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Do you like to arrange window contents by their labels but dislike the way Label colors your icons? Parrish Ellison of Placerville, California, discovered that you can make a label transparent by changing its color to white. To do this, choose Preferences from the Finder's Edit menu and click the label's color swatch. This opens the Color Picker window, where you can select a new color. (To make a label transparent in Mac OS 7.6.1 and earlier, use the Labels control panel and change the color to black or gray.)

Q. Before starting an overnight download, I set the Energy Saver control panel of Mac OS 8.6 to shut the computer down automatically, leaving enough time for the download to finish. But when I return the next morning, the computer is always just sitting there, Internet connection dropped, but very much still on.

Dan Ferguson
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

A. If your Mac connects to the Internet via modem or ISDN modem, you must make sure the Internet connection will be terminated–not merely idle–at least five minutes before the Energy Saver's automatic-shutdown time. In my tests, even an open PPP connection–never mind an open Internet program–was sufficient system activity to prevent shutdown. You must also make sure none of your programs are set to answer incoming calls to your modem, including any fax software and the Apple Remote Access (ARA) server program.

If you're sure these conditions are not causing the problem, try moving the Energy Saver Preferences file from the Preferences folder of the System Folder to the Trash. Then restart and specify a shutdown time that is at least 15 minutes after the current time. For an explanation of the 15-minute interval, see article 34505 in Apple's Tech Info Library
(TIL; http://til.info.apple.com/techinfo.nsf/artnum/n34505 ). For a detailed description of Energy Saver's four-stage automated-shutdown process, see TIL article 22051
( http://til.info.apple.com/techinfo.nsf/artnum/n22051 ).

If the computer still won't shut down automatically, some third-party start-up software may be responsible. Try selecting the Mac OS 8.6 All set in the Extensions Manager control panel, restarting, and testing automatic shutdown again. If the problem disappears, then at least one extension is the culprit and you can isolate it by trial and error, using Extensions Manager or the Conflict Test feature of Conflict Catcher, $79.95 from Casady & Greene ( http://www.casadyg.com ).

If all else fails, try removing the Energy Saver control panel and reinstalling it from the Macintosh Operating System installation CD-ROM.

Q. I'm trying to put together a slide show. Do you have any advice on which programs to use? I've scanned photos and put them into ClarisWorks (using its Slide Show command), which works OK, but the file is so huge I can't add any more pictures.

Mike Hawker
San Diego, California

A. Instead of a program that stores a complete copy of each image in a slide show, choose a program that stores references to separate image files. I like iView Multimedia, $25 shareware from Script Software ( http://www.scriptsoftware.com ). With it, you can easily rearrange slides by dragging their thumbnail views and quickly rotate individual slides that were scanned sideways.

Q. I recently had a high-speed digital subscriber line (DSL) Internet connection installed. Now that I have a static IP address, do I need a firewall, and if so, where can I get the software?

Jim Hall
Folsom, California

A. By far, the greatest risk to any Mac from the Internet–regardless of its connection time or IP configuration–is from applications and extensions containing viruses or Trojan horses. A good rule of thumb is to always be suspicious of unknown software you receive as an e-mail attachment, find on untrustworthy Web or FTP sites, or receive as a Java applet or ActiveX item embedded in an unfamiliar Web page.

A computer is also at some risk from attacks by Internet hackers who use probing software to locate vulnerable systems. A full-time connection and a static IP address can heighten your vulnerability to these hackers by making your computer available to them 24 hours a day. However, Macs running OS 9 or earlier with default settings aren't nearly as vulnerable to these attacks as Unix workstations.

It's a different story if your Macintosh provides services over the Internet. If you activate Web Sharing in Mac Operating System 8 or 9, or decide to use TCP/IP for file sharing or program linking in Mac OS 9, be sure to leave guest access disabled and give your registered users tough passwords.

Firewall software offers additional protection against hackers. With DoorStop ($299) or DoorStop Personal Edition ($59), from Open Door Networks ( http://www.opendoor.com ), you can block all access from the Internet or set up filters to control access to your computer for specific TCP services and IP addresses. DoorStop can also log all attempts to access your computer from the Internet so you know how often your IP address is being probed.

For those who share an Internet connection on a local network, most software packages include a firewall that blocks unsolicited access to computers on local networks. Vicomsoft ( http://www.vicomsoft.com ) has several products of this type, including SurfDoubler ($54), SoftRouter Plus ($149 and up), and Internet Gateway ($215 and up). IPNetRouter, $89 from Sustainable SoftWorks ( http://www.sustworks.com ), is another.

TIP The Extensions Manager control panel in Mac OS 7.6 and later can list and sort items by package, but items may end up in the wrong package or no package at all. I found that Apple's free ResEdit utility ( http://asu.info.apple.com ) can put stray items into the proper packages and even create new packages. For instance, I created my own Printers package.

To change an extension's package, make a copy of the extension and then use ResEdit to open the original version from your Extensions folder. Double-click the vers icon, and open the resource with ID 2. Enter the package name as shown in "Repackaging Extensions." If there is no vers resource with ID 2, you will have to create one by choosing Create New Resource from the Resource menu or by duplicating vers resource ID 1. This creates a new resource, generally with ID 128, which you can change to 2 by choosing Get Resource Info from the Resource menu. Then enter the package name as shown in "Repackaging Extensions."

Repackaging Extensions   Change the package name of an Extensions Manager item by using ResEdit to open the item's vers resource ID 2 and entering the new name in the space labeled "Long version string (visible in Get Info)." Specify the package name exactly, capitals and all.

Once you have changed the package name, close all ResEdit windows and save the changes. You can delete the duplicate version of the extension once you are sure everything is running smoothly.

Ryan Squires
Richland, Washington

Although some cable-modem users can access shared files and printers from their neighbors' Macs (as reported in October 1999's Quick Tips ), Jim Williams of Lombard, Illinois; Nathan Tennies of Charlotte, North Carolina; and Jay Rolls of Menlo Park, California–all of whom work for cable-modem service providers–insist that the majority of cable-modem users don't experience this security breach.

Most cable modems can transmit only network traffic that uses the Internet's IP protocol, filtering out the AppleTalk protocol used by default for file sharing, printer sharing, and program linking. If you see your neighbors' computers or printers in your Chooser, you are using a cable modem that can transmit protocols other than IP and you should ask your cable-modem service provider to configure your cable modem to filter out AppleTalk traffic.

You can also rest assured that other cable-modem users can't snoop through your cable modem's transmissions as if you were all on the same local network. They can't intercept your sent packets, because all cable modems send on one channel and receive on another. They can't receive packets intended for you, because only your cable modem is configured to pass packets bearing your IP address. For additional protection, cable-modem traffic is encrypted on its way to and from your service provider.

Of course, none of these safeguards protect cable-modem users from the general risks associated with having an Internet connection or from the risks of using TCP/IP for file sharing or program linking, as discussed in " High-Speed Security," above.

January 2000 page: 99

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