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 # 69, 04/30/04
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
This is a BIG issue full of iTunes!! Baby, it's an iTunes world!! Or an iPod world, and that's part of the brilliance of the whole concept. More on that throughout. We've got some changes in our format! You've seen some of the commercial content; we'll try to keep it out of your way so that UNPREDICTABLE can retain it's global reputation for being OCCASIONALLY outrageous and usually USEFUL. There's a new section called 'Easy But Not Obvious' where we'll address some of the Windows-like difficulty of the Mac interface in the new millennium. The web site continues to languish from inattention as we contemplate ways to update it quickly or just bag the whole thing and become a BLOG. One possibility we've resisted is converting to an HTML mail format. As always, we're open to your feedback. And please enjoy some of the fascinating Mac trivia, insightful comments, and personal commentary of questionable merit, of which you'll find an ample dose, in the Geek Speak Review. Remember it's (9) for NINE, (X) for TEN, (W) for Windows, and double asterisks (**) precede links that help Support
Unpredictable. :-)

UPDATES - iTunes, AND MORE, Checkmark, Quicken
NEWS - Apple Profits Still Up, Apple Laptops, eMac Enhanced
WEIRD NEWS - Report from the Colonies
EASY BUT NOT OBVIOUS - iTunes Music Store [Buy It]
PLAYLIST - You pick!! You vote!! And get a free download!
Tips - iTunes Link Maker
OCCASIONAL Favorite WEB SITE - Gas Buddy Again
Special Bonus Keyboard Commands - iTunes

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 - 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!)

The obligatory Office ad:
Microsoft Office X for Mac (Student/Teacher Edition) Install onto 3 Macs in your house! Shipping included.<>

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

For Oh Ess TEN Switcher from NINE:
The Mac OS X Conversion Kit: 9 to 10 Side by Side, by Scott Kelby $20.39

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

Geek Speak Alert! IMS (or iTMS), Link Maker

Geek Speak Review
Link Maker - Creates a URL link directly to something; the iTunes Link Maker creates a link to a specific song in the IMS. (See Tips below). Amazon has link makers to help small struggling businesses, such as U&O, link to their products for a commission. Which is why you see so many links all over the web to Amazon products. These links (see the links above in the Shameless Commerce section), scream, "Buy it from me! Buy it from me!"

SoundJam - The pioneering Mac MP3 program which, along with its developer, was Borged by Apple. After that, in no time at all Apple came out with iTunes 1-point-oh. (Maybe that Borg thing explains the prevalence of the brushed metal interface?)

CDDB - Yet another innovative Internet concept. "CD DataBase". Since every commercial audio CD has a unique identifying number, why not create a web site (or an Internet 'presence', since a web browser wasn't required) where people could type in the corresponding song names, artists, etc. that go with their CDs? Then, with the appropriate software, you slip a CD into your computer, the program reads the CD's ID number, connects to CDDB, and pulls the track info, displaying it for you. If the track info isn't there, you have the opportunity to enter it for everyone else. GraceNote, the company that owned CDDB, maintained the site as a free service. Apple clued-in to this concept early, using it in their CD Player application. Once you pull the info for a CD, it keeps it in a local database so that you don't need to go to the Internet every time you play the CD. SoundJam used it for obtaining track information that could be included in MP3 files ripped from CDs. And in a stroke of brilliant insight, the Steve negotiated with GraceNote for a preemptive license to access the site by EVERY MACINTOSH ON THE PLANET, before the folks at GraceNote decided to go commercial.

One Click - A copyrighted, or trademarked?, concept realized by the Web-programming geniuses at Amazon dot com. As you probably know, once you have an account at Amazon, you can go to their site, find a product, and buy it with a single click. That's the idea. And rather than re-invent and re-code it, and turn the lawyers loose on each other, Mr. Jobs simply licensed 'One Click' from Amazon for the IMS.

IMS or iTMS - iTunes Music Store. You know what it is. How did it happen? Steve Jobs, or someone who had his ear, had a vision of what a music store on the Internet should be. It should be easy, beautiful, fun, and tightly integrated with your computer, use other features available through the Internet, and all the best technologies, such as MP3 players - and why not create and integrate it with the best MP3 player while your at it, the iPod. Apple carefully and quietly acquired the people and technologies to make it happen - an MP3 program (SoundJam, becoming iTunes), a license for CD info (CDDB), easy web-based purchasing technology (One click), and of course the iPod. By incorporating QuickTime at its base and the ability to incorporate Digital Rights Management in a new file format (AAC), Steve Jobs persuaded the major record labels and artists to sign on (just about everybody except the Beatles, who in spite of having sued and been paid off by Apple several times already, are still sore at Jobs for calling his computer company "Apple" when their all-but-forgotten record label was "Apple Records").

Apple Updates:
(X,W) iTunes 4.5 - A free update with a bunch of features, including the ability to convert unprotected Windows Media Player (WMA) files to the iTunes AAC format. This will be big for Win users, but for most of us it won't matter, because we have Macs. (Ha! Ha! Ha!). You can now print CD Inserts (so far no labels - thank goodness for the few small software companies that make some FINE programs that do that). Introducing 'Apple Lossless', which supposedly converts CD quality audio to a format half the size, with no loss in quality. (MP3 and AAC formats until now were around 1/10th the size with quite a bit of loss.) And there's more! Including that you can now license up to 5 Macs to play your downloads (used to be 3, didn't it? Im beginning to get confused with all these numbers!!) ANNND, there is allegedly now a 'free download of the month'. I already got mine! (Foo Fighters). Wait! Then I got Avril Lavigne the next day!! I LOVE truly free music!

(X,W) QuickTime 6.5.1 - Necessary for iTunes 4.5 if you don't want it to nag you every time the program starts.

(X) iMovie for Mac OS X 4.0.1 - Interesting name don't you think? It's not like iTunes or Safari or iPhoto. They're calling the new release, "iMovie FOR MAC". Now it could just be because there was an iMovie for OS NINE. But then you get my drift?? Anyway, it's one of those "stability and performance" updates.

Try Software Update for all of these - I had to download them manually.

(9,X,W) CheckMark Software Announces Payroll MICR Encoding - [We've mentioned CheckMark before when we discussed Mac accounting packages. They're package is "Multiledger", and the payroll piece works with it. Proof that you can use your Mac for business! Last time I checked, the site had links to Point of Sale software as well.] For the complete details, check the Press Release placed traditionally at The Bottom (way below).

(9,X) And speaking of accounting...Quicken 2004 R3 - I've installed this update, and so far so good. Seems to have actually fixed some of the annoying bugs when using online checking. Also seems a bit slower...

Check for more updates at <>.

Apple Profits Way Up, Still Doomed? - At $46 million for Q2, Apple Profits are 3 times higher for the most recent quarter than last year. They sold 807,000 iPods and 750,000 Macs in the last quarter, with gross margins of 27.8 percent, and they have $4.6 billion cash in the bank with no debt, AND the stock price FINALLY got up to $29 share, briefly. Not to mention all those iTunes downloads that PEPSI paid for and nobody actually got! I don't know...I'm thinking they still might be doomed. ;-)

New Macs New Prices - There are no major re-designs here, but some fine tweaking of the whole laptop line, with faster G4 processors all around. The high end of the aluminum PowerBooks now clocks in at 1.5 Gig. The big news is the continuing decline in price of the eMac, but only the high end SuperDrive model, which now sells for $999.00. The Combo Drive version is still going for $799.00. So you can join the G4-DVD-Burning-OSX-Mac club for around US $1000!! I love that flat-panel iMac, but when it's time for a new Mac for the kids, it's probably going to be an eMac! All the SuperDrives now burn DVDs at 4x (which is good, if you've ever waited for a 1x DVD to finish....), but it appears they have lost the ability to burn DVD-RWs, the re-usable DVDs. I may be mistaken; I installed the SuperDrive in my Titanium, which burns DVD-RWs, but it's somewhat non-standard. Please correct me on this, if you know!

Weird News
Report from the Colonies - George II Still Controls States Despite Declaration of Independence - Revolution Imminent?

More News: <>

Unpredictable Reader Feedback
What? No new subscribers to welcome this issue? Help me out! Recruit a Mac friend to subscribe!

You Tell Me - "It's hard to say why," states graphic designer Joan, in response to my question "Why do you use a Mac?" posed in U&O #67. She comments, "I prefer to ask people HOW they FEEL about their computers. Windows users usually don't understand the question. They say, 'What do you mean?'. But MAC users usually say, 'I love it!!'" And we can probably all relate to that, because, except for a few lurking Windows readers (I KNOW WHO YOU ARE) we are Mac users, HA! HA! HA! Thanks, Joan!


Trouble Shooting
Stuck eMail Messages - Scientist and former ceramic artist, Dan, called. He couldn't email me, he claimed, because the last issue of U&O had caused his to crash. I declared innocence, since U&O is just a text message which, except for a few URLs here and there, doesn't even contain HTML (which sometimes does cause mail servers or clients to choke). But something did happen - probably corruption on his mail server or on the newsletter in-transit. If this ever happens to you - usually evidenced by your mail program downloading a few messages and then freezing and refusing to download more, sometimes re-downloading the same ones over and over, call the support number of your ISP. They should be able to go into your mail file on the server and delete the message that is 'stuck'.

Overlooked and Underused
—Terrible tales of misunderstood and unknown features—

The iMac Can Run Ten

(Second in a series on the Cool-Retro-iMac-iTunes Jukebox)
Faithful readers recall that in our last issue I revealed that many old iMacs, (in my case a 400mhz Graphite) can actually run Oh Ess TEN. I also revealed the little known secret that although the official specs say these machines can only use 512Mb RAM, they are actually capable of using twice that much, 1 Gig, which makes TEN very happy!

I didn't go into all the details of installing Panther (please don't waste your time with Jaguar or any earlier version of TEN). It's fairly simple, takes at least an hour or so, and once installed, works great! If you need help with it, contact your local Mac consultant (ahem).

But before you install TEN, how much disk space do you have?? Oh sure, six or seven years ago, before the Steve returned, before iMacs and iPods and iLife, we thought a "Gig" was a lot. Not any more. And my iMac had an absurdly tiny 13 Gig drive. Heck, what was Apple thinking?? That wasn't even enough to do a little video editing, even though that iMac Graphite was one of the first machines to have iMovie 1.0 on it. My point is, check your hard drive. Do you have 10 or 15 Gigs free? Are you going to use your refurbed iMac as an MP3/iTunes juke box? Or do some real video on it? You could get an external drive, but all those boxes plugged into your retro beauty are really UGLY. Wouldn't you rather have everything you need right inside?? (That's kind of a cosmic thought, huh?) If we're talking about you, you can meditate and do T'ai Chi. But if we're talking about your iMac, I say, buy a bigger hard drive and replace the old one!!

This is a little harder than replacing the RAM, but if you can handle a few tools, and HAVE NO FEAR, and you locate the instructions (okay, I'll give it away, try the MacUser site), you can replace your drive in around 30 minutes. (Not counting backing up your old data, installing TEN, and restoring your old data, of course.) If you shop around, you can probably find a good 120 Gigabyte drive for around $125. There are smaller drives for not much less, and bigger drives for quite a bit more, which is why I settled on the 120. That gives me enough room for TEN, NINE, a bunch of applications, and still 70-80 Gig remaining for my iTunes Juke Box.

If you've followed along, your 'old' iMac now has 1 Gig of RAM, a 120 Gig hard drive, and is humming along with Oh Ess TEN. COOL! What's left? How about AirPort? Maybe a new mouse and/or keyboard? We'll cover those briefly another time.



Easy but not Obvious
iTunes Music Store - Buy Song or Add Song? - You can buy songs two ways from the iTunes Music Store: The quick, easy, and potentially VERY expensive One-Click method, in which you just click [Buy Song] and it immediately downloads. Or the 'Shopping Cart' method, in which you click [Add Song] and get to review a list of what you picked before you 'check out'. If you haven't fiddled with the Preferences, you may have never seen the Shopping Cart method.

Go to iTunes Preferences (on the iTunes menu next to the Apple menu), and click on the "Store" icon. Under "Show iTunes.." (which should already be checked), click on "Buy using a Shopping Cart" then click [Okay].

Now when you see a song list, the button on the right will say [Add Song] and that's pretty easy and obvious, right? Almost.

So you select a bunch of songs, you're shopping around, and because the store is so beautifully integrated into the iTunes program, you might even have played some music and poked around in your library, but now you're ready to download. You look at iTunes and what do you do?? Here's where it is EASY BUT NOT OBVIOUS. You've used a web browser to buy stuff, you know you need to "check out" and there should be a [Check Out] button somewhere obvious. It's gotta be right there in front of you doesn't it? So where the heck is it?? Personally, APPLE, I think if I'm anywhere in the Music Store, it should be right in front of me. But it's not. Well, heck at least I can find my Shopping Cart, maybe that would help, right? But where is it?? I have to go over to the left panel called the "Source" panel. Hopefully, right under "Music Store" I can see "Shopping Cart". But it's not there!! If it's not there, I have to double-click on the 'twistie', the little triangle next to "Music Store". Now that I can see "Shopping Cart", I click on that to bring up the list of all the songs I've selected. Whew! We're almost there. In the Shopping Cart panel, and ONLY in the Shopping Cart panel, down at the bottom, on the right, you'll find the [BUY NOW] button.

and that's Easy but not OBVIOUS

YOU PICK!! Act now, get one song free!
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and "Rock the Vote" are cosponsoring an effort to get people to vote in November. As part of the promotion, they ask eligible voters to PLEDGE to vote. Make the pledge online, and if you are one of the first 50,000 people to do so, you get a TRULY FREE song from the IMS! (It works! I already got mine!) If you want to share your pick, use the iTunes Link Maker and send the link to UNPREDICTABLE.


(X,W) iTunes Music Store - iTunes Link Maker: You can use the iTunes Link Maker to locate a song, artist, or album and generate HTML to create a link to take someone directly to that song, artist, or album in iTunes. But heck, if you're already in the IMS and you already see a song you would like to link, just [Command/Apple]+Click (or if you have a sensible 2 button mouse, [Right]+click), on the song, and from the Context menu that appears, select, "Copy iTunes Music Store URL". And you've got it on your Clipboard, ready to paste anywhere!! Here's an example:


Occasional Favorite Web Site
Gas Buddy Follow up - Since our last issue, the price of gas in Beautiful Central Western New Jersey has gone up from US $1.59.9 per 'regular' gallon to $1.61.9, and then to $1.63.9!! Some media blabbermouth announced nationally that gas in NJ was cheaper than anywhere else in the country, so of course the price went up! Thanks! But no need to fear. America's own special gas buddy, Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Sultan is willing to help out long time family friend George II, and we should see lower gas prices just in time to drive to the polls!! "We always want any president who is in office to be reelected," Bin Sultan explained on Larry King's 'CNN Live', while stressing that his [Bush's] hope for lower oil prices was not a direct effort to influence the outcome of the U.S. election. No, he wouldn't do that.


(X) Special Bonus Keyboard Commands
[Command] + T - Turn on the visualizer!
[Command] + F - Toggle Full Screen in the visualizer!
[Space Bar] - Pause when a song is playing, start when a song is paused.
[Option]+[Delete] - Removes the selected song(s) from all playlists, and the Library, asks if you want to delete the music file as well.

Check the iTunes Help menu for a huge list of keyboard shortcuts.

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

>CheckMark Software Announces Payroll
>MICR Encoding
>Fort Collins, CO, March 16, 2004-CheckMark Software, Inc.
>has announced that CheckMark Payroll Software, the company's
>premier stand-alone payroll product since 1986, now has a
>MICR Encoding available for a one-time cost. Any registered
>CheckMark Payroll Software user can add the ability to print
>MICR bank routing and account numbers, bank branch
>information, and company information on blank check stock
>using a laser printer. This can be a real time and money
>"Accountants and payroll processing services can MICR encode
>unlimited checks for unlimited employer clients year after
>year for one small fee," reports James Mathre, president of
>CheckMark Software. "Employers with just a handful of
>employees are ordering the MICR module as well. It's so
>affordable they can't miss."
>CheckMark continues to deliver "big" features for employers,
>easy operation, and the option to export data to most
>popular accounting systems.
>As a rule, payroll checks must have the bank routing
>numbers, the check number, an account number, and other
>information printed in a "machine readable" form on special
>paper, using special toners, and within precise
>specifications. CheckMark Payroll Software is capable of
>doing all the above. As an added bonus, the software is
>capable of printing a scanned signature on each check, and
>it all happens with one pass through the printer.
>To complete the package, CheckMark has recently added blank
>check stock to its list of products. Mathre says, "Our
>customers trust our ability to provide high quality at an
>honest price.something we've been doing for nearly twenty
>CheckMark's Payroll programs and the MICR Encoding run
>equally well on Windows and Macintosh computers. System
>requirements include: The 2004 version of CheckMark Payroll
>Software, Windows 95 and higher or Macintosh OS 8.6 and
>higher including OS X. Users will also need a CD drive and a
>compatible laser printer. Special MICR laser toner is
>Founded in 1984, CheckMark Software became one of the first
>companies to roll out accounting software for the Macintosh
>followed by an integrated accounting system and payroll for
>Windows. Approximately 6,100 small and medium-sized
>businesses actively run CheckMark Payroll software, many
>started using CheckMark in the 1980s and early 90s.
>Technical support and customer service are based in the USA
>and are provided directly to the user by CheckMark Software.
>For More Information: Contact Terry Stone, phone:
>970-225-0522 ext. 124, or email:



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 :-)