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CHRIS'S UNPREDICTABLE and OCCASIONAL Newsletter for MAC USERS # 71, 07/31/04
Contents Copyright 2004 by Christopher Plummer

OBLIGATORY ADVERTISEMENT... Ready to go 'wireless'? Want to share your Internet connection? Share your iTunes Playlists with other computers on your LAN? Create professional looking CDs? Or just get the inside info on how your Mac can "Play Nice" with Windows users? 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
I admit it, I've been putting most of my effort into the web site. Except for this issue, IT'S CURRENT!! Hooray! There are still some unfinished pages, but criminy, I've got a lot of content up there! Anyway, sometimes, like a young person leaving for college for the first time, an issue just has to go. So it is with #71. There's some good stuff here, but you'll have to wait for more on the Retro-iMac-Juke Box and my essay on Steve Job's email address. For now, enjoy some 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. :-

SHAMELESS COMMERCE - ** Buy Office & Support Unpredictable
(X) UPDATES - iTunes 4.6, PowerMail 5.0.1, and more
NEWS - iPods, Airport Express, Flat Panels, and Tigers, Oh My!
WEIRD NEWS - The Amazing Incredible Disappearing iMac
UNPREDICTABLE READER FEEDBACK - Elisa & her iBook, Brad & his Canon
OVERLOOKED AND UNDERUSED - On the Beach (More on the iPod Retro Jukebox, soon..)
PLAYLIST - 4 Way Street (the band, not the album)
(X) Tips - iChat with Unpredictable!

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>

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

MS Office 2004 Standard Upgrade

MS Office 2004 Standard

**AirPort Related Commerce:
AirPort Card

Apple Airport Card Adapter Kit (required for slot-loading G3 iMacs)

AirPort Exteme Card

AirPort Extreme Base Station (ABS)

AirPort Extreme Base Station (ABS) w/modem & antenna port

Geek Speak Alert! HTML, Help Viewer, 'real time', iChat, AIM

Geek Speak Review (the ‘GSR’)
Just Work - What every computer, peripheral, operating system, application, and consumer electronics goodie ought to do. Twenty-some years ago Sales Manager Bill Radigan at Princeton computer retailer Clancy-Paul, marveled over the ease of setting up and using the 'new' Macintosh. "Look! It just works!" This became our standard phrase of praise or derision for any product. Either, "Yea, it just works!" Or as a put down, "Jeesh! It ought to just work!" When products came in for repair and our service techs were stymied, they'd complain, "I can't understand why it doesn't just work!" With the usual synchronicity of language in the last century, this term is now pervasive. If you listen closely to Steve Jobs demo of iChat AV at the 2004 WWDC, you'll hear him say casually, "..and of course, it just works."

Security Update 2004-06-07 - I said I was going to bother with Security Updates, but this one contains Apple's 'fix' for the security vulnerability caused by use of URLs at all levels of OSX. You can use this (and presumably) get rid of the ParanoidAndroid utility discussed in U&O #70.

(X, W) iTunes 4.6 - Gad! Another iTunes update already? Yes. This is the one that incorporates AirTunes, Apple's new (Wireless) AirPort streaming. More on this in "News", and "Overlooked and Underused" (below).

(X) PowerMail 5.0.1 - PowerMail is a mail client reminiscent of the renowned eMailer of OS NINE and early Internet days. This new release is completely rewritten as a Cocoa app, making it very fast in OSX. This client is NOT for people who adore HTML mail (graphics and fonts). There are plenty of other features and improvements including integration with client-side filter SpamSieve. If Apple's Mail and Microsoft's Entourage are not your style, try PowerMail.

(X) Default Folder 1.9.4 - Compatibility with iApps, other fixes etc.

(X) textSOAP 4 - This nifty utility 'cleans' your text by removing unwanted carriage returns, brackets, just about anything. If you build web sites, you know how important that is! You can always download it and try it as shareware if you don't know what I'm talking about. Just be sure to pay for it if you decide to keep it.

(X) LaunchBar 4 - Can't wait for 'Spotlight' in Tiger? A big part of what Spotlight does is already available as the shareware utility 'LaunchBar'. Type a URL, email address, application, folder, or filename, and LaunchBar takes you there. Only for those whose time is valuable. :-)

(X) Salling Clicker 2.2 - Latest update to this utility which allows you to control your Mac with your cell phone, using BlueTooth. Supports more phones (including Symbian OS), improved PowerPoint control, more localizations, etc.

Check for more updates at <>.

Apple Updates iPod Line - The two high-end iPods now cost $100 less. That means the 20 Gig is $300 and the 40 Gig is $400. And they have the Click Wheel, previously only available on the Mini.

Apple updates Flat Panel Display line - In a welcome move away from the blobby plexiglass appearance of it's flat panel displays, Apple has updated the 20” and 23” models and introduced a HUGE 30" display, all with that 'brushed aluminum' look. (Remember I said Apple was going to give everything, all its software and hardware, the same appearance? Just leave the eMac ALONE PLEASE!!) The new displays start at US $1399.00 and go up to $3200 for the whopper. The whopper requires a special new Nvidia video card, which currently only works in PowerMac desktops.

AirPort Express and AirTunes-Apple has introduced a new 802.11G Access Point, or in Apple-speak—an Airport Extreme Base Unit—which looks just like a PowerBook power supply! It has an ethernet port to connect to the Internet or your wired LAN, and a USB port to connect to a shared printer. Besides its phenomenal portability and ease of set up, it has one additional feature. It sports an 'audio out' port, which you can connect to your stereo or powered speakers. What for? Why to stream your iTunes of course! Any Mac on your LAN can send its playlists to your stereo! The unit is $125 and should be available by mid July.

Tiger - If you'd asked me, I'd have told you that OSX had just about all the features anyone could want and it was unlikely that OUR FRIENDS AT APPLE could make any big improvements in it. WRONG! The new cat in town, due sometime in 2005, has lots of interesting new features. Let me just say: Spotlight might make the Desktop and Finder unnecessary, Automator takes Applescript to new levels, and Dashboard brings back Desk Accessories with a vengeance! There's more, and if you'd like a peek, take a look at the links below. If you have the bandwidth, watch Steve's keynote from the Developer Conference. His demos give a lot more whomp to the new features than a few pages on the Apple site. And remember, Oh Ess NINE is gone. You WILL upgrade. "The transition is over. The transition is over. The transition is over."

Weird News
The Amazing Incredible Disappearing iMac - Apple Runs Out of iMacs! Strange but true, Apple has discontinued the snowball iMac and won't have the new G5 re-designed model until sometime in September. Of course Analysts contend this is yet another sign of Apple's impending doom. Oh well. What will the NEW iMac look like?? I have no inside track. I'm hoping the design wonks can keep the consumer line in the round, plastic eMac/iBook world, but if it goes the direction of everything else at Apple, look for brushed aluminum.

Ex-Officials Blast US Foreign Policy

More News: <>

Unpredictable Reader Feedback
Remember Elisa? an Unpredictable reader with a long term, extremely annoying problem with her iBook? It crashed, it flickered, and nobody—not Chris (me), not Apple Support, and not the Apple Store Genius could make it stop!! Why? It was DEFECTIVE. Sorry to use that word, but it does happen. And if I might pat myself on the back, I played an essential role in identifying the problem. (More on this when I talk about Steve's email address in the next issue..) The good news is that Apple has a special program for iBooks, which has been extended. Elisa got hers replaced. How is it working now? Promising further details months ago, she wrote, "The computer is fine! I haven't done anything but go on line with it and all is well." I haven't heard from her since, which I think means everything is working fine. The range of affected units were manufactured between May 2001 and October 2003, with serial numbers ranging from UV117XXXXXX to UV342XXXXXX. The symptoms include scrambled or distorted video, computer starting with a blank screen, etc. Repair costs, including shipping, are free. Read about it:

Brad's Canon Still Not Firing - In our last issue,my recommendation to first get CURRENT with Panther, got Brad one step closer to sharing his Canon Bubble Jet over his AirPort Extreme Base Station. The longest journey may start with a single step, but who cares when you can't get to your destination! :-) <snip> "..the printer works just fine when it's plugged directly into the laptop. I've followed the instructions, which suggest that you plug the printer into the laptop, print a page, and then plug the printer into the USB port on the Airport base station. No dice." Brad is going to take the whole assembly to an Apple Genius when he has a minute. Stay tuned!

Just the usual Accolades (Thanks!)

Trouble Shooting
Batteries for Apple laptops and iPods have been occasionally controversial. Most people don't realize that PowerBook batteries wear out and eventually require replacement. Otherwise there's not much of an issue, unless they catch fire. In 1995, back when the company was doomed, Apple recalled the PB 5300 because the batteries of two PowerBooks "failed catastrophically" in tests on the Apple campus, with one of them actually igniting. The press had a great time with this, but there were only about a hundred of these machines in the hands of customers at the time of the recall. A few years later in 2000, Dull Computer recalled 23,000 laptops because of reports of the batteries overheating, and one owned by a customer actually catching fire! The original iPod battery sometimes died after around 18 months (on a 12 month warranty) and Apple had the nerve to charge 250 dollars (US) replacement charge! But OUR FRIENDS AT APPLE usually do try to do the right thing. The iPod battery replacement is now a $100 charge, and there are plenty of third party batteries available for considerably less. AND Apple has come clean on batteries with a special page just for iPod, PowerBook, and iBook owners. Check it out:

Easy but not Obvious
(X) Help In Ten - Apple, you'll be delighted to know, has greatly improved the HTML-reading-internal Help program in Panther. This was one of those, "NINE was better" items in Jaguar. It was so SLOW! You had to endure the 'Spinning Rainbow Pizza of Death' if you wanted any online help. [Unfortunately, even as I was writing this, Apple's Security update broke the Help Viewer! See the Occasional Favorite Web Site (below) for Help fixing the Help Viewer!—Chris] One thing you might recall from the mature, unified, Help System under OS9, was a Menu (call it a 'Home Page' if you like) that listed all the different Help files for all your applications, plus the Mac OS help. When you installed Quicken for the first time, a new 'Quicken Help' listing appeared on this Home page.

If you've used Panther a bit, you may SWEAR you've seen this helpful Help Home Page! (I KNOW I did!) But was that in Jaguar? Did they IMPROVE it out of existence in Panther? Nope, it's part of Apple's new Interface Design concept that I call, "Easy But Not Obvious" also known as, "It's there, but you have to figure out where." ;-)

At least MY point is obvious; SOMEWHERE there's a way to list ALL the Help Files available in the Help system, and I DON'T mean some Geeky method of finding the originating files buried deep down in some system folder. It ought to be there right in front of us, shouldn't it? So you click on the Home Button, maybe you go to the Finder, because it makes sense to pull up "Mac Help" instead of trying to locate it from "Safari Help". But no, the mysterious 'master list' of Help is nowhere to be found.

Note to OUR FRIENDS AT APPLE - Some application windows contain so much, are so interesting or important, that to a user, the window is the whole application. In fact, Apple used to have applications like that! In these single-window-intensive applications, we tend to forget that there are also menus! For example, when's the last time you opened a System Preference, say 'Energy Saver'? Did you use the Menu when you were there? I'll bet you didn't. And when you decided you needed to go to the 'Appearance' System Preference from there, did you look to the Menu to do it? I'll bet you clicked on the [Show All] button, didn't you?? Here's a surprise, you could have gone to the 'View' menu in 'Energy Saver', and selected 'Appearance' and jumped right to it!

"Okay, Chris", you say, "Enough dancing around, are you telling us there is a 'View' menu in the Help System??"

Yes and no. From the Help System you can find a MENU of all the installed Help files that use Apple's Help System. If the Interface were consistent, the name of that menu would be the same across Mac applications. But in Help, you ignore the 'View' menu and have to use the 'Library' menu. Walla! At last!

Depending on what software you install, there may be applications (such as those from Microsoft) that don't use Apple's Help. Why not? Oh, heck, don't be too hard on them, the Mac Office apps are really terrific, but they have to write their Help files ONCE, and they get written for Windows first, so they work with Windows' HTML reading Help System. And, in fact, Windows Help System read HTML when the Mac's Help System was still diddling around with 'Guide' and all kinds of other Mac only stuff. Plus, Apple has changed the Help system reader, so some Help files written for earlier versions don't work in Panther. Got all that?

...yet another Easy But Not Obvious item.

"Barbed Wire" by local Philly band 4 Way Street. Much like the band that created the album '4 Way Street', each of the four members is a singer-songwriter in his own right. They lend a hand with their own songs and interests, and work together to create an album, 'Pretzel Park' with some great songs and wonderful harmonies. With so many good songs, it's hard to choose, but 'Barbed Wire' is my favorite.

Occasional Favorite Web Site
(X) XLab—A good site with tons of information and links. Not for the meek, and UNPREDICTABLY recommended. The author of this site, and the PDF book he (she?) sells there, is Dr. Smoke, who drew this information from his/her heavy participation in Apple's Support Discussion forums.

(X) iChat with Unpredictable
If you haven't tried iChat, you really should. It's compatible with AOL Instant Messenger service (AIM) and adds voice and video messaging. I'm thinking of offering iChat to my clients as a way of assisting them with their Macs in real time. What do you think? iChat with me:
< I'll be getting an iSight camera soon, then we can video chat!!

TFSB :-)

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.
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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


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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 :-)