2012.03 Editorial: Off the Mousepad

By Holly McEntee

Hello all you Mac users, I hope this email finds you well. I am sorry to have missed February's meeting — sounds like it was really interesting. Alas, Spring is the toughest season for me due to my barometric-pressure-triggered migraines. Incoming warm, humid fronts hammer a railroad spike right through my left eye and nothing but darkness and sleep (if I can manage it) helps. Luckily Richard Russell captured the essence of the meeting in his notes, for which I (and you!) should thank him. Richard also has my thanks in helping finalize this month's newsletter as I will be traveling during the usual time of the month when I finish up Mad Mac News. Thanks again, Richard!

The biggest Mac news these past weeks Apple's move to ask the nonpartisan, nonprofit Fair Labor Association (FLA) to perform audits of final-assembly suppliers in China, following reports of poor working conditions and employee suicides. According to the press release on Apple's website readers can review the audits of over 500 factories throughout its supply chain. FLA has been criticized by some, but I can't help but see this as a positive step. Other large companies could learn a lesson here, I think. You can read more about the FLA on their website.

The other big news, of course, is the announcement about Mountain Lion, the next OS X step to be taken in late Summer of this year. (whimper) I've only just about worked up the nerve to make the move to Lion, and they're already talking about the next one? Sigh. I feel better knowing the great minds of Mad Mac will help me through the transition. The only reason I plan to do it at all is because I want to continue using the service formerly known as dot.mac ... although I am not sorry to see me.com retired. Ick.

One of our members emailed me to ask if we could have a presentation on the specific features of Pages and Numbers that casual users of Word and Excel need to know in order to easily migrate from MS to iWorks. The board will discuss this and other ideas for upcoming presentations, but if you'd like to get started there's a great article on Tidbits on strategies for switching from Word to Pages. You can read it here.

Finally, I understand that the first Nigerian e-mail scam claiming to be informing the recipient that he/she has been left 4 million pounds sterling in the last will and testament of Steve Job's (sic) has started making the rounds. Don't be fooled. ;-)

Hope to see you March 14!


2012.03 News: Election Time! No Recalls Needed!

This being an even-numbered year, the 4 Mad Mac officerships are up for election. (The 3 at-large board members are elected in odd-numbered years.) President Chico Mitchell has announced that he will not be seeking re-election. The other incumbents are Vice-President Dave Weston, Secretary Holly McEntee, and Treasurer Raul De Luna. According to our constitution, "Any person whose membership has been in force for at least 4 months prior to the nominating meeting, and is scheduled to remain in force for at least 4 months after the election meeting, shall be eligible to hold any office. ... Candidates for election as officers shall be nominated from the floor at the nominating meeting in March. ... Each nomination must be accepted by the nominee prior to, at, or within 7 days of that meeting. ... Officers shall be elected at the election meeting in April."

Please consider being a candidate for office. There are few obligations, mainly attending a planning meeting over dinner with the other board members a couple of weeks ahead of each membership meeting, and everyone there always has a good time.

It is perfectly OK to nominate yourself for any office.

2012.03 History: Feb. Q&A

Dave Weston, Quizmaster

Q: How do I set up Mail to be able to accept incoming mail from my wisc.edu account?

A: Set up a separate POP account under “Preferences” (Mail menu), and everything sent to ANY of your accounts will show up in your in-box.

Q: Suppose I wanted to get rid of a bookmark in Safari. How would I do it?

A: Fire up Safari, go to the Bookmarks menu (or the equivalent book icon on the menu bar), click on the name of the bookmark you don’t want to select it, and hit “delete”. You can move a bookmark around by clicking on it and dragging it to where you want it.

Q: Firefox won’t let me trash a bookmark.

A: It should. You should pick “Show All Bookmarks” from the “Bookmarks” menu.

Q: I can’t make URLs stick in “Top Sites” view.

A: You won’t be able to, because “top sites” are determined dynamically as the ones you access most often. If you haven’t used a site very much or very recently, it’ll drop out of this collection. You CAN make anything “stick” by remembering it to either the Bookmarks menu or Bookmarks bar.

Q: What’s the latest version of Mac OS, and should I update to it?

A: It’s 10.7.3, and you can download it thru Software Update. Be sure you’re plugged in to an external power source and allow overnight to let it run, because it takes a long time to download, then it turns your computer off and on a couple of times during the installation. Yeah, it’s probably worth doing. They’ve worked out almost all the bugs in Lion.

Q: Should I upgrade the RAM (random-access memory) in my computer?

A: It’ll speed things up, it’s fairly cheap, and you can do it yourself with the enclosed instructions. The new chip only fits one way, so you can’t insert it backwards or sideways. And if you’re too nervous, the Apple Store or MacXprts have pros who can do it for you fast and cheap.

Q: What does a lock icon under my wireless (Wi-Fi) network options mean?

A: It means it’s password protected, and you can’t access that connection without the password. You should be sure that you have set up your OWN wireless router with a password known only to you and individuals you trust. Otherwise other people can start using your connection (tho they can’t get at your data). Any name with no lock is something you can just select and start using, sucking up their bandwidth to your heart’s content. Some places like restaurants and coffee shops require a password to sign in the 1st time, but thereafter will remember your computer whenever you walk in.

Q: Why won’t my computer remember my password when I click “Remember me”?

A: That’s not its job. It’s the job of the website you’ve navigated to, and they periodically flush their memory of such log-ins for security reasons.

Q: I saw recently that some computers can use a thumbprint instead of a password. How does that work?

A: It’s what’s called a biometric scanner, and it’s not currently available as a commercial application (IE, something YOU could use). Thumbprint scans are rumored to be easy to fake or spoof, and retinal scanners (more reliable) are much more expensive. Passwords are a necessary evil but, for now, your best bet for computer security. For most end-user consumers, you’re beneath the notice of most hackers, because you don’t have enuf data or money to be worth their attention. Does not apply if you’ve got a maniac stalker or deadbeat brother-in-law.

Q: How often is “often” in “you should change your password often”?

A: A couple of months. Most workplaces will require you to do it every couple of months. It’s probably not as important for home use to change frequently. You should probably have a different password for banking purposes than for anything else and change THAT one more frequently than your others.

Q: We’ve got 2 Macs in our house. Do I have to pay for 2 separate upgrades to Lion for them?

A: Technically, legally, yes. Physically, practically, probably not. If you’ve got a store-bought DVD you can use it on multiple machines. Downloading from the App Store, tho, may be trickier. There IS a family-pack price if you look for it.

Q: I often have a lot of windows open in a browser. Is there a way to do tab browsing?

A: Absolutely. In Safari, for example, go to “Preferences” (under the Safari menu) and click on the “Tabs” icon, which will let you open new sites in tabs by default. To create a new tab, click on the “+” sign on the tabs bar.

Now that you’re using tabs instead of windows, you can close a whole flock of tabs at once by holding down the option key while clicking on the “close” (X) icon on the one tab you want to keep open.

Q: How can I watch my home when I’m away?

A: You can get iCam, which lets you set up a videocam plugged into your Mac, which you can then access via the internet from anywhere else. Camera not included.

Suggestion: I use Gmail for calling. It works anywhere in the US and Canada, and it’s free.

2012.03 History: Feb. Feature: "Helper" Apps

Presented by Dave Weston

How to use Apple’s App Store to get really cool utilities and helper apps. (“App” is short for “application”, which basically means “program”. For example, Mail, Safari, Garage Band, Excel, and FileMaker Pro are all apps. So are cute little single-purpose utilities like Snapz Pro, OmniDazzle, Angry Birds, and PopClip. These should not be confused with widgets, which are also tiny little programs but which run in the background and are accessible via the Dashboard.)

The board gave me a couple hundred bux to find some apps that people might find useful. After all the hookers and beer, this is what I was left with: some winners, some meh, some cautionary tales.

I’ve been lamenting the absence of Apple’s Front Row under Lion, but I found something via the App Store called Remote Buddy (~$15) that at least lets me use the Apple remote control (~$20) that used to work like a VCR control for Front Row. It works for many media-oriented programs from Apple and a few other vendors (such as XBMC, X-Box Media Center). This lets me watch my big-screen computer from across the room, under blankets and cats.

One advantage of the App Store is that you can now buy individual components (such as iPhoto out of iLife or Numbers out of iWork) instead of an entire package, and you pay less for it. It’s worth checking out the staff favorites to help winnow the vast amount of stuff competing for your attention.

The nice thing about the App Store is that small developers can find a market for small programs that couldn’t possibly justify packaging, distribution, store shelf space, etc., and the savings are passed along to you, the customer. Indeed, many App Store programs are free. For example, there’s a free app called iBooks Author that lets you use Pages to create a book-like document accessible via the iBooks e-reader, which works on iOS devices like the iPad.

Calibre can let you convert e-books between formats, organize libraries, add cover art, manage digital rights, maintain metadata, etc. It’s shareware, not available thru the App Store. (Shareware is free to download, but they ask for voluntary donations.)

PopClip is useful for being able to cut, copy, paste, and link text right on screen with minimal need to use the keyboard or menus. (Richard testified that it finally made it easy to transcribe name, address, phone, eddress, etc. info from an incoming e-mail or other document into Address Book, but that he uses it literally hundreds of times a day for many other purposes.) A terrific bargain at $5.

Games? Funny you should mention games! There are a few that I really liked. One called Trine is a gorgeous-looking little medieval-magic adventure game. It’s also got a sequel, Trine 2. They’re ~$15 each, today on special for 99¢. I got it because the 1st one was listed as a staff favorite. They are total time sinks.

What does that giant 27” monitor cost, Dave? $1699 base, plus enuf memory to bang it up to 2 Tb total, about 2 grand altogether, totally worth it!

An app that lets you edit metadata within iTunes is called Subler. It started out being able to subtitle films (such as the German-subtitled Metropolis) but expanded to include the capacity to tag the document with things like descriptions, plot synopses, cast and crew list, release dates, etc. — metadata not otherwise accessible via iTunes or other players. Furthermore, it’s possible to share the metadata with other users.

MAME (free) is Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator and lets you use your Mac to run original code from all those old arcade games like Asteroids, Pac-Man, Frogger, Space Invaders, etc. Original sound effects, too. You can get a 3rd-party joystick game controller if you don’t want to have to use the arrow keys. Bonus: The video on a modern LED monitor often looks better due to higher resolution and lack of the long-term burn-in that plagued the old arcade CRT monitors.

The insanely popular Angry Birds is available thru the App Store and looks way better on your computer than on a minuscule cell-phone screen.

BreakTime is a reminder program that dims your screen and tells you to get up and move around after a period of time that you can set. It gives you a countdown timer that lets you know when you can turn back into a sedentary slug, which is how you spent all your time before this little freebie came along. You can bypass or temporarily suspend the “move your lazy butt” warning if you want, but that kind of defeats the purpose.

TeamViewer allows a remote user to control your desktop for demo purposes, or vice versa. It works on both Macs and iPads. Tech-support people love it. There is password permission control at both ends. I use it to control my own iPad and Mac from each other.

IBooks is a free app from Apple that lets you read e-books on an iOS (portable) device such as an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.

You have to feed your fish (which adds trinkets to your screen) every day with iQuarium. Can Knockdown gives you something to while away a few idle minutes. They’re either free or super low cost. You can also get a free lite version of more complex programs like Fruit Ninja, which lets you slice flying fruit with a finger stroke. Similarly, Where’s My Water? from Disney mobile asks your gator buddy to take a shower by rubbing out obstacles to the water flow from above. The marketing plan here is to get you hooked on the lite version so you’ll spring actual bux for more bells and whistles.

The App Store provides you with buying advice based on average customer rating.

FileMaker Go (~$25) is productivity software that works on iOS devices and lets you work with databases created on your main computer using FileMaker Pro. It’s really handy for folx with space limitations or who need data on the go.

2012.03 Recommended: Freeware

Thanks to Rick Calicura and the NotePad, newsletter of Club Mac of Springfield (Illinois) and environs for these items.

Starry Night (Screensaver)

Do you remember Berkeley Systems screensavers? They were extremely popular in years past, but then the company went away. I’ll bet you thought that was the end of the line, eh?

Not so. It seems that someone out there has recreated the Starry Night screensaver. This software doesn’t actually do anything except allow you to see a city skyline with a sky ever filling with twinkling stars. If you wait long enough you might see an occasional meteorite or falling star. To install, simply drag to your desktop, double click and then allow it to install in your screensavers.

iPhoto Buddy

IPhoto Buddy is a Mac OS X utility that allows you to use more than one photo library with Apple’s iPhoto as well as with its companion programs, iMovie, iDVD, and iWeb. The advantages of splitting your One Huge Photo Library into multiple smaller ones include improved iPhoto performance, increased flexibility in organizing your digital photo collection, and a consistency with most other Mac applications that allow their data to be stored in as many files (documents) as you like. IPhotoBuddy uses a simple, streamlined interface that was inspired by iPhoto itself. It truly is a companion application — a real buddy! A Universal app, it is Lion-compatible and will run on both PowerPC and Intel Macs.

2012.03 Help: A Pawful of Lion Hints

Thanks to Mouse Droppings, newsletter of the Corvallis (Oregon) MUG for these hints.

- If an open application does not show a tiny light beneath its icon in the Dock, Go to System Preferences > Dock and check "Show indicator lights for open applications".

- When you drag your finger up on the Mouse, what direction do you want the text or image on screen to move? You can change this in System Preferences > Mouse. Just click or un-click "Scroll direction: natural".

- If you have a Trackpad, use the Trackpad icon in System Preferences to adjust scrolling direction.

- You do not see scroll bars in Lion unless you are actually scrolling. If you like the old Snow Leopard way, go to System Preferences > General and click "Always" under "Show scroll bars".

2012.03 Public Service Announcements

The Center for Photography at Madison (CPM) is hosting two Aperture 3 classes, one concentrating on digital asset management and the other focused on image optimization. These classes are primarily for new users of Aperture 3. The classes will be taught by Mad Mac member Scott Snyder. CPM was founded in 1998 to provide a home for the advancement of photography in Madison and surrounding communities. Now located at a studio on Madison's east side, CPM is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization that provides a rich mix of educational programs. These include formal classes, workshops, lectures, and a series of regularly scheduled meetings to discuss all aspects of photography. In addition, CPM supports a vibrant slate of member and juried exhibitions. Information about our photography-related classes and CPM in general may be found at its website:

Mad Mac member Scott Snyder is now providing occasional Mac-related training. Focus areas include, but are not limited to, general OS X issues, digital photography, MS Office, security, and back-up issues. Scott has used and programmed computers since 1972. He has been a Mac owner since 1986. At various times he has provided computer consulting services as a sideline. He retired from the corporate world two years ago, but was asked to start consulting again. Scott can be contacted at:
sksnyder@tds.net or 608-833-3643