Do-It-Yourself Feedback

Inspired by our August 2004 issue, we wanted to give you a step-by-step guide for assembling your own Feedback section. Step 1: Publish an issue packed with do-it-yourself tips, a challenge to build the ideal Mac-based home office, and an in-depth review of Microsoft Office 2004. Step 2: Put that issue in the hands of readers who are never at a loss when it comes to offering how-to tips of their own. It’s not as challenging as installing a SuperDrive in a PowerBook G4, but it’s every bit as rewarding.

How-to Help

Vincent Green I’m a little bothered by the instructions you gave, in “The Next Do-It-Yourself Mac” ( August 2004 ), for removing the original drive from a PowerBook G4 and installing a SuperDrive. I’m an Apple-certified technician; I make my living performing these kinds of repairs, and there are certain measures that I must follow. The methods you listed do not provide any information concerning the protection of sensitive parts while working on the machine. I fear that some people may inadvertently damage their machines by following those instructions. Whenever you need to remove the bottom case to work on something, you should put a soft cloth between the display and the top case. Regarding the actual removal of the drive, there is a little metal clip that hooks onto the inner frame right between the two orange flex cables. That clip could possibly shear the flex cable when you pull it out; it’s a good idea to remove that clip first.

Andrew Skinner Inspired by the “Turn Your Mac into a Picture Frame” how-to, I have begun making my own Mac digital picture frame. My Web site details my project status and lists resources for people who want to start a similar project.

Steve Mills Regarding the “Accessorize Your iSight” project, that plastic tube is going to overheat the iSight. Even when it’s not in use, the iSight is very hot. All that heat will make the tape’s adhesive all mushy and the lens could possibly fall off and crack. And the heat will also make the rubber band mushy, leaving goo all over the back of the iSight if it’s left on for a few weeks.

The lens holder could be problematic if you always left it on your iSight. The easiest solution is to pop your homemade accessory on only when you need to use it.—Ed.

John D. Barnes Contrary to the reporting in your “Blur the Lines between Mac and TV” item, Elgato’s EyeTV connected to my cable provider does act as a channel selector. There is also functionality for searching a program guide through TitanTV, which makes for easy search, point, and click scheduling. While the resolution of the image isn’t superb, it’s good enough to allow me to learn the secrets on the Food Channel.

We meant to say that the EyeTV can’t change the channels on a digital cable or satellite box; we apologize for any confusion. As for TitanTV, we mentioned that programming guide in our July 2004 review of EyeTV 200.—Ed.

A Six-Grand Old Time

Larry Barrows I thought that “ Macworld’ s $6,000 Challenge” (August 2004) was very useful and informative. I liked the counterpoint of the two types of systems and the two writers’ approaches to spending the same amount of money. I’d also like to know what they could do with about $15,000 for a video-editing and media-center system, or with the same amount for a home recording studio. Please make this a recurring feature.

Tony Ward How did your Bargain Hunter manage to spend more on Microsoft Office 2004 than your Hassle-Free User? OK, so $9 isn’t a big deal. But if your Bargain Hunter had just shopped around, he could have picked up Office 2004 for $330 at Amazon.com or even less elsewhere. He also could have saved money on the .Mac subscription, which has been $75 at Amazon.com since as far back as May. Retrospect Desktop 6.0 is at least $10 cheaper at various online outlets including MacMall. I could have saved a couple hundred dollars just by shopping around online for a few minutes.

The savings from ordering Office, Retrospect, and other products from multiple vendors would likely have been eaten up by tax and shipping charges. Bundling an order of multiple products from one vendor often saves more money in the long run because you pay for shipping only once. Subscribing to .Mac through Amazon.com is a cool suggestion.—Adam C. Engst

Drew Boone I was a bit confused by Christopher Breen’s hassle-free shopping list. Specifically, I consider the purchase of a Windows PC, with Microsoft Office as the only productivity app, a waste—and a less than hassle-free one at that. I concede that compatibility problems can arise between Windows and Mac versions of Office. But would purchasing a PC really reduce hassles in these limited cases? You must maintain two computers, one of which is a Windows machine. In the end, it would be more economical and hassle-free to purchase a conversion program such as MacLinkPlus Deluxe to address compatibility issues.

It’s true that documents that don’t translate correctly can be a nuisance—one that you wouldn’t want to inflict on a client—but having a Windows PC when you’re working in a multiplatform setting is about more than whether a PowerPoint slide works on a different platform. There are also the issues of taking screenshots or exploring software or Web sites that may not work on a Mac. When you need the real thing, emulation just can’t cut it.—Christopher Breen

Office Space

Steven R. Schmid I obtained my copy of Microsoft Office 2004 after reading about the nice improvements in PowerPoint and Word ( Reviews, August 2004 ). Unfortunately, there’s still a major feature missing from these programs: integration with PDF files. A PDF file pasted into Keynote, for example, is handled perfectly, but in Word or PowerPoint, the image clarity is lost.

KDE OK?

Lisa Fahrmeyer I was excited about “Hasta La Vista, Aqua” ( Geek Factor, August 2004). With a bit of fiddling, I got my newbie head around it and got KDE set up without a hitch. Well, except maybe one: Everything runs smoothly with the desktop icons off except the KOffice programs, which simply will not load. They show up in the Kicker, but the little hourglass spins for about 30 seconds and then the program fails to launch. Every other program, with the exception of AMOR, works fine.

Martin Doyle Many thanks to Cyrus Farivar for the article on how to put KDE on my OS X box. It was very helpful, as I’ve been looking for a step-by-step process. But either more details or some troubleshooting information might also have been helpful. I followed the instructions and was playing around with a successfully installed KDE when I positioned the Dock on the left-hand side of the screen—and X11 crashed. And it continued to crash on startup until I was quick enough to move the Dock to a different position on the edge of the screen. I understand that open-source programs are continually evolving, but now that I’ve got it installed, I haven’t the faintest idea how to go about troubleshooting it, or even what to delete so that I can reinstall it.

Some readers reported that the KDE installation appeared to take more than 50GB of space. Benjamin Reed, one of the main developers of the Fink project, says that this calculation is a bug. If you run into installation difficulties, the best place to find help is the Fink developers and users list (go to find .macworld.com/0048).—Cyrus Farivar

Blocked Off

Jeff Griffin “Web Mail Supersizes” ( Mac Beat, August 2004 ) lists free e-mail providers. But Mailblocks.com doesn’t seem to be free after all. On its Web site, Mailblocks.com advertises only for-pay service.

Mailblocks.com stopped accepting registration for new free accounts on July 19, in anticipation of its acquisition by America Online. Free accounts are on hold indefinitely as Mailblocks.com is integrated into AOL’s offerings.—Glenn Fleishman

Nothing Lasts Forever

John M. Lucas I read “Offer of a Lifetime” ( Mac Beat, August 2004) and can’t help but wonder how long Mariner Software’s offer of free upgrades for the rest of a program’s lifetime will exist. Or how long a “lifetime” is. I once had lifetime virus updates promised to me for Norton’s Symantec Antivirus for Macintosh (SAM), up until version 4.5.1. Then, in 1999, national accounting rules that companies had to follow were changed—they had to start taking charges for the estimated future cost of fulfilling those lifetime upgrades. Norton’s response was to release SAM 5, which offered only one year of free updates; additional updates were available only by subscription. Norton claimed that SAM 5 was a new product and that the “lifetime” of version 4 was over.

iPhoto Fan

Randy A. Maynard I’m not sure what features reader Jedediah Leachman expects from a “serious photo manager” ( Feedback, August 2004 ), but I am sure that iPhoto 4 lets me easily and effectively organize my 2,457 family photos. Maybe professional graphics people need more. But with Smart Albums, keywords, basic photo-editing features, batch naming and modifying, awesome slide shows, seamless integration with other i-apps, book creation, simple Web-page construction through .Mac, powerful printing options, and easy photo-sharing on my home network, I think that iPhoto 4 is awesome.

Pocket Full of Troubles?

Joram Sawady I was surprised by Andy Ihnatko’s   rating of PocketMac Pro 3.3 ( Reviews, August 2004 ). Since installing the program more than a month ago, I’ve never gotten it to synchronize my Hewlett-Packard iPAQ 5555 and Microsoft Entourage on my G4 PowerBook. When trying to do so, the program simply crashes and closes.

Do-It-Yourself 3-D

Chris Syria I noticed that “Illustration in Three Dimensions” ( Create, August 2004 ) didn’t mention that you can do what Rob Magiera does yourself. You can download the Personal Learning Version of Maya Complete for free from Alias. It works just like the real thing, except for the fact that it watermarks your renderings. But for some people, this is a perfect way to play with the software. System requirements are not a problem; I’m running it on my 500MHz iMac, and it works fine.

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