Mac 911

Cross-Platform PowerPoint

I’ve been using Microsoft PowerPoint v. X for some time, and I’ve had only one problem. When I need to present my files on a Windows computer, minor incompatibilities often arise. For example, text that is white on my Mac is black on the PC. I’ve learned to anticipate this and always check my presentation first on a PC when I won’t be using my own laptop. What gives?Aaron F. Kopman

Though Macs and Windows PCs share better than they once did, they still don’t always see eye to eye. With that in mind, you should take certain precautions when you use a Mac to create a PowerPoint document that your audience will be viewing on a Windows PC. Those precautions include the following:

Use Common Fonts
If you choose a font on the Mac and the PC doesn’t have it, the PC will substitute a font you may dislike. To avoid trouble, stick to fonts that are present on both platforms, such as Arial, Times New Roman, Courier, and Symbol. If you’re sure the presentation will appear on a PC that has a full version of PowerPoint installed (not just the PowerPoint Viewer application), you can also use the fonts that Office installs on both platforms. These include Century Gothic, Copperplate Gothic, Tahoma, and Verdana.

Use Common Graphics and Video Formats
As a Microsoft product, PowerPoint prefers graphics and video formats commonly found on PCs. For graphics, that means saving images in the PNG, JPEG, or GIF formats. PowerPoint for Windows is not hip to QuickTime, so if you must include video, use Windows’ AVI format.

Use File Extensions
File extensions tell Windows what kind of file it’s dealing with. If those extensions are missing, your presentation won’t work on the PC. When you save a PowerPoint presentation on your Mac, make sure to enable the Append File Extension option in PowerPoint’s Save dialog box. Without that extension, the Windows machine won’t identify the file as a PowerPoint document, and the person sitting at the PC will have to add the .ppt extension to the file’s name in order to open it.

Consider Upgrading
Office 2004 includes a new feature that you might find helpful—Compatibility Report. When you produce a presentation in PowerPoint 2004 and save it, by default PowerPoint checks the document to see whether it’s compatible with other versions of PowerPoint. If it isn’t, you’ll see a message indicating that there are compatibility issues. Click on the Compatibility Report button in the Save dialog box, and you’ll learn what the problems are (See top screenshot). If PowerPoint can fix a problem, the Fix button will become active. If PowerPoint can’t fix the problem, it will offer ways to work around it (for example, using an AVI movie rather than a QuickTime MOV file).

AutoUpdate Doesn’t

After I installed Microsoft Office 2004, the Microsoft AutoUpdate application launched and wanted to get the Service Pack 1 update. Everything seemed to go fine until AutoUpdate simply announced that the update did not complete successfully. Repeated attempts failed. How can I make it successfully apply the patch?Markus Mock

Microsoft’s AutoUpdate might itself be in need of updating. To do so, download the latest version. If that doesn’t do the trick, toss AutoUpdate’s preference file: select Go To Folder in the Finder, type

~/Library/Preferences
, and delete the file named com.microsoft.autoupdate.plist.

If AutoUpdate remains uncooperative, put it aside for a moment and download the Service Pack update directly. If the update installs as it should, run Disk Utility (/Applications/ Utilities) to repair your Mac’s permissions. If AutoUpdate still won’t work, you need a fresh start. Run the Remove Office app (/Applications/Microsoft Office 2004/Additional Tools/Remove Office) and then reinstall Office.

Selective Searching

I have a list of several Web sites I want to search for information or images. Do you know any way that I can limit a search to a list of Web sites?David Warkentin

Google lets you limit searches to a single Web site or a group of Web sites. The trick is to phrase your query correctly. You need to use a combination of

	site:
	the site you want
	
and the
OR
variable.

Travel to www.google.com (or type directly in Safari’s Google search field) and enter something like this in the Search field:

grunion site: stanford.edu
. This limits your search for the noble fish to Stanford University’s domain. Or you can enter
grunion site:stanford.edu OR site: pepperdine.edu OR site:ucsd.edu
. Now you and the grunion are really off and running—this query searches the sites of all three universities for information on your piscine pal.

Killing the Messenger

In Apple’s Mail, is there any way to block the messages from a specific sender?Sid Koss

Your ISP is the only one that truly has the power to block messages, and few ISPs offer such a service. You can, however, create a Mail rule that deletes messages from particular individuals. Go to Mail: Preferences and click on Rules. Click on Add Rule and type a name (for example, Get Lost!) in the Description field. Then use the pop-up menus to create a mail rule that reads:

From Contains joeexample.com

Delete Message

Note that applying this rule isn’t such a hot idea if you’ve recently had a spat with your significant other and have sworn that you’ll never speak to him or her again. Such a rule could easily delete the groveling make-up note that person sends your way. A better option is to create a new mailbox—called Sniveling Worm, say—and create a rule that moves mail from your ex into this folder (See middle screenshot). To do this, create a rule that reads as follows:

From Contains joeexample.com

Move Message To Mailbox: Sniveling Worm

When you want to let bygones be bygones (or want to revel in your former sweetie’s despair), fling open this mailbox and read the messages you’ve diverted.

Mining for Movies

Is there a way to save QuickTime movies from the Web to my Mac for future viewing, so I don’t have to return to the original Web site? When I choose Save As in Internet Explorer, all I get is a link.Fred Schneider

If you can’t save a file with the Save As command, it’s because that file’s owners don’t want you to save it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t.

The simplest way to do this is with Djodjo Design’s free iGetMovies. Another way is to do it yourself, by following these steps:

Open the QuickTime preference pane, click on the Plug-In tab in the resulting QuickTime window, and make sure the Save Movies In Disk Cache option is selected. Now play the QuickTime movie you want to save until it has fully downloaded to your Mac. (You’ll know it’s done when the gray progress bar fills the timeline.) Next, download a copy of Marcel Bresink’s free TinkerTool and launch it. Click on TinkerTool’s Finder tab, enable the Show Hidden And System Files option, and click on Relaunch Finder.

Double-click on your startup volume’s icon and then follow this path: /private/tmp/501/TemporaryItems. Once you’re in the TemporaryItems folder, switch to List view and click on the Size column. The large file that rises to the top of the list—the one whose name begins with QTPluginTemp and contains a string of numbers—is what you’re after.

Drag this file to the desktop and rename it, giving it a .mov extension—My Cool Borrowed Movie.mov, for example. You’ll be asked to confirm that you really want to add the .mov extension. Do so with my blessing, return to TinkerTool, undo your past actions to make invisible files disappear again, and enjoy.

Nix the Nagging

I’m out in the sticks and still have a dial-up modem. I’m on a Power Mac G4, running Panther, and using Microsoft Entourage. Every five minutes, an Internet Connect alert pops up reminding me that my connection is still active and asking whether I wish to remain connected. How can I keep this box from appearing?Heather Lose

Open your Mac’s Network preference pane, choose Internal Modem from the Show pop-up menu, select the PPP tab, and click on the PPP Options button. In the resulting window, deselect the Prompt Every X Minutes To Maintain Connection option, and click on OK. Internet Connect will now get off your back.

Missing MIDI

I’ve dragged a MIDI file into Apple’s iTunes. It plays fine there, but when I sync my iPod to iTunes, I receive an error that says the track “was not copied because it can’t be played on the iPod.” How can I play this track on my iPod?Slade Barnett

To wrap your brain around this one, you have to understand what a MIDI file can and can’t do on your Mac and iPod. Unlike an MP3, AAC, or AIFF file, a MIDI file doesn’t have any sound-wave information. Instead, the file contains instructions that tell a music synthesizer (including the one built into Apple’s QuickTime) what notes to play and how long to play them. When you drag a MIDI file into iTunes and click on play, QuickTime’s built-in synthesizer plays the notes that the MIDI file tells it to. Unlike your Mac, an iPod doesn’t have a synthesizer, so it can’t play MIDI files. To prevent you from even trying to make this happen, iTunes simply tells you that the file format is incompatible with the iPod and refuses to copy it to your portable pal.

But you can play your MIDI tune on your iPod if you first convert it to an audio file. You have a couple of options for doing so. The easiest is to select the file in iTunes and, from the Advanced menu, choose the Convert Selection To command. iTunes will create an audio file using QuickTime’s synthesizer sounds and the encoder chosen in iTunes’ Importing preference pane (the AAC Encoder is chosen by default).

If you don’t care for the sounds QuickTime uses, you can drag the file into Apple’s GarageBand 2, where the various MIDI tracks open as separate Software Instrument tracks (See bottom screenshot). Once in GarageBand 2, you can change the instrument sounds, as well as alter each track’s volume and panning (its position in the stereo field). So, for example, a bagpipe version of “Amazing Grace” can quickly become a rousing steel-drum one.

When you’re done, choose File: Export To iTunes to export the track as an AIFF file. In iTunes, you can leave it as it is or convert it to MP3 or AAC before moving it to your iPod.

On the Go-Go-Go

How do I create multiple On-The-Go playlists on my iPod? From the Macworld.com forums

To create an On-The-Go playlist on your iPod, select a song, genre, artist, composer, or album, and then press and hold the iPod’s center button until you see the entry blink. Travel to the Playlists screen, select the On-The-Go entry at the bottom of the screen, and press the center button. Scroll to the bottom of the resulting On-The-Go screen, select Save Playlist, and press the center button again. Finally, in the Save screen that appears, choose Save Playlist and press the center button once more.

This saves the playlist as Playlist 1. The numbers in the names of subsequent playlists created in this fashion will rise in increments of one—Playlist 2, Playlist 3, Playlist 4, and so on. You’re now ready to create a new On-The-Go playlist and save it in the manner just described.

[ Contributing Editor Christopher Breen is the editor in chief of Playlistmag.com and the author of Secrets of the iPod and iTunes , fifth edition (Peachpit Press,2005). ]

PowerPoint 2004’s Compatibility Report can help make your presentations more presentable across platforms.Use Mail to quarantine messages from people you loathe.GarageBand 2 now imports standard MIDI files—the first step in converting MIDI files to audio for playback on an iPod.
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