2012.04 Editorial: Off the Mousepad

By Holly McEntee

Greetings, fellow Mad Mac'ers. Well I finally did it: I made the move to Lion, and to iCloud. I agonized over this for a long time, put off by reports of people having had trouble with Lion, or iCloud, or both. Part of my resistance is that all of the Macs at work are not moving to Lion anytime soon, and I was unsure how well my new iCloud calendars would sync with iCal on my work machine. I berated myself for being such a chicken — jeez Louise, I've upgraded my OS at least a dozen times! — then talked myself into procrastinating for one reason or another (I'll wait til after the holiday; I'll do it when I get back from New Zealand; I'll wait til our tax returns have been processed in case Turbo Tax needs Snow Leopard for some reason, ...). Finally I told myself that after I upgraded, I could get a new iPad3 — but not before. D'oh! Between that, and getting spammed by increasingly shrill e-mails from Apple about MobileMe ending, I acquiesced. I carefully ran Software Update, then repaired disk permissions, then ran Software Update again, and ran Time Machine one more time. Only then did I go to the App Store and download Lion. With a trembling finger I clicked "Install" and fled the house (yelling "don't touch the computer!" to my husband on my way out the door). Upon my return I crept into the office to find ...

... my iMac, humming along serenely. Running Lion. No worries. (Except Lion killed Stickies, which I didn't think about…hope I didn't have anything too important on one of those…)

Boy, do I feel silly. There's a lot of new things to learn (like Mission Control, and Launchpad) and get used to (like iCloud), but so far so good. Now if you excuse me, there's an iPad3 out there with my name on it. :)

Hope you can make it to the meeting this Wednesday! E-books are edging into everyone's peripheral vision these days, not necessarily for the better. The explanation given by sci-fi author Charlie Stross at
is (to me) particularly alarming. (It taught me a new word: monopsony.) I'm all for reducing our collective use of paper for the good of the environment, but frankly e-books make me nervous. Thankfully, Dave Weston will be speaking with us about e-books at this week's Mad Mac meeting. I'm looking forward to having my questions answered!


2012.04 Article: FAA to Review Electronics Usage on Aircraft

Excerpt only. Read full story here.

The FAA recently announced that they would take a “fresh look” at personal use of electronic devices while on board aircraft. Tablets and e-readers will be the main focus of their review. The FAA has “prohibited device usage if below 10,000 ft” if the device has not been cleared to make sure it won’t interfere with onboard avionics. For many travelers it seems absurd that the agency hasn’t cleared a list of harmless devices already. For years it has been up to the airline to perform their own tests on every single device. FAA rules require said tests to be carried out with no passengers onboard, which results in lost income, as a plane is forced out of service. Now, however, the agency is willing to help test devices and work with airlines and customers to attempt to improve the flying experience.

2012.04 Article: US Department of Justice Targets Apple for Fixing E-Book Prices

Compiled by Holly McEntee from various online news sources

The US Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple for alleged e-book price fixing. 

Apple had reportedly been in talks with federal regulators but had failed to come to an agreement to settle their concerns. Along with Apple, five book publishers are also reportedly under investigation for price fixing: HarperCollins Publishers, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster "colluded to increase prices" on popular books.

The probe apparently stems from changes made to how publishers charge for e-books when Apple released the first iPad two years ago. Book publishers began using an "agency model" in which publishers set their own e-book prices, rather than the traditional wholesale model in which publishers set a retail price and retailers set their own sales price. The pricing model materialized in 2010 after book publishers asked Amazon to increase the price of e-books on its website, but Amazon stood firm in its contention that anything above $9.99 was too high. Amazon eventually relented after many popular Macmillan titles disappeared from the e-tailer's site.

Apple is fighting the price-fixing allegation, saying in a statement "The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry.... Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we've allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore."

The DOJ alleges that Apple and publishers crafted a deal whereby no other e-book retailer could offer a price lower than Apple. Sharis A. Pozen, acting assistant attorney general within the DOJ's antitrust division, said that publishers reportedly referred to the "wretched" $9.99 pricing scheme for e-books via Amazon, and wanted to force Amazon to up its prices. Pozen quoted former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who reportedly said of the deal: "The customer pays a little more, but that's what [publishers] want anyway."

2012.04 Recommended: Cheap Cables and Connectors

Editor's note: Thanks to Rick Calicura, President of Diablo Valley MUG by way of The NotePad, newsletter of Club Mac, for these tips.

We all love our toys. When we purchase a new piece of equipment, we are easy prey to salespeople who earn commissions. When you purchase a new DVD player, for instance, an eager salesperson is sure to urge you to buy a high-end HDMI cable to connect it to your high-def TV. 

Some of these cables, notably from Monster Cable, can cost over $60 — and that’s with an online discount. (Search done via Google.) This can run into serious money.

However, there is a place where you can get quality cables at very reasonable prices. For instance, a cable that meets the exact specifications of the cable above will cost you $3.50! Where can this place be, you might ask? Well, using your browser, visit 
http://www. monoprice.com
You can buy computer cables and connectors as well. Some examples:
  • 6-foot, 9-pin FireWire 800-to-FireWire 400 cable: $4.72
    (Believe me, you would pay far more at the Apple Store for this.)
  • 6-foot synchronization cable for iPhone, iPad, and iPod, white: $5.61
    (You know you paid more than that at Fry’s.)
  • Thunderbolt-to-HDMI connector, DVI, and Display Port Adapter: $13.94
    (Apple is going to charge you $29.95 for this same device.)

Smart shopping is really important in this day and age and there is no need to pay a fortune for a high-profit item when other alternatives are available for the same quality merchandise. I have to share that I have purchased from Monoprice and the equipment has proven to be every bit as good as the merchandise from full-price dealers. Don’t get ripped off!

2012.04 News: A Potpourri of Software Announcements

Gleaned from various sources

FileMaker 12 Released

Mad Mac board member Richard S. Russell uses Filemaker Pro to build databases for several non-profit organizations in the Madison area. It was only natural that he noted that on April 4 FileMaker Inc. released the FileMaker 12 database software line, launching a new era for databases, empowering users to create stunning custom database apps for iPad, iPhone, Windows, Mac, and the web. The FileMaker Go 12 for iPad and iPhone apps are available free on the App Store, making it easy for everyone to run iOS database apps created by FileMaker Pro 12. Richard says "I always recommend keeping up to date with the latest releases of your computer software for the same reason that I always recommend changing the oil in your car. You should budget not only for acquisition but also for maintenance and operation." But he advises against just routinely upgrading to FMP 12 (the way he advised for upgrades to 8, 8.5, 9, 10, and 11), as it uses a brand-new file format, and therefore there should be some advance planning* before converting. He's available for consultation. Read more at

*Richard adds: "I've found that advance planning is more useful, even tho retrospective planning is invariably more accurate."

Aperture 3.2.3

Recently Apple updated iPhoto and other software packages to make it possible to delete photos from the Photo Stream feature that is part of its iCloud service. In mid-March Apple has further supported this option by adding it to its Aperture professional photo-management tool in an update that is available now. The Aperture update also addresses small performance and stability issues, and is recommended for anyone using Aperture, especially for those who use iCloud.

The Aperture update is around 635 MB in size and should be available via Software Update if you have Aperture 3.2 installed on your system. The update also requires the latest versions of OS X Snow Leopard and Lion, so if you have not already done so, be sure to update your operating system software before installing this update.

Epson Printer Drivers

In addition to the Aperture update, Apple has made available driver updates for supported Epson printer models. As with other printer updates, while Apple makes the entire package of drivers available online, most people will not need to install it. Instead, if you have an Epson printer, just check Software Update and if the driver for it has been updated then it will be presented for you to install.

2012.04 Help: Less Mousework

By Woodson Gannaway

(Editor's note: Woodson is an occasional contributor to Mad Mac News and lives and teaches in China.)

In my favorite text editor, TextWrangler, the F2, F3, and F4 keys give me cut, copy, and paste. Not so in Apple apps, where I have to use ⌘-x, ⌘-c, and ⌘-v. I prefer the F-keys.

There are keyboard shortcuts for many, many of the menu items and you can make them for most of the menu items missing them. At least that's been my experience. Conflicts with existing shortcuts don't always register; I tried to use ⌃-a to move a Safari tab to a new window, the system didn't reject it and it showed up with the menu item, but it did nothing. Changed to ⌃-b it worked fine.

To place that Safari window in the dock there is already a shortcut, ⌘-m. These two form a sequence for me so I turned to Typinator, my keystroke saver, to make one shortcut to actuate the two.

You can make a lot of shortcuts in the system, and something like Typinator can reduce your typing load significantly. Accented characters for Western languages are old hat from the keyboard but suppose you need the letters with tone marks for Chinese Pinyin — you're out of luck. So I set up a shortcut for each one. I use unique item separators in different files and have shortcuts to paste from the clipboard followed by ¶ and that particular item separator. Some are a little more complicated that that but I try not to go too crazy. It would be easy to outfox myself.

So in brief, maybe something can make your day a tiny bit easier.