Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The old freezing a stuck hard drive trick still works

Macintouch: Reviving Macintosh Computers

This is an old tip. I'd forgotten about it. It still works:
Reviving Failing Drive

MacInTouch Reader

I recently managed to recover data from a failing hard disk using a rather unusual technique, which has come to be known as "the freezer trick".

The symptoms exhibited by my failing 80GB IBM DeskStar seemed quite odd when you think of hard disk failures. Usually failures are sudden and complete. However, in my case, a week ago I noticed strange pauses in operation (most obvious in iTunes playback, as my music was stored on that drive) that lasted up to 30 seconds at a time. I suspected maybe some background operation such as Spotlight had taken excessive CPU and/or disk time, but Activity Monitor didn't provide any clues. I then checked Console, and eventually I started seeing I/O errors referring to my IBM drive. At this point, I suspected a directory error and repaired the disk using Disk Utility. The intermittent access problems persisted but running Disk Utility actually turned up nothing wrong with the drive. Furthermore, SMART status always showed "Verified". I started backing up data from the drive.

Still, I had intermittent problems accessing the drive. Eventually, the disk would disappear and become unmounted. Disk Utility would actually not list the drive anymore. This also resulted in the Slave drive on the same bus disappearing at the same time. The only remedy was to restart, and it would operate normally for a while again. I then thought perhaps something was wrong with the Ultra ATA bus. So, I tested the IBM drive on the IDE/ATA bus by swapping it with the DVD-ROM drive on that bus. The slave disk worked fine, but the IBM drive still showed problems. I therefore suspected the IBM drive as having the problem.

At this point, following another failure, it would no longer spin up on restart. I left the drive overnight and figured it would be OK the next day. It wasn't. At this point the drive was inoperable, but I still needed to back up some of its data. Time for last resorts.

I remembered the recent posting of a tip on MacInTouch about whacking the drive with a wooden mallet or screwdriver handle. I tried this, and it didn't work. I suspected "sticktion" as the drive appeared to make noises, but wouldn't spin up. I then searched the Internet for ways to revive an IBM DeskStar (aka "DeathStar" on many forums). I soon came across mentions of "the freezer trick", which was actually also mentioned on MacInTouch as well. Several people reported limited success in reviving "stuck" disks (from IBM and others) by using this method.

Essentially, in "sticktion" cases, the mechanical parts seize up, and a couple of methods may work to free them again (if only temporarily). "The freezer trick" is to put the drive in a sealed ziploc bag or wrap it in plastic food wrap, and put that in your freezer for a couple of hours. (I also put that inside a plastic case so that it wouldn't stick to the freezer.) This causes the mechanical parts to contract, hopefully freeing whatever is stuck. To my astonishment, it actually worked! I was able to backup all of the remaining data from the drive. The key is to keep the drive spinning. Once it spun down or went to sleep, it would not spin up again. I re-froze the drive for an hour and it worked again on reconnection. Obviously, people should only try this method as a last resort, and only in "sticktion" cases.

Additionally, I remember from a very long time ago (maybe 15 years) I had ongoing sticktion problems with an external SCSI hard drive that could be remedied by placing it in front of a dehumidifier for a couple of hours.

Cheap wireless USB adapter: CompUSA

Macintouch Wireless Networking (Part 31): "I purchased the Hawking Wireless-g USB 2 adapter last week from CompUSA, $9.99 after rebates. I was intended to use it in a desktop PC. In PC, it was identified as a Zydas ZD1211 device. I went to the Zydas website and found that they have drivers for Mac OSX 10.2, 10.3, and 10.4. So I downloaded it and installed in my eMac, it works on my eMac with Mac OSX 10.4.."

Monday, August 29, 2005

A diverse set of Airport antennas and range extenders

QuickerTek :: Products

Amazon.com: Electronics: WatchGuard Firebox X Edge X5 - firewall

Amazon.com: Electronics: WatchGuard Firebox X Edge X5 - firewall ( WG40005 )

Macintouch readers like this product:
Watchguard Firebox Edge X5 VPN/Firewall - 10 x - VPN/FirewallThis easy-to-deploy, model-upgradeable, VPN endpoint and firewall security appliance was especially designed for telecommuters with limited networking experience, and offers best-in-class performance, work/home network separation, and intuitive remote management for network administrators in the central office. Firebox X5 is the all-in-one firewall/VPN appliance that will handle all of your telecommuters security needs now and in the future. Small- to mid-sized businesses already protecting their central office networks with Firebox X5, can now extend that commercial-grade security to their remote and telecommuting employees with Firebox X5...

A sheet feed SOHO document scanner for OS X?

Amazon.com: Electronics: Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX Sheet-Fed Scanner with Automatic Document Feeder

Document scanning w/ OS X has been difficult. This Macintouch poster suggests a solution:
It would appear that MindWrap's ScanTango would be an excellent solution. It claims to work with Fujitsu Scanners. On the basis of their claims and an earlier posting here by Randy Singer, I am purchasing a Fujitsu fi-5110EOX [$432.99 @ Amazon] from MacConnection and giving it a try.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Black levels - the achilles heel of digital video

DV and DVD Black Levels Part 2

Computer displays are cursed by fights over "gamma". Digital photography suffers from battles and confusion about embedded color profiles. Not surprisingly, digital video has its own achilles heel:
/// The analog inputs of North America NTSC TV's, VCR's and other equipment are designed for a black level of '7.5 IRE' (the 7.5 number is a reference point on a measurement scale for analog video). You may also hear this 7.5 IRE standard referred to as 'pedestal' or 'setup.' If you're in the rest of the world, using PAL equipment or the Japan NTSC standard, your equipment is designed for 0 IRE analog. We do it differently in North America because back in the Jurassic Age of television this 7.5 IRE black level was needed to make TV's work correctly. The rest of the world came up with a less-complicated way to do it.

The problem for DV users in North America is that DV 25 video equipment (named for the 25 megabit per second data rate of this popular video format), whether it is PAL or NTSC has an analog output of 0 IRE. In other words, your DV equipment uses the Japan NTSC standard and if you plug your DV gear into a video monitor or TV designed and calibrated for the North America NTSC system, the black level or levels you see will be wrong.

Image Capture + Rotate per EXIF + iPhoto 5 = Nasty problems

Apple - Discussions - Image Capture + Rotate per EXIF + iPhoto = Bad

From a post of mine on Apple's support forum:
My image intake workflow starts by importing with Graphic Converter, then renaming withi 'A Better Finder Rename' (rename images to a "date_description_image#"), then review and major edits in GC then import into iPhoto.

A recent release bug in GC, however, forced me to use OS X Image Capture. That's bad news with EXIF auto-rotate and iPhoto.

Image Capture has had a bug for several years -- with my Canon camera it duplicates the EXIF orientation tag when it auto-rotates on import. This confuses iPhoto 5.04 -- iPhoto re-rotates portrait images a second time (interestingly the thumb nail is upright) and so the image ends up rotated 180 degrees. I was sure this bug must have been fixed in Tiger. Wrong.

The malrotation is bad enough, but if one includes these double-tagged images in a batch that's mailed, Mail.App hangs until it finally times out with an AppleEvent error ("mail got an error: apple event timed out". It takes about 15 minutes to time out, during which time one watches the spinning pizza of death.

I fixed my Image Capture mangled images using a Graphic Converter feature that was added a while back on my request. This feature fixes corrupt orientating tags and resets them to the current orientation (so first get the image oriented correctly, then run this).

First I told iPhoto to restore all image to original. Then I did something quite risky (I have backups), I quite iPhoto, deleted the Library root .jpg cache files, then used GC to navigate the images I'd imported in their iPhoto directories. I located all the mangled images, reoriented them, and ran the EXIF repair utility. I then fired up iPhoto. (I tried removing the thumbnails, but iPhoto doesn't regenerate these as one would expect, instead it hangs and eventually shows blank images -- I think this is a cause of the broken thumbnails bug -- iPhoto should just regenerate them.) In cases where the thumbnails were mal-oriented I forced a thumbnail rebuild by editing the image then restoring to Original.

After this fix I was able to mail the images without any trouble.

iPhoto is in such bad shape I wonder if Apple shouldn't do rewrite from the ground up -- maybe an app that would only run in Tiger.

Friday, August 26, 2005

iPhoto 5 -- can we encourage the engineering team to travel widely?

For all my cursing of iPhoto 2 through 4, I don't think I ever lost data in a crash. Not so with iPhoto 5. I lost 20 minutes of edits when it locked up with the spinning pizza of death. I think they've changed when the metadata is saved to disk. I can't see a way to force a save other than exiting the app.

I'd like to contribute to a one way ticket to Tierra del Fuego for the entire iPhoto engineering and product management team.

Apparently I'm not the only victim: iPhoto Needs A Save Album Function

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Replacing Spotlight -- EasyFind

DEVONtechnologies : Freeware : Applications

Thus far, 10.4 has been mostly annoying. I'm glad I left 10.3.9 on my iBook!
EasyFind is an alternative to or supplement of Sherlock and finds files, folders or contents in any file without the need for indexing -- and therefore immediately. This is especially useful if you are tired of slow or impossible indexing, outdated or corrupted indices or if you are just looking for missing features like case sensitive or insensitive search, Boolean operators, wildcards or searching for phrases.

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

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

If all else fails, an esoteric approach to disk drive recovery.

Workaround for a Spotlight - Retrospect 6 conflict

macosxhints - 10.4: Workaround for a Spotlight - Retrospect 6 conflict

The article and discussions list a few approaches. Dantz is not a very functional company.

A free 'light' QuickTime Pro Player

macosxhints - Create a free 'light' QuickTime Pro Player:
To get two free QuickTime apps with several functions missing from the standard OS X player, including copy, cut, paste, trim, export, etc., first visit the QTKitImport page on Apple's Developer site. Download and mount the file QTKitImport.dmg. You will then find a program called QTKitPlayer.app in the build folder.

Sleep and logout setting conflict issues

macosxhints - A possible solution to a wake from sleep problem

I may have run into some other odd issues with fast user switching and conflicting sleep and logout settings. I need to look for this ...

"Along with many other users, I have been experiencing problems with my PowerBook not waking properly from sleep. This only occurred when the PowerBook went to sleep automatically after the specified idle time. It worked just fine when forced to sleep.

After much looking, I finally found the solution. I had specified an automatic logout interval of 60 minutes in the Security preferences panel. This automatic logout seems to conflict with the automatic sleep. When I disabled the automatic logout, all of my problems have gone away.

After sitting idle, the PowerBook can start the screen saver (set in the Desktop & Screen Saver preferences), turn off the display (set in the Energy Saver preferences), put the computer to sleep (set in the Energy Saver preferences), and/or log out the user (set in the Security preferences). There seems to be a conflict between the sleep and log out functions."

Run an OS X app as another user

macosxhints - 10.4: Use multiple simulataneous GUI accounts

An old tip, but I forget this. Running an app as another user in OS X:

"su bob -c /Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app/Contents/MacOS/Terminal"

OS X Preview converts postscript to PDF

macosxhints - Convert Visio 2003 (PC) documents to PDFs

Preview is amazing:
Another way would be to install the Apple Color Laserwriter 600 printer in Windows as a file printer.

Then print your visio drawing to a postscript file, move that to your Mac and open it with Preview. Preview converts the postscript to PDF. You can then save the converted doc and delete the original postscript.

The advantage to this method is that you will retain the vector nature of the visio drawing.

This method works for any Windows program that allows printing.
There are some other good tips on pdf creation on this page.

The remote alternative: music on the iPod, output to the receiver

Logitech Products > iPod/MP3 Accessories > Wireless Music Systems > Logitech Wireless Music System for iPod

This $145 wireless device inverts the usual relationship of remote control, music source, and receiver. The 'remote control' and 'music source' are the iPod, the output is beamed not to the speakers (eg. not as in wireless speakers) but rather to the receiver. I wish it were able to work with a regular audio out -- as in a laptop's output.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

OPML Editor: Winer returns the world of outliners

OPML Editor support: Welcome to the OPML Editor

Dave Winer did not write Symantec's MORE 3.1. He had a big role in its genesis however, so the man has serious Outliner cred. (OmniOutliner Pro is the true heir now to MORE 3.1).

Now he's returning to the world of Outliners. I hear this is pretty raw, but I'll give it a try sometime. Maybe then I'll figure out what it is!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Blogger is broken again - BlogThis and authentication

Blogger's been doing great for months -- after a near death quality disaster in the winter of 2004. This past week, however, they did something to break their BlogThis! and Googlebar Blogger functionality in both Safari (Mac) and Firefox (PC/Mac). If I'm not authenticated, the first attempt to create a post fails with scrambled headers. Very annoying.

Presumably they know there's a problem.

Google Desktop Incorporates a blend of Launchbar and Spotlight

Google Desktop 2.0 is big disappointing.

Update 8/24: Even bigger disappointment. After it finally built my indices (took days) I tried it out. I learned that:
  1. It doesn't match on folder names. In other words, to GoD folders are invisible annoyances. ARGGHHH. The fools, the fools. This one just bit the dust.
  2. It took forever to build the index, and you can't relocate it to a non-backed up drive without an unsupported utility.
  3. Lookout search works, but I couldn't contrain what things were indexed and I couldn't restrict search to particular object types (tasks, etc).
I'm back to Yahoo Desktop! and Lookout for Outlook (now a zombie -- no further development going on post-Microsoft acquisition). I may try a look at MSN search sometime but I fear it doesn't include enough of Lookout's capabilities to be worth a switch.

Update: Biggest disappointment -- I can't find a keyboard shortcut so I can search and execute without a mouse. I'm sure one will be added shortly!

One of the most interesting features, however, may be a blend between OS X Launchbar (my favorite must have OS X utility) and Spotlight (which I'm still trying to find a use for -- if I didn't use Launchbar it would be more useful). That blend is precisely what I've been missing. They probably haven't incorporated, however, Launchbar's brilliant machine learning algorithms. (BTW, why doesn't Launchbar wrap Spotlight? Update 8/24: I'm told it will!!)
Quick Find makes launching applications and searching your desktop easy and fast. From within any application, just type a few letters or words into Sidebar's search box and you'll see the top results pop up instantly. You can use Quick Find to launch applications without having to deal with the Start menu; for example, if you have Microsoft Word installed, you can launch it by just typing 'wor' into the Sidebar search box and selecting 'Microsoft Word' in the list of results that appears. You can also use Quick Find from the Deskbar and Floating Deskbar, which are described in a separate section.
A few quick notes:
  1. It's supposed to index tasks, calendar items, etc. We'll see. They mean Outlook but I wish they'd say so.
  2. You can index networked drives and non C:\ drives. That's big, this was a major limitation of 1.0.
  3. The Sidebar is an application deployment environment (aka an 'operating system' in which one can install other applications. Shades of Konfabulator and OS X Widgets. This is a shared desktop that can be accessed via any XP box (but NOT a Mac -- peculiar that Google should be driving their audience to Microsoft's platform)
  4. You still can't move or relocate your index file, so you have to explicitly avoid backing it up. Annoying.
  5. GMail indexing is most interesting. In my case, makes up for not indexing Eudora.
  6. The deskbar does replace the Start menu.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A flaw in OS X design: Library should be in Users

I'd just installed the Google Maps Widget when I realized that, for all users to see it, I wanted to move it to the main Library. Which is not in Users. I only back up Users on this machine.

Very annoying.

Apple should have put the Library for items common to all Users as a folder in Users. At least I know to add it to my backups.

Friday, August 19, 2005

TextWrangler: free text editor, free GREP manual (was BBEdit Lite)


I've posted on this long ago. TextWranger is the free version of BBEdit. The free version is one of the best text editors in existence on any platform. My comment here, however, is not about the software. I happened today to glance at the manual. The section on GREP is an impressive tutorial on pattern matching and grep. I'm sending a copy of the manual to my office as a reference for Grep use (on my PC I use TextPad's GREP, which is pretty good - but no match for TextWrangler!).

Niceties of the OS X GUI

GUIdebook > Articles > Interview with John Gruber

John Gruber discusses some niceties of the Mac UI:
For example, I recently discovered that if there are two or more files sharing the same name in the Open Recent menu, Mac OS X also shows where do they come from – a very nice touch.

It’s not recent, but the most delightful surprise I can remember from the last few years is when I discovered that you can use Command-Tab switching when you’re in the middle of a drag. So you can start dragging something in one app, then use Command-Tab to switch to another app, and then complete the drop in the new app. I don’t even know when this happened – it might have been like this on Mac OS X all along, but I don’t think I noticed until sometime during the 10.2 era. This also works with things like Exposé and Dashboard.

It sounds obvious, but doing something like that was completely unheard of on the old Mac OS.

A lot of the stuff I wrote about in my Tiger details report delighted me to some degree. For example, I love that you can now click in the very top-left pixel of the main display to trigger the Apple menu (and likewise for the top-right pixel for the Spotlight pseudo-menu thing). I think the Apple menu should have worked like this all along.
The pixel clicks are indeed nifty. That inspired me to see what happens when I option-click the green 'window grow' icon. My window pops over to the top left of the display. Nice surprise.

Blogger for Word: a mixed bag

Blogger: Download Blogger for Word

On the one hand, this sounds great. On the other hand, I hate Word and I don't want to buy a copy. Fortunately it supports my ancient version of Word 2000.
Now you can use Blogger right within Microsoft Word. Just download and install the Blogger for Word add-in and a Blogger toolbar will be added to Word allowing you to:

* Publish to your blog
* Save drafts
* Edit posts
I hope there's an API someone else can use ...

Logitech mm50 Portable Speakers for iPod

Logitech Products > Speakers > Stereo - 2.0 and 2.1 > Logitech mm50 Portable Speakers for iPod

A quite competitive portable or small room iPod speaker solution. Good for the kitchen. Cheaper than some of the Altec Lansing solutions and has its own LiOn rechargeable batteries.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Exotic OS X knowledge: unifying data and resource forks

Mac OS X 10.4.2 (Part 29)

I once spent a few days looking for a way to unify data and resource forks. I didn't come up with anything. So this Macintouch discussion really caught my attention:
I haven't tried this as I don't have any files on a FAT32 volume, but I believe that this technique should work. Obviously, don't throw out the component files until you've tested this solution.

1) Identify the files which are the actual resource and data forks. In Scott's case he seems to understand which is which.

2) Copy the data fork file onto an HFS volume. Let's assume that the copy will be called /Users/me/test.

3) Open the terminal app.

4) Here's the slightly tricky part. You can use the 'cp' command to copy into the resource fork directly. Assuming the resource fork's file name is

/Volumes/Fat32/file/resource.frk, use this command:
cp /Volumes/Fat32/file/resource.frk /Users/me/test/rsrc

Even though /Users/me/test is a file, not a directory, the syntax above is valid (on OS X, not other Unixes). Actually, I think as of Tiger, it's being deprecated in favor of a more extensible fork naming scheme (/Users/me/test/..namedfork/rsrc), but this still works and it's easier.

5) If you (or your applications) care, use a utility to set the new file's Creator and Type. If you're not sure what they are, just open the finder info file in a text editor- they ought to jump out at you. Alternatively, make a new data file with the relevant application, and copy the info from there. I'd probably do this step just to be sure, but most OS X apps don't care about this. The Finder won't care if the file extension is correct and unique. /Developer/Tools/SetFile is a command-line tool that will work, but there are zillions available, some for free.

File Buddy for OS X has some interesting features - creating packages

The most popular file utility for the Macintosh

This Macintouch reference suggests FB is worth a look:
Use some file-system tool (SkyTag's FileBuddy for instance) to tell the MacOS that a certain folder is actually a Package. If File-Names were not ruined in the copying process, and multi-fork resource-files were not part of the deal (they are quite rare these days), then this trick will work for you.

The following FileBuddy screenshot contains an "info" window for file-system objects. Note the "Package" checkbox. That's the one you'll need to set up for the folders that "forgot" they were packages.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Wi-Fi Protected Access: where Windows XP SP2 meets OS X

Setting up an encrypted wireless LAN with both Windows and OS X clients used to be very ugly. There was no implemented standard for WEP passphrases, so one had to work around cryptic hex keys. Well, at least if you're using XP SP2 and OS X 10.3.x or later the bad old days are history. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) just works.

My AirPort Extreme is running WPA (my iBook doesn't seem to support WPA2, not sure if that's a Panther issue or a G3 issue). My XP SP2 laptop connecs using the same passphrase my Mac clients use. No problems at all. Apparently since May 2005 XP SP2 also supports WPA2.

This is so much better than WEP -- although I fear my aged iBook doesn't like the CPU burden ...

MacDevCenter.com: Automated Backups on Tiger Using rsync

MacDevCenter.com: Automated Backups on Tiger Using rsync

OS X Pages - A warm and fuzzy feeling

Apple - Support - Pages

I fired up my free trial vesion of OS X Pages (I'm keeping my Office trial in reserve until I really need Office -- if nothing happens in 6 months I'll remove it). I've no idea if it's any good, but there are some things that give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

For one, the files are Packages. I opened one and found gzipped document, I opened that and found XML I could open in a text editor. Transparent file formats. Very good.

For another, I really liked the strong styles support and the elegant templates. How refreshing after Word's utterly bodged up style sheets and exceptionately ugly templates (Microsoft is clearly unwilling to hire anyone with taste).

Ok, so the first thing I got was a missing font error message. I know it's got to be as buggy as all get out. I'm still going to give it a try.

PS. It probably helps to know that "Pages are actually sections with section breaks." In other words, pages are document components with associated styles, a template is a set of such components. Once you know Pages are really "sections" (in Word parlance) then this document fills in the rest of the pieces (sections/Pages inherit from the currently selected section/Page):
If you want different parts of a document to have different margins, headers or footers, numbers of columns, master objects, or page-numbering schemes, you can divide the document into sections by inserting a section break. Section breaks are useful when dividing a document into distinct parts, such as title pages, chapters, and indices.

When you add a section break, the new section always starts on a new page.

To insert a section break:

1. Click where you want the new section to begin.

2. Choose Insert > Section Break.

The new section has the same formatting as the previous section until you change it...

To remove a section break, click at the beginning of the line that follows the break and press the Delete key.

Tip: You can see where breaks occur in your document by showing formatting characters (also called "invisibles"). To show formatting characters, choose View > Show Invisibles.

George's Macintosh Tips: a man after my own heart

These are his personal notes, made publicly available. All look interesting. A man after my own heart: George's Macintosh Tips.

His network assessment work is excellent. Note this surprising conclusion (which I think may be true for my home too):

The 802.11g standard supports data rates of up to 54 Mbits/sec. Again, the maximum achieved rates are usually half that. One would suppose that in normal usage, 802.11g would perform 5 times faster than 802.11b. However, my experience says that this isn't necessarily so. When dealing with my cable modem, 802.11g has worked WORSE for me than 802.11b.

Worse?? How can that be?? Both rates are much faster than my cable modem can support so that the wireless rate should not figure into internet related performance at all, however, it indeed does and in an unexpected way. I base my throughput data in this section on internet related speeds, not computer to computer speeds. Since we use relatively little computer to computer networking, getting the most out of the cable modem is the most important rate for us. If we have to move really large amounts of data, then we use firewire target disk mode instead which is 10 times faster than even 802.11g could promise.

Based on accumulated experience and a range of real world tests, I have concluded that, overall, the older standard of 802.11b actually works better than 802.11g in my particular network configuration and environment. Maybe 802.11g would work better with really strong signals, but at 2 and 3 bars on the Apple Airport menu bar icon, 802.11b produces consistently better data rates.

Why is my G3 iBook draining the battery so quickly?

I've a thread going on this at the Apple discussion site. My G3 iBook is sucking down my new battery. Recent changes include:

1. a new hard drive (15GB -> 40GB) with expert disassembly.
2. changed LAN encryption from WEP (pathetic) to WPA 1.
3. restored OS image using Carbon Copy Cloner.

Things I've tried include:

1. Reset PMU.
2. Zap PRAM.
3. Repair permissions (no problems, this never seems to work)
4. Deleted the .plist for power management.

Here's part of the recent thread. Comments welcome!
Apple - Discussions - Power drain after drive upgrade?

I did some research and the drive power demand increases typically measure out at about 2%. Sometimes newer faster drives consume less power than older slower drives!

I could imagine that Panther might have some trouble with optimizing sleep on some of the newer complex drives (which are really full-fledged computers with databases, operating systems, algorithms,etc) -- if I can't figure out anything else I'm going to upgrade the iBook to Tiger. (I hear it works pretty well if you disable Spotlight and maybe the widgets.)

More interestingly now I'm focusing on WPA wireless encryption. I changed my LAN's encrytpion from (so broken) WEP to WPA around the time of the drive switch. I notice the G3 iBook doesn't support WPA 2 (10.3.9, latest version AirPort) -- makes me wonder if there's a CPU math constraint that the G3 can't meet. That in turn makes me wonder how well the vector-less G3 actually does with WPA. If the CPU is churning that would increase heat, turn on fans, etc.

I'm going to install some tool for CPU resource utilization and study what's happening with WPA, the compare to WEP.
Update: this is a very interesting evaluation of encryption and performance, but not particularly looking at power consumption.

Update: Using OS X's monitor tool and the freeware (forget name) dashboard app I can see my iBook CPU is working quite hard to do web page access. I'm suspicious that WPA is a bit much for a 600MHz G3. Too bad -- since it works very well with XP SP2.

Removing those cursed Microsoft Windows toolbars -- removing COM and other Add-Ins

I updated an old post on removing Add-Ins like Adobe Acrobat and Yahoo Desktop Search from Outlook and other apps: Gordon's Tech: Removing those cursed Microsoft Windows toolbars. The way to do this in Outlook is particularly obscure. Sorry -- you have to read through the updates to get the latest story.

OS X synchronizatioin utility

FOR neXtSoft QuickSync Folder and Device Synchronization Utility. AutoSync folders, great for iPods, hand helds, PowerBooks, Jump Drives and Networks Including .mac, Windows Networks and ftp

Microsoft had a sync facility in Windows 98, 2K and probably still has it in XP (maybe 95)? I tried it once but never trusted it. People have trouble implementing sync. This sounds a bit sympler; I wonder if it uses the psync source.
QuickSync is the easy folder sync utility for PowerBook and hand held owners. QuickSync can be used with jump drives, Hand helds, iPods or users of any other device that mounts as a drive on your desktop. This application can be used to keep your mp3 collection or important files up to date. QuickSync features Single or Bi-direction sync, automatic sync which detects devices as they are plugged in, the syncronizes the selected folders automaticaly. QuickSync is drag and drop aware, easy to use and cost effective.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Encyclopedia Britannica Dashboard widget and firefox search plugin

Encyclopdia Britannica Technical Support

Next thing you know the freight trains will sprout rocket engines. Britannica gets sexy (in a geekish sort of way) with widgets and firefox search plugins. I guess I'll have to reenable Dashboard on my iMac.

The amazing thing, however, is that their new RSS feed has over 150 bloglines subscribers. Wow.

I'd mostly forgotten I pay Britannica each month for their service. It's kind of been a charitable act. Maybe they're actually thinking about how they could be useful. Or maybe Google has agreed to buy them ...

The official way to move an iTunes library

iTunes: Moving your iTunes Music folder

I've done this in the past and it's worked quite well.

Monday, August 15, 2005

JIWIRE: Wi-Fi Hotspot Finder, Product Reviews, and Industry News

Wi-Fi Hotspot Finder, Product Reviews, and Industry News

I came because of their neat jiwire widget, but then remembered my iBook still runs Panther (though with the new 40GB drive it could run Tiger ...). Very interesting directory service though!

Where are the wireless speakers?

I want to send music (including AAC and AAC/FairPlay music) from iTunes to a speaker set in the kitchen and a speaker set in the dining room. At first I thought I'd install a shallow receiver in the dining room bookcase, attach an AirPort Express, and drive the speakers from their (there are wires in place from that spot to the kitchen). I'm having trouble, though, finding a shallow enough receiver ...
Where are the wireless speakers? | News.blog | CNET News.com

July 26, 2005 3:42 PM PDT
Where are the wireless speakers?

If the technology industry is so wonderful, how come it can't resolve one of the prime headaches of home entertainment: speaker wires? It's a question that has bedeviled many interior designers.

It turns out it's a basic problem of electrical engineering, according to a representative from Samsung's home theater department. Speakers need an amplifier, and amplifiers need a wire for power. Sending electricity through the air isn't realistic, and batteries die. Some have made speakers that receive audio tracks via radio signals from the amp, but the quality is iffy and the speaker needs to be plugged into the wall anyway.
Looks like I may need to run wires to the basement stereo ...

Update 10/10/05: After 2 months of research, phone calls, consultation, collaboration and unanswered queries I think I've found the big piece of the puzzle.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Epson scanner workarounds for Tiger: Disable Epson Scanner Monitor

Macintouch: OS X 10.4.2 (Part 29)
James S

Someone on August 10 mentioned that they were having problems with the Epson Scanner software on their G5. I had this issue as well; however, I removed the Epson Scanner Monitor startup item from my login profile.

This is used to allow the user to press the hotkey buttons on the Epson scanner; however, it's not necessary to use the scanner. Anytime I want to do a scan, I either open up the Epson scan software (which should be possible through Photoshop as well) manually then do my scanning. No more monitoring software eating up CPU cycles.
Update 2/22/2008: The same bug is still around!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Place your name and address on your laptop's login background screen

The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

It's easy to change your Mac's login background image, but more importantly you can add your name and address to it. A great hint!

Friday, August 12, 2005

TeXShop: LaTeX client for OS X (and that's a lot of X)


GPL. I'll try it. I wish someone would recreate something like WordPerfect 5.1 as an OS X Cocoa app around the LaTeX layout engine. It wouldn't be a "port", more using WP 5.1 as a functional spec. It would not support all of WP 5.1's features of course. It might, however, be the savior for those of us who loathe Microsoft Word. (Since WordPerfect used internal markup, the functionality may be more compatible than one might expect. Remember "reveal codes"?)

PS. Thanks Alexandre A. for pointing me to the great wikipedia article on LaTeX.

Pogue loves the SanDisk Ultra II Plus CF card

A Brilliant Memory Card - New York Times

My slightly older cameras take CF cards. Sandisk has figured out how to create a CF card that will interface to a USB port; an astounding feat that couldn't be done on a smaller scale memory card. Pogue thinks it's fabulous.
SanDisk says that the suggested price for its folding, Ultra II Plus card is $80 (for the 512-meg version), only $5 more than the non-folding Ultra II. Weirdly, I could find only one store online carrying the Plus card--Circuit City--and it was exactly the same price as the non-folding version ($84). (Note that these are high-speed cards. Regular 512-meg SD cards cost much less, in the $50 range.)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Apple support and especially Airport support

A Macintouch article led me to Apple's support page. Oddly enough I've never visited through this route, the hardware specific support sites are really good, particularly the AirPort site. As noted on Macintouch, on the right side is a link to the top secret AirPort management tools:
David Colville

A couple of tips about configuring AirPort with WDS bridging as you discussed.

- Internet Connect (in /Applications) will tell you the Base Station AirPort ID of the base station you are connected to - very useful for determining which base station you are connected to...

- AirPort Management Tools are a heaven send and I'm surprised Apple doesn't promote them better for these kinds of uses. You can get them at AirPort Support, there is a link in the right hand column to the "AirPort Management Tools" which will let you download them straight away. Included in this package are the Management Utility, and the Client Monitor.

The AirPort Management Utility will not only allow you to see the configurations of multiple base stations (and change them easily, en masse), it'll also query each base station for the clients that are attached to it and give service and noise graphs for those clients. Very useful for making sure your base stations are actually "seeing" each other. It will also allow you to query the base station for it's logging.

The AirPort Client Monitor can be run on a connected computer to give an idea of how good the service it is receiving is (similar to what you see in the Management Utility, but from a client perspective).

Boolean searching in OS X Mail.app

Macintouch - Mail.app (Part 17)

This is an interesting claim -- that Spotlight and Mail.app support Boolean search with the C-style logical operators of & and |. I'll test and verify as an update. Lack of Boolean operators has been a common complaint.
Boolean Searching

Kees Huyser

... According to mail->help->searching:

Use the words 'and,' 'or,' 'not,' and parentheses to refine your search:

'cat and dog' finds email containing both 'cat' and 'dog'
'cat or dog' finds email containing either 'cat' or 'dog'
'cat not dog' finds email containing 'cat' but not 'dog'
'cat and (dog or newt)' finds email containing both 'cat' and 'dog' and email containing both 'cat' and 'newt'

You can also use boolean expressions in the search box:

A & B yields A AND B
A | B yields A OR B
A ! B yields A NOT B.

This also works in Spotlight btw.

Jim Elliott

Kees Huyser's tip about Boolean searches in Mail and Spotlight adds a vast dimension of power to Tiger, with one big caveat: I can't get it to work using the words ("and", "or", even though that's indeed what the Help shows). These words seem to be treated as any other search terms. For example, if I search for "tiger and behavior" I get 12 hits, whereas "tiger behavior" gets me 14, and "tiger or behavior" nets 9. Clearly it's not a Boolean search.

If, however, I use the C-style logical operator symbols ("&", "|") it works beautifully! "tiger & behavior" gets 14 results, the same as "tiger behavior", while "tiger | behavior" yields 2062 hits. (I also tried the words individually and did the arithmetic to verify that Boolean logic added up.)

This is awesome! I had believed that there was no way to tap this power of the Spotlight API from the normal user interface. I am thrilled to find I was wrong. Now I just hope that Apple fixes their help text so that other power users, who haven't been following MacInTouch, can learn how to find exactly what they're looking for.
Update 8/12
Jim Elliott

I left out one crucial detail in my excitement yesterday, and I hope this will help explain why other users were reporting that Boolean searches were not working for them:

You can only perform advanced searches like this when you have chosen "Entire Message" (rather than "From", "To" or "Subject") as the search context. Otherwise it seems to do some sort of stemming "or" search regardless of the punctuation you include. I should also note that this mode, too, contradicts Apple's own help which claims things work in a completely different way. The documenters seem to have been utterly baffled about how Search is supposed to work in this version of Mail, and are compounding our confusion and frustration.

Ron Kaplan

This is related to the extremely useful Boolean search discussion of the last few days. It is now clear that a Boolean formula can be used to search one field of a Mail search, and that the result can be saved as a smart mailbox.

But it seems that it is not possible to use Boolean combinations of criteria across different fields to filter what shows up in that mailbox. You get only top-level "all" (= AND) or "any" (= OR). So suppose you want to have the conditions [Message is in Inbox] AND ([From contains John] OR [Any recipient contains John])

Is there anyway to get nested conditions?

Stephen Hart

Is it possible that some users are getting confused with the quotation marks writers use to indicate what to type? The following two entries yield different results for me in both the Finder and Mail (presumably both using the Spotlight search engine): bird and song "bird" and "song"

The former returns many more hits than the latter, which returns just what I'd expect on my hard drive.

Scanner support remains problematic in Tiger: Epson support

Mac OS X 10.4.2 (Part 29)
Epson Scanner Software Causes Hardware Problems

Smokey Ardisson

Steven K. Roberts wrote in Wednesday's Mac OS X 10.4.2 report that the software for his Epson 4180 was causing massive CPU use, temperature spikes, etc., even when not in use. I'm afraid I can't be very helpful, only to add that it's not specifically 10.4.2 related. I have the same model and experience the same problems under 10.3.9 (and earlier 10.3.x revisions) whenever the EPSON Scan software is open ...

Vincent Cayenne

... Apple's Image Capture will probably drive your scanner with no configuration necessary. When I upgraded to Tiger on my various machines, Epson Scan stopped working. After unsuccessful efforts to get it reinstalled and working, I discovered that Image Capture will drive all the Epson Perfection scanners that I've tried (1650, 1670, 3170, etc.). It may work for you.


I have an EPSON Perfection 2450 scanner, which has ONLY been using the VueScan universal driver and never causes any hardware/software problems, when using the preferred Firewire connection. VueScan is constantly being updated (free) by the author Mr. Hamrick, works with EVERY scanner, and is well worth $49.95. Most drivers that are supplied with ANY brand of scanner are nightmares to install/use and are hardly (if ever) updated to eliminate bugs or improve performance.

A rather sophisticated approach to extending wireless networks

Macintouch: Wireless Networking (Part 30)

A very clever approach to extending wireless coverage in the absence of any standard for the extension (I think WDS may be a standard, but it is not well supported):
Wireless Range Extender For Travelers

Gary Ralston

I travel frequently, and often need to extend a wireless signal by 50 - 75 feet. Commonly, I can pick up a signal by a window from the next building, but lose the signal deeper inside the structure, where I wish to work. Wireless Range Extenders are the black sheep of wireless. The various WI-FI standards do not specify how a wireless signal should be captured and repeated, so each manufacturer rolls their own, resulting in incompatibility between brands.

Yesterday, I found a deal on D-Link's TINY and versatile DWL-G730AP Wireless Pocket Router/AP™. As of August 10, 2005 Office Depot in Chicago was selling them at $30 EACH after rebates.

This little device is smaller than a PCMCIA card - about the size of two graham crackers, stacked - and SMART! An external switch changes the mode between client, access point OR router. It draws power from A/C OR USB, and is fully configurable using D-Link's standard web interface. To boot, it supports WPA PSK.

I bought two, switched one into client mode and the other in router mode, taught the client which SSID and channel I wanted to bag,plugged them together, and for $60 USD, had a universal range extender.

To change the default settings, Mac users DO need to know how to create a manual IP on either Ethernet (to customize client or AP mode) or Airport (to tinker with the router). In the Network System Preference, create a location for configuring my various d-link contraptions. Set the IP to, subnet mask and gateway Use a browser to connect to The username is Admin, and the default password is blank.
Two devices so the proprietary link is hidden.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Dell 2005FPW LCD Display: the poor man's cinema

TidBITS: Expanding the View with a Dell LCD Display

I wish my Samsung 17" CRT would hurry up and die. Maybe if I dropped it a few times ...
Dell, being the giant of the industry, is able to command great prices on the parts it buys, which is one reason the company can offer complete computer systems for relatively little cost. Consequently, Dell frequently puts together deals to move its inventory. In this case, I found the 20.1-inch 2005FPW LCD for around $550. Considering that Apple's original 22-inch Cinema Display cost $4,000, and its current 20-inch model costs $800, the Dell display was a great deal...

...The 2005FPW has a 20.1-inch viewable screen size, supporting a maximum resolution of 1680 by 1050 pixels (1,764,000 pixels). According to the technical specifications, it sports a contrast ratio of 600:1, an image brightness of 300 cd/m2 (candela per square meter, a measure of luminosity), and a viewing angle of approximately 88 degrees vertically and horizontally. In real-world terms, that means the screen is bright, beautiful, and sharp.

That's not all, though. The 2005FPW includes four input types: VGA, DVI-D, S-video, and composite. At first I thought that was marketing jargon that indicated you could simply attach just about any device with included adapters, but no, the monitor includes four separate ports. That enables you to connect four devices and switch between them. My PowerBook G4 connects via the DVI-D port, and for fun I hooked up my old Dell laptop via VGA. A button on the front of the monitor's frame switches among the different inputs.
The iMac does not support an external display other than for (gag) mirroring. (Apple doesn't support multi-monitor desktops on its 'low end' machines. Sad indeed. Once upon a time even a Mac SE supported multi-display desktops.)

There's supposed to be a way to support an external display via a USB device, but I can't believe it would work well (bandwidth). If I could share a 20" Dell between my XP and my 20" iMac, so I could have an on-demand 20" x 20" desktop ...

Update: Ahh. I'd forgotten screen spanning doctor, as mentioned here. I think the Samsung may have a nasty accident shortly before Christmas. What a shame ... I would suggest monitoring the iMac's temperature when increasing the load on the video subsystem however.

GraphicConverter 5.7: I'll take some credit for the timing of some of the new features ...

Lemke Software GmbH, Peine - History GraphicConverter

GC 5.7 is out, and I'll be an eager adopter. I can take a bit of credit for the timing of a few features (in bold, Thorsten implemented them after a request I made to the list -- the crop for photoservice idea is an old suggestion of mine but it's great):

* direct icns export added
* temporary visible grid option added
* exif to exif in xmp metadata conversion added for export as jp2 and png
* bsb import added
* psf import added
* export as favicon added
* export as byte-array header file added
* applescript command for color mode change added
* crop for photoservice supports a userdefined folder
* edit/add EXIF context menu entry added to the browser
* sort into subfolder with exif model added as function to convert&modify
* complex rename by exif data option added to batch rename
* EXIF-GPS tag support added
* support for high res windows icon files added (import)
EXIF in JP2 and PNG is not yet supported by Quicktime/iPhoto, but I'll add that request to Apple's site.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Pixel sizes on different monitors (Ray Sanders, via Macintouch)

MacInTouch: timely news and tips about the Apple Macintosh

The iBook 12" screen pixel pitch is very small, yet my aging eyes reads text readily there ...
Ray Sanders provided a table comparing pixel sizes for a variety of monitors:

Pixel Pitch
(mm) DPI 12-point equiv. Notes

0.353 72 12 traditional Mac glass CRT
0.339 74.9 11.5 another common glass CRT
0.297 85.5 10.1 I saw something at the Dell site with this pitch
0.294 86.4 10 Dell 1905FP
0.28 90.7 9.5 calculated, est. pitch of the 14.1-in iBook
0.258 98.4 8.8 current models of Apple Cinema Displays
0.254 100 8.6 center point of today's crop of flatscreens
0.24 105.8 8.2 calculated, est. pitch of the 12.1-in. iBook
Compare to printing at 300 dpi.

Free OS X battery utility

MacInTouch: timely news and tips about the Apple Macintosh

myBattery 1.0 displays battery information for recent PowerBooks and iBooks. It shows not only the current battery charge in relation to the maximum battery charge (as mAh and as a percentage) but also the current battery capacity in relation to the original battery capacity, which indicates how well the battery is aging. In addition, it shows the number of battery load cycles and the age of the Mac, and it can display an alert if the wrong charger is connected. myBattery is free (donations welcome) for Mac OS X 10.4 and is available as a Universal Binary to run on Intel-based Macs.
I'm seeing quite a few 'universal binary' notes lately.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Remote control of a Tiger desktop

macosxhints - Some Apple Remote Desktop client features

I want to be able to control by iMac Tiger machine. Turns out Tiger now includes a VNC server -- Apple Remote Desktop client. This bundled servers is slower than OSXVNC but supports fast user switching and dual monitor displays. Directions for use are here.

TightVNC and 'Chicken of the VNC' are recommended clients for the iBook. TightVNC has a Windows version as well.

Update 10/13/05: NYET. TightVNC is strictly windows. Chicken of the VNC threw a zlib error and died. VNCViewer locked up my machine -- turns out it's years old. Tiger has a built-in VNC client, but there doesn't appear to be a low cost VNC Cient for the Mac that will support my iMac display. Apple Remote Desktop is $200.00, Timbuktu Remote is also costly (you need two licenses?). I guess I have to wait for Apple to support this feature.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Using WDS to and OS X connection sharing to post this from my PC

We've moved -- across the alley. So we keep our neighbors and friends, but I've lost my broadband connection -- for at least four days. Qwest can move our phone line instantly (same number), but DSL takes time -- even though our new home had Qwest DSL until 10 days ago.

Fortunately two neighbors have wireless I can leach from momentarily. I couldn't get Jim's to work, but Peter's window is about 70 yards away -- unobstructed site line.

Peter put his Airport Extreme Base Station (AEBS) in his window and I put mine in the facing window. Then the fun began. It took some time and some false starts, but I got WDS to work. Part of the problem was I did my configuration purely wirelessly, flipping between my wireless LAN and Peter's. I think Apple's WDS configuration works much better if one is physically connected to the main (host) base station. Doing it wirelessly is like changing wheels on a moving unicycle. It did work though.

This article does provide some useful information: AirPort Extreme and Express: Using WDS to create a network from multiple base stations.

A few notes:

1. Peter was using WPA2 Personal encryption. I used to use very insecure WEP (legacy reasons) but I switched my network encryption to match his (I think this may be necessary for the merger to work). Both AEBS had been flashed to the latest release and all machines were using latest AirPort software.

2. I set my AEBS to "neutral" -- dispense IP addresses, etc.

3. I then took control of Peter's AEBS and followed the WDS directions. I added my AEBS as a client. At first I was asked for the network password, then for the base station (administrative) password. This took a few tries and wasn't at all very smooth. I think I should have been wired into Peter's AEBS to do this. The automatic configuration did work though.

4. When it was done my old network was nowhere to be seen, but now I could join Peter's network directly. (I think part of the problem happens because I was wirelessly on Peter's network, but after my AEBS joined his I had to hop to mine.)

5. I could then use my iMac at the other end of the house -- in the new office. I turned on internet connection sharing and connected the internal ethernet to my switch. My PC then got it's IP address from the iMac.

So, in conclusion, my PC is connecting to the iMac via wired ethernet, then the iMac is acting as a bridge via 802.11g to my AEBS, which is now a mobile base station communicating to Peter's AEBS which has a wired connection to Peter's DSL modem.

And to think only a few years ago I was using Telnet after hours to dial-up to remote BBSs out east ...

Update 8/14/05

Qwest is, of course, beind on my DSL services so I'm still using this kludgy connection. I've learned a few things about Tiger's Internet Connection sharing:
  1. The PC gets a address. Oddly enough the iMac's ethernet IP address is quite odd, neither a 10.x or 192.x address but rather 169.x. So the client PC and host Mac are on very different 'networks'. The Mac can't see any shares on the PC, but the PC can see Mac shares. (If I turn off connection sharing and set my PC's IP to match the ethernet IP of the iMac then the network does fine.
  2. Retrospect can't find its clients because they're basically in a different network.
Update 8/15/05

I'm making a bit more progress. Now even when I enable Tiger's Internet Connection sharing my PC can be seen by my iMac (the two are connected by wired ethernet) and Retrospect/Windows can "see" the Retrospect client on the Tiger machine. Here's the trick:
  1. I noticed when Internet Connection Sharing was enabled, and the PC was set up to use DHCP, it got a 192.168.2.x address (commonly used legal range for internal networks). So I set the PC to manually use as its address and configured the DNS servers to my ISP's servers.
  2. I then set the ethernet IP address on the iMac manually to be So it was on the same network.
  3. Retrospect/Windows still couldn't see the iMac client, so I turned off Retrospect Client on the iMac, then turned off the AirPort, then turned Retrospect Client on again. I was then able to find it from the PC. I then reenabled AirPort on the iMac and was again able to see Retrospect client. (I knew to try this because I've noticed before that Retrospect Client gets "stuck" on the AirPort irregardless of my OS X network port preference configuration; even when there's a physical link Retrospect ignores it. I have to disable the AirPort to get it to use the wired link. I don't know if this is an OS X or Retrospect bug, but Retrospect is, in general, the crummiest piece of non-Microsoft software I've ever used.
PS. Qwest is even further behind on getting my DSL configured.

Update 8/16

I've just discovered that I can't set the AirPort to WPA2 only -- that isn't an option for G3 iBooks. Probably note enough horsepower. Makes me wonder how much of a battery drain WPA is. I've noticed my iBook losing power pretty quickly. I'm going to monitor xBattery with the AirPort on and off ...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Good advice on new iMac purchases: run hardware test immediately

Macintouch: iMac G5 (Part 12)

I'm definitely going to do this:
My advice? If you buy an iMac, get it set up, run Software Update, then run Apple Hardware Test. (Put in the DVD that came with the computer, restart holding down the Option key, click on AHT, click the next arrow.) Run the 'extended test', which will take 30 minutes or so. If it reports any failures, take the computer back to the Apple Store and exchange it for a new one.
Apple probably took a bridge too far when they put the G5 and a modern hard drive in this enclosure.

Update: If you want to run the hardware test repeatedly, type Ctrl-L to switch AHT to loop mode. Also, if you're accustomed to earlier versions of AHT, you may wonder how to get started. The directions are in small print on DVD 1 of the 2 DVD set. It takes a LONG time to go through the AHT selection and startup process; be patient. The machine is not dead, it's just .... thinking. A lot.

USB Overdrive: a great solution to undersupported or unsupported USB game and other devices with OS X

USB Overdrive
The USB Overdrive X is a driver for Mac OS X (Jaguar, Panther and Tiger) that handles any USB mouse, trackball, joystick and gamepad from any manufacturer and lets you configure them either globally or on a per-application basis. It reads all kinds of wheels, buttons, switches and controls and supports scrolling, keyboard emulation, launching and all the usual stuff like clicking, control-clicking and so forth. The USB Overdrive can easily handle several USB devices at once.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Awakening a home to music - iTunes, Awaken and a stereo

The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

If one has a home stereo receiver connected to an Airport Express and controlled by a workstation, then this tool could allow one's home to waken to music. A reason to add wireless speakers to the odl home stereo?
Awaken digital alarm clock utilizes iTunes. Posted Jul 29, 2005, 1:00 PM ET by Dave Caolo

My iMac lives in my bedroom, so it makes sense that I'd want to use it as an alarm clock. I know there are several ways to get this done, and today I discoverd one more: Embraceware's Awaken.

Awaken will wake you up by launching iTunes and playing a user-selected track or playlist at a designated time. Set up recurring alarms or individual, date-specific occurrences. Other features include a sleep timer for drifting off to your favorite music, podcast support (be awakend by your favorite podcast) and a wake-from-sleep feature that rouses your Mac from sleep mode if need be (why should you be the only one inconvenienced?).

Awake requires Mac OS 10.3 or later and iTunes 3.0 or later (note that iTunes v.4.0 or later is required to display album art with alarm notifications). There is a 14 day trial version available, and a single license will run you $8.95US.

QuickTime bug: MakerNote info corruption (also affects iPhoto)

JakeO.com - Exifixer is an EXIF image reader library in PHP

This bug apparently causes massive bloat and slowdown in some iPhoto libraries: "QuickTime (including iPhoto) messes up the MakerNote tag for certain photos (no workaround yet)".

From Macintouch on 7/27:

Eric Lindsay

...This occurs when photographs from certain cameras including some or all Pentax and Nikon are included in your Library. These cameras include in their JPG EXIF information called a MakerNote. For most cameras the MakerNote is a few hundred bytes. In a Pentax Optio, the MakerNote is around 40KB.

iPhoto 4 stores the MakerNote in the Data directory for each day of photos, in a file called *.attr There is one such .attr file for each photo. Because iPhoto 4 has separate files, it does not slow down on closing the way iPhoto 5 does.

iPhoto 5 combines all these .attr files with their large MakerNotes in a file called Library.iPhoto. If you have say 6000 photos, and each has a 40KB MakerNote included, this makes Library.iPhoto expand to over 250MB.

If you have such a bloated Library in iPhoto 5, you can demonstrate this making a new Library from a bunch of photos. Then remove the MakerNote from the same bunch of photos, and import them into another new Library. Compare the size of Library.iPhoto.

There is a Perl script at anders.hultman.nu/data/makernote that can remove MakerNote. You need to amend the first line to point at your copy of Perl, and put the rmmn-100.pl script in your $PATH

So there are perhaps two issues:
  1. MakerNote corruption problem (maybe fixed since first noted)?
  2. Design issue with how iPhoto 5 consolidates MakerNotes (size not bigger than iPhoto 4 really, but slow shutdown due to how data is managed for users of Nikon cameras).
I use Canon cameras, so I'm not affected. Sounds like it may be a combination of more than one bug and a design decision.

High quality phone headset for Mac

MacInTouch: timely news and tips about the Apple Macintosh

These will be big for making personal voice calls from the cube computer in one's office:
The Sennheiser M145 is a computer and multimedia headset that combines high-fidelity stereo headphones with a hands-free, noise-canceling microphone. The headset includes a dedicated USB adapter with built-in soundcard electronics. Designed to be plug-and-play with any Mac OS up through Mac OS X 10.4, the Sennheiser M145 is $120. (Sennheiser web site not yet updated.)

The best part of OS X 10.4.2? Simple Finder for kids

Apple - Mac OS X - Family

My new machine came with Tiger. So far it's mostly a posterior pain. Old software has to be upgraded, the install is bigger, Spotlight insists on indexing peripheral drives it should ignore, I can't see how to constrain search to a path, and Quartz Extreme is still disabled and Retrospect has no Tiger support in their (orphaned post acquistion?) Windows based Mac backup (you can use the Retrospect/Mac client -- but that's not a licensed use and it's not supported).

There are a lot of nice touches, but I don't see any big advantage in Tiger for me over 10.3.9. Given a choice, I'd still choose LaunchBar over Spotlight, and I had to pay $10 for the new version of Launchbar after I upgraded!

With one exception. In 10.4.2 the 'Simple Finder' (managed user option -- Children) is very nice. It was broken badly in 10.0-10.3, so it's great to see it back. The Simple Finder now supports multiple 'windows' based on the number of icons in a folder, and there's an option (choose from menu) to break out to the full finder. So an administrator can now log in as a child, then configure the system as needed, then return to child!

The kid support is almost worth the upgrade.