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CHRIS'S UNPREDICTABLE and OCCASIONAL Newsletter for MAC USERS #3, 1/23/01
Contents Copyright 2001 by Christopher Plummer
===============================================

Geek Speak Alert: Disk Image, URL--> <http://www.info.apple.com/>, System
Folder, USB, Firewire, OS/X, Applescript, smiley :-)

NOTE from the EDITOR:
I'm trying to keep UNPREDICTABLE short. Maybe a page or two at most, but
sometimes I just can't! :-)


OS 9.1
In the last issue I mentioned updating software. Apple has an OS 9.1
update out, which is HUGE (I'm not being "hip" here. I mean it is LARGE.)
I'd recommend buying the CD if you really think you need it. I can't tell
you much about it yet - some people claim it speeds up screen redrawing,
it's supposed to have some Applescript bug fixes, it rearranges your
Folders so they are structured like the impending OS/X, breaking Lotus
Notes in the process (but YOU don't use Lotus Notes do you?). I've seen a
number of announcements from companies with updates of THEIR software to
make it OS 9.1 compatible - Thursby's DAVE, TechTool Pro, Disk Warrior,
etc. It's also NOT compatible with the OS/X Beta. It's a 70 some Megabyte
download from Apple, either as ONE GIANT FILE, or as 15 4Mb disk image
files. Last I heard it was NOT available through the Software Update
Control Panel, though it probably will be. I'd recommend holding off
awhile, but if you don't, be sure to back up your hard drive, or AT LEAST
your data.

<http://www.info.apple.com/support/macos9/9.1download.html>



CONTROL PANELS: SOFTWARE UPDATE

System Updates. You may never hear about them, but when you buy and
install a new piece of software or hardware, you might find out you need
to bring your system up to a certain level, or replace a specific piece
of the Mac OS that's newer. "Drivers" are pretty commonly updated, things
like USB and Firewire drivers, which were pretty buggy when they first
came out and have improved quite a bit in the last year or so.

How do you do one of these updates? You can often buy major updates on CD
from Apple or other vendors, but we're mostly talking minor updates here.
You can look up and write down all the versions of all the stuff that's
buried in your System Folder, then go to Apple's site and search for and
find all the latest updates and download them and decompress them and run
the installers and restart your Mac once for each update and... by now
you might have asked yourself, "Isn't there an easier way?" I mean, I
bought a MAC for heaven's sake!

First of all, manual updates these days aren't THAT BAD. In the Jurmassic
era all we had were diskettes - usually bizillions if it was a big update
- and boy, how funny was that when you spoon fed your Mac II Disk number
19 of 25 and it spit it out because it couldn't read it and you had to
get a new Disk 19 SOMEWHERE and then start all over! Steve put an end to
disk drives, but we still pretend with downloaded "Disk Images", which
usually work pretty well.

Yes, there is a better way, and that's what the SOFTWARE UPDATE Control
Panel is all about.
It's pretty simple in concept: Using an Internet connection, this cute
little Control Panel calls up Apple and tells the BIG UPDATE COMPUTER at
Apple WHAT YOU HAVE - the version numbers of all the little doodads that
make up your OS - Extensions, Control Panels, Libraries, etc. As a rule,
this update is only for APPLE stuff, but there are a few other things
that might get checked for updates depending on how well their parent
companies are getting along with Apple (or vice-versa).

[Does the Control Panel also tell Apple your name, rank, and serial
numbers of bootlegged software on your hard drive? Or as the bard (Neil
Young) wrote, "You'll be watchin' your TV, and it'll be watchin' you." I
don't know. We're just not going to go there. If you want to use it, use
it. - Chris]

When Apple's BIG UPDATE COMPUTER gets the list of WHAT YOU HAVE, it
compares it to its own list of WHAT'S CURRENT. Then it sends your Control
Panel back a list of WHAT'S NEW. Sometimes nothing is new, sometimes
there's new stuff that you don't really need. But, whatever it is, you
can say, "Okay, let her rip!" and Apple will send you the new stuff and
it will go right on your machine where it belongs. This could take a few
minutes, it could take all night depending on your connection speed, the
size and quantity of the updates, and so on. But when it's done, you're
going to have to RESTART your Mac, so be sure you realize that BEFORE you
start. Don't worry, though, if you set this up according to my
recommendations you'll have a couple of places where you can bail out if
you need to. You see, you can actually set this up to AUTOMATICALLY
update your Mac, with virtually no intervention on your part - but this
is NOT RECOMMENDED.

The Details:
Here's how I suggest setting up the SOFTWARE UPDATE Control Panel.
Open the Control Panel (It's under your Apple Menu, hopefully.)
When the panel comes up, first check "Update Software Automatically". (I
know I said not to! That's why this is UNPREDICTABLE. Just keep reading.)
Once you have checked "Update Software Automatically", you can NOW check,
"Ask me before installing new software". You definitely want to be asked.
Now you can go back and UNCHECK "Update Software Automatically". Is this
little dance really necessary? Well, no. But I feel much more comfortable
having that "Ask me" checkbox checked. And I like to feel COMFORTABLE.

When you're done thinking about that, click the [Update Now] button. If
you are already connected to the Internet, things should start happening.
If you're not connected, the Update Control Panel will try to initiate a
connection (just like when you run your web browser, or your email
program). I think an older version of the update Control Panel was
mysteriously ignorant about doing this. It would give you an error saying
that YOU have to initiate the connection. CAN YOU IMAGINE? ON A MAC? But
they've fixed that.

Once the two computers have finished their little chat, (and depending on
how much they have to say, it could take them awhile to catch up), you'll
either be notified that there are no updates, or you'll get a list of
what's new and available. At this point you have to decide what (if
anything) to update. And of course if some update item is really huge
(the sizes are included) you might want to wait and do it later. I can't
tell you here what to update. I'm a consultant. That's the kind of thing
I get paid for. But if you DO update something, and you Restart your Mac,
and everything comes up fine (it usually does), it's a good idea to run
the Update Control Panel a second time. Why on earth would you do that!?
Well, because sometimes versions of these things are dependent upon each
other. You can't update item A until item B is updated first. So that's
it. We're done.

Strangely and UNPREDICTABLY, Quicktime is not updated by the Software
Update Control Panel!! As an old Eagles song goes, "I can't tell you why."
But I can tell you "how", in a future issue.

- Chris

______________________________________________________________________
** 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 I get around to it - about
whatever pops into my head!

If you have friends or associates who would like to receive this
newsletter, have them send me an email with "Start Unpredictable" in
the Subject line. If you'd prefer NOT to receive this newsletter,
send me an email with the message "Stop Unpredictable" in the Subject
line (no hard feelings, honest!)


 

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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 :-)