Mac 911

To give you the dope on the dish, the fate of the plate, and the chatter about the platter, this month's Mac 911 focuses primarily on discs -- CD-R and DVD-R media. Specifically, I look at ways to back up application files to disc with Apple's Backup utility, create Video CDs, archive iDVD projects, and effectively destroy those shiny silver circles. I round out the column by showing you how to create a personal e-mail blacklist, circumvent a vexatious warning from OS X, and install Jaguar on your iPod.

Backup Strategy

I was dismayed to learn that you can't use the Backup utility that comes with a .Mac membership to back up your OS X applications to CD or DVD. Is there any way around this?
Scott Monroe, Fredericktown, Missouri

You're correct that Apple's Backup doesn't allow you to make copies of your applications. Sure, you can try to back up your Applications folder by dragging it into Backup's main window, but when you restore that backup you'll discover that everything within the folder except the applications was backed up.

But it's not difficult to get around this limitation. The trick is to disguise your applications so they appear to Backup as a single file instead of a collection of apps.

One way to do that is to create a disk-image file with Disk Copy. Just drag the apps you want to copy into a folder and launch Disk Copy (Applications: Utilities). Select File: New: Image From Folder Or Volume. In the New Image From Folder dialog box, find your folder full of applications and click on the Image button. The folder will turn into a .dmg file that you can drag into Backup and back up (with all contents in place) to disc or your .Mac account.

Another option is to compress the folder with Aladdin DropStuff (part of StuffIt Standard Edition; $50; 800/732-8881, www.aladdinsys.com) or StuffIt Deluxe ($80). This saves space -- vital if you store files online.

I Want My Video CD

How can I turn my iMovie into a Video CD?
Diane Kearny, La Grande, Oregon

Ah, you mean the variety of CD that plays full-motion, full-screen video at less-than-VCR quality? This is easily done. You create these discs with the help of Roxio's $90 CD-creation application, Toast Titanium (408/367-3100, www.roxio.com). This is how:

Install Toast and then launch iMovie. Open your finished iMovie and choose Export Movie from iMovie's File menu. In the resulting Export Movie dialog box, select To QuickTime from the Export pop-up menu. Click on the Format pop-up menu in the same dialog box, and mew in wonder when you see the newly added Toast Video CD (NTSC) and Toast Video CD (PAL) entries. Select the appropriate option (NTSC for a Video CD compatible with North American video players and PAL for European gear), and click on Export.

If you're conducting this operation in OS X, put your Mac to some other use while it encodes the movie in the background. If you're using OS 9, treat yourself to a large beaker of coffee and, if your diet allows, a sticky bun -- encoding a video in the MPEG-1 format (what a Video CD uses) can take three to four times as long as the original video's length (or much longer if you're encoding in the background in OS X).

When your movie has been encoded, Toast will launch and the movie will be added to Toast's Video CD window. Switch back to iMovie to export and encode any other movies you'd like on your Video CD. When you're ready to create the disc, insert a blank CD-R and click on Toast's Record button.

Note that you can also use Discreet's $599 Cleaner (800/869-3504, www.discreet.com) to convert a QuickTime movie to MPEG-1 format. Once it's converted, simply launch Toast, select Video CD from the Other pop-up menu, drag the converted movie into Toast's main window, and burn the disc.

iDVD Duplication

How can I make copies of the discs I create with iDVD? And should I keep the iDVD project archived in case I want to use some of the footage for a "best of" compilation, or can I pull the file I want off the DVD?
Duncan Gray, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England

Unlike commercial DVDs, the discs you churn out with iDVD aren't copy-protected and are therefore easy to duplicate. Simply insert the DVD, launch Apple's Disk Copy utility, and choose New from the File menu. From the submenu that appears, select Image From Device. In the resulting Device Selector dialog box, choose your DVD drive and click on Image. Your DVD will be saved as an image file.

To burn that image file to a disc (thus making a copy of your DVD), select Burn Image from Disk Copy's File menu, navigate to the image file in the resulting Burn Image dialog box, and click on Burn. Insert a blank DVD-R disc when prompted, and wait for your disc to be burned.

Although you can use tools such as OSex and DVD Extractor (freeware apps best found by conducting a Google [www.google.com] search) to extract audio and video files from DVDs, doing so can be a bit of a chore (synchronizing the audio and video streams can be particularly tricky). This isn't to say that you should keep all your source files on your Mac -- the files that make up an hour-long DVD can consume dozens of gigabytes of space. It's impractical to keep these things on your hard drive, and backing them up can be time-consuming and expensive.

For these reasons, I prefer to export my edited source files back to my camcorder. (iMovie includes an option for doing just that in the Export Movie dialog box.) When I later want to create a "best of" DVD, I recapture the footage with iMovie, edit it, and send it along to iDVD, where I create a new project.

Mangling Media

In the past, I backed up some of my data to CDs. I no longer need that data or these CDs and would like to dispose of the discs. But if I toss them in the trash, someone could fish them out and possibly take my data. What can I do to render these discs unreadable?
Dick Tripp, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Unleashing the destructive child within, I employed the following methods to destroy a collection of discs:

Boiling: Unlike most vegetables, CDs maintain their freshness even after ten minutes of boiling.

Corrosive Substances or Fire: Corrosive liquids or a direct flame will demolish a disc, but you risk generating toxic fumes and/or setting yourself ablaze.

Food Processor: Reasonably effective if you let it run for 45 seconds or more, a food processor scrapes away the foil coating on the edges of a disc.

Microwave Oven: A two-second zap renders a disc completely unreadable. Regrettably, this technique also bears the tiny risk of starting a fire: the foil inside the disc will very soon begin to crackle and spark.

Sandpaper: Medium-to heavy-grit sandpaper will scrape your data away in next to no time.

Tin Snips or Bolt Cutters: Slicing and dicing the disc will certainly make its data unrecoverable, but because these things are brittle and have sharp edges when sheared, you risk cutting yourself or putting out an eye. Use proper safety equipment.

Summary: Though discs are remarkably resilient, you can effectively destroy them by scraping or cutting.

Rules to Live By

In Microsoft Entourage, the Junk Mail filter can be set to High and then modified so that mail from a particular address still lands in the in-box. Is it possible to ban mail from certain addresses so that it doesn't land even in the Deleted Items folder and is rejected altogether?
Chris Jones, Koblenz, Germany

Unless you're running a mail server on your Mac, you can't reject incoming e-mail -- that's a job for your ISP, a spam-filtering service such as SpamCop (www.spamcop.net), or an antispam application (which screens your mail for spam) such as Matterform's $30 Spamfire Pro (505/747-1220, www.matterform.com). You can, however, create a personal blacklist with Entourage's Rules and Schedules features. Here's how:

Create a new e-mail folder in Entourage by selecting Folder from the New pop-up menu in the toolbar. Name this folder Vile Excrescence. Select Rules from Entourage's Tools menu, and click on the New button in the resulting Rules window.

In the If portion of the Edit Rule window that appears, select a criterion you'd like to use to filter e-mail -- for example, a subject heading that includes the word Viagra, or a domain such as valuepromo tions.net. In the Then portion of the window, select Move Message from the first pop-up menu and Vile Excrescence from the pop-up menu to its right. Click on the Add Action button, and select Change Status in the first pop-up menu in the new action. In the pop-up menu to its right, select Read (see “Out, Damned Slop!”).

So far, so good. You've diverted your blacklisted mail to the Vile Excrescence folder and marked it as already read so the folder shows no indication that it contains anything new. To get rid of the folder's contents without ever laying eyes on them, select Schedule from the Tools menu, click on New in the Schedules window, and in the When portion of the resulting Edit Schedule window, select Repeating Schedule. In the Every field that appears to the right, choose how often you want the Vile Excrescence folder emptied -- for instance, 10 minutes. In the Action portion of the window, select Delete Mail from the first pop-up menu, select the Vile Excrescence folder from the second pop-up menu, and enter 0 (zero) in the Days field. Click on OK to save the schedule. You've successfully created a schedule that purges the contents of the Vile Excrescence folder every 10 minutes.

I cannot stress enough that this rule and schedule mean death for any message that finds its way into your Vile Excrescence folder. Should you be careless in designing your original filter -- choosing to divert all mail from an AOL address, for example -- you could very easily lose mail that matters. Please be careful.

Yes, I'm Sure!

I'm annoyed by the "Are you sure you want to shut down your computer now?" dialog box that appears when I shut down in OS X. If I didn't want to shut down, I wouldn't have gone out of my way to do it. Can I avoid this notice?
Dave Wallis, Lemont, Illinois

Just hold down 1-control-option-eject on Apple's Pro Keyboard, and your Mac will shut down without a whimper (other than quitting open applications and asking you to save any unsaved documents). You can also skirt the warning by holding down the option key while selecting Shut Down from OS X's Apple menu.

Giving iPod the Boot

I successfully installed OS X 10.1.5 on my iPod and used the iPod as a startup disk. I'm having no luck with OS X 10.2, however. Any advice?
Robert Ameeti, Trabuco Canyon, California

It's too regrettably true that you can't install OS X 10.2 on an iPod via the normal methods. Luckily, you can get Jaguar onto your iPod by stealthier means. Mike Bombich's $5 Carbon Copy Cloner (www.bombich .com/software/ccc.html) is a utility that clones an OS X installation from one volume to another and lets you make the cloned volume bootable.

With your iPod configured as a FireWire drive, plug it into your Mac. Its icon will appear on the desktop. Now download, install, and launch a copy of Carbon Copy Cloner version 1.4 or later.

In the Source Disk pop-up menu of the Cloning Console window, select a volume on your Mac that contains OS X 10.2. Select your iPod from the Target Disk pop-up menu. In the Items To Be Copied list, 1-click on those items you don't want to copy to your iPod. Items you should copy to create a bootable startup disk include .hidden, Applications, Library, System, Users, bin, mach kernel, private, sbin, and usr.

Click on the Remove button to remove the items you don't want to copy to the iPod. In the Bootability Options section of the window, make sure that the Recreate Darwin Links and Bless System Folder options are selected. Click on the lock icon and enter your user name and password when asked to. Finally, click on the Clone button to begin cloning the source volume to your iPod.

When the operation is complete, launch System Preferences, click on the Startup Disk preference, and select the System Folder on your iPod. Click on Restart, and your Mac should boot from the iPod.

Tip of the Month

System Preferences is an often-used application, but there's no keyboard shortcut to it in OS X's Apple menu. There are, however, ways to open specific preferences with your keyboard.

Hold down the option key and press either of the brightness keys (F14 and F15 on the Apple Pro Keyboard) or one of the sound keys. When you perform this trick with the brightness keys, System Preferences launches and the Displays system preference appears. Do the same with one of the sound keys, and you'll see the Sound system preference.
-- Eliot Goldstein, South Orange, New Jersey

UNSOLICITED ADVICE

I'm quite keen on iPhoto, but like many others, I was vexed to discover that by default I couldn't share an iPhoto library among multiple users or maintain more than one of these libraries. Thankfully, there's a way around these limitations.

That way is Brian Webster's free iPhoto Library Manager (http://homepage.mac .com/bwebster/iphotolibrarymanager.html), a utility that not only allows you to grant read-and-write access to your iPhoto library but also lets you create additional libraries in any location you choose.

Speaking of i-enhancements, I've missed the alarm-clock feature in Casady & Greene's SoundJam. No longer: Koingo Software's $12 Alarm Clock Pro makes SoundJam's alarm-clock implementation look anemic.

Alarm Clock Pro can play not only a specific iTunes song or playlist but also songs streamed from the Web, CD-audio tracks, and any QuickTime-compatible media file. It's well worth a long look, at www.koingosw.com/products/alarm_clock_pro.shtml.

1 2 Page 1
Shop Tech Products at Amazon