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Contents Copyright 2003 by Christopher Plummer

Harry Potter 5, Terminator 3, Bush 2, Gulf 2. Everyone loves a sequel. Either the times are a changin', or it's deja vu all over again. In this massive issue, top heavy with news, we have a big GSR ('Geek Speak Review' for you UNPREDICTABLE newbies), conveniently placed before the articles in which the GS appears! Also a first look at hard disk problems and troubleshooting, tips, and some blatant MS bashing, all with the usual fascinating Mac trivia, insightful comments, and personal commentary of questionable merit. NINE users, don't panic. There's still something here for you!! :-)

UPDATES - (X) Watson 1.6.2, Apple's Java, Keynote, security, & iMovie
NEWS - iMac Dropped, VPC Borged, MacMarines Retired
Weird News - Apple Gored, Dell Shot, MS Guilty
Digital Media News - "DVD Jon" Summer Re-trial, Apple Sings?
HARD TIMES FOR HARD DRIVES - Some troubleshooting
Tips - (9,X) Apple's Compatibility Pages
Know The Difference - "Palladium"
Trustworthy Computing - MS gets an "F"
OCCASIONAL Favorite WEB SITE -(9, X) Two Lines to the Whitehouse
Special Bonus Keyboard Commands - More Shift-Scrolling

Geek Speak Alert:
BDC, VPC, Connectix, IBM, BLOG

Java 1.4.1 update - Lots of improvements and CURRENT with Sun's Java (In case you didnt' know, Sun was invented by, and except when Microsoft tries to subvert it, is controlled by Sun Microsystems.)

Keynote 1.0.1 - Language and bug fixes

Security Update(s) GET CURRENT.Just use the Software Update.

iMovie 3.0.2 - Bug fixes. If you haven't upgraded to the "iLife" version of iMovie (2.x), you might want to wait a few months. The 3 version has got some problems with performance, sound synchronization, etc. Yuk. The folks at TidBits call it "troubled". :-(

(X) Watson 1.6.2 - I tried to use Sherlock 3 the other day. Why bother? It's so slow, and Watson is terrific!

Check for more updates at <>.

John Deamer, MacMarine retired, and new Unpredictable reader, asked about my desire to retire from the Marines and not enlist with the MacReserves. My response makes for some lengthy news. (Below). Welcome aboard John!

BDC - Big Dumb Corporation. You know if you work for one.

VPC - "Virtual PC" Any Mac user who has had to contend with inflexible IT people at BIG DUMB CORPORATIONs knows that in addition to OS9 and OSX, Macs can become "compatible" by running all sorts of versions of Windows (even MS-DOS or Linux) using "Virtual PC". Virtual PC is software, a program that actually emulates the Intel architecture on the Macintosh, allowing you to run Windows in a window (or full-screen if you prefer) on your Mac. Even if you don't need a Windows app but must access a stingy Windows-only server, VPC works so well you can use it to do all kinds of Windows networking. You can have a network "share" volume appear on your Windows VPC machine and drag'n'drop files to and from a Mac Finder window. You can also "share" a volume or folder that can be accessed by your VPC/Windows apps AND your Mac OS apps. This can be pretty handy if you want to check out the appearance of your web page or other application on multiple platforms, multiple browsers, etc.

Connectix - One of the most respected Mac Software companies. These guys came out with some impressive smaller utilities first. You may have heard of RAM Doubler. They went on to write Virtual PC, a great (though not the first) PC emulator on the Mac.

IBM - 1) "I'll Buy a Mac" 2) Less commonly, International Business Machines, the BIG LOSER of the PC Platform wars: Licensed PC-DOS from Microsoft and for BDCs, legitimized the idea of the personal computer with the "IBM PC" (old timers will remember the quaint Charlie Chaplin commercials). They squandered their lead in PC architecture when their BIOS was reverse-engineered by Phoenix, Compaq, and others. They tried to re-gain control of the market by introducing proprietary PS 2 and "micro-channel" PC architecture which was spurned by the industry. They codeveloped OS2 with "partner" (Ha, Ha) Microsoft, partnership with MS dissolved when "Pinky" Gates decided he could market the nearly finished operating system as Windows NT. Then infighting with IBM's hardware division prevented IBM from even selling OS2 on their OWN hardware (Windows was the default OS). Although miserable failures in the desktop arena, IBM still maintains large accounts with lots of BDCs who continue to use their larger mainframe and mini systems, and they have even made some inroads in the LAN Server world by supporting Linux and other open-source software.

BLOG - Many of us fantasize that our lives, or our writing, would be of interest to someone else. Is it? I don't know, but a blog let's you put it out there for all the world. Once you've read a few, you might think it stands for "blather log", but I think the word really derives from "Web Log". Blogs have been around for a long time, but somehow they've reached that critical mass where if you don't know what one is, you're just not COOL. And we wouldn't want that, would we? Think of it as an online diary, or journal, situated in a personal web site, a location on AOL, or even a site that just specializes in blogs.

The times they are a'changin'

Original iMac Design Dropped by Apple - Sniff. What a wonderful machine. It revived Apple, re-invigorated the whole PC industry (not to mention industrial design in general), and brought the Internet to Everyman and Everywoman. But, then, it was an Apple product after all. Apple has officially dropped the original iMac design, though it sort of survives as the eMac. It's going to be a long time before I can give mine up. Expect these babes to be selling on eBay as Hi Tech Antiques in a few years. Really. A beautiful machine. Long May You Run.


MS BORG Assimilate Virtual PC - Microsoft now owns Virtual PC. WHY? Allegedly, MS bought VPC because in addition to all the cool Mac stuff, VPC runs ON WINDOWS. That is, the clever folks at Connectix figured out how to use their emulation skills to give Windows users the ability to run multiple versions of Windows, or the same version running multiple 'instances' all on the same boring beige Intel box! Needless to say, this was something that the creative masters of innovation (NOT) at Microsoft hadn't been able to do on their own. A capability that their top-of-the-line NT, 2000, XP Professional - oh, whatever the heck the Marketing guys are calling it this week - MS servers just couldn't compete with the server OS from other companies, mainly IBM. So, allegedly, they bought the VPC technology to add this capability.

How does UNPREDICTABLE see it? Differently. THE BRAIN (Steve Ballmer) watched MacExpo on video, and he saw Steve Jobs showing off "Keynote" which blows PowerPoint off the map, and "Safari", which even in beta has begun to blow Internet Exploiter off the map. Throw in Apple's iCal, Mail, Address Book, and iChat, all of which are TRULY FREE on Macs, and all of which compete with Microsoft products (Entourage in particular), and throw in Jobs' suggestive remarks that " can still use Virtual PC if you really need to run Windows, for some reason..". Now picture THE BRAIN, uh, Ballmer pondering HOW TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!! It goes something like this, "Hmm, Jobs thinks he doesn't need us, huh? Let's could I give him a little kick in the...THAT'S IT!! We'll buy VPC!!"

Does this mean gloom and doom for VPC? Possibly. After all, Microsoft has BORGED and destroyed many software packages. But MS really doesn't care if you buy an Intel PC as long as they get your money. By purchasing VPC, now they can collect the MICROSOFT TAX from Mac users not only for the Windows license (which was wrapped into the price of VPC) but for VPC itself!! Kind of makes you wish OUR FRIENDS AT APPLE had bought VPC instead. Why didn't they? Think about it. How could anyone take Apple's OS seriously if Apple was licensing Windows??


Sarge Supports the War, Retires MacMarines - Jesse "Sarge" Brown, founder and "list mom" of the Mac-advocacy MacMarines mailing list, citing his desire to spend his time speaking out in favor of America's war with Iraq, has retired the MacMarines. List members who want to "carry on" have created a new list, the MacReserves.

Strangely enough the demise of the MacMarines was PREDICTABLE. As mentioned a few issues back, the Mac is not as 'threatened' as it was back in 95-96. The company has focus and great products and Steve has managed to make it COOL and acceptable to use a Mac.

We've got some good market niches. Many of us have decided that Macs will never (again) have a huge presence in corporations. To me, because BDCs don't deserve Macs. BDCs don't foster independence or creativity, and more often than not, the MS-dominated IT departments "wag the dog" - set standards based on what's easy for them, not what's best for their users. Companies that are smart enough to embrace Macs, as far as I'm concerned, are going to have a lot of advantages.

And there's the whole Unix thing. I'm not thrilled about having all that command line junk at the core of the OS, or of having the EUNUCHS at Apple, many of whom don't really grasp all the ease of use issues that we spent years tweaking and polishing. But as of Jaguar, and running all Carbon and Cocoa apps on a fairly new machine, the Mac OS is an amazingly stable and capable system.

AND, we've acquired the droves of Unix folks. They're different, and they see the Mac differently, but isn't that what it's all about?

The MacMarines had lost focus for these and other reasons. Their purpose had originally been to be the "activists" who would do more than the EvangeListas. In recent years the list seems to have fallen into mostly whining about Apple, or asking for help with software and hardware, or occasionally it became a place for really angry people to launch inappropriate outlandish attacks on perceived enemies of the Mac platform.

On a personal level, I got tired of the platform fighting. I used to get so unhappy about those battles! I felt like I spent more time arguing with Windows users about the advantages of the Mac than I did actually enjoying my little machine. I admired the way Guy Kawasaki always seemed to deflect conflicts with humor. So a few years ago when a local school administrator asked me to get involved with the fight to retain Macs, I thought hard, and decided, nope, I was too emotional about it. Instead of being put in a defensive position, I decided to take the offensive and promote and enjoy my Mac. I started my UNPREDICTABLE for 'local' Mac users. Since it was mine, I could write about whatever I wanted and never have to meet a deadline for the next issue - hence "Unpredictable and Occasional". I was losing interest in MacMarines when Sarge decided to retire the list for his own reasons. It was just time. R.I.P.

MacReserves <>
Sarge's Blog <>

Weird News

Former Vice-President and Winner of More Votes than George the Second, Al Gore, joins Apple's Board of Directors - And why not? He did at least as much to invent the Internet as "Pinky" Gates!

Bar Owner Executes Dell Laptop - I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried...

European Union Finds MS Guilty - Seeks Solution. Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha' Gonna Do?

Digital Media News
Norwegian Teen "DVD Jon" Summer Re-Trial

Apple to Launch On Line Music Service - SOMETIME... This was in the news early in the gestation of this issue (meaning WEEKS ago), and it still hasn't happened. Maybe Apple is still wrapping up a deal with Sony music, conspicuously missing from the service.

Trouble Shooting

Smiling Faces, Sometimes They Don't Tell the Truth

Hard drive issues seem to be cropping up all over lately. First, let's discuss the "Smiling Mac" that won't boot. That is, you power it up, all the lights flash and things make that whirring noise, the "Smiling Mac" icon appears, but everything just stops there. What does that mean? In my experience it's worse than the Disk Image with the flashing question mark. (For which, coincidentally, you can use these same troubleshooting tips.)

In a word, a frozen smiling Mac is trouble. The smiling Mac icon means that the Mac thinks the drive is bootable and it's going to 'come up' okay. But it gets stuck somewhere in the process. You might think that the hard drive is bad and do the sensible thing, get out the System CD that came with your Mac and try to "boot" from that. (These disks are usually called "Software Install" and "Software Restore" or something along those lines. You want the "Install" one. If you bought a version of the OS after you bought your Mac, then you should use that.) Assuming you can shut off or power down the Mac, you insert the CD and power it up again, holding down the [C] key on the keyboard, which tells the Mac, "Ignore the hard drive and start up from the CD". [This works on every Mac made in the last 5 years or so. If yours is older, you might have to do some research...]

If your Mac comes up (you can take your finger off the [C] key now), then you may be in good shape.

Check the desktop. Is there an icon there for your hard drive? There is? Good! You probably have a recent backup, but if you don't, now is a good time to try to save your valuable data. You can put it on a ZIP disk, or a floppy, or another hard drive, right? MAYBE. If so, figure out what's important and make a copy of it. Hopefully you can get the data off the hard drive. But guess what? Because you had to boot from the CD, and it has an "APPLE ONLY" System, you may not have access to all those other devices. SORRY. You really should have made that daily backup! What next?

First, locate the 'Disk Utility' app if you use TEN, or 'Disk First Aid' for NINE, on your CD and run it. Depending on your System version (and OS), you will have different options, but basically you want to point it at your troubled hard drive and try to repair it. At this point we are not going to Format the drive, which will blow away EVERYTHING that's on it.

After the utility runs, try to restart your Mac from the hard drive. If the CD has an eject button, push it, or hold down the mouse button during startup until the CD spits out. If you are lucky, the Mac will boot from the hard drive. Ta da! You're done. Now make that backup.

If not...

You can next try installing a new System on the hard drive. To do this you will have to boot from the CD again and run one of the Installers. Try to only install the System, not "Restore" the drive to it's original "out of the box" condition. And at this point Install 'into' the existing System, do not do a "Clean Install". You can do this with Oh Ess Ten Jaguar, but not with earlier versions (if you're using TEN, you should really GET CURRENT to Jaguar). And you can install into or on top of an existing System with just about any version of Mac OS from 9 back to 7 or so. You might have to contact your trusty Mac consultant for details. :-) With luck, a re-install of the System will make your Mac boot again from the hard drive.

If not...

The next step is a "Clean Install" of the System, and finally, a FORMAT of the drive, or a "RESTORE" to original using the "Software Restore" CD(s) and wiping your drive clean. Remember this last option wipes out whatever remains on the drive, including your Preferences, software, and data. Make it your last resort.

What if your Mac DOESN'T come up from the CD?

This is BAD. You can try the old "Reset the PRAM", which you do by holding down the [Command] [Option] [P] And [R] keys all at the same time during startup, and keep holding them until you hear the startup Chimes a couple times. Then let up the keys and see if your Mac starts. If that fails, and if you can't boot from a CD, there aren't too many choices. This probably means there is a failure somewhere on the System Board. At this point I would recommend hauling your Mac off to an Apple Store or Apple dealer. SORRY. I've seen this twice on G4s, where the Mac has the smiling face, but it is just plain UNBOOTABLE. Okay, now if your Mac is still working, get going and make that backup!! :-)

iDVD compatibility list:

iSync compatibility list:

iPhoto camera compatibility:

iPhoto mediareader compatibility:

iPhoto printer compatibility:

Know The Difference
"Palladium could create 'a closed system, in which each piece of knowledge in the world is identified with a particular owner, and that owner has a right to resist its copying, modification, and redistribution. In such a scenario the very concept of fair use has been lost.' 'Palladium will "turn the clock back" to the days before online information was widely available.' and 'Microsoft could decide to lock everything up.'"

< >

--- Update from the future 2017! --- "I noticed that you've shared the Free Software Foundation page on free software and I thought you'd be interested in a resource that we've put together. This guide shares the most popular open-source licenses currently available and further reading [guides, tutorials, and infographics]. Here's the link:"


And That's The Difference.

Trustworthy Computing :-)
"Trustworthy Computing is failing," Russ Cooper of TruSecure Corp. said of the Microsoft initiative. "I gave it a 'D-minus' at the beginning of the year, and now I'd give it an 'F."'

In the meantime, Schneier said he was thinking of switching from Windows to the Macintosh platform because of all the security issues. "My wife has a Mac and she doesn't worry about viruses, trojans, leaks..., " he said.

A Consumer Reports survey last year found that virus infection rates on Macs are half what they are on Windows, noted Smith. "Is that because Macs are safer? I think the answer is yeah."



What's the latest Homeland Security "threat level"? Time for more duct tape? Check out the official state line on everything related to the Whitehouse. Go to the official Whitehouse site:

Too serious? Too much marketing of the new imperialism? Try this parody site. But if you're offended by extreme satire, DON'T.

There's another whitehouse website, the .com, but that's porn.

Special Bonus Keyboard Commands

Remember when we talked about using [Shift] + Scroll (you have to have a 'scroll' or 'wheel' mouse) to scroll horizontally in Microsoft Excel v.X??

Windows users can [Shift] + Scroll in Excel to Zoom In/Out!! Lucky devils!! I'd rather have that!

Meanwhile, [Shift]+ Scroll as horizontal scrolling is catching on. It works in:

Safari, Watson, Preview, Finder Windows.

If you know of other apps, let me know!!


** CHRIS'S UNPREDICTABLE and OCCASIONAL Newsletter for Mac Users **
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All contents copyright 2000-2008 by Christopher Plummer, ZebraTale LLC, except where noted. Accuracy of articles is UNPREDICTABLE and not guaranteed. Unpredictable was published from 2001 to 2008. Although updated occasionally, this is a historical archive - expect dead links. Caveat lector.
Publication, product, and company names may be registered trademarks of their companies. TFSB :-)