Mac 911

We're moving wholly into the twenty-first century, so I'd like to acknowledge that the year responsible for propelling Also sprach Zarathustra back into the charts after a 73-year hiatus also marks the 32nd anniversary of Sesame Street . To commemorate this momentous event, we celebrate the letter S with questions concerning slide shows, startup disks, and soundtracks.

Slip-Sliding Away

Our first sibilant inquiry comes from Jeff O'Dea, who e-mails from Japan to tell us he would like to organize his digital photos into a slide show he can display on his Mac. I have several suggestions, so let's categorize them by price: better-than-cheap, cheap, and not-so-cheap-unless-you-already-have-a-copy.

My better-than-cheap solution costs exactly the price of one postcard and a stamp. Not only is Aaron Giles's JPEGView 3.3.1 ( www.macdownload.com ) a great utility for viewing JPEG files - the graphics format used by digital cameras - but it also lets you create slide shows in which pictures flip at preset intervals or whenever you press a key on your Mac's keyboard.

My cheap solutions comprise three shareware programs and two commercial applications. The shareware programs are OneApp Slide Show ($25), from OneApp Software ( www.oneappsoftware.com ); GraphicConverter ($30), from Lemke Software ( www.lemkesoft.com ); and iView Multimedia ($25), from Script Software ( www.iview-multimedia.com ). Offered at a similar price is Totally Hip Software's ( www.totallyhip.com ) commercial slide-show application, LiveSlideShow ($30). Apple's iMovie2 ( www.apple.com/imovie ) rounds out the group with a list price of $50.

OneApp Slide Show and LiveSlideShow were designed specifically to create slide shows; they allow you to add goodies such as soundtracks and transitions.

iView Multimedia is a terrific multimedia asset-management utility with slide show capabilities. And GraphicConverter, an indispensable graphics-conversion utility, also contains some advanced slide-show functions.

Using iMovie2 you can import still images, determine how long each image appears on screen, insert transitions between images, and set the whole mess to music. Best of all, you can play the slide show on any Mac or PC outfitted with a copy of QuickTime Player.

The not-so-cheap-unless-you-already-have-a-copy solutions are Apple's AppleWorks 6.0.4 ($80; www.apple.com ) and Microsoft's PowerPoint ($340; www.microsoft.com ). Although PowerPoint and the presentation component of AppleWorks are intended for more-formal presentations, there's nothing to keep you from using them to stupefy your friends with pictures of your trip to Yellowstone.

Start Me Up

Ken Schneidman, who (perhaps just for the cool cachet) claims to write from Woodstock, New York, would like to create a startup Zip disk for those times when his beloved Mac won't boot. Unfortunately, Ken has a System Folder so jam-packed with extraneous gunk that it won't fit on the Zip. He wonders which items to include on such a disk.

Well, Ken, you wouldn't have to worry about getting caught in this particular devil's bargain if you had a recent copy of Iomega's Tools application. Iomega has done most of us a favor by adding a Rescue Disk component to its Tools utility. You just insert a Zip disk and click on the Rescue Disk icon, and Rescue Disk installs a minimal System Folder on your Zip disk. Rescue Disk will also install a copy of Apple's Disk First Aid or, if you ask the program to do so, transfer a repair utility from your Mac to the Zip disk. If you choose to install a third-party repair utility, however, make sure to include any necessary support files; recent versions of Norton Utilities require the Norton Shared Lib extension, for example. You can find your copy of Iomega's Tools (part of the free IomegaWare) at www.iomega.com/software/featured/ioware25_mac_reg.html.

While everything may be stardust and golden for Ken, others with brand-new, Zip-less Macs - the new iMacs, Cube, and Power Mac G4s - may require a different kind of rescue disk. As we go to press, you can't boot these Macs with recent copies of diagnostic and repair utilities such as Symantec's Norton Utilities, AlSoft's Disk Warrior, and MicroMat's TechTool Pro. Although you should be able to purchase a compatible CD-ROM for all these products by the time you read this, users who have a CD-R burner will find it less expensive to simply create a bootable CD-R and copy their diagnostic and repair utility of choice to it.

Stormy Weather

Finally, Chris Higgins, of Columbia, South Carolina, is interested in combining three discrete sound effects - rain, wind, and thunder - to create the perfect storm in a QuickTime movie. "Can it be done?" that Chris inquires. "Natch," this Chris replies. If you have Apple's QuickTime Pro ($30; www.apple.com ), it's a cinch.

Launch QuickTime Player to create a new movie. From the File menu, choose Import and select one of the sound effects you'd like to hear throughout the soundtrack-the rain effect, for example. If you want the sound to play longer, press command-A to select the sound, command-C to copy it, and command-V to paste that copy at the end of the soundtrack.

Create a new player window and import another sound file - say, the wind sound. Select and copy this wind sound, then select the window with the rain soundtrack. Click on the point within the rain soundtrack where you'd like to insert the wind sound, hold down the option key, and choose the Add command from the Edit menu. The wind sound is now layered on top of the rain sound. Repeat this process to add the thunder sound.

You can change the volume of each sound individually by choosing Get Info from the Movie menu and selecting the first soundtrack (conveniently labeled Sound Track 1) from the left pull-down menu. Next, choose Volume from the right pull-down menu, and adjust the Volume slider up or down (see "Rainmaker"). Do the same for the other soundtracks until you have a pleasing mix. Save the movie, and you're done.

Contributing Editor CHRISTOPHER BREEN offers Mac tips and tricks each business day via the Macworld Daily Tips and iTips newsletters. Visit http://lists.macworld.com to subscribe.

Share tips and discuss Mac problems with other Mac users in the Mac 911 Forum ( www.macworld.com/subject/mac911 ). Also send tips by e-mail to mac911@macworld.com. We pay $50 for tips selected for publication in Macworld . All published submissions become the sole property of Macworld .

Shareware and freeware mentioned in Mac 911 is available from the Macworld Online software library ( www.macdownload.com ).

Rainmaker   You can adjust QuickTime soundtracks individually using QuickTime Player's Volume slider.
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