The Legacy Corner
Bluetooth & 68K Browsers
I’m going to apologize in advance for the digression from legacy topics this month, but I simply had to share my wonderment with the new technology Apple debuted about a year ago in Mac OS X: Bluetooth. For those of you who don’t know, Bluetooth is a wireless technology that allows devices to communicate among each other over a short range (about 10 meters or so) at moderate speeds (think LocalTalk or marginally faster, up to about one megabit per second). So far it has found applications primarily in the cellular telephone and PDA markets, and when combined with such software as Apple’s iSync, allows the user to sync a cell phone, PDA, and/or Macintosh without any encumbering wires.
As a graduate student, I have free dialup access on my school’s network, but unfortunately, the dialups are all local to my home state of Michigan. When visiting out-of-state relatives for Christmas, and long distance charges being what they are, keeping on top of my e-mail becomes rather difficult. Enter my cell phone, an Ericsson T68, and my national coverage from T-Mobile. Simply by installing the D-Link Bluetooth adapter, available from the Apple Store for $50, I could connect to my phone quite easily. After downloading Ross Barkman’s Bluetooth modem scripts and selecting the Ericsson T39 script at 9600 bps, I merely had to initiate a PPP connection as usual and I was connected, albeit terribly slowly, so that I could keep my e-mail under control.
There’s also something quite enjoyable about cruising down the freeway at 70 MPH (Dad’s driving) and being able to check up on the weather ahead, chat with friends on AIM, and check my e-mail. Yes, I know I’m a hopeless Internet junkie, but business e-mail doesn’t take vacations, so I can’t either (at least not for longer than a day or two).
• • •
Now for a somewhat more legacy-related topic. Our publisher, Michael Tsai, suggested I take a moment to discuss Web browser options for 68K Macs. I plan on doing a full review just as soon as I can get some time, but here’s what I recommend based on limited experience up to this point.
68000-based Macs are essentially useless as browsers. Samba (MacWWW) works only on pages ending in .htm or .html and isn’t very reliable. It also fails to handle modern DOCTYPE declarations and will ignore a page entirely rather than attempt to render it if it fails to recognize the DOCTYPE. Virtually all other 68K Macs with at least 4 MB RAM can (and should) use iCab for graphical browsing, or WannaBe or MacLynx for text browsing. iCab works best on a 68K if you put its cache on a RAM disk and turn off multiple connections, although on RAM-limited Macs like the LC, LC II, Color Classic, Classic II, and Mac TV, this will likely be impossible. Running any variant of Netscape—2.02 and 4.08 are the only ones worth using—will require at least 16 MB RAM, and both versions of Netscape are buggy enough that they’ll keep eating RAM until they crash, which unfortunately seems to be rather often. Don’t ever expect to do anything useful with Java or Flash. Although both can be installed, neither version is new enough to work with modern Java or Flash sites, which generally require at least a 2.0 version of the Java Virtual Machine and 5.0 version of Flash. (The highest 68K versions are 1.x and 3.x, respectively.)
The bottom line? Throw as much RAM as you can into the Mac and use iCab with the cache on a RAM disk (or with images turned off entirely) for maximal speed with graphical browsing, or use a text-based browser if your browsing habits allow you to get anything useful done with text-only browsing. Use Netscape if you absolutely can’t get iCab to work well for you, but don’t even bother with 1.x or 3.x versions of Netscape, and forget entirely about IE, the 68K versions of which are at least as bad as Netscape but with poorer standards support and expired (and irreplaceable) security certificates.
Good luck, and as always, feel free to post comments if you have corrections, questions, or problems.
Also in This Series
- Picking the Optimal OS for Your Mac—Part 2 · October 2003
- Picking the Optimal OS for Your Mac · September 2003
- Bluetooth & 68K Browsers · January 2003
- Where to Get Free and Inexpensive Software for Legacy Macs · November 2002
- The Legacy Corner · June 2002
- The Legacy Corner · May 2002
- The Legacy Corner · April 2002
- The Legacy Corner · September 2001
- The Legacy Corner · August 2001
- Complete Archive