Do you rue the range of your Graphite Base Station, seek softer cell-phone ring tones, find PC viruses vexing, or loathe the limitations of your iTunes music library? There’s no need to feel hemmed in by transitory travails when help is at hand. This month’s Mac 911 gives you a beneficial boost over each of these barriers.
A More Expansive AirPort
I got everything ready to attach an antenna to my AirPort Base Station as described in ”
The Do-It-Yourself Mac
” (August 2003). When I removed the Base Station’s cover, the interior was not as shown in the article. How can I add an antenna to my Base Station?
— Jo Hauser,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Those instructions are for the second-generation (snow) AirPort Base Station. The original (graphite) AirPort Base Station is a different beast, as you discovered when you pulled yours apart. But don’t be discouraged — you can extend the range of these Base Stations, too.
The procedure is a bit more complicated with these older models, but it’s well within the abilities of people who are even modestly handy with a screwdriver. I don’t have the space to provide step-by-step instructions on how to perform this operation, but Constantin von Wentzel gives directions for upgrading all three Base Station models (graphite, snow, and Extreme) at
A Mite Less MIDI
I just bought a cell phone that uses MIDI files for its ring tones. I know I can move MIDI files to the phone to create new ring tones, but many of the files I’ve found are really loud when played through the phone’s speaker. Is there an inexpensive application that can lower the volume?
— Navarro Parker,
San Diego, California
Although I couldn’t find an OS X–native MIDI editor that would do the job for less than $70, I discovered that Masao Maeda’s $20 multitrack MIDI sequencer, MIDIGraphy (http://member.nifty.ne .jp/mmaeda/e/macos.html), worked perfectly well in the Classic environment.
The trick to making these MIDI files quieter (or louder) is to adjust the tune’s velocity data. The what? MIDI devices track how hard you hit a key on your MIDI controller. The harder you hit, the higher the velocity number, and the louder your sound. To change that velocity, just select the Pencil tool from the first pop-up menu at the bottom left corner of the MIDIGraphy window, and then select the Scale command from the second pop-up menu. Locate the Velocity track, and draw a straight line across its entire length. A line higher than the track’s current velocity makes the track louder. A line lower than the current velocity decreases the volume.
Choose Export from the File menu, and select the SMF Format 0 option. Name the file so that it ends with the .mid extension, copy it to your phone via Bluetooth or a data cable, select that song as your ring tone, and rock out — at a reasonable volume — the next time you get a call.
What’s Mine Is Mine
I have a large CD library and have ripped it to MP3 format in iTunes. My wife has a similarly expansive CD library that I want to rip, but I don’t want to save them in my iTunes library. Is there a way in iTunes to make a separate library, not just another playlist for her songs?
— Jon Medley,
Yes, with the help of Doug Adams’s $5 iTunes Library Manager (www.malcolmadams.com/itunes/itinfo/ituneslibrarymanager.shtml). This AppleScript applet allows you to create multiple iTunes libraries.
Just copy iTunes Library Manager in the Scripts folder found your user folder’s Library: iTunes: Scripts folder, and launch iTunes 4; you can create a Scripts folder if one doesn’t exist. Select iTunes Library Manager from the AppleScript menu. In the resulting window, click on Save to save a copy of your library and then name that library (Bubba’s Tunes, for instance). Now create a new library by selecting iTunes Library Manager once again, clicking on Save, and saving your library under a different name (Libby’s Library, for example) — when you do, the songs in the current library remain. Delete any songs and playlists you don’t want to appear in your wife’s library. iTunes will ask if you’d like to throw these files into the Trash. Do not allow this. You want to remove the title entries in iTunes, not the songs themselves.
Now start ripping CDs into your wife’s library. When you’re done and want to return to your library, choose iTunes Library Manager yet again, click on the Load button, and select your original library. iTunes will quit and relaunch, revealing all the tunes in your library but not those in your wife’s library. Follow the same procedure to switch to her library.
I’ve been slammed with returned messages generated by PCs reacting to a Windows virus. Is there anything I can do to protect myself?
— Duane Harris,
Although Macs aren’t directly affected (or infected) by Windows-specific computer cooties such as the Sobig.F worm, they nonetheless suffer two kinds of collateral damage.
The first is a flood of spam messages from infected PCs. The second is the deluge of bounced messages you receive because the worm pulls an address at random from an infected PC’s address book and places it in the message’s From field (this technique is called spoofing). That address may be yours, and you suffer the consequences when a message bounces back because the recipient doesn’t exist or an ISP “helpfully” alerts you to the presence of a virus.
Antivirus utilities can’t help because your Mac isn’t infected. What will help is your e-mail client’s filtering capabilities. You can filter a worm such as Sobig.F in a couple of ways. You can ask your e-mail client to move any messages whose subject heading ends with a particular phrase — “That movie,” “Wicked screensaver,” or “My details,” for example — to a Suspected Crud folder you’ve created. Choosing the end-with option is also useful for filtering out messages that an ISP has bounced back — “Re: That movie,” for instance. If the infected message carries a particular line of text — Sobig.F messages included “See the attached file for details” — add a condition to the filter that moves any messages containing that text into your Suspected Crud folder.
To filter spoofed messages, create another filter that looks for messages whose subject headings include the phrase “Returned mail” or messages sent by MAILER-DAEMON (the address of an automated system that many ISPs use). Note that such messages are sometimes legitimate — notifying you that a message you’ve sent can’t be delivered — so unless you’re experiencing an onslaught of bounces, scan these messages before deleting them.
TIP OF THE MONTH
Sometimes when I send complex PDF files to my LaserWriter Pro 630, it either sits there processing endlessly or crashes. Earlier today, I was trying to print a PDF spec sheet from a Web site I visited and realized 30 minutes later that the printer was still trying to process the page.
In an attempt to speed things up, I switched on my Epson ink-jet, launched Print Center, and opened both printers’ windows from the Printer List. I put the LaserWriter job on hold, dragged it from the Status window, and dropped it on the Epson’s open Status window. The job moved successfully from one printer to the other and immediately started printing on the Epson. A trick like this should work in a group office where your one-page e-mail is stuck in a queue behind someone printing out the equivalent of War and Peace.,br>– Ric Getter,
Speaking of iTunes libraries, you’re likely aware that Apple’s Rendezvous technology allows you to share your iTunes tunes with other Macs on the same network. But how do you access the iTunes library of another user — your housemate, for example — who also maintains an account on your Mac? Through the clever manipulation of permissions. Here’s how:
Log on as an administrator, open the other person’s user folder, and click once on his or her Music folder. Press 1-I to produce the Music Info window. Click on the triangle next to the Ownership & Permissions entry and click on the Lock icon. From the Owner pop-up menu, select your current identity — chris (Me), for example. In the Group area of the window, select Staff (Me) from the first pop-up menu, and change the Access pop-up menu to Read Only. Change the entry in the Owner pop-up menu back to its original owner, and then close the Music Info window.
Launch iTunes 4 and select Preferences from the iTunes menu. Click on the Advanced button and deselect the Copy Files To iTunes Music Folder When Adding To Library option; then click on OK. Select Add To Library from iTunes’ File menu, navigate to the other user’s folder (Music: iTunes: iTunes Music) in the Add To Library window, and click on Choose. This will add the songs from the other user’s library to your iTunes library without creating additional copies of the songs in your iTunes Music folder.