Our December 2003 cover story focused on one of the hottest debates in computer history: Macs versus PCs. We expected to receive many angry letters about our testing -- instead, we received a flood of appreciation for our Mac Beat item on upgrading the G4 Cube. Mac users are, it seems, predisposed to love quirky outsiders and misunderstood misfits. Macworld, too, embraces its outside-the-norm readers -- we were delighted by the positive response to our Geek Factor article about X11. The Mac may be small on market share, but it's big in our hearts.

Thanks, Cubed

Frank Dobbelaere

As a Cube owner, I was pleasantly surprised to find a Cube article among all the buzz about G5s and other new hardware ("Building the Perfect Cube," Mac Beat, December 2003). But not mentioning the world's best Cube information source,, seems odd to me. Even if the writer didn't get any inspiration and information from the site, it should have been included. is home to an excellent Cube FAQ and a thriving support forum. is a fabulous site; I used it extensively while researching my story. Unfortunately, a reference to it was removed during editing (due to space constraints). You can find more information about it in this issue's Geek Factor, page 78. -- David Sawyer McFarland

Steve Luxenberg

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I've been bugged, annoyed, and frustrated that I couldn't burn CDs and DVDs on my G4 Cube. I've called Apple and just about everyone else complaining that someone should make a SuperDrive-like drive that's compatible with G4 Cubes.

As soon as I read your article, I logged on to and ordered the Mercury Ti-SuperDrive.

I love my Cube, and as tempting as it was for me to go out and buy a new iBook, I just couldn't justify spending that kind of money for something that I wanted but didn't need.

You've come to my rescue. A million thank-yous to you.

John Weis

I appreciated your article on upgrading the G4 Cube, which included the replacement of the CD drive with the Multi Drive, from MCE Technologies. But thanks to the usual lack of communication between Apple and third-party suppliers, that burner doesn't work with OS X 10.3. And I've found that my external CD recorder, a QPS 8x4x32 CD-RW drive, which worked great with OS X 10.2, is dead in Panther. This is the last time I will buy a new software or hardware release from Apple. Let someone else work out the bugs first.

MCE offers a driver that adds Panther compatibility to its Cube DVD Multi Drive. Contact to request the driver. The driver is also included with currently shipping drives. -- Ed.

Problems with Panther

Todd Johnson

Overall, I enjoyed your story about Panther (" Panther by the Numbers," December 2003). But the "Network in the Finder" item has some major bugs.

You say in your article to "just choose Network from the Go menu to see a list of servers in the familiar Finder interface." But I've found several bugs while using Panther in a day-to-day work environment at multiple office locations on multiple test machines.

For example, you must enter your password, even if you've stored it in the Keychain, and there is no Options button to allow you to store the password or to allow you to choose whether you have a secure or a standard connection to the server, as there was in Jaguar's Network Browser.

If you leave a Finder window displaying the network open, let your Mac go to sleep, and then wake it up, expect the Finder to freeze at least half the time. This necessitates a hard reboot; force-quitting the Finder won't work.

Browsing the available servers is painfully slow -- much slower than in Jaguar's Network Browser -- and file listings in the remote folders take longer to come up. Plus, servers mounted this way do not show up on the desktop. These are just a few of the problems.

In some ways, the Finder has matured greatly since the initial release of OS X, but as far as browsing network services goes, Panther is less mature than version 10.0. I wouldn't deploy Panther in a stable network environment until Apple fixed it. Jaguar wasn't ready until version 10.2.3. I expect the same from Panther.

Charles Frean

I'm enjoying several of Panther's new features and interface improvements, but I have two main complaints about the OS. The first is that Column view is (still) restricted to alphabetical order. I much prefer to display certain folders in reverse chronological order, as is possible in List view, but I like the flexibility of Column view for general navigation. I organize my work in different folders. Reverse chronological order lets me quickly see which files I've been working on recently. It's time-consuming to have to switch to List view and back.

The second complaint is that when I copy files, I cannot choose an Overwrite Only If Changed option, because Panther doesn't offer one. I frequently want to copy a folder from drive A to drive B, where the folder already exists on drive B and I'm trying only to update the folder to include new files and newer versions of existing files. The Finder detects only existing file names; it can't tell whether an existing file has the same name but an earlier modification date. What I want to do is overwrite files with the same name only if they have an earlier modification date. If the Finder's copy operation had this capability, I could back up a large folder much faster because I wouldn't have to overwrite identical files, only those that have changed.

Chris Watson

After receiving the December issue of Macworld, I was eager to try out the new Panther tips. I tried one of Ted Landau's suggestions: I used Panther's Font Book to disable some duplicate fonts. Unfortunately, once I did so, Apple apps such as Mail, Address Book, Safari, and Disk Utility all failed to launch (though non-Apple apps continued to work, adding to the confusion). After much gnashing of teeth and running a variety of utilities, I realized that the changes in Font Book might be an issue. I went back into Font Book and manually reactivated all the duplicate fonts. Apple's apps were immediately restored to full functionality. I'm not sure whether this is a serious bug -- Apple's programs may just be very sensitive New Age apps. But this was an unpleasant (and inconvenient) surprise after following Macworld's usually spot-on advice.

I have seen a few similar reports. The problem isn't with Font Book or with the advice per se. It has to do with the duplicate you choose to deactivate. If you deactivate a duplicate font that's in the System: Library folder, you may experience the sorts of problems described here. The solution is to choose the other font. Often people just let Font Book decide which font to deactivate, and the program sometimes makes the wrong choice. -- Ted Landau

Stand by Your Mac

Elle Fagan

Thanks so much for your article on Power Mac G5s versus PCs ("The Race Is On," December 2003). I liked and agreed with your approach: comparing apples and oranges.

I love technology and did my own site design and HTML. I'm not a digital expert, but I was able to learn to use the Mac, and sticking up for it has been easy, since its technology has saved me from problems with viruses, crashes, and a list of other stressful incidents. So even my old trusty G3 is "fastest" because of its compatibility with my needs.

When a person talks about "fastest" in terms of computers, their general features as they apply to the individual user's needs are what's important. If a computer handles well a function I use daily, and I achieve my computer-related goals in record time, then whatever computer and software organization and tasking methods I've used create the reality of "fastest" for me.

I love my G3 Mac, but I'm shopping for a G4 because the G3 can't run the new software I need. In terms of time saved for my arts business and its needs, online and off, the Mac wins with me.

Ryan Wyler

Nice article on the G5s versus PCs. I'm a recent switcher. Since I've switched, I've purchased three Macs and convinced about five friends to buy Macs, too.

Your article does a good job of explaining that even though there are a few desktops in the world that are currently faster than the dual-processor G5, at least Macs are back in the running.

I was a little disappointed with just one of the tests: MP3 encoding. Musicmatch Jukebox doesn't encode MP3s at anywhere near the same quality as QuickTime does, because it encodes much faster. It would be nice to see a follow-up with the MP3 test using iTunes, or even a program such as Lame, (www.mp3-tech .org/encoders.html) on each system.

I bet it's hard to keep everyone happy with articles like the ones you publish, but you've done a great job.

Mark Comer

So the PC has a little edge, and four out of six tests proved it. What I really notice is that the PCs you used in the tests were not the little $499 Dells you see in commercials. By the time you equip a PC to do what a Mac does, you spend comparable amounts of cash.

I also feel that the extra speed of the PC is offset by the clumsy operating system. I'm spoiled by my Mac! If I want something done, I get it done on my Mac. When I plug something in, it plays (I don't have to identify hardware, load drivers, restart, start again, reload drivers, and then find out that things that used to work last week now do not). The PC speed advantage just takes you from crash to crash at lightning speed, and the operating system is as elegant as dancing with cinder blocks strapped to your shoes.

I don't care that my Mac is a bit slower. It works as near to flawlessly as anything I could imagine. My work gets done, the hardware is of wonderful quality (the case even closes tightly), it's dependable, and it's a visual treat.

There's still one thing that I don't understand, though: why is it that my 300MHz Yosemite G3 boots up and is ready to go faster than my 1.2GHz home-built Athlon?

PowerBooks Hinge on Design

Richard Bruce

I was dismayed to hear about the excessive hardware flaws of the new 15-inch PowerBook G4s (Reviews, December 2003), but I'm not surprised. A 12-inch iBook I bought had to be replaced twice at the time of purchase, and then it had a faulty keyboard. Later I bought a 14-inch iBook, and the display had large dark areas from being pressed by something in the frame. The replacement had the same problem, though not as bad, and the plastic frame around the display stuck out around the microphone on both sides, the latch didn't work, and there was a brown thing embedded in the plastic, which somebody at manufacturing thought they could scratch out.

This, in addition to things such as uneven seams and CD doors hanging down, prompts me to give a message to Jonathan Ive, Apple's vice president of industrial design: No one will mind if you take a hint from Big Blue's portable hardware, and here's a clue -- micrometer.

Think Different, Dang It

Anthony W. Magee

I've been reading your publication for four years now and have heard some of the worst criticism about Apple come from its longtime users. I just want to say something a smart man named Sam Walton said a while back: "Don't get so stuck in your ways that you can't change." Way to go, Apple, for making your users think about what they're doing, for expanding their minds. And I love OS X 10.3, even though I don't yet own a Mac that can handle it. Exposé caught my eye immediately and stands out as an exercise of thought.

X11 Lessons

Amitai Schlair

In December 2003's Geek Factor ("X11 Marks the Spot"), Jim Akin recommends the FinkCommander GUI for OS X users looking to dabble with OS X applications. Those who seek or cultivate a more profound appreciation for OS X's BSD heritage may find it more fulfilling to install Unix software in a Terminal window.

Many of the standard Unix utilities found in OS X originated in NetBSD, a free version of Unix with a long history of excellent security and code quality. NetBSD also has a framework, called pkgsrc, to help compile additional programs from source code -- and it works on several operating systems, including OS X. To learn more, visit

Marc K. Myers

After reading the article about X11, I was eager to give it a try. I used the link provided in the article and found that Apple is not offering X11 for any version of the OS prior to 10.3. I'm planning on waiting until 10.3.2 to obtain Panther because I'd rather let the people on the bleeding edge deal with all of a new OS's inevitable problems. That leaves me wondering where I can get a copy of Apple's X11 package that will run in OS X 10.2.8.

Unfortunately, Apple pulled the Jaguar-compatible X11 beta from its Web site when it released Panther. Version 1.0 of X11 is Panther-only and included on Panther installation discs. If you would like to run X11 on Jaguar, you can install a non-Apple variant of X11 called XFree86 via FinkCommander, or download it directly from It isn't quite as user friendly as Apple X11, but it launches from OS X's Applications folder and runs loads of great, free X11 software. Additional information is available at -- Jim Akin


In " The Two-Mac E-mail Shuffle " (Mobile Mac, February 2004), we said that copying the contents of OS X's Address Book to a secondary Mac required copying the file Users/username/ Library/Preferences/ .plist. In fact, the file to copy is Users/username/ Library/Application Support/AddressBook/

In " Shop Smart " (January 2004), we mentioned Michael Thole's Searchling 1.1, which is no longer available. Also, we gave an incorrect URL for Thomas Reed's Coffee Break Pro X. The correct URL is

In the text of February 2002's Mac OS X Hints "Unix Tip of the Month," we printed the ' (apostrophe) character where we should have printed the ` (grave accent) character in two commands. The article's screenshot shows the proper syntax.


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