Issue #83, September 8, 2007
This Issue - Back from the brink! Still going with tips, insights, and information. As usual, there's plenty here...fascinating Mac and iPod trivia, insightful comments, and personal commentary of questionable merit! And just to be different, NOTHING about the iPhone!!
Welcome to new subscribers, Linda, Robert and.. did I miss anyone? For a 'shout out', send me an email. It's nice to know that people are still Unpredictable.
*Apple Updates - Too many to name, use Software Update System Preference, read about them here. iTunes 7.3. A new verson of iTunes is needed to introduce "iTunes Plus". What is it? In our own inimitable fashion we'll keep it simple: Thirty cents more per song gets you higher quality (AAC sampled at 256kbps, compared to the usual 128kbps), and no DRM (see the GSR), which essentially means that you can make as many copies as you want, and play them on non-iPod devices (which must support Apple's AAC format, unless you convert the file somehow...). And of course you need a current version of iTunes to activate and update that other Apple product, the uh...phone thing. Tiger is current, Leopard is coming. The young Mac geniuses, salespeople, and novitiates under the age of twenty-five consistently say, "Hey, don't upgrade to Tiger. You might as well wait for Leopard! It will be out in the Fall." To which I say, "No!" If you want a mature, stable, and current Mac OS X now, and you are still using something older than Tiger, then bite the bullet and upgrade to Tiger. It's these same novitiates, et al. who will be blistering the boards with their rants about what Leopard doesn't do right, what software crashes on it, and how it's got all these sweet features, but darn it if I can't use Dreamweaver on it until they fix this or that bug or incompatibility. We'll be well into 2008 before Leopard will be a manageable beast. Summer's just about over. As your trusty Mac Friend and consultant, please take my advice. Let a hardy young person play with wild Leopards. Take the tame Tiger and use it now. (Commission generating link---> Upgrade!) *Adobe - All the Universals - At last the entire 'Creative Suite' is now available for the Macintosh in Universal Binary format. That means Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, and everything else! Upgrades slightly discounted at Amazon. We are still waiting for Office and Quicken... Since at least one of my readers missed this in the last issue, I repeat... *Quicken 2007 Mac is available- info from Intuit here. I got current. No compelling upgrade features, it's not "Universal", but it works, mostly. Think of Quicken as subscription software. The way to keep beating back the onslaught of bugs is to buy the latest upgrade. Sure you get "free" quarterly bug-fix updates, but wouldn't it be sweet if Intuit would just make the Mac version at parity with Windows? Or, dream of dreams, if there were a killer product to compete with Quicken!
Apple News - In brief, very brief!
Apple is moving to the higher speed WiFi standard 802.11N also referred to as 'N'. This standard is available on all current Macs and the new Airport Express device and AppleTV.
Apple introduced the "Mac Pro" OCTO for high budget graphics professionals. It's the new millenium latest version of Apple's Professional Desktop model. Two Intel Quad processors and everything optimized to make this baby scream. If you have one, tell me about it!
MacBook - Minor processor upgrade and tweaks to standard disk and memory size have kept this little Mac laptop as popular as ever. Teaser for next issue - my own trauma with the MacBook and why you should buy from the Apple store.
Leopard delayed until...October? No problem! Unpredictable delayed until September!! :-) Allegedly because the iPhone team borrowed folks from the Leopard team. I'll let them slide on this one, but let's be honest, it has more to do with marketing. The iPhone is so hot nobody is going to notice Leopard anyway.
iPhone - Okay, I lied. ;-) I have to say something. Just this: Go to the Apple Store and try it out. Buy one or not, it's amazing. At last some real user-interface innovation! You're going to see these features in Macs and anywhere else Apple can apply them. It's like an alien artifact. It's smaller, thinner, lighter, and works faster and with more ease than the advertisements suggest. It's better in person. The virtual keyboard only takes a couple minutes to get used to. Cingular/AT&T's network coverage is spotty (in Beautiful Western Central New Jersey, at least). The service fees look reasonable. Now if only RIM would make the iPhone Blackberry compatible. And forget all this talk about 'hacking' iPhones. You're going to wreck the thing so you can use it with some other carrier? Please, if you can't afford to buy your way out of your contract, how are you going to afford an iPhone?
The CD Store Is Dead- Long Live the CD Store - I couldn't find that Bach CD by violinist Akiko at Borders, so where can I get it? Oh sure, the iTunes Music Store has it, but let's face it, this is a fine recording of classical music. It deserves better than a sample rate of 128kbps. I would like to buy the actual full quality CD, and rip it myself. Sorry, no CD for you. Try to find a CD store at your local mall. There's probably a Lego store where the CD store used to be. Sam Goody vacated the Bridgewater Commons mall in Western Central Jersey, FYE stores have vanished from the King of Prussia Mall, and Tower Records has closed their store on Broad Street in Philadelphia. It's not Steve Job's fault. It's definitely part of the trend away from actual physical media. It's partly because the 'super' stores like Walmart and Borders kill the competition. And then you've got rentals and online downloads. But it's not just because you can buy and rent everything online. It's because nobody is buying this stuff in stores, and too many people are stealing it on the Internet! The next time you can't find a CD at the CD store—or can't find the CD store—take a look at your own hard drive and figure out how many movies and TV shows and how much music you've got on there that you never payed for. Call me a creepy old guy, it really bothers me how many Generation Nexters think nothing of downloading anything and everything they want, whether it's a digital training course, an audiobook of David Sedaris, a movie, or Sufian Stephens CD. I don't agree with the laws as strictly interpreted, I believe strongly in Fair Use. But when your Limewire hogs my bandwidth and theft of music means I can't find an Akiko CD anywhere, well, damnit, I'm upset. You say you want a revolution? If you can steal something, does that mean you should? :-)
Easy but Not Obvious & Tips
iPod What Gen?? - You may have heard podsters or other Apple scruffs refer to an iPod as a "4G" or a "Fifth Gen" iPod. What the heck are they talking about? Even a fairly adept Apple geek like Chris has trouble remembering just which iPod is which; so here's a simplified primer just for you!
First, this "G" stuff has nothing to do with storage (as in Gigabytes)—"G" is for 'generation' of the iPod. It refers roughly to iPod models with certain common features. Second, we're ignoring other iPod models, such as the Mini, the Nano, and the Shuffle, all of which have their own 'generations'. Finally, remember, pre-4G iPods are Neanderthal iPods. In terms of capabilities, anything before 4G you don't even want to know about except maybe to show off...your age. Unless you're a so-called, MacGenius, you'll probably never even see one. The modern iWorld starts with 4th Gen iPods, the first of the true iPod with the 'clickwheel'. (Not to be confused with the Mini, which actually introduced the clickwheel.) Later 4G ipods acquired color displays and were called "iPod with Color Display". They displayed photos and cover art, and were also sometimes called "iPod Photo". 5G iPods are iPods that display video. They're sometimes called "iPod with Video". For whatever reason, Apple NEVER calls them "Video iPod". Is the iPhone considered a "6 Gen"? I don't know. Was that too simple? Apple provides an article "Identifying iPod Models" with tons of detail!
iPod Locked Up, Now What?? - Your iPod seems to "freeze" or "lock-up"? So your iPod stopped. Don't Panic! It happens. It's sort of like a cell phone—it's amazing these little computers don't need to be re-booted all the time! They just run and run and run. Sometimes they don't. And everyone should know how to reboot her iPod. Ready? For all 'standard' modern iPods (read the "iPod What Gen?", above, if you don't know what I mean) the Restart procedure is the same:
- Toggle the Hold switch on and off. (Slide the little switch on the top to Hold, then turn it off again.)
- Press and hold the Menu and Select buttons until the Apple logo appears. (That would be the Center button, and the Top button on the clickwheel).
It's best to do this when your iPod is plugged into a a power adapter, and
you might have to do it more than once.
With any luck your iPod will start up, and everything will be as it was ('Many such journeys are possible'). For older iPods, or if this just doesn't seem to work, go to Apple's "Five R's Assistant Page". Apple provides great web support for the iPod, if you have the sense to look for it, and this page will walk you through the basic iPod troubleshooting steps, "The 5 R's": Reset, Retry, Restart, Reinstall, and Restore. If none of this works, use "Chris's Sixth R", Return to Store, to get a MacGenius to fix or replace your iPod.
How to get your Album Art - It's a sweet thing the first
time you rip your legally purchased CD in iTunes and discover that Apple has
been kind enough to upload the album art for you! Saves a trip to Amazon (or
AllMusic), or doing it yourself on the scanner to get the cover. I love it!
But how can you get the album art for a single song? Or a handful of songs?
You have to have a live Internet connection of course, select the song(s) in
iTunes, and Right+Click or Control+Click, and from the context menu that appears,
select , "Get
Album Art". If iTunes can get it, you'll have it right away. If it can't,
you don't get an error message, just no art! And here's a tip about the tip
- If you have the wrong title or artist (even mis-spelled) the iMS won't be
able to get the art. Check that the Song Info is correct by searching for the
exact same version of the song on the iMS and tweaking your song info to match.
Play .WMV Movies on Quicktime Player—Have yo
What to do when good Macs or iPods go bad—Call your consultant, call Apple (in the US) 800-275-2273, or take the sick device to the nearest Apple store. If you go to an Apple Store, it's best to schedule your visit (if you can find a working computer to make an appointment!).
Access the Built-in Dictionary!—Tiger comes with quite a good built-in dictionary. You can launch it as an application if you want to actually spend some time looking things up. Even better: From many applications, just [Control]+click on a word, and from the contextual menu that appears (below) select, "Look Up in Dictionary". [This doesn't work in Microsoft Office apps, because Microsoft has it's own dictionary—of course.]
When you get your result, double-click or [Control]+click on words in the definition, to get their definition. When you do this, you'll get the orange "snap back" arrow in the Search box. No matter how deep you go, five, ten words from your original, click the arrow to get back to the word with which you started!
Backup Tips —If you're not going to use a comprehensive backup program, then at least try to save your individual data once in awhile. Here are the cheap options:
Backup - Apple's FREE Backup program is super-easy, contains lots of pre-created backup strategies, and will automate your backups to a schedule that you create. If you are a .Mac member (and there are lots of reasons to be..) Backup will also backup directly to your .Mac account over the Internet. This of course is somewhat slow and only useful for relatively small amounts of data (I'd say, 20-30 Megabytes, but if you have a superfast connection and patience, go to town!) always backup your Preferences, bookmarks, and mail file!
You can use Backup to automatically backup to an external drive - including an iPod configured for file use. (How do you set your iPod for ***file use?? See tips below...) Use the FREE Apple program
Address Book - File/Back up Address Book...
iCal - File/Back up Database...
Mail - missing!
iPhoto - Select 'Library' in the Source panel then from the menu select Share/Burn
iTunes - File/Back up to Disc... and select one of the options provided including "Only backup items added or changed since last backup".
If you have more than one Mac, you can use .Mac syncing, and maintain calendars, contacts, keychains, bookmarks, and mail settings on the two of them. If one Mac gets messed up, with a little care, you can restore all these settings from .Mac! (Be careful...this requires another article...)
Unpredictable Reader Feedback
moxysgirl now at Smith College wrote to tell me:
"...actually just so you know.. it has been shown that apple's
laborers were actually working in excellent conditions, paid well, and overtime
was optional-- the only problem is that some workers CHOSE to work more overtime
than they should have been offered.--- just so u know."
Steven Withers from Down Under, explained Apple's 'Rosetta', about which I had jokingly claimed ignorance:
"I grew up in London and we visited most of the museums on various school
excursions, but I wasn't sure how well-known the Rosetta Stone is in other
countries. <snip> And
Apple's Rosetta is underpinned by technology that originated in the UK at the
University of Manchester, so that wasn't much of a clue about the Stone's international
profile. PS: May I politely draw your attention to <http://hydrapinion.com/>?
It's a new site that I'm involved with - not specifically Mac-related, but
least two of us are serious Mac users. [Always glad to pass along a link!—Chris]
Pam wrote: "Wowee kazowee Batman, (oops, I mean Macman),Your
new 'Unpredictable' has
a whole new shiny media geek patina ... it
looks awesome!" [Wait until she sees this issue!!—Chris]
**Chris’s UNPREDICTABLE and OCCASIONAL Newsletter for Mac Users **
Oriented towards, but not exclusively for Mac Users in Beautiful Western Central New Jersey. Since 2000, Published Occasionally. Accuracy of articles is UNPREDICTABLE and not guaranteed. Caveat lector. Publication, product, and company names may be registered trademarks of their companies.
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