There was no shortage of commentary on the last column I wrote. That’s what I love about this gig — no matter how much I know, one of you out there always has another idea, and usually a good one. That’s why I dedicate the first part of each column to stuff from the last column.
One thing I’d like to remind you of is the comments/discussion board at the end of each column. If you haven’t checked it out, you should. Often readers post alternate solutions on the very day my column appears. And while space prohibits me from repeating much of what is discussed there, if you’re not reading the discussion board, you’re missing a valuable part of the Ask Dr. Mac Experience(tm).
’nuff said. Onward.
Last issue we talked about disk recovery tools and I said “Norton comes with a defragmenter; Alsoft sells theirs separately.” Turns out I was wrong. As Bob Friede (and others) pointed out, Alsoft now bundles PlusOptimizer with DiskWarrior at no charge. Sorry ’bout that, Al (Whipple, head cheese at Alsoft).
Since I rarely optimize, I hadn’t noticed. (I prefer to back up, reformat my disk, then restore it several times a year instead.)
I also said that I usually run DiskWarrior before other utilities. Kirk Kerekes thinks you should run Disk First Aid before any third-party utility and he may be right, though I’ve never had a problem doing it my way. Take his advice with however many grains of salt you like.
He also mentioned that TechToolPro includes defragmenting, another thing I hadn’t noticed (see above for my view on optimization.). Sorry ’bout that, Jeff (Baudin, head cheese at Micromat).
Enough about disk recovery. Also last issue, in perhaps my most controversial answer so far this year, I recommended PowerPoint’s “Save as QuickTime movie” feature as a reasonable way to create cross-platform slide shows you can distribute to Mac and Windows users on CD. Y’all had lots of other suggestions, most of them good ones. For example, Kirk Kerekes (yes, him again) prefers HTML (Web pages) and has even written an AppleScript to automate the process:
Slide shows are very user-hostile. The tedium and annoyance of such presentations has made "powerpoint" a synonym for "MEGO' (My Eyes Glaze Over).
Use web pages instead -- a properly designed "site" works fine directly off of a 9660 CD, and no special player software is required beyond the ubiquitous web browser. There are freeware/shareware apps available to automate the page production process (PhotoPage is one) and most scanners and digital cameras come with software having similar capabilities. The required interactivity encourages a personalized experience, using software that the user is already familiar with.
I wrote an AppleScript to transform masses of photos into web pages. It automagically transforms everything [using a scriptable app ("EasyPhoto") that came with some scanner or other] into web-resolution JPEGs at a consistent size, complete with thumbnails. You can see a totally un-"tweeked" result at
this Web site
The raw output uses the photo filename for a photo title, but it would be trivial to have it use the file comment instead. One of these days EasyPhoto is going to break, but using another scriptable graphics app to scale images won't require a heart-transplant to the script.
I started on this project to auto-create a CD-based database of family photos -- I scanned cartons of photos and plunked them into a FileMaker Pro database and my wife named and captioned the photos (her family). The database had relations in it that let you do nice data-bassy things like see every photo with Uncle Fred in it.
Then I wrote an AppleScript that transformed the FMP database into a totally self-contained vanilla HTML Web site, complete with all of the relational link functionality. (FMP's "Portals" were translated into lists of links) Wasn't even difficult -- and the result was a thousand-photo CD that anyone could view with any web browser that understands JPEGs.
While that may be too much work for many of you, if you have the skills it sounds like a reasonable way to create slide shows even Windows users can enjoy.
Finally, my old buddy Russ Conte posted a message to the Ask Dr. Mac #61 discussion board, with a couple of viable options for those who prefer to avoid Microsoft software. It’s a good one so I will reproduce it for you here:
Come on folks! QuickTime Pro can create a slide show that runs on both platforms. There's ample discussion about it on the web, see for example [discussions on Apple's Web site].
It's much less expensive than PowerPoint, and supports Apple. Another one is a Mac only program called HyperSlider, by Wolfgang Thaller $20 shareware, see
I've been told that HyperStudio can do it, and you can even find an old copy of Persuasion on eBay that can make it into either web or Acrobat for both platforms. Hopefully Apple will make a cross platform player for the presentation module in AppleWorks 6 (right now there's no player, and AppleWorks 6 is currently Mac only, which is fine with me), though this is only on my wish list, I have no inside info on AW 6 or later. Here's
to a success story I had with AppleWorks 6 in a presentation situation.
Bottom line: No reason to use Microsoft's stuff when there's so much better stuff out there that supports the Mac platform!!
Russ is a great guy. He flies me into Chicago every year to eat hot dogs and pizza (and speak to one of the finest Mac User Groups in the country, The Rest of Us). And while I have no problem using or recommending PowerPoint (I kind of like it), his suggestions are all excellent. So thanks, Russ. Send my regards to the gang there in Chi-town.
OK, moving right along, let’s hear some new questions. Like this one from Kerry Purkey:
I currently have a Mac 8600/300. Is there any way to put a password on it when it starts up? (It is not hooked to the Internet.) I also use a Procom external hard drive. Is there a way to partition it? On my old Mac, I could partition the external hard drive, however on the 8600/300 I cannot seem to find info.
OK. Two separate issues. First, to password protect your Mac at startup, all you need is OS 9.1. Its multiple users feature will not only allow you to require a password at startup, it can even use voice recognition to unlock your machine! It’s pretty cool to say, “My voice is my password,” and have your Mac respond by unlocking itself. Unfortunately, I found this feature way too flaky to use regularly (with most microphones.) I did find that when I was using a headset mic (the Andrea anti-noise USB NC-7100 that came with ViaVoice Enhanced) it worked a lot better. But I don’t use the headset much so I’ve stopped using that voice thing entirely.
(For what it’s worth, you can always type your password even if you’ve configured your Mac to use voice recognition. And that seemed to be what I did most of the time, after saying “My voice is my password” three or four times.)
If, for some reason, you don’t want to run OS 9.1, there are several commercial security options including On Guard or DiskLock, both from
Power On Software. I’m sure there are others but none come to mind. Note: I’ve never used any of these products — I lock the door to my office when I leave — so I have no opinion about them.
As for partitioning a third-party external drive, you’ll need some kind of third-party disk formatting software. As you seem to figure out, Apple’s formatter won’t (usually) format third-party drives. So check out FWB Hard Disk ToolKit,
Hard Disk ToolKit Personal Edition
LaCie SilverLining. Any should do the trick.
And now for something completely different, Jennifer Simmons wants some info on burning CDs with iTunes.
I have an iMac, which I just love to death. I downloaded Napster and have downloaded many, many tunes, but now want to transfer to CD. I went into the apple. com site and saw iTunes, and was wondering can I download that software and then buy a CD-RW drive. OR...should I just buy a CD burner that includes the toast software to burn my CD's. I feel that it may not make a difference, but just wanted your expertise.
Steve Jobs announced iTunes 1.1 this past week in Tokyo with support for dozens of third-party CD burners from vendors such as Iomega, La Cie, QPS and Sony.
iTunes Web page
for more info or to download the latest release.
For what it’s worth, I recently discovered
a pretty good email list
about iTunes. One of the things that is frequently discussed are various ways to get third-party drives to work with iTunes. Apparently, there are some tricks that work with certain drives. But, since I don’t have any of those drives, I have no idea how well (or even if) these tricks work.
Darn. I’d hoped to squeeze in one more question but I’m already way over my word count. In other words, we’ve run out of electrons again.
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
P.S. Don’t forget to check out the discussion board at the end of this column.
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 “Internet For iMacs For Dummies,” all from Hungry Minds Books. E-mail questions or comments to
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