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MAC startup problem. How do I retrieve pictures?

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I have an iMac G5, 17" /w OS X 10.3.8, 1.8 GHz Super Drive, 512MB,
...purchased in 05 and Apple replaced the hard drive and Logic something a few months later and now it is a 10.3.9 and still a "lemon".Always slow and get the dreaded rainbow wheel a lot. Now, I am unable to boot to desktop(again) but I do not want to erase my pictures and videos in order to do a restart/recovery as had done before.. How do I retrieve my info if the computer will not boot? If I remove the hard drive, can I take it somewhere to retrieve the pictures? I just purchased a "My Book" external Hard Drive and did not get to use it because of my OS X problem. I have an E-machine with windows XP, and a HP with windows 2000, but they won't be of any help? I also tried everything suggested in "the Missing Manual".
I had this problem before and Apple had us erase all of our stuff. It was okay then because I did not have my pictures and videos. I also have a lot of music I would like to keep. The pictures are the most important. No backup of any kind was done because we had just recently added the pictures and videos.
Thanks, Sue
PS:I still consider myself a computer newbie especially with the Mac. :)
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SystemRescueCD has a PPC version that should handle what you need to do.
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