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Running RAID

I’d like to improve my Power Mac G5’s performance by using a RAID array as my boot volume. What’s the best way to do this? I have two Western Digital Raptor hard drives with a RAID 0 (striped) configuration.—Miguel Uriarte

For people who aren’t in the know, a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) combines multiple volumes in such a way that Mac OS views them as one. A striped RAID is nonredundant, meaning that it spreads the data among the various volumes that make up the RAID. The danger in using such a RAID is that if one of the hard drives bites the dust, all your data is kaput.

To get started, insert your Mac OS X installer disk and double-click on it. (You’ll need Panther or later, as only these versions of Mac OS can boot from a striped RAID.) Double-click on Install Mac OS X, and click on Restart to boot from the disc. When the Installer launches, select Utilities: Disk Utility.

First you’ll create the RAID array. In Disk Utility, select one of the external drives in the left side of the window and click on the RAID tab. Choose Striped RAID Set from the RAID Type pop-up menu, drag the other volumes that you want to include in the RAID into the RAID pane, and click on Create (see “It’s a RAID!”).

It’s a RAID! Disk Utility harbors all the tools necessary to create a striped RAID array that you can use as a superfast startup disk.
(Click image to open full screenshot)

Quit Disk Utility to return to the OS X installer. Once there, you can pick the RAID as your installation destination. Select it, proceed with the installation, and you’re good to go.

Turning point

I have an LCD monitor that can pivot and rotate. The only problem is that the manufacturer doesn’t make a Mac driver that supports portrait mode. Is there a third-party program or even a Terminal command that will let me rotate the image when I turn my monitor?—Fred Fayaz

Your LCD’s portrait mode offers a nifty way to work on a big vertical image or a long text document. In Tiger, Mac OS finally has native support for display rotation, provided that you have the right graphics card.

One way to tell if your graphics card is up to the task is to open the Displays preference pane and look for a Rotate option. Even if that option is missing, you might be able to rotate your display’s image, as long as your Mac has some variety of ATI Radeon card, including the Radeon 7000, 8500, 9000, 9200, 9800, and Mac Edition, and built-in and Mobility variations. To find out which card you have (in Tiger), open System Profiler (/Applications/Utilities). Select Graphics/Displays from the Contents list. The window will update, and you’ll see your video card’s name at the top of the information on the right.

If you have a supported card, you need a piece of software to rotate the image on screen. Download ATI’s ATI Display application and launch it. Click on the Advanced button in the resulting window; in the Versavision tab, click on one of the rotation options (180 or 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise).

Really old files, new Mac

I just purchased an iMac G5 after using a Performa 6360 for nearly ten years. I created all my records and correspondence files with Microsoft Works 3.0. I’ve been able to transfer the files to the G5 via a floppy disk, but I can’t get the iMac to open them. Is there a way to do this?—From the forums

You’ve already overcome one the most difficult parts of the operation—moving your files from what’s now considered ancient hardware to a new Mac (for more tips, see Working Mac, September 2005 ).

To complete the process, you could return to the Performa and save the files in a format compatible with today’s software. To do this, launch Microsoft Works, open a document you want to save, and explore the program’s Save As command for options other than the native Works format—plain text or Microsoft Word, for example. You can easily open either of these formats on a modern Mac.

However, that could prove awfully tedious. If you’re willing to fork over some cash for convenience, you can do the work quickly on your new iMac by purchasing DataViz’s MacLinkPlus Deluxe 15 ($80). This program can convert files from a host of older applications, including Microsoft Works 3.0 and 4.0 (but not more- recent versions). It’s pricey if you need to convert only a couple of documents, but for the hundreds you likely have, it’s the best solution I can think of.

Skype’s the limit

I want to be able to Podcast live on my radio show. In other words, the calls from my listeners will come in directly to the computer; I’ll mix them with my microphone’s audio, and then send the whole thing out as my Podcast signal. What do you recommend?—Walter R. Haessner

Many people I know forgo the phone lines for this purpose and instead use the voice-over-IP (VoIP) program, Skype. Why? Skype’s results sound far better than those of a phone routed through a recording device or a mike held up to a speakerphone. Plus it’s free if you’re talking over the Internet to someone who also has Skype. It also doesn’t require a lot of convoluted cabling.

You’ll need some help, however, capturing the audio from Skype and from your microphone. Two applications can do this—Ambrosia Software’s WireTap Pro ($19) and Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack Pro ($32). Each has its advantages.

WireTap Pro is easier to set up than Audio Hijack Pro. Just launch the program, select File: Mac Audio & Microphone, and click on the Record button; your Mac will record both the signal from your mike and any and all sounds your Mac generates, including the voice of the person you’re speaking with over Skype. The disadvantage to this setup is that WireTap Pro isn’t choosy about what it records. As I said, it will record any and all sounds your Mac plays, so if iChat makes its bubbly sound or Entourage announces new mail with a chime, WireTap will record that too.

Audio Hijack Pro avoids this issue by recording from targeted applications only. In this case, you can direct Audio Hijack to record just your voice and any audio you receive via Skype. Intercepting Skype’s audio with Audio Hijack is a bit more complicated than with WireTap Pro, as you have to muck around within the Effects portion of the program, but Audio Hijack’s user manual provides clear instructions.

Orderly icons

I’m running Tiger and I prefer to keep files and folders in Icon view. But when I have a collection of folders that is larger than the window, the set gets disordered. Is there a way to force the folders to stay where I want them?—Via the Internet

When you’re in the Finder, you can choose View: Arrange By: Name to sort your icons alphabetically, but that won’t necessarily help if you’ve named the folders randomly. For this kind of thing, I rely on techniques of old—specifically, naming folders so that they appear in the order you want when you sort them alphabetically.

To bump an item to the top of the list, add a space before its name. To make an item appear after a spaced item but before a numbered or lettered item, add a tilde (~) to the beginning of its name. And, of course, to force items to the bottom, precede their names with a z. It’s not as elegant as, say, a Finder command that reads “Stay where you are, stupid!” But until Apple invents such a command, you’ll have to take matters into your own hands.

Salvaging a spare eMac

Is it possible to connect a Mac mini to an eMac so that you can boot from the mini and use the eMac’s internal hard drive as a secondary drive?—Stephen Jensen

Although this is kind of an expensive way to add another hard drive to your setup, it’s certainly possible to do via FireWire Target Disk mode. Shut down the two computers, link them with a Fire-Wire cable, start up the eMac while holding down the keyboard’s T key to boot it into Target Disk mode, and then boot the Mac mini. When the mini finishes booting, the eMac’s hard drive will appear on the mini’s desktop as if it were a removable hard drive (which in essence it is). The eMac’s screen will display a floating FireWire symbol. While in Target Disk mode, the eMac will be unusable as anything other than a secondary drive for the mini.

Practical contact sheets

Creating Contacts Create annotated contact sheets by exporting your iPhoto images as a Web page.
(Click image to open full screenshot)

I am a photographer and would like to use iPhoto to print contact sheets for my clients to accompany their CDs of images. The problem is that iPhoto won’t let me print contact sheets with the image numbers—it will print only the thumbnails themselves. This makes the contact sheets essentially useless. Is there a setting I’m missing?—Ashley Williamson

You’re printing contact sheets correctly, but, as you suggest, iPhoto doesn’t allow you to print titles or file names to accompany these images. Here’s a way around the problem.

In iPhoto, select the images you’d like to appear on the contact sheet and choose Share: Export. In the resulting Export Photos window, click on the Web Page tab. Enter the number of columns and rows of pictures you’d like to appear on a page; in the Thumbnail portion of the window, enable the Show Title option (see “Creating Contacts”). Click on Export to save the pictures to a Web page.

When you open that Web page in your browser, you’ll discover that it carries not only the images you selected, but also each image’s title (by default, the image number). Now simply print each page and you’ve got the contact sheet you’re after.

You can continue to put this technique to good use by including the Web page and its accompanying images in a folder on the CD. (The folder should contain an index page and two folders, labeled Web page name -Thumbnails and Web page name -Images.) That way, your clients can browse the thumbnails in your contact sheet and then click on them to view the full-size images.

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