CIRCUITS TECHNOLOGY COLUMN

Can a PC become a Macintosh?


Published: Monday, March 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 29, 2004 at 9:53 p.m.

Q: I have a Gateway PC running Windows XP. Would I be able to install the Macintosh operating system on my computer?

A: The Macintosh operating system code is written to work with Macintosh-specific hardware, which uses a different processor and hard-drive file system from what you find on computers designed for use with Windows.

This means you cannot run the Mac OS installer program on your PC. (But most modern computer systems that work with Windows will run a version of the Linux operating system.)

Still, it is possible to run some Macintosh programs on your PC with the help of a software emulator that recreates the Mac's environment on top of your Windows system.

Several programs exist for this purpose, and a list is at directory.google.com/Top/Computers/Emulators/Apple/Macintosh.

Most emulators only provide older versions of the Mac system, though.

You can also open Macintosh files and diskettes on a PC with programs like Conversions Plus from DataViz (www.dataviz.com/products/conversionsplus/index.html), which can translate documents from many Mac programs.

Through efforts like Mac-on-Linux (www.maconlinux.org), Linux programmers have made progress in getting the Mac system to run on PC hardware.

Similarly, Mac users can run Windows on their systems with PC emulator programs like Virtual PC (www.microsoft.com/mac).

Q: I use the junk-mail filter in Eudora 6 to weed out my spam messages. When I look at the list that goes into the Junk Mailbox, I see a number next to the Subject line of each one; what does it mean?

A: That number is the message's score on a series of tests to determine whether it might be spam.

Over the years, programs that identify and filter e-mail have developed an elaborate set of rules they apply in the hope of recognizing and separating the junk from messages that you want to receive.

Some programs apply a numerical ranking for every known spam characteristic that the message fits.

Because spam filters must be careful to allow legitimate mail through, several tests are applied and a cumulative score is assigned to each message. Messages with total scores above a certain level are then tagged as spam and sent to a junk mailbox or marked for deletion.

The programs' criteria vary, but they usually test for whether the message has been sent to multiple recipients, the headers have been tampered with or forged, large blocks of capital letters have been used in the subject line and certain keywords appear in the message.

To get an idea of how complex spam blocking can be, you can review a list of the tests performed by SpamAssassin, a filtering program used by many Internet service providers worldwide (www.spamassassin.org/tests.html).

In addition to the paid version of Eudora 6 for Windows and Macintosh, many mail programs for home users have built-in filters, including Microsoft Outlook 2003 and Apple Mail.

Some allow you to adjust the minimum score that will send e-mail to the junk-mail box.

You can also buy separate programs to work with your e-mail software.

Many companies that offer suites of Internet security software now include spam filters as part of the package; the latest versions of Norton Internet Security, the McAfee Internet Security Suite and Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security all include junk filters.

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