Charles Moore's Mailbag

Linguistic Obsessions, Long Term Mac Value, iPod touch as a Personal Computer, and More

Charles Moore - 2011.06.07 - Tip Jar

Punctuation, Grammar, and Other Linguistic Obsessions

From Ian in response to 'Logical Punctuation' vs. Traditional Rules of Style:

Hello Charles,

I would like to say that logical punctuation is also a 'time-honored and proven' convention. Thinking about it, in the timescale of language the early days of the republic are but a moment ago, unless that is a reference to Plato's Republic.

English is now a world language, and trying to maintain local quirks like American punctuation would seem as hopeless as Canute's attempts to hold back the sea. Personally, I am trying to stop the use of 'meet up with' for 'meet' (so wasteful), 'methodology' for 'method' (so pretentious), and the treatment of 'data' as a plural (so ignorant) just because it was a plural word in a dead language, but I know I'm going to lose at least two of those. Meanwhile, my wife is trying to stop my (so sloppy) use of the word 'less' when I mean 'fewer'.


Hello Ian,

Thanks for the comment.

Good point about the relativity of "time-honoured" (using Brit/Canadian spelling here). I don't object to grammar evolving, as long as it doesn't get egregiously dumbed-down in the process.

I smiled at your list of personal grammar reform objectives, some of which I share (I don't think I've ever used "meet up with"), and I've successfully purged letting "less" slip in when I mean "fewer" (likewise more/greater). However, I am a pedantic holdout for keeping data the plural form of datum,e.g. "data pertaining to the topic are limited" rather than clumsy construction like "this data is interesting," but I think that battle is probably lost for popular usage.


Publisher's note: I try to avoid utilize any time the simpler, less pretentious use will do the job. I hate the way the three-syllable monstrosity seems to have almost universally displaced the shorter alternative. dk

How Long Do Macs Remain Useful?

From Einar in response to How Long Should Apple Support New Devices on Legacy Hardware and Operating Systems?:

Hi Charles,

Thank you for many interesting articles on Low End Mac! :-) I discovered your site a couple of months ago while gathering information for my iBook Clamshell resurrection project and have since kept Low End Mac as my home page on the iBook. (I am using Opera 9.64, which makes me a fast and pixel-efficient internaut in [OS X 10.3] Panther on my 300 MHz G3, 6 GB hard drive, 576 MB RAM, 800 x 600 pixel iBook. I noticed you didn't have a percentage for Panther or OS 9 in the footnote at the end of the article, so I suspect your readers on überlow end systems are minuscule. [Publisher's note: Google Analytics doesn't recognize Mac versions prior to 10.4, and all earlier versions combined amount to 2.68%. dk] I have occasionally attempted surfing with iCab in OS 9 in instances where using legacy programs has forced me to boot into the even more down-from-date OS. iCab and I are both enjoying using some extra time sipping hot Java while surfing. In my case it's probably a blend with Arabica. "The fastest Internet OS" seems to be slower than surfing on Panther on the same hardware, even with newer and heavier browsers and enormous amounts of RAM dedicated to iCab in OS 9.)

But back to the future now: I think you are absolutely right that we can't really expect Apple to support older operating systems forever with their newest software. (If they could just disable the "Please upgrade to iTunes 10" from the iTunes Store on computers running OS versions or processors not able to update to iTunes 10, then iTunes in legacy versions would be just as useful as they used to be. My shared library from my iTunes 10 on my MacBook Pro was recognised by iTunes 4 on Panther on the iBook, so I could still listen to all my podcasts, even if I could not find them in iTunes Store for subscribing on the iBook. I have later added many manually by their RSS stream address, which is the other way of getting them to legacy iTunes that will only get the "please update" iTunes Store greeting and nothing more.) Comparing Mac OS X to Windows would usually make OS X come out the winner when it comes to usability, security &c, even if the Intel-transition has left some fairly recent hardware behind when it comes to newer software.

What I find strange with Rupert Jones' attitude is that the problem is one he has created himself, since for as little as 10 or 15 quid (£) he could buy Snow Leopard, which would run perfectly on his old MacBook. I am myself an owner of the Late 2006 MacBook, and after installing Snow Leopard, the machine actually got faster than it was with Leopard or even Tiger. So why complain about iTunes not being supported on his computer, when it actually is? To me, it seems like any Mac with a Core 2 Duo or newer processor is futureproof for at least a couple of years still. Lion might leave the 32-bit early Intel machines behind, but there is no reason to believe it will leave even Rupert Jones' MacBook out in the cold legacy wilderness. He could even wait for Lion and get extremely cutting edge on his MacBook if he wants to, most probably. And when the MacBook is finally left out in the legacy wilderness by the newest OS, he could probably use the newest software as long as he is only one or two versions behind. (iTunes 10 does support Leopard.) If he could squeeze five or six years of productive life out of his MacBook by updating his OS once for £15, then it is probably better value for money than any Windows machine of the same age that is only capable of running XP - or maybe Vista very slowly.

Best regards,

Hi Einar,

Thanks for the interesting comments and observations, and the kind words about my LEM contributions.

As you may be aware from reading my scribbling, I'm still using a 2000 Pismo PowerBook as my number two production and utility machine, so I know what it's like to be running low-end equipment, albeit not über-low quite yet, since Tiger is still actually supported by a fair few third-party developers. It's now getting seriously squeezed though. I just noticed this week that the current Mozilla Thunderbird beta has dropped PowerPC support.

I'm familiar with sipping and waiting on the Web too, although with me it's Oolong or green tea.

It did indeed appear that Rupert Jones was either just looking for something to complain about or didn't quite grasp the real possibilities open to him for very little upgrade outlay.

Looking ahead, with people raving about the new Windows 8 user interface (got to adit that the screenshots I've seen look pretty nice, and we will no longer be able to sneer at how ugly Windows is), it will be interesting to see how legacy hardware support plays out with it.


Apple Needs to Publish Support Lifecycle Data for Hardware and Operating Systems

From Timothy:


The short answer to your question (How Long Should Apple Support New Devices on Legacy Hardware and Operating Systems?) is "longer," at least for security-related fixes. But an even bigger problem is that, unlike Microsoft (for example), Apple does not publish any guidelines about how long they will support their own products. Microsoft publishes a simple "Support Lifecycle" document which informs everyone that, for example, Windows XP Service Pack 3 will continue to receive security fixes until April 8, 2014, exactly. Apple? No idea, and that means it's very difficult to plan.

Here are the minimum support periods I would suggest for Apple. The first number of years is for "mainstream" support - new iPhone models working with Macs, for example - and the latter is the number of years of security-related fixes ("extended" support). These minimum commitments are dated from last model/version sale as a new product available direct from Apple:

  • Macs and Mac OS X: 4 6
  • All other products: 3 5

There would also be minimum support standards for factory refurbished products (dated from last sale day direct from Apple):

  • Macs and Mac OS X: 3 5
  • All other products: 2.5 4

Security-related fixes would be provided free of charge, but Apple would have the option to deliver those security-related fixes in the form of free version upgrades to Mac OS X and iOS, as long as those free version upgrades are technically compatible with the applicable hardware models and available for the entire extended support period.

I'm surprised Apple has gone this long without setting some support standards, especially concerning security fixes. The Mac and iOS communities badly need this clarity from Apple, and journalists covering Apple should insist on it.


Hi Timothy,

Your proposed guidelines sound reasonable. I'm wondering, though, whether Apple projects precisely when support for a product will be end-of-lifed or just plays it by ear.

Whatever, it's hard to second-guess the success of how they've been playing it. Their stock share price is up some 2917.9% over the past ten years.


iPad Incompatible with Tiger, Should I Get Leopard?

From Glen:

Good Evening Charles,

Been a long time reader of your columns, and from what you write, I know you are a keeper of the older Macs. My wife has my old Titanium laptop running [Mac OS X] 10.4.11. I recently bought her a first gen iPad. It will not sync with Tiger; I keep getting a message saying it needs the newest version of iTunes. Of course, when I go to download it, I get the message that it will not run on Tiger. The question is what is my best solution. I do have a Mini running Leopard and do have the disks for [OS X 10.5] Leopard, but I am not sure the answer is to load Leopard on the TiBook with my Mini disks. Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.


Hi Glen,

You didn't say which processor clock speed and what amount of RAM your wife has on the TiBook.

If it's 867 MHz or greater, it should run Leopard, but it won't be lively and you want to max out your RAM to whatever the machine will support.

If your Leopard install disks are the ones that came with the Mac mini, I'm highly skeptical that they'll install on the TiBook. You need a generic Leopard install DVD.

Apple customers who purchase new iOS devices that requires Leopard support for iTunes 10 and are still running Tiger Intel-based Macs can call AppleCare, which I understand will mail out a copy of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard for free (plus postage) after being supplied with the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch serial number.

Let me know how you make out.


Thanks Charles,

Just got back from doing the Richard Petty Experience at Michigan International Speedway (18 laps in Dale Jr. car following a pace car). Managed 133 MPH.

I just checked, TiBook is a 1 GHz with 1 GB RAM, so I will have to look into bumping that.

I will call AppleCare and see what they can do for me.

Coming to the Maritimes this summer with 3 grandsons camping, so put a good word in for us with the Maritimes weather gods.

Again, thanks, will keep you posted.


Hi Glen,

I'm seriously envious. Is the NASCAR experience at MIS something offered to the public, or are you an insider?

I just checked OWC's memory availability for the TiBook, and they only offer 256 MB and 512 MB SO-DIMM modules, so you may already be maxed-out. 1 GB is the max my old Pismos will support, which is one reason I've never seriously entertained hacking a Leopard install.

I do hope our weather improves in time for your visit. There's a pretty broad consensus that May and June so far this year have been the wettest, coldest spring in living memory. I still haven't stored away my winter parka for the season.

On a more positive note, Environment Canada's long range outlook is for a warm, dry summer here, once it manages to arrive. They were half-right about Spring, which they predicted would be wetter than usual, but wrong about the temperature.


Howdy, glad it looks warm and dry for later; we are not coming until late July, early August, in time for the cod season in Newfoundland (have relatives there), but will tour Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and probably Quebec City as well.

No, I am not an insider, I just went to and took it from there. I took the King's experience for 18 laps at Michigan, and lap times went up with each circuit. Of course, I could not leave the wife out, so we arranged for the Ride-Along for her. She went in a two-seat car with one of their drivers for three laps where the speed topped out around 170 MPH. I guess I should be worried, her only comments were, it was too short and not fast enough!

I will do it again as money allows, but next time it will be a Charlotte Speedway with it's 24° banking - Michigan is only 18° but I must admit when you are diving down into one of those corners, it does seem to be a lot more than 18°.

Think the TiBook is maxed out for memory if I recall what the owner said when I bought it.


Hi Glen,

I hadn't previously been aware of the Richard Petty Driving Experience. I see they're even coming to Canada in July. Still about 1,400 road miles from here, unfortunately.

I've followed Richard Petty's career in racing and subsequently since the early '60s, when there was no NASCAR on TV, and race reports were on the pages of carmags like Motor Trend.

Late July/early August is the most dependable weather time frame for the Maritime Provinces, so odds are that you'll hit some good weather on your swing through.


One Week with an iPod touch as My Personal Computer

From Robert Casper:

Hello Low End Mac,

I hesitated sending this to you, because it's a little self-promotional, but I figure I'll just send it and let you decide if you want to share it. Last April I decided to spend a week with an iPod touch as my only computer, and I did a series of daily vlogs about my experience that were posted on YouTube. I tried to do "desktop-like" tasks with the iPod throughout the week. These are the vlogs, in order:


I also posted links to them all on this site,

For full disclosure I should say there is an Amazon affiliate link in there. Whether you share this on your site or not, I'd like to hear what you think about my little experiment.


Bob Casper

Hi Bob,

Interesting experiment. Now that the dust has settled a bit, how would you assess your iPad touch as computer adventure overall?


Hi Charles

In general I think the mobile versions of websites have too many features removed to make them useful as direct replacements for the actual websites.

The level of reduced functionality varies by individual app. For example, Twitter works well as a mobile app, letting you do anything the website will except maybe changing your theme in the settings. The Google app is another good one, integrating well with the camera and microphone to let you easily search on things in your environment.

The WordPress app is an example of a mobile app that is cut down too much. It lets you do only the most basic post editing, and using it can overwrite settings you saved while using the WordPress Dashboard in a real web browser. For this reason I used Safari to update the site during my 7-day experiment. And I waited until after it was over to put the videos on my main blog - it was that much of a hassle.

We just are not there yet in terms of mobile apps replacing desktop programs. The small screen is frustrating to use, but only when using websites designed for a large screen. This is more the fault of the programmers creating the apps, not a limitation of the hardware. I predict we'll move more in that direction in the future.

For mobile word processing I stick to working with text files only. The PlainText app is great for editing text and syncing it with my MacBook through Dropbox . This way I never have to transfer documents to the iPod and back; it's automatic through the "cloud". I actually started this email on the iPod and finished it later on my MacBook, working on the same file from both devices. One thing I'm shopping for now is a folding Bluetooth keyboard to take on trips, to do some serious typing without taking the MacBook along. The iPod's onscreen keyboard is great for tapping out passwords and emails, but for real typing without frustration, a laptop-sized physical keyboard would be a huge help. If you have a recommendation on portable keyboards I'd be glad to hear it.


Hi Bob,

Thanks for this detailed report. Even though you were experimenting with an iPod touch, I'm finding what you experienced helpful with my deliberations over whether to get an iPad 2 or an Apple Certified Refurbished MacBook Air.

It's one thing to play around a bit with someone else's iOS device, but another to attempt doing actual production work on one. My Web use is probably about 90-95% work-related, so the more I learn from others' experiences, the more I'm leaning to a refurb MacBook Air. I suppose what I really want is an iPad and a MacBook Air.

As for the relative value equation, here in my part of Canada, a 16 GB base iPad 2 will run me Can$596.85 with sales tax included, while an Apple Certified Refurbished 11.6" MacBook Air, also base model configuration, comes to just a buck short of Can$1,000, for a difference of Can$402.15, which isn't inconsequential. But once you add $100+ to the iPad for a keyboard case, and Can$35 for a Camera Connection Kit, you're up at least another $150 tax included, which shrinks the difference to $250, and the iPad in that equation still has only 16 GB of storage. Go for the more practically useful (at least for content creators) 32 GB model, and it's down to less than $150, and the MacBook Air is capable of soooo much more.


DOSBox a WordPerfect 5.1 Solution?

From Kyle:

Dear Mr. Moore,

Hello. You've been talking about your client office, which requires DOS-based WordPerfect 5.1, which prevents your client office from moving beyond XP. I'm sure this solution has already been explored, but DOSBox might work. In case you don't know (but you probably do), it's a full DOS emulator (complete with an actual x86 processor emulator) that requires little-to-no configuration and runs on all major operating systems. In my (admittedly little) experience, it runs at least games without a hitch. I don't know how well other types of apps will work, but it's worth a try, isn't it?


Hi Kyle,

Thanks for the tip. Actually, I hadn't previously been aware of DOSBox.

Indeed, it sounds like it would be worth trying.


Emulate DOS for WP 5.1

From Michael:

Charles, another possible solution for virtualising DOS is to use DOSBox or its Mac incarnation of Boxer.

I have Boxer installed on several of my Macs and have even installed Windows 3.11 so that I can play Civilization II.

On the DOSBox wiki, it says that WordPerfect 5.0 for DOS doesn't need any special configuration, so hopefully neither would 5.1.

As DOSBox and Boxer don't require any special virtualised containers for a drive image and run straight on the hosting file system, printing should be no more difficult that printing Postscript to file, and setting up folder actions to send the to the required printer.


Thanks Michael,

I'll pass this helpful information on.


Try FreeDOS to Run DOS Word Perfect

From Jay:

To Sam, A simple solution to the need to run obsolete Windows & DOS Software.


Continuing with this thread, Sam mentioned that it is hard to get Windows XP stickers. Since the software he is using is DOS software, he may want to give FreeDOS a try (in a Virtual Machine).

One challenge with this approach might be printing and networking. I haven't used this, as I don't have a need for it, but it might another way for Sam to get this ancient version of Word Perfect running for his business.


Hi Jay,

Indeed, another solution that sounds like it would be worth checking out.



Windows XP Appears to Be the Best Solution for My WordPerfect 5.1 Situation

From Sam:

I've actually run through FreeDOS and DOSBox, and as the commenters mentioned, the networking continues to be the issue with anything other than a full (virtualized) Windows XP installation. The problem is linked to Domain joining and the inability to access network printers without a connection to the Domain and Exchange server.


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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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