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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

The Non-Bootable G3, Upgrade Advice, & S-Video Adapters
August 18th, 2000

Hello there, once again, and welcome to this week's edition of Ask Dave! Today we discuss a catch-22 wherein a reader can't boot their G3, the possibilities and decisions involving upgrading an older PowerMac, and the hardware necessary for using your PowerBook to drive a television lacking an S-Video connector! If you have your own question, ask away! Until then, read on and enjoy!

Reverend Tom Laws writes, "I have a G3 B/W 333 that shipped with an OS 8.5 CD. I later upgraded to Mac OS 8.6. Now, the thing is fried, so I formatted the hard drive (low level, all zeroes), zapped the PRAM and such. However, it will not boot from the Mac OS 8.5 CD, even if I hold down "C" or choose it as first in the boot chain. It will, however, boot off my G4's OS 8.6 recovery CD, and off of my iMacs OS 9 recovery CD. If I try and install the OS from either of these, it says "this program cannot be run on this computer. Please see documentation" (which I'm convinced doesn't exist). I thought, hmmm, maybe I need a firmware update. So, I got the update for my G3, but it won't install because I'm booting from a locked system disk (the CD). It won't even boot from an old 7.5 CD. So, what am I to do with this Catch 22? I can't install a new OS because my firmware is out of date, and I can't upgrade my firmware because I don't have an OS. Please, help! How can I get ANY OS onto my machine?"

What a predicament! I have a few solutions here, so hopefully one of them will work. The first option is, of course, to try and get a Mac OS 8.5 (full install) CD that will boot. It sounds like something happened with your old one that just makes it unbootable. However, that may be a tougher proposition than it sounds, due to the fact that 8.5 hasn't been sold in quite some time. Shreve Systems or Small Dog Electronics would be my choices for finding that kind of stuff. Assuming that doesn't pan out, the only other option I can think of would be to install a "full" Mac OS 8.5 (or 8.6) on to the hard drive in one of your other machines (your G4, say), then remove that drive from that machine and put it in your G3. The G3 should boot from this disk, allowing you to then mount your current 8.5 CD and install the OS on your G3's hard drive from that (or you could put the G3's hard drive in the G4, install it there, and then put it back in the G3). Other than that, I think you're right -- you've got a catch-22 on your hands! Good luck! (If anyone has another suggestion, please post it in the forums to share with the group!)

Leif Gustavson writes, "I'm thinking about upgrading my 275MHz 6500 and am wondering what it is going to take. My thought is that I would like to upgrade to at least 400 MHz with a G3 or G4 processor. I have heard from others that there are other issues that I need to take into consideration like how much RAM I have, my video card, that kind of thing. So, with your extensive knowledge on all things Mac, what would the entire package look like for upgrading my 6500?"

Leif -- You're right. There are MANY things to consider when choosing the upgrade path. The biggest decision is, of course, "is it worth it?" Lets look and see. First lets look at upgrade cards. Sonnet is a pretty stable company, and they have a Crescendo G3/L2 card that will work in your Mac. They estimate the street price for the 400MHz version to be US$399.95. Then you'll probably want more RAM. I'm not sure how much you have, but lets assume that you want to add 64MB to what you've got. Ramjet's RAM has done me well in the past, so I looked there. You can get a 64MB DIMM for your 6500 for US$203.00. The best I can tell from a variety of sources I just checked, no one has a 128MB chip for that machine, so it looks as though you can do 64MB at a time (but you've only got two slots). Lets assume that extra 64MB will fit and is enough for your needs. You're at about US$600.00 thus far for your upgrade. Add Mac OS 9 on to that and you're up approximately another US$100.00. That's halfway to a brand new 400MHz G4. The G4 is a new motherboard design, supports all the "new" interfaces like USB and FireWire, and has a 100MHz system bus (and will run Mac OS X, too!). Yes, it's double the money, but I tell you, for my money I would tuck it away towards a new system before spending it on something older.

Macs changed DRASTICALLY when the iMac was released. The motherboard architecture is different, the peripherals are different, the OS is different, and now that ALL of Apple's machines are based on this new design, third party manufacturers are basing their products on it as well. This, of course, leaves you in the dust, especially when Mac OS X comes out and more and more folks start moving towards that.

Jojy Varghese writes, "Hello, I have a Powerbook G3 and would like to link it up with my 27" Sony Trinitron TV up at school next semester for presentations and such. I have done so on my parent's 32" Sony in the past via S-Video, and I assumed that the 27" was exactly the same in the back. Today however, I noticed that it is not exactly the same... The 27" doesn't have an S-Video port. Is there any sort of adapter that converts an S-Video feed into a normal RCA video jack? Do I have any other alternatives? The TV does have a video in slot with three RCA holes for video and audio L and R. Is there anyway I can connect my Powerbook to the Sony?"

Yes, Jojy, there is! Newer PowerBooks are actually coming with this adapter in the box (you didn't throw it out, did you?), but you can also get them at Radio Shack. It's just as well that you'll be going to Radio Shack, because you'll also need to get a mini-headphone jack (1/8th inch) to stereo RCA adapter as well. Use the S-Video to RCA adapter and plug that into the video (yellow) port on the back of the TV, and then use the headphone to RCA adapter to connect the signal from your PowerBook's headphone jack to the left and right (white and red) ports on the back of your TV. That should do it, and you'll be good to go!

That's it for this week, folks. Check back next week for answers to other questions. If you'd like to see YOUR question answered here send it directly to me at [email protected]. If you'd rather discuss your question with the entire Ask Dave reading public, visit the Forums and ask away!

P.S. Have a Nice Day.

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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