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Expanding a PowerBook

by Murph Sewall -- SEWALL@UCONNVM.BITNET

Ah, the choices one must make. I find it so hard to pick up the PowerBook and leave home without stuffing it with every conceivable application I just might have a use for, even ones I haven't used for months. So, I love AutoDoubler's (or one of the other transparent compressor's) ability to cram more stuff on the drive.

Unfortunately, the PowerBook only has 4 MB of RAM. Funny how 4 MB of RAM no longer seems like enough. It can be difficult to use Apple's DiskCopy, which needs 1792K of RAM, to duplicate a 1.44 MB disk, for example. The problem is that AutoDoubler uses 363K of System heap (you can reduce this by shrinking AutoDoubler's cache) and the DiskDoubler INIT wants another 163K. ATM 2.0.3 wants 111K plus whatever the font cache size, typically 128K, is set to, an argument for using TrueType instead on a PowerBook.

The terrible choices become: (a) expand the awfully expensive PowerBook RAM, (b) dump enough stuff to backup so that compression isn't necessary, or (c) buy a bigger hard drive, which is also expensive, but not as expensive as RAM. Using virtual memory isn't practical because it requires at least 5 MB of free space on the hard disk and it runs the hard drive all the time, draining the battery so fast that the PowerBook requires household current.

My solution was to order a Quantum GO 80 hard drive from APS for $439 and pay $40 for my local "authorized Apple technician" to install it. That turns out to be about $100 less expensive than our campus store probably will offer the Apple upgrade for (they haven't received a price sheet yet, but they usually charge about 80% of list). Although expected by the end of the month, the GO 120 isn't shipping yet and at $699, it costs more per MB than the GO 80. Because my PowerBook is my "backup" Mac, I figured I could live with 80 MB. After all, I'd been squeezing stuff into the 40 MB drive, which equalled an uncompressed 50.5 MB.

The GO 80 (82K capacity actually, and APS PowerTools makes 80.8K actually usable) was installed yesterday. The extra space is wonderful, but wow is it NOISY (compared to the Connor which simply "whirred" some - colleagues say even the Connor is noisier than the drives that ship with many DOS laptops). The only drive test I've run is Speedometer's; it claims the GO 80 is 60% faster than the Connor (the price one pays for sounding like a coffee grinder?). Sure enough, expanding all the files and not using AutoDoubler and DiskDoubler have given me 526K more RAM to run applications. Adding a few things I didn't have room for on the 40 MB drive has left me at 59K on the drive. After one day, I'm happy but I keep finding neat new programs I'd like to have at my fingertips. I may yet regret not having gone for the GO 120 ;-). I still have the Connor as a backup in case the machine shop sound of the GO 80 turns out to be a symptom of trouble. I've thought about looking for one of the cases that could make the Connor an external drive, but I don't really expect I'd use it much that way. If anything interesting (unusual) happens with the GO 80, I'll report it here.

Has anyone else installed a GO 80? Did I mention that mine is loud enough to hear across the room? Is yours?