Walt Mossberg

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Mossberg’s Mailbox

Using Your Cellphone as a Modem

Here are a few questions about computers I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability. This week my mailbox contained questions about possibility of a G5 Powerbook, downloading extensions for Firefox and using Sprint’s Treo as a modem.

If you have a question, send it to me at mossberg@wsj.com, and I may select it to be answered here in Mossberg’s Mailbox.

Do you know when Apple will introduce the G5 PowerBook? Is this likely within the next year, hot on the heels of the Intel switchover?

I have no information on Apple’s release schedule for any new PowerBook laptops it may be developing. However, I doubt there ever will be an Apple laptop powered by the G5 processor. The G5, Apple’s top-of-the-line desktop processor today, is believed to run too hot for use in a laptop that’s slim enough to meet Apple’s taste for edgy design. That is one of the main reasons the company is switching from IBM-made processors such as the G5 to future processors from Intel.

So, I presume the next major processor change in Apple’s laptop line will be from the current IBM G4 chip to Intel processors, next year or in 2007. If that’s true, then the G5 will never show up in an Apple laptop.

How can I download those “extension modules” for the Firefox Web browser that you’ve mentioned in your articles?

A: The easiest way to get extensions, which enhance the functionality of Firefox, is to follow a link that’s built into the browser itself. Here’s how:

Click on the “Tools” menu in Firefox, then click on the item “Extensions,” which lists all the extensions you already are running. At the bottom right of this list, there’s a Web link that reads “Get More Extensions.” Clicking on this link will open a Web site where you can download more than 500 extensions.

You recently wrote that the Treo 650 from Sprint can be used as a modem for a laptop, using a wireless Bluetooth connection. I thought this wasn’t possible. How can it be done?

Sprint has just issued a software patch that will finally allow this, though the company warns that you will need a new, presumably costlier, calling plan to use your Treo in this manner. Cellphone companies customarily charge more for data plans for laptop modems than for similar plans for cellphones, because they assume laptop users will consume much more network bandwidth by downloading much more data.

The software patch is available at www.palmone.com/us/support/downloads/treo650updater/sprint.html.

* * *

Because of the volume of e-mail I receive, I can’t routinely answer individual questions by e-mail, or consult on individual problems or purchasing decisions. I read all questions I receive and select three each week to answer in the column.

Write to Walter S. Mossberg at mossberg@wsj.com


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