When Steve Jobs announced that Apple was switching from PowerPC to Intel chips, initial reactions included furrowed brows, quizzical stares, and the scratching of heads. You had questions and, until recently, we had few answers. Once the first Intel-based Macs finally arrived, we immediately set about answering as many of your questions as we could. Those answers, published in the March issue, satisfied many. But for a few of you, they only raised more questions.
Questions about the FAQ
Dana F. Sutton —I read the test scores in “The Intel Mac FAQ” ( March 2006 ) with considerable interest, but do they tell the complete story? You compare the 2GHz iMac Core Duo with the 2.1GHz iMac G5, using the factory-installed 512MB of RAM on both. But I have read that Rosetta is a real memory hog. Is 512MB of RAM really enough to run Rosetta on a Core Duo machine? Is Rosetta really as slow as you report, or did your test force it to do a lot of disk swapping? It would be interesting if you could repeat these comparisons with RAM maxed out on both machines.
In addition to the tests we reported, we also tested with 1GB of RAM. Everything—on both Intel and PowerPC systems—ran only slightly faster, with Photoshop showing the most improvement. And yes, Rosetta apps really are as slow as we reported.—Ed.
Bob Barkie —I switched from a PC to an iMac a few months ago. When I discovered a couple of months later that I had just missed out on getting an iMac with an iSight and Front Row, I wasn’t really too dismayed (though free gadgets and software are always cool). Now I read that if I had waited just a little longer, I could have had an iMac that is reportedly twice as fast—and that still includes an iSight and Front Row—for the same price that I paid for my machine. I can live with the bad timing, but I really wonder about software compatibility. I know Apple is writing two types of code for some of its programs, so they will run on PowerPC and Intel chip-based machines. But what about other developers? Will I discover that I’ve waited for Civilization IV just to find that it will run only on an Intel Mac? It seems that the Mac world is becoming as volatile as the Windows world.
Scott Lederhaus —The new MacBook Pro will not have a modem. Why not? I know that few laptop users go online via modem these days, but what about those of us who use a modem to fax documents? I was ready to go and buy a new notebook, but without a modem hookup, I’m lost.
As we wrote in the story, most laptop users probably have broadband access over Ethernet or Wi-Fi. And Apple does sell an external USB modem for people who need it.—Ed.
Up with tune-ups
Harry Baxter —Thank you, thank you, thank you for your “The Ultimate Mac Tune-Up” article ( March 2006 ). Safari used to take 45 seconds to load; now it takes 3, thanks to your tips. If you have any more hints, please make them a regular feature in your columns.
Claudiu Benga —While Joe Kissell did an OK job overall of explaining how to speed up various applications, I have a problem with some of his advice about Firefox. The problem is with his encouraging readers to set
8. HTTP says that a client can have four queries at a time on a given Web server. Increasing this to eight would fool most Web servers into thinking that your one client was two. Yes, it would increase your speed, but it could potentially slow down everyone else’s. In extreme cases, if enough people followed this advice, it could crash their server.
James Baily —In “The Ultimate Mac Tune-Up,” Kyle Wiens wrote, “If the free RAM reported by Activity Monitor is less than 10 percent of your physical RAM…you need to increase your RAM until those numbers are more in line.” This is just plain wrong. If you run OS X for a while, nearly all of your free memory should be used—and this is a good thing. Inactive memory is used to cache data and recently used applications. If those cached items are needed again, the OS will load them from RAM instead of from the disk. Free memory is memory that the OS isn’t using for caching and that is therefore going to waste.
You’re right. That sentence should have been “If the total of free and inactive [emphasis added] RAM reported by Activity Monitor is less than 10 percent of your physical RAM under a typical workload of apps and documents, you need to increase your RAM until those numbers are more in line.” That was the editor’s error, not the author’s, and he’s very, very sorry.—Ed.
Chad Armstrong —Regarding your article about troubleshooting bad RAM: recently, Adobe InDesign started unexpectedly quitting on me. Then my whole computer started crashing. Then it wouldn’t even boot. At first, I suspected a faulty hard drive, but the Apple Hardware Test reported that my drive was fine. After some further tests, it reported that one of the RAM chips was bad. I took the chip out and shipped it off to get a replacement. With that new chip installed, everything is now up and running just fine. The upshot: RAM defects can be difficult to diagnose, since they can appear to be so many other things.
Ian Thomas —In “Multiple iPods and Computers,” (Playlist, March 2006 ), you said that iPod.iTunes can avoid duplicate files, but implied that PodWorks can’t. I am attaching a screenshot to prove that PodWorks can. I don’t know how well these options work, but they’re there.
They write the songs
Daniel Baker —When Dan Miller concluded his story about the controversy over publishing music lyrics online (“Bye-Bye, Lyrics,” Mac Beat, March 2006) by saying “as usual, users are caught in the cross fire,” he’s repeating the all-too-popular sentiment that listeners are the victims here. But if anyone’s caught in the cross fire, it’s the composers. Music publishers who are going after online lyrics sites share ownership of those songs with the composers. By seeking free access to copyrighted material, the “users” Miller refers to are, in effect, waging war against intellectual property rights. If publishers do nothing to defend those rights, composers lose income. And, after all, without the composers, would this situation even exist?
Walter R. Basil —The review of MacJournal 3.2 (; March 2006) says that you can “easily export journals to a .Mac account or post entries to your blog using LiveJournal, Blogger, WordPress, or MovableType.” True, you can—but only after you go to Terminal, enable some hidden features, and then tag your articles correctly. That’s easy? I love MacJournal, but your review could cause someone to go out and buy the software only to find that he or she needs to jump through several hoops to get it to work.
You’re right; we should have made it clearer that MacJournal doesn’t claim to be a full-featured blogging client.—Ed.