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Chris's UNPREDICTABLE and OCCASIONAL Newsletter for MAC USERS # 68, 04/06/04
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
Okay, this issue is littered with ads. I admit it. You can help me keep writing by using one of those ** links. Meanwhile, we've got too many updates, interesting Tunes news, another plea for everyone to GET CURRENT, and some great info about using TEN on classic iMacs. And of course, plenty of 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. :-)

UPDATES - (9, X) Apple, NOW, Quicken
NEWS - iTunes, Waltunes, Cartoons
Tips - (X) Classic, iCal, Address Book
Know The Difference - Appleworks, Excel, and Word conversions
OCCASIONAL Favorite WEB SITE - Gas Buddy
Special Bonus Keyboard Commands - (X) Safari, et al.

Geek Speak Alert! VIC, Menu Item

**Shameless Commerce
** BUY these OCCASIONALLY recommended items using the links below, and help support UNPREDICTABLE! Need anything else? Send me an email! < chris AT Unpredictablemac dot com>

(X) PANTHER!! 10.3 - If I haven't said this enough already, YOU REALLY SHOULD GET CURRENT!

Buy Panther for $111.99 - Get free shipping, and support UNPREDICTABLE!

If you have more than one Mac at home, buy the $189.99 PANTHER Family Pack (for up to 5 Macs): (The shipping is free!)

The obligatory Office ad: Microsoft Office X for Mac (Student/Teacher Edition) Install onto 3 Macs in your house! Shipping included for $139.99-$119.99 (?)

For Oh Ess TEN beginners:
Mac OS X Panther Killer Tips by Scott Kelby, $20.99

For Oh Ess TEN pros:
Mac OS X Panther Unleashed, 3rd Edition, John Ray & William C. Ray, $34.99

iPod Self-Service Battery Replacement!! (First generation iPods.)
iPod Battery for Second generation iPods (with Docks)

Geek Speak Review [‘the GSR’]

VIC - Very Important Client. But really, aren't they all??

Menu Item - Those little cell-phone-screen-like icons that appear on the Menu Bar in Oh Ess Ten. Where do they come from? Sometimes it seems they just appear, like an invasion of bird mites, but usually they come from System Preference settings, or applications that stick them up there. For some reason, Apple's menu items are notoriously bland and monochromatic. And my gosh, they can sure junk up your menu! More on that in some UNPREDICTABLE future issue.

(X) Apple (Use Software Update): Panther 10.3.3 - Update delivers enhanced functionality and improved reliability to Mac OS X 10.3 Panther and is recommended for all users. <>

iDVD 4.0.1 - Provide for improved reliability when authoring and burning DVDs.

iPhoto 4.0.1 - Increased performance- faster importing, smoother image viewing and easier Rendezvous photo sharing. [Requires upgrading all your 'thumbnails' - a process that could take a few hours if you have bizillions of photos.—Chris]

Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Firmware Update 1.1 - Improves Apple Wireless Keyboard and Mouse performance and reliability.

iSight Firmware Update 1.0.2 - Update features enhanced IIDC compliance, improved auto exposure and auto white balance, and more. If you know what that means, I'm envious.

Security blah-blah-blah - [I said I wasn't going to DO Security updates any more, remember?]

Except for OCCASIONAL exceptions we stand behind the policy called "Get Current!" Did I forget anything?? You can always use Software Update to obtain these updates and to find out what I missed!

(9, X) Now Up-To-Date - 4.5.2 Stabilitiy at last! The folks at NOW software have made many subtle 'under the hood' improvements to Contact and Up-To-Date, plus they've added Rendezvous support, and HOORAY! Scroll Mouse support. Awesome.

(9, X) Quicken 2004 R3 - If you took my advice, you avoided the buggy R2 update. At last Intuit releases a fix for the Reconcile problem in R2. Add all the previous enhancements that were supposed to be there in R2, and R3 should be definitely worth GETTING CURRENT. But it came out just as we were 'going to press', so be careful, and 'keep your ear to the ground'! <>

Check for more updates at <>.

iTunes -IMS Pepsi Promotion MIA - WHERE HAVE ALL THE FREE TUNES GONE?? iTunes Music Store Mystery - Have you bought one of the 1 in 3 winning 20 ounce or 1 Liter Pepsi bottles with a cap that allows you to download a 'free' song from the IMS?? I haven't seen a single Pepsi bottle that even participates in the contest, first advertised during the Super Bowl in January. WHERE ARE THEY?? Spot checks of OCCASIONAL subscribers have failed to turn up A SINGLE WINNER! The promotion ended on March 31!! Boy, Apple, I'm really disappointed! 100 Million Free Songs?? WHERE???? California??


(W) Waltunes - Walmart introduces competitor to iTunes Music Store - Can WalMart do a better job than Apple? Songs for 88 cents apiece. Which is 88 cents more than the Free songs from the IMS that you never won because the Pepsi bottles didn't exist!! But can Macs play Waltunes?? Not according to the site. It says clearly, "sorry, no Mac or Linux". What does it play on?? Windows Media Player, using Windows Media format files. The site assures us, "The WMA format allows record companies to protect their music by using Digital Rights Management (DRM) encryption. This means that music downloads are legal, safe, and easy to use." Hmm. Well, you look at the site and see how 'easy' it is. BTW, you can't put the music on your iPod. But do we care?? Heck no, because we have Macs!! Ha! Ha! Ha!


Cartoons - EU goes after Microsoft - The library-monitoring Bush/Cheney Administration convicted Microsoft, and then oxymoronically made Windows the 'standard platform' of Homeland Security. Across the Atlantic, the European Union has convicted Microsoft and actually wants to PUNISH them and make them CHANGE. The EU slapped a token multi-million dollar fine on the Redmond giant, and insists that MS sell a version of Windows without the market-expanding Media Player. The response from Microsoft's Steve "the Brain" Ballmer? "We'll see how EU feel about that in 3 or 4 years when our Law Division takes the appeal to court. Meanwhile, we'll do what we do every day, (Pinky): Try to take over the world!!"

More News: <>

Unpredictable Reader Feedback

First, welcome to new subscribers Leo and Kit!

You Tell Me- Bob, Excel developer and glider pilot, responds to my question posed in U&O #67, "Why do you use a Mac?"—"It just works! I recently worked with a friend who tried to add 2 LCD displays to his Windows XP machine. He gave up after hours of frustration and eons of time on perpetual hold with Dell Technical support. Something in the process of trying to do this caused an Excel problem where everything was displayed in black and white regardless of any apparent settings. He finally found the cause. 'Under "Accessibility Options",' he wrote, 'is "Use High Contrast". I believe I set this in an attempt to improve the visibility of my cursor. Turns out that MS does not mean "High Contrast", what it really means, and what should have been offered as the option, is "Use Black and White". This is in fact what the help message says when you drag the "?" over the option. No doubt Marketing felt that "Black and White" was less sexy than "High contrast".' There is a lot of this sort of crap in Windows, where an unwillingness to call a spade a spade leads to confusion."

Bob also had this to say regarding my tongue-in-cheek comments about 'doomed' Apple: "Regarding the demise of Apple, Apple's market share of the PC business is larger than BMW's market of the automobile world. Do people think BMW is going out of business? As is Apple, it's a major player in a major market."


Get the Point
Time for Ten - Okay, when Jaguar came out I probably said this at least once: "Ten is really great. It's time to upgrade." But forget that! PANTHER, aka ‘Oh Ess Ten version 10.3.x’, really is TERRIFIC! They've cleaned up many of the annoying printing and network issues with Jag, improved stability, just about banned the spinning pizza of death, and rebuilt the Finder - and once you get used to it, you REALLY will like it! I admit it, a year or two ago, I was one of those people who said, TEN is okay, but I'll hang onto NINE for AWHILE.

Now? I can't remember the last time I used NINE! NINE seems as outdated and cliché as "Revolution #9" on the White Album. Sure we listened to it a few thousand times, but this is the new millennium! Do you really want to hear it again?? When I double-click an old document icon that wants a NINE application and my Mac tries to load up the "Classic" (NINE) environment on my PowerBook, my answer is, “NO WAY!!!”. (See "Tips" below for how.)

Any Mac built in the last few years is capable of running TEN. (See O&U, below for info on running old iMacs with TEN.) What helps most is LOTS of memory, and it's good to have lots of free disk space. If you have been getting current with your software, it will most likely run on TEN - if not as a Carbon app, then in the (yuk) Classic environment. So much for free help. Now go out and get Panther. You can help Unpredictable by purchasing it using the Amazon link:

** Buy Panther - Get free shipping, and support UNPREDICTABLE!

If you have more than one Mac at home, buy the Panther Family Pack (for up to 5 Macs): (The shipping is free!) <>

If you need assistance, your trusty, local, and enthusiastic Mac consultant (that would be me) would be happy to help. Send an email to < chris AT Unpredictablemac dot com>.


Overlooked and Underused

—Terrible tales of misunderstood and unknown features—

The iMac Can Run Ten
(First in a series on the Cool-Retro-iMac-iTunes Jukebox) - Yes, Virginia, as you may recall from previous issues, I mentioned that in an emergency you can boot your iMac with an Oh Ess Ten CD to perform repair work on another Mac attached using Firewire Target Disk mode (FTDM).

[What a mouthful of Geek Speak! Read the last issue if you need an explanation. You can write me to request a copy if necessary. As usual, archives at the web site are WAY behind!.—Chris]

"So", you pose thoughtfully, "Does that mean an old iMac could actually RUN Oh Ess Ten??" And the answer is a surprising, "Probably."

Even though you might think your old G3 iMac would CHOKE on TEN, if it has lots of RAM and runs at 400 Mhz or faster, it can almost certainly handle PANTHER! Now, you mutter, "Who cares if it can run TEN, if the thing runs like a slug?" But here's the best part, it runs well!!! How do I know? Because I did it. I didn't want my kids living in the past with Oh Ess Nine. Jeez, iTunes in NINE doesn't even access the IMS!! I wanted them to be able to tell their PC-owning friends how COOL Macs are. (Because, the COOL factor is one of the reasons we use Macs, isn't it? And believe me, TEN is Cooler than NINE. It's a higher number, isn't it?) That meant BYE-BYE to NINE and HELLO PANTHER. Could it be done? I was willing to try.

When I bought Panther for my PB, I bought the "Family Pack", so I didn't have to pay the full price for another whole license. Even if you're putting Panther on only two Macs instead of five, it's cheaper to buy the Family Pack. So I had the license for the iMac and three spares.

Next, I did some careful research into memory requirements. I always recommend people max out their memory (as much as they can afford) for TEN. If you have an iBook, you know Apple says you can run TEN in 256Mb, but you should definitely bump it to the maximum of 640Mb. The official spec on older iMacs like my "Graphite SE 400 mhz" is that they can only handle 512Mb RAM. WRONGO! That's because Apple never expected people to use 512 Mb DIMs. There are TWO memory slots on an iMac and you can put 512 Mb in each one, giving your glorious retro pal ONE GIG! This usually means you have to give away your old RAM, but you might find someone who wants it. At this writing you can pick up a 512 Mb SDRAM 133 for an iMac for around US $100. And the truth is, I haven't bought that second 512 yet. I'm running TEN on 512 + 256 = 768 Mb. But I RECOMMEND you go for the full Gig.

This is all pretty exciting, but April has suddenly appeared (I'm talking about the month, folks), and I'll have to tell you more about refurbing your iMac in another issue!


(X - PANTHER) Control Classic - Give yourself a clean safe way to prevent Classic (NINE) from starting when you're enjoying all the cool Panther eye candy. Go to the Apple menu, System Preferences, and open "Classic". Put a check in "Warn before starting Classic". That way, you too, can say, "NO WAY!!" when Nine tries to come back into your life like an unwanted ex-spouse.

You say you share custody and have to interact with the spouse now and then, and you want to keep it civil? Oh, if only the countries of the world felt that way! Then put a check in "Show Classic status in menu bar". This puts up a nifty little "9" menu item to remind you when Classic is loaded, or not. It gives you the option to "Load Classic" and even provides a sub-menu of the Apple Menu Items from your NINE system!!

(X) iCal Alarms - When you set an alarm for a calendar item in iCal, you have a number of default choices: message, message w/sound, email, open a file, and a bunch of pre-built options at the end of the menu. These are some pretty nifty choices. I mean, think about it, if you want to work on Quicken every day at 4:00 pm, why keep it open until you need it? Tell iCal to open your Quicken data file, and when 4:00 pm rolls around, up pops Quicken!

But what if you don't want to "Display a message w/sound 1 hours before"? What do you do if you want to do it "15 minutes before"? Easy, but not obvious. Select the 1 hour option. Then in the "alarm" area your choice will appear: Message <>, 1 hour before <>. [I'm using > for the little double vertical arrows that appear at the end of each alarm item.] Each item now becomes a choice with a popup menu. You can change 'hours' to 'minutes' or 'days', 'message w/sound' to 'message', and so on. Although it is not obvious, the 'number' of minutes, although not a menu, is a field in which you can type the number of minutes of your choice. So go ahead and put a '15' in there!

One more thing..suppose that message isn't enough. You want multiple warnings. Or you want Quicken to pop up at 4:00 pm, AND you want a little message to come up at 3:45 pm so you can wind down what you're working on. Easy (but not obvious)- hm, this sounds like a new column title - click on the Field Name "alarm", and you get a popup menu with the choices 'add alarm' and 'remove alarm'. You can figure it out from there, right?

(X, Panther) Address Book - Identify in which groups a person is a member. Make sure the Person's name is selected in the "Name" column, hold down the [Option] key. The Groups to which the person belongs will be highlited in the "Group" column.


Know the Difference
(9, X) Do your Appleworks Translators For Microsoft Word and Excel work? Don't work? - Are we talking NINE? Or TEN? In the early Macazoic, those translators, as well as all sorts of additional Dataviz translators available from Apple, worked flawlessly in NINE. But somewhere around System 9.1 and AppleWorks 6.x, this situation went SOUTH.

Despite much research and many valiant attempts on an iMac of a certain VIC, I could NEVER get the Appleworks translators to behave properly! THE best solution? She's happily using PANTHER now. Appleworks when installed for Oh Ess TEN, does a great job of translating Word and Excel files.

But I still remember that annoying problem, and so, I present to anyone still using NINE, a link to the latest version 6.2.9, a new page on how to FIX the translator problem, and a link to obtain all those extra translators!

<> <> <>

And That's The Difference.

Occasional Favorite Web Site

If you check the gas pump you can see that "liberating" Iraq hasn't done much to stabilize oil prices. (Keep that in mind come November.) At least the mega-national-oil monopolies can profit. But for the rest of us, it might pay to SHOP around for gasoline. Why not buy the cheapest gas? This web site can help you find it...


(X) Special Bonus Keyboard Commands
[Command] + L
Safari - Put cursor in Address box (to type in a new URL)

[Command]+[Option] + Click an Application icon on the Dock - Hides all other application windows and brings the clicked on application to the 'top', (or launches it if it wasn't already loaded.)

(Panther Only)
Immediately 'force quit' the current application.

[Command] + [Shift] + U
In Finder, go directly to the Utilities folder.

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>.

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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!



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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 :-)