If Chuck Darwin and the star-crossed dodo taught us anything, it’s that we must accept change or face an uncertain future. With this in mind, this month’s
examines the evolving Mac OS by considering questions about Classic privileges, DVD playback under OS X 10.1.3, and OS X display options. Turning to hardware, I address the mysteries of the iMac’s missing reset switch, the digital-audio output on Power Mac G4s, and creating iPod contacts. I’ll also investigate vexing Intermittent Problems and tardy Macs.
The Privileged Class
When I try to start OS X’s Classic environment (either from System Preferences or by launching an OS 9 application), I get the following message: “You do not have sufficient permissions to run Classic from /System/Library/CoreServices. Please correct permissions and restart Classic.”
I’m the sole user of my G4/466 running OS X 10.1.2 and OS 9.2.2. I’m logged in as the administrator. How do I correct these permissions?
— Adam Weiss, Macworld Forums
On occasion, OS X’s Unix underpinnings are more apparent than many Mac users would like. Take permissions (please!), for example. In Unix, files and folders belong to a specific user and group. By granting permissions to others, the owner of a file or folder determines who can view and alter it. In OS X, permissions are called privileges. (See “Many Users, One Mac,” Secrets, May 2002, for a lot more on permissions.)
It seems that the privileges for the Classic Startup application on your Mac are munged up. If you follow the path in the error message–System: Library: CoreServices (meaning the CoreServices folder inside the Library folder inside the System folder at the root level of your OS X volume)–you’ll spy an application called Classic Startup. Click once on its icon and press 1-I to produce the Classic Startup Info window. Select Privileges from the pop-up menu. When your OS is set up correctly, you should see the owner listed as system and the group listed as wheel.
Given that your privileges likely aren’t set this way, you can put them right with one of two utilities I favor–Renaud Boisjoly’s free BatChmod (www .versiontracker.com) and Gideon Softworks’ $10 FileXaminer (www.gideonsoftworks.com). FileXaminer is the more complete utility; it lets you easily change file privileges to match common situations–for example, when you want to create a read-only drop box–but either of these tools lets you perform the simple task of changing a file’s or folder’s privileges (see “Information Station”).
Just open one of these programs and go to the Classic Startup application. In the resulting window, change privileges so that the owner is root (what OS X calls system in the Show Info window) and the group is wheel; then click on Apply. To make these changes stick, you must enter your administrator name and password when prompted.
After upgrading from OS X 10.1.2 to OS X 10.1.3, I was shocked that I couldn’t display DVD movies on a TV in mirroring mode. Apple says that OS X 10.1.3 doesn’t support the S-Video-out port on my new PowerBook. Is this true?
— Mike Kohler, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
No. Although it’s true that OS X 10.1.3 won’t let you display a movie on both your Mac’s screen and your TV, you can display it on your TV via the PowerBook’s S-Video-out port. Here’s how:
After connecting the TV to your PowerBook via the S-Video cable, open the Display system preference and go to the Arrange tab. Make sure that Video Mirroring is selected. Then select the Display tab and click on the Detect Displays button. Locate
the Television window (it may be tucked behind the Color LCD window) and select 640 by 480 60Hz from the list of available resolutions. You should now be able to launch DVD Player and watch the movie on your TV. If the movie doesn’t stretch to the edges of the TV screen, return to the Display system preference and select 640 by 480 from the list of available resolutions.
Talking ’bout a Resolution
How can I change screen resolutions in OS X as easily as I can from OS 9’s Control Strip?
— David Eldridge, Spokane, Washington
You’ll find that it’s nearly as easy–just open the Displays system preference and activate the Show Displays In Menu Bar option. With this option on, a Display-menu icon materializes in the Mac’s menu bar; beneath that appears a list of the resolutions recommended for your display. If you want to use a resolution not recommended for your display (640 by 480 on an Apple Studio Display, for example), you must deselect the Show Modes Recommended By Display option and select one of these unworthy resolutions from within the Display system preference–they won’t appear in the Display menu.
I say that it’s nearly as easy in OS X because in OS 9.2 and earlier you can view all the resolutions that will work with your Mac (not just those recommended by Apple) by control-clicking on the Control Strip’s Resolutions module.
My flat-panel iMac doesn’t have a reset switch. How do I reboot my computer if I get stuck?
— Daniel Strickland, Omaha, Nebraska
The new iMac doesn’t have an obvious reset switch; however, you can reset it. Apple suggests that you press and hold the power button for five seconds when your iMac is unresponsive. In most cases, this will restart your iMac–and, of course, cause you to lose unsaved changes in open documents. If holding down the power button doesn’t work, unplug the computer.
Apple is a bit shy about discussing another way to reset your iMac–a method that only experienced users should employ, only if their iMacs seem to have given up the ghost. Beneath the bottom cover plate, just below and to the right of the AirPort connector’s right edge, is the PMU (Power Management Unit) switch. Pressing this switch can cause a seemingly dead iMac to rise again. Apple is reluctant to discuss this process for good reason. If you aren’t careful, you can quickly drain your iMac’s internal battery–a part that is not user serviceable (so you’ll have to take your machine to the shop and pay for the privilege of having the battery replaced).
Now that you’ve been warned, here’s how to proceed: Disconnect the iMac’s power cord. Place your iMac face down on a soft surface, remove the bottom plate, and press the PMU switch once. Pressing it more than once may crash the PMU chip, which can shorten the life of the internal battery to about two days. Wait at least ten seconds before plugging in the power cord and firing up the iMac. (This procedure resets the iMac’s PRAM settings, so once you’ve restarted your computer, be sure to reset the date and time.)
The modem in my blue-and-white Power Mac G3 can’t find a dial tone if I haven’t turned on the Mac for a few days. Once the Mac has been running for a day or so, the modem works again. Any ideas as to what the problem might be and how to fix it?
— George Allen, Ann Arbor, Michigan
George, you’ve been bitten by every troubleshooter’s bugaboo–the Intermittent Problem. Although such problems can be vexing, yours provides a clue that makes it easy to diagnose and solve. That clue? Heat.
You may recall from your elementary-school science classes that heat causes objects to expand. The fact that a chunk of your Mac’s hardware doesn’t work when you fire up your computer, but does function when the Mac has had a chance to cook for a while, indicates that this expansion effect may have improved a poor contact.
I suggest that you switch off the Mac, flip down its side door, disconnect the phone cord, and unseat and reseat the modem card. Doing this should establish a stronger, more reliable bond between your modem and Mac.
For the rest of you confronting an Intermittent Problem that involves any kind of cabling–this can be a keyboard, monitor, or just about any external peripheral–first make sure the cable is firmly seated. Unplug it and plug it back in. (Do this only with hot-pluggable cables–phone cords and USB, monitor, and FireWire cables, for example. Don’t hot-plug SCSI and ADB cables–switch off the Mac and peripheral, and swap cables.) If that doesn’t do the trick, try a different cable.
The Mac That Time Forgot
Whenever I set the time on my Mac, within a week or two the clock is off by as much as ten minutes. I never shut the computer off and have it in sleep mode during the night. Why does this happen?
— Jason Sheen, Lehi, Utah
Because Macs are not made by the Swiss. A common misconception is that because a Mac is capable of performing so many miracles, it’s also a high-precision timepiece. It is not.
But it can be–if you have an Internet connection. In OS 9.2 and earlier, open the Date & Time control panel, select the Use A Network Time Server option in the resulting window, click on the Server Options button, and then click on the Set Time Now button in that window. Your Mac will go to the Web and synchronize the system clock with the correct time. The same Server Options window offers two options for automatically synchronizing the Mac’s clock.
In OS X, the Network Time Server option is under the Date & Time system preference’s Network tab. Here you’ll find the same Set Time Now button and the option to use a network time server automatically.
Speaking of Speakers
I’d like to connect my Power Mac G4 to my stereo so I can play MP3s through the stereo and through my Mac’s speakers. Apple’s digital speakers won’t work when I plug my stereo into the Mac’s headphone jack. What gives?
— Andy Milder, Santa Monica, California
The Mac is trying to be considerate of those around you. (If you’re engaged in a late-night Myth session, those nearby are not likely to be pleased with your trumpeting speakers.) Regrettably, there’s no way around this enforced quietude. Once jack meets headphone port, digital-audio output is silenced.
But Griffin Technology has a solution: the $99 PowerWave (www.griffintechnology.com). This USB audio adapter, which should be released by the time you read this, supports many audio-input and -output options. Two of these options are output to digital speakers and line-level output to other audio devices via 1/8-inch Walkman-style miniplug or RCA jacks. Both outputs are “live,” so you can send an audio signal to your speakers and stereo.
I’m thrilled that the latest iPod software allows me to store contacts on my iPod–but I’m not sure how to go about it.
— Krista Spence, Los Angeles, California
To make this work, you must mount your iPod as a FireWire drive: connect your iPod to the Mac via the FireWire cable, launch iTunes 2, select your iPod in the Source list, and click on the iPod Preference button in the lower right corner of the iTunes window. In the resulting iPod Preferences window, select the Enable FireWire Disk Use option.
Once your iPod is mounted, there are a couple of ways to put contacts into it. To move them manually, open any application that supports the vCard contact format–such as OS X’s Address Book, Microsoft Entourage, and Palm Desktop (version 4.X only). Select the addresses you want to place on your iPod, and drag them to the Contacts folder inside your iPod. Unmount your iPod by dragging it to the Trash, and disconnect the FireWire cable. You’ll find your contacts under your iPod’s Contacts heading.
If you’re running OS X and want to pull contacts from either Address Book or Entourage, Apple has created AppleScripts that make the job easier. The Address Book To iPod and Entourage To iPod scripts automatically move your Address Book and Entourage contacts into your iPod’s Contacts folder. They also offer you the option of viewing your contacts’ first names first or their last names first. You can find these scripts at www.apple.com/applescript/ipod.
Tip of the Month
OS X-native applications sometimes put their windows beneath the Dock, making them partially inaccessible. I’ve found that if you toggle the Dock’s autohide feature on and off by pressing Apple-option-D, the offending window will become Dock-aware–it resizes itself so that it is no longer hidden.
— Ben Everson, Boulder, Colorado
Apple was kind enough to include a configurable equalizer (EQ) as part of the iPod Software 1.1 update, but how the EQ settings in iTunes interact with the iPod is a little confusing. iTunes 2 users undoubtedly know that you can assign an EQ setting to an individual song by clicking on the song, pressing 1-I, clicking on the Options tab, and choosing an EQ setting from the Equalizer Preset menu. When you move songs to your iPod, these EQ settings move right along with them, but you can’t utilize them unless you configure the iPod correctly.
If, for example, you have the iPod’s EQ switched off, songs that have an assigned EQ preset won’t play with that setting. Instead, your songs will play without the benefit of EQ. If you set the iPod’s EQ to Flat, the EQ you preset in iTunes 2 will play on the iPod. If you select one of the other EQ settings on the iPod (Latin or Electronic, for example), songs without EQ presets assigned in iTunes 2 will use the iPod EQ setting. Songs with EQ settings assigned in iTunes 2 will use the iTunes 2 setting.
To hear how a particular song sounds on your iPod with a different EQ setting, start playing the song on the iPod and then press the Menu button until you return to the main screen. Select Settings, then EQ, and then one of the EQ settings. The song will immediately take on the EQ setting you’ve chosen, but it won’t stick on subsequent playback. If you want to change the song’s EQ more permanently, you must do so in iTunes.