Today is: Unpredictable Mac

Chris's Unpredictable and Occasional Newsletter

About Unpredictable

BackIssues 2006- 2008
BackIssues 2005
Back Issues 2004
Back Issues 2003
Back Issues 2002
Back Issues 2001


Geek Speak Review





Art Prints



Apple iTunes







< PreviousNext >

Chris's UNPREDICTABLE and OCCASIONAL Newsletter for MAC USERS # 67, 02/26/04
Contents Copyright 2004 by Christopher Plummer

OBLIGATORY ADVERTISEMENT... Ready to get rid of the mess and make your little network 'wireless'? Want to share your Internet connection? Convert your LPs and cassettes to CDs, set up an MP3 jukebox with an old Mac, or pick out a new one? I can do this for you, or show you how. Read the details in the SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION section at the bottom. Or email me now: < chris AT Unpredictablemac dot com> Enjoy the newsletter! :-)

This Issue
Fascinating Mac trivia, insightful comments, and personal commentary of questionable merit! Remember it's (9) for NINE, (X) for TEN, (W) for Windows, and double asterisks (**) precede links that help Support Unpredictable. AT LAST I unveil the conclusion of "Hard Times for Hard Drives". :-)

UPDATES - (9,X) Appleworks, Panther, Safari, Java, Security
NEWS - Apple Profitable, iBook Logic Board Repair Program, more
WEIRD NEWS - Media Monopoly, MS, Apple Doomed Again
UNPREDICTABLE READER FEEDBACK - Just the usual accolades
YOU TELL ME - Why do you use a Mac?
TROUBLE SHOOTING - Hard Times for Hard Drives (Part 4)
Tips - (X) Energy Saver in Panther
Special Bonus Keyboard Commands - Finding

GEEK SPEAK ALERT: SCSI Disk Mode, Target Disk Mode, IMS

(X - Panther) Safari 1.2, Java 1.4.2, GarageBand 1.0.1 - Performance and compatibility improvements for Safari, a new version of Java to keep up with the Java world, and a mystery upgrade to GarageBand which "clarifies specific alert dialogs regarding system performance." Whatever that means. These updates are all UNPREDICTABLY recommended.

(9,X) Appleworks 6.2.9 (for X) and 6.2.8 (for 9) - No major upgrade, but a MUST HAVE for the ol'Appleworks. Among some other improvements, this update includes the previous 6.2.7 update, and includes my big request: support for Scroll Wheels in mice, and allegedly fixes the annoying print error where characters disappear from the right side of documents. Hooray!!

(X) Apple Security Update 10, Security Update 2004-02-23.. Do I need to post "Security" updates? They're important, they're fairly regular, and they're available via Software Update. Unless someone screams at you NOT to download it, you probably ought to!

(X) Quicken 2004 for Mac R2 (update) - DANGER! WILL ROBINSON!! This long overdue Quicken update is full of bug fixes, bug fixes, bug fixes, AND one BIG BUG. It makes manual clearing of entries non-functional! An essential tool for many of us, 'manual clearing' is the equivalent of putting a check-mark in the "Clr" column when your check clears. This bug has been reported to Intuit (by Unpredictable and many other disappointed customers). If you've already applied the update, you can simply delete the Quicken application icon and re-install the previous version. Contact your favorite Mac consultant if you need help. ;-)

(X) Default Folder 1.9.3 - Fixes annoying "click to copy filename" feature. In a file save dialog, go to a folder, click on a greyed-out file name (meaning "I want to save my file here"), and the file you are saving suddenly takes on the name of the file you clicked on. How annoying! The Default Folder folk intended this to be a 'feature' actually requested by some obscure user, somewhere. Now you can turn it off!

Check for more updates at <>.

Apple Profits Soar, Beat Estimates, Shares down - This isn't really news at all is it? Just the usual reaction by the ANALysts to Apple. Shares are always down no matter where profits are. Because Apple is doomed. Let's celebrate the 20th Doomed Year of the Macintosh! HA! HA! HA!

MiniPod Prices - Did I say they were $300? Whoops. No, it's $249. And the "low-end" normal iPod is $300. Is there a difference?? "Even Jobs's Jedi- esque powers of reality dispersion can't alter the unfavorable math behind Apple's new offering. Here are the hard numbers. The new miniPod will cost $249. That's about $100 more than the rumor sites had posited. It will offer 4 gigabytes of capacity on its hard drive. By comparison, the entry-level iPod now costs $299 and has 15 gigabytes of disk space. The miniPod's cost per gigabyte is $62.50. In the entry-level iPod, it's about $20."
< tc2004017_5927_tc056.htm>
[I think he means the Jobs "reality distortion field". But I'm just an envious writer with a little newsletter. I don't have a Businessweek column for Yahoo. Darn it. - Chris]

Acknowledging G3 iBook Logic Board issues, Apple Introduces Repair Extension Program - The EVIP of DRAT lives at Apple!! Some iBook users have been suffering prolonged and undiagnosed bizarro problems with their iBooks. Apple, it's support people, and its store representatives have not been able to resolve these issues. Until now, Apple has not even acknowledged the issues. But somewhere in Apple, maybe even at THE TOP, someone has decided to DO THE RIGHT THING, fix the problems, and even reimburse people for repairs already paid. Watch for a more personal version of this story in a future issue! <>

More News: <>

Weird News
Spin it Again Pinky! Microsoft's Law Department goes after 17-Year Old Mike Rowe - Under a pro-business, pro-monopoly administration where the Justice Department is more interested in investigating people who read the wrong books, Microsoft's army of bored lawyers will do anything to justify their existence. Such as take on a teenager with the audacity to register a web site using his own name. That would be But wait! After a global response from an outraged public, MS and Mike Rowe Soft are now PALS. Mike Rowe gets an XBox and all kinds of development goodies, even a visit to Redmond! In return MS gets to own the name MikeRoweSoft. Who won? <> <>

AT&T Cellular is about to be swallowed by Cingular - Think cell rates are going to stay low for long? Have you noticed how deregulated cable prices keep going up, up, up!!? Have a gander at this chart... <>

Not more Gloom!! Is Apple Doomed, Again??? - Harvard Business School Prof. David Yoffie likes to write about Apple. Referring to the iTunes music store, he suggests: "If Steve had really been thinking in terms of the breakout strategy, he would have started out on Windows and come to Macintosh later like everybody else in the world. But that's not the way he thinks. Just to put yourself in the position of anybody else in the world devising the same product, the first thing you do is make it for the 400 million market and then you do it for the 25 million market. He does it the other way around. I think that Steve has blinders on that make it very hard for him to break out of this pattern." THANK GOODNESS. Would the professor please write a case about a successful company that has EVER bothered to go back to the 25 mil market once it has captured the 400 mil?? Hmm?? It's actually a pretty good article, but take the Doc's statistics with a grain of salt. If you think Mac market share is shrinking and Windows users aren't switching, hang out for an hour or two in an Apple Store on a Saturday. :-) <>

Unpredictable Reader Feedback

Just the usual accolades! Welcome to new subscribers Tama, YoungIm, and

Geek Speak Review [also known as ‘the GSR’]

SCSI Disk Mode - A method by which a Macintosh PowerBook with a SCSI port can serve as an external SCSI disk drive to another Macintosh. By using this method, one can use the SCSI port to backup data from one drive to another, or for high speed transfer of large files from one Macintosh to another.

IMS - iTunes Music Store

Firewire Target Disk Mode - Direct descendent of "SCSI Disk Mode". An arcane method by which one Macintosh can serve as an external Firewire Hard Drive for another Mac. Although this is documented in many Mac manuals, few people are aware of the utility or downright data-saving value of this technique. Unlike its predecessor, SCSI Disk Mode, Firewire Target Disk Mode works with many modern Macintoshes that have a Firewire port, including PowerBooks, iMacs, and G3 and G4 Desktops.

FTDM - Firewire Target Disk Mode (above).

You Tell Me
The other day someone asked, "Macs are only used by about 4 to 10 per cent of computer users. The rest mostly use Windows. Why?" If you can remember "the Platform Wars", forget them. Be here now. You could be using Windows; why do you use a Mac? Send me a few sentences or a few paragraphs: I'll publish the responses in one issue or several depending on how much feedback I get. TIA


Trouble Shooting

HARD TIMES FOR HARD DRIVES (PART 4) - Esoteric Mac VooDOO!! The exciting conclusion of yet another heart wrenching tale of hard drive disaster!! A LONG STORY, WITH A HAPPY ENDING. Unpredictable Readers will recall how we left things way back in U&O #63...

><snip> my efforts resulted in the INTERNAL hard drive failing. GONZO. No
>bootable internal drive. Not only that, it made horrible clicking and
>grinding noises. I could boot from CD but I could not access the drive!!
>Doesn't that seem kind of WEIRD? What could I do!! I was having a BAD
>afternoon!! After some unsuccessful fiddling, I called 'Drive Savers'. Do
>you know how much it costs to save the data from a 'crashed' hard drive?
>They guessed between $1200 and $2400!! And they said, "DON'T TOUCH THAT
>DRIVE. Once it starts making noises, you are destroying data every time
>you try to use it!" Holy Cow! Did I send them enough money to buy a NEW
>PowerBook just to retrieve my valuable data? Did I lose my data? Or did I
>go to Our Friends at Apple and hope that they would DO THE RIGHT THING?
>(To be continued......

In spite of the terror created by the warnings from the folks at Drive Savers, I decided to call Apple. After all, I paid for a Service Contract, didn't I? After I explained the scenario, my friendly Apple Technician was not very optimistic. He WAS eager to get a ticket created and initiate the process so that I could send in my PowerBook and have the drive replaced. He assured me that if they could save the data on the drive, they would. And while we were discussing this, he suggested, "If you had another Mac, you could try to access the drive in Target Disk Mode."

"Ha!" I laughed. "You must be joking!"

"Do you know what Target Disk Mode is?" The patient support person plied.

"Yes, matter of fact, use it now and then." I muttered. "Why would that work if booting from a CD won't?"

"I can't tell you that, but I'd definitely give it a try."

And from there we moved on. While I had MY APPLE FRIEND on the line, I mentioned that I had been having problems with my Flat Panel display for some time. In fact, I had called it in, months earlier, but the problem of occasional screen flickering was not so unbearable that I could stand to be without my PowerBook for the few days necessary to undertake the repair. Mr. Apple wrote it all up. With just the tiniest hope that I might retrieve my data, I packed my Mac and headed for home.

[I KNOW what Target Disk Mode is, but do you? Go back and read the GSR above. That's what it's for!!] Once I got home, I decided to give the FTDM a shot. Remember, at this point when I powered up my PB, it just made horrible noises and wouldn't boot. Here's what I did:

1) With both my iMac and the PB OFF, I plugged a Firewire cable between them.
2) Then, while pressing the [T] key on the PB keyboard, I powered it up. After a short time a large yellow Firewire symbol appeared, bouncing around the PB display. That's what's supposed to happen.
3) Then I powered up the iMac. When it came up (in NINE by the way), my PowerBook Drive was visible on its Desktop!!
4) Yeow!!!
5) I quickly copied my "Essential" folder over to the iMac's drive.

[Yes, I actually keep an "Essential" folder in my Documents folder. What's in it? My Quicken data, my email, my address Book, my NOW Contacts database.] When that came over without much fuss, I copied other data. Eventually it took longer and longer to copy data and the PB made horrible noises. Time to attend to the sick drive.

First (from the iMac) I ran the NINE "Disk First Aid" on my PB drive. That seemed to work okay, but I knew I REALLY needed to run the Oh Ess TEN Disk Utility. HOW could I do it?? By Booting the iMac using the Oh Ess Ten Install disk. This took a long time. After all, my iMac only had 384 Mb RAM. But it worked. Once the Installer appeared, I went to the "Installer" menu and selected "Disk Utility". And ran it on the hard drive. I actually ran it two or three times, just to be sure!

Finally I powered down the iMac, and the PowerBook, removed the Firewire cable, and powered up the PowerBook. Walla!! It booted into Oh Ess Ten!! I'll skip the Geeky details, but I did more TEN disk repair. The darn thing worked all the next day. It worked so well that when Apple got it, they didn't want to send it back until they talked to me, because they couldn't understand what was wrong with the disk! I had to get on the phone and exchange geekspeak so they could see that in fact the drive still needed to be replaced. A day after that, I got my PowerBook back. It had a BRAND NEW flawless display complete with the newly engineered HINGE, and a BRAND NEW drive with ALL MY DATA intact.


Geeky Details - In case you missed the magic, here are some hot tips revealed in this article: You can use FTDM to turn your PowerBook into an external Firewire drive, and in the process potentially access a drive that is unreadable as a bootable drive. You can BOOT an iMac into Oh Ess Ten from an install disk and use the TEN Disk Utility on another drive even if the iMac doesn't have TEN installed. Keep your MOST important data somewhere that you can find it FAST and keep it backed up. If you have a problem, CALL APPLE, you don't necessarily have to go to Drive Savers. ALWAYS buy a Service Contract if you plan to keep your laptop longer than the (1 year) warranty - Do you know how much a new flat panel display costs?! Believe me, you don't want to pay for one. Did I reveal ALL?? Heck no! For example, I had my hard drive configured with "Journaling" "ON". That's a big part of what saved the day. This is not so important for new users, because since Panther, Journaling is the Default configuration. If you're not using Panther, it's something you might want to look into, or ask your Mac consultant about. ;-)




(X,P) - MORE ON PANTHER - There are PLENTY of reasons to upgrade to Panther if you haven't yet. One is the many improvements to the Control Panels er.. System Preferences. For example, the Energy Saver Control Panel no longer needs to be embarrassed by missing features that were present in Oh Ess NINE. You can now use Energy Saver to tell your Mac what TIME to Shutdown or Sleep, and when to Wake Up!! Use your Mac as an alarm clock!

Occasional Favorite Web Site
MARS!! GET OUT YOUR 3-D GLASSES!! - This nifty NASA JPL site has all kinds of cool info about the current Mars explorations, and has 3D images. Back in the Sojourner past, NASA provided 360 degree 3D Quicktime Virtual Reality (QTVR) files of the Mars surface. How about a few of those, guys?


Special Bonus Keyboard Commands
[Command]+[Option] + F
Finder - put cursor in Finder Window Search Box
Safari - put cursor in Google Search Box
iTunes - put Cursor in iTunes Search Box
Mail - put Cursor in Mail Search Box
Address Book - Put cursor in Search Box
(9, X) And Command+F initiates a 'find' in bizillions of Mac
applications, Sherlock, and OS9.

(W) Heck! I'll throw one in for Windows users!
[Control] + F
In Internet Explorer will Find text on the current web page
And in the Finder, er...Desktop Explorer? Jeez, whatever you guys
call it! Will bring up the "Find" window.

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
credit is given. (Please provide UNPREDICTABLE with a copy.) Others
please contact the editor. Accuracy of articles is UNPREDICTABLE and
not guaranteed. Caveat lector. Publication, product, and company names
may be registered trademarks of their companies.

SEND requests and feedback to < chris AT Unpredictablemac dot com>.

Sample Issue - email with "Sample Unpredictable" in the Subject.
Subscribe - email with "Start Unpredictable" in the Subject.
Unsubscribe - email with "Stop Unpredictable" in the Subject.

Back Issues available at the Unpredictable Archive:

Shameless Self-Promotion
Ready to get rid of the mess and make your little network 'wireless'? Want to share your Internet connection? Convert your LPs and cassettes to CDs, set up an MP3 jukebox with an old Mac, help you pick out a new one. I can do this for you, or show you how to do all kinds of cool things with iApps. Big projects or little jobs. Maybe you'd just like to know that you have someone knowledgeable to call for support and encouragement when you finally go to OH ESS TEN? I've worked with computer novices, small businesses, and large corporations. I'd prefer not to do WINDOWS, but I've got more experience with MS operating systems than many PC consultants! I'm IBM Certified in Domino Development and Administration. I can teach you how to share files with PC users, use common fonts and printers, connect to their networks, and send them email with attachments that they can read. And I can write and edit. Reasonable rates, 20 years experience, satisfaction guaranteed.
Email: < chris AT Unpredictablemac dot com>.

Thanks for Stopping By!



Apple Logo Contact Me: AIM
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 :-)