MacFixIt Answers

MacFixIt Answers is a weekly feature in which we answer questions e-mailed from our readers. We welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your own suggestions in the comments.

MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which we answer questions e-mailed from our readers. This week we have questions on RAM modules not working in one PowerBook RAM slot, options for viewing alternative region DVDs, and a Windows 7 taskbar "Preview" option in OS X. We continually answer e-mail questions, and though we present a few here, we certainly welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your suggestions in the comments.

Question: RAM not working in one slot

MacFixIt reader Donald asks:

G4 Powerbook, 15", 1.67GHz, Early 2005. I have 2x1GB sticks of OWC RAM, both confirmed in sound working order. With either stick in the lower bay of the powerbook, there is *no chime on startup*, System Profiler reports the bay empty (although occasionally it has reported 2GB RAM), and Apple Hardware test gives *Error on startup: post/0/2048 SODIMMO/J25LOWER*.

There is no question that the stick is firmly and correctly seated. On removing the lower stick and booting, the *chime on startup is present*, and there is no error in the Apple Hardware test. I have repeated these procedures and removed and reseated the stick numerous times. Of course the Powerbook is not worth spending money on, particularly since it serves its simple clerical tasks quite satisfactorily with 1GB RAM, but I am intrigued by the lack of the startup chime, and is there anything simple i could do to render the lower bay responsive again?


If you have access to another brand of RAM module you can try installing it to the lower bay to see if it can be recognized, but that kind of testing is the only real way to determine if the lower bay is not working properly (and even then you might have to confirm it with several different RAM makes).

RAM can be a touchy thing sometimes, where in one system it may work but in another system it will not. Even though the RAM chips have been confirmed to work, there may be compatibility issues with your specific computer, or even the slot. I have had perfectly good chips work in one slot and not another on several systems. In your case, it could be a problem with the lower slot being paired to that specific brand, model, or even lot number for the RAM modules.

My suspicion here is that the RAM is not fully compatible with your system based on different manufacturing specifications.

Question: Using non "Region 1" DVDs

MacFixIt reader "LSmetzer" asks:

I want to play some Region 2 DVDs I bought, using my Mac. But I understand there is some setting you have to set, and only can do it 5 times That won't work for me, as I'd like to watch them periodically. Is there a way to get them to MP4's instead? Or is there another option? I'm only trying to watch DVDs I bought.


You will need to "rip" the DVDs to a MP4 file using a "ripping" program, or alternatively purchase a secondary DVD player that you can set to region 2 and leave there. Ripping programs are available for the Mac, but I do not have much experience with them. One popular one is called "HandBreak" but I am not certain that it will read alternative region DVDs. One option with these programs would be to use them with your current DVD burner and change the region once to rip them all to a high quality movie file, and then switch the region back. Keep in mind that this will use up two of the allotted changes (I believe most DVD players have around 5 allowed changes before they lock), and therefore can only be done a couple of times on any given DVD player.

Question: Windows 7 taskbar "Preview" option in OS X

MacFixIt reader "Zach" asks:

This is my question and one reason I don't switch to mac: On win 7 you can hover over an icon on the taskbar and show the open windows. How can this be done on a mac?


In Snow Leopard there is a similar function, where if you click and hold the icon in the dock the current windows for that application will be shown in "Expose" view on the screen. You can then select any of them to switch to that application and bring the selected window to the front. It's not identical to the Windows 7 taskbar features, but is quite similar in function. It also makes decent usage of the full display, allowing more of that application's contents to be seen onscreen.

In the next version of OS X (called "Lion") Apple is apparently going to enhance these features and implement a number of additional multitasking options like this, but we must wait and see what will materialize.

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