is the PowerBook 1400 that I stupidly traded off to get the Pismo. That machine was pretty high on the expandability scale, too. Great keyboard, G3 upgrades available, wireless options . . . it even had a solar panel that slipped into the top cover that could be removed and attached to the window of an airplane with its nifty suction cups.

I had such fond memories of it that I went on eBay a while back and found another one - for 59 cents! It was listed as non-working, but it turned out to be just a loose memory card. I snapped it back into place, and the old beast worked just fine. I found a G3 upgrade and a wireless PCMCIA card for it cheaply on eBay, too. Now it not only runs Mac OS 9.1 with ease, but Debian Sarge as well.

Every once in a while I crank it up and play around with some of the old Mac software that I still have for it and try out the latest version of Classilla (which is great, by the way). Sorry to say, though, my Mac Pro is the machine I do all of my real work on. So it goes.


Hi Tom,

The dreaded pink screen distemper was indeed a problem with some Pismos, although usually after they were considerably older than yours was when it manifested. My oldest Pismo came down with it when it was five or six years old, but it never got so severe that it made the 'Book usable. It was worst just after wake-up or startup but would moderate as the machine warmed up. I tolerated it for several years, but last year when the video inverter failed I took the opportunity to swap in another screen from my parts mule Pismo (easy job). The other way is to disassemble the display bezel and solder in a replacement CCFL tube.

I also have a PowerBook 1400, although I haven't booted it up for three or four years. It's a 117 MHz 603e, so it's performance is pretty leisurely. The Pismo with a 550 MHz G4 upgrade, 1 GB of RAM, and OS X 10 .4 Tiger is in a completely different class performance-wise. I still do about one-third of my production work on Pismos. The 1400's keyboard is better than average, but I prefer the keyboards in the Pismo/Lombard and the WallStreet, which I like better than any other keyboard I've encountered - laptop or freestanding.


Beautiful (and Not So Beautiful) Cars

From Zed in response to Beautiful Cars:


After seeing the link in your reply, I agree the Javelin is an attractive AMC. Something I never thought I'd say about a 70's AMC. The 2CV is weird in so many ways that it has its own charms. I think the front/rear linked suspension was a thing of genius. Nothing in comparison to the DS's hydro pneumatic system of course but still an engineering wonder.


Hi Zed,

Glad we agree on the Javelin's looks.

I never meant to imply that I don't find the Deux Chevaux charming. It is quite delightful in a homely sort of way, and, as you say, a masterpiece of engineering for an inexpensive car. Another small French car I found appealing was the Renault 4, which I have some hands-on personal history with due to a good friend having owned one, a '64 - during our teenage years - that I worked on, rode in a lot, and drove a bit. The car was basically a tin box on wheels, but it had an amazingly smooth ride, and its crude but astonishingly comfortable seats that were essentially foam hammocks suspended from tubular metal frames.

The 4's three-speed gearchange shifter was quirkily configured, being an L-shaped lever that protruded from the center of the dashboard (similar to the 2CV's shifter), although it shifted in a conventional H-pattern. The Renault 4 wasn't fast or powerful, and that smooth ride took a toll on its cornering ability, but you could pile an awful lot of stuff (or people), into it and it was both great fun and an economical utility vehicle.


Amazon Studios Wrecks Screenplay Formatting

From John, continuing the conversation in More on Macs and Other Classics:

Hello Charles,

It turns out I'm having format trouble. Undo is the first screenplay I've written for the public beyond my friends, and it's my first experience with a clash of file formats. I wrote the script in Pages using a template with styles for character names, dialogue, action text, and scene headings. (I had each one mapped to hotkeys, which made my keyboard-centric work a lot easier.) Screenplays are a rigid visual format by convention, with suggested tabs and styling so to make them easier to compare. Wikipedia has an outline and a sample.

You'll notice it's a paginated format. Page numbers matter in screenplays. The basic idea is that one page equals one minute of screen-time. Like all the printed documents of old, page numbers were a way to navigate without hypertext.

Everything was fine until I had my draft complete and wanted to submit it to Amazon. Much to my surprise, they don't accept PDF or even Microsoft DOC files, but only RTF. Pages exports to those, so I gave it a shot, but my styles were in a mess, and the page breaks were wrecked too. Pages could export to a much cleaner looking DOC file than it could RTF, so I asked a favour and had someone convert that DOC to RTF using Word 2011. (I've not run Word in years myself.) Alas, even that was a pretty horrible rendering of my script.

Before: (my script as I wrote it, uploaded to Apple's from Pages. Available in PDF.) (Safari recommended)

And After: (my script as it wound up at Amazon, after several versions)

Incoherent or entirely missing page breaks, broken line feeds, ignored capitalisation - you name it. Surely we are beyond such ancient issues by now?

I'm accustomed to other kinds of writing where pagination doesn't matter, and I can use plaintext, like this email. But screenplay format is not plaintext friendly. All this was a nasty surprise for me. I still haven't found an ideal conversion, and in fact when I get Windows people to open up my RTF files, they report seeing different mistakes on different versions of Word or other software. What a shambles!

RTF is the wrong format for script submission. This is the kind of task PDF was invented for. It's likely I'll have to tweak the entire thing from top to bottom by hand for it to look right, and I don't even know if that will be enough to ensure my file opens up the same for any viewer. Almost makes me wish Amazon had an address I could send a print to via snail mail, with a guarantee they'll look at it. So absurd.

(Takes a deep breath and another cup of coffee.)

Sorry about the rant. As for MacBooks, next year probably is a good time to buy. I presume you're up to speed on Intel's Sandy Bridge. The Core 2 processors in the current Airs are old hat by today's standards and are soon to be overhauled completely. Tellingly, Apple's had no problem selling these machines - I for one would love one - no matter the processor. They're speed demons by virtue of their solid state storage alone.

The current low memory ceiling is something we long-term users want to see improved, just as much as more horsepower. But I've heard that the virtual memory in the Air is fast enough to make running low on RAM much less of a speed hit than we're used to on slow hard drives. Indeed, I made the leap from a four-year-old 2.5" disk inside my Intel Mac mini last year to the smallest and most durable SSD available at the time (a 64 GB Kingston SSD-Now) and can report similar gains. The need to be conscious of virtual memory use is greatly reduced from before, and the 1152 MB PowerBook.

Non-expandable RAM does still irk me. And if the other MacBooks are going the way of the Air, SO-DIMMs may become as rare as expansion card slots. Let's hope it's that, especially for the high-end 15 and 17" Pros, instead of what happened to removable batteries. I can certainly see the space savings winning out on the smaller machines.

- John

Hi John,

Stuff like pagination and footnotes often doesn't survive format conversion. I agree with you about PDF vs. RTF. I've never liked RTF much, and I love PDF. I've worked mainly in plain text for many years and am far from being up to speed on formatted text issues. I suppose you've tried the RTF version in TextEdit. What about Google Docs?

Events have overtaken our discussion about a MacBook Pro refresh. I'm pretty happy about them sticking with the Late 2008 unibody form factor for at least another cycle, and that they stayed with hard drive storage. For me, 128 GB isn't enough, and the 256 MB SSD option is too expensive. Reportedly, the Sandy Bridge CPUs make the Pros just scream, with the slowest new model now faster than the fastest previous model, and fast enough to cancel out the graphics performance downgrade to Intel GMX HD 3000 IGPUs from Nvidia 320M in the 13" Pro.

Thunderbolt sounds like it is a major advance going forward, and we still get a FireWire 800 port as well, at least for now. It remains to be seen which Core "i" version will go in the MacBook Air - possibly the i3 to maximize battery runtime, bit I'm glad they went with Core i5 for the new 13" Pro. Still support for up to 8 GB of expandable RAM too. I'm now leaning strongly toward the new 13" MacBook Pro - more of a bargain than ever at $1,199. The Air is enticing, but too many compromises for those of us who need a multipurpose workhorse.

I've still got a year to go in my personal system upgrade cycle with the 2 GHz MacBook, but I'm going to be sorely tempted to go early once Lion is out. Bummer that Lion is going to dump support for PowerPC apps. I'm still using a couple of OS 9 apps for production on the Pismo with OS X Classic Mode in OS X 10.4.


Whither Eudora: Rosetta Gone in Lion

From Mike:

I am writing this email to you in Eudora, my long time email program (probably 18 or more years). I am 61 years old.

It appears that Apple has dropped Rosetta from Lion, thus the end of Eudora. Sigh.

I knew it did not bode well when Qualcomm orphaned Eudora. I knew that Apple probably would drop Rosetta sooner or later. I will really miss Eudora. I will just have to go to another Mac email program. Likely choose Apple's Mail. I have been dreading the day this would happen but it appears the day is coming soon.

I still have two older G4 towers that I may use with Eudora if that is worth the trouble to transfer all my 18 years worth of Eudora emails & run the older Macs on a daily basis. I finally could afford (I'm retired on fixed income) an Intel iMac (24" iMac) last year.

Best Regards,

Hi Mike,

Yes, I have been anticipating this unwelcome development for several years now. As one who still uses OS X Classic mode in OS X 10.4 Tiger on my two old Pismo PowerBooks, I will be sad to see Rosetta bite the dust, but I suppose it was inevitable.

I share your affection for Classic Eudora, which I also still use in OS X 10.4, but I long since gave up on it on the Intel Mac so that I wouldn't be forced to go cold turkey at some point.

I've settled pretty much on two open source email clients as my replacement for Classic Eudora - mainly Eudora 8 Open Source Edition, but also MailSmith, which was made open source last year (it used to cost $100 when still being developed by Bare Bones Software), and I find that it shares some familiar commonality in the way it looks and works with Classic Eudora.

However, Eudora 8 is really quite good once you get used to it. I found it stable and reliable, and it has the advantage of being actively developed alongside Mozilla Thunderbird, whose application folder, archives, and settings it automatically grafts on to, so you can use the two email client applications interchangeably and completely transparently if you so choose. I did that for a while, but Eudora 8 works well enough now that it's unnecessary to use Thunderbird as a backup anymore.

I still don't like Apple Mail, but it is a low hassle solution, being built in to OS X.


Virtual Screen Software

From Robert:

Hi Charles,

I have been looking, without success, for software (or display driver) that creates a virtual screen of any size. This screen could be accessed via VNC on another computer with an attached physical monitor of the same size. This is to avoid having to plug and unplug the monitor from one computer to the other (I use both at the same time and the other computer is a Windows machine). On the Mac, the entire virtual screen could be accessed by scrolling (however this would not be the primary mode of operation). Spaces is not what I am looking for, since it just creates multiple desktops of the same size.

Any ideas?


Hi Robert,

Not off the top of my head. I'll put your note in this week's Mailbag and see if any other readers can suggest a solution.


Editor's note: The only program I know that does that with Macs is ScreenRecycler, $30 demoware. dk

Some System 7/OS X 10.7 Parallels

From Kyle:

Dear Mr. Moore,

I've not been able to help but see how many parallels there are between Mac System 7 and OS X 10.7. With the addition of a fully multitasking Finder, color, and a plethora of usability utilities for switching between apps and such, System 7 really was made to be a system more consumer-convenient than any of its competitors or predecessors. So is OS X 10.7, with the LaunchPad and the App Store.

I don't really have enough knowledge of everything that came with system 7 or the improvements it had from System 6, etc. The only history I know is from owning a System 7 Mac as a child. Is it just me, or are there parallels?

Mac Launcher
The Mac's Launcher, introduced with System 7.

Also, System 7 had something kinda like LaunchPad. Not the Launcher, though that was there too. But I remember there was some application (maybe it was third party?) that was a Finder alternative, wherein your screen was covered by one giant folder with a grid of buttons that went across the screen. There were two tabs on the screen - when you clicked the brown one, the buttons showed your applications. The blue one made the buttons show your saved files. I don't know its name, but I know that it existed. I just think it's funny how something like that existed so ahead of its time.

Do you remember anything like what I'm talking about?


Hi Kyle,

I think you may be onto something here. I came aboard the Mac platform at System 6.0.3, and I almost skipped System 7.0, having graduated directly from System 6 to System 7.1 when I bought a new LC 520 on the cusp of the new year 1994. I did eventually install System 7 on my old Mac Plus in order to get it online, but I kept System 6.0.8 on a separate partition for alternate and much speedier performance.

In many respects System 6 was my favorite version of the Mac OS, at least sentimentally and also aesthetically. I really do like the austere simplicity of the System 6 Finder. If the iOS had a similar Finder, I would like it a lot better. System 7.1 was relatively reliable, but I think my view of the System 7 is permanently jaundiced by the flakiness of System 7.5.2 that shipped with my PowerBook 5300. System 7.5.3 and especially System 7.5.5 fixed the reliability substantially, but I was ready for OS 8 when it arrived. I digress.

It's difficult to really evaluate the "feel" of OS X 10.7 without having ever experienced it hands on, so I'll have to wait a bit before passing judgment, but the points you raise about similarities with System 7 sound plausible. You've made me think about it in a different and interesting way

I remember the Launcher. I wasn't its biggest fan, and preferred the third-party TigerLaunch, which was much slicker and less imposing. The other application you mention must have been third-party. I have no recollection of anything like that. I did like a third-party application called I think Application Switcher, which arrayed open application icons along the right-hand side of the screen very similarly to the way I still have OS X configured.


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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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