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CHRIS'S UNPREDICTABLE and OCCASIONAL Newsletter for MAC USERS # 60, 05/30/03
Contents Copyright 2003 by Christopher Plummer

OCCASIONALLY an issue demands a special topic. This one, which admittedly took FOREVER, is enhanced with fascinating Mac trivia, insightful comments, and personal commentary of questionable merit, and leans toward TROUBLE SHOOTING. I'll have more TS next time, and I may just FORGET updates and news to make room for FUN stuff! Finally, Unpredictable should now be coming to you from < chris AT Unpredictablemac dot com> (not my old address which I am trying to de-spaminate) and remember the web site, which is current except for this issue, which will appear there shortly! :-)

UPDATES - (X) OSX 10.2.6, iTunes 4.0, Quicktime 6.0, Watson 1.7.1, more...
NEWS - iTunes Music Store Opens On the Internet, New iPod, more...
Trouble Shooting - (9, X) Quicken Print Issue
Special Bonus Keyboard Commands - (9, X) Some TS Startup Keys

Geek Speak Alert:

(All X - You can use Software Update for all the Apple updates.) Apple Jaguar 10.2.5 and then 10.2.6 to fix it... - Improvements, fixes, including Bluetooth support for the Nokia 7650, P800 phones. Use the Software Update System Preference. If you got current with 10.2.5, you should really GET CURRENT with 10.2.6 because of a number of bugs related to USB hubs and Kernel Panics (What's a 'kernel panic'? Bad. Think "Bomb Icon". You don't want one.)

Apple iTunes 4.1 - Support for Apple iTunes Music store, support for coding/decoding the AAC music format (which contains digital media protection technology - yuk!), which is used by the iTunes Music store. And a fix (from 4.0) that makes it much harder to use iTunes to give away music through "broadcasting". After all, that wouldn't go over too well with the record companies, would it?
Apple QuickTime 6.0 - Necessary for iTunes Music store integration with iTunes (because it contains the decoding capability for AAC).

(X) Watson 1.7.1 - Watson adds a Sherlock 2 Plug-in compatible Site search tool to the other nifty tools already on board, & some fixes and tool updates.

(X) NOW Software, makers of 'Now Up To Date' and 'Now Contact' has introduced "Address Book Sync", a free download that synchronizes Now Contact data with Apple Address Book. This is a big deal! We are getting to the point of having a central location (Apple Address Book) to share all kinds of contact data. Be careful when you use this tool. It can make a mess of your Address Book or your Contacts, or both, if you don't read the documentation and proceed carefully.

Check for more updates at <>.

Apple iTunes Store - You must have had your head in the sand if you haven't heard about this by now. (Certainly bigger news than Steve Jobs cashing in his worthless stock options for some real Apple stock right before the introduction of the iTunes music store.) Apple has managed to swing deals with all FIVE of the major Music Monopoly Cartel Companies to sell individual songs and whole albums directly from the Internet via a new version of iTunes. So far it's a smash success. The site "sold" two million songs (at 99 Cents each) in the first 16 days, Steve is on the cover of Fortune magazine with Sheryl Crow, and Apple's stock, which was hovering around $12/share has risen to around $18!! Of course RealMedia just launched a copycat site called "Rhapsody" with tunes at 79 cents each. Or so it appears. But there's actually a $9.95 month subscription fee after the trial period. (No such thing from the iTunes Music store.) And, requirements? Oh, it's for Windows only, but we don't care, because we have Macs, HA! HA! HA!

iPod Update - Along with the new iTunes, new Quicktime, and new Apple iTunes Store, we also have a slimmer, lighter new iPod! And it now comes with a 'cradle' and backlit buttons! Could one of OUR FRIENDS AT APPLE PLEASE send me one so I can review it? And keep it. After the review...Even the 15 Gig model would do in a pinch. ;-)

eMacs Update - New models lower prices. Though ugly in comparison to the "new" iMac, this is still the best Low-end Mac that comes with a G4 processor, and optionally with a DVD-burning Super Drive. You can now get into the Mac club for about $800.

Privacy NEWS
New Jersey Couple Accused of Mass Identity Theft - Yes, right here in New Jersey, and worse yet, from the offices of Weichert Financial, part of Weichert Real Estate. This should give you a wake up call about providing your personal info even to someone you trust - such as the real estate agent helping you purchase (or sell) your home!! DON'T PANIC - if you're not already aware of someone committing credit card fraud using your name, then they probably didn't.


More News: <>

John Wallace, President and CEO of Now Software writes: "I checked out your UNPREDICTABLE web site. The section on Carter vs. 'Curious' George W. Bush was a riot! <snip> Your writing is engaging. I had a lot of fun reading it." [Thanks John!]

Controversial writer, "Brad", now an expatriate, checks in from the Freedom Fry capitol, Paris, with the comment, "I bought one of the new 12" G4 Powerbooks before I left, and it's fabulous!"

Graphic Designer Pat writes, "I became the proud owner of a G4 tower and OSX (with classic mode still available). I'm learning to love it."

Author, Judith, bound to using Windoze by a Voldemortian Imperious curse, writes about her aspiring filmmaker daughther Mia, who "adores her new Powerbook G4." [That's another Oh Ess Ten user with another 12" G4 Powerbook!]

And "Welcome!" to new subscribers Laurie in beautiful Ohio, who discovered UNPREDICTABLE with an "Ask Jeeves" search, and Tai Chi student Bruce.

IT - Information Technologies. Refers to the industry in general, or to an IT "organization" within a Big Dumb Corporation (BDC). Usually includes PC Weenies with high school diplomas and lots of letters approved by Microsoft that follow their names, Unix folk, and occasional Mac Heads. A good IT organization usually has at least one tenor and one person who has read 'Moby Dick' at least twice (these will probably be the Mac Heads).

IS - Information Services. Interchangeable with 'IT'. The 'proper' form is changed randomly every so often to entrap applicants who are not current.

LP - Long Play. Has nothing to do with an afternoon of disc golf. Term for ancient analog vinyl audio disk, called 'long' because it could contain somewhere around 30+ minutes of music per 'side'. Gosh.

Hard Times for Hard Drives (part 2)
Old time IT Proverb: It's not 'if' your hard drive will crash, but 'when'.

OUCH. An abrasive, crunching noise coming from the direction of the the two Cobra external Firewire drives I use for backups of my G4 Titanium PowerBook. Though I'm not familiar with the sound, I knew it couldn't be good. A quick look at the Desktop revealed my two external hard drive icons still present. But neither one would open. I powered the drives down and back up, restarted my Mac, all the usual stuff, and only ONE drive came up and worked. The big 60 Gig was okay, but the 40 Gig? No dice. I tried Disk Tools, I even tried TechTool Pro after booting into OS9, but that drive was GONE. I couldn't see it, my Mac couldn't see it, and I couldn't open it, much less repair or format it.

How much damage was done? Was this worth getting really upset about?...a few backups. A couple of sound files of ancient LPs not yet burned to CD. I could live with that. So what about getting the drive back? The darn thing cost at least a couple hundred dollars. A quick search in Quicken revealed that I had purchased the drive about 14 months ago, and the warranty was only for ONE YEAR. Note to self. A ONE YEAR warranty on a hard drive is not a good thing.

Now, if this were you (note the deliberate use of the conditional tense), and you had incredibly important information on that dead drive, and no backup, you could POSSIBLY retrieve it at great expense. There are several companies, "DriveSavers" being the most well known, that will decipher what remains of the magnetic disks that sit inside your drive, and produce for you a new drive or CD with that data. I've only done this with a client once, and let me put it this way, if the data isn't worth THOUSANDS of dollars, DON'T BOTHER.

There are a couple lessons here: 1) Another hard drive is a convenient backup device, after all, the chances that both your 'real' hard drive and your backup will fail at the same time are pretty slim, but 2) at the very least, use multiple hard drives for backups, if that's what you MUST use. [I use three. One portable, for daily data backups, and two big external drives for System and "whole drive" backups.--Chris] 3) Not to mention, for long term archives and real peace of mind, a stack of CDs or a DVD with all your data is much better.

Post Mortem: What did I do with the drive? First, I gave the good folks at Small Dog Electronics a chance to go beyond the warranty and cover it. (They didn't.) Then I opened the unit. I threw out the DEAD drive, bought a new 120Gig drive and installed that in the box containing the (still good) power supply, controller, fan, and housing. Now I have a 60Gig and 120gig drive for backups and big files. And I still put the important stuff on CDs.


Trouble Shooting
(9,X) Quicken 2002 Deluxe (and later?) - Printing Woes... Might MEAN a CORRUPT FILE - I've been GOOD all year. I entered my credit card expenses in detail each month, and this year even entered my CASH expenses into Quicken. So some time before April 15th, I prepared to generate a Tax Summary report for my accountant. [If you're not keeping your books electronically yet, get with the program!! This makes your taxes SOOOOO EASY. Check out the previous issues of Unpredictable about accounting packages, Quicken, etc.] The Summary looked good on screen, but when I went to print, Quicken "quit unexpectedly". "Wait a minute! This is OH ESS TEN!" I hissed. "I don't expect that kind of rude behaviour anymore. Especially not at a critical moment like TAX TIME!!" Try as I might, re- loading Quicken, even re-starting my Mac, I couldn't get the darn report to print!! Now what?

Let me jump ahead. I'm a consultant. I've been in this business for around 20 years. I could have called Intuit, or searched all over the web, called a Mac friend, or gone to the next help session at my local Mac User Group. Though not always easy to find, help is out there. But I jumped to the conclusion that a situation like this means "corruption". Damage to some file that is related to what I was doing at the time - the printing process, a Preference, a print driver, maybe my Quicken data file had gone south. And that worried me - after all, it's a lot of work to enter all that data. And even if I had to go back to a backup file (if you read the previous article, you know I have several) who could say that backup might not be corrupt too? What to do?

If you're comfortable paying for the time of your trustworthy consultant, then CALL. But otherwise, first try the Help System! I selected "Quicken Help" from the Help menu. After the Apple Help Viewer took its usual LONG TIME to load (something OUR FRIENDS AT APPLE really ought to fix). I found near the bottom of the listing of "How Do I..." choices, one called "Perform maintenance on my data file".

Sure enough, this little gem described my problem almost exactly! It explained that by using a secret keyboard command, I could rebuild the indexes (indices?) of my Quicken data file and save the whole thing as a new file. I followed the directions. In hopes of making the file smaller and faster, at the same time I created my 'new' file with only the past three years of data. And guess what?!! Quicken was noticeably faster, and when I went to print my Tax Report, everything just worked!!

As the Guardian of Time once quipped, "Everything is as it once was. Many such journeys are possible."

And that's the way it should be. Because I use a Mac!!

Special Bonus Keyboard Commands
Here are some useful Trouble-Shooting-Related startup key commands. Reboot, and then hold one of these keys down, and watch what happens!


Shift - In NINE, start with Extensions off. In TEN, start Safe Boot mode and temporarily disable login items and non-essential kernel files. This is one of the first things to try if you're afraid your Mac drive is damaged.

C - Start from a "bootable" CD, not your (possibly damaged) hard drive. If you can boot from the CD, you might be able to run a disk utility on your drive, or re-install your software (see the previous issue).

T - Start up in FireWire Target Disk mode (Makes your Mac an external drive for another Mac. Read your manual for details. This way you can view your possibly damaged hard drive from an undamaged Mac!).


X - Force Mac OS X to startup (if you have set NINE as the startup system)

Command-S - Start in Single-User mode (command line)

Command-V - Start in Verbose mode. (With lots of possibly helpful DOS- like messages on screen)

TFSB :-)

** CHRIS'S UNPREDICTABLE and OCCASIONAL Newsletter for Mac Users **
Oriented towards, but not exclusively for, Mac Users in Beautiful Western
Central New Jersey. Published Whenever - About Whatever!

Non-profit, non-commercial publications may reprint articles if full
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may be registered trademarks of their companies.

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TFSB :-)



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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 :-)