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CHRIS'S UNPREDICTABLE and OCCASIONAL Newsletter for MAC USERS #17,
05/04/01 Special HUGE Laptop Issue
Contents Copyright 2001 by Christopher Plummer
===============================================


THIS ISSUE:
-----------
Skip this issue AT YOUR PERIL. I KNOW IT'S UNPREDICTABLY GIGANTIC. Don't
read it all at once. NIBBLE. If you're a 'desktop' user; take a quick
look, there may be some USEFUL info here.

UPDATES: Palm Desktop, OS X & iTunes for OS X (YES, THESE ARE NEW.)
UNPREDICTABLE READER FEEDBACK
GEEK SPEAK REVIEW
MIGRATE TO OS 9.1 - THE EASY WAY - BUY A TiMac!!
OVERLOOKED AND UNDERUSED -AMAZING GEEKY DISCOVERY about LOCATION MANAGER
TIMAC REVIEW
KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
FAVORITE WEB SITES
DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS
Special Bonus Keyboard Commands
AN APPEAL TO/FOR SUBSCRIBERS
PROMOTIONAL PROPAGANDA: The NEW iMac & A Big Ed Sale by OUR FRIENDS at
Apple



COMING SOON:
-----------
A Little More Help With Hanging and Crashing
A Little Bit about CD-Rs
How I made out with Epson print drivers



GEEK SPEAK ALERT: Burner, Gig, Extension Manager, Location Manager,
iBook, TiMac



UPDATES:
--------
PALM DESKTOP 2.6.3 - Support for more Palm models, and a bugfix for
Instant Palm Desktop.
<http://www.palm.com/support/macintosh/dtmacdl263.html>

[OS X - That would be 'TEN'. Or AQUA for the rest of us.]
Apple has released an OS X update and an update to iTunes for OS X that
adds the missing CD burning features promised when the OS was released
(but ONLY for burning MUSIC CDs). Free to OS X users and automatically
downloadable. More info in the News Releases at the bottom.



UNPREDICTABLE READER FEEDBACK:
------------------------------
PowerBook Tenor, ONE OF MY READERS, wrote about the largest portable
purchase of all time, by a school district in Virginia, buying 23,000 new
iBooks from Apple!! In his words, "This is our school district and I
couldn't be prouder. I can't wait for my kids to start school in this
environment of fully embracing 'true' next generation technology."
[Sounds to me like an opportunity for new UNPREDICTABLE subscribers! More
detail in the press release at the bottom.]



GEEK SPEAK REVIEW:
---------------------
TiMac
Powerbook G4 laptop, also called "Titanium", or "Titanium G4". Why Apple
would go from the 'high touch' curvy, tactile 'feel' of the 'old'
PowerBooks to a completely linear, hard, metallic design, I don't know. I
SUSPECT that they're 'Thinking Different', that they have to 'raise the
bar' now that all the PC companies have once again copied their
innovations, or maybe there's just a new guy in the design group who had
to PROVE himself by TRASHING WHAT CAME BEFORE. Whatever, they proved that
even this metal, linear THING is a THING OF BEAUTY!

iBook
Formerly the flattened iMac, clamshell, color, 'consumer' laptop
counterpart to the PowerBook. A laptop for college students and other
creative types who presumably don't have to deal with BIG DUMB
CORPORATIONS and CONSERVATIVE BEEHIVE IT DRONES who want every laptop to
look and act like an IBM ThinkPad or DELL LATITUDE. As of this week, the
sleek, awesome, translucent white baby sister of the Titanium G4
PowerBook. Aggressively priced starting at $1299.00, available with an
optional INTERNAL CD-RW or even an INTERNAL CD-RW/DVD. Beautiful enough
for artists and academics, and square enough for BIG DUMB CORPORATIONS.
This looks like a winner folks!! Get your Apple stock now, while you
still can!! [See the press release at the bottom, for more details.]

<http://www.apple.com>

iTunes
You must know what this is by now, right? Software. Apple's bid to make
the Mac even more Internet Savvy than it already is, by giving Mac users
a COOL and FREE MP3 player that includes the ability to burn CDs.

Burner
Cool word, huh? People "burn" CDs on their CD Burners. Why burn? Because
the technology used to make CDs is LASER, and CD Burners (and CDs)
actually get pretty warm when they're making a CD. If you say "cutting" a
CD, young people will think you are CLUELESS, and older people who are
HIP will think, "It's about time you gave up this thing with ANTIQUE
ANALOG VINYL TECHNOLOGY, DUDE."

Gig
In the days of stone knives and bearskins, media was measured in 'bytes'.
Nobody knows or cares what the heck a BYTE is anymore, do they? It's
SMALL. For example, a Megabyte is a MILLION BYTES. There are One Thousand
Mb (megabytes) in a Gig (gigabyte). A Gig is what magnetic media is
measured in THESE DAYS. If it's less than a Gig man, what good is it?
Well, we like CDs, but of course CDs are only 600Mb or so. Why do people
use them? You can't beat the 'per-megabyte' price. If you shop and buy in
quantity, you can get CD-Rs for around 35 cents apiece or less. In a year
or two we'll all be burning DVDs, which START at 5 Gig. And if I got
this all correct, as my prize, send me a couple of tickets to the next
Neil Young concert in the New Jersey area, okay?

Extension Manager (Control Panel)
Use with Caution!! Allows you to create 'sets' of Extensions, those
little snippets of code that load during startup. This way you can NOT
LOAD the Extensions that you don't use or need, or BE SURE TO LOAD the
ones you do. The commercial (and superior) counterpart to this is
CONFLICT CATCHER. Extension Manager is FREE, OVERLOOKED, & UNDERUSED.

Location Manager (Control Panel)
Covered in the article on Updating Quicktime in UNPREDICTABLE #8. Allows
you to create 'sets' consisting of ALL KINDS of different settings
(including Extension Manager or Conflict Catcher settings) and switch
back and forth between them easily. Not for the timid, but definitely
worth the learning curve. Another FREE, OVERLOOKED, & UNDERUSED feature
that you already have! And for Laptop users (that's the focus of this
issue after all) an ESSENTIAL!!




MIGRATE TO OS 9.1 - THE EASY WAY - BUY A TiMac!!
------------------------------------------------
While most of you, the LONE GUNMEN, and all the other hip geeks on TV
were using curvy PowerBook G3s, I've been tooling along on my old 1400.
With an 11" display, 250mhz G3 upgrade, a 4 Gig drive and maxed out at 64
Mb RAM, this machine is roughly equivalent to the clamshell iBook, though
it was still missing video acceleration, USB, Firewire, and a few other
odds & ends.

One day I wandered over to the Wiz just to LOOK at the TiMac. The
salesman was very accommodating and opened one fresh out of the box (you
know how fun that is!!). The power supply is a big yo-yo; the cord to the
computer wraps around it. We fired it up, and my gosh, THAT SCREEN WAS
AMAZING! It is so huge, and so thin. It MELLOWED MY MIND. It's hard to
appreciate this if you haven't seen it in person. There really is room
for all kinds of windows and palettes and such. I fiddled with it awhile.
It is thin. (1 inch.) It weighs so little! (5.3 pounds.)

I was OVERCOME BY PRODUCT LUST!!

I told the salesman, "At $2599.00, you're selling it for $100 more than
all the mail order places." And he said, "Oh, I can sell if for $2499."
"Hmm. I'd better get out of here," I thought. "If you buy it today on a
'WIZ Card'," he offered, "You can have it for a year, no interest, no
payments." "Really?" I asked, desperate to leave. My feet didn't seem to
be working. "No, No," I thought to myself calmly, "I don't even have my
taxes back yet. I don't even know if I can afford it." "One year. No
payments," he said smiling. I tapped into my vast resources of will and
rationality and RAN out the door! But it was no use. I was haunted. THAT
SCREEN. THAT SCREEN. I told my friends at the office. They were no help.
They all said I should buy it. You love Macs, you should have this. One
year, no payments? That's like a free loan! You've had that 1400 for five
years! You'll have FUN!! YOU DESERVE THIS CHRIS!!

I called my accountant. He had to finish my taxes. I had to wait. I
called around and found better prices and ALL KINDS OF DEALS. A day later
my accountant gave me the news, "You're getting a refund. But you really
need more capital expenses! You should buy it!!" Of course YOU KNOW this
was a foregone conclusion. It was just a matter of WHEN. I ordered it
from MacConnection; they had a special deal where they added 256 MB of
RAM (bringing it up to 384Mb total), and where as a PMUG member, I could
have it shipped UPS ground for NO CHARGE. At this point though, I NEARLY
caved-in and bought ALL THE WIRELESS STUFF (more on that another time).
Instead, I bought an extra power supply, and I had it shipped NEXT DAY.
(Hey, I'd already managed to postpone it for 2 days!!)

When it arrived, one of the first things I did was lie on the bed and
watch A BUG's LIFE. The DVD player worked great. The TiMac was on my
tummy. It got a little warm, so I took an intermission and slipped a
legal pad under it. I watched the whole movie on battery with time to
spare!!

<http://www.macconnection.com>
<http://www.pmug-nj.org/>

More TiMac stuff follows. :-)



** OVERLOOKED AND UNDERUSED ***
-------------------------------
-- Terrible tales of misunderstood and unknown features.

AMAZING GEEKY DISCOVERY about LOCATION MANAGER
(If you've never used Location Manager, you might want to skip this, it's
pretty TECH.) In my transition from one laptop to another, Internet and
LAN connections were a priority. With the TiMac, I connected to my 1400
set up for file sharing. I opened Location Manager on the TiMac and
IMPORTED Locations. (File/Import Location...) I navigated to the
Locations on the 1400 (System Folder/Preferences/Location
Preferences/Locations). When I selected the Location it made some odd
comment about there already being a file..I just told it to GO AHEAD.

My Locations include lots of info, including references to SETTINGS for
AppleTalk & TCP-IP, Remote Access, and Internet. I expected to have to go
into each of these related Control Panels and IMPORT THEIR SETTINGS one
at a time, so that the LOCATIONS would be able to 'point' to them. TO MY
AMAZEMENT, I found that by importing the Locations first, ALL THE OTHER
SETTINGS were IMPORTED TOO!! Did you know that? I sure didn't. What a
tremendous time saver!! I peeked at my Internet settings - THEY WERE ALL
THERE! No manual import, no typing them in, no sassy Internet
'Assistant'!! I only had to tweak a few minor things, i.e. Modem was now
an INTERNAL APPLE modem, not an external US Robotics. And in a flash I
was on the Internet! WAY TO GO APPLE!!


TIMAC/9.1 REVIEW
----------------
As for 9.1, I can't speak for any speed improvements because I'm on a
wicked fast machine. As for other changes, I didn't even NOTICE any,
except for the well-known changes to file and folder locations (to
prepare for OS X), and the new 'Window' menu in the Finder, and maybe
some new Finder keyboard shortcuts.

I moved all my data and applications over SLOWLY. Although I am leary of
these, I have quite a few System enhancement doodads. I moved the 'big'
ones first, such as Action Files, Stuffit Deluxe, and then things like
Super Scroll. I left lots of time in between moves. This took almost a
week. I did fresh installs of a number of applications. Others I moved
across the wire. I tried to move all my Preferences from my old machine.

STABILITY - CRASHING & HANGING
The OS9.1/TiMac combination was totally stable out of the box. I applied
the DREADED ROM UPDATE to GET CURRENT, with no problems. It never crashed
or hung until I loaded Microsoft Excel 98. I had some problems with
PowerPoint 98. MS Project still has some trouble finding it's VB Help
file, and I don't know if I care. [BTW Microsoft Project seems to have
been ABANDONED on the Mac. Not that ANY VERSION OF PROJECT was ever FUN.
Thanks GUYS!]

It took some searching on the MacTopia web site and MS's tech library to
resolve my problems with Office 98. This is a case where a MAC NOVICE
would have had no problems. I'm pretty sure if I'd done a COMPLETELY
CLEAN INSTALL of Office, it would all have worked. I deleted Excel's
(old) Preferences file and restarted along with a few other things.
Similarly, Lotus Notes and Palm Desktop wouldn't work with old
Preferences. Finally, installing Epson drivers was a nightmare! This
caused me HOURS OF GRIEF - restarting and working with Conflict Catcher
to put the system back the way it had been. EVERYTHING IS WONDERFUL NOW.
I haven't tried to re-install them again. Why? Well, I'm sort of on a
MARATHON.

I have NINETEEN applications open right now - FIFTEEN if you don't count
Control Panels and the Finder. So what? Well for one, I HAVEN'T RESTARTED
MY TIMAC IN SIX DAYS!! Just SLEEP, change Locations, wakeup, Sleep, and
so on. Quicken 2000 crashed on me a couple days ago, and suggested I
restart, but just for the heck of it, I thought I would keep going. But I
have some software and updates to install, so I'll have to restart soon.
I WONDER HOW MORE STABLE MY COMPUTER WOULD BE IF I WERE USING A MEMORY
PROTECTED OPERATING SYSTEM??? ;-)

<http://www.mactopia.com>

WHAT'S COOL?
Well, the whole thing really. It's AWESOME.

The screen - THE SCREEN, I just can't get over it! Watch those DVDs in
'Present Movie' mode.

The port lineup - Really clean. The Audio Out is in a decent spot for
headphones. There's video out for an external monitor and it supports
'extended desktop' mode (both of which the ol'1400 lacked). There's also
an S-video out and you can actually play DVDs on your TV!! They squeezed
in IR too, though I'll probably never use it.

Speed - I find the 400mhz G4 plenty fast for everything I do. But of
course if YOU can afford to pay for the 500mhz version, BUY IT!

Firewire Disk Mode - JURMASSIC PowerBook Users will remember 'SCSI Disk
Mode', definitely an O&U feature that allowed you to make your PowerBook
appear as an EXTERNAL DRIVE to another Mac via the SCSI port. This great
capability disappeared with SCSI from Mac laptops. But now we have
FIREWIRE DISK MODE. Basically the same thing over FireWire!! I guarantee
this will be OVERLOOKED & UNDERUSED by most people, but for THE
ENLIGHTENED, this is a MOST WELCOME FEATURE.

Auto-sensing/Auto-switching Ethernet Port - This means that you don't
need to use a special 'Crossover' Ethernet cable, or an Ethernet hub, to
attach DIRECTLY to another Mac. Just use any regular Category 5 Ethernet
cable and plug right in to your iMac!! This has O&U Potential.

The Battery - They say it lasts for 5 hours. I've had it go for 4+.
Usually it tells me I have 3.5.


WHAT'S NOT?
[One of my readers commented that I never criticize Apple. But, REALLY
Dad,I don't think that EVERYTHING Apple does is great!!]

The speakers - Let's face it, a tiny metal enclosure doesn't make for
great sound. TINNY at best.

No Audio Input - What's up with that anyway? Is this a multi-media laptop
or not? There is a workaround, a special $35 USB Digital Audio converter:

<http://www.griffintechnology.com/audio/imic_main.html>

The Trackpad - This is a design MESS to which I am still adjusting. (See
Dirty Little Secrets, below).

OKAY, it's late and I have to wrap up this issue before it becomes
ANOTHER BOOK!! I love my TiMac. I THINK IT'S GREAT!! IT'S FUN!! AND I
DESERVE IT!!

:-)



Know The Difference
-------------------
Hey, Dell just recalled 200 thousand PLUS batteries from their Wintel
laptops because of overheating. There is at least one known case of a
battery causing a fire. This is the SECOND major recall of batteries from
BELEAGUERED DELL COMPUTER. Did you hear anything about it? Did Wall
Street jump all over them? Is the press drooling for Dell's downfall??

And That's The Difference.



OCCASIONAL Favorite WEB SITE(s)
----------------------------
There are a number of PowerBook sites out there. PowerBook Central is one
of my favorites for all around information, lots of links, and price
comparisons.

<http://www.powerbookcentral.com/>


PowerBook Zone is good too, thought mostly they are a news site:

<http://www.pbzone.com/>


And try O'Grady's PowerPage:

<http://www.go2mac.com/powerpage/>




Dirty Little Secrets:
---------------------
The trackpad on the TiMac is AWFUL. APPLE NEEDS TO FIX IT. It's too big.
The button is too close to the Trackpad and is too stiff. The Trackpad
will track fingers that are not even touching the pad, causing 'cursor
jump' and other weirdness. To me it's like a Windows machine, where you
have to modify YOUR behaviour to make it work. VERY UN-MACLIKE. BOO
APPLE. I've done two things. I put a strip of duct tape on the button, to
both give me a tactile 'landmark' to train myself to keep my thumb away
from the pad, and also to decrease the sensitivity of the pad whenever my
thumb does get near.

There is also a shareware control panel that helps, called TAPGUARD,
which disables taps on the trackpad while you are typing. This will work
for PREVIOUS versions of PowerBooks too!

<http://www.musicweekly.com/tapguard/>



Special Bonus Keyboard Commands
-------------------------------
The TiMac has FUNCTION KEYS.
(F1-F2) are the Screen Brightness keys.
(F3-F4) are the Volume Control keys.
(F6) is the Mute key.
(F12) On the far right is the CD/DVD Eject key.

TIP - iTunes DOMINATES the Mute key. When iTunes is loaded, Mute only
controls iTunes sounds. When iTunes is not loaded, Mute controls ALL
sounds.



AN APPEAL TO/FOR SUBSCRIBERS:
--------------------------
Help me get my UNPREDICTABLE readership UP so I stay motivated to do this
OCCASIONALLY and I will be GRATEFUL! Forward a copy of U&O to your MAC
FRIENDS. If you're reading a forwarded copy, THANKS. Please consider
subscribing! (It's free.) See directions below.

TFSB :-)

Good News Press Releases Follow

=========================================================================
** 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. 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.

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 to subscribers upon request.
**
.


 

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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 :-)