Okey dokey. I hope you enjoyed my Macworld Expo report last issue, but we’re back to the good old Q & A format this week. And so, without further ado, here’s our first question from Bob Merrill, who wants to know if you still need to turn off extensions before installing software:
I have all of your Mac OS books since 7.5 and enjoy them immensely.
I do have one question that I don't seem to find in the later editions and it has to do with installing software and applications on a Mac. With my first Mac, which was a Performa 630 with OS 7.5.3, when you installed software and applications you turned off most of the extensions except the CD-ROM and a couple of others. I haven't been able to find in any Mac publication if this is still necessary or do the new Mac OS's take care of potential conflicts with extensions being on. Could you explain the proper way to install software with OS 8.6 and OS 9. I have noticed that most software doesn't direct one to turn them off, but many times a lot is assumed in directions today.
After the Performa I had a PM 7200 and now have a new iMac DV and love it. Thanks for your wonderful books.
As I often say, flattery will get you everywhere in this column. Thanks for your kind words, Bill; they’re music to this writer’s ears.
As to your question, I can only tell you what I do. For most software installations, I don’t do anything — I don’t change extension sets with Conflict Catcher, I don’t turn off Norton Anti Virus (it offers to turn itself off when it sees I’m running an installer, anyway). I just go for it and it almost always works.
Of course, I follow the instructions for System Software and install from bootable CD whenever possible. If it’s a downloadable update, I read the Read Me — if it doesn’t specifically say to disable extensions, I don’t.
Now that’s just me. I suspect it’s still safer to restart while holding down the Shift key before running a software installer, or to restart with a minimum set of extensions (CD ROM, DVD, Internet stuff, etc.). But I don’t bother and I rarely have an installation fail.
Of course, you must always read that “Read Me” document (if there is one) before launching any installer. You never know what you’ll learn. (What if it said that if you
disable all your extensions before installation your ROMs will melt into a steaming pile of silicon goo? You’d feel pretty silly reading it after the fact, wouldn’t you?) So always RTFRM. (Read The Freaking Read Me.)
I hope that helps.
Next we have a question from Tom Barta about a subject near and dear to my heart, disk repair utilities:
I just got a G4 (Hoo-ray!), and, while Apple's Disk First Aid seems to be getting better all the time, I am wondering about the best way to protect my disk. Do you know which is the best of the following: Norton, Alsoft DiskWarrior, or TechTools, under HFS+/OS 9? Of the three, it kind of looks to me like Alsoft has the most actual interest in the Mac platform, but I have worked with older versions of Norton (on older Macs) without any troubles. What do you think of Alsoft's defragging capabilities? Thanks!
I don’t know which is better. I have them all and none of them suck. Perhaps the most enlightening thing I can do is tell you in which order I use them. When I suspect disk or directory damage, I boot from my Rewind Emergency Startup Disk (YEA!), which contains copies of all three disk utilities as well as Disk First Aid. The one I run first is …
Alsoft DiskWarrior. I know Al Whipple (the Al in Alsoft). I trust Alsoft to do it right. Over the years DiskWarrior has fixed damage neither Norton nor TechTool Pro could fix. And DiskWarrior has never made things worse.
After that I run
Norton. It almost always gives me a clean bill of health, but I like to make sure things are OK before I reboot from my hard disk. Sometimes I run
TechTool Pro, too, just for giggles. Finally, I run Apple’s Disk First Aid, just to be sure. It almost always reports that everything is hunky-dory.
Overkill? Probably. But as long as I’m repairing my disks I like to make sure everyone agrees that the damage is truly gone.
While I’d recommend DiskWarrior first, there are still many good reasons to buy Norton and/or TechTool Pro as well. Norton comes with a defragmenter; Alsoft sells theirs separately. Norton includes a passel of other possible useful programs such as DiskLight, System Info, Wipe Info, and UnErase; DiskWarrior includes just DiskWarrior. Finally, TechTool Pro performs many hardware diagnostic tests not found in either other program.
That said, I’ve noticed that many serious Mac users own at least two — usually DiskWarrior plus either Norton or TechTool Pro. Really serious Mac users own all three.
As for your last question about Alsoft’s defragging, both of their products — PlusOptimizer and DiskExpress Pro — are excellent. But there’s nothing wrong with Norton’s Speed Disk, which is included with Norton Utilities for Mac.
DiskExpress Pro offers the ability to optimize disks based upon file activity, select optimization type, optimize disks in the background, verify media, erase free space, log directory errors, schedule optimizations, and it completely defragment disks with open files. If you’re a bug about fragmentation, it’s the way to go.
Lynda Cook just got a CD burner and wants to know what the best way to share digital photos with her PC-using family members:
I just bought a Que!Fire CD burner. It comes with Toast, which works well for audio, but I would like to take all of my digital photos and write them off to CD, preferably with a slide show program to make it more interesting. I also want my friends/family with PCs to be able to read them. What application software is the best for this use?
I don’t know if it’s best (and please, no flames), but I would use Microsoft PowerPoint for that. It lets you create slide shows quickly and easily, add transition effects, sounds, and even embed QuickTime movies in slides. You can easily adjust slide size and quality, and it can take advantage of smooth-looking QuickTime transitions between slides. Then, you can save the whole thing as a QuickTime movie! I’ve created several slide shows this way and they come out fantastic.
It’s easy. You just create a presentation in PowerPoint the usual way: Import your pictures, add transition effects, then preview to make sure it’s just the way you like it. Now choose Make Movie … from the File menu. If you want to play around with picture quality, slide size, or whatever, click the “Adjust settings” radio button before you save.
And that’s it — your PowerPoint presentation is now a QuickTime slide show. Neat, huh?
There are a couple of provisos. First, you need to burn your discs in ISO 9660 format, which PCs can read. And, of course, make sure your PC-using relatives have QuickTime installed on their computers. They can get it for free from Apple’s Web site if they don’t already have it.
And last but not least, a quickie from Morris Herman:
When is your book on OS X going to be released?
The answer, Morris, is “soon.” We’re trying to have it out by mid-April but the ship date is still up in the air and somewhat dependant on when Apple provides a final candidate or golden master to us. Believe me, we’re putting in plenty of overtime to get it out as soon after OS X ships as possible.
Oh oh… We’ve run out of electrons again. 🙁 But I’ll be back in two weeks with an all-new column chock full of titillating Q & A fun, tips, hints, and advice. Until then, please keep those e-mails coming to email@example.com.
Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on the Mac OS and the author of 36 books including “Mac OS 9 For Dummies,” “Macworld Microsoft Office 2001 Bible,” and “Mac Answers: Second Edition.” E-mail questions or comments to