G3 G4 iBook Guide: Play streaming media in a web browser and video from HD and USB

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by kinjomusashi, Feb 12, 2009.

  1. kinjomusashi macrumors newbie

    Jan 25, 2009
    As a newbie Mac convert (but by no means a newbie computer user), I thought that I would write this guide for configuring an older Mac (G3, G4 laptops) to play movies fluidly using quicktime AND play streaming youtube videos IN A WEB BROWSER without having to programs like VLC or Mico. This has been tested on an iBook G3 Dual USB 500Mhz, 576MB RAM, 10GB HD running OS X Tiger 10.4.11. This is a combination of techniques both from other authors and my own.

    I would also like to note that NO hardware hacks whatsoever where used in this guide. Everything is purely software based with NO editing of system files ect. Everthing in this guide is completely reversable so don’t worry about messing anything up.

    Also, everything in this guide is free!

    Why is this guide needed?...

    1) Bring new life to your beloved, “outdated” Mac before trashing it or deciding to put it up for sale on eBay ;)

    2) As those of you who have G3 or G4 laptops like I do, you are well aware that playing streaming media in a web browser results in VERY choppy video and audio. Long story short, the answer I keep getting to why streaming media sucks on older Macs is because this technology wasn’t around at the time G3s first rolled out…Put simply, older macs weren’t designed to do such things.

    3) Equally as bad, videos also run choppy or just crash your media player no matter if using Quicktime, VLC, DVIX, Mico…etc…

    OK, let’s start and get down n’ dirty…I promise the process is painless.


    A. Disable Dashboard. If you really love Dashboard, sorry but it’s got to go. You will see a HUGE difference in system performance once this sucker is gone. To disable follow these steps:

    Open Terminal, and then type this command, followed by the Return key:

    defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES

    This tells the system that you no longer wish to have Dashboard available. However, the Dashboard task is actually “owned” by the Dock, so to make your changes take effect, you need to restart the Dock. The easiest way to do that is to type this command into the Terminal (and press Return when done):

    killall Dock

    After the Dock restarts, hit F12 and you’ll see…nothing at all. If you run Activity Monitor, you also won’t find any Dashboard widgets in the list of tasks, even if you had several open when you ran the above command. Dashboard has been eliminated from your system, and won’t return until you tell it to do so. You can do just that by opening Terminal again, and typing this command:

    defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean NO

    Once again, you’ll have to use the killall Dock command to make the changes take effect. Once you do, though, you’ll find that Dashboard is back as usual—and any widgets you had opened on the Dashboard will still be open.

    B. Disable Spotlight. It’s pretty useless anyway and does actually make a noticable imporvement in overall system imporovement when disabled. To disable Spotlight follow these steps:

    Launch your Terminal (located in /Applications/Utilities/) and type the following:

    sudo pico /etc/hostconfig

    This will open up your hostconfig file, which tells OS X what processes to launch at startup. Scroll down the hostconfig file and find the line that reads SPOTLIGHT=-YES- and change it to SPOTLIGHT=-NO-. Close and save the file. If you don't know how to use pico, type man pico to read over it's man pages first. If you want to remove Spotlight from the menu bar, remove the file "Search.bundle" from the folder /System/Library/CoreServices, but keep it around somewhere in case you change your mind. When you reboot the computer Spotlight will not load.

    If you ever want to re-enable Spotlight just go back through these steps and change NO back to YES and put "Search.bundle" back where it belongs.

    Why would anyone want to remove Spotlight? According to MacFixIt, "We continue to cover an issue where Mac OS X 10.4's Spotlight function consumes inordinate amounts of processor time, resulting in slower overall system performance or seemingly complete systems stalls."


    A. Download Opera web browser. I’ve found that Opera is the most efficient and uses the least resources as compared to Safari, Firefox, and IE. Also it’s the easiest to setup the script described below.
    B. In order to force all streaming content to automatically play in lowest quality or resolution, you will need to install a user script in to Opera. Here’s how:

    1) Download and save to a new folder on your hard drive, the “force low quality” user script from here:

    Make sure to save the user.js file a folder on your hd since Opera will need access to this script whenever it tries to play streaming media with the browser. Also, make sure that “.user.js” remains at the end of the file.

    2) Open the user.js file with a text editor of choice and change the top lines from:

    /* CONFIG: */

    var forceLowQuality=false, // <-- Should we force low quality playback?

    resize720p=true, // <-- Resize youtube for real 720p playback? Only works if video has 720p mode

    useHD=true, // <-- Should we use HD when available?

    /* END OF CONFIG */


    /* CONFIG: */

    var forceLowQuality=true, // <-- Should we force low quality playback?

    resize720p=false, // <-- Resize youtube for real 720p playback? Only works if video has 720p mode

    useHD=false, // <-- Should we use HD when available?

    /* END OF CONFIG */

    3) Now open Opera and go to: Opera>Preferences>Content>JavaScript Opstions.
    4) Under “User JavaScript Files” click on “Choose” and navigate to the folder containing the .user.js file and click “Choose” to finish.
    5) Restart Opera and enjoy streaming content! Please take note that not all videos will run smoothly. It all depends on the original size of the uploaded video. However, the audio should always run smoothly using this script.


    This method has been tested playing video stored on both the hard drive and USB jump drive. In both cases playback is identical. So those with limited hard drive space, rejoice!!

    A. Make sure quicktime is set as your default media player. I’m not sure if there is an easier way, but the method I use is simply to highlight a video file and press “command I” (show file info shortcut). Then choose Quicktime under “open file with.” You have the option to choose to open all file types with this extention using Quicktime.
    B. Next, download and install the “Perian” codec pack at www.perian.org. This will allow you to play virtually all of the popular media types under Quicktime, even MKV files!
    C. Download a video converter of your choice. Now I use Xilisoft, although not free, you do get a free trial. I use Xilisoft because I own it and have used it for a very long time. I know there are many free video converters out there, so anybody wanting to recommend a good free one of, by all means please share.
    D. Ok now this is the most important piece of info you need. You want to convert the video files to iPhone or iPod touch quality and resolution. The highest resolution you can go up to is 720 x 406 and normal sound quality or 128kbps. The lower your video settings, the better your frame rate. However, 720 x 406 plays extremely well with my iBook G3. Lastly, with a resolution of 320 x 240 and normal sound, I am able to play a movie from a jump drive in full-screen with MSN messenger and Opera running in the background.
    E. Enjoy!!!


    A. Obviously, saved and streaming media playback will vary depending on your system specs. As stated above, this guide was written with an iBook G3 in mind so things could work better or worse depending on the type of machine you have.
    B. Those of you still using a dial-up isp, don’t expect this guide to magically allow you to view streaming content. Its really time you upgraded to DSL or broadband if you want to benefit from streaming media content.
    C. It is possible to run the .user.js script using Firefox and a free plug-in called Greasemonkey, but I found the majority of streaming media was choppier compared to Opera. Also, another disadvantage is that with Firefox you need to manually enter all sites you want to use the script with. With Opera, ALL sites that contain streaming media will automatically play in low quality.
    D. The .user.js script can also be used to automatically play all streaming media in HD or highest quality in any website you visit on any Mac or PC using the same method decribed in the guide. Simply make sure the top lines read this:

    /* CONFIG: */

    var forceLowQuality=false, // <-- Should we force low quality playback?

    resize720p=true, // <-- Resize youtube for real 720p playback? Only works if video has 720p mode

    useHD=true, // <-- Should we use HD when available?

    /* END OF CONFIG */

    This is already set by default when you first download the user.js file.

    Now your older Mac is up-to-date and, for the meantime, save some money by putting off buying a new Mac!

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