Non-Intel Macs back in fast(er) lane

English: Snail by Hokusai

We try our best to take care of the technology we utilize in our day-to-day living and still hardware doesn’t last as long as we had hoped or it stops working altogether over time. When hardware and software combine in harmony to do the job for us through many years, it seems a lot of things fall nicely into place so this can happen.

Sometimes the best thing a person can do is get lucky. Many of us have seen the bumper sticker or heard the colloquialism about gettin’ lucky in Kentucky. In the case of PowerPC Mac users still trying to breathe life into their time-honored rigs…well, we all collectively just got lucky.

No, we haven’t won a date with Kate Upton. In fact, we’ve gotten even luckier than that.

I know. I know. Do elaborate oh keeper of the Skelley blarney.

Well, since I moved to Windows 8.1 on one of my old desktop PCs I’ve had nothing but good things to say about Microsoft’s latest attempt at getting its customers to make the leap from XP or even Windows 7 (Vista users are mostly content and aren’t going anywhere last time I round tabled this discussion with several geek friends over some high-tech grog).

As fluid as 8.1 is on ancient PCs like my entry level Core 2 Duo, it made me wonder about the ultimate fate of Mac OS X Leopard and the PowerPC army of users who hold out on their Motorola and IBM chip Mac version of XP—10.5.8. For me, personally, the end of the road has been a rather pleasant place to hang out (until recently).

Windows 8.1 on old hardware made me long for a version of Mavericks—Mavericks Light if you will, that would run on Intel Macs (and perhaps higher end G5’s) that didn’t quite make the Mavericks cutoff in terms of hardware requirements. While I opined in my previous column how wonderful it would be if this could happen and Apple developed a Mavericks Light, PowerPC users have never been the types to hold their breaths in terms of Apple throwing them any more bones.

Speed Trials

Quite frankly, even though I still do a fair amount of composing and writing on my Frankensteined Power Mac G4, the fact is I was beginning to use the Internet on it less and less. It seems everything web-related had gotten so slow, and in my case, was exacerbated by using Windows 8.1 on an old PC that made it feel brand new again.

As one who only throws in the towel as a last resort when it comes to the Iron Horses of Apple hardware, I set out anew in search of speed online for the Frankenmac.

I haven’t used the Ethernet connection on the G4 since I moved with it to Kentucky. My work area is on another floor entirely from where the router is and so running Ethernet cable was never an option. I experimented with a series of wireless USB WiFi adapters and settled upon the Edimax EW‑7811Un. It served up the best speed and connectivity overall for the tower of power.

Lately, though, it just started to seem slower. I didn’t really investigate too much into what I could do about how pedestrian it felt compared to the PC on 8.1 using a Rosewill wireless WiFi adapter. I just started using the PC more when I was working on my desktop computers—the PC and G4 share a keyboard, mouse and monitor via a TRENDnet® KVM switch and I just wasn’t switching to the Mac too often anymore.

Well, drivers, specifically having the latest and greatest that a PC can support, typically can foster significant performance boosts. On Macs Apple isn’t supporting any longer, it isn’t drivers so much as it is commercial software revision updates, tweaks and settings adjustments, that can have an impact on the quality and speed of the user experience.

What I discovered this evening is that I was running a pretty old version of the wireless network utility that supported the Edimax adapter. I went to the Edimax site and downloaded and installed the latest version 2.0.2.

Joy Liebert

Joy Liebert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joy and more joy

The Mac is suddenly zipping along the web again. Yes, zipping along…I’m not exaggerating. I didn’t think it possible, but I’m putting off yet again the thought of finally upgrading from a PowerPC to an Intel Mac. I can live with this non-Intel beast and newfound speed indefinitely once more.

It doesn’t matter which browser I use—TenFourFox, Roccat, Aurora, Leopard WebKit, Stainless, OmniWeb or Opera 10.70, things are way faster. The Edimax adapter is in a USB hub that is connected to a USB 2 card port that resides inside the tower. I don’t know if USB 1.1 would be as fast, but I suspect not. The USB 2 card combined with the latest version of the wireless network utility puts the giddy up back in this pony.

Free twitter badge

Free twitter badge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the last points of discovery is that Twitter now works again on the G4. Perhaps Twitter has changed their APIs again, but as recently as yesterday, I could not see Tweets on bobskelley.com on the Power Mac. Twitter has long been inaccessible on PowerPC Macs but I can now log into Twitter on the Mac, too. Did Twitter change their APIs once more? I don’t know and I don’t care. If they didn’t the only thing different on the Frankenmac is that it’s got the latest version of the wireless network utility.

Whoever said sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, really was a genius.
























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