Like a London broil hauled before a passel of peckish pumas, Mac OS X has recently received the lion’s share of Mac users’ attention. But one must occasionally put aside permissions and preemptive multitasking, to ponder parts and ports. This month’s Mac 911 looks at hardware–from salvaging an old Mac’s components, to adding a second internal media drive, to finding a cost-effective alternative to expensive ink-jet cartridges.
I have an older Power Mac that I recently replaced with a Power Mac G4. What parts can I move from the old Mac to the new one?
— Paul French, Macworld.com forums
Unless your “old” Power Mac is of fairly recent vintage, moving RAM from old Mac to new isn’t an option. Power Mac models beginning with the Power Mac G4 (Digital Audio) use PC133 RAM (RAM designed for a 133MHz system bus) and won’t function properly with the PC100 RAM found in earlier Power Mac models, starting with the original G3 (though you can use PC133 RAM in Macs designed to use PC100 RAM).
If the old Mac has an IDE drive, you can move that drive to one of the free drive slots in your Power Mac. (Just be sure to change the drive’s jumper settings from master to slave if the old drive will serve as a second drive rather than a replacement for the new Mac’s original drive.) If you’ve already filled your Mac’s IDE bus (which accommodates two IDE devices), you can place that IDE drive in a FireWire enclosure and use it as an external FireWire drive.
If you’ve added any PCI adapter cards to your old Mac–a SCSI adapter card or a PCI audio card, for example–you may be able to move them to your new Mac. Before doing so, however, check their OS X compatibility. A number of SCSI cards require updated drivers to perform reliably in OS X. (If the SCSI card does work, you can also salvage SCSI drives from your old Mac.) Other PCI cards, such as Creative Labs’ SoundBlaster Live for Macintosh, may never work with OS X.
And don’t forget external peripherals such as your monitor and your old ADB keyboard and mouse, which will work with your new Mac–with the help of Griffin Technology’s (615/399-7000, http://www.griffintechnology.com) $39 iMate USB-to-ADB adapter. Current Power Mac G4s support two monitors–one using Apple’s ADC and the other bearing a standard VGA connection.
I have the SuperDrive in the upper bay of my Power Mac G4 and would like to install a faster CD-RW drive in the bay normally reserved for Zip drives. Is this possible?
— Frank Jewell, Macworld.com forums
Before I explain what’s involved in such an undertaking, may I direct your attention to the FireWire ports on the back of your Mac? One of these ports, when used in conjunction with an external CD-RW drive, will provide you with all the disc-burning goodness you desire. A fast FireWire CD-RW drive costs around $200 and offers the advantages of convenience and compatibility.
I invoke these particular qualities for good reason. To place a 5.25-inch drive in the spot reserved for a 3.25-inch Zip drive, you must take hacksaw in hand and severely modify your Mac’s case–a process that will certainly void your warranty and, if you’re not careful, destroy the look (if not the functionality) of your Mac.
Then there’s the compatibility issue. Don’t expect just any old IDE CD-RW drive to work with your Mac. Not all drives are compatible. If you persist in your plans to place such a drive inside your computer, make sure it works before you start hacking away at the Mac’s case. You can do this by opening the Mac’s case (with the power off, please), detaching the power and data cables from the media drive currently in your Mac, attaching them to the new drive (which you’ve placed on the floor next to the Mac), firing up your systems, and seeing if you can read and write to media inserted in the drive.
If you still want to try this project, learn more from Quinn MacDonald, who’s performed this kind of surgery on a Power Mac G4 (Quicksilver). You’ll find the mighty Quinn’s instructions at http://www.quinnmacdonald.com/pages/g4_mod.html.
Alternative Audio Jack
The headphone jack on my iMac has died. I hate to take my system into the shop for such a little thing. Is there some other way I can continue to use headphones with my computer?
— Dan Burnett, Rochester, New York
With the help of a USB audio adapter such as Griffin Technology’s $35 iMic, you can get sound into and out of your iMac. The iMic has an input jack you can switch between line level and mike level, as well as an output jack you can use with headphones or a set of powered computer speakers.
To use the iMic with OS X, plug it into a free USB port on your iMac or a powered USB hub (rather than the USB port on the keyboard), open the Sound system preference, click on the Output tab, and select the iMic USB from the list of available audio-output devices. In OS 9, open the Sound control panel, click on the Output tab, and select USB Audio from the list of available devices.
How do you replace the internal battery of a slot-loading iMac DV?
— “iMac Daddy,” Macworld.com forums
If you flip your iMac onto its face (on a soft surface and with the power off), remove the door that covers the RAM and AirPort slots, and tilt the iMac up, you’ll spy the battery on the upper left area of the motherboard. Regrettably, you can’t get at it (nor should you try to with implements such as long pliers or chopsticks). To remove the battery, you must first take off the iMac’s bottom plastic case and internal metal shield. Thankfully, performing these chores is not difficult.
First, unplug all cables except the power cord. Open the door that covers the slots and remove the AirPort card (if it’s present). Then pry off the plastic cover, located just above the RAM slot, that covers the VGA port; touch the metal shield beneath this cover to discharge any static electricity you might be harboring. Unplug the power cord.
Remove the two Phillips screws on the side of the VGA port (those farthest away from the port–they hold the plastic cover in place) and the two screws next to the iMac’s kickstand. Starting at the top, pull the cover off. You’ll hear a snap when the cover finally comes loose from the bottom of the iMac–this is normal.
Six screws secure the inner shield–two at the top, two at the bottom close to either side of the iMac, and two at the bottom of the shield. Remove these screws and pull the shield away.
With the shield gone, the 3.6V LiIon battery is exposed. Remove the battery and take it to a well-stocked electronics or camera shop for replacement. For more details on how to crack open an iMac, see “Upgrade an iMac” (http://www.macworld.com/2001/10/howto/imac.html).
I love my old Epson Stylus Photo 1200 printer (even though Epson has failed to create OS X drivers for it), but my local retailer doesn’t carry the ink cartridges for it. Is there an alternative to purchasing these cartridges from Epson?
— Kevin Cook, Cincinnati, Ohio
You, my friend (and, I suspect, many other ink-jet-printer owners), may be a prime candidate for a Continuous Inking System (CIS). This apparatus places dummy ink cartridges inside a printer and then feeds them, via a series of tubes, from ink-filled bottles stationed at the side of the printer. The printer believes it’s carrying a regulation ink cartridge and goes about its job.
Advantages? Price, mainly–the initial investment of $120 to $200 for the equipment and ink may seem steep, but consider that Epson charges around $50 for the two ink cartridges (one with colored inks and one with black ink) for your printer. The 4-ounce bottles of ink that come with many of these systems are equivalent to 12 ink cartridges.
Disadvantages? I’d paint too rosy a picture if I suggested that installing and maintaining a CIS is as simple as flinging a new ink cartridge into your printer. The setup time isn’t terrible–the companies that sell these systems say they take around 30 minutes to install. However, the troubleshooting and maintenance material posted on the Web indicates that maintaining them can be a bother. It’s no small matter to put things right should you accidentally introduce air into one of these systems–something that can happen if an inkwell runs dry or if you leave your printer idle for too many days.
Companies selling CISs include MIS Associates (800/445-8296, http://www.inksupply.com) and Worldwide Imaging Supplies (800/559-3465, http://www.weink.com). These outfits offer CIS equipment for a variety of printers, including those whose ink cartridges make it more difficult to use nonstandard printer cartridges.
When I start up my Power Mac G4, the CD tray opens automatically. Why is this?
— Mike Nettleton, Portland, Oregon
Be assured that this action is in no way an editorial comment: your Mac isn’t sticking out its tongue at you. Rather, any number of things may be compelling it to eject its drawer. Among those causes are firmware that needs updating, a jammed eject button on the media drive, third-party keyboards, and a misbehaving USB device.
To fix the firmware, launch Apple’s Software Update and seek a firmware update for your Mac. If one’s available, install it.
To discover whether your eject button is awry, peel back the bezel that covers the media drive and check the button on the face of the drive. If it appears to be stuck in the pushed-in position, jiggle it in an attempt to make it pop out. Should you find tape covering this button, remove the tape.
To find out whether the keyboard is the culprit, switch off the Mac, unplug the keyboard, and restart your Mac. If the tray stays in place, you might consider using your Mac’s original keyboard or finding a different keyboard that doesn’t cause this problem. (Apple keyboards with faulty eject buttons can also cause this problem.)
If none of the above works, unplug any USB devices attached to your Mac (except for the keyboard and mouse) and restart. If the drawer stays in place, plug in one USB device and restart. Continue this plug-and-restart business for each USB device attached to your Mac. If the problem recurs, remove all USB devices except the one you plugged in last, and restart. If the tray again shoots out, check the Web for updated drivers for the problem USB device.
Additional AirPort Access
I have a PowerBook G3 (Wall Street) that I’d like to use with AirPort. I’ve heard there are third-party PC cards that let you join a wireless network. Do they really work?
— Paul Suszynski, Savannah, Georgia
In OS 9, yes. In OS X, for the most part, yes.
For the past couple of years, I’ve used an Orinoco PC Card Silver (now sold by Agere, 866/674-6626, http://www.orinocowireless.com) with my Wall Street PowerBook in OS 9, and it works beautifully. The AirPort software recognizes it just as if it were a bona fide AirPort card. Just shove the card into the PowerBook’s PC card slot, open the AppleTalk and TCP/IP control panels, select AirPort PC Card as your connection method, and join an AirPort network as you normally would.
Although Agere hasn’t released OS X drivers for the Orinoco cards, there’s an open-source driver at http://wirelessdriver.sourceforge.net. But it’s not perfect. After upgrading my PowerBook to OS X 10.1.5, I’ve found it difficult to use the Orinoco card to log on to my AirPort network if WEP encryption is enabled. Users visiting SourceForge.net’s forums indicate that this isn’t an isolated problem. My hope is that by the time you read this, the driver will be updated to work better with the most recent version of OS X. This driver also works with PC wireless cards from Proxim (which has purchased Farallon and its SkyLine cards) and D-Link. L
Tip of the Month
When I come across a site that creates a new pop-up window after I try to close one, I click on this favorite, which puts an end to any subsequent pop-up or pop-under windows generated by another pop-up.
— Richard Samul, Macworld.com Forums
Every so often, a reader asks me about multisession CD-R discs–CDs you can write to several times (but not erase).