The Nemo Memo – WHAT A WEEK IT WAS!

Second Hand Shelly

Every few months, our old college chum Shelly flies in from Los Angeles to stay with Barbara and me. She is an author, poet, and writing instructor who teaches special workshops for the University of Arizona.



Shelly has never owned a desktop Mac. For years and years she has used PowerBooks, all hand-me-downs from Karl, her husband, who is a networking professional. She cried when her final trackball PowerBook croaked, because she was in no hurry to switch to a trackpad. Life is not fair.



Last autumn Shelly brought her latest computer, a bronze G3 PowerBook. What a castoff! Karl found himself with two of them, so she was the lucky beneficiary. I asked her what happened to her reliable PB1400, which had served her well for three years.



“I gave it to my parents. They don’t get out much now, and they have this young fellow who helps them with email. I’m actually in closer touch with them now than before, because we exchange email every day, instead of phone calls once a week. They don’t really use the PowerBook themselves, so I might help them get a WebTV instead at holiday time.”



“If they don’t keep the PowerBook,” I said, “Barbara and I would be happy to buy it from you. We sure could use one when we travel, to stay in touch with friends, family, and all the people at My Mac online.”



Fast Forward

Shelly’s parents are now happily using their WebTV, and she delivered the PB1400cs/133/1.3GB/24MB last week. I obtained a used mouse from Julie, a friend at the local Mac users group, because I knew Barbara will strongly prefer the mouse to a trackpad.



I put the PowerBook through its paces, and everything appeared to work. Then, more or less in sequence, over the next few days, I:



• logged into America Online as a guest on Shelly’s account (VERY IMPORTANT for Barbara to have AOL)



• installed and ran Norton Disk doctor, fixing a few minor problems



• threw out all of Shelly’s personal files and folders



• did an Easy Install of OS 8.5, followed by OS 8.6


The PowerBook had OS 8.1 when it arrived. I was uncharacteristically in a hurry doing the OS upgrade, because I completely overlooked the options for doing a Clean Install or a Custom Install. Normally I would have initialized the hard disk and started from scratch, but I was uncertain about the Motorola modem software, which led me to do the upgrade on top of the existing system. The disk is formatted for HFS standard, with 22k minimum file segments; if I find we need to go to HFS+ I’ll either do a complete reformatting or use Alsoft’s PlusMaker software.

• ran Norton Disk Doctor again, and fixed major and minor errors



• ran Norton Speed Disk to optimize the drive


I know I should have archived or backed-up the disk, but I wasn’t particularly worried about a catastrophic data loss that could not easily be remedied with a full initialization, if necessary.

• trashed Shelly’s AOL files, reinstalled America Online with our personal account info and preferences, then logged on to make sure everything worked perfectly



• observed the dongle separates easily from the connector on the Motorola Mariner 33.6 modem card



• participated in an eBay auction for a replacement Mariner modem; I was outbid, and decided to live with the current setup for a few weeks



• tested AOL’s inferior web browser, which kept crashing, due to overloading the PowerBook’s meager 24MB of memory



• ordered two 24MB memory chips from The Chip Merchant, which would enable us to attain the computer’s maximum 64MB on top of the built-in 16MB



• studied the pages discussing “PowerBook 1400 form factor” in Todd Stauffer’s landmark Mac Upgrade and Repair Bible, reviewed in Book Bytes here at My Mac Magazine


Meanwhile, Barbara was delighted with her new computer, and was using it to send and receive AOL email from the desk in her study. Our workhorse PowerMac 7200/120 is out here in my office, a separate building from our house. I sent Barbara her irreplaceable AOL address book data file as an email attachment, which she downloaded, and began using immediately.

Memory Module Madness

Later in the week, after the RAM arrived, my buddy David volunteered to help me install it. He fastened a grounding strip to himself, then we opened up the PowerBook (not too difficult), guided by Todd Stauffer’s book. David attached the other end of the grounding ribbon to a metal thingamabob inside the guts of the computer.



The RAM chips live underneath the right side of the keyboard. Each PB1400 has 8MB of native memory soldered to the motherboard. Our model has an additional 8MB on a 3cm x 4cm board, identified with “83B/3B” on a little white sticker. This half-size module was sticking up at a strange angle from its soldered connector, obviously not attached.



Next to it, in the available RAM slot, was a 16MB full size module, with the writing “16MB PB1400 Bottom” and “IH58456” on its sticker. David removed the larger chip, pushed the small one back into place, and carefully piggy-backed the two new 24MB chips into the empty slot. With the computer still disassembled, we needed to press the tiny reset button on the rear panel to boot up.





David explains:


The reason that we had to do this was because the computer would not start up when the power button was pressed. The button that was pressed reset the Power Manager, which controls all sorts of things, including if the machine sees the power button after having been totally powered off (AC and battery). Sometimes it does, sometimes it does not.

Before the extensions loaded, we were presented with an error message warning us of a problem with memory, requiring an authorized service call. Ouch! During the next half hour, guided by David’s logical troubleshooting mind (he is a commercial airline pilot in real life), we systematically checked every combination of old and new and small and large RAM chips. The punch line:


With the original half-size 8MB module inserted, the computer works with one (BUT NOT BOTH) of the new 24MB boards, for a total of 48MB. When the small 8MB module is removed, the stacked 24s work perfectly, bringing us to 56MB.

My goal was the maximum 64MB, but Barbara can settle for 56MB (she won’t be able to tell the difference at her modest level of usage). I’m going to try to track down the cause of the conflict, but if you have any brilliant ideas or suggestions, please let me know immediately. Could there be some sort of incompatibility between the different chip manufacturers’ modules?



Onward and Upward

David has had plenty of exposure to PowerBooks, and currently owns a FireWire 400MHz unit. With experience as his tutor, he boosted the PB1400’s disk cache to 3000k in the Memory Control Panel, turned off the Speech Control Panel (and a few others) to put the System Folder on a diet, changed screen resolution to 256 colors in the Monitors and Sound Control Panel to speed up screen drawing, and helped me do a Custom Install of the “Internet” items from my OS 8.5 disk. Whew!


Barbara and I thanked him with lunch featuring freshly-baked DelBanco Saffron-Egg Brioche Bread (recipe available upon request), which I had removed from the oven just before he arrived, hours earlier.

I did a humongous 7.3MB download of Explorer 5 onto the PowerBook (over an hour @ 26,400, FWIW!), and at this moment Barbara is using MetaCrawler to look up biographical material on an author whose first novel she just finished reading. The PowerBook is a hit, thanks to Shelly, Karl, and David. That’s what friends are for, right?


FreeWWWeb = FreeWow!

I’m going to attempt to explain this quickly, but if I leave out something crucial or strike out completely, let me know and I’ll expand with an online column. Agreed? Good!

At the last monthly meeting of TMUG, our Tucson Mac Users Group, members Denny and Jerry demonstrated, to encourage TMUGgers to establish and use a no-fee ISP. We are facing a possible eventual inability to run our local dialup member bulletin board (BBS), because SoftArc’s First Class may not be supported in the future. The TMUG board of directors is considering migrating to a web-based BBS, accessible via TCP/IP. We’ll leave all that on the back burner for now.



The next day Denny emailed me instructions for setting up an account at I did it, and it really is free (no advertisements!) and it works. I wrote down the four steps required to convert the Remote Access and TCP/IP Control Panels’ settings back and forth between the ISP and America Online (not difficult), and tested everything several times. So far so good.


When David observed me switching manually between AOL and FreeWWWeb, he urged me to use the Location Manager in future. I’ll have to give it a try.

I was concerned that the generous people at FreeWWWeb might need to contact me, their “customer,” at some point, but I had no plans to use my “” address for anything else. What to do?



Enter Eudora. At Jerry’s suggestion, with a link from VersionTracker, I was soon downloading freeware Eudora 4.3.2, the “sponsored” edition, with discreet ads in the lower left corner of my screen. Using the SMTP settings Denny sent me, I was able to send email, but not receive it. Phooey.



David came to the rescue. After making sure Barbara’s PowerBook worked to his satisfaction (RAM problem notwithstanding), David, who is fluent in Eudora, poked around in the Settings department. In one of the little boxes, he changed “SMTP” to “POP” after eleven minutes of false starts, and my Eudora/FreeWWWeb email was flowing in both directions. I have a ten-minute rule when floundering, but David wisely ignored my timekeeping.

If you have an interest in learning more or trying FreeWWWeb, I cannot endorse it or support you, but I can verify it works on my computer. Their web site provides enough instructions to complete the task (or get you really messed up), and they claim to have many dialup modem numbers in the United States. Let me know how things turn out, in either case.



Whoever you are at FreeWWWeb, thanks for being free, and for functioning here in Tucson. Extra thanks to Jerry and Denny, for their presentation at the TMUG meeting.


Once Over Lightly, Joe

Joe Cicinelli, a loyal reader and occasional contributor to the Nemo Memo, sent me the following letter after reading my column in issue #60:

Thought I’d catch you up on some of the things I have been messing around with lately. After reading your column in My Mac Magazine #60, I see that you too have discovered Timbuktu Pro! I have purchase two sets of copies of this excellent software for my one PC and three Macs here at home and you can imagine the fun that I’m having.



My best friend Warren in Santa Barbara also has purchased a copy and I bought a copy for my mother who lives in extreme northern California so I could provide long distance technical support. I helped her buy an iMac DV in January of this year.



Well, TB2 is really fantastic for all sorts of things that might not
readily be apparent at first, like transferring files from my primary
Mac to the PC and visa versa. When I recently bought a 5-port
ethernet hub and hooked all the computers together, I immediately started researching software that would let me exchange software between the different platforms. All the solutions I found such as Mac/PC LAN and other products were very expensive and I found that TB2 does as good a job for what I need.



Also I’ve found TB2 to be a great tool for communicating with Warren in California. You see, in addition to controlling another machine, you can establish an intercom with one, and he and I use this feature to talk over the Internet almost every day. The intercom is full duplex, so it’s pretty responsive and almost as good as a real phone without any of the costs. Wow, what a lifesaver. And when I’m helping my mom work out a computer problem, I can actually talk her through the problem using this feature.



I also use TB2 to monitor an aging 6100/80 in my house that is set up as a web server. I use the server to host my personal website and help me learn more about CGI scripting for the website and my personal pet projects. Some of the functions on the server can be performed simply by clicking on a hypertext link from a web page! Imagine kicking off a backup by clicking on a link!



I love using TB2 from work when I forgot a file on my home computer. Imagine my glee when I can just log into my computer and get a file, check my personal email, or run a program, all without leaving my cubicle! This software can literally change your work habits.



Anyway, just some thoughts on your great column. I enjoy reading them each month. It’s the first thing I look at in My Mac each month, and occasionally the only thing I get around to reading.

Thanks to Joe, and to you, loyal readers. Bye for now, and keep in touch.

John Nemerovski

Websites mentioned:

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