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Computer question (again)


A less presumptuous name.
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It seems as if I ask a lot of computer questions here, but that's only because I get good responses.

 

So I've been thinking about upgrading the RAM on this here laptop. A few things have held be back, though. I have 512 MB, and sitting here with 4 or 5 applications open (nothing big), I'm using just about all of it. I tend to idle with 10-25 MB free. Unfortunately, I need DDR1 RAM, that ancient stuff that is fairly hard to find and costs more than the new stuff. It's about $45 for a 1GB card (and yes, I shopped around).

 

Also, my processor is kind of slow. I idle with 30-50% used out of 1.25GHz. When I actually do stuff, it's not uncommon for the processor to spike at 100%, especially when I do things like switch desktop windows (I'm using virtue desktop). Given my slow processor, which can't be replaced without buying a new logic board (7 year old Mac FTW), I don't know how much more RAM will help.

 

And yes, it's a 7 year old PowerBook G4. It'll get replaced in 2 and a half years when I go off to college. Is it worth the investment?

 

Thank you all!

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Quote:
It's about $45 for a 1GB card

That's really not a horrible price, I'd say; a little on the high side for a relatively small chip, but as you say it's a bit old.

Quote:
Also, my processor is kind of slow. I idle with 30-50% used out of 1.25GHz. When I actually do stuff, it's not uncommon for the processor to spike at 100%

Both of these things are fairly normal, in particular the going to 100% temporarily is a relatively good thing: When you want something done, you want the computer to use all available resources to get it done right now. Ideally, any task should utilize the processor to full capacity, but for a very short time. Obviously as the computer is somewhat old, so the width of the spike is big enough to notice.

Personally, I would recommend that you go for the RAM, but not bother about anything else. The RAM is relatively cheap, easy to install, and will let you do more things with the computer you've got. Replacing the logic board would be costly (glancing around, it looks like about $500 for the part), significantly more difficult (if you install it yourself, more expensive if you pay a repair shop to do it), and would be like upgrading your old computer to a slightly newer, but still thoroughly out-of-date model. So, if you can hang on with what you have until you can get a totally new one, I'd say do that. I followed almost the same pattern that you have except that I got my PowerBook G4 about a year later, and ended up getting a Macbook Pro about a year and a half ago when I went off to grad school.
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Khoth- I'm running Firefox, Adium, Word, iTunes, and a number of background programs.

 

Niemand- I've actually removed my current logic board before. I've also replaced the Hard Drive. I currently have a 160GB with about 20 being used. And no, I have no plans to spend 500 bucks to get a 1.33 GHz processor. Since I'll never be able to install 10.5 or any new games, is the RAM really worth it?

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Maybe I was interpreting 'idling' the wrong way; according to my thinking and usage that usually corresponds to having at least 10 graphical processes running (leading to about 15% at idle on my much newer machine), also, I could have sworn he'd said 20%-30%, not 30%-50% (as he in fact did).

 

It might be worthwhile to watch Activity Monitor a bit and figure out which applications are taking up the processing time and whether their actually worth keeping open.

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I really am idling closer to 30 most of the time. Activity monitor is taking up about 5, word is taking about 2, and firefox wins at about 20, with 2 tabs open.

 

I'd really like to be able to play Diablo II on here. I can run it fine, but when I switch to the higher resolution, the game tends to freeze. And will I be able to run Age of Empires 3 on here with or without more RAM?

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As far as I know, Leopard will run on any PowerPC with the disk space and RAM for it. It'll even run on a G3.

 

—Alorael, who also can't let this one pass. 45>1000, and the response was "no 45>100" and not a correction? Math tears, guys.

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I'm all math-teared out. I have yet to start my homework for the weekend.

 

I'm thinking I'm going to get the RAM upgrade. What all do I need to do to upgrade to Leopard. I have the family install disk, but do I need to back up my files and preferences on this computer before I do the install?

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In theory, no. In practice, it's always a good idea to back up anything and everything before installing a new OS.

 

—Alorael, who has had fairly good luck with Apple's own various "don't wreck my files and settings during installation" options. Better safe than sorry, though!

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Sorry Alorael, but you're wrong. Leopard will not run on all PPC systems and certainly not on G3 Macs. There are hacks available to get it installed on older systems, but it does not run well at all. However, Master1's system more than meets the requirement of an 867MHz or faster G4 CPU. As to installing with an external disc drive, PPC Macs do not support booting off a USB drive like their Intel descendants, but a FireWire drive will work.

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You can boot from a USB drive, but it's not really supported and it's a non-trivial task.

 

—Alorael, who should have mentioned the processor requirement. He also should have actually looked up system requirements, as he knows people running Leopard with various G3 computers. They're also the types who would arrange for Leopard on non-supported hardware.

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I assume, you mean Snow Leopard, since it has already superseded Leopard? I never really had any issues besides the window ordering bug, which still remains (I don't consider the various hackish bits of software I had breaking to be the OS's fault, and most people don't install many such things in the first place), and I've heard very few stories of any sort of actual problems. I'd say that if you feel like upgrading, go ahead; there shouldn't be anything to be overly worried about.

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By the way Niemand, I haven't found a true adblocker for 64-bit Safari yet, but you would probably be interested in ClikToFlash It disables all Flash items and allows you to run them with a single click. Also, it lets you use the QuickTime plugin for YouTube videos instead of Flash. which is great for performance, since Flash really works well in 32-bit Windows and 32-bit Windows only.

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I've been using the original ClickToFlash since the day day it mysteriously appeared (and disappeared). It is awesome.

 

I forgot to mention above: Snow Leopard does have the guest account over-zealous deletion bug as well, but considering it took over a month for anyone to notice, I'm guessing virtually no one cares, because no one uses the guest account feature in the first place.

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Yes, you definitely can run 10.5 on that system. I had 10.5 running on my old 400mhz iMac, and it seemed OK. Though I did start noticing a difference when I got my new mac.

 

 

I have two other computer questions, and here seems to be a good place to ask them.

 

First, is it worth upgrading to Snow Leopard from Leopard? I've been told there are no noticeable improvements, but some compatibility problems.

 

Also, who knows of a good video converter (mp4 and wmv to avi, particularly) for Mac?

 

And last, what's the best option for playing Windows games on Leopard? Crossover vs Parallels?

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As mentioned above, there aren't really any major downsides to upgrading to Snow Leopard. There are various little things changed here and there, which include many small improvements, as well as just alterations, which any given person may like or dislike. The disk space reclamation is nice, and the reworked Finder is a good deal more responsive, particularly when dealing with volumes mounted from remote servers. Other than that, it will be a while before there's much software which requires Snow Leopard, but it will happen eventually, as there are many nice toys and conveniences for developers that it adds.

 

For video and audio transcoding I use Quicktime Pro; it cost $30, but is very convenient and due to extensibility via plugins I can transcode just about any format I come across into any other format I I want. (Which in practice means FLV | ogg | AVI | AIF -> MP4 for me.)

 

For Windows games (and other programs) I use CrossOver and CrossOver Games, mainly because I got them for free and there aren't many Windows only games I'd care about playing. They aren't great in that they work well for some things, nominally for some, and not at all for others. Dev-C++ runs fine, while Visual C++ won't run at all; BoA runs well, Serious Sam runs well but has a 3D rendering glitch, and FF7 and Alpha Centauri are unusable because they aren't aware of the keyboard. (The above all refer to CrossOver 7.1, I haven't gotten around to downloading any of the updates since I first got it.) CrossOver is supposed to work a good deal better for the games/program it is specifically tuned to support, but I can't speak from my experience since I've never had or wanted to use any of the software on that list.

 

I would say that If you want to run a lot of Windows programs and be certain that they will run properly, go with Parallels or VM Fusion, plus a copy of Windows. It's a good deal more expensive, but you should get your money's worth. If, like me, you don't care enough to spend significantly on it, you can try CrossOver or just Wine, but expect most attempts to fail.

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While I have never actually used it, I hear that zamzar is really good. You upload files (including videos) and select what format you want them in. They then get emailed to you.

 

My dad runs Parallels on his laptop, and it seems really convenient. Just make sure you have enough RAM and such to run smoothly. Getting Windows XP will help with that.

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Originally Posted By: Tyranicus
By the way Niemand, I haven't found a true adblocker for 64-bit Safari yet, but you would probably be interested in ClikToFlash It disables all Flash items and allows you to run them with a single click. Also, it lets you use the QuickTime plugin for YouTube videos instead of Flash. which is great for performance, since Flash really works well in 32-bit Windows and 32-bit Windows only.
What I need is something similar for Firefox... preferably one that actually works rather than just letting the Flash play anyway.

Originally Posted By: Niemand
For video and audio transcoding I use Quicktime Pro; it cost $30, but is very convenient and due to extensibility via plugins I can transcode just about any format I come across into any other format I I want. (Which in practice means FLV | ogg | AVI | AIF -> MP4 for me.)
I heard Snow Leopard might have included it for free? The article I read was a bit ambiguous though... or at least my memory of it is.

There's also VLC, which supports many formats.

Originally Posted By: Niemand
Dev-C++ runs fine,
And produces executables that run properly on Windows? shocked
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Quote:
I heard Snow Leopard might have included it for free? The article I read was a bit ambiguous though... or at least my memory of it is.

To be honest, I forget to check whether QuickTime Player "X" had any useful export capabilities or not, and it offended me so greatly that I deleted it weeks ago. VLC is the worst media player I have ever used, and I've never looked into its abilities for transcoding.

Quote:
And produces executables that run properly on Windows?

No, it's just Dev-C++ itself that runs. It gets partway through compilation and then one of the underlying GNU tools fails in some very obscure way. That's enough, however, for me to know that my syntax is correct enough to compile. (Actually, now that I've upgraded to OS 10.6 and CrossOver 8.0, it looks like the situation may have changed for the worse, compilation now jams up entirely, rendering Dev-C++ unresponsive.)

EDIT: After temporarily restoring QuickTime Player "X" from a backup (thank you, Time Machine), it appears that export capabilities was a major part of what offended me. It has none to speak of. The Save As... and Save For Web... commands give you a dazzling array of options consisting of 'Movie', 'iPhone' (Yes, I'd like to turn this file into an iPhone, please.), and 'iPhone (Cellular)'. So, there's no distinction between QuickTime and QuickTime Pro anymore because the Pro features are basically gone, rather than because everyone gets them.
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VLC is probably not the best media player around, but it supports some formats that few others do (such as MOD), works reasonably well, and costs nothing.

 

 

As for QuickTime Pro, I think you misunderstood - I vaguely remember an article saying that QT9 Pro was included with Snow Leopard.

 

I suspect QuickTime X will incorporate the Pro features in a later release, too.

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There's no such thing as QT9. Version 7 was the previous one, despite the misleading naming of the newest version. Snow Leopard will optionally install QuickTime Player 7 (which is how i'm continuing to use it), but it isn't all that clear whether use of the Pro features depends on already having a license key (which I did) or not (which I lack convenient means to test).

 

The cost for the Pro version has always been a bit silly, since the underlying QuickTime code is part of the system, and is present and usable whether the Player application presents an interface to it or not. Hopefully, as you say, they'll soon get around to restoring the interface.

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Originally Posted By: Master1
It seems as if I ask a lot of computer questions here, but that's only because I get good responses.

So I've been thinking about upgrading the RAM on this here laptop. A few things have held be back, though. I have 512 MB, and sitting here with 4 or 5 applications open (nothing big), I'm using just about all of it. I tend to idle with 10-25 MB free. Unfortunately, I need DDR1 RAM, that ancient stuff that is fairly hard to find and costs more than the new stuff. It's about $45 for a 1GB card (and yes, I shopped around).

Also, my processor is kind of slow. I idle with 30-50% used out of 1.25GHz. When I actually do stuff, it's not uncommon for the processor to spike at 100%, especially when I do things like switch desktop windows (I'm using virtue desktop). Given my slow processor, which can't be replaced without buying a new logic board (7 year old Mac FTW), I don't know how much more RAM will help.

And yes, it's a 7 year old PowerBook G4. It'll get replaced in 2 and a half years when I go off to college. Is it worth the investment?

Thank you all!


I have a quite similar situation in that my tattered Samsung notebook just passed its fifth anniversary. I've upgraded the memory and HD already, but 512 MB is indeed way too little.

Three factors in my case help me decide to get a new one entirely:

1.) It's very worn. Last year it fell off a desk (HD miraculously survived) and knocked its display loose. Several keys are broken, and dirt is in places that might void warranties to clean.

2.) No integrated peripherals (WLAN? Webcam? More than two USB ports? SD card reader? Forget it.) which means carrying a bag of USB gear around.

3.) A netbook is supposed to cost around €300-400, which is half what this one cost back in the day.
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I really am concerned that upgrading the RAM won't help significantly because of the processor, which doesn't like my having half a dozen applications open at once.

 

The reasons for me not getting a new computer:

 

I like mac. Mac is expensive.

My computer does most everything well.

I've invested over $100 in this one already.

I have good features: audio in and out, USB, high speed USB, Firewire, Ethernet, Bluetooth, and so on.

Mac rocks, no matter what.

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Allow me to chime in with support for CrossOver. Windows without having to acquire and install Windows is a beautiful thing.

 

—Alorael, who has also been enjoying the internet's surge in Cider ports for old games. If you have the games and the ability to follow directions, the classics are reopened to you.

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Originally Posted By: Master1
I really am concerned that upgrading the RAM won't help significantly because of the processor, which doesn't like my having half a dozen applications open at once.


Honestly, that'a much more of a RAM thing than a CPU thing.

Originally Posted By: JadeWolf
Also, who knows of a good video converter (mp4 and wmv to avi, particularly) for Mac?


HandBrake can convert just about any video file into just about any format.
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Originally Posted By: ΛΞΨ
Originally Posted By: Arancaytrus
my tattered Samsung notebook just passed its fifth anniversary

...

dirt is in places that might void warranties to clean.


Looks like someone fell for the extended warranty offer. tongue


Oh. Right.

In my defense, the "void warranties" was meant more in the sense of "opening stuff that isn't supposed to be serviceable, and that I might not be able to put back together". Laptops are annoying that way.
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Originally Posted By: so I hear you like postings
—Alorael, who has also been enjoying the internet's surge in Cider ports for old games. If you have the games and the ability to follow directions, the classics are reopened to you.
Hm? What's this about?
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Cider is a wrapper designed to let companies easily port their games to Mac without actually doing much porting work. Because the point is ease of use, there's a fairly active online community around it. This being the internet, it's partially instructions for getting things to run with Cider and part pre-packaged illegal downloads.

 

—Alorael, who thinks even the instructions are probably illegal, as Cider is supposed to be commercially licensed by the company making the game, not fiddled with by end users. Still, the fact that it makes Macintizing games easier is good, and with flexible morals you can find games like Planescape: Torment for Mac.

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Cider is supposed to remove nearly all of the work from porting, making it easier and cheaper to do. It also makes it possible for non-programmers to do it without access to the code. The downside, of course, is that the games don't really run like Mac games, suffer from performance issues, and are sometimes unstable. It's not as good as a real port, but it's better than nothing.

 

—Alorael, who thinks that the right way to port is however Blizzard does it. You really can't say no to games released simultaneously for Mac and Windows, usually on the same discs, and with everything generally compatible.

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The right way to port is to code in such a way that porting is not a major undertaking.

 

—Alorael, who believes that such coding might itself be a substantial undertaking. It's probably the right way to code anyway, though. More elegant, or some such hackish nonsense.

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Blizzard do write the game originally in a basic code then refine it for each platform. I think they write the Mac ver first, though I don't know where I heard that and probably am just imagining it. However, some people tell me that they first make one platform version, then make a direct port, then modify the code of the port to knock out all the bugs.

 

I have another technical question, one of prime importance! I just discovered my school has a nice room full of XP computers upon which you can do whatever you want, including bringing your own games on USB and having LAN parties. But, the internet is blocked by a "filtration pour la protection des mineurs" firewall which blocks all sorts of sites, including (...) these forums, Travian, and multitudes of online game sites. It also blocks playing your games normally online (like Battle.net)

Being a total Windows noob, I have no idea if, or how, it would be possible to bypass this protection so I can spend all my free periods haunting forums, playing Flatout 2 multiplayer and burying my enemies on Travian.

 

Does anyone here know how to do it?

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I think that site searches for proxies. A proxy is a web site that acts like browser within a browser. Within the proxy, you load other websites. Since your browser technically only has the proxy site open, you can bypass the security. But yes, most proxies get blocked by schools.

 

You can just do a google search for proxies.

 

For the record, it's probably a violation of school policy to use a proxy, so I'm not actually telling you to do it, just how.

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