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Apple Macintosh Performa 6400/6500 User's Log

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This page last updated on or about 11-13-06

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Certain items like embedded web links and documented costs/prices for certain wares discussed may be out-of-date. This is Real World usage rather than a syrupy evangelistic exercise, so you'll find both good and bad things about Macs here.

Apple Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Table of Contents

11-13-06: I've been too busy to do more with the 6400 for a while

I've been terribly busy since the last entry here, and so made no further progress on the 6400.

I must also admit though that it strained my eyes so bad to work with the 6400's old 17 inch flickering CRT in the previous sessions, that I've dreaded returning to the task.

It appears too it's going to be even harder than I thought to incorporate the 6400 into my present computing circle. For instance, I may not be able to get the scanner working at all.

I've also acquired Photoshop Elements 4.0 for the PC, and been fiercely wrestling with its awful interface to gradually and painfully squeeze out some paint images.

Still, there's the allure of that wonderful ClarisWorks 4.x trapped inside the various incompatibilities and hard-to-see 6400 box....and the potentual for regaining use of the More II outliner-- if not my own Pathfinder on that particular Mac.

I know I can output fancy sign graphics, charts, maps, and complex images from ClarisWorks 4 on the 6400 in something like 2% of the time it'd take on any modern platform, both Mac and PC. Even versus $2000 worth of high end graphics apps on the newer machines! Seriously! The trouble would likely be in getting them outside the 6400 skin, and internet-ready. Plus squinting at the 6400's flickering screen. Ouch!

I also discovered that the 6400's rear Ethernet port doesn't play well with the type of cable I'm currently using to connect it to the LAN. The cable's insulation includes a little rubbery sheath which covers the locking tab-- I suppose to help protect it from snags and accidental breakage when you're threading the cable through all sorts of obstacles during a rewire job. On the 6400 the case around the port prevents you from accessing the tab through its sheath with your fingers, forcing you to use needle-nose pliers for the job. These same cables don't have such a problem with the PCs (which are all of course much newer than the 6400).

My worsening vision problems are the largest obstacle to my use of the 6400. I have fairly advanced cataracts now, and can sometimes barely see my PC's 21 inch LCD display, even with Windows XP set to vision-impaired mode. The 6400's 17 inch monitor seems so small-- and being a CRT flickers so much-- it literally physically pains me to use it. Agh!

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

2-25-06: Houston, we have a working ZIP drive

I finally got around to tinkering with the 6400 again today. Besides being awfully busy in general, I do NOT relish troubleshooting or setting up computers these days. Indeed, in my own personal paradise I would never ever do such a thing.

Plus, although the 6400 has a pretty good display for its generation of computer, my aging eyesight these days makes it hard for me to spend much time on a CRT screen compared to the LCD (the CRT flicker strains my eyes). And even a 17 inch CRT like the 6400's seems painfully small to me-- and another source of eyestrain.

I focused primarily on the SCSI peripherals today.

WARNING: Anywhere I'm dis-connecting or connecting SCSI cables here, I'm doing so with the Mac SHUT DOWN and it and all its peripherals powered down. YOU MUST DO IT THIS WAY ON OLD MACS OR SOMETHING WILL BURN UP.

Trying to connect up the scanner and ZIP drive like they originally were at WebFLUX Central (according to old log entries and my own rusty guesses) didn't work. The 6400 couldn't detect them at all.

I dug up a ZIP pamphlet for connecting ZIPs to a PC, and changed the cabling scheme some before switching on and booting.

OS 9 did remember the date and time. So even with a dead PRAM battery as long as the 6400 is plugged into a live electrical feed the PRAM memory will be maintained.

I switched to the 7.5 hard drive for start up and rebooted. For there at boot up I get to see a display of what the 6400 sees in terms of SCSI devices, due to some special hard drive utilities we got with our SCSI drive years back when we added it.

But the cabling changes didn't help.

I also got an error message that couldn't load the ZIP driver because couldn't see a ZIP drive.

I fiddled with the termination and ID options too (as suggested by the pamphlet), and still nothing.

The Iomega pamphlet I found tells you to refer to another Iomega document-- a help manual on disk-- if you're having problems the phamplet doesn't help.

I found the manual on the hard drive where I put it many years ago. And it referred me to the Mac pamphlet for connecting the drive hardware. Agh! Another hand off.

I spent the next 20-30 minutes looking for my ancient Mac pamphlet regarding connecting the drive. Finally found it.

It was no help at all. Just handed me off again. Telling me to refer to one of the other documents here-- the same documents that sent me to the Mac brochure(!) Grrr.

So far as I could tell I had the drive itself set right. So it was time to scale back my ambitions and try just one peripheral at once.

I'm not set up at the moment to test the scanner anyway, since you need a graphics app using the scanner plug-in. And I need to survey all that first. So I take the scanner out of the loop. SCSI cable-wise.

I think I turned termination ON on the ZIP now, since it'd be the last thing on the chain.

Booted up again still brought no improvement.

Now I suspected a bad cable. I had thought the one cable awfully skinny for a SCSI cable. Now I suspect it's not working at all. For this ZIP drive worked fine on the Quadra 650 last time I tried it.

I cannibalized a SCSI cable from the Q650 to replace the skinny cable from the 6400's bundle (while the 6400 was shut down of course).

Eureka! We have a working ZIP drive! SCSI ID 5!

But the Iomega icon still showed up as disabled at boot up. And this time I got a different error message about it: Something like "The Iomega driver extension could not load because another driver is already controlling an Iomega drive".

Then I seemed to recollect something about the hard drive utilities installed at the time we added the SCSI drive taking over that ZIP driver duty. Hmm. Maybe that's why the ZIP driver extension was disabled when the 6400 returned to me. From way back then.

Around this boot up I also got an annoying 'event reminder' pop up dialog, apparently related to the Printmaster app. I'd sure kill that as soon as possible!

I stuck in a ZIP disk and got a prompt about formatting it for Mac. So I did (it was likely a PC format disk when stuck in). After the format the icon showed on the desk top and opened like a regular Mac disk. So the ZIP drive now seems to be alive.

I went into the 7.5 extensions manager control panel and disabled the redundant ZIP driver there. While in there I looked for anything relating to the event reminder pop up or Printmaster, but found nothing.

Around this time I decided to clean up the Apple menu by moving stuff from its folder inside the System folder to a newly created folder on my desktop I named "MOVED from Apple menu". I do this rather than trashing the items because they're all aliases, and I can't remember if Apple aliases will trash their actual counterparts. I don't think they will, but why take the chance? Plus, by doing this I can easily backtrack if moving something causes me a problem later.

Uh oh. Around here I accidentally start opening PhotoDeluxe while moving items from one folder to another. I think it's because the Mac thinks I'm double-clicking on something, but soon I realize it's happening because I dragged and dropped a file onto the PhotoDeluxe alias icon, so PhotoDeluxe is trying to open the file dropped atop it. Agh!

Besides moving some things, I also find more crap to delete, and do so. I restart.

I keep seeing some signs of unwanted programs cranking up during boot up, and remember something about old Macs having a startup items folder in the System folder. Aha! I look, and there they are. I basically move everything out of there but for a Kodak Precision startup I think relates to the scanner or maybe PhotoDeluxe. I create a separate "MOVED from..." folder on the desktop for this stuff, like before.

While fiddling in the control panels and such I notice the 7.5.3 OS (revision 2.2) is using a 4 MB disk cache and ZERO virtual memory. If I remember correctly, things like scanner use, or ColorIt! or PhotoDeluxe didn't like virtual memory turned on, back in the old days.

I begin looking around on the 7.5 disk to see it has a suitable app plus plug-in for scanner use.

If memory serves, at one time we used PhotoDeluxe along with the scanner's own plug-in for this time. Maybe sometime later we switched to using ColorIt! and the plug-in.

The 7.5 disk has no ColorIt now. It does have a PhotoDeluxe-- but that app doesn't possess the scanner plug-in in its plug-in folder.

I found some junk to trash and did. I restarted to test boot up again. It seemed OK. I switched startup disk to OS 9 and restarted.

Whew! It takes OS 9 two or three times longer to boot than 7.5!

I notice on this side it's 9.0 using 256 MB of virtual memory on the SCSI drive. The 6400 has 136 MB of hardware RAM.

On the OS 9 drive I find PhotoDeluxe 2.0, and it's in possession of a scanner plug-in. I find no ColorIt! from the old days there. Except for a copy I transferred only days ago from an archival CD.

So it appears if I wish to test the scanner as promptly as possible, I should try rearranging my cabling again, and then use PhotoDeluxe in OS 9 for the job.

At this point I shut down.

Darn! I forgot to test the ZIP drive in OS 9. But hopefully it's working there too now. Having the ZIP drive working will give me in theory at least three different ways to move files back and forth between the 6400 and other platforms. One, via attachments to web email from the OS 9 browser. Two, the ZIP drive (although at the moment that might be tricky, due to file format glitches to be overcome: Mac-to-PC; W98-to-WXP; ancient Mac OS-to-Mac OS X; maybe more). Three, the AppleTalk option between the 6400, Q650, and recently arrived 637CD. I'm pretty sure I got such cables here somewhere.

Of course the web mail thing will hopefully be my workhorse for that, bypassing all the other possible obstacle courses. A possible fourth transfer option would be over the same Ethernet LAN which allows the 6400 to see the internet in OS 9. But I recall that being problematic years ago on this machine. And even in OS X today there seems to be major problems in that regard for some reason.

Having a way to back up work files and get them in and out of the 6400 is crucial. If for some reason that could not be done, it'd be insane to use the machine for anything at all-- but maybe for letting kids play games on it.

Oh yeah! I completely forgot about a possible fifth option here! Floppy disk! The 6400 and other ancient Macs here all sport floppy drives! And many of the file formats produced in OS 7.5 would fit on a floppy! Yes, it'd be easy for a scanned image to get too big. But even there you might be able to adjust your parameters to get by. My primary desktop PC also has a legacy floppy-- but I'm unsure how useful it is with Windows XP in transferring files from even older Windows versions-- much less Macs of any era. Yes, the old Mac OS versions on the 6400 do sport more compatibility with old Windows formats in two ways: Apple's own optional DOS disk format, plus MacLinkPlus translators. But Windows XP itself seems awfully persnickety in dealing with older Windows files.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

2-20-06: 6400 Salvage session number three

There were predictions of overnight storms a couple days ago, so I unplugged the 6400 as well as other machines from the grid.

This also helped me determine if the 6400's PRAM battery truly is dead again, the next time I powered up and booted the machine.

Naturally, it was. Things rarely come easily at WebFLUX Central.

I could tell because the 6400 had reverted back to a 1956 date and time again.

I booted up from the System 7.5 disk where I'd previously enabled the ZIP drive extension. Upon bootup I got an error message that the driver wasn't loaded because the 6400 couldn't see any ZIP drive.

The desktop trash can still had something in it from my previous session so I emptied it now.

I dug up some archival CDs from 1993-2000 or so, and began examining their directories with the 6400. When I found something I wanted to bring forward in time to this machine, I copied it over.

Some of the file transfers reported disk errors from the CD. No wonder though, considering how old the CD is. I continued the copy process when prompted for most of the folders. However, for things like OS updates I can't abide errors, and so erased the flawed copy from the 6400's disk after it was done.

I'd archived stuff like downloaded net installs of Open Transport, or System 7.5.3 updates and the like, years ago, after I installed them on the machines here.

I believe I managed to get a complete copy of my HyperCard 2.1 development collection copied to the 6400. I need that in order to do much with my items like Pathfinder, as I just get an error message when I try to run it on the crippled HyperCard Player Apple replaced the real HyperCard with a long time ago-- before killing HyperCard completely. Agh!

Yay! I managed to crank up Pathfinder too! Pathfinder is my own little artificial intelligence program. My brother and I created the first version in C (a professional programming language) for System 6, but almost immediately after we released it Apple released System 7, in which the C Pathfinder exhibited numerous bugs. My brother and I were too exhausted to start another round of development to fix it, and our software effort died then and there.

Somehow I called up the brute will power to recreate the core of the C Pathfinder in HyperCard all on my own sometime after that. At which point Apple killed HyperCard, of course. Agh!

So almost no one but myself ever got to use Pathfinder.

Pathfinder is a remarkable, almost eerie program at times, as it's based on an integration of the I Ching, Art of War, and Tao of Power.

I've been surprised many times by the answers the program gave me, and how they coincided with the topics discussed at the time. The program almost seems self-aware at times.

One of the last times I used it, it (and/or the HyperCard app on which it depends) was running from a hard drive which was failing at the time-- and Pathfinder ignored my question to warn me it was corrupted and could not be depended upon. Within minutes of that response, I got much more obvious signs of calamity from the Mac.

I have more tales like that. But anyway, now I had it on the 6400. I did notice both HyperCard and Pathfinder seemed to run abnormally slow on the 6400 when I opened them. At first I thought this might be because I now had a real HC 2.1 replacing newer 2.2 and 2.3 HC Players in the directory.

The first question I asked Pathfinder was its current status for providing me with accurate and useful answers from this platform. Its reponse was it faced great difficulty-- basically being under seige from adversity in the present circumstances. Its answer was surprisingly emphatic, too.

Then I realized what Pathfinder was referring to. The slowness with which it was running. You see, Pathfinder's heart depends basically upon quantum mechanics-- or pure randomness. Specifically, its code uses the time span inbetween the keystrokes used for question entry to determine the best answer.

But HC 2.1 and/or Pathfinder itself consist of 680x0 code. Now running in emulation on this PowerPC 6400. For that's how Apple handled its switchover from CISC to RISC chips back then. Agh! That's why it's so slow! And why Pathfinder's randomness can't be up to par.


Well, I do have a couple different 680x0 Macs here I can choose from to set up for sole dedication to Pathfinder and maybe Hypercard too. But it'll be more trouble, and highly annoying. For I'm hurting for desk space for all these machines. And my eyes can't take long use of small CRTs these days. The 6400 at least has a 17 inch CRT. The 680x0 Macs range from 13 to 15 inch CRT possibilities.

Hmm. So my hopes to use Pathfinder/HyperCard on the 6400 seem dashed. Unless I can find a PPC or 'fat' binary version of HC 2.1, maybe. But that may be awfully difficult, if not impossible. Especially on my near zero dollar budget for all this.

I ran across another reminder here of why the cramped free disk space on the 6400's drives could have caused it problems. Namely, the 6400 uses huge chunks of disk space for virtual memory. For running in either 7.5 or 9. I was reminded of this when I poked around in the control panels.

Well, I'd pruned a lot of useless files off both disks already. But not rebuilt the desktops. I decided I'd better do that now.

I had to use the Mac Help menu to remind myself how to cause desktop rebuilding on boot up. Turns out you hold down both the Apple and Option keys at the same time while booting. After that you'll get a dialog asking if you want to rebuild the disk (since it takes a while). You click OK, and then go have yourself a sandwich or whatever. The same dialog will pop up again later for your second hard drive, if you have one like this 6400 does.

I figured it safest to do these rebuilds both from the OS 9 disk, figuring the newer OS would surely be more savvy about handling the 7.5 rebuild too, than 7.5 might be about doing a 9.0 disk.

After that I trashed some more extraneous files off the 9 disk, and shut down.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

2-18-06: Connecting a PC monitor to your 6400

Joe emailed me asking about this issue. Below is my slightly edited reply:

Hi Joe!

http://charm.cs.uiuc.edu/users/olawlor/ref/mac_ports/index.html provides info on the Mac ports.

http://www.griffintechnology.com/archive/video/index.html may have the adapter you need.

The 6400's video port is a DB-15 according to http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=112369

For a long time the standard PC display connector was VGA. But if you want to use something like a new flat panel you may have to study the newer display port specs, and even use maybe two adapters rather than just one(?).

Joe, years back when I was shopping for a similar solution, there were PC monitors for sale which specifically touted Mac-compatibility, and came bundled with an adapter for that when you bought the monitor. Of course the situation may be more complicated concerning really old Macs like the 6400 now.

Here's the google search I used (in case you want to check out more results):


Hope this helps!

-- JR

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

2-17-06: Another salvage session with the 6400

I referred to older entries in this log to see what IDs the SCSI devices on the 6400 originally held years ago before the system went to my nephew.

A scanner and ZIP drive were bundled with the 6400. I inspected the scanner for obvious damage, and saw little. Though a paper tag warning about a carriage lock down screw to be used for moving the device was gone. My nephew's family had not locked down the screw when they delivered it. I DID lock it down when it originally left, instructing them on unlocking it once they arrived home: plus the tag was still present then, too.

The original scanner instructions (now missing I believe) had warned the scanner could be damaged if transported without being locked down. Of course, all sorts of stuff could have happened to it besides that in the years it has been gone. Still, it originally worked on the 6400-- although its associated software was known to crash easily back then. There were certain actions the user needed to try to avoid. Anyway, I have no personal scanner, so it'd be nice if this one did work.

One of the spring clips which holds one side of a SCSI cable connector on the scanner has been broken off. But the cables seem to connect alright without it.

The ZIP drive requires a power transformer. There was a transformer in the accessories accompanying the system upon its arrival back at WebFLUX Central. But the decal text on the transformer indicated no hint of it being related to the drive. I compared the electrical specs printed on the transformer with others here known for certain to be ZIP transformers, and the specs were way off. So for the moment I put the 6400 ZIP away and cannibalized a known complete SCSI ZIP drive from my Quadra 650.

I made a written note of the current ID and termination settings on the back of both the Q650 and 6400 ZIP drives before changing anything.

I then connected the scanner, the ZIP drive, and an Ethernet cable from our LAN all to the 6400 for further tests. I set the SCSI IDs and termination according to the original info from this log.

I recall the SCSI devices needing to power up first in the old days, so I lit them up first.

Due to the monitor's sticky power on button I've plugged it into a switched power strip so I can leave the monitor button depressed 24-7, and just use the strip switch for it.

The scanner bulb lit up, and the carriage moved. So it didn't seem completely dead.

I booted up the 6400 from its IDE 7.5 disk. The date and time looked correct.

Unfortunately I couldn't locate any suitable app in 7.5 to activate the scanner, so I turned off the scanner with its power switch and shut down the 6400 (I needed more info before making another scanner attempt).

The 7.5 disk also shows at start up a scan of both the SCSI and IDE buses. It appeared neither the scanner or ZIP drives were being seen by the 7.5 side of the 6400 during the previous bootup.

I booted the 6400 up again, with the scanner off. The ZIP still didn't seem to be recognized.

In 7.5 I opened an Internet Explorer 3.x browser to see if the 6400 could see the LAN and/or internet. This seemed to fail. And even freeze up when I tried to quit Explorer (I think I used a force quit to get out of it).

I used the control panel to switch to the OS 9 SCSI disk for next boot, and then restarted.

From the SCSI disk OS 9 I was able to open Internet Explorer 4.5 and surf the web.

I needed to do an app survey of these disks and the various System extensions in use on both to see if any scanner and ZIP items were in place anywhere-- as well as other worthwhile apps.

But all that entailed lots of directory clicks and scrolls, and the 6400's mouse just wasn't cooperating. It needed a cleaning bad. I shut down.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get the trap door for the mouse ball to twist open. It was like someone had superglued it shut. Seriously.

So I dug up a mouse maybe from my old Mac IIcx from 1990 or so, and cleaned it and used it to replace the 6400's mouse.

Booted up again. OS 9. Checked the Extensions Manager. Looked like ZIP and scanner drivers were present and enabled. I made a few changes to the extension set to weed out known bad seeds.

(Although I used the 6400 quite a bit years ago, it actually belonged to someone else. Someone who loved buying one of almost everything which was ever announced for the Mac in software terms. So they loaded an awful lot of crap on the machine. Crap they wouldn't let me remove but for the most dire of circumstances back then. Plus, much of the crap consisted of little kid wares that sometimes or briefly would work for the little tykes, before causing awful crashes and other problems with the machine. Some of this stuff you'd have to erase and re-install again over and over. Yuck! Ergo, the big load of crap present today on it. Of course, this is purely my opinion: the original owner would hotly dispute it on many of the apps.)

Now armed with a better working mouse, I also made a first pass through the SCSI disk directory in OS 9, trashing huge piles of the known crap referred to above. This now left the SCSI drive with 2.75 GB free.

I stuck a ZIP disk in the drive, but no icon appeared on the desktop: the 6400 seemed blind to it.

I switched to the 7.5 disk for start up and rebooted.

The 7.5 disk had quite a few interesting apps on it, including ZIP programs.

Unfortunately when I tried to run Pathfinder from either disk I got an error message with the HyperCard Player present.

I noted me and one of my brothers each had a huge amount of old data files on the disk (half a Gig each).

The 7.5 disk had its ZIP driver disabled, so I re-enabled it in the Extensions Manager.

I ran out of time in that session, and so shut down.

Later I talked to my nephew about the apparent missing transformer for the ZIP drive, and he told me it's possible he still has it at home, and will look for it.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

2-15-06: The return of the 6400!

The 6400's internal hard drive became inaccessible to my nephew maybe a year or more ago, and he said he'd bring it back to me to keep. He got much of its original bundle we'd passed on to him together, but the whole shebang never actually arrived here until his family did a major house revamp and wanted it out of the way. So a few days ago it returned.

Yeah, I admit I already have more computers to maintain than I have time for. And the 6400's a really old Mac now. But I always liked it. Plus, it's a true System 7.5 PowerPC Mac: one of the last decent machines and operating systems Apple ever produced (in my opinion).

And yeah, trying to keep an ancient computer going can be as problematic as keeping an ancient automobile on the road. Relatively costly, too. Unless you have plenty of spare old hardware and software suitable for the thing laying around.

I'm not your usual computer user though. I knew Mac System 7.5 and this 6400 when they were both new. I also did the various upgrades and repairs/replacements on this machine for years. I have ancient software I'd love to run in 7.5, like HyperCard, Pathfinder, and More II. And it's seriously hard to beat the original ClarisWorks 4.0 for graphics work. Imagine a super easy mini Adobe Photoshop fully integrated with a super easy vector drawing program like Illustrator or Freehand, and a zillion fonts displayed in the selection menu in what-you-see-is-what-you-get.

You can't match the ease of use, power, and functionality of these software packages today on any computer, Mac or PC-- at any price.

I know, because I've tried. Spent years trying. Spent years consulting with other sources on the topics. Today's computers are just plain cruddy compared to that old stuff.

Of course, it can be tough to fix an old computer when it breaks. Replace parts, and software. So there's no telling how long you can keep one going.

There's also the problem of missing stuff. For instance, the internet was by no means mainstream when the 6400 and System 7.5 made their debut. I know because I was one of the geeks trying to get people online then. It was one horrific mess. So the 6400 will never be a great web client. But hopefully I can get it on our LAN and maybe get it to play with internet email well enough for file transfers and the like.

Since the internet wasn't important when the 6400 was designed and built, its software pays little heed to it either. So for all the wonderfulness of its ClarisWorks 4.0 graphics, if memory serves CW won't output gifs or jpegs. Yikes!

But hopefully I can find workarounds for all that.

So today I began my attempt to get the 6400 back into action again.

Letting my old log entries below guide me, I removed the two separate parts of the front of the case, and the case roof, to peer into the machine, to see just how bad dusty it appeared. I also carefully tipped it over and used a flashlight and mirror to examine the ventilation ports built into its floor.

The only appreciable dust buildup appeared to be in the floor area. I brushed it off with my fingers.

I didn't pull out the motherboard drawer at this stage. Because (one) that's fairly strenuous, and (two) from the peeks I got in elsewhere it didn't seem like the motherboard should be too bad dust-wise.

I put the covers back in place, and pinched one finger really bad in the tiny seam along the largest front cover panel, maybe setting in motion a blood blister there. I rubbed it quite a bit and ran cold water over it to try minimizing the damage and inflammation, and as of several hours later it looks like I may have succeeded. It doesn't look or feel too bad now.

I connected the computer, monitor, microphone, keyboard and mouse. But not the scanner or ZIP drive. Or a phone line or network cable. Or the video gear to a VCR. At the moment I'm just trying to see how much of the basic system is working.

It boots from the System 9 on the SCSI hard drive I personally installed in this thing almost EIGHT YEARS ago. YIKES!

The internal SCSI drive seems OK. I check the free space and see 1.4 GB (out of a 6.4 GB size drive). That's a lot for this period of computer.

The internal IDE drive the 6400 came from the factory with as its primary hard drive isn't showing up or accessible on the desktop though, just as my nephew had told me. The control panel for selecting a startup disk doesn't show it either.

Hopefully the IDE drive is alive and just not showing up due to some minor problems with the disk. So running Apple's First Aid disk repair utility seems the first thing I should try. Then Apple's disk setup if disk repair doesn't work. And if neither of those go, see if the ancient disk utilities which came with the SCSI drive when I installed it will help (Yes, I still have the disks. I kept those with me rather than bundling them with the 6400 to my nephew years ago. In my personal judgment that was the most prudent and practical thing to do).

Luckily the 6400's 7.5 recovery CD has survived intact through all this (yes, my nephew DID get that in the bundle), and I insert it and reboot, holding down the "C" key so the 6400 will boot from the CD.

I open up Apple's First Aid disk utility from the CD to try finding and repairing the IDE drive if possible. At this point I don't know if the IDE drive is dead or what.

First Aid can't see any IDE drive. Just the internal SCSI hard drive and CD drive. I have it check the SCSI drive for problems, and it says it seems OK.

I try the disk set up app. It sees no IDE either. I tell it to rescan the bus, as sometimes that'll make a drive show up. Still no go. And the app even freezes up.

I pressed the control, option, and Apple keys altogether to force quit the disk set up program.

Hmm. I decided to go straight to the original CharisMac disk utility which had accompanied the SCSI drive when new, and try that.

I had both an original floppy and a backup copy on the SCSI hard drive. Both contained installers for the utility. I couldn't get either to work. Instead I'd get an error message saying something like "disk related" error (-44) has occurred.

I realized the CharisMac installer software wasn't compatible with the OS 9 formatted hard disk. Unfortunately that was the only hard disk I had access to.

I found a PPC Mac OS 8 boot floppy disk, and booted the 6400 from that (we bought Mac OS 8 on CD zillions of years ago for an upgrade).

I still could find no icon for the IDE drive on the desktop. And the First Aid and disk setup apps on the floppy couldn't see the IDE either.

I quit out of those apps, thinking maybe the IDE was truly dead. And I might have to replace the drive hardware itself with an IDE scrounged from a different dead Mac I have sitting around. That other Mac seems to have a dead power supply. So the drive might still be useful for the 6400.

I decided to see if zapping the PRAM would help any. I had to actually look through several of my Mac logs before I found the proper key presses: Command-Option-P-R (the Command key on a Mac might also have a cloverleaf or apple outline on it). You have to hold all these keys down simultaneously, which is sort of an awkward maneuver.

I made sure the Mac audibly bonged three times (for three resets) before I let go the keys.

The 6400 seemed to boot faster from its OS 9 SCSI drive after that.

I'm thinking maybe the 6400's PRAM battery is dead again. I replaced it roughly six years before. So it may be overdue. I won't know for sure what shape it's in until after I've observed the date and time on the 6400 over a day or two.

You often have to set the date and time again after resetting PRAM on old Macs, regardless of battery status. So I updated those parameters too via control panel.

After the PRAM zap, I still see no icon for the IDE on the desktop.

The 8.0 floppy may not have had the full versions of the disk utility apps on it, so I pull out the 8.0 CD and boot the 6400 from it, to try its apps.

Still no go. I wondered if I had a Mac OS 9.0 CD? Yes! We'd bought that too for an upgrade. I just wasn't sure if I had it in my personal storage.

I booted the 6400 from the CD. Eureka! We have the IDE's icon showing on the desktop! I double-click the icon and see an apparent working disk directory.

Hmmm. Now I wonder what the problem is. I check the free disk space on the IDE, and find only 80 MB free. That's pretty low for a disk of this Mac era. Maybe enough to cause disk problems. So I select and trash several hundred MB of programs I know I personally don't like and won't use, and which I recall being problem prone in the past. Then empty the trash via the Special menu to truly erase it.

The IDE now reads 451.5 MB free.

I run First Aid off the 9.0 CD. In its first pass it detects and fixes a couple different problems with the IDE. I make it do a second pass, as sometimes First Aid must make multiple passes to fix everything within its power.

The second pass comes up clean. So I have it check the SCSI disk too while I'm at it. That disk checks out OK.

I restart the 6400 from its OS 9 SCSI drive. The IDE drive icon now shows up on the desktop.

I go into the startup disk control panel and select the 7.5 IDE drive as the boot disk. Then restart. To see what happens.

The 6400 seems to boot alright in 7.5. But I do notice some system extension icons showing during boot that I'd like to get rid of (as they're trouble-makers: basically buggy, glorified third party screen-savers from the era).

I get error messages about trashing them-- I use the option key with the menu command empty trash to delete them regardless of the bogus "in use" error messages.

I shut down the 6400, let it be off a few seconds, then switch back on again, to see how it does. It seems fine. Though I definitely need to clean its mechanical mouse. Fortunately this is a good mechanical mouse, that truly can be cleaned, unlike those cheapo things which come bundled with most PCs today.

I notice the monitor's on/off switch is sticking badly in the on position. So I move its power plug to a power strip with its own switch. I want to leave the 6400 computer itself plugged into a live outlet though, even when it's off. Because I think if it has a power feed that'll help prevent the PRAM battery from draining. Of course, it's probably already dead after this many years. But I'm hoping it's not!

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

12-4-02: Long overdue update for the 6400

The 6400 is no longer located at WebFLUX Central. One of my nephews now has it instead. It was mostly used by kids the past several years anyway.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

Approximately 1-14-2001: I bring the 6400 up on the new Ethernet LAN and shared broadband connection

This machine presents a special problem on the net, in that it has to use Mac OS 7.5.3 because the owner wants to retain compatibility with an old program called 'ClickBook', for which no modern equivalent (that runs on Macs) seems to exist (There's a company claims there is, but the owner has tried their wares with no success on an OS 9 iMac DV). I did upgrade Open Transport slightly on the 6400 because the newly installed Ethernet card required it (to 1.1.1), but still that's some pretty ancient networking software there, in computer years. Keep in mind the 6400 is a 200 MHz 603 PowerPC CPU too-- so it's pretty slow compared to the newer machines. One factor helping the configuration was that there was no present internet access or network thingie like Airport to deal with there.

Note that you want to make use of the Configurations...option in the TCP/IP application menus on a Mac like this. You always duplicate an existing configuration, renaming it something else, making it 'active', then tweaking it as desired and saving the new set up. Theoretically this allows you to easily and quickly switch between multiple networking configurations. In practice it barely functions at all like it should. For an example of a network configuration nightmare, try using the Mac OS' TCP/IP, AppleTalk, and Airport control panels to frequently switch between something like Airport and an Ethernet LAN such as the setup I'm describing here. Sure, it can be done-- but you might require a 6 page checklist for switching back and forth, the patience of Job, and 20 minutes for each switch back or forth.

Anyway, back to the 6400. In the TCP/IP control panel, in advanced mode (available via Modes in a menu), I set it to connect via Ethernet, configure using DHCP server, inserted the router address into the proper blank, saved and quit. I restarted the 6400.

I installed Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.5 to test the connection (the app was handy on a 6400 hard disk). Web surfing worked, but only very slowly. Much too slowly, to be a broadband connection running over fast Ethernet. I quit, and boosted Explorer's memory in Get Info by 4-8 MB, though I was sure that alone couldn't be the source of the slowness.

I'd read somewhere that turning on AppleTalk really slowed down old Macs like this one. And I knew I had it on. Unfortunately, AppleTalk seems required for what the 6400/iMacDV owner wants to do with the machines-- share files over Ethernet.

Note that when you get into Mac OS File Sharing like this it's going to be critical to have onhand the owner name and access password that may have been entered into the Mac when it was new(!). GULP! I'd guess that most users won't have a clue as to what these are for their machine, at this point. And so they'll be stymied. It can be pretty difficult to get any further in file sharing without this info-- so difficult you may have to resort to re-installing the OS!

Luckily I try to record such info in private, dated log books; and have done so for years (remember what an Old Computer Geezer I am). This enables me to go back and look for such passwords in the appropriate log book five years later-- like now. Another break for me was that I'd shared files on the 6400 maybe three years back with a 6300, helping the owner transfer files. This meant some of the configuration was already in there, and that it was relatively easy to open it up.

Note that if you've made a Mac happy with the owner name and password for file-sharing sometime in the past when it can remember it, then you may be able to just set it so no password is required from another Mac to access it over the net-- anybody can log in as 'guest' and have all the access you want them to have, with few hassles.

But getting back to the 6400's unique problems....It was obviously connecting to the LAN and working. It just wasn't working nearly as fast as it should. I immediately suspected the cause to be either improperly configured network settings on the 6400 (which might require more study and/or experimentation to fix), a faulty cable crimp on one or both ends of the 6400's cable to the router, or the age and slowness of the 6400's CPU or Mac OS 7.5.3 networking. In any case, I figured I'd see about speeding up the 6400 later, since it was at least working minimally with the LAN already.

Around this time I moved to doing some configuration of the iMacDV.

Now back to the 6400. And its excrutiatingly slow net connection. Its AppleTalk file transfers were running terribly slow too.

Did I still lack a proper networking configuration here? Did the 6400 need a subnet mask? It had nothing for that parameter right now. Should I check the box for 802.3? I didn't know what that was, and noticed the DV didn't have it checked, so I didn't check it on the 6400 either. I looked up what subnet mask the DV was using and entered that on the 6400. I restarted the 6400. Opened Internet Explorer. I ran Explorer on the DV too at the same time. The 6400's performance seemed slightly better, and more consistent than before-- but still very slow. I did a Google search for bandwidth test sites on the net and ran some tests of both the 6400 and DV.

The 6400 seemed to be averaging about 14-15 Kbps. That's bad. The DV was averaging around 130 Kbps at that time. The HP PC, around 110 Kbps.

Around this time I contemplated several possibilities. I disabled ConfigPPP with the 6400's Extensions Manager since it was no longer needed. I wondered if the 6400's AppleTalk would run faster if it was sharing only a folder rather than the whole disk from the DV. Did the 6400 need the cable company's domain name entered into TCP/IP? Would that speed things up? There was several blank spots in the control panel yet.

I did discover that the DV's OS 9 possessed something called a Network Browser under the Apple Menu that made accessing AppleTalk computers over the LAN more convenient than using the old fashioned Chooser. Unfortunately the 6400 was just running so slow over the LAN. Hmmm. Well, the DV and 6400 could share files over the net-- they just couldn't do it any faster than a couple Commodore 64s from many centuries of computer years ago.

At this point I delved into configuring the Airport software on the iMacDV.

I now turned my attention back to the 6400's LAN speed problem again. I was figuring that maybe the old Mac OS 7.5.3 on the 6400 might be the problem. It's Open Transport 1.1.1 or AppleTalk was perhaps not very efficient for Ethernet? This seemed hard to believe though since graphics designers had surely been using 7.5.3 for many years in the past somewhere to transfer big files. Then I realized I could test this out. Since the 6400 possessed a second bootable hard drive on which resided OS 9.

I set the OS 9 disk in the startup control panel and rebooted the 6400 as an OS 9 machine. Then I configured TCP/IP with a DHCP client ID (giving the 6400 a name on the net).

I tried Internet Explorer. OS 9 appeared to be even slower in web surfing than 7.5.3. YIKES! So maybe the OS wasn't the problem after all? Hmmm. Again I checked the router LEDs. No problems indicated.

What if it was a bad cable? I replaced the cable previously running to the 6400 with the one planned to connect to the Compaq PC. Then I tested with Internet Explorer again. Suddenly the 6400 was the fastest LAN client in the building. I did bandwidth tests. The average speed appeared to be 200-250 Kbps. I tested the DV at this time. It ranked at around 245 Kbps.

This was both good news and bad. The good news was the 6400 was not an inferior client, and was not improperly configured. The bad news was I either had a bad cable or a bad port on the router.

At this time I made myself a little chart in my current log book showing which computers were on which router ports. I'd been jotting notes about the router's LED lights when only one particular computer was running at a time, and now I knew the complete set. This chart would now help me switch ports to test for a bad port, and then switch back again.

I went to the router and switched the current cable leading to the 6400 to the same port the 6400's original cable had been attached to. I probably shut down the computers to do this, but it's not written in my notes. Note that here I've essentially got the Compaq's LAN cable using the 6400's original port on the router, to feed the 6400 on the other end.

I also decided to start the 6400 back up in 7.5.3 again, since that was the preferred OS by the owner, and the one we really wanted the LAN to work with under most circumstances.

Uh oh. No web access at all. Rebooted in OS 9. Still nothing. Tried the DV. No web there either. I checked the router. A flashing orange indicator there. I checked the cable modem. A flashing orange light indicated trouble. I switched off the power to the cable modem, then powered it back up again. The orange flashes continued. Router LEDs indicated problems too.

Had the cable modem service went down during this crucial test? I noticed it was raining outside, and telecom activity seems sometimes to wane with rain. Or had I confused the router or something with my cable switching? Did I need to reboot the LAN to clear its mind? I'd seen some folks on the net doing this to fix certain problems. I consulted some router documents. They said both the modem and router should be turned off at the same time, and PCs should be kept on the same port unless there was a good reason for moving them. The router info recommended bringing up and shutting down the router, modem and LAN-connected PCs in a particular order-- the doc just didn't make it entirely clear what that order should be.

As best as I could make out, the router docs suggested powering down everything in this order (and powering them back up in reverse order):

#1: The client computers on the LAN.
#2: The router.
#3: The cable modem.

It also recommended 30 seconds minimum between the powering up of each level of the LAN.

After I took everything down and back up again, I still had no web access on the iMac DV. Hmmm. If the file sharing between Macs still worked, then that would mean the problem was with the cable modem or ISP. To test this I had to boot up the 6400 in OS 9, switch the start up disk to the OS 7.5.3 drive, and restart.

I booted the iMac DV and opened the Network Browser and it complained that it was "unable to reach name server, open your TCP/IP control panel and enter a valid name server address".

I noticed the AppleTalk connection to the 6400 was very fast now. It appeared to be working fantastically. I checked out the control panel indicated before and noticed the DV's present IP address, and the absence of a name server address.

I shut down all the computers, and the router. I switched the LAN cables back on the client ends so the 6400 had its original line and the Compaq its own. I also put things back to original configuration where the cables plugged into the router. I shut down the modem.

I reviewed what I'd learned. Switching the cables made file transfers between the 6400 and DV fly like the wind. All the ports seemed to work fine. I couldn't test the web, since the modem/ISP seemed to be out.

Apparently the problem was in the 6400's original LAN cable from the router, NOT the router port. I closely examined both ends of the suspect cable. One end had an especially long piece of sheath missing (3/4 inch), plus 4-6 wires untwisted more than they should have been. I cut off the old connector and applied a fresh one, trying to make the highest quality termination I could.

I brought everything back up. By this time (the next day) the cable modem/ISP was working again.

I speed tested the 6400 with the newly repaired cable, and this time got numbers much more like the other LAN clients. So it turned out a sub-standard cable crimp was the problem (my fault). Note this bad crimp was apparently one of my earlier and more inexperienced ones, judging from its vicinity.

I next turned my attention to getting the Powerbook G3 online...(a link to the Powerbook's user's log will be posted here eventually).

After all this, I configured the new email addresses on all the appropriate machines.

My next move was to attempt to set up file sharing between the Macs and PCs too-- but I discovered extra software at the least would have to be purchased for that. So I won't detail all the work I did to learn that little fact (DOH!).

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

12-30-2000: I recently installed a PCI Ethernet card and replacement CD ROM in the 6400

The CD ROM drive quit on the 6400 a while back, necessitating a replacement. As the owner didn't want to upgrade from 7.5.3 due to losing compatibility with an app called ClickBook, we couldn't upgrade the 6400 to a newer CD-RW or faster CD ROM. You also have to be careful replacing CD drives in Macs because it's easy to install one YOU CAN'T BOOT FROM.

A non-bootable CD would essentially mean your Mac was irretreivably dead the first time you needed to re-install the OS. YIKES!

So I went shopping for an exact replacement of the original Apple CD ROM drive. Used or refurbished was OK. I shopped for an Ethernet card too at the same time as the CD. We're attempting to build a fast Ethernet LAN allowing all computers to share a broadband connection here at WebFLUX Central. Ergo, the NIC (network interface card) installation.

I contemplated getting an Ethernet card for the 6400's Comm slot rather than PCI bus. Why? I didn't like using up the last free PCI slot on the machine. The Comm slot presently had a practically useless 28.8 modem card in it, and was much more easily accessible than the open PCI slot buried under various Avid Cinema video editing PCI gear (the Avid stuff had to be removed to access the open slot, then put back again). With the planned broadband connection theoretically available via LAN over Ethernet, the modem card would be redundant anyway.

Alas, there was a big difference in prices. The PCI card cost a fraction of what the Comm card did. Plus, I had to admit it was unlikely we'd ever have another purpose for the 6400's open PCI slot anyway.

At this point I thought I'd try being really clever and maybe buy a whole used Mac for roughly what many people might pay just for the drive and NIC. Heck, maybe I could find an Ethernet-equipped 6400 and end up with everything I needed plus almost a whole other Mac worth of parts, for just a bit more than I'd otherwise spend anyway. Having a 6400 to cannibalise would theoretically extend the useful life of the original 6400. Heck, I might even locate a good deal on a drive and monitor later (extra ADB mice and keyboards abound here) and fire up the parts machine itself for some purpose! There's several kids around here that would like to have their own dedicated computer. At least it didn't hurt to look.

Nope. No used Ethernet-equipped 6400s appeared available. I did find plain 6400s for $300, and 6360s (which seem to possess the identical CD drives) for $200. Anything older than a 6360 though either had no CD at all, or used a slower CD than I needed. And other suitable Mac models cost too much. Darn. I couldn't find a good enough deal to justify this route. I had to just buy a drive and NIC after all.

I checked quite a few vendors on my old/used/refurbished Mac sources page. I finally decided to go with lovemacs.com for both the drive and NIC. Their prices were among the best I found, plus their web site was very helpful to selecting the gear I needed. I've also seen no complaints about them on the web, and had them listed in my page for years now-- so I knew they'd been around a while.

This was the first time I'd ordered from them. I believe I ordered via phone. But unlike some vendors these days, that didn't cost me extra. Specs and costs were:

Used Apple 1200i 8x internal CD ROM..............$58
New PCI fast Ethernet card, 10/100base-T..........$35
UPS 3-day select shipping and handling...............$12


Fortunately I months ago downloaded Apple technical repair and upgrade manuals for all the Macs inhouse. So I just consulted the 6400 manual to see how to do the various upgrades/replacements.

Getting into the 6400 case wasn't too hard since I'd done it before (see previous items below for details). Basically I just had to remove the front panel and use a screwdriver to lift a tab up out of a slot-- then pull out the drive. The next part was disconcerting for a moment, as the rear of the original drive and replacement appeared completely different from one another. YIKES! But not to worry. It just happened to be that there were adapters on the original drive which had to be pulled off and then pushed onto the connectors of the replacement, to mate with the innards of the 6400. Minus the adapters the two drives were identical. Except the replacement drive was actually a few months older than the original, according to info on the drives themselves.

I switched the adapters and pushed the replacement into the 6400. Then I replaced the front panel. Installing the NIC required extracting the motherboard drawer from the rear of the machine.

This too I'd done before. One thing nice about a machine you've opened up before is that things come apart easier than they did the first time.

Keep in mind folks that for details you should download the pdf service manuals from Apple. There's also some good info in booklets which accompany these machines when new, that covers things like PCI card installs, if not drive installs.

Removing and replacing the Avid hardware wasn't that bad, but it was a bit difficult getting the Ethernet PCI card to properly seat. Finally everything went into place, I pressed the motherboard's reset button, and re-inserted the drawer into the 6400. I re-connected the 6400 to its nest of peripherals and booted it up.

It turned out according to Read Me's, etc., that the 6400 required Open Transport 1.1.1 for the bundled NIC card software to install, so I had to return later with 1.1.1 on some floppies retrieved from my old Mac Internet Connection Kit, for the 7.5.3 OS drive on the 6400.

Then I installed the software which accompanied the NIC. On both the 7.5.3 and 9.0 drives, if I recall correctly. From the absence of hand-written notes on the subject (or memories of anguish) it seems the install went smoothly and was uneventful. Things must have went pretty much how the Read me and other instructions said they would. To do more I'll now have to wait until the LAN itself is up.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

11-15-2000: I have to replace the PRAM battery in the 6400

The 6400's displayed date kept reverting to 1956 or whatever, and it couldn't remember what printer it was supposed to use. Classic signs of a dead PRAM battery. A multitude of other problems seemed to be afflicting the machine as well. But a dead PRAM battery can cause a lot of ills, some unpredictable.

I checked out every reference source I could to determine the battery's specs, which turned out to be 4.5 Volt alkaline. The original was a Rayovac 840 computer clock battery, roughly a bit larger than an inch square in physical dimensions. One side had a velcro patch glued to it to attach to the 6400's motherboard.

I ordered it from Shields Electronics Supply, Inc., in Knoxville TN, 423-588-2421.

They didn't have the exact model in stock, so I had to take something a bit different. It turned out the new battery was something like twice as long as the original, which made it a bit of a tight fit to replace the old battery. It's velcro patch was also a bit short and misplaced to work well in the 6400. So I cut a piece off the original battery's velcro patch and stuck it onto the new battery where it needed it, and installed it (the patches were sticky on the appropriate side). The battery dangled a bit in the board's normal upright position, but seemed held well enough.

Fortunately I months ago downloaded Apple technical repair and upgrade manuals for all the Macs inhouse. So I just consulted the 6400 manual to see how to do the battery replacement. Unfortunately it couldn't help me with one matter in particular.

Folks, you might want to carefully note how your old battery connector goes onto your motherboard before removing it. Specifically, note where the two differently colored wires connect on the motherboard. I noticed that the original battery wires wound around and the connector possessed holes such that it'd be impossible to re-connect it the wrong way. I believe a wrong connection might hurt the motherboard. Since the proper connection seemed obvious, I didn't make any notes when I removed it.

However the connector on the new battery was different enough so that a wrong connection might easily be made. This left me having to make my best guess at to which of two possible ways the replacement battery connector should attach to the motherboard. YIKES! Fortunately I seemed to have guessed right. But for a few minutes there I was wishing I'd made a careful note of the old battery's arrangement before removing it.

Total cost for battery, shipping, and taxes was $23.24.

After I was done installing the battery, buttoning everything back up, powering up, resetting the PRAM, time, date, virtual memory, and choosing a printer, I discovered the CD ROM drive was dead.

We'd known we had a drive problem earlier, at roughly the same time the battery problem showed up, but I wasn't sure if maybe it wasn't battery-related. Now it was obvious that it wasn't. I fiddled around with the Extensions Manager and tried different CDs to see if I could get it working. I also switched to the OS 9 drive on the 6400, to see if that side could run the CD. No dice. The tray would extend, but the drive seemed unable to tell a disk was present. It never spun up. And we couldn't try re-installing the OS remember-- there was no drive to do it from. We had to have another drive.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

6-2-2000: We install Mac OS 9 on the 6400's second hard drive...

...keeping 7.5.3 on the main drive. We're using the Startup Disk Control Panel to switch between the two.

These days the 6400 is mostly used by kids aged two through twelve. But we also use it for certain demanding printing tasks. For instance, I printed maybe a couple thousand pages for copyright purposes not long ago. It's also used for wide format printing, since it has the only such printer set up in the building at present.

Several things on the 6400 no longer work like they used to. For example, PhotoDeluxe has lost the capacity to save files in several formats, and refuses to work with the scanner anymore, no matter what we do. The 6400's floppy disk drive has been flakey ever since we got it. Fortunately there's only rarely a need for it. The sound volume control on the 6400 is often a sore point as well-- and has been from day one. There's a physical switch for it on the front of the case, as well as two or three different sound-related control panels in 7.5.3. Often the 6400's audio is blasting us out of the room in a kids' game and we can't do anything about it. Even the kids are annoyed by the loudness at times. The lack of sound control is pretty much random. Sometimes it works OK, sometimes it doesn't.

We've not used the video editing features on this thing in ages. Plus the related cabling had developed a problem of some sort last time we tried, prompting us to buy new cabling. But we've never cranked up the video since. Main reason? As John Dvorak recently noted in an article, desktop video is awfully time consuming. If you've got a life, it's pretty difficult to find the hours required to edit video.

It's a good thing we haven't been using the video, too-- because we've filled up the 6400's drives with other stuff.

It seems as if the 6400 hasn't been on the web for years, either. It's not even got a phone line hooked to it anymore.

If you're wondering how this state of affairs regarding the 6400's usage patterns got this way, well, over past years the 6400 owner got a PC laptop, then a PC desktop, then an iMac Revision D, then more recently an iMac DV. Plus peripherals like scanners, printers, digital cameras, etc., for the newer computers. So the owner for the most part gravitated away from the 6400 during all this (though they still on occasion use it for wide format printing).

Other adults that once used the 6400 included me for web surfing, my brother Scotty for video editing and programming, Scotty's wife for desktop publishing and gaming, and my brother Randy's wife for publishing and gaming. In the last couple years I moved to web surfing on the faster WebTV and iMac, Scotty got a Sony VAIO video editing PC at home, plus another home PC to program on (sharing these with his wife too of course), and Randy's family got their own Mac Quadra 650 plus printer, then more recently a laptop PC plus printer. As a consequence we all of us rarely access the 6400 anymore, leaving it mostly to the five kids in the family now.

The Mac OS 9 install went fairly well. Much, much better than previous installs of Mac OS 8 and 8.1 I've done. Most of the problems I faced came from other software installs afterwards. I was annoyed when OS 9 forced me to install zillions of MB of internet software that'll never be used on the 6400. I tried to use a custom install to avoid it, but the option simply wasn't allowed.

The installer told me 45 minutes would be required for the install, but it was really more like 15-20. I did a clean install.

Naturally the installer said it couldn't update the hard disk driver because the drive wasn't from Apple. That was OK because I'm fairly sure there's a relatively modern driver on there from CharisMac.

A test with Disk First Aid pronounced the drive OK after the install.

There were a few old programs the 6400's owner wanted to work in OS 9, like ClickBook, but they have finally bitten the dust. The 6400 user had originally gotten ClickBook for a OS 7.1 Performa 460 many computer lifetimes ago. Since then we'd successfully transferred it to a OS 7.5 6300, 7.5 6400, and even to a 8.6 iMac I believe. But OS 9 kills it dead.

We also couldn't get PhotoDeluxe to work with the OS properly either. Even the latest 2.0 PD, which the 6400 owner had bought separately from the 1.0 version which came bundled with the 6400 originally I believe. The SCSI scanner problems continued too.

The Epson printer seemed to install easier in 9.0 than it did in 7.5.3.

OS 9 has some curious hestitations in its boot up process. You must wait 30-60 seconds even after you think the boot up is done before using the Mac. This seems to be true for both the old 6400 and a brand new iMac DV.

Most of the time we're still booting the 6400 up in 7.5.3, since that's the disk where all the kids' games are installed. Eventually we may install 9.0 on the main disk too. At least that's the impression I get from the 6400's owner.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

6-5-98: Our Performa 6400 gets a second hard drive (6.4 GB internal SCSI)

This puts the 6400's hardware specs at 136 MB total RAM, and 8.8 Gigabytes of fixed hard disk storage, plus a 100 Megabyte removable Iomega ZIP drive....of which the new 6.4 GB drive theoretically allows for the storage of up to one and half hours of video complete with audio and special effects, created by the 6400's Avid video editing and I/O capabilities.

The new drive is a fresh puppy yet, so we can't be sure it'll stay. But so far it seems to be doing OK. It's a Quantum Stratus SE 6.4 GB internal SCSI from ClubMac (1-800-258-2622), and cost us $388.10 total (including shipping, etc.).

This wasn't necessarily the cheapest price for this size SCSI drive (new), but it was pretty close. Plus, ClubMac has consistantly been one of the lowest priced sources for Mac hard drives in my experience the past few years, and I've never yet had to return a drive to them, to my recollection. Add to all this my uncertainty in the face of changing drive interface standards, and I preferred dealing with a Mac-specific hard drive seller that might know something to help me in my order or support after-the-fact. So I preferred dealing with ClubMac, for several reasons.

For raw price comparisons though, I found info like the following (keep in mind I wasn't sure what size I would order when I was doing the study):

Otherworld Computing: 1-9 GB, $110-$490 (4.5 GB, $255; 6.4 GB, $359)
Digitek: 3.2-4.3 GB, $190-$260 (4.5 GB, $259; 6.4 GB, N/A)
ClubMac: 2.1-9.1 GB, $220-$890 (4.5 GB, $299; 6.4 GB, $379)
Bottomline Distribution: 2.1-8.4 GB, $230-$500 (4.5 GB, $300; 6.4 GB, $390)
MacZone: 4-12 GB, $180-$380 (4.5 GB, $180; 6.4 GB, $250)

Some of the numbers above are misleading. Why? The best deals seem to be on "ATA-2" or UltraDMA interface drives, which are not something you can use on a SCSI bus. They can (or might, anyway) be usable on a PC bus like EIDE-- which may actually be what our Performa 6400 has, according to conflicting specs found from various sources (MacUser said the 6400 has EIDE). The info I've seen indicates that ATA=IDE, and EIDE (EnhancedIDE) might = ATA-2 might = ATAPI.

Unfortunately, there was no practical way for us to install a different IDE drive rather than a SCSI, since we had no way to back up our existing 2.4 GB IDE in its entirety before removal. There's also some conflicting info here as well, since the CharisMac utility seems to indicate our IDE bus might be capable of supporting a second drive or device somehow(?)

But all that's out of my realm of expertise, and the info too hard to gather in a reasonable time-- so I went with the SCSI.

But lo and behold, the SCSI world has splintered too since the last time I looked, into SCSI, SCSI-2, Ultra SCSI, Ultra SCSI-2, Ultra SCSI-3, Wide SCSI, Narrow SCSI, Fast and Wide SCSI, and more.

I found specs indicating the 6400's internal SCSI bus was 10 MBps SCSI. Wide SCSI was up to twice this fast, and Ultra SCSI up to 4 times faster than plain SCSI. Apparently not all SCSI variants will work with all others-- and practically no drives anywhere were listed as plain SCSI anymore. At least some of the SCSI variants looked like they would require additional (and expensive) interface cards to work at maximum speed-- or maybe to work at all. I found one web page by a seeming SCSI expert who ended up saying the bottomline was you couldn't reliably predict what SCSI variants would work with what machine-- you just had to try them. Of course, some of them have more or fewer pin outs than others, so incompatible connectors might be one giveaway (once you have a freshly delivered drive in your hands, and your Mac already disassembled-- YIKES!)

It seems a wide SCSI drive would definitely NOT work in a 6400 without extra hardware (like a PCI card adapter).

However, in one ClubMac catalog the drive I bought and installed in the 6400 is classified as a "Ultra SCSI-3" so far as I can determine. So it may be we could add a PCI card for a couple hundred dollars and make the 6.4 GB drive four times faster than it is right now (but it also works fine WITHOUT a card in the 6400).

(If anybody knows of a web page that does a good job of sorting out SCSI and IDE drive standards for Mac users (as well as compatibility), I'd appreciate knowing about it so I can post it).

Being an experienced Old Computer Geezer, I knew the 6400 might be down for days during the drive installation, and I also knew I should make some preparations with the 6400 now in case I couldn't later. So before beginning the install process I checked my AOL email (I use the 6400 for AOL), and installed the CharisMac disk utility program bundled with the drive from ClubMac. I rebooted several times, once to rebuild the IDE hard drive desktop on the 6400, and a few times to check the SCSI bus with the scan process of the CharisMac software, to familiarize myself with what SCSI IDs we were using at present-- since I was about to install another SCSI device in the chain. ClubMac sets all their internal drives to ID 0. So I was happy to see the 6400 did NOT already have an ID 0 device on the SCSI chain-- that meant I didn't have to change the ID on the drive (which might be pretty tedious). Our SCSI bus was using 7, 6, 5, and 3 for IDs: 7 was the 6400 motherboard itself; 6 was our scanner; 5 was our ZIP drive; and 3 was the 6400's CD ROM drive.

But hey! Some of you might say...doesn't a Performa 6400 use a IDE hard drive? Yes, it does. Ours has a 2.4 GB IDE internal drive for its startup disk (according to CharisMac, using ID 0 on the IDE/ATA bus...and no, an ID 0 IDE drive apparently doesn't interfere with an ID 0 SCSI drive, because both the IDE and SCSI buses are independent-- yay!). BUT....the 6400 does have a huge empty 5.25 inch device bay...with a SCSI interface, ready to plug up to something.

Of course, getting at the 6400's empty drive bay is no small matter for most users. The 6400 user manual from Apple, which goes to great length detailing how to pull out the 6400's motherboard from the rear, and do all sorts of things with it on your own, actually discourages anybody from trying to access the various device bays through the front of the 6400 case. Instead, the manual says you better take it to your dealer for that.

They're not kidding about the difficulty of getting inside the front and top of the 6400. It's proven an intimidating task for many who've dared to try it despite the manual info. The process is often described as scary and noisy, and that you'll think you're ruining your case as you tear it off, using virtually all your strength to do so.

Me, I wasn't strong enough to tear it off. Nope. Couldn't do it. Despite knowing full well about the two levers at the bottom of the largest front panel, which you have to push up to unlock it, and then pull the panel up and out from the bottom. Luckily though, I had a secret weapon-- something apparently no one else writing about this on the web had ever heard of. A "case spreader". I bought it in a RAM upgrade kit (that also included a grounding strap...NOTE: I'm wearing my grounding strap at all times here wherever any outside plastic of the 6400 case is missing, or is in the process of being removed) from MacWarehouse a zillion years ago, for upgrading the RAM in compact Macs like SEs and SE/30s. The case spreader looks a bit like a clamp only with flat 'lips' on the tips, and actually works backwards compared to a true clamp. That is, you keep the device closed tight until you can work the flat lips into the seam of a Mac case, and then you compress the handles together, causing the flat lips to spread open the Mac case for you in an opposite motion on the other side of the spreader's pivot.

The seams on the 6400 are pretty tight, so I needed a small flat-head screwdriver to pry them apart enough to get the spreader lips in. From my reading on the web I knew to place the spreaders around halfway up the plastic panel for maximum effectiveness. A little pressure on the spreader, first on one side and then the other, and viola! The panel was ready to lift up and away from the box (holding the panel by the bottom). NOTE: having a medium size flat screwdriver and medium size Phillips screwdriver handy during this operation is also useful.

Remember to release the levers at the bottom first, folks.

Unfortunately, there's plenty more to do after getting the first front panel off the 6400. The smaller device bay front cover that lives just above the tall cover last removed is no problem at this point...you can pry it off with your choice of tools; just try to avoid chewing up the surrounding plastic of your case.

Next is the 'roof' of the 6400. The top panel has a small Phillips screw holding it at the rear. Remove it and slide the panel backwards off the 6400 about an inch, and lift off. Now you see a hand hole in the top of the metal chassis, along with some drive connectors.

Actually, I expected better access than this. Though the access is adequate, I had hoped for something more like a wire cage under the 6400 roof, than a solid metal box with a small reach through hole for handling connectors. Oh well.

Now is where things got a little stickier.

ClubMac's instructions are pretty good, but they still left a lot of uncertainty hanging in the air on various matters. For example, their diagram/info about installing the hard drive bracket they included didn't help much at all-- I had to figure out for myself what to do with it, trying the bracket all by itself in the 6400 chassis to see how it might best fit and be attached, BEFORE I tried attaching the hard drive to it.

Remember the drive is a 3.5 inch device, and the empty bay designed for 5.25 inch devices-- i.e., there's a lot of left over space in there around the drive.

It turned out the bracket wouldn't attach to anything inside the Mac, but just lay there limp inside the drive bay, with one, maybe two plastic tabs serving to keep it (and the drive) from skidding all over the place in the bay whenever the 6400 might be moved in the future. Egads!

Actually, the plastic tabs worked pretty well at keeping the drive stationary horizontally speaking-- but vertical was another matter entirely. It'd be easy for the drive/bracket to be bounced out of its notches in the bay during a bump in transport, and thereafter bounce around all over the place, probably suffering mucho damage. This was unacceptable. So how could I limit the vertical movement?

Well, the drive itself had shipped with some weird blue-green foam packing material keeping it centered in its cardboard box. I had another box of this stuff from a previous drive shipment, too. So I took the extra foam and snipped off some almost perfectly sized and shaped foam columns, and stuffed them upright between the top of the drive and the roof of the 6400 metal chassis. Uncompressed, each column was roughly 1.5 inches tall, and 1.25 inches wide. I used two: one near the front of the drive, and one near the rear, to keep it vertically secure. NOTE: this foam-related stuff took place AFTER attaching the drive to the bracket, inserting it into the 6400, and connecting the cables. These other matters are covered below).

The ClubMac info sheet indicated using four screws to attach the drive to the bracket. But when I did that, I couldn't get the SCSI ribbon cable connector to reach the rear of the drive in the 6400.

"DOAH!" as Homer Simpson might say.

Well, the SCSI ribbon cable inside the 6400 actually looked like it had two connectors on it; one at the end, and one in the middle. The end connector though looked capped off-- so I wasn't sure it was a connector at all. Maybe it was a terminated end on the cable instead? In that case, it was best left alone. On the other hand, if it was a terminator, it was the smallest and lightest SCSI terminator I'd ever seen. But if it was a capped off connector, WHY was it capped off? Especially when the middle connector wasn't? It was puzzling.

The reason all the above was interesting at all was because the end connector would reach the drive fine when the drive was attached via four screws to the bracket; but the middle connector would only reach if I scooted the drive backwards a couple inches on the bracket, attaching it with only two screws instead.

After further inspections, experimentation, and consideration, I decided to go with the two screw bracket approach, and leave the end connector be-- that it might be too risky to do otherwise.

It was difficult to get a good connection with the cable connectors on the drive, through the chassis access hole. I ended up starting them by hand as best I could and then applying a medium-size flat screwdriver to the sides of the connectors to press them in the rest of the way.

After one last check for any obvious flaws, I re-assembled the 6400, re-connected the essentials of display, SCSI peripherals, and keyboard/mouse (but NOT the printer, video I/O, and audio), and booted up for a test.

The new drive didn't show up on the desktop, though the CharisMac utility software could see it at boot, and when I ran a manual scan of the bus with the application.

I'd known beforehand I might have a mounting problem because the 6400 is running 7.5.3, and ClubMac formats their drives with 7.6. I'd asked ClubMac about it at order time, and the person told me I could always format it to run an older system. So I examined the manual and other info sheets supplied, and began the process of reformatting/reinitializing the drive.

YIKES! The CharisMac software informed me the format would take THREE HOURS. But it turned out to only take maybe 20 minutes in reality, before the software was ready to ask me more particulars about configuring the drive. A few minutes later the drive icon was visible on the desktop. After all this (during which I also had the scanner switched on too, so all SCSI devices were 'live' on the bus), I shut down, turned off the scanner, waited a few minutes, and booted again-- a 'cold start'.

The new drive didn't show on the desktop. I restarted via the Special menu, and it reappeared. I tried some more cold and warm boots, and the icon appeared as it should have.

One peculiar thing was the 6400 seemed to boot slightly faster after the install. Upon reflection and reading of the CharisMac manual, I believe the faster boot is a result of the CharisMac device drivers taking over from older Apple drivers on the 6400 for all devices.

Of course, this could potentially be a problem. So I searched MacFixIt to see if there were any references to Macs having problems with CharisMac wares. I found surprisingly few references to problems-- especially pertaining to my own circumstances-- so it seems CharisMac wares might be pretty high quality as device drivers go.

Some of the web sites I visited during my shopping and other hard disk/6400-related research for the install are listed in External reference links.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

5-6-98: Setting Internet Explorer 3.x's browser cache to use a 15 MB RAM disk doubles the average speed of web browsing...

...on our System 7.5.3 Mac Performa 6400 anyway (the same one we upgraded to 136 MB RAM last month in Newz&Viewz). My cousin Edwin with a 64 MB RAM Performa 6300 reports similar results when he set up his own RAM disk on that system too (Edwin's using either OS 8.0 or 8.1, and Netscape Navigator 3.x I believe).

You accomplish this by setting up the RAM disk in the Mac's Memory Control Panel first, then restarting to make it active, and then the next time you have your web browser open, setting its preferences to use the RAM disk as its default disk rather than your hard drive.

Though in many web site visits it'll make you feel like you have a substantially faster modem, what's really happening is that your computer is saving time storing away files it's downloading from a site (or retreiving from that storage), which allows it to get to displaying the sites for you faster than it otherwise could. The speed difference comes from the much faster access your computer enjoys to chip RAM as compared to hard disk space.

There's maybe more benefits to this than mere speed, too. Because since all cache files are now written to volatile RAM rather than to your disk, there's far less chance of your browser putting a corrupted file on disk-- which should lessen the likelihood of subsequent browser crashes or even trashed hard drives on your Mac.

This also completely neutralizes the worst problem I've experienced so far with Internet Explorer-- the daily need to 'wipe its butt' file-speaking, by going in and manually clearing its cache, since IE 3 seems incapable of keeping its cache size to proscribed limits on its own. Now, with a RAM disk, the cache is always cleared automatically when the Mac is shut down. Case closed. No more web browser diaper changing necessary.

All in all, it would appear our roughly $200 investment to upgrade our 6400 from 32 MB RAM to 136 MB has proven one of the most cost-effective I've ever seen. It also seems to show that RAM upgrades are far more effective performance-wise on newer machines with faster CPUs and memory architectures, than they are on older ones. I say this because I've now seen the results of significant RAM upgrades on several different Mac models over the years, including a 16 MHz Mac IIcx, a 25 MHz Mac IIci, a 33 MHz Performa 460, and now this 200 MHz 6400 (I've seen other RAM upgraded Mac models as well, but in those cases I didn't have sufficient 'before' experience with them to gauge the performance difference).

The big difference the extra RAM made for the 6400 makes me wish to expand my Quadra 650 too-- but the RAM for the older Macs may be significantly more expensive per MB than that for newer models like the 6400.

One last point: I created roughly a 15 MB RAM disk on the 6400, because Internet Explorer's cache is set to 10 MB, and I'm aware of the Mac OS 7.5.3 file system being fairly inefficient in file sizes where lots of tiny files like cache files are concerned (they tend to consume a disproportionately large amount of disk space on volumes of a Gigabyte or more, for instance-- sometimes it seems like a 30% waste of disk space!). Plus, you want a little slack in capacity in case the cache gets bigger than you expect-- otherwise you might crash if the cache hits the limits of the RAM disk itself. However, so far the total size of files in the cache has remained pretty small in practice, not getting over 2 MB when I checked. So I may reduce the RAM disk size a bit later on.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

4-24-98: Our Mac Performa 6400 VEE gets upgraded to 136 MB RAM

This is the maximum hardware RAM this model can take-- you have to use virtual to go higher.

I got the two 5 volt 64 MB EDO DIMMs from Bottomline Distribution-- the same place I've found the best deals on Mac RAM for years now (accounts of my previous RAM upgrades from Bottomline may be found here for a Performa 460 and here for a Mac IIcx ). I got the DIMMs for $98.99 each plus shipping. As usual, I got a better price on my own than I could find on deal-mac, which was behind the times yet again on the very day I ordered the RAM, erroneously listing a significantly higher price for Bottomline RAM in a table amongst other memory vendors. Tsk, tsk. I may be being too hard on deal-mac here, but it's hard to ignore the facts that finding and posting 'the best deals' in mac stuff is supposed to be deal-mac's specialty, and practically all the Mac vendors likely email deal-mac regularly with their latest discounts (so deal-mac should be thoroughly informed)-- and yet time and time again over the past year I've found better-than-deal-mac deals all on my own, in purely part time efforts, with little or no email help from vendors, every time I needed to buy something. I know I'm not a particularly lucky fellow, and neither am I a rocket scientist-- so why do I consistently find better deals than deal mac, and faster to boot? Are the deal-mac guys just not working very hard at it? I don't know. It's puzzling.

But the moral is clear: relying on deal-mac as your sole Mac shopping information source may cost you at least a few percentage points extra cash every time you do it, compared to shopping around on your own. Or you may not find out about a great deal until a week or so after it becomes available, if deal-mac is the only place you look. Hopefully this will change in months to come-- I'm monitoring the situation.

The 6400 RAM install was considerably tougher than I expected. The second toughest hardware-into-the-CPU-box install I've ever done in a Mac before, so far as I can recall (the worst was a FPU install for a Performa 460). The User Manual Apple bundles with the 6400 is superb about explaining how to get into the 6400 and where to put the RAM, with gorgeous illustrations. It was less helpful about the exact RAM specs required and explaining the full expansion options however, which I got elsewhere off the web, and by consulting several Mac mail order catalog charts of memory. Bottomline helped too on the phone, when I made sure to tell them it was RAM for a 6400 I required (rather than some other model).

I also had the October 1996 issue of MacUser, which had a great article about the 6400, complete with pictures, which also helped.

The 6400 has almost all its most important innards in a slide out drawer that comes out the back, after removing two screws. Unfortunately, the drawer on our 6400 was stuck-fast, and came close to requiring the strength of two men to open-- I finally managed to get it by physically sitting atop the 6400 tower and tugging at the drawer with all my might. The fact that you must pull on the drawer using only a couple of small, slippery, smooth plastic finger tabs makes it that much tougher. For a few minutes I was afraid I was actually going to rip the plastic face off the metal frame of the drawer before it would come free. And although it may sound like I had left a screw still attached somewhere, and that was what was causing my struggle, I assure you I did not. Sometimes stuff like this just gets jammed for no good reason.

Once you actually get the drawer loose though, any geek can really appreciate the way you can next lay the heart and soul of the whole machine atop a desk for surgery.

However, the more upgrades your 6400's already had at the time of the operation, the more difficult it can be to add something like more RAM-- the drawer can be crowded. In our case, we have a video editing edition of the 6400, that came-out-of-the-box with extra RAM, cache, internal modem, and Avid Cinema video in/out cards. The cramped space meant I had to disconnect one of the internal Avid cables to get at the RAM slots.

Times like these make you really appreciate having a wrist grounding strap (essential equipment for operations like this, to prevent frying your electronics).

I did encounter a bit more of a problem seating the DIMMs themselves on the motherboard. It would have been pretty easy to have NOT seated them properly, but thought I did, and put everything back together only to get a dead Mac for my trouble. But I avoided all that by a close visual inspection via flashlight deep inside the drawer's landscape, and noticed the bottom edges of the chips on the DIMMs were NOT aligned parallel with the edge of the DIMM slot connector below them as they should have been (but were crooked-- one end of the DIMM angling higher than the other)-- and so I used the 6400 board's rocker switches to unseat the DIMMs again and have another go at it, until I finally got them to seat, with an uncomfortably high amount of applied pressure.

Though I'm not documenting every step here in newz, during the task itself I was faithfully following the instructions and information in the 6400's user manual and all other relevant references I had at the time. Once I was ready to push the drawer back closed again I pushed the tiny reset button indicated, closed up, fastened up, and began reconnecting cables.

Once booted, the "About this Mac..." menu item in the Finder showed all 136 MB present and accounted for. Of course, I still had to manually go in and adjust up the usable memory allowances on several programs in their "Get Info" boxes so they'd exploit the new RAM when open. I also went into the Memory Control Panel and adjusted the disk cache as high as it would go (around 7 MB), to further maximize performance.

Did the RAM upgrade from 32 MB to 136 MB give any perceptible differences? Yes! Boot up is significantly faster, taking up maybe as little as half the time it did before. Many applications open faster-- again, seeming to require about half the time they did before. The Mac logs onto the web a bit faster. Operations like rebuilding the desktop seem faster. It seems to crash less often. But some of the differences were greater than this. For instance, there were a few real RAM hog programs on the 6400 that within only 32 MB would practically barely run at all, or else not do some things like print when you wanted them to. But in 136 MB (and setting "Get Info" memory higher) lots of those problems either went away or at least improved significantly. The primary user of the 6400 indicates they see a LOT of improvement at 136 MB compared to 32 MB.

And remember-- the 6400 is currently running with the old and creaking Mac OS v 7.5.3. It could well be an upgrade to 8.1 or 8.2 would help even more in some of these memory-related areas (but of course, we might suffer some compatibility problems with some of our old apps or peripherals too-- which is a big reason we haven't upgraded the OS).

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

2-21-98: My aunt finally gave up on her 225 MHz 6500 Mac, 15 inch Apple monitor, and Epson 600 printer, returning it all to Sears...

...after having tried mightily to use the system for months. Turns out the 7.6.1 machine wouldn't run anything but Netscape Navigator 3 and ClarisWorks 4 for her-- everything else would simply crash after a couple minutes or several user clicks-- whichever came first. I tried to help her too, with no luck. Her son did as well-- with similar results. My aunt had originally bought an extended warranty with the Mac, so she made a couple calls to Sears and they sent folks out too to try fixing it, to no avail. Finally she packed it all up and returned it to Sears, demanding all her money back-- and she got it, too (in cash no less!).

Now her son is taking that money to try to set her up on another Mac in its place. A refurbished 7300 straight from Apple, with system 7.5.5 and 32 MB RAM. I believe they're also buying a refurbished Apple 1705 17 inch monitor, Global Village 33.6 kbps speakerphone modem, UMAX scanner, and Apple 4500(?) printer.

The 7300 appeared DOA when it came (Dead On Arrival), but eventually my cousin found the CPU card inside had just become unseated during shipment. Nudging it back into proper place seemed to fix it.

Hopefully the 7300 will do better for my aunt than the ill-fated 6500 did.

(Other relevant notes: I've found that the Epson 600 is problem-prone and incompatible with quite a few things, including ClickBook (a cute little phamphlet/booklet utility). I also suspect the 6500 uses more PC-style graphics hardware in place of previous Mac stuff, and OS 7.6.1 wasn't nearly debugged sufficiently to prevent massive incompatibilities with many Mac apps as a result, before shipping on Macs like the 6500. I also get the impression Apple is breaking many old Mac apps with changes in 7.6, 8.0, and 8.1, and not really caring about the impact on end users. For one thing, if we're all forced to buy all new Mac wares after OS upgrades, that'd give a shot in the arm to Mac developers, short-term, wouldn't it? But it makes owning a Mac even more expensive than lots of folks expect at purchase)

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

2-4-98: Concerning the "Click of Death" problems recently reported with Iomega ZIP drives....

We have at least three ZIP drives attached to Macs here locally, a couple around a year or two old, and the third maybe 2-3 years old. We've had some fairly minor problems with the drives, such as failures of the Iomega driver software to update a disk's directory info sometimes (a file copied to ZIP disk on one Mac wouldn't always show up when that ZIP disk was inserted into a second Mac), and occasionally received a new ZIP disk with damaged shutters that wouldn't work in a drive until fixed.

However, the directory update problem was fixed with newer Iomega driver software downloaded off the net maybe a year ago, and we haven't got hold of another damaged ZIP disk in a while.

Occasionally I personally have seen/heard my ZIP drive seem to have trouble accessing a disk, and clicking an awful lot. But so far this has been rare, and never resulted in data loss or permanent disabling of the drive-- except possibly for one instance where a single ZIP disk did become unusable afterwards, rendering its data possibly lost forever (though I put it aside to try a recovery program on it someday, my redundant back up practices and busy schedule have resulted in me never trying to access it again yet, a year or two later).

Ted Landau of macfixit.com and others have gathered more info about the problem that seems to verify my own long held suspicions of the ZIP drive and media...namely, that ZIP disks and drives are far more fragile than Iomega leads customers to believe in their marketing campaign. I've personally always been as gentle as possible with both drive and disks, and never tried using the drives as portables as Iomega seems to encourage (and some Iomega techs or ex-techs have indicated on the web can easily lead to "Click of Death" type problems).

Landau suggests that one possible fix for ZIP owners experiencing bad problems with their ZIP might be a re-setting of their drives, by:

(One) Shutting down the Mac.

(Two) Press in the ZIP drive's Eject button and hold it there, immediately after turning your Mac back on again. Keep holding the Eject button in until your Mac has completed boot up. If the drive isn't in need of mechanical repair, it should work again after this.

Landau also acts leery of ZIP owners trying too hard to bring a particular ZIP disk back into use again after it's seemed to cause problems for their drive-- because Iomega indicates a damaged disk can also damage an otherwise healthy drive.

Iomega tech support reportedly told David Crawford that users should be very gentle when inserting ZIP disks as well, as the drive heads are more easily damaged than those of most other types of removable drives.

2-9-98 UPDATE: I forgot to mention the same folks cited above also warn about ZIP drives/disks being more vulnerable to dust-related problems than many other drives too. So maybe folks like me that tend to keep a ZIP disk half-way stuck in a drive when not in use are living dangerously-- and should change their habits?

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

1-10-98: WebFLUX Alert: How to rid yourself of many annoying ads on America Online

Folks, this info comes from Brock Meeks of MSNBC (Thanks Brock!).

Call up your "Keywords" dialogue box on AOL, and type in the words "marketing prefs". This should bring up a neat set of preference settings that allow you to KILL many of those awful in-your-face ads that AOL throws at you every time you sign on these days. It will apparently also help you get rid of quite a bit of your junk email, too.

Note that you might have to play with this thing several times to get everything set the way you like.

-- J.R. Mooneyham and MSNBC/ZDNNet (datestamp 1-7-98)

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

1-7-98: I've now personally installed TWO Epson Stylus Color 600 printers onto Mac systems. And look forward to the day printers are obsolete.

These things are awfully picky in their installs, often forcing you to disable everything but your CD ROM extension in your Extensions Manager prior to installation, as well as performing many other nitpicking tasks-- and thereafter sometimes forcing you to reinstall the whole shebang again on a fairly regular basis-- which tends to give you the sense of what it's like to be a PC user in 1997-1998. But we Mac folk are not accustomed to such stuff as this.

Alas, we're going to have to get used to it, since a madman is at Apple's helm, and most of us are now much closer to being forced into the PC world today than we were just a few short months ago.

Indeed, that's the best aspect I can think of for this printer: it's supposedly 'compatible' with both Macs and PCs. So it might ease the transition for its owners, when the time comes. Yeah, the printer can also put out some nice looking pictures too-- when you use special expensive paper. But printing is getting to be less and less important for many folks, as the web advances.

A few years from now when virtually everyone has the equivalent of a disposeable (yes, I said disposeable) color laptop, and you can with a single click email them awesome animated presentations, etc., without ever fooling with paper jams, messy ink cartridges, or a bulky box sitting on your desk, who's going to want a printer?

Today's printers will become tomorrow's cassette tape drives where computers are concerned (remember the slow and awful cassette drives we used to store computer files on before floppies? Maybe not. But we Old Computer Geezers do.)

Oh, here's a few other points about the Epson 600: so far it seems to install and work a bit better with Mac OS 7.5.3 than 7.6.1 or 8. We've done multiple installs on a 7.6.1 Mac, and the 8 user seems forced to unplug and re-plug his printer cable and other nonsensical things to get the printer to work. Doesn't this sound like a great printer? (note folks that nobody asked my advice about all these purchases, and the most recent buyer even ignored what I told them about seeing many 600-related problems on Mac troubleshooting sites). Trouble is, Apple itself has created such a mess in the low end Mac printer market now that Mac users don't have too many easy choices to make there anymore. First Apple abandoned the Canon inkjets they previously sold, than made a deal with Hewlett-Packard to sell HP printers under the Apple logo, while HP otherwise exited the Mac market (i.e., no more low end HP branded printers for Macs). Then, on almost the same day Apple announced the debut of their new 'under-the-skin' HP printers, they also seemed to announce the cancellation of same. HUH? So many Mac users aren't sure what to do printer-wise, and third party vendors also aren't sure if it's worth providing a solution to them, either-- since Apple apparently can't be trusted to do business with (remember all the dead cloners?), and is nowadays flighty as heck in its decisions (annoucing new printers and then cancelling them in almost the same breath).

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

1-2-98: Newz reader Dan offers us a bit more first-hand info on Mac OS 7.6 and 8...

...after he noted I had only a little to offer of my own. Dan "didn't find 7.6 to be any improvement over 7.5.5, but 7.6.1 was considerably faster and stabler."

Dan's used 8 for 3-4 months, and considers it "...faster, nice looking, and much stabler" than 7.6.1-- although 8 "...stability isn't as good as the Win95 workstations at my old job, but those workstations crashed too (that's at Microsoft, even!)."

Dan agrees with me about Netscape Navigator's stability problems, compared to IE 3.x, but says he has to use Nav because his girlfriend's sister works there (yep, that's a political problem alright).

Dan also said he recently replaced his girlfriend's 8 MHz Mac Plus with a 16 MHz IIcx and 13 inch color monitor, partly using Newz as a reference.

My (slightly edited) reply follows:

"Glad to hear it Dan! And thanks for the feedback! (I do hope you get to use IE soon though-- it's worlds better than Nav on a Mac; I hate to crash every few minutes on the web like Nav seems to).

The 6500 I tried was running 7.6.1 I believe-- and it was awful, crash and freeze-wise. It might be incompatibilities with new and different video hardware Apple's using in the 6500-- but hey, Apple shouldn't ship it if it doesn't work, right?

I might try 8.1 when it's available. But I'll still let others be guinea pigs first with it for a while. After all, both 7.6 and 8 fried 4 or 5% of Mac hard drives they were installed on globally, due to a driver bug of some sort, according to many news reports. YIKES! 4 or 5% might not sound like much, but if we assume 3 million upgrades that would be 120,000 users or more forced to reformat their hard drives and re-install all apps from scratch, and probably lose oodles of non-backed up data files, too. Personally, I don't consider that a successful upgrade (of course, lots of folks say I'm much too picky about such things)."

-- J.R. Mooneyham and miscellaneous web news sites of past months.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

9-17-97: WebFLUX Special Report: The Terrible Truth About the Internet (and an important update about using Microsoft Internet Explorer)

This sucker (the internet) is definitely not ready for prime time, even now in late 1997, having had several years to 'cook'. Conflicting formats for multimedia and many other aspects of the web have even the pro users scrambling to keep up with the latest plug-ins, etc.-- and often only knocking themselves seriously off-line for their trouble.

But even the more savvy among us who avoid the format wars by ignoring all those calls for downloading the latest and greatest plug-ins, still must sometimes struggle to maintain our online connection, as well as those of our less techno-savvy friends and family.

It appears the only real solution at present is to be fabulously wealthy, so you can afford a half-dozen different rooms, each equipped with a fully equipped and set up internet browsing machine, and a full-time expert technician and complete tool kit, on call 24 hours a day, for each room as well. You also need full and robust automated file back up systems and software which synchronizes your important personal files somehow across all the machines regularly (without sharing problems too across the machines).

Each machine should also have its own separate Internet Service Provider too. Yes, I'm talking six completely different internet accounts here.

The above would seem the ideal solution for optimal web surfing today. Because if the global internet itself isn't seizing up on you, it's your ISP flaking out on you. And if it's not your ISP, it's the latest web site you visited with some sort of error or other bad code. And if it's not the last web site you visited, it's a problem with one of your browser plug-ins. If it's not a plug-in, it's a bug in your browser itself. If it's not your browser, maybe it's in your dialing software. If it's not your dialing software, maybe its your TCP. If it's not your TCP, maybe it's your modem. If it's not your modem, maybe you need more disk space. If it's not your disk space, maybe you need more RAM. If it's not your RAM, maybe it's your OS. If it's not your OS....well, you get the picture.

At the moment, anyone who makes much use of the web at all must be technically proficient at solving problems, or else have such support nearby in some form, readily at hand. The internet is not yet suitable at all for plain jane consumer use, except where that use is rare and brief, and expectations of results and reliability very low. If and when the internet exceeds those expectations, the user has simply been lucky, and should not expect such success to be the norm.

All the above is based on user experiences with both PCs and Macs I've seen documented on the web, as well as a couple of years of personal experience serving as a Mac support person for a mainly PC-dedicated ISP, and also support of all the Macs associated with WebFLUX HQ that surf the web quite heavily.

I now have experience with both the major web browsers on the Mac (Netscape Navigator 3.0 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0), and have come to the conclusion they both suck, compared to how I'd expect and desire for them to function. Both the Mac OS and Windows PC OS too seem to have many failings in the area of the internet as well-- so it's not entirely the fault of the browsers. And yes, the blame continues up the food chain to ISPs, and beyond that to the internet-related institutions and technologies on which the whole shebang is based. At the moment it all appears a house of cards that can and does collapse regularly for any user which accesses the net more than several times a week. And these local machine collapses often incur connection problems afterwards that require substantial software repair efforts to overcome.

I already informed readers of my discovery that Microsoft Internet Explorer's cache MUST be manually cleared regularly to prevent browser crashes. Now it appears that Explorer's history log too must be removed or manually replaced before it obtains a certain size, or else Explorer will undergo a hard crash every time you try to log on to the web. Luckily, we had a second Mac here at WebFLUX from which I could copy a tiny history file from, to replace the history file on our 6400, to overcome the crashing problem. Unluckily, this replacement only seemed to work for one day. The next day I simply removed the history file entirely, as well as turned off the Modern Memory Manager in the Mac's Memory Control Panel (as discussed at the MacFixIt web site) to get the browser to work.

So yes, after heavy use Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 is showing many problems similar to those displayed before by Netscape Navigator 3.0, and Explorer's recommended maintenance schedule and list is growing longer by the day. All this sudden spate of problems is surprising though, since Explorer ran like a champion for 2-3 weeks before it suddenly started crashing all the time on us.

Still, I must admit that Internet Explorer hasn't yet matched Netscape Navigator in overall negatives: IE still runs much better for much less effort so far than Navigator did in the last month we were regularly using Navigator.

But still IE's performance leaves a lot to be desired. Especially where my plans for putting my family online via cheap Mac NCs are concerned.

I already boosted my brother Scotty's family sufficiently to get them online this way. But Scotty is at least moderately savvy about Macs and PCs in general, and so his family enjoys their own built-in techno-savvy for support. And where problems go beyond Scotty's immediate expertise, usually a minimum of phone consultation with me is enough to overcome most problems.

However, my brother Randy's family is a different case entirely. Up to now they have often used the 6400 here at WebFLUX central to surf the web and run other Mac programs. So they are basically familiar with the Mac interface and logging on and off the web. However, that's the full extent of their expertise. I've personally corrected most all the problems everyone's encountered with the 6400 since its purchase, as well as performed regular maintenance on the machine.

It was annoying enough to find out Explorer requires manual cache clearing on a regular basis. Now that I've discovered it may be dangerous to clear the cache just prior to quitting Explorer in a session (since I did this before the latest crash problem showed up), and a fairly complex to remember removal of Explorer's history file may also be necessary for users to practice (and wonder what other 'Gotchas!' are lurking in Explorer like time bombs), I seriously question whether setting a Mac NC in front of Randy's family and similar non-techies would be practical.Keep in mind that my personal experience suggests a Netscape based Mac NC might be even more troublesome than an Explorer-based Mac NC.

The world is in dire need of web clients that work as simply and reliably as a coffee-maker or TV set, and also allow access to the 90-98% of all the same web content a basic Mac or PC web machine configuration is capable of providing. Though items like WebTV may offer simplicity and reliability on par with what's desired, it's unclear if they allow the same substantial access to web content that Macs and PCs presently do-- if something like WebTV only allows access to 1 % of web content, or anything less than 90-98% of content, they're a terrible deal and shouldn't be purchased by anyone. And there's also the very low quality of TV resolution to deal with in regards to WebTV and similar devices as well, which effectively lower surfing efficiency and speed substantially, due to much lower display resolutions than a typical PC or Mac monitor might provide.

More web appliances are appearing, but they are all suspect so far on the percentage of web content access they offer, as well as other functionality.

As of mid September 1997, the outlook for a decent consumer-suited web surfing device-- at ANY price-- appears bleak.

Apparently we'll all have to wait for a NON-technology company to solve our problems here, since Intel, Microsoft, Apple, Sun, Oracle, and others can't seem to get it through their thick skulls that few of us out here want to be techno-geeks-- we just want to surf, email, and web-publish-- NOT regularly trouble-shoot everything behind the screen.

The world desperately needs a consumer-friendly company-- maybe a game console company-- to step in and fix this awful mess.

-- information from just about every web source you can think of

PS: You say you personally haven't had any problems with your internet connection? Well, as I believe an old AT&T commercial said about coming technologies: "You will."

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

11-5-97: My aunt Lee just bought a new Apple Mac 6500/225 with 15 inch AV monitor and Epson Stylus Color 600 printer

I spent about a day and half at her house helping to get it set up (reconfiguring her web stuff, transferring files, re-installing some apps from her older Mac, and installing some of the CDs bundled with the 6500).

The specs? System 7.6.1, 225 MHz 603e, 12x CD ROM, 33.6 kbps modem, 32 MB RAM, 3 GB hard drive.

The 225 MHz 6500 is slightly faster than our 200 MHz 6400 in many ways-- but doesn't run circles around it. Installations happen a little faster, the delays in running most CDs are smaller (except in odd cases like Corel Gallery), the web surfs a bit faster-- just in general it's a perceptibly 'snappier' machine than the 200 MHz 6400.

Since I was only on the 6500 a couple of days, I really have too small an experience sample to judge its overall stability. But what time I was on it it did crash and/or freeze up several times on us-- often for no discernable reason, and often right after a fresh bootup. One time it crashed when I merely tried to restart it from the Special menu, and hadn't been on the web or anything beforehand.

Apple's Drive Setup 1.3.1 CD was bundled with the Mac (I'm depending solely on memory here for the version number). This CD is meant to address a serious hard disk problem recently discovered by Apple with 7.6 and 8.0 Macs using IDE drives like the 6500. In Lee's case though her 6500 seemed to have already been 'fixed' in this regard, so far as I could tell from reading the Read Me and other info, and checking the things they said to check. So it seemed the CD wasn't really necessary for Lee's 6500. So why did Apple include it? Beats me. I just hope I understood all Apple's instructions correctly about it. But so far as I could tell (from Apple's instructions), Lee's 6500 didn't need me to use it, and so I didn't-- since using that thing is risky anyway, I'd be crazy to do it unless it was absolutely necessary.

Apple seems to have improved their Internet Connection Kit-- either that, or I'm getting more accustommed to the kit, after wrestling with it on several Macs. Lee's web config went pretty smooth, and I DIDN'T have to put in a credit card number, as happened to me before. Unfortunately, Apple still hasn't ironed out all the bugs-- their auto-config did NOT config Netscape Navigator 3.0's internal news groups and mail servers and email identity, etc., so all that still had to be done manually, even AFTER you've already given the same info to Apple's kit in various screens.

One big disappointment was we couldn't transfer her Print Shop Deluxe files. Oh sure, they'd copy over, but Print Shop's own file format makes them useless when copied. You see, Print Shop seems to save files in only a 'partial' way on disk. That is, the file is mostly a list of pointers to other files, like Print Shop's own clip art libraries. So when you copy a file to a different Mac, all the links are broken, and Print Shop just crashes when you double-click on the copied file. Bummer! We tried using Print Shop's 'full save' option and then copying the files, but nothing changed.

For some reason Lee's Corel Gallery clip art CD also runs outrageously slowly on the 225 MHz 6500, compared to her previous 33 MHz 637CD. At first I thought maybe it was because it's 68K code running on PPC, but later I remembered Gallery runs just fine on our own WebFLUX 200 MHz 6400.

Lee also bought an Epson Stylus Color 600 printer (one of those 1440 dpi jobs). This turned out to be the biggest problem we had so far. The initial installation didn't work, and I spent considerable time troubleshooting it afterwards, with no luck. That night I combed the web and discovered lots of Mac users have been having a wide variety of problems with that particular printer. I armed myself with downloaded knowledge and the latest drivers, deciding my first action the next day would be to trash the installed drivers and do a re-install using a few tweaks suggested on Epson's website FAQ (The World of EPSON).

NOTE: macfixit.com may be the very best source for Mac troubleshooting on the web today. Searching it pointed me to great problem/solution info about Lee's printer.END NOTE.

But Lee's son Edwin beat me to it the next day, and apparently got it working, to my great relief. I talked to him later and discovered he'd taken no special actions at all. He'd merely trashed the present drivers and performed another straight installation, much the same as I did before-- only this time it worked.

Adobe PhotoDeluxe also comes with the Epson. PhotoDeluxe is essentially Adobe's $560 PhotoShop program, made easy enough for mere mortals to use on a casual basis-- and costing only $50 to boot. Yep, it's difficult to see why anyone would buy the $560 Photoshop, compared to $50 PhotoDeluxe. I consider PhotoDeluxe vastly superior to Photoshop, just on ease of use alone, never mind the $510 discount.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

7-29-97: A possible trick to help minimize Netscape Navigator 3.x crashes...

...for Mac users (Windows/UNIX users, you too may have something similar to this you can use in your own OS, but if so, I'm unaware of how it might be utilized; sorry).

In the past, it seemed the only thing I could do about Netscape Navigator 3.0 crashes on our Macs here was to allot Netscape as much RAM as I possibly could in its 'Get Info' window. Now though, I may have found a way to monitor Netscape's memory usage and so get some warning when I should quit Netscape to avoid a crash.

My method is embaressingly simple: after logging onto the web with Netscape, I return to the Mac's Finder/desktop via the applications menu in the upper right hand corner of the screen, and choose "About this Macintosh..." under the Apple menu in the left top corner. This gives me a small window of RAM usage, updated perhaps every second.

Nowadays I keep the Netscape window scrunched slightly vertically so I can see Netscape's particular memory gauge in the small Finder window.

When it becomes clear Netscape is almost out of RAM (typically after several hours of surfing), I quit/log off. Use of this little window has also shown me that Navigator will sometimes 'let go' some RAM when you return to your Home page and start a whole new tack in surfing. Apparently this is because Netscape keeps in memory a backlog of the pages you've visited, so long as you're surfing deeper and deeper into a particular chain of pages (see how Netscape's "Go" menu changes as you surf, to get the idea here). When your surfing clears the Go menu to just listing your Home page, you free up a bit of RAM and gain back a few extra minutes of surf time.

Unfortunately, Netscape still is highly inefficient in its RAM usage, and WILL run out eventually, no matter how you try to baby the program. Plus, occasional bad code on a web page, or hiccups from your ISP or the internet itself, can also crash you with no warning. So no cure for ALL crashes here folks-- just for many of those related to Netscape's lousy internal memory management.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

7-23-97: Whoops! The Mac 6400 Netscape Navigator 3 problem was worse than I thought...

...for more info please refer to the update to the original troubleshooting item below on this page (7-17-97).

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

7-17-97: Our workhorse Mac Performa 6400 suffers a momentary online problem (moving a single icon fixed it)

We have a do-it-all 6400 here that has to do everything from play kids games and surf the web to scanning/photo retouching/video editing, faxing, telephony, desktop publishing-- you name it, it does it. It also has both a virtual Windows 3.1 PC and a virtual Windows95 PC on it, too. The 6400 has at least seven different regular users and many more irregular ones, and we further burden the poor machine with extraneous software just for testing purposes often (like installing digital camera interface software that some PC users seemed to be having a problem with; it worked on the 6400 and we took the camera back to the PC users with our report).

Well, the other day my brother Scotty ran ResEdit on the 6400 to create some Dialog boxes for software he's writing, and after that the 6400 started displaying unusual problems.

Some obscure telephony control panel that we never use (it was either part of the original 6400 bundle, or maybe a WordPerfect accessory(?)) began giving error messages on boot up that you'd have to click an 'OK' button for. Since we'd never used it anyway (we use different telephony software, which incidentally still worked in tests), I told the 6400's Extension Manager just not to load that particular Control Panel any more on start up. The error message dialog disappeared from boot up.

A bit later though we discovered other problems happening too. America Online 3.0 would crash on opening. Netscape 3.0.1 soon began acting the same way.

Though both AOL and Netscape display their own share of problems and bugs from time to time, this latest thing was highly abnormal.

I tried a few of the normal internet-related fixes, but as they didn't help I put things back like they were again afterwards (I always make a copy of a file before I trash it, in case I'm moving the wrong thing). Putting the original stuff back like this saved me from unnecessarily having to reconfigure my PPP, AOL, and Netscape software again, since it was mostly preferences files I was messing with here.

OK, so it wasn't the usual suspects. Time to consider exactly what complaint the Mac was giving me during a crash. It was an error dialog about a "Finder" error of type 11.

Hmmm. Well, it's been a long, long time since I had to trash a Mac's Finder Preferences file because it was corrupt-- maybe 3-4 years. But maybe it was that time again.

I found the Finder's Pref file in the System folder, and moved it elsewhere on disk, out of the System Folder. Then I restarted. This forces the Mac to create a fresh Pref file.

Boot up seemed OK. I tested Netscape with some surfing. It was OK too (but I took this opportunity to clear out its cache anyway while I was there; there's a button for that in Netscape's own network preferences window, accessible from its menus). Afterwards I tested America Online 3.0 too. All appeared to be fine and working again.

So it was the Finder's Preferences file-- it'd been corrupted somehow.

Had Scotty accidentally did it with ResEdit? Maybe. ResEdit can be a dangerous program to use-- it's about the only non-hacker program around that can render a Mac as unusable as a PC merely as a part of its normal functioning. ResEdit is a programmer's resource editor, so it can mess with a Mac's System and application resources like nothing else. Probably 95% of Mac users rarely or never use it, since it's just plain unnecessary and undesirable for most things. Too, Scotty may have been using an old and obsolete version of ResEdit that didn't work well with the 6400's system 7.5.3.

But I may have been the responsible party myself. How? I've got Netscape Navigator allotted a LOT of RAM on the 6400, since it's a RAM hog, and leaks memory all over the place. Essentially, Navigator 3.0.x is incontinent, and WILL crash eventually as you surf-- the length of time you usually get prior to a crash seems directly proportional to how much RAM you tell Navigator it can use in its Get Info box in the Finder. Right now I have it set so that usually you can surf maybe 100-200 moderate bandwidth web pages before Navigator crashes. So many times you'll be done surfing and quit before Netscape blows its brains out. However, if you continue surfing beyond 2-3 hours, you're almost certainly going to crash.

Anyway, since Navigator is so messy with RAM, it's also wise to restart your Mac after web surfing to clean up after Netscape, even if you encountered zero crashes.

But I've gotten lazy lately, and many times cranked up America Online 3.0 after quitting Navigator, while still connected to my internet service provider-- and so doing NO restart in-between. Even though the huge RAM allotment I've given Netscape in its Get Info memory setting guarantees Netscape has polluted practically all the 6400's memory before AOL even opens up. Most of the time this still works pretty well, even though I'm well aware Navigator has left numerous time bombs in RAM for me to encounter.

However, the other day I did this AOL-on-the-heels of Netscape thing, and noticed immediately that the screen didn't refresh like it should; several folder icons looked like garbage. AOL opened, and then crashed a moment later.

In fact, I may have repeated this bad thing again a couple more times over the following days (Mac abuse! Mac abuse! ha, ha). So it's entirely possible I was the culprit who corrupted the Finder Preferences file, instead of Scotty.

Anyway, the 6400 seems back to normal again now, and I just mainly related all this to you in case you know of someone else who can use the info.

Isn't it wonderful how a Mac user can often fix a problem by simply moving a file icon from one folder to another, as I did here? According to many of the PC users I know of, this is yet another Mac capability Windows users would sorely like to have with their machines.

7-23-97 UPDATE: OK, I spoke too soon. Most of the time when something starts working again on your Mac, that means the problem is fixed. However, on rare occasion (like this one) the fix proves only temporary, and the problem pops up again a few days later.

OK, the problem was beginning to get annoying now, as it pretty much prevented our main web surfing Mac from getting into the internet waters at all.

I have another confession here to make. As old N&V readers may remember, when we first bought the 6400 I transferred about three zillion files from an older 6300 to the 6400, over the two Macs' built-in LocalTalk networking (largely to save me from having to re-install oodles of apps from scratch onto the 6400).

I also ran into a fairly serious problem with Apple's ObjectSupportLib around this time, as well as lesser ones. The bottomline was that I ended up with a slew of copied files with bad dates on them (the year 2039 or something like that), and at least one fairly bad directory error somewhere on disk, that Apple's free Disk First Aid program couldn't fix at all.

As we had no modern commercial disk utilities software (stronger than Apple's munchkin First Aid) to fix these things (and run on a shoestring budget where things don't usually get bought unless it's an absolute have-to case), we were pretty well backed up, I was very busy with other stuff, and the bad dates and single directory error didn't seem to affect daily usage of the 6400 in any way......I simply let them be.

Flash forward seven months to the present, and I'm beginning to suspect these old problems are the source of my present one-- either that or else Netscape's file caching on disk has created even worse disk problems for that app. Or maybe that aborted Navigator 4.0 install I did a while back hurt something? I booted from the 6400's system back up CD and ran Disk First Aid on the disk, only to encounter the same unfixable problems I remembered from months earlier. Tests showed we still couldn't log onto the web. I moved the Finder Prefs again, but it didn't help. I checked the 6400's Finder against a pristine copy, and it seemed OK. I still had some manual fixing options to try, but I didn't like them much. In any case, it wouldn't hurt to finally buy and apply a full strength disk utilities program to the thing, right? Right.

So we ordered Norton Utilities 3.5 from MacWarehouse (1-800-255-6227), for $99.95 plus $3.00 overnight shipping. It was one day late arriving.

The first thing that struck me was NO MANUAL(!) It turned out the manual was a tiny booklet in the front of the CD case itself, plus perhaps some docs on the CD too. Anyway, you hardly need a manual with the straightforward interface Norton presents. The package does recommend you read the Read Me on CD before use, and you might need to check the booklet for how to boot from the CD (hold down the "c" key when you restart your modern Mac).

In a click or two I had Norton doing a full examination of the disk. This takes a while, especially the bad block test where it's checking your hard disk integrity.

I did as the Norton software recommended and told it to repair each problem as it ran across it. Turned out to be quite a few; more than I'd personally been aware of. There were around 14 separate 'bad' things, that involved a total of hundreds of files-- probably over a thousand. One problem listed was the corrupted MegaDial resources file the 6400 had warned me about earlier, and I'd just told it not to load it. Norton said I should replace this with a fresh copy, so I finally did sometime later (from the 6400's backup system CD).

Norton says that, similarly to Apple's Disk First Aid, you need to run Norton several times to make sure all things are fixed. Because a first pass fix may reveal a deeper problem needing repair on the second pass. You need to run more passes until everything seems OK. Sure enough, the second pass showed two new problems, which I told Norton to repair. On the third pass the only thing that showed was the need to replace the MegaDial resources file (which I hadn't done yet, but did after this).

Now I rebooted, this time from the hard drive, and changed back my Extensions Manager to including the MegaDial Resources file in bootup (since I'd replaced it). I rebooted again for the changes to take place. I got no error message this time about MegaDial. I rebooted again just to be on the safe side, since I was going to test Netscape.

I seemed to log on OK with Netscape, but I cleared its cache anyway, and then logged off again. Remember that my log on problem seems to show up again after several successful log ons/log offs-- so I wasn't out of the woods yet.

The second log on went OK. But after quitting Netscape and trying to close the PPP connection, I crashed.

Since a thunderstorm was entering the area I couldn't continue testing until later.

A few hours later I tried logging on again. Netscape froze up after getting a bit of my home page onscreen, and one of the fonts definitely didn't look right. The pointer wasn't froze but everything else was. Keyboard restart time.

I moved to a different Mac to see if this was a problem with my internet service provider instead of the 6400 (98% of the time it's the ISP or internet above it crashing my connection, when Bad Stuff happens). Unfortunately, the Mac 460 ran just fine. So it was a 6400 problem (it's really handy to have more than one web surfing machine available, for stuff like this-- especially when you need to download a fix or consult the web for trouble-shooting info).

I booted from and ran the Norton CD again (note: I haven't installed Norton on the hard drive at all; I'm using it exclusively from CD; why waste the disk space and take up valuable RAM with more extensions that I don't need in daily use?).

Norton reminded me I still had a duplicate copy of the corrupted MegaDial resource file I'd moved from the System folder to another for safekeeping, before putting a fresh one into the system folder (Remember how I always keep a copy of something in case I make a mistake somewhere?). In its present location the corrupt file never had anything to do with the OS, but heck, it looked unnecessary to keep it now so I got rid of it too at this point. Even before trashing the corrupt duplicate, Norton reported no serious errors on disk.

I rebooted off the 6400 hard drive, and went into manual trouble-shooting mode on the desktop.

I suspected that Netscape had somehow corrupted its own little family of support files, and that this was what was crashing the program. If the problem was something in HTML rather than corrupted resources, Norton probably wouldn't see it, but Netscape could still choke on it when it tried to read it. I moved Netscape's pref file out of its pref folder in the System folder to force Netscape to create a new one. I also moved my Finder Pref file too, again, as described earlier in this newz item.

I often save Netscape's bookmarks menu for newz reference, so there was no problem about having a backup bookmarks file. I went back about a month in bookmark files and got a small one I was sure wasn't corrupted, and replaced the one Netscape was presently using in its prefs folder in the system folder. I also renamed the old file to the same name: "Bookmarks.html", so Netscape would use it for the default menu.

I went to the Mac 460 and copied its Netscape 3.0 global history file, and replaced the 6400's Netscape global history file with it.

I considered doing the same with something called the 'pop state' and the magic cookie, but decided not to at this point, as I was less sure of what those replacements might do.

I then rebooted the 6400. I decided to try America Online 3.0 on the 6400, as a test of the PPP and TCP/IP, before trying Netscape again. AOL 3.0 seemed fine.

I logged off, and rebooted to start fresh. I began to log on with Netscape...and my ISP line gave a busy signal. I canceled the log on until later.

After 11 PM I tried again, and it seemed to work. I logged back off, restarted, and tried logging on again. Seemed OK. Now I re-entered my email account info into Netscape's mail preferences and told Netscape to remember my email password (since I'd wiped those things out by moving the old pref file), and put my home page address back in again too. I adjusted my links to expire in just 10 days (I've noticed this speeds Netscape up a lot folks, compared to 30-90 days! Because the longer this is set to, and the more surfing you do, the more thousands of links Netscape has to check every page against as you browse the net, constantly disk churning and making you wait...)

I logged off and restarted, and logged back on again...remember I'm testing for a problem that can seem to be fixed for several log ons and then reappear.

Eveything seemed OK. Now I revised Netscape's Bookmarks menu to be more like what everybody who uses the 6400 would expect (recall one thing I did was replace the latest Bookmark menu with a much older one). We've also gotten into a routine here of periodically saving a huge Bookmarks file to a page on disk in Netscape's folder, then opening it and bookmarking it into the menu, and clearing out the menu again to just a few marks, so we can accumulate lots more. This way the menu stays manageable, and we still get access to all the old bookmarks collected in months past. Fortunately, I'd done this very thing just before the recent problems cropped up, and so didn't have to do much to put things into order now.

I checked the email, and gave Netscape my email password the first time (as you have to do initially with a fresh pref file-- if you've checked the box 'remember password' in Netscape mail prefs you only have to give it the password once when checking mail; after that it knows it).

I logged off and shut down.

A while later I did another log on test, this time resetting the font sizes used by Netscape in displays to the larger-than-default 18 point we commonly use on our 17 inch monitor. I surfed a while, and eventually logged off. Everything seemed OK. Sometime later I also re-adjusted our desktop font too (via the "Views" Control Panel), as that preference had been wiped out as well by my moving of the Finder preferences file.

The following day (7-23-97) another user surfed the web for hours on the 6400, and crashed. Apparently this was a normal 'Netscape-running-out-of-memory' crash, or an internet service provider 'hiccup' crash, because immediately after that I was able to log back on again with no problem on the 6400, and surf. After surfing a while I went to the Finder and selected "About this Macintosh..." under the Apple Menu, to check Netscape's memory status, and noted Netscape was about to run out. I also noticed that at present settings we had about five extra MB of RAM still free when Netscape was open. So I logged off. Sometime after that I went into Netscape's 'Get Info' window in the 6400's Finder/desktop (Netscape was NOT running at this time), and gave Netscape an extra 1000 k of memory for future sessions (Netscape is a horrendous RAM hog). This should slightly lengthen the time it takes for Netscape to reach the crash point. Of course, we'll still be vulnerable to 'hiccups' from our internet service provider, and from the internet itself, as well as Javascript errors and bizzare format multimedia additions in some web pages we surf...

But WHAT IF the problem recurs later? Or WHAT IF it was still happening now? Do I have any more tricks left in my bag? Yep.

If online problems continued, I'd possibly trash every scrap of Navigator 3.0 on the 6400's disk and re-install it fresh from the original disks/installer. If that didn't work, again I'd trash all the related files and try installing Nav 4.0 instead (doing things a bit differently than the last time I tried installing 4.0, like NOT changing anything in my Extensions Manager to do it, and ONLY installing the browser and email apps in a custom install...).

If all that didn't work, I'd see about upgrading the 6400's OS from 7.5.3 to 7.6.1(?), which might be freely available for download soon since 8.0 is newly released. Or heck, we might even buy 8.0 for the 6400, and try that.

If we still couldn't get Nav 3.0 or 4.0 to run, we could try installing Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3.0 instead. If that didn't work either, we might even fall back on CyberDog from Apple (an option not available to Windows users I think). If desperate, we could also try falling back to Netscape 2.0 or Explorer 2.0, though I'd hope to avoid that.

If all this still didn't work, we could try installing web browsers for Windows 95 or Windows 3.1 (the 6400 can run both kinds of software, ala Insignia SoftWindows). If Insignia's software couldn't do the job, we could try VirtualPC from Connectix, running Windows NT, OS/2, or various types of UNIX and suitable browsers there (of course, there's also stuff like mklinux running on Macs we could try too, without the Windows intermediary).

And naturally, there's still more options we could pursue-- but I seriously doubt we'd ever have to do more than scratch the surface of all these alternatives....

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

7-7-97: Have you ever saved a web page to disk in your Browser only to find out later it wasn't saved at all? Want to know why?

It's those &^%$#! frames! You see, if you have the WRONG window frame in your browser selected when you "Save as...", you WON'T be saving what you think you are!

How do you pick a particular frame? By clicking anywhere inside it. THEN save!

This may seem like a very small thing to new users, but it's not. I've been extremely annoyed several times by this glitch in modern browsers, and wrote this newz item because I just discovered it's happened to me again! (I still forget sometimes to tell the browser which frame I want to save, you see).

On a related note, did you know you DON'T have to use your mouse to scroll down a web page in Netscape Navigator? You can use the downward pointing cursor key instead. But, as with saving, it only works for whichever frame the browser thinks you're using at the time...(another tip: before saving a page try your cursor key to make sure you have the window frame selected that you think you do...)

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

6-30-97: Well, I decided to try out the new Netscape Navigator 4.0.1 the other day...

...and endured a 1-2 hour download for it. I really had no good reason to do this, as all our web connected Macs here are doing great with Navigator 3.0.1 or older...I guess I was just feeling the same itch lots of folks do about trying something just because it's new.

Being a dutiful Mac user and wary Old Computer Geezer, I looked over the Read Me stuff for hints of problems and warnings. There was something about restarting with just your standard Mac extensions I believe, to make installation safer. So I used the Extension Manager to set our 6400 to just the standard 7.5.3 stuff, and restarted.

I also copied Nav 3.0's pref folder to a ZIP so I wouldn't lose all our email or bookmark data (almost everybody loses this stuff unexpectedly when they do certain internet upgrades).

Finally I double-clicked on the installer.

The installer informed me Netscape Conference required Open Transport 1.1.2 no less(!), and so wouldn't work. I canceled the install, figuring I had little use for Conference anyway. Sheesh! OT 1.1.2 is pretty darn new software! What, maybe a few dozen Mac users out there have downloaded and installed 1.1.2 by now?

So this time I clicked on Custom Install, figuring I'd just install the other stuff that was more friendly to my truly ancient ONE YEAR OLD Open Transport 1.1.1(!)

A progress gauge came up, and the cursor turned to a spinning watch icon...and nothing else happened for a long, long time.

I couldn't cancel it or abort via an onscreen button, so I finally used the keyboard restart to get out of it.

The Mac rebooted just fine. However, I found that for some reason the Netscape installer had messed with the mod dates on every file and folder in my root directory. They all now sported dates/times within the time frame I was watching Netscape do nothing.

Why on earth Netscape was rooting around in all my files I have no idea. Apparently if I hadn't stopped it when I did, every file on the hard drive would have had the same time and date stamp on it, pretty much ruining the 'View by Date" option in the desktop.

After this, I sure have no plans to upgrade to Nav 4 anytime soon-- and I can't recommend anyone else do so either. Plus, I've also seen references on several web sites to strange bugs, high memory requirements, and other annoyances in Nav 4 even for those folks who do manage to install it.

On a (distantly) related note, our 6400 Nav 3 seems to have done something akin to the odometer turning over on an automobile (you know: when an auto gets to 100,000 miles the odometer reads 00000, like when it was new?), just a day or so before I decided to risk our internet connection on the unproven Nav 4. That is, it's like Nav 3 reached the maximum limit on how large our site history file or whatever could get, and started all over again, thereby 'forgetting' all the links we'd visited in the past, and so no longer showing these with a different color onscreen. This was a bit annoying, but apparently there wasn't anything I could do about it.

I do have to admit we've probably surfed at least 100,000 web sites on the 6400/Nav 3 combo in only the last six months(!), since I personally do TONS of research surfing on that Mac, and there's at least five other adults and two kids also doing the same regularly on that overworked machine-- with random visitors surfing too there at least once a week or so!

On the other hand, the loss of our invisible history file seemed to speed up Nav 3 a huge amount, as before it rolled over the disk seemed to churn endlessly as you flipped between web pages (I guess because Nav 3 was being forced to compare all new page links against that enormous history file to see which links we'd visited before).

Again, the rollover of Nav 3's history file had nothing to do with my ill-fated Nav 4 install attempt-- I just thought I'd mention it in case other folks encountered similar stuff and was wondering about it.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

6-16-97: FLUX Alert: Apple's Internet Connection Kit Crisis...

...must be hurting Mac sales as badly now as Apple's earlier grievous error of installing only 8 MB RAM in early PowerMacs did a few years back.

In that earlier fiasco, you practically couldn't operate your 8 MB RAM PowerMac at all without using virtual memory-- and yet using virtual memory was either incompatible or very problem-prone with many of the programs and peripherals many Mac users were using at the time(!)

The end result was a big fall off in Mac sales afterwards, which lots of folks attributed to almost any other reason than the insufficient RAM issue (personally though I think the RAM issue hurt Apple more in sales than Microsoft's big Windows 95 campaign hype of the time; after all, when you pay thousands of bucks for a new computer, you expect it to work, right? Many early PowerMacs required immediate RAM upgrades before they were usable for their intended purposes. Sheesh!).

Now Apple has something similar going on: their Internet Connection Kit is wreaking havoc with Mac users out in the field-- it's so bad, Apple should seriously consider pulling the product off the shelves. Because it appears to be doing much more harm than good, out here.

Fully half the tech support calls I get nowadays are related to Apple's Internet Connection Kit, which apparently is getting automatically installed and/or bundled with new Macs sold by Apple and cloners, and with OS upgrades from Apple itself.

Apple's kits are wrecking the existing internet connections many users already are enjoying before upgrading to 7.6 and bundled kit. And it can be extremely difficult to repair the problems Apple's kit causes, after the fact.

I've also had to deal with Apple's kit on a Mac here at FLUX Central-- the Performa 6400 we bought new some months back. The 6400 had only two substantial problems I can recall off the top of my head: the Grolier Encyclopedia CD ROM install, and Apple's Internet Connection Kit.

Apple's kit documentation was difficult to locate and use, and the kit's software buggy; I actually saw garbage appear on screen, as if this was a personal program I was debugging!

I'm considered the Mac internet expert in these parts, having written a how-to manual and determined the software necessary to get Mac users online locally. An older version of my kit is posted on the web here [LINK REMOVED AS OUTDATED 2005], and apparently being used successfully at least in a few other parts of the USA besides my own region, according to email I get and periodic web searches that show related links on the web (I have a much improved and expanded kit I hope to replace the old one with soon, online).

With all these credentials however, I found Apple's kit terribly difficult and annoying to use. After wrestling with it for hours without success, I finally just removed what I could of it to get it out of my way, and installed my own kit.

All this, despite the fact I'd been looking forward to using Apple's kit when the 6400 first arrived! I figured Apple's kit would be much better than mine. I was wrong.

But Apple's kit continues to do damage to the Mac's reputation, even now. Every day, happy buyers of new Macs and clones and Mac OS upgrades are unwrapping their new toys, and joyously rushing to connect to the internet-- only to find they can't.

Has anyone out there managed to connect to the internet with Apple's Internet Connection Kit without significant problems? If so, please tell me! I'd like to know. So far I only know of one case where this happened-- but the user involved was pretty experienced (now using his third Mac), with 100% disk back ups that solved some problems (like lost bookmarks), and also had me available as an advisor for Q&A over the phone. Send your email to [this email address no longer functions].

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

6-12-97: America Online stresses out its members again

Today around 12:30 PM EST I went online to discover my web site gone. "Not found", "Not found", "Not found", for everything I looked for, across all my various directories.

This was different from some other times of problems with my AOL-based web site. For example, last time AOL provided a message about their server being down, which is less distressing than hearing that your actual files are missing.

I still wasn't too worried though, as I'm getting accustommed to the internet coming up with all-new curve balls at least once or twice a month. Just when you think you've seen it all, a wholly new problem rears its ugly head.

But then a while later when I entered my web site from the 'back door' (my AOL-client side, where I actually add the files to my site), I found there too all my files were gone-- and in their place was a bunch of new files I'd never seen before.

OK, now I was starting to get a bit steamed. The new files looked like a new generation of the files AOL supplies in all virgin web site directories on their servers: FAQs, etc.

I began imagining all sorts of ways AOL might have permanently lost my site files. I know from experience many companies-- even huge ones like AOL-- often have deep dark secrets of not being adequate in the back up department. But in the past all AOL had lost was my back email (I often can't access email from a week or so back anymore, although at one time AOL claimed it kept old email for you 30 days).

Had disaster finally struck my site? Inquiring minds had to know. And if my site had indeed sunk, I needed to get cracking immediately on trying to salvage it-- a process likely to take weeks or months of concerted effort. Gee, thanks, AOL. :-(

I searched in vain for an email address to AOL technical support online. So far as I could tell, AOL doesn't provide one.

After LOTS and LOTS of searching and run-arounds from AOL I finally got a list of tech support phone numbers-- all the relevant ones 888 instead of 800-- so it ended up costing me several dollars worth of long distance phone charges (as well as an hour or two of frustration) to find out the fate of my site. The switch from 800 to 888 is a relatively new one-- last time I was able to use 800.

When I at last managed to get a living person on the line, he informed me AOL was just doing another of its surprise maintenance sessions smack in the middle of the day again-- right when we all need our sites the most. He didn't use these exact words-- but that was the gist of it, between two experienced AOL users. He told me my site would be back online momentarily, and I felt some relief at last.

Did AOL give me any warning ahead of time about this? No. Did they send me email during the hiatus so I wouldn't worry unnecessarily? No. Did they even leave an explanatory note in my web directories for this? No. They just did what they darn well felt like doing. After all, I'm just a measely subscriber. A pawn in their commercial game. And there's only two million of me that maintain web sites like this on AOL. If we all quit in disgust AOL would still have 4 million left over that hadn't yet learned about all this. And AOL could probably replace us web authors with newbies by way of another wave of 2 million free CD ROMs hitting the novices in the marketplace.

Yeah, why should AOL care about its subscribers? It's not like they've got much competition yet. The Microsoft Network? An online joke that's not even funny, according to many who've tried it. A prominent PC Week journalist has all but called for an FTC crackdown on MSN, it's so bad. Far worse than AOL, according to what I've read from its users.

And who else is there? Compuserve? Prodigy? These two may be better than MSN, but overall they still rate below AOL in a number of ways. How would you like an email address something like "09467783,83566", for example? Sheesh! And millions of real world subscribers must agree with me, since lots more folks have chosen to go AOL than Compuserve or Prodigy-- or MSN.

So what about local internet service providers? About the only advantages they offer over AOL is that you can drive right up to the shop and blow off steam to live folks when bad stuff happens. Plus, for rural folks local ISPs offer local access phone numbers where AOL doesn't-- which saves you a wad of dough. But other than those two things, the local ISP is usually less reliable about access and email delivery than AOL, and easily overwhelmed if one or more web sites suddenly become popular on their servers-- so your site becomes inaccessible via another angle. I'm not just basing this on my own experience, but from TONS of postings, articles, and email I've seen from folks using both or either the online majors and/or ISPs, both near and far.

But there's also another option-- sort of, anyway. Setting up your own web servers. This option is at least a bit expensive for most folks, as you need to dedicate one or more computers and several modems and phone lines to the job: and then you can't use the servers for anything else. And setting up and maintaining the servers after that are no walks in the park either. It costs both money and time. All told, setting up your own web server for much more than personal use is likely too difficult and costly for most individuals to want to fool with at the present time. A small commercial concern or formal organization can get by with it in a practical manner perhaps, but not a small, loose, shoestring budget group like me and my friends.

So at present all we can do is choose the lesser evil from a variety of flawed options.

As I've said before, I'm not too crazy about living in the Stone Age of Computing.

If we had a practical cryogenic option, we could freeze ourselves and thaw out 25-30 years down the road to bypass this enormous load of crap ahead of us...

But we can't-- so let's all try to get back to our normal mode-- of pretending the crap tastes good.

(If pressed, I do have to admit the 1997 crap does taste better than the 1996 crap, which itself tasted better than the 1995 crap, and so on and so forth....but it's still crap, after all, and I'd prefer non-crap if I could get it...just think of the great advertising campaign a new and decent online service could put on-- the motto might be "I can't believe it's not crap!" Online novices wouldn't get it, but surely experienced online users would...)

6-15-97 UPDATE: Whoops! Sorry I didn't include the AOL support numbers folks-- here they are:

....from 8:00 A.M. to 2:00 A.M. Eastern [USA?] time, 7 days a week:

1-888-265-8001 Product Information

1-888-265-8002 Orders

1-888-265-8003 Billing

1-888-265-8004 Screen Name/ Password

1-888-265-8005 Access Numbers

1-888-265-8006 Windows Tech queue

1-888-265-8007 Macintosh Tech queue (this was the one I used)

1-888-265-8008 Cancellation

1-888-265-8009 Credit Requests

1-888-265-8310 DOS Tech Queue

International Callers - 1-703-264-1184

Member Services in France - 0-800-903-910

Member Services in Germany - 0-180-531-3164

Member Services in the UK - 0-800-376-5432

TTY Service For Hearing-Impaired Members- 1-800-759-3323 To use this service, you must have TTY-enabled equipment.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

6-10-97: ATTENTION MAC USERS: Here's your generic ink tank info on Apple's newest printers:

The Apple Color StyleWriter 4100 = HP DeskWriter 660C

The Apple Color StyleWriter 4500 = HP DeskJet 690C

The Apple Color StyleWriter 6500 = HP DeskJet 870Cxi

J.R. Mooneyham and Macintouch

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

5-16-97: OUCH!! America Online 3.0's web browser HURTS me!

I'm being literal here! It appears you can't change the font sizes in AOL 3.0's web browser. This might be OK on a tiny 14 inch 640x480 display maybe, but is downright torture on a big 17 inch monitor at around double that resolution like we use here. I tried everything I could think of to increase the font sizes displayed in the browser, to no avail. Preference settings were simply ignored. I believe this browser is based on Microsoft's Internet Explorer, right? Well, whatever, this font size problem is a MAJOR flaw in the software.

On the flip side, using the "Back" button in the browser works much faster than in Navigator, seemingly because the AOL/IE browser keeps the last page in RAM rather than cached on disk like Navigator. Going backwards happens instantly (hmmm. That does sound like something Microsoft would be good at, doesn't it?)

But this one advantage can't possibly overcome the blindness that the tiny font sizes in the browser will inflict on users that use the software too long. Surely this font problem is something AOL rigged (probably by accident) in the software-- because such a browser wouldn't have a chance in standalone competition with Netscape Navigator.

It's also almost impossible to bookmark anything in the AOL browser, too. But surely this is a change AOL made (purposely) to the browser, rather than something native to Internet Explorer-- because otherwise, again, no one at all would ever switch to the Explorer from Navigator under such circumstances. I assume AOL crippled bookmarking so to discourage users from venturing too far and too often out into the wilds of the web, away from AOL. Oh sure, it's theoretically possible to bookmark something in AOL's browser-- just like it's theoretically possible to make your own Burger King Whopper from scratch instead of just buying one for $1.00 or whatever-- but few people would be so inclined.

As far as I can tell, you must manually type in the URL to make a bookmark for it in AOL's browser. By contrast, you just select "Add Bookmark" from a menu in Netscape Navigator when you're looking at a page you want to return to. HUGE difference here, folks. Night and day. I could effortlessly make hundreds of different bookmarks in Navigator in the time it'd take me to painfully make just around 25 or so 'Favorite Places' in AOL's browser.

There also seems to be no "Go" menu on AOL's browser, which lists all the past web pages you've visited in the latest session, so that you can skip a dozen to get to a particular one deep in the list, as opposed to clicking the 'Back' button a dozen times. Navigator has this. So far as I know right now, AOL's browser doesn't.

One last "Gotcha!" in AOL's browser I noticed today was no "Find" command, for looking for something in the text of the current web page, like Netscape offers. A 'Find' command is essential in your surfing, as some web pages are huge, and it can be almost impossible to find what you're looking for fast, without a 'Find'. 'Find' is also made even more important when you're stuck with text so small you can't read it, as happens in AOL's browser with lengthy text pages.

AOL, you'd better upgrade your browser fast, or face being rolled over by plain-jane internet service providers offering little more than immeasurably better standalone web browsers!

5-29-97 UPDATE: "Indigo Vic" emailed me to let me know how I could bookmark items in AOL's browser much more easily (it's accessed through the tiny heart icon in the upper right corner; isn't that intuitive- NOT!?). It's still a few lightyears behind Netscape's method though, in ease of use and convenience. Like me, Vic knew of no way to change font sizes either. Vic may have had an additional tip or two, but some things happened here at FLUX Central since I got his email that made me lose track of his saved mail for reference, and AOL has seemingly cut way back on holding your past mail in storage for you, without informing its subscribers of the change. Back in the Good Old Days (a few months ago) I could access my AOL email from as far back as 30 days, but now I'm lucky if I can get email that's a week old to come up. Isn't progress wonderful?

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

5-10-97: More about America Online 3.0...

One thing I really dreaded in older versions of AOL was accidentally clicking on something that would launch the AOL web browser, which was a pretty much separate application there. AOL's web browser was pretty awful, and it was far better to surf the web on a non-AOL browser, and in sessions that had nothing to do with AOL itself.

This fear of AOL's browser carried over to my use of 3.0, as I naturally avoided any click that might lead to AOL's browser opening to devour my RAM and crash my machine.

However, it's getting more and more difficult to know the difference between an internal AOL click and an external web click, in the AOL client software. So last night I opened AOL 3.0's web browser and began surfing the web-- without even realizing it.

After maybe ten minutes I noticed the look and feel of things had changed some-- to something more like a web page. This made me more closely examine the current window. And sure enough, it had a few browser type buttons on it, but so few that it still closely resembled an internal AOL content window. I continued to surf a while in it, with no problems, and found I was able to treat this browser window like most other windows in AOL, like clicking it closed or re-opening it without a second thought.

So it seems AOL 3.0 has at least made greater peace with the web than earlier versions did. Is AOL's browser better than a dedicated program like Netscape? Well, it has fewer buttons, so it's simpler. But I've really not had time to compare them much yet. So far so good though.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

5-8-97: An easy fix for some browser problems.

I recently hit a web site with some sort of incompatible sound file that locked up my machine. I restarted and immediately returned to the same site, because there was something there of slight interest to me. I locked up again. This time I knew for sure what the problem was; the first time I locked up I thought it may just have been because I was overdue; since with Netscape Navigator 3.0 and all the wild experimentation going on on the web these days, it's often difficult to surf through hundreds of sites over many hours without crashing on something.

And while I'm on the subject, some new web elements have taken over the spot once held by blinking text on web pages; unwanted and extraneous sound and video clips. Sure, sure, my six(?) year old nephew loves to visit a Mortal Kombat site with some martial arts music on it he can jump around the room to, but I personally despise all the extra sound and video junk on sites that don't require them and don't warn you about them beforehand. It's especially annoying to late night surfers that might wake up other folks in the house with such unexpected clamor.

OK, back to the subject. I apparently corrupted a file or something by immediately revisiting that incompatible sound-afflicted site, because after that I went to MacSurfer's Headline News and crashed for no apparent reason. I suspected a corrupted file, so when I re-opened Navigator I went the the Network preferences and cleared the browser cache.

That seemed to do the trick, since I've not had any more problems like that. Of course, I'm also staying away from the site with the bad sound file too.

As there's a significant chance of collecting corrupt files in your browser cache from the web, it probably isn't a bad idea to clear it out manually this way once a month or so. Especially if you're crashing more frequently than you used to.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

5-4-97: Upgrading to America Online 3.0 on a Performa 6400

Was it worth it? Well, I've not spent a great deal of time online with the new client software yet, but what little I have seems to indicate no significant advantages over the older 2.6 and 2.7 software. The main difference seems to be nothing more than bigger, prettier pictures on the screen, and a bigger RAM requirement for the software on the Mac. Whoop-t-doo. It seems when AOL saw Microsoft do little more than plaster a pretty picture onto Windows 3.1 and proclaim it Windows 95, AOL wanted to do the same thing. So now we have AOL 2.7 with splashier graphics, only it's called 3.0.

I'd hoped that AOL 3.0 would add a utility or two to the subscriber's personal web site access ("My Place"), like perhaps an indicator of how much free space was still available in each screen name folder. Because in 2.6 and 2.7 you have to go through a pretty annoying process of calculating this yourself, manually. For large sites of five folders like mine, that can amount to 30 minutes of tedium everytime you do it.

Did AOL 3.0 help me out here? Nope. Did they add anything new at all to the "My Place" interface that might prove a practical aid to subscribers? Nope. Nothing I can see.

I guess the only additions I've noticed so far in general is more online Help.

Unfortunately, the additional Help isn't necessarily a net gain here, because subscribers might require that extra help just to get around, since the new, flashier pics make AOL more confusing and harder to use in some instances than it used to be. At least for me anyway, and I've been an AOL subscriber for years now. Of course, many software upgrades are cumbersome for users at first, and eventually are seen in a better light; so this may be just the 'new' disorientation effect talking out of me.

However, one definite downer in AOL 3.0 was the crash and burn it inflicts on my older Performa 460 machine (a 68030) when I tried installing it there (see previous Newz&Viewz for details); so the 460 continues to use AOL 2.6 instead. The second downer was a highly annoying thing AOL 3.0 did to my PPP Control Panel when I ran it the first time. This annoyance was potentially a considerable amount of trouble for me, because if I couldn't rid myself of it it would have forced me to retrain everyone at FLUX Central on how to access the internet!

Here's what happened to me:

I installed AOL 3.0 on the 6400. Then I went through AOL's instructions for upgrading the older AOL software on disk (3.0 was essentially copying the preferences and email from 2.7 into a new folder). Somewhere in all this I opened AOL directly, allowing it to auto-open my PPP to dial up my internet service provider. Usually for AOL or Netscape I don't do it this way, but rather dial manually by clicking the "Open" button on my Config PPP panel, and then calling up Netscape or AOL after connection is established. Why? In case my ISP is flaking out or busy on one phone number, I can try another easily. Switching numbers this way doesn't work as well after Netscape has already tried to get through itself, for some reason.

Anyway, everything seemed fine until the next time I called up the Config PPP Control Panel to log onto the internet the way I and everyone else here usually does. Now both the "Open" and "Close" buttons on the panel were grayed out, and unclickable. Yikes! I can't remember ever seeing this happen before. I restarted the Mac to see if that changed things. It didn't.

OK, test time. I found the PPP would still dial up OK by allowing Netscape or AOL to automatically call it up themselves. I just could no longer use the "Open" button manually, as I usually do.

This was a major bummer because I pretty often must switch phone numbers in my PPP panel to log on, but the grayed out "Open" button would mean lengthy reboots between every number switch(!), and because this could cause me to have to retrain everyone here to log on a different way, too. There's so many people that use this 6400 that retraining everyone would be very annoying and time consuming for me.

Obviously AOL 3.0 had triggered this somehow. Was there a way to undo it? If so, it wasn't obvious. And the AOL Help was NO help here.

I tried several things to make the PPP "Open" button functional again, including removing my PPP prefs file from my Preferences folder inside my System folder, restarting, and then reconfiguring my PPP Control Panel from scratch. Didn't help.

I wondered if AOL 3.0 had somehow conspired with the surviving bits of Apple's Internet Connection Kit still on the 6400, to do this (I'd months ago removed or disabled as much as I could of Apple's kit as it gave us all sorts of internet problems, compared to the 'kit-less' 6300 we'd been online with before. (Apple's Internet Connection Kit sucks big time in my opinion-- to see the details of why consult older Newz&Viewz at the bottom of this page) There remains however an annoying and useless status window from the kit that pops up every time we go online, that I never could figure out how to kill).

So I looked up the "Internet Config" app from Apple's kit, and examined it for clues about something that might be tampering with my Config PPP this way. I found nothing.

I next read AOL 3.0's Read Me file for clues. Next I went into AOL 3.0's Preferences window, and started looking around. I found a checked box saying to use AOL Link when connecting by modem, under Automatic Configuration. I UNchecked this box, despite some warnings from AOL 3.0 that I might not like the results. I also did a bit of extraneous clicking on some "Configure" and"Restore" buttons there that I probably didn't need to do-- but I was just looking around and wondering if there were yet more control panels hidden behind those buttons.

While I was there, I tried using AppleGuide (a question mark button) in this section of AOL 3.0 for help, but got nothing (AppleGuide stuff is only present in places like this if a developer (in this case AOL) has created some material for this area; apparently AOL hadn't).

I backed out of all this, quit AOL, and restarted the Mac.

After this, I had a clickable "Open" button back in my Config PPP Control Panel again, and everything else (including AOL 3.0) was back to working the way I wanted again.

Oh yeah-- there is one item I look forward to seeing in 3.0: the Marvel Comics department. This section has been inacessible to earlier AOL clients, claiming it required 3.0 to strut its stuff. Well, we'll see if it struts or not, when I remember to check it next.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

2-24-97: The new Worldbook Encyclopedia on CD ROM

Nope, this thing's not Mac-native, which is a strong strike against it right there (Maybe a Mac version's coming, but it's not here yet so far as I know). This package is for Windows 95. As is usual for such things, it's not something I bought myself, but rather another Mac user in and around FLUX HQ. I installed the Encyclopedia in Windows 95 running on the Performa 6400 here. As is typical for a clunky Windows OS application, the install process was awkward, confusing, annoying, and long-- despite the fact I elected to install only the main event item, and NOT the tour, and NOT the online supplement portion of the package (the Win95 virtual hard drive is only around 250 MB total in size, so we're trying not to fill it with non-essentials of the Windows packages we try; plus, there's that other aspect of Windows stuff-- namely, removing such things after they're installed can often be near impossible for the user; so it's best not to install them in the first place where you can avoid it; too, I definitely don't want to fool around with Windows in regards to modem and internet stuff-- that'd just be plain too tortuous for my tastes).

After the awful Windows install, the Encyclopedia seemed to run as it was supposed to. The buyer seems to like it OK (it costs under $100, and some buyers can get rebates to bring the cost still lower). Me, I was not impressed. It's typical Windows ware, which means clunky, compared to most Mac software. Newer Windows software like this Encyclopedia are making big improvements in their graphic appearance now, thankfully-- so screens often look as good as Mac software screens now, circa 1997. But unfortunately, the programs still often work like Windows 3.1 or DOS programs-- clunky, with extra steps required for things that a Mac program would require a single step for, and the interfaces often being counter-intuitive, forcing the user to look for a help screen somewhere, and remember weird keyboard commands or unfamiliar actions of other sorts to make use of things. On the whole, it just seems that most Windows developers don't spend much time thinking about the programs they create, or considering the end user in their efforts. Which forces the end user to do extra thinking to figure out how the heck the programmer meant for you to do a certain thing with the application. No wonder the average Mac user typically is capable of using twice as many different programs on their machine on a regular basis than a Windows user-- the Mac user has fewer complex details to remember.

Anyway, let's overlook the awkwardness of the platform for a moment; how does the Encyclopedia rate for content? Disappointing. I'm sure that CD ROM/DVD ROM Encyclopedias will become pretty much extinct after 2000, as they can't touch the web in many ways-- even those that are 'internet-enabled'. Even today, an experienced web user would probably feel badly pinched if all they could access was an encyclopedia disk, and not the web for reference. Beyond the obvious inferiority to a plain web connection in the hands of an experienced user, it seems World Book also left out or stripped out most of its graphics and charts to bring the Encyclopedia to the primitive Windows platform. Or maybe they're trying to encourage folks to buy the hard copy books to get at the graphics; I don't know. What video and animations it does include are low quality (again, the quality may have to do with the Windows OS it was created for), and could probably be matched or even surpassed with some suitable browser plug-ins and a 28.8 kbps modem on the web-- yes, World Book's multimedia (or Windows') is that bad. You definitely wouldn't have to trade CDs every few minutes surfing the Web-- as you do with WB's multimedia (not just frequently, but constantly, if you're relentlessly in pursuit of video and animation thrills-- disk trades can be as common as inbetween each and every video/animation you look at). Even the text of articles was surprisingly cursory, in the few random subjects I've checked so far. There's probably more hard info here than Grolier's, but most users would probably like Grolier's better for its interactivity, better ease of use, and better quality dose of multimedia. Off hand, it appears that the main reason World Book hasn't got a Mac version of their Encyclopedia is the same as is true for most other Windows apps and CD ROMs: because it simply isn't good enough to compete with existing Mac encyclopedias. The Mac platform may be in decline now, but it's still the king of the hill in quality of applications and ease of use-- which makes it harder for developers to deliver Mac apps/CDs compared to Windows. Windows ware can often just be shoveled out to its users-- they're used to low quality and a myriad of problems. But it takes more work to sell something to more discriminating Mac users; they simply expect more from their software than PC users do, apparently.

Maybe by 2010 the average quality of Windows software will match 1996-97 Mac software. I certainly hope so, since Apple appears to want to force all its current 50 million users to downgrade to Windows over the next ten years (judging by their actions rather than words).

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

2-18-97: The Performa 6400 Video Editing Edition's video input/output hardware perhaps better than that in the 8500/8600 series-- and the 6400 costs less, too!

Whoops! Lost the source notes here! But I found one review on the web of a fellow using Apple's Video Editing Edition of the 6400 for video work (and apparently having access to the 8500/8600 series for comparisons), and he reported the Avid video hardware with the 6400 was actually better than the similar circuitry in the 8500/8600 series! Hmmm. I'd wondered if there was any qualitative difference there.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

1-21-97: Insignia SoftWindows 95 upgrade for SoftWindows 2.0.

A while back we switched from an Apple Color StyleWriter Pro to an Apple Color StyleWriter 2500. The GDT StyleScript 2.0 we were using to print in color from SoftWindows wouldn't work with a 2500-- GDT told us we'd have to ante up another $50 or so for an upgrade to StyleScript 3.0. Well, Insignia said upgrading to SoftWindows 3.0 or 95 would also do the trick (though cost more like $100)-- plus the '95 choice would put us hopefully into a more up-to-date interface than the Windows 3.1 we were looking at before. And GDT StyleScript 2.0 had a really annoying copy protection scheme on it, crashes fairly frequently, and takes up considerable memory, as well as sometimes does horrible ink wasting pranks when printing from the internet (like printing SOLID BLACK in place of a white background on certain images!&^%$!!). So we weren't eager to stay with StyleScript. While we were pondering the choices we also upgraded from a 100 MHz Mac Performa 6300 to a 200 MHz Mac Performa 6400.

Installing SoftWindows95 was a LOT more difficult than the install for 2.0 around a year ago. Despite the fact I went for a 'fresh' install rather than trying to directly upgrade the virtual PC from the earlier installation (the Insignia manual indicated all sorts of acrobatics were required to upgrade our original installation directly, and that even after trying it we might just lose the original virtual hard disk file involved anyway-- so why burn your bridge behind you? I figured. I wanted to be able to return to SoftWindows 2.0 if necessary). Of course, doing a fresh install means you have to also re-install all the Windows apps you had prevously installed in SoftWindows 2.0-- which is a royal pain-- but I'm well aware all this is normal for Windows people, according to the PC magazines. I'm amazed at how people can live this way. In all the many OS upgrades I've installed on Macs over the years, I can't remember a single case where I had to re-install any of my applications afterwards. Sorry you had to hear that, Windows users. Whoops! You say you're going to have to re-install Windows 95 and all your apps yet again? Sorry to hear it. I feel your pain.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: OK, so why am I installing SoftWindows on a Mac at all, then, if it's so deficient? I'm NOT installing it on my OWN Mac, but on the 6400, which is an extended family machine first and foremost, rather than a dedicated FLUXmobile. Certain family members are curious about everything in this world, which includes UFOs and Windows apps, and so SoftWindows is here to satisfy that curiosity, much as you'll sometimes see a TV here switched to "Sightings"(yuck!). Plus, I have to admit I like having a machine around that can pretty much run anything-- even if I personally have never had a need to use a Windows app. The only time I spend in SoftWindows is usually installing something new someone has just bought, or trouble-shooting a problem someone's having in Windows-- or showing them how to do something with it. It seems use of SoftWindows here has declined a lot this past year though, as users have learned how Windows software simply doesn't work as well as the Mac's (it can take lots of extra steps to do something like simply changing a font and size, for example, as compared to the Mac, and functional support for many actions you take for granted on the Mac simply doesn't exist in Windows), and it's become apparent to us that the real reason many companies don't port their software to the Mac is that it simply isn't good enough for the Mac-- much poor quality PC software just can't compete with typical Mac software in ease of use and visual elegance. One example is Print Shop Deluxe Ensemble II(?), I think is the name. That entire suite's interface would have to be redesigned to compete successfully on the Mac, as its Windows incarnation simply would not be acceptable to folks used to much better. Yes, we have the Windows version, and have examined it. We also have the Mac version of Ensemble I, where the maker did clean up their act in this respect, and it seems much better quality-wise than what Windows users are getting in Ensemble II-- though I know this may sound perverse. Examine both yourself if you don't believe me. Lastly, the ugly and confusing Windows 3.1 interface scheme doesn't make you want to stick around any longer than necessary there, either. END AUTHOR'S NOTE.

Though I followed Insignia's instructions, apparently the installer had a particular notion of exactly how much RAM it wanted to allot to SoftWindows95 on a 32 MB RAM Mac, and wouldn't budge from that allotment even when its own internal code kept announcing it was too much. This resulted in Insignia's installer leaving me no choice but to give it settings it plainly said were wrong, as there was no other way to escape the dialog but to reset the computer. The Insignia manual did say if you had problems here to try setting the Extensions Manager to 7.5.3 extensions only, rebooting, and re-installing SW95-- so I trashed the first install and did these things.

Insignia's manual and install process don't match exactly-- or even closely, in some respects. I'd have to say installing SoftWindows95 is about as difficult as connecting your Mac to the internet the first time with MacTCP, PPP, etc.-- maybe even worse. You also have to set the size of your imaginary PC hard disk in a separate operation too. And fool around explaining to Windows that your CD ROM is the "F" drive, and other 1960s style nonsense. I thought Windows 95 was supposed to be some kind of advance over Windows 3.1? I ended up having to trash SoftWindows95 on the 6400 hard disk several times and starting all over re-installing things, before it would ever work. I emailed Insignia for help, but they never responded. Well, they do say they're giving you a true Windows 95 experience, don't they? I can't say they lied there. I finally figured out how to get around the memory problem (gosh, PCs and "extended memory"-- what's that? Who knows?). I had to very carefully figure out how to balance the amount of RAM SoftWindows wanted to use versus the total RAM in the 6400-- and then figure out how to apply these numbers in the confusing set up. It turned out the only way to change these settings successfully was to repeatedly trash the previous install and do another one, until you finally got it right. It might be that things would have gone a bit easier if I'd turned on virtual RAM on the 6400-- but I knew that would slow things down, and that we'd just have to be constantly switching it off and back on again for various reasons. Power Macs need real RAM for most things, and the 7.5.x virtual RAM just doesn't work for many Real World tasks (Yeah, I know: Apple says differently. Well, Apple also said we were all going to be in System 8.0 by 1996 or earlier too, didn't it?)

Finally I got SoftWindows95 to run apparently as it was supposed to. I looked around and ran a few of the small apps that came with it. Gosh, but Windows 95 is a lot clunkier than I expected. And app functionality doesn't seem to have improved one iota from Windows 3.1. The interface is a bit easier on the eyes, is all. I do have to admit I like the menus staying down of their own accord though (without the necessity of holding down the mouse button). But stability? Not even as stable as the admittedly fragile Mac OS. I was able to crash Windows 95 doing the most innocuous of things, getting the famous 'fatal errors'. And all this before I'd even installed a single third party application into it! Luckily these early crashes just caused a forced quit of the apps involved, rather than bringing Windows95 down-- kind of like when the Mac tells you your application has unexpectedly quit because of an error type 11 or whatever. But apparently Windows 95 gets corrupted memory too, just like a 7.5.x Mac, and requires restarts to freshen things up every so often. I'm still unfamiliar with how to do an easy restart in Windows 95 though, and right now am just quitting SoftWindows and reopening it to do so.

Well, I began re-installing our Windows apps. These things had pretty much worked as expected in Windows 3.1. Hallmark Connections is a greeting card app, with gorgeous original artwork from the famous card company. In Windows 95 Connections seemed to work fine until we tried to print, and then it crashed. Windows 95 gave us a long list of gobbledygook excuses regarding the crash, which meant absolutely nothing to me. Though W95 gave every indication this was an internal error of Windows (which Insignia licenses from Microsoft itself), I started to wonder if I was needing to re-install SW95 again. But the 6400's owner wanted me to try another program instead, and so I installed a package called Print Artist. Print Artist installed just fine, edited documents, and printed them as it was supposed to in SW95, no problem. So it appears the SW95 install is OK, but that the Hallmark package just isn't fully Win 95 compatible. Bummer.

I haven't yet installed the other Windows apps. I'll keep you posted on the results.

So how does SoftWindows 95 run on a 200 MHz 603e? Pretty darn fast. Even in fairly graphic-intensive apps like Hallmark Connections, your imaginary PC seems to run about the speed of a 100 MHz Pentium at least-- maybe a faster one (the comparison comes from an actual 90 MHz Pentium PC I've seen at work in similar tasks). You can just barely tell the stuff is running in emulation rather than native form-- and a novice that had no idea of the wild emulation going on behind the scenes likely wouldn't detect any difference at all. How does this compare with how SoftWindows 2.0 ran on a 100 MHz 603e though? Like the difference between night and day. On the 100 MHz 603e, SoftWindows gave acceptable performance in only the most light duty of applications. Complex or graphic rich apps ran like molasses. But SW95 on a 200 MHz 603e almost screams. And according to Insignia's manual, if we had more than 32 MB of RAM, the performance might be even better. The bottomline on performance? If you want to emulate Windows on a Mac, you want a minimum of a 200 MHz 603e or 132 MHz 604e, in a uniprocessor machine. Of course, you also want this as a minimum even if you don't want to emulate Windows! ;-)

Lastly, the TurboStart feature in SW95 would be a nice one to have, if you could use it. Unfortunately, it involves saving the current state of RAM to disk and then just reloading it again for a fast boot later (as I understand it). This doesn't always work well in something like Windows 95 (OR the Mac either, I have to admit), because the operating system is often sloppy about memory management, and so something like TurboStart just means you carry over memory problems from one session to the next, instead of leaving them behind like a regular shut down and subsequent boot would accomplish.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

1-10-97: Money saving tips for some Apple printers

Printers are getting more complicated-- apparently to make it easier for customers to spend more money than they have to on them, to the delight of manufacturers. The Apple Color StyleWriter 2500, for example, possesses a fairly confusing internal arrangement of consumables. It turns out that there's an ink cartridge which is like the 'engine' of the printer, and doesn't really need to be replaced very often, and ink tanks that sit inside the ink cartridge, and are the parts you need to change when you run dry of black or another color.

In light of all this, if you're currently ordering ink cartridges for your 2500 printer rather than ink tanks when you run dry, you're spending way too much money and going to way too much trouble replacing components. Be sure to read your manual to learn all the concrete details, and you'll save yourself enough money to buy a whole new printer later on down the road!

Other related tips here are that 2500 consumables are apparently the same as 2400 consumables (according to Apple, and to catalogs from Computer Discount Warehouse and MacWarehouse). Too, the generic PC version of the Apple 2400/2500 is apparently the Canon BJC-4000 and BJC-4100 models, respectively (according to ads for Jet Refill Kits).

My cousin Edwin, who's been researching printer specs while shopping around, says he believes the generic PC version of Apple's 2500 may be the Canon BJC-4200, instead, as those machines seem to share the most similar specifications in output quality, etc., with the 2500. For our first refills of our 2500 we ordered standard Apple branded ink tanks from Macwarehouse. But we're actively looking to try out some generic ink tanks to save money over the long run (we did this same thing for our Apple Color StyleWriter Pro in years past). I expect we'll try a single black ink tank for a Canon BJC-4100 first, and see how that goes. I'll keep you posted on the results. (If anybody out there has already found the proper generic type of ink tank for the 2500, let us know!).

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

12-16-96: The earliest Performa 6400s came with quality Global Village fax modems and software the same as 6300s originally did; later 6400s shipped with cheaper, slower, harder to use modems and software: Bummer! We got one of the later ones!

This means the 6300 we replaced with the 6400 actually had a better modem and telecom package on it than the 6400! *&%$!! Plus, some say the cheaper modem on the 6400 actually uses the 6400 CPU for processing, thereby making Web surfing slower too! It sure feels like it...Too, we all miss the little modem traffic gauge in the menu bar that Global Village gave us on the old 6300. It was very reliable, also informing us immediately when our ISP dropped our connection. Apple's kit software wouldn't know if the connection was dropped if somebody lit off a nuke to wake it up; it'd probably say you're 'connected' even if you had no modem at all in your computer!

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

12-15-96: Apple's latest Performas best for completely new users than old hands...

...because older Mac users will naturally have previous software they want to transfer to the thing, and there's more problems than ever involved in the process. By contrast, an all new user doing nothing more than using the software that came with the machine might have no problem at all-- until they install the Grolier Encyclopedia, that is. Yikes!

The 6400 Video Editing Edition we have is like a great flashing neon sign about Apple's current need to overhaul their software and quality control procedures. We've been having tons of problems here, which I'll try to report in detail in a review of the 6400 later. One example is that Apple's Disk First Aid reports a problem with our disk (I wanted to upgrade the 6400 to system 7.5.5 to get rid of some nagging screen freezes--- and the Read Me says not to install until Disk First Aid says it's OK).

Of course, you practically have to perform voodoo spells to actually get First Aid to repair the disk-- since First Aid can't be on your start up disk, or almost anywhere else that a sane and normal person would have it. Instead, you must create a special floppy disk for First Aid, and boot your Mac from that to get it to work. Unfortunately, this is close to impossible from the Performa CD that shipped with our 6400, as Apple's Disk Copy program on the CD seemed unable to recognize the floppy drive when we tried to get it to create the disk from the Disk Tools image file. I had to try every possible variation I could imagine to get Disk Copy to work (and I've used this same program dozens of times in the past on other Macs, with no problem-- so I was very familiar with Disk Copy itself).

Finally, I managed to create the floppy, booted from it, and it said it repaired the disk. Only it lied. Subsequent tests gave the same damage assessment as before. Apple's told folks the last few years that you might have to use First Aid several times to fix a disk. I did. And then I did again. No luck. I later used Apple's Drive Set Up program to check the disk blocks for really terminal ills, but after a few hours of checking it said the disk was OK (this is a scary process that requires hours to do, and before you begin the program warns you that it'll actually be rewriting every bit on your hard disk to check for integrity-- so if the power blinks, you could have a dead computer!). And no, a zillion desktop rebuilds don't help either.

You know Apple, most folks don't have the free time available to deal with this crap! And I'm one of them! It appears we're going to have to invest in a new disk utilities program, as well as back the whole freaking thing (hard disk) up too, very, VERY soon (here goes another $200 worth of ZIP disks!)...

Fortunately, the 6400 mostly runs OK even with the problem found by First Aid. But being an Old Computer Geezer I don't like any indication at all of problems with a hard drive-- especially after I've spent several days transferring 1000 Megabytes of programs and files to it!

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

12-11-96: 1996 Grolier Encyclopedia WARNING for 6400 users (and maybe ALL 7.5.3 users)! Also, some clues about why Java in Navigator 3 doesn't work on some Macs

Heads up folks! As far as I can determine, installing the Grolier 1996 Multimedia Encyclopedia on our new Performa 6400 (Grolier is bundled with the machine) brought about disasterous results. Specifically, the Grolier install process seems to change something about the ObjectSupportLib file in the System folder, that thereafter screws up your Mac royally. I installed the Encyclopedia per instructions, and immediately opened it to make sure everything was working. It seemed OK. The Mac also ran fine for other things. But the second time we opened up the Grolier Encyclopedia, all heck broke loose. No other CDs would work either after that, and the Mac would immediately crash after boot up(!). The ObjectSupportLib file seems part of the AppleScript system, and with all its software installed this 6400 uses AppleScript everywhere, including boot up. So when Grolier messed with OSL it messed with everything. I ended up having to restore the System software from the Performa backup CD to repair the damage!!!! My subsequent tests proved it best to simply allow the Grolier's CD nowhere near the computer where someone might try to re-install it again. I also went looking for info on the Web during this time (on a different Mac), and discovered problems related to this OSL file were also the source of Navigator 3's inability to run Java on the 6300 (reported in Newz&Viewz a few months back). Do a search for ObjectSupportLib at macfixit.com to see the full scoop on the Nav 3/OSL problem, as well as tips about other OSL problems with new AOL software and related matters.

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

12-6-96: Have you bought that Christmas Mac yet?

Remember I was telling you we planned to ship a Mac system to my sister in Florida? Well, we tried to get a $1499 6300CD from Mac Zone for her, but darn if they weren't already sold out! There's also reports that a few models of Apple's high end Power Macs have long waiting lists of buyers, too (and Power Computing is beginning to get a solid reputation for announcing high end machines 6-9 months before they can actually ship you one, it seems). So, on to Plan B...we upgrade FLUX Central with a Performa 6400 to replace the present 6300CD! And not just any 6400...but the top-of-the-line video editing edition, with 32 MB RAM, cache, 200 MHz speed, 8x CD ROM, 2.4 GB hard drive, 28.8 modem, and video editing card, etc., etc., etc... plus, a 17 inch Apple monitor! Total cost? I'll have to give that to you later. Also, I believe the bundled video card only outputs video-- there's actually another $100 card you have to add to input video clips.

12-24-96 UPDATE: Hey! I was wrong about the video-- BOTH video input and output come standard with this package!

Mac Performa 6400/6500 User's Log Contents

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