To your health

When we were first considering doing a guide to computer ergo-nomics (“Macworld’s Guide to Healthy Computing,” November 2006), a story we’ve done many times over the years, we had to ask ourselves: “Is there anything new to say about it?” The answer, we decided, was that yes, there were some new tools out there to help you use your Mac without risking your health. More important, it’s a topic we should be covering regularly. Judging from the responses we got to the article, you seemed to agree on both counts.

Ergonomic advisers

Karim Christopher —Thanks for the article on ergonomics (“ Macworld’ s Guide to Healthy Computing,” November 2006 ). In their rush to create the latest, greatest products, hardware and software companies forget that their customers are real, live human beings. I hope more companies realize the need to build physically comfortable products. With headline articles like yours, the message is getting across.

Parrish S. Knight —Thank you for your excellent article on RSIs. I’d like to point out one cause of RSIs for Mac OS X users that you didn’t mention: the way the mouse moves. In OS 9 and earlier, that mouse motion always felt completely natural. But in OS X, the cursor seems to accelerate and decelerate strangely. Many people—myself included—must use their hand and wrist muscles in unnatural ways to compensate, and that effort can hurt. In my case, after 20 to 30 minutes, I’m in so much pain I can’t use the mouse at all. As far as I can tell, no setting in the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane will correct this problem. Fortunately, a number of third-party alternatives can. I use one called USB Overdrive ($20). It takes a while to get the settings right, but once you do, the mouse is a joy to use again. My hand and wrist pain has completely disappeared.

Gregg Williams —As a writer who has permanent RSI in both hands, I applaud your recent article on healthy computing, about which I’d like to make two comments. One is to suggest another excellent head-mounted mouse replacement: NaturalPoint’s Smart NAV; I’d recommend buying it from RJ Cooper and Associates ($200), which supplies OS 9 and OS X drivers for the hardware. My second comment is about MacSpeech’s iListen software: I’ve found it woefully inadequate. My alternative is to use Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking software ($100) on a PC that I’ve connected to my Mac through a VNC connection; the PC then becomes a glorified mouse and keyboard.

Dangerous raids

Joe Vanzandt —In your article about the Mac Pro (“Inside the Mac Pro,” November 2006 ), you point out that the expanded disk capacity of the Mac Pro makes it possible to speed up the machine by instituting RAID 0 (striping) among multiple disks in the machine. While it’s true that striping can increase the speed on disk reads and writes, it’s also an inherently risky setup: if one disk fails, you may not be able to access data from any of them. While this is generally a remote possibility, it’s definitely a real danger. If you use striping, it’s more important than ever to back up critical data regularly.

Dan Goldenberg —In the article “Inside the Mac Pro,” Jonathan Seff calls mirrored RAID “an up-to-the-minute backup.” But a mirrored RAID only gives you data redundancy. It won’t do you any good if a file or directory becomes corrupt; it will only create an up-to-the-minute copy of that corrupted file or directory, giving you two drives with the same faulty data. You won’t have a true backup until you create an offsite copy of the mirrored disks’ contents.

How fast is FileMaker?

Jerry Weir —There’s a big error in your review of FileMaker Pro 8.5 ( November 2006 ). Your reviewer quotes the company as having stated that “version 8.5 is up to two times faster than FMP 8 on a PowerPC Mac.” That statement is not true, nor is that what FileMaker claims. What the company does claim is that version 8.5 will run two times faster on an Intel-based Mac than FileMaker Pro 8 ran on a PowerPC. So yes, if I upgrade my computer as well as my version of FileMaker, then 8.5 will run two times faster than 8.0. There’s a huge difference between those two statements.

Sorry for the confusion. We should have made that distinction clearer.—Dan Miller

Parallels universe

Ami Sperber —In the article “Design for Any Browser” ( Create, November 2006 ), David Sawyer McFarland suggests a way to return to full-screen mode in Parallels, by installing and configuring VirtueDesktops. I have been using a much simpler method to do the same thing: in Parallels’ full-screen mode, I simply press Command-H to hide Parallels. When I want to return to Parallels, I click on its icon in the Dock and immediately return to full-screen mode.

Pop goes the Gmail

Paul Applegate —In “Get More from Mail” ( Working Mac, November 2006 ), Joe Kissell mentions adding a POP3 account to Gmail, but fails to mention the most important part: enabling POP3 access in the Gmail Web interface. To do so, choose Settings, then Forwarding And POP, and choose your option. Now you can follow his setup instructions and POP your Gmail.

You’re absolutely right, I should have mentioned that. I enabled POP access on my own Gmail account so long ago that I completely forgot the option isn’t turned on automati-cally. Luckily, it takes about two mouse clicks to do it.—Joe Kissell

On the road again

Neal Gallagher —As a prolific photographer, who backs up gigabytes at a time when I’m out in the field, let me add two comments to your story “Back Up Photos on the Road” ( Digital Photo, November 2006 ). First, the Apple iPod Camera Connector is a battery hog: it’ll suck your iPod’s battery dry before you’ve downloaded a full 4GB memory card. Second, you missed my favorite online photo backup service, phanfare.com. It has wonderful options and great, iPhoto-compatible software that allows me to download entire albums directly out of iPhoto, all in the background. It’s definitely worth a look.

Thumb drives, ha!

Albert Reingewirtz —About your column in November on portable applications (“Your Apps in Your Pocket,” Mobile Mac ): I recently spent a week in New York and carried full-fledged copies of all my apps with me. I brought all my data and configuration files with me, too. But I didn’t use a thumb drive: I used a 2.5-inch, 100GB portable hard drive. Not only does it carry more, it’s bootable and FireWire-capable. It makes no sense to promote thumb drives when external hard drives are capable of so much more.

A better way to share

Leon Nelson —In “Better Living through iPhoto Sharing” ( Mac 911, November 2006 ), Christopher Breen described several elaborate ways to move pictures from one Mac to another. I prefer a simpler method: On computer number one, select the pictures to move (even the entire library), and copy them to a folder on the desktop (I called mine PicMove). Next, copy this folder to a portable hard drive that’s connected to the USB port. Now, on computer number two, create a new iPhoto album (I called mine From Portable). Plug the portable hard drive into computer two’s USB port, and copy the PicMove folder to the From Portable album. You’ve copied all the pictures from computer one to two. I think this is the simplest, best way to move pictures from one Mac to another.

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