Life with an old Mac

Written by: Charles Sporn

Categories: Random Thoughts

Despite being a blogger here for almost 6 months, I have not posted at all for many reasons, one of which will soon become clear. Therefore, an introduction is in order. My name is Charles Sporn, I am a Mac-head, I run a website called (can you guess the domain name? If you guessed, you are right!), I also have a semi dead podcast called “Fredric’s Fantastic Freeware.” For the past 9 months, my main computer was my MacBook. I used it for my video editing, audio production, and more photo editing than I ever thought I would be doing. Not to mention I used it at school. Then about 2 months ago, the screen broke. I still don’t know how it happened, all I know is that it wasn’t covered under my warranty. Because of that, Apple wanted to charge me $800 to fix it. I decided against that because the computer cost $1400 new. That left me with the problem of my broken laptop. Since I needed a computer for school, my mom got me a PowerBook G3 which I have been using for the past 2 months.
My first question when I got it was could it run Tiger, and if so how well? Well it runs 10.4 very nicely in fact. It won’t win any speed competitions, but it does run.
The next question is what can and can’t it run. Well, all the software I need for school runs very well. That software amounts to TextEdit and OmniOutliner (I ditched MS office for mac 2 years ago and urge fellow Mac users to do the same, but that is neither here nor there). What it doesn’t run is anything iLife or iWork. iLife I don’t care too much about since in my day to day life I do my photo editing in Photoshop and Aperture, and I do all my audio production in Logic. However, not having iWork is very annoying.
The last question I had was the battery life on it. It being an old computer, running a modern OS usually means 10 minute battery life. Not so here. I get about 3 hours to 4 hours depending on what I am doing.
If I had to pick one thing about it that I would change, I would add a wi-fi card. That is obvious. I miss web surfing while reclining on my bed.
So how has my life been with an old Mac? Not bad, but far from great. The biggest upside, It will make me applicate my future MacBook Pro more. Do any of you readers live on an old Mac? Post your experiences!

There are 9 comments on Life with an old Mac:

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  1. dryock | Nov 22 2007 - 12:54

    currently using a PowerBook G4 450MHz Tatanium (purchase at USD$350) with 512MB and 20GB harddisk running Tiger.
    It does not give much problem except i cannot get my Epson laser printer to work (it did work once in Panther). Daily activities are web surfing, read email, using iPhoto to download pictures from camera and print photo using Samsung digital photo printer. So far so good although like to upgrade to a MacBook (due to cost)

  2. Kieret | Nov 22 2007 - 05:49

    I have a 14in iBook G4 375MHz with 256MB and 60GB HD. Unfortunately, though, it is incredibly slow and uses it’s memory incredibly quickly. The computer is only a year old.

    My mom has a 15in Powerbook G4 450MHz with 512MB and 80GB HD. It works incredibly well, even though it’s almost four years old.

    It really depends on the original performance of the Mac. I am posting using a lower-end iMac and despite it’s age (9 Months) it seems to still work well. Apple really likes to capitalize on upgrades, not the expensive new computers.

  3. Rick Mead | Nov 22 2007 - 07:35

    I’m running on an old”er” mac – bout 3 year old 12″ Powerbook. Fortunately, I can run most current apps – with a few new iLife08 exceptions … but like you I rarely use iLife. My day-to-day life consists of iLife, Neo-Office (Open Office for Mac), Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

    I didn’t post this to talk about my laptop so much – but your original one. It kinda sucks that Apple doesn’t cover the screen – just a note … they don’t cover the battery either. Next time you purchase a Mac I would check out Best Buy. (DISCLAIMER: I work for Best Buy) More than 200 stores carry mac – we will be adding 100 more this year. However, any Best Buy can order one for you. You may be asking yourself … why Best Buy, Mac’s are the same no matter where you buy them. Here is the reason. When you buy any laptop from Best Buy you get to take advantage of the Performance Service Plan (PSP). Unlike Apple’s warranty, the PSP covers Accidental Damage From Handling (ADH). This replaces up to two cracked screens, one battery, and any accidental damage other than Liquid submersion; however, it does cover spills. It also covers all the AppleCare hardware stuff – wear and tear from normal use: dust, dirt, heat, humidity, etc. The ONLY thing AppleCare offers that a PSP doesn’t is the phone tech support you get with AppleCare. The best part is, if you buy at Best Buy you can get a PSP or AppleCare … it is YOUR CHOICE based on the coverage YOU think you need. Some crazy catz even go so far as to get both … not sure why but that is neither here nor there. Feel free to shoot me any thoughts –

  4. Steven | Nov 22 2007 - 12:18

    I’m currently using a 10-year-old G3 iMac running OS 10.3. I don’t think it would have much problem at all running 10.4, except that 10.4 requires a DVD drive, which I don’t have. Since it only has a 4GB HD, I got a 250GB external HD to keep my iTunes library on. The computer works fine for what I need for school (Safari and MS Word), I just wish I could run more than one or two apps at a time. :)

    If I had the money, my dream computer would be a 15″ MacBook Pro.

  5. Jennifer Maloney | Nov 22 2007 - 12:39

    I use an iBook G3, and am able to run iWork & iLife 05! You might try that. (I found them on eBay). They aren’t as cool as the newer versions, but they get the job done. I am also running Tiger, and it works great; also allowing me to run most new software. This is my first Mac, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but it usually runs quite well. It could use a bit more RAM, but other than that, it’s a very passable machine! And I agree with you – get an Airport Card! I added that to mine, and it’s definitely worth it!

  6. Sam Bass | Nov 22 2007 - 03:43

    Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade….seems as all I hear and do is upgrade. My office machine
    (home) is a G4 (AGP Graphic) two HD. Primary 128Gig and a back-up HD 20Gig Ext.
    Floppy Drive, 1 Gig of Ram and an Updated 1Gig Mhz Sonnet Processor. Oh yeah, I have
    a Miglia TV Tuner connected to my CableOne via splitter. This for the boring times of
    hum drum work. I use a Broadband DSL Inet, connect via a Slipstream router and 10/100
    modem. Use OS 10.4.11. Only problem is a slight slowdown when I watch TV and
    surf and the same time. Have great fun with Garage Band, iLife and iWork. When needed,
    I can open Classic 9 and use MS Office but usually I use AppleWorks 6 for everything except
    \when I need to open a .pps file. Suppose I could open with Flip for Mac but MS O is
    quicker. As you can see, with a little effort most everything under the sun can be used
    successfully and with adequate speed on an older Mac. Got an even older Mac Book G 3
    that is even more “upgraded” than the G4 and it works well also, however very slow. Its
    primary use is GPS when I travel and Internet when stopped. Sam

  7. sg | Nov 23 2007 - 08:33

    I use multiple machines including a G3 “pismo” which has been put into service as a jukebox server but will occasionally venture onto the net when needed. It runs tiger fine but I have not installed the latest iLife, but it does use Office and never balks or causes any problems. The poor thing probably hasn’t been restarted in over a year.

    You should look into fixing your macbook yourself. This stuff is not as hard as you think. The screen is only $399 on ifixit and they include detailed instructions on how to replace the screen. You can probably get the screen even cheaper by shopping around, but the repair guides at ifixit are superb and you can download them even if you buy the screen somewhere else. With a little care and patients you can easily fix this yourself.

  8. Dave | Nov 23 2007 - 01:18

    I’ve been using a Powerbook G4 1Ghz for the past 4 years or so, and just now I needing a new Mac, even-though my old Pbook will technically run Leopard I’m not going to subject it to that. I’m running iLife ’06 and OS X “Tiger”. I just need to get a bigger internal drive for it and a new SuperDrive (since it doesn’t work anymore).

  9. Charles Sporn | Dec 02 2007 - 06:17

    First of all, it is a ratherly heavly upgraded Pismo. The specs are:
    G3 processor @400 MHZ
    30 GB 4200 RPM HD (That would be the first thing I change)
    512 MB of RAM
    Next, I have almost started to be a king of running old computers. One of my main machines is my Dell Dimension 8100 (circa 2001). That thing has gone through more OS changes than most computers (from Windows Me to Windows 2000 [which wasn’t that bad] to Windows XP to Ubuntu 6.06LTS to Ubuntu 6.10 to Ubuntu 7.04 to Edubuntu 7.04 back to Ubuntu 7.4 to A beta of Ubuntu 7.10 to Ubuntu 7.10). None of the Hard Drives are stock. The specs are:
    1.3 GHZ pentium 4
    512 MB of Rambus memory
    1 80 Gig Western Digital HD
    1 40 Gig IBM Deathstar
    Nvidia MX/400 32MB AGP 4x Graphics card (overclocked).
    I tore off all the dell badges, and put Apple Stickers on it. Pics at
    Third: One of the funniest things about my G3 happened in school. At school I am known as the Mac Geek and if you let me use your computer I will make it faster. Well, some of the kids have MacBooks which are so loaded down with crap, my G3 is faster!