Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Missing Sync for Palm OS -- and the sadness of iCal

The Missing Sync for Palm OS - Synchronize Mac OS X and Palm OS

The web site doesn't emphasize this, but you can use Missing Sync for free for a two week evaluation period. I started today -- it looks very good. A breath of fresh air. I was able to remove the festering, parasitic, incompetent mess that's Palm Desktop from my Tiger machine.

On the other hand, there's iCal. Wow. So much hype for something so feeble. No 'categories' for tasks? You must be joking! I thought the Palm data model was feeble, but iCal makes it look pretty darned complex. There's no way this would handle any kind of demanding workplace.

Looks like Entourage and Missing Sync with a PocketPC device are the best PDA solution for the Mac. This may work ok for my wife however.

Missing sync has a good list of supported conduits.

The mythical Palm OS X uninstaller

Palm's web site has a description of the Palm Desktop OS X 'uninstall' procedure:
Removing (uninstalling) Palm Desktop for Macintosh: "# Continue through the Software License Agreement windows by clicking on AGREE, the Palm Desktop Installer window appears.
# In the top left corner of the window, click on the dropdown menu and select UNINSTALL. Directly beneath this menu, place a check to select Palm Desktop software.
Having tried this about six times, I'm reasonably sure there's no such dropdown menu in the current release.

I did use the Installer's show files option -- the Palm installer puts a horribly long list of gunk in the System Library and elsewhere. No wonder this is such a festering sore.

Restoring Retrospect data to an OS X disk image

When my iBook crashed my last complete system backup was only 8 hours old (for once, somehow, Retrospect worked). It was easy to restore all my data to the G5 iMac. I wanted, however, a disk image of the iBook that I could use to either clone a new version of the old drive or as reference. I find disk images very handy for that purpose.

How could I do this?

Actually, it was pretty easy. Here's what I did:
  1. Create a sparse disk image on iMac of 15 GB (Tiger Disk Utility has a GB and TB option now.) Give it the same name as the old, extinct, drive (eg. iBookDrive.sparseimage) - I think that may be pretty important.
  2. Mount image.
  3. In Retrospect Professional for Windows 6.5 open client view and go to tools. The mounted image appears as a volume. Select it so it's "known" to Retrospect.
  4. Do a complete volume restore to the mounted image.
That's it. Disk Utility reports the resulting image is bootable. I have a hunch this method may also be the only effective way to create a true restore from Retrospect! (Create image as above from Retrospect backup, mount iBook using target disk mode, clone using Disk Utility.)

Update 8/4: Well, it kind of worked as a boot image -- but only with some massaging and not all that well. OS X Disk Utility rejected using it to create a boot sector; some kind of error condition. Carbon Copy Cloner did use it, but the permissions were completely wrong (an issue with Retrospect, you have to disable permissions when doing a Retrospect restore, didn't do that on the image, I don't know if it's possible). I had to use Disk Utility to restore permissions and I safe booted. At that point the image did work, but some extensions didn't work. I gave up and used another image -- this was just an experiment to see if the image I create above could be used to clone a bootable disk.

[1] I'm using the Retrospect 6.0/Mac client on my Tiger machine -- a temporary option while I figure out how to replace Retrospect entirely -- but that's another story.

Friday, July 29, 2005

OS X file sharing: truly weird

Mac OS: How to Connect to File Sharing or Apple File Services (AFP)

I've used OS X for about 3 years now. File sharing has always been odd. SMB sharing finally works well, but today I enabled sharing from an Apple server.

I had a hard time figuring it out. I started with the IP address -- that worked using afp://10.0.0.1. Then I researched and learned this would work too: afp://MyMachineName.local -- but the .local was required. Lastly I learned that if you browse for the server it's in Network:Local, not in Servers where one, instead, can find the name of the client machine.

Don't tell me that's not weird. It also takes a few seconds on my iBook for the remote share to appear, I had to wait a bit.

I think I'll use the 'scrap' technique I use with my SMB shares to create a simpler reference.

Lastly, somewaht contradictory to the documentation, if you login with a username and password that matches an admin account on the host machine, you can browse everything the local admin can (I only tested a write to my own server directory).

None of this is anywhere near as transparent as the OS Classic approach -- and that wasn't too simple either.

Weird.

One does get a nice choice of file sharing protocols however: smb, afp, ftp, etc.

AbiWord: Read and Write DOC files (free)

AbiWord Downloads

I'll try the new version on my Mac. We need something lightweight to both read and write doc files.

Windows smart phone sync to a Mac -- yes!

Mark/Space brings Windows smart phone sync to Mac | The Register

The Mac PDA/phone universe has just grown significantly.

My iBook failure: I think it's the logic board defect

Apple - Discussions - What does ata 1/6/13 HD 2,0 mean?

One advantage of being an Apple customer is that there's an very helpful community of users that offsets some of Apple's "industry-standard" quality control issues. On an Apple iBook forum an expert aide points out my iBook's apparent drive failure may well be a logic board failure. Here's what I wrote back:
Ronda,

Thank you so much. I thought this was a hard drive failure, but I started the iBook in target disk mode and thrashed it (SMART didn't work in this mode). I repartitioned, erased, put on a DOS partition, erased, put on a Mac partition, copied 15GB of data to it -- the drive never hiccoughed.

I then cloned a backup image [1] and the system ran -- sort of. A Retrospect restore worked for a while, then stopped. On one restart I got a blank blue screen -- but a remote computer indicated the retrospect client was running. On another restart I got the disk not found (again).

I've reset nvram from open firmware boot and, especially, after the various repartitionings, erasures and original CD reinstalls I'm sure there's no software or drive data corruption remaining.

So I've eliminated software and I'm increasingly confident that the drive itself is ok. That does tend to implicate the logic board.

Of course the program ended March 18th, 2005 or 3 years past purchase -- and my system was purchsed June 2002, so in theory I'm out of range. Of course I'll call anyway.

Thank you,

john

[1] I've survived at least 4 major drive crashes over 15 years with very little data loss -- I have backups like some people have shoes.
F/U to come.

Update: No luck with Apple! They charge $50 to talk to a product specialist, $200 or so to look at it (and if it doesn't have the original 128MB memory stick they send it back unfixed!), and more beyond that.

First Tech Computing, a local authorized Apple dealer, will charge $40 to look at it and then will tell me what a repair costs. I'll pay for First Tech, and if I end up having the logic board replaced I'll take phone Apple Customer Relations at 800-767-2775.

Update 7/30: The very last thing I did was to create two partitions on the iBook, 1GB and the rest. I cloned to the "remainder" and left the 1GB empty. It's still running. I think the effect is coincidental (ie, the problem will recurr), but it's interesting. I'd hypothesized that if there is a drive problem, it might occur in the heavily used initial portions of the drive and that this maneuver might shuffle critical files out of that area. I'm using the iBook purely as a "thin client" for now.

Crashing iBook: is it the logic board?

Apple - Support - iBook - Expanded Logic Board Repair Extension Program - FAQ My iBook is just one month beyond its 3 year anniversary, and it seems dead. I thought it was the hard drive, but that tests out very well in target disk mode. I wonder if it's the logic board ...

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Tiger - moving mail from an 10.3 Mail.app

Apple - Mac OS X

There are several ways to move Mail.app data into Tiger when switching machines. You can use Apple's data migration utility, but I prefer to move more gradually. (Mail.app data structures changed in Tiger to fit Spotlight.)

I logged in on my Tiger account and copied all my ~/Library/Mail files to the new machine. Then I tried two approaches. The second is better:

1. Fire up Mail.app. Create a new account. Import old content using the built-in import function. This brings in only mailbox data.

2. Delete everything in ~/Library/Mail on the new machine (eg. data from #1). Copy the Mail files from old machine in here. Start Mail.app. It imports mail and configuration data.


At first I created a new mailbox and used the Mail.app import function to imp

SuperDuper: clones and creates bootable startup disk -- even in 10.4.2

SuperDuper

A very sophisticated approach to recovering data from a dead drive: using a linux utility with OS X Tiger

macosxhints - 10.4: Recover a dead hard drive using GNU ddrescue

macosxhints - Move an iTunes library to a new machine

macosxhints - Move an iTunes library to a new machine

Read the whole thread, there's more than approach. I've noted this before I think, but it's newly relevant to me.

Good advice on cleaning up after a crash and a force quit

Apple - Discussions - G3 - after the crash

Apple forum advice for recovering from an 'out of drive space' crash:
... it might be that a force quit left behind some huge cache files, making things worse.

If that's the case, you might locate them by asking File>Find to search for invisible files whose size is, say, greater than 50MB…

Either way if you're trying to clear a G3-vintage disk, it probably needs at least 10% of its total space free to avoid exactly this kind of situation.

Also for future refernce - though you may have already tried it this time - when you get the kind of trouble warning you got, then if you can actually clear the warning it may not be necessary to do anything else but wait. When you've used up pretty well all of both disk and RAM, files that normally open quite quickly can take minutes extra, giving the impression that nothing's happening and making force quit too tempting…

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sharing an address book via dotMac (.Mac)

The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

This could be of interest for our family, it would be quite handy to have a family address book. As the TUAW notes, it would be better if one could share a subset of an address book. Maybe there's a workaround ...

Konfabulator -- free for OS X

Update: It's funny how catastrophe strikes. You're driving down the road one day, and wham -- someone caves in the side of your car. Or you're playing with a neat widget, like Konfabulator, and the system locks up. You hear odd recurrent drive noises. You can't shut down. You realize you have Classic running, and Konfabulator's just installed, and Fast User Switching is enabled and somehow a network share has been loaded and a remote DMG mounted, and you wonder how much free space there is on the iBook drive and you sweat. You try to kill the apps that are running, but finally you power off. And that's it. The drive is toast. Beyond repair by Disk Utility.

Was it Konfabulator? The app of which I'd just written:
My new iMac runs Tiger and Dashboard, but my old Panther iBook can't. So I've downloaded Konfabulator, which is now free courtesy of Yahoo's acquisition. Depending on how it works on my iBook, the Panther/Tiger/Windows features of Konfabulatory may have me installing it on Panther too.
PS. My last Retrospect backup was at 3 am this morning and it appears to have run properly -- for once! I've restored my data to another machine it it seems intact. So now I'll see if Retrospect will manage a 'full disaster restore' to the iBook.

Update:
Apple's Hardware test is reporting an error code of the form: ata 1/6/13 HD 2,0.
I take this to mean the drive is toast. So Konfabulator might have been an innocent bystander.

Internet Explorer & Mozilla / Firefox: what's different

Migrate apps from Internet Explorer to Mozilla
This article covered common issues web application developers face when they try to get their applications to work in Mozilla-based browsers. When you develop web applications, always consider possible browser differences and be informed about them. In Resources, you'll find two good references that provide in-depth coverage on cross-browser development. Following those guidelines not only allow your web applications to work in other browsers, but also on other platforms.
I haven't dealt with this sort of detail in years, but I can still follow it. This is the most succinct and useful discussion of the 2005 state of the browesr I've seen. IE is darned ugly.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Motherboard for MacTel machines

Intel Desktop Board D915GUX

Rumor has it this is the board Apple uses in their MacTel develoeper machines.

Pixel to print ratio: 100 pixel/inch - 72% of print size.

Apple 30-Inch Cinema HD Display

In an article on Apple's cinema display, an obscure factoid. 100 pixels/inch is the standard for Apple displays. I think 72 pixels/inch gives fonts that are the same size as printed fonts, so 100 pixels per inch means ...
: ... One final note about resolution. All monitors are, of course, different in terms of the ratio between resolution and screen real estate. The Apple 30-inch Cinema HD Display, at its optimal resolution, displays images at a pixel density of 100 pixels per inch, which means that the things on your screen will be about 72 percent the size they would be if you were to print them out at 100 percent. Personally, I'm used to this, as my 22-inch widescreen CRT does the same thing. But it can make small text a bit difficult to read, particularly serif text below about 9.5 points. But you can always crank the resolution down for a larger image, or up the magnification of your documents for easier viewing.
It's interesting that most discussions of displays omit the pixels/inch number -- but it's the most interesting number for me.

Of course a scalable interface would allow this sizing ratio to be adjusted. I believe that a long forgotten Commodore/DOS OS did this in the 1980s (I can't even recall the name myself any more!).

OS X Backup: cloning the the startup disk

Mac OS X 10.4.2 (Part 27)

I've wondered if there was a good reason to partition my OS/X startup disk. This is a good reason -- cloning the boot partition to a boot partiion of an external drive using Disk Utility:
After reading on MacInTouch of problems with Disk Utility's restore in 10.4.2 I was concerned about my weekly backup. I clone my startup disk weekly using Disk Utility's Restore, and this week was my first time using 10.4.2. The backup worked fine for me. I can start up from the newly cloned partition of my FireWire hard drive with no problem. I named the partition before cloning and the name was retained after the clone.

Another OS mail format converter: emlx (Mail.app) to mbox (Thunderbird), mail recovery

emlx to mbox Converter

I love this class of utility -- keeping data mobile.
In Mac OS X 10.4 'Tiger', the default message format for Mail messages changed from the Apple custom mbox-package format to the new emlx format (where messages are stored in individual files for Spotlight indexing). However, if you need to recover from a hard drive crash, it's almost impossible to recover your mail messages easily since Mail won't import emlx files and you can't add them to your mailboxes any other way.

This tool will convert your individual emlx mail files (found in ~/Library/Mail/) to the old mbox format, used by almost every UNIX/Linux mail client and recognized by many more.

With this tool, you could convert some individual emlx files to mbox and then import the mbox file using Mail for Mac OS X or almost any other mail client.

To use the tool, drag your emlx files into the main window. Click the 'Save mbox...' button and a prompt will appear, allowing you to save an mbox file.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Creating a reference to an SMB share that works with keychain (OS X 10.3)

I don't know where I read this, but I recently searched for this tip and had a bit of trouble finding it -- even though I had an example of what I wanted on my desktop!

Most of our household files live for now an XP box (they may move to a G5 iMac). Mac clients often need to access this workgroup (non-Domain) share. I want the clients to mount the share seamlessly, without having to enter the share password.

Unfortunately, creating an alias to the share, and saving the password and username to keychain, doesn't work reliably. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's been a bug since 10.0 and it's never been consistently fixed.

I can create an entry in the Ctrl-K list (smb://workgroupName;userName@serverName/shareName) and OS X will store the password, but that's not very user friendly. I need something similar that's clickable, aliasable, etc.

The answer is to create an 'inetloc' that points to the share and includes a username. Keychain will correctly associate the password with an intetloc, perhaps because it's a physical file. You can create an alias to the inetloc and place it on the Finder left panel.

Intetloc creation is peculiar. They are created using the OS X "scrap" behavior. I use TextEdit for this purpose. Enter the inteloc string (same as Ctrl-K string) in text edit. Highlight it, click on the highlighted text, and drag it to to the desktop. On first use it will ask if you want keychain to store the password.

As with the Go To Server method the text string is:
smb://domain;username@servername/sharename
For example:
smb://mcgill;mgordon@boston/espressoLink
I wonder if the aliases work in Tiger ...

Update 7/24: Inetloc files have a rather dull default icon. I've never changed OS X icons, but it turns out that it's not too hard (see www.iconfactory.com for directions). The only catch is permissions -- you need to have write permissions for the file who's icon is being changed. Select source file, Cmd-I, select the icon at top, Cmd-C. Then select destination target file, select icon at top, Cmd-I then Cmd-V.

What icon did I use? Since it was a family server the ideal would be to turn a picture of the kids into an icon. I might do that later, but I found a great free-for-personal-use server icon in the World of Aqua 5 Collection.

I had some odd glitches with getting the reference in the left Finder bar to display this icon -- may have been permissions. Anyway it now displays and is quite a lovely way to show the server.

Update 8/2: I discovered that I can add this Inetloc file to my account's login item list. When I do that my network share loads on startup, and takes the password from my Keychain. I keep our family slideshow on the smb share, so I need this for my screensaver. Lovely!

Create an OS X screen-locking keyboard shortcut

macosxhints - Create a screen-locking keyboard shortcut

I need to lock my machine when I leave so the kids won't play with it. Astoundingly, there's no quick and easy way to do this in OS X, no equivalent to Windows-L in XP. This hint has some workarounds.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Eudora Mailbox Cleaner - Importer

Eudora Mailbox Cleaner

This free OS X utility will transform Eudora files to either Thunderbird or Mail files. There's no precise equivalent for Windows; the thunderbird FAQ references a lesser windows app.

Update 7/2005: The latest version will do the import for Eudora PC as well.

iVideo in September?

PBS | I, Cringely . July 21, 2005 - When Elephants Dance

Cringely is obsessed with Apple lately. It's easy to see why. If you're a computer geek, Apple has all the excitement. Here he predicts iVideo:
... like Intel's partnering in the new Apple movie download service, which someone told me this week will be called iVideo.

If iVideo is the correct name, it implies that the new application will become part of Apple's iLife suite along with iMove, iTunes and other applications. This makes good sense even for Intel. Why? Because at this point it is more important to Intel for iVideo to be a success than it is for iVideo to use lots of Intel chips. The population of broadband-equipped OS X computers in the U.S. is around 10 million, and that's a good number for launching a new service and avoiding problems should it be literally TOO popular. The point is to make iVideo a hit, first with Mac users and with impatent Windows users who'll go out and buy a Mac Mini just to be able to run the app (that's the old model for upgrading, right?). Mac Minis quietly appeared last weekend at Best Buy and Target, for sale alongside the iPods. This is in preparation for the iVideo launch, which will presumably come in September or October, certainly before the xBox November launch.

Just as there was with iTunes, there will eventually be an iVideo for Windows, probably in February.
Sounds good to me, I just bought a G5 iMac that would work well with this. Last week he predicted new video iPods with retinal displays -- that I find harder to credit. I do note though that the current iPod lineup is weird -- 20BG is too small, and 60GB is too big.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

dealram: 1GBx2 Apple iMac G5 PC3200 Computer Memory (PC3200 DDR SDRAM (400MHz))

dealram: 1GBx2 Apple iMac G5 PC3200 Computer Memory (PC3200 DDR SDRAM (400MHz))

How to shop for memory for a new G5 iMac. Paired RAM costs about $240 for 2GB. I might buy a single 512MB set for $40 and wait for the paired prices to fall to about $140 or so.

XP Concurrent users -- this was promised for XP SP2?

I don't know why this kind of thing doesn't get more attention. Concurrent user support is huge. I wish we had it in OS X!! Apparently it was almost in XP SP2. That would have made SP2 a huge upgrade for our family.
Techlog: Microsoft related news and issues: "What happened to the concurrent sessions feature in XP SP2?

14 October '04 - 16:08, kenneth
Coming from Paul Thurrot's Supersite for Windows:

It's gone. In February 2003, internal Microsoft documentation described a feature planned for XP SP2 called 'concurrent sessions.' This would have enabled XP Professional Edition systems with Fast User Switching (FUS) enabled (i.e., non-domain systems) to support two concurrent interactive users. The current XP version is limited to one interactive user at a time; this user can be sitting at the XP machine locally or connecting to it remotely through Remote Desktop Connection (RDC), Microsoft's desktop version of Windows Terminal Services.

Under the original plan for XP SP2, XP Pro would have supported two users, one local and one remote. This capability would have accomplished two goals. First, it would further differentiate XP Pro from XP Home Edition (an ongoing concern in Redmond) and make the more expensive XP Pro more enticing to users. Second, this feature would make Smart Displays more functional; under the current scheme, when a user accesses his or her XP Pro desktop from a Smart Display, the local system is logged out. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, responding to complaints about Smart Displays, had promised that the company would add concurrent sessions functionality to the product in the future; XP SP2 was one way to accomplish this goal. But things change. Microsoft removed the concurrent sessions feature from XP SP2.

However, concurrent sessions will soon pop-up in an unexpected place. The next XP Media Center update, named Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, will include concurrent sessions in order to support up to 5 Media Center Extender devices. To my knowledge, this is the only XP version that will get this feature.

So we will have to wait for someone finding out what is different in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 making this possible (maybe another Termsrv.dll)and see if it can be installed under Windows XP SP2 to enable concurrent sessions.

Keyhole Community: Dynamic Data Layers - Google Earth

Keyhole Community: Dynamic Data Layers

macosxhints - 10.4: Remove SSH connection delay

macosxhints - 10.4: Remove SSH connection delay

I think 10.4 has a way to turn off IP v6 support. I will try to do that.

OS X Tiger Preview is a very handy image editing tool

MacDevCenter.com: What Is Preview? (and Why You Should Use It)

Ahh, the beauty of standard framework.

This bit caught my attention:

But there's also a bookmarks feature that's new in Preview 3.0.1 (shipping with Tiger) that allows you to add a bookmark to any PDF, or intriguingly any image, or your computer and reopen it from Preview.

You could think of it almost like a browser bookmarks menu. If you're halfway through a huge text document and need a break, you can hit Command+D to add a bookmark. The same applies for images you might want to use often.

Command-D? Weird.

Preview's keywords are not viewable in iPhoto. Maybe an AppleScript will fix that?

Building OS X Dashboard widgets

O'Reilly Network: Let's Build Another Dashboard Widget

OS X Dashboard widgets don't seem that complex. The development requirements remind me of HyperCard -- a bit more than DOS Batch file programming but nothing like writing Cocoa or Java apps. The sort of thing that will attract a lot of end-user creativity.

iMovie HD 5.x bugs

iMovie HD bugs

See also this Macintouch posting. I've just ordered my G5 iMac with a 400GB SATA drive nad I'm getting ready to use iMovie 5 (after some experiments with iMovie 2.x on an older G3 iBook -- that was an excellent version of iMovie, subsequent versions have been a bit discouraging), so this is of interest to me.

I hope to update a y2k web page of mine on this topic, but that may not happen until September. I found five years ago that the technology wasn't ready (at least for me), but we've come a long way since then.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Phil Bradley: Google Earth, Google Maps. Resources Utilities Information

Phil Bradley: Google Earth, Google Maps. Resources Utilities Information

Phil has done a great job rounding up information on Google Maps and Google Earth, including a link to Google Earth Hacks. I'll add the last to my bloglines.

Dashboard widget: miniBattery

miniBattery - Dashboard - Status

Tracks cycles too.

Footnotes for the web

Daring Fireball: About the Footnotes

I've long been interested in Footnotes for the web, I like the mouseover techniques some sites use, though I've had other ideas I've never gotten around to tracking down. This site has a good discussion of a basic but very reasonable approach.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Macintouch on color profiles (ColorSync)

iPhoto (Part 14)

This Macintouch discussion has a superb thread on Color Profiles. Alas, iPhoto does not hold up well.
Chris Murphy, co-author of "Real World Color Management, 2nd Edition"
The iPhoto 5.0-5.02 color problem, previously reported, is caused when iPhoto converts images from the embedded source profile to the display profile, then incorrectly embedding the Generic RGB profile. iPhoto 5.03 resolves the bogus tagging that was the main problem, but concerns remain. Here are the three behaviors to expect from iPhoto 5.03:

1. Untagged images. iPhoto assumes the currently set display profile for images that do not contain an embedded ICC profile (including images containing only EXIF data indicating the image color space is RGB). It then converts from that space to Generic RGB and saves the edited image with that profile embedded.

2. Images tagged with "table-based" profiles. iPhoto uses the embedded profile as source, converts the image into some as yet undetermined intermediate space for performing the requested edits (red eye, crop, enhance) and then converts again to the original source space. The closest thing to this intermediate space I've found is sRGB. Thus the image data is altered, but the original profile remains embedded. Color appearance of the original is preserved only insofar as colors exist in this "sRGB" like intermediate space, and if they don't color appearance is not fully preserved. Subsequent edits result in additional conversions.

Needless to say neither of these are high quality options. In the first case, anyone working with untagged images isn't particularly quality conscious in the first place, so they're unlikely to be hurt by the first behavior. The second behavior, on the other hand, will occur when any kind of table based ICC profile is embedded in the image, including matrix based profiles using table-based tone reproduction curves. Examples include some display profiles, and essentially all digital camera, scanner and printer profiles. Apple should perform conversions through a wider gamut color space than they are currently using, and it should be a one time "normalizing" event to avoid additional and unnecessary conversions.

3. Images tagged with simple matrix and gamma based profiles are not converted. Thus, iPhoto is now a good citizen when it comes to normalized workflows. Examples of such RGB spaces are Adobe RGB (1998), ECI RGB, and ProPhoto RGB. I don't include sRGB in this list because there is a simplified sRGB which causes behavior 3, and the more common, correct, and accurate one with flare which uses a table based tone response tag which causes behavior 2.

In most cases, the conversions aren't a problem, but if you're working with color-critical images either ensure they are tagged with one of the aforementioned profiles or avoid editing images in iPhoto 5.0-5.0.3. The clincher for quality conscious users is that iPhoto 5 doesn't do normalizing, so the conversion into one of these well behaved editing spaces, e.g. ProPhoto RGB, must be done in another application anyway.

The plus for professionals who already use Adobe RGB (1998), ECI RGB, or ProPhoto RGB will not need to be concerned about iPhoto 5 doing something senseless like performing ill advised color conversions on such images when doing something as simple as cropping.

Yech!! I've used sRGB in my workflow, it worked well with iPhoto 4. I wonder if I should switch to AdobeRGB for a while?

Firefox is getting buggier?

Mozilla - Home of the Firefox web browser and Thunderbird e-mail client

I'm having problems with recent point releases of Firefox. PDF integration is problematic at times, and lately the "save link as" context menu option doesn't work in some web sites. I suspect some of the security fixes are causing things to break, even as most developer resources focus on 1.1. At this rate I'll be keen to switch to the first beta of 1.1!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Rebuilding batteries: good for discontinued models

We Rebuild most hard-to-find laptop batteries

This company rebuilds LiOn and other batteries. It's not cost-effective for batteries that are still being sold, but it makes sense when a battery is off the market.

Nice feature of 10.4 Preview: See effect of different color profiles on an image

Macintouch iPhoto (Part 13): "This behavior can be confirmed by dragging the image to Preview and choosing Tools > Assign Profile before and after making an edit. In fact this feature of the Preview app is a great way to see what happens when a different ColorSync profile is selected."

Friday, July 15, 2005

Apple acknowledges some Mac Minis have defective analog VGA out

Troubleshooting: Reduced brightness with some VGA displays and Mac mini
...If you tried all of the steps above and the computer still won't display video as expected, contact Apple technical support (1-800-APL-CARE in the U.S.) or take your computer to your local retail Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP) for diagnosis.
So they've finally acknowledged this defect. Overall, however, the Mac Minis have an exceptional reputation for reliability.

Smelly iBooks: a problem with the keyboard glue

MacInTouch: timely news and tips about the Apple Macintosh

I'd heard of this. I'll have to check it out though I think I'm out of AppleCare coverage. Good reason to buy a new machine!
[MacInTouch Reader] I've had my G3 iBook for about four years now and as a result I've got an embarrassing problem with it - it smells...


[Kirk McElhearn] Quite a few people have had this problem - there's a thread somewhere on Apple's discussion boards about it. I had it on a G3 800 iBook. After researching the problem, it turned out to be the glue that holds the sticker on under the keyboard that smells - it seems to degrade over time, and from the heat. I had to fight with Apple, but they eventually replaced the keyboard (the iBook was under AppleCare). Others have had their's replaced as well. There seems to be no other solution, since this sticker is very big, and there's a heck of a lot of glue.

Dell 1600n multifunction printer for OS X?

Dell Printers

It's time to replace my Apple LaserWriter Select 360. I can still find compatible cartridges, but when I bought a low end personal HP LaserJet for my mother I realized how big and loud that old tank is. For my current purposes the HP would make more sense.

Or I could get an integrated fax, document scan and print solution. Something like the Dell 1600n, which is said to be a "rebadged Xerox WorkCentre PE120i". The latter has some OS X drivers. At least one person reports a Tiger machine recognized this device. Here's the manual.

I'm going to check this out. It's intended to be a stanalone fax/copier, so lack of fax software may not be so important as long as the network printing works. For scanning and document management I can attach it to my PC if need be.

Update: web reviews are sparse and often unhappy. Smells kind of fishy.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

OS X WYSIWYG HTML Editor: RapidWeaver

Realmac Software - Reviews

This gets quite good reviews, but despite my intereste in the domain this is the first I've heard of it. Odd.

Gordon's Tech: OS X 10.4.2 and iPhoto 5.0.3 together fix some of Tiger's problems with Color profiles (ColorSync)

Whew. This is complex. I've made enought updates to a prior blog posting that I think it's worth drawing attention to: Gordon's Tech: OS X 10.4.2 does not fix Tiger's problems with Color profiles (ColorSync).

The bug may be interesting from a design perspective -- Apple might have been trying to improve color management for non-experts, but they ended up messing up their solution. The bug fix requires patches to both 10.4 and iPhoto together.

The power of open source: G5 build for Firefox

Only open source can handle this. A single contributor distributes builds of Firefox optimized for the G5 CPU: BeatnikPad Journal: G5-optimized Firefox 1.0.5 released

iSync: really not ready

Mac OS X 10.4, .Mac: Put URLs in the Notes field for Address Book syncing
Any information in an Address Book contact's URL field will not be synced between Address Book and .Mac, but data in the Notes field will be.
This is really embarassing - for Apple. Sync is hard (indeed, sync between data models may be impossible), but it seems like iSync development has been rather underfunded.

OS X 10.4 hotfile clustering bug lockup - using hfsdebug

Macintouch - Mac OS X 10.4.2 (Part 26)

I've a hunch this bug may be fixed in drives formatted with 10.4.2, but I wonder if there's any other real fix.
Increasing Free Disk Space Improves Performance

Robert Mohns

Jason Mark writes: "Crashes appeared to happen at random [...] One clue I did find was within minutes of restarting a process called "update" would take up to 97% of my processor, and the hard drive would spin like crazy. [...] I did some housecleaning, and now have 11gigs of free drive space, and Tiger is just humming along. Crashes went away. Speed is great. I've been up for 6 days now (for a while my record was 3 hours)."

I strongly suspect that free disk space is a red herring. What Mr. Mark is seeing appears to be the same issue I and others have experienced, in which the update daemon fails to relocate a small file as part of hotfile clustering, retries intensively, spiking both itself and syslog, causing disk IO to peak and the system to eventually reach an unresponsive state. The only way out is to reboot by key sequence or reset button. For more, see my notes in the May 16th MacInTouch Tiger Report:

Low disk space may exacerbate this issue, but It is wildly unlikely that it is the cause. Something is causing update to fail -- perhaps bad sectors on the disk? -- and it handles that failure badly, eventually taking down the system. You can use the (non-Apple) hfsdebug utility and your system log to find the offending file, then delete it manually. I have found that the same file will cause this time and time again; removing the offending file puts the problem at bay ... for a while. The problem goes away ... until some other file causes update to lose its mind. The only solution that really works may be to erase the drive and reinstall...

In "housecleaning" his drive, Mr. Mark may have accidentally deleted the offending file, or he may have cleared space needed for hotfile clustering .... or something else entirely, since so far, nobody really knows what's going on. Apple may, but they aren't talking. He may not encounter the problem again ... or, like me, he may have a month or so of grace, then start experiencing the same old problems.

Unfortunately, this does not appear to be a simple file system damage problem; DiskWarrior and Apple's own Disk Repair don't seem to have any effect on it. I haven't yet experienced it under the just- released 10.4.2; when I do, I intend to fsck -y in single user mode to see if it makes a difference. I expect to run into it eventually, as I've left intact update's current "problem child" file for this reason.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

OS X 10.4.2 does not fix Tiger's problems with Color profiles (ColorSync)

Update: The fix has probably been released. Looks like the fix had to be made both to the OS and separately to iPhoto. Below are two interesting commentaries.

iPhoto Color Shift Bug, identified?

This is the best summary of the problem I've seen, and the first to suggest installing QT 7 could produce the problem on 10.3.x.
At this point I’m comfortable pointing to the underlying ColorSync foundations updated in 10.4 as the culprit. (These are used by SIPS and presumably by iPhoto too, despite iPhoto’s unique EXIF parsing engine, the foundations are meant to be used throughout the system.) My only hesitation is whether or not this problem appears on 10.3.x after installing QT7.
This bug is most obvious in two settings:
  • fast user switching messes up color profiles -- monitors that need them look awful after the switch
  • iPhoto mangles image color on edits
If it's a QuickTime bug I wonder if the fix will come with the next iteration of QT.


Update 7/14:

This bug may have been fixed in both 10.4.2 and iPhoto, but I find this description quite interesting nonetheless. It may be a more subtle bug than some might think ....
John Fieber (Macintouch)

Everyone out there trying to fuss with the Generic RGB profile to fix the iPhoto color shift is barking up the wrong tree. The problem is with the display profile.

The problem is that when you edit in iPhoto it CONVERTS the RGB data to the DISPLAY profile to use as a working space for the edit. [1] Then on save it ASSIGNS the display profile RGB data as Generic RGB. This is the bug.

The color data is in the display profile space, not Generic RGB. The color should have been converted. Profile aware applications, like iPhoto itself, reading the image interpret the color data incorrectly because of the incorrect profile.

The reason why some people notice it and others don't and why manipulating the Generic RGB profile appears to "solve" the problem for some is because the magnitude of the color shift is a function of the difference between the display profile and Generic RGB. If you change your display profile to Generic RGB, the color shift goes away. If you change Generic RGB to match your display profile, the color shift goes away.

Folks with CRTs will generally notice less of a shift than folks with LCDs, particularly bad ones like in the iBook and 12" PowerBook, because a CRT's native color behavior is much closer to Generic RGB than an LCD's.

If you edit in iPhoto, you can mitigate the damage by ASSIGNING the display profile to the image. (You can do this with Preview, ColorSync Utility, the sips command line tool, AppleScript, Automater, Photoshop, etc.) This will allow profile-aware applications to correctly interpret the color data. You might then CONVERT to another profile, such as sRGB, depending on the intended use of the image.

(But note that the damage control must be done after EVERY edit as the color shift bug is cumulative otherwise.)

[1] This could be considered a bug, but isn't the cause of dramatic color shifts. The display profile is a lousy working space and conversions through it can be very lossy indeed. However, this was a design choice of the iPhoto team.
I think the iPhoto team was trying to improve color workflow for non-experts, but they took the wrong road. I use sRGB for everything: I attach it to images during import using raphic Converter nad I use it for my monitor profile. I was told this was a reasonable compromise for a non-expert, particularly since I edit using an iBook (lousy LCD color!).

Apple needs some help with their color profile development!

Macintouch Safari 1.3 (Part 7)

This seems fairly dumb:Sigh.

Update 7/14: The original comments and my post title were unfair to Apple. IE doesn't support color profiles, Safari does. The problem is that Safari assumes untagged files are Standard RGB, a better guess would have been sRGB.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

OS X Handling "overlapped extent allocation" errors reported by Disk Utility or fsck

Handling "overlapped extent allocation" errors reported by Disk Utility or fsck

This is NOT pretty. I wonder if this is a 10.4 bug.

Lookout for Outlook -- its time has passed

Lookout for Outlook has been the most valuable productivity tool I've used in years. Sadly, it was purchased by Microsoft. There was ongoing devleopment, but now it's been wrapped into MSN desktop. I don't know if MSN Desktop supports all of Lookout's functionality -- I rather doubt it. I'd also suspect there's no way to restrict MSN indexing to Outlook only. I'll keep using Lookout as long as possible. Not the first time a great tool has come and gone.

Lookout Discussion Forums - New version of Lookout ever?
As always, its great feedback like this that is really nice to hear and drives all of us to make our products better! Thanks to all of you for your support and helping make Lookout a great product; we're no geniuses - its only thanks to that feedback that so many people like the tool.

Now that the MSN product (http://desktop.msn.com/) is officially released, Lookout is not likely to have another release. The MSN product has outpaced Lookout, and that is where we're moving forward. Several of us from the MSN team do read these forums, and we take all feature requests to heart with the MSN product. (I hope it is noticed that the MSN product already has a number of features which originally were absent even from Lookout!)

Mike@LookoutSoft

Attach your phone or iPod: Rivet

Rivet International

A very different approach to a commodity and often frustrating product space.

HandBrake: DVD to MPEG-4 ripper

HandBrake homepage

I believe this is legal for DVDs you own for personal use only. It is perfectly legal for distributing video of the kids to Grandma.
HandBrake is a GPL'd multiplatform, multithreaded DVD to MPEG-4 ripper/converter. HandBrake was originally available on the BeOS, but now has been ported over to MacOS X and to GNU/Linux.

* Supported sources:
o Any DVD-like source: VIDEO_TS folder, DVD image or real DVD (even encrypted)
o PAL or NTSC
o AC-3, LPCM or MPEG audio tracks
* Outputs:
o File format: MP4, AVI or OGM
o Video: MPEG-4 or H.264 (1 or 2 passes or constant quantizer encoding)
o Audio: AAC, MP3, Vorbis or AC-3 pass-through (supports encoding of several audio tracks)
* Misc features
o Chapter selection
o Basic subtitle support (burned into the picture)
o Integrated bitrate calculator
o Picture deinterlacing, cropping and scaling
o Grayscale encoding
Cute net address. I'm sure "m0k" means something ominous to some people.

Nice reference: Printer troubleshooting for AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express

Printer troubleshooting for AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express

Very practical techniques. It's common for printer utilities to only work via USB connection.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Matched DIMM for maximum G5 iMac performance

Apple iMac (G5-2.0GHz, 20-inch) upgrades from Crucial.com

Not cheap at $255!

A fix for the inane iPhoto 5 color profile bug?

Update 7/13: Alas, this was old news and was long ago shown not to work. It's unclear if it has any affect on anything, but the ColorSync bugs seems to be related more to QuickTime than to iPhoto.

Macintouch: iPhoto (Part 13)
Seth:

I found the following on the iPhoto color changes at the apple web site. I have not tried it yet but will when I get home.

Subject: RE: iPhoto changes color profile, what to do?

1. Close iPhoto, go to your library folder, scroll to the preferences folder.
2. Find the 'com.apple.iPhoto.plist'
3. Open it with textedit and look in the EmbedColorProfile. You will see that it is currently set to 'NO'. Change it to 'YES'.
4. Save the change when you close the window.

That should do the trick. You can also use the Color Sync Utility to designate what color profile is embedded to your photos at the time you import from your camera. Open Color Sync Utility and click on the Devices tab then on 'camera'. Your camera must be connected when you do this.
I use sRGB throughout my workflow. It's not ideal but in practice it's worked pretty well. That was suggested to me during correspondence with a ColorSync engineer.

iPhoto has really been a frustrating piece of software. Too good to discard, yet either the source code is a horrendous mess, or the project is immensely under-resourced, or there's a saboteur working in the project.

Macintouch Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Incompatibilities and Workarounds

Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Incompatibilities and Workarounds

An impressively long list of all the things Tiger breaks. Microsoft has always envied Apple's ability to break sofware without being screamed at, but it probably doesn't help Apple's market share.

I will probably end up starting with 10.4.2 (should be out soon), but I won't do serious work on my new Tiger machine until 10.4.3. Until then I'll stick with my old G3 and 10.3.9.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Clear Unwanted Entries from Windows Explorer's New Menu

Annoyances.org - Clear Unwanted Entries from Explorer's New Menu

Wow. To remove those meaningless entries on the Explorer "new menu" you have to edit the registry! TweakUI does it too, I'll try that first. Great reference.

Update: TweakUI works quite well to solve this annoyance.

Printing to an Apple AirPort print server from an XP client: Bonjour for Windows

Gordon's Tech: Finding your computer's Bonjour name

This worked rather well! I installed Bonjour for Windows, attached my Canon PIXMA iP4000 to my Apple Airport Extreme (latest firmware, etc), and clicked on the Bonjour Printer Wizard. (NOTE: I'd previously installed the iP4000 on both the XP and OS X machines using a local USB port -- I think that's probably essential). The printer appeared immediately. It installed just as though it were on the local USB port. So far works perfectly.

The Port information is interesting: IP_1661well.local.9100 with a RAW data format. Reminds me of all my attempts to get various ink jet printers to work on the Hawking print server or the AirPort. I could always get something to work somewhere using a variant of the TCP/IP lp print protocols, but nothing ever worked well for the PC on an AirPort.

Interestingly the Pixma on the AirPort now works a bit better with my XP machine than with my iBook. Canon's OS X printer utility doesn't work with Rendezvous connections; it only supports USB connections. On the XP machine the printer utility works. I suspect XP does a better job than OS X 10.3 of abstracting the printer's connection.

Finding your computer's Bonjour name

Finding your computer's Bonjour name
Bonjour (formerly known as 'Rendezvous') is a feature that automatically configures and detects certain network services on your local network you can use, such as printers, iChat AV, and various types of sharing. Your computer's Bonjour name identifies your computer to Bonjour-compatible applications and services.

1. Open System Preferences and click Sharing.
2. Find your computer name. Your computer's Bonjour name is displayed beneath your computer name. It is your computer name appended with '.local.'

For example, if your computer name is 'bbms' and you enable Personal Web Sharing, then other local computers can view your shared webpages by entering 'bbms.local' in a web browser's URL field.

If your computer name is not recognized by Bonjour, the name will be Macintosh.local.

To use Bonjour, computers must have Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
I'm trying Bonjour for Windows to see if I can print to a Canon printer attached to an Airport Extreme device.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Google Earth Hacks

Google Earth Hacks - Lots of downloads, information and hacks for Google Earth.

via Phil Greenspun. Resource page for extending Google Earth. I'm signing up for the Plus account now.

iPod battery replacement: now it's worth keeping old iPods

The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

Once an iPod gets to 2-3 years old it's outlived its original LiOn battery. On average, an LiOn battery is good for two years of heavy use (I'm now on my 3rd iBook battery).

When a new battery costs $100 plus shipping, and a new iPod is $200, it's not worth bothering with a replacement battery. Keep the old iPod as an external hard drive and buy a new device. Now that the replacement prices are considerably less, however, it's worth doing the swap.

BTW, Apple has an awful reputation for mangling iPods sent for a battery swap. The NewerTech batteries mentioned here are installed by the end-user. That's not entirely a bad idea.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Remarkable view of the Psychiatric DSM IV diagnoses

Alphabetical Index of all Psychiatric Disorders at ALLPSYCH Online

Very nice higher end drive enclosure for Mac.

NewerTech miniStack FireWire/USB2 Storage Solution with Integrate FW/USB at OtherWorldComputing.com

In addition to the drive it comes with an integrated firewire/usb hub, a decent heat sink, and temperature dependent fan. It connects to the Mac (or PC) via Firewire or USB 2.0. Costs $100.

This is very interesting! I'd love to know how loud it is.

Mac headphones for Skype and VOIP

Voice over IP (VoIP) - [Part 2]

A very good discussion! Logitech USB headphones ...

Update: I bought the SONY branded Logitech Play Station II headset Page Thomas recommended, it worked very well on my G3 iBook with Skype/Mac. Twenty bucks at Target, Walmart, etc.

After I configured the system audio preferences it worked well with my iBook, but with Skype/Mac there was no audio in. I opened the Skype audio prefs and the audio appeared the moment the dialog appeared. Minor Skype buglet.

The downside of this cheap and effective headset is the very long cord. It's designed for a PS2 user, who's far from the TV console. Not great for laptop use and especially not for travel. Skype is most useful to me for foreign travel, so I'm still looking for something better suited to travel.

What I want is a compact device that would plug into a USB port with a volume control, and standard mobile phone mini-jack (mute button would be nice). I'd carry the small box/cable combination and just use the earbud I use with my cell phone.

Logitech could cut the long cable/headphone off this device, insert the jack for the mobile phone headset, and have a real winner.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Home office fax/scanner/printer for OS X?

Canon PIXMA MP780 Multi-function Printer

I'd prefer a multi-function that had a laser printer (some of the Brother printers do), but this might replace my quite nice Pixma photo printer. Interesting.

Small office or home document scanners

Years ago I spent quite a bit of time with lower-end document scanners and document management systems. Back then there was nothing good for less than $1000, and very little between $1000 and $10,000. HP's solutions were quite horrid, they doubled as paper shredders.

So I was quite interested when I used a Fujitsu fi 4010CU. This USB 2.0 scanner is quite compact and quiet, and it's done well for low volume document scanning at our office. The bundled software is clumsy, but with some tweaking I could get quite nice B&W PDF results (I know what I'm doing though) using Adobe Distiller. The software is not as sweet as the discontinued Scan input software Kodak bundled for years, but it worked.

And the 4010CU is less than $600.

That led me via Google to this site, where one can run a query that reveals many alternatives: Scanners - searchable guide to high-speed document scanners

Nice site! Too bad OS X support is so lacking ...

Reviving an apparently dead firewire port

MacInTouch: timely news and tips about the Apple Macintosh

The integration between OS X and Apple hardware can make it difficult to distinguish hardware from software issues.
David Garozzo describes a remarkable FireWire resuscitation (with no help from Apple):

My father called me last week to tell me that his FireWire port on his 14' G3/600 iBook died and that his AppleCare ran out in March. He said his USB port still works, so he can still hook up his iPod, external hard drive, and his new external DVD burner, but since his iBook's USB port isn't USB 2.0, it would run much slower. Even though his AppleCare had expired, I advised him to call them anyway. They had him boot into Open Firmware and type 'reset-r'. The response was 'unknown'. They had him type it three times, and got the same response each time. Then they told him that he needed a new logic board and that it would cost about $315. He opted to not get it fixed at that time.

This past weekend, I took a look at the computer and couldn't figure out what the problem was. It wouldn't recognize any IEEE device. Looking up the FireWire info in System Profiler showed 'no information' about the FireWire port. Figuring that it couldn't hurt anything, I decided to upgrade the iBook from Panther to Tiger. The install went smoothly, and to my surprise, the FireWire port started working again! System Diagnostics now reports a max speed of 400 mb/sec, and all devices are now recognized.

I'm not sure if any other readers have had an experince like this. I'm very disappointed with my father's call to Apple. I searched the web, and from what I can tell, 'reset-r' isn't a valid Open Firmware command. ...

[There may have been a communication issue confusing the valid 'reset all' with 'reset-r'. -MacInTouch]

AMS VENUS DS-2316B2BK USB Hard Drive External Enclosure

AMS VENUS DS-2316B2BK Black External Enclosure - Retail at Newegg.com

I bought a drive enclosure to use for backups. Specs, reviews, comments.

Specs:

AMS VENUS DS-2316B2BK Aluminum 3.5' USB 2.0 Black External Enclosure - Retail

* Model #: DS-2316B2BK
* Item #: N82E16817145656
* $5.99 FedEx Saver Shipping
* $38 (approx)

Review
  • Fan is 80 mm and lies beneath the drive. It's non-standard and not replaceable -- dust may claim it. New it spins with a soft whoosh -- not bad but certainly audible. Far better than the usual fans that blow air pointlessly against the back of the drive. This one looks like it should really, really work.
  • Case is aluminum and reasonably compact with good vents and air space beneath the case.
  • Drive insertion is very, very easy and fast.
  • Power supply is very compact, nice short cords at both ends, switchable.
  • USB 2.0 cable is short -- just right.
Comments

Eons ago we bought gear like this based on a brand name or a trusted vendor. Now there are no brand names. Some engineer in China came up with this design, it was built somewhere else, and is probably imported and relabeled by dozens of small companies. How does one know it's any good? Because New Egg has 73 reviews of it with pretty good ratings.

And, if it doesn't work, try again with someone else. The average expected cost will still be low, provided one buys from a vendor (New Egg, Amazon) that has user reviews.

New world.

Update 7/19/05: Thus far, I'm delighted. Great fan (not user serviceable however). Very cool. Quiet. Compact. Reliable. Perfect.

Update 5/30/06: Fan remains very quiet. I can't tell if it runs all the time as it's much quieter than my office. I bought two more enclosures as my home backup had outgrown the removeable cartridges I had used. Nowadays Venus makes versions for SATA as well as IDE ATA drives. The current enclosure supports up to 500GB.

Update 6/1/06: The fan was so quiet because it had stopped. Arrggh. Thanks for the reader whose comment made me suspicious. I noticed the case was hot, and when I opened it up the fan was stopped. A tap restarted it, but of course now I don't trust it. I wish Venus either used better fans, or had a temperature alarm, or both. When the fan is running the case is mildly warm and you can hear a soft whir. Fans are a real curse. There's not temperature control, the fan runs all the time.

Update 11/26/08: More in a later post.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Viewer for Microsoft Project Documents

Update 7/1: Alas, this doesn't actually work as I'd expected. It won't allow me to view these MPP files.

Welcome to AdeptTracker

Microsoft doesn't provide a viewer for Microsoft Project documents. This vendor of an alternative solution provides a freeware tool for viewing those documents.