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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...




Of Drives And RAM
June 17th, 1999

Ah yes! I'm back again with a whole pile of information for your reading pleasure. This week we have answers to some new questions about RAM and installing drives inside Blue & White G3s. Alongside that, we have updates to many issues discussed in previous columns. If you have a question of your own, don't forget to check the Ask Dave! archives, as you may find the answer to your question there. If you don't, though, an e-mail to askdave@macobserver.com will get you on the right track towards a solution!

Josh writes, "I have a Power Center 150 that requires FPM DIMMs @ 60ns or faster. I have never heard of this, but would it be possible to use PC100 SDRAM @ 8ns in the machine?"

For this answer, I checked in with the RAM experts over at Trans International (they're an advertiser with The Mac Observer, so they tend to answer my calls... :-). They tell me that SDRAM wasn't around when the Power Center 150 was built, and it's motherboard circuitry isn't made for this type of chip. The PC 100 SDRAM that's used in the G3's runs at 3.3 volts, while your Power Center requires 5 volt FPM DIMMs. The long and short of all this is that, no, it won't work, and trying it might damage your motherboard.

Fang-pin writes, "I plan to purchase a B&W G3, but I won't opt for the internal Zip drive option. That being the case, can I put another internal ATAPI device in its place? Specifically, I am talking about Seagate's ATAPI TapeStor drive that takes 4 GB Travan4 tapes. I know it's a PC-centric device, but will I be able to get it work now that Macs have gone ATAPI (IDE)?"

Without actually seeing the Seagate TapeStor drive, it's tough to answer this question. You see, the G3 has two bays in it for drives with removable media. The top bay is what houses the CD-ROM (or DVD), and the bottom bay is where the Zip drive would go. The problem here is that the bottom bay is built *specifically* for an IDE Zip drive, right down to holes for the power and IDE connectors to fit through. With that, it would be a stroke of luck that anything else fits in there. Removing this bracket would leave you with nothing to mount your tape drive to, and may prove to be quite a difficult process.

I hate to bash Apple here, since they've been doing a great job lately, but the Blue & White G3 case just isn't as expandable as they make it seem. Removable media drives only work if you put the *right* drive in, and installing internal hard drives is a pain as well. Perhaps the next revision will see improvements in these areas.

This week, we're cutting the "new" answers short in order to provide updates to items discussed previously.

Death Spiral Update

In response to our discussion about the Dreaded Death Spiral, David Anders writes in with another option:

"The good folks at 3-COM have set up a website with instructions on how to conduct a line test. I recommend any one that is having problems connecting to the internet with there Mac follow these directions and call their Telephone Company for help in addition to contacting their ISP."

This is a great option to try. The instructions will tell you to hang-up your internet connection and use a terminal program (like ZTerm - 404k to download) to connect to a special server that 3-COM has set up. Once connected, the server tests your line and quickly tells you what your phone lines will support. I recommend trying this 3 or 4 times in a row to make sure that you get a consistent answer from the server. It should be noted that this will work with ANY modem that supports 28.8kpbs or faster (from any manufacturer, not just 3-COM).

Word 6 and newer flavors of MacOS

While reading about problems with Word 6 and MacOS 8.5, Jeff Danick writes:

"I could not get Word 6.0.1a to run on two Rev C iMacs running 8.5.1 (replacing coworkers Performas running 7.6.1) for love or money! E-mails to the usual suspects offered little or no help. I had given up all hope and had installed MacLink 10 (More affordable than Office98) and put a Sticky with instructions on how to convert back and forth from Word to AppleWorks and back again.

A while later, I installed the MacOS 8.6 updater. The next day, I walked in the office and saw a coworker in a Word doc!

This may not work 100% of the time for everyone, but so far, I'm 2 for 2."

Interesting! Perhaps there's more to this MacOS 8.6 update than meets the eye!

IDE Hard drives and Master/Slaving - The Plot Thickens

In the past, we've discussed Master/Slaving IDE hard drives in both the StarMax machines and in Apple's Beige G3's. After reading this, Scott Prive had this to say:

"I had a StarMax 4000 with a slaved hard drive - I did not remove the CD-ROM.

The problem is that the Macintosh OS itself - and perhaps the ROM chips - don't see slave drives, but another OS will. For almost a year I ran BeOS on a slaved IDE hard drive in my StarMax, and it worked perfectly. I would guess you could put LinuxPPC on there as well.

A second hard drive is a much safer way of dual-booting a system than repartitioning."

This is very interesting. Even more interesting would be to find out whether the same holds true for the Rev. 1 Beige G3's that also seem to suffer from this problem. If, in fact, it is just specific to the MacOS, then there's hope that someone out there, perhaps FWB or LaCie, might be able to write special drivers to circumvent this problem. As always, feedback on this is requested. Let's see if we can't figure this one out together, eh?

Another Backup Solution for Everyone (who owns a Mac, of course!)

In response to my mention of different backup solutions for Mac owners, *many* people wrote in to remind me that I neglected to mention BackJack, an online backup and recovery service exclusively for Mac users. This service backs up your data across the Internet via an encrypted link. One thing that this type of solution offers that a removable tape or Zip drive may not is that your backups are automatically given the added safety of being stored off site. If your office suffers a fire or is burglarized, your data will still be intact.

Whew! Thanks for all the updates this week, folks, you sure are keeping me on my toes here. We'll return next week with a whole pile of new information for you to savor. Until then, if you have any *more* updates for me, send 'em in to askdave@macobserver.com... i f you have any questions, just remember to Ask Dave!

P.S. Have a Nice Day!

This weeks column pepped up by the music of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band Live!

is President and CEO of The Mac Observer, Inc. He has worked in the computer industry as a consultant, trainer, network engineer, webmaster, and a programmer for most of the last 10 years. During that time he has worked on the Mac, all the various Windows flavors, Be, a few brands of Unix, and it is rumored he once saw an OS/2 machine in action. Before that he ran some of the earliest Bulletin Board systems, but most of the charges have since been dropped, and not even the FBI requests that he check in more than twice a year.

Ask Dave is here to answer all the Mac questions you have. Networking, system conflicts, hardware, you ask it, he can answer it. He is the person from whom all Mac knowledge flows....


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