Tip: Moving the iPhoto Library

The default location of your iPhoto library is inside your home directory on your startup disk. You may have another disk drive, such as an external hard drive, that you want to use to store all your pictures. This is easy to do, and iPhoto will use the new location to store all current and new pictures.

To change the location of the iPhoto pictures folder, perform the following steps.

  1. Quit iPhoto. It cannot be running when you perform the steps that follow.
  2. Using the Finder, locate the folder that contains your iPhoto library.
  3. Drag the library folder to some other location, being sure to move it, not copy it, if you are dragging it into another volume/disk.
  4. Launch iPhoto again. You will get a dialog that tells you that iPhoto cannot find its library.
  5. Click the “Find Library” or “Choose Library” button and another dialog appears.
  6. Use the new dialog to find your library folder.

That’s it. You now have a new

LaCie Firewire/USB Hard Drive Has Arrived

The LaCie firewire/USB hard drive that I purchased has arrived today. Right now, I’m testing out Carbon Copy Cloner to do a backup of the entire internal hard disk to this new hard drive. After that, I’m going to install a copy of OS X for development purposes on a partition of the new drive.

One thing that I do want to say about this drive is that it couldn’t be easier to use on OS X. I’m not sure if that is attributable to the OS, the drive, or both, but I’m happy. As soon as I opened the box, I plugged the drive into the firewire port with the cable provided. Then I partitioned the drive into two volumes, one for backups and files (miscellaneous things, really), and the other for a copy of OS X. I used Disk Utility (Applications -> Utilities folder) to do the partitioning and formatting. Creating partitions with Disk Utility is about as simple as it gets. I had the drive ready to be formatted with both partitions, clicked the button, and the formatting was done in just under ten seconds! I was completely shocked. I had just taken a drive from a FAT32 filesystem to HFS+ (Journaled) in less time than it takes to check the Weather widget on my Dashboard.

Coming from the Windows world, this is simply unheard of. Partitioning a 100 GB drive on a Windows machine will take a variable amount of time, but we are talking at least ten minutes, and, if you are running a slower machine, up to an hour. This is an iBook G4, one of the lower-end machines that Apple produces, and to see this kind of performance was a shock.

Also, I should mention that the drive itself is quite nice-looking. It’s gray plastic with what appears to be an aluminum plate on the front. It only has one tiny light at the front of the drive, and three ports in the back: 1 firewire, 1 USB, and 1 USB power/AC power. They definitely took the minimalist approach with this drive, and it has paid off. In terms of power, if your computer cannot power the drive by FireWire or USB, you may need to connect the additional USB power cable (provided) to the port in the back and connect that to any available USB port. If that doesn’t get it powered, you may need to purchase the optional AC power supply from LaCie. I didn’t need anything other than the firewire cable, and the drive is fully powered and ready to roll. I did see a post on the CNet Web site, where this drive was reviewed, that was left by an unhappy customer who said that the drive didn’t work on PowerBooks. I’m not sure what she meant (maybe an older model PowerBook), but this drive works on my iBook just fine so far.

I can’t wait to put this drive through its paces and write a review. I’ll give it a few days, but I’m moving my iPhoto and iTunes libraries to the drive tonight, and going through my hard disk and moving any files that I can in order to ensure 10 GB of free space. I’ll keep everyone updated as I work with this new drive.

Tip: Edit HTML Files in TextEdit

One of the things that annoyed me about TextEdit when I first started using it was the fact that HTML files are rendered as Web pages by default. I found a way to change this, however, so the files can be viewed as code and edited in place. To do this in OS X 10.4 Tiger, open TextEdit and click TextEdit -> Preferences. Now click the Open and Save button at the top of the preference panel and look for “Ignore rich text commands in HTML files”. Check the box next to this line, and you’re done. The next time you open an HTML file, you’ll see the code, and not the output. To do this in OS X 10.3 Panther, you’ll need to go to the “Rich Text Processing” pane, and click the same line as in Tiger.

Tip: Fast Window Switching

Most users know about the Command+Tab keystroke (Alt+Tab in Windows) that allows you to cycle from one open application to the next. However, there are probably a least a few users who don’t know about the Command+` keystroke (that’s the accent grave character, just to the left of the 1 key) that allows you to cycle from one open window to another in the same application. If you have ten Word documents open, this key combo is very useful when you need to get from one window to the next. It also works in all other apps, including the Finder.Command+Shift+Accent Grave cycles through in the opposite direction.

Tip: Repairing Your Keychain

Sometimes, for whatever reason, you may need to repair your Mac OS X keychain. As you work with keychains, problems may occur, like out of sync passwords or improper keychains being set as the default keychains. Repairing your keychain is a simple process and the steps below will walk you through it.

  1. Open the Keychain Access application. You can find it in your Utilities subfolder (inside the Applications folder).
  2. Click Keychain Access -> Keychain First Aid (OS X 10.4 Tiger) or Window -> Keychain First Aid (OS X 10.3 Panther).
  3. Enter your keychain password in the space provided.
  4. Click the Repair radio button.
  5. Click the Start button.
  6. Let the process run. When finished, you will see “Repair completed” appear in the window.

If you want to see what is wrong before performing the repair, you should click the Verify radion button, instead of the Repair button. This will show you the list of problems with your keychain. Then you will need to run the process again by performing the steps listed above. Repairing your keychain when you start to notice things getting out of whack might be all you need to fix the problem.

Tip: Creating Secure Notes with the Keychain

In the Mac OS, the Keychain app manages passwords for things like Web sites, applications and shares on other computers. This saves you from having to remember them every time you want to access something. If you are logged in, and try to access an item (or an application tries to access something) that you have accessed before, your login keychain will provide the authentication necessary for you to move forward. There is a Keychain feature, however, that is not know to all users. In fact, I just found out about it today when I was listening to a Radio MacGuys podcast. Did you know that you can create secure notes with nothing more than the software that comes with your Mac?

To create a secure note, browse over to the Utilities folder (located in the Applications folder), and find the “Keychain Access” app. Open the app, and you are presented with your Keychain. There are three panes to this app. In the left pane, you will see “Secure Notes”. Click it, and the lower-right pane will display a list of items. This is where you will find any secure notes you have created. If you have not created any, this list should be empty.

To create a new note, follow these steps:

  1. Click File -> New Secure Note Item.
  2. Give the note a name in the “Keychain Item Name” field.
  3. Type the text of the note in the “Note” field.
  4. Click the Add button.

Presto! You have just created a new note. This is a nifty little feature for taking small bits of information with you wherever you go, like credit card numbers and passwords, while ensuring that your data remains safe from prying eyes. The fact that it’s stored with your Keychain information is great. The fact that you cannot assign Secure Notes to categories is a drawback, but if you only want to store quick, secure notes in your Keychain, you can use this little feature to get it done.

Order Placed for LaCie Mobile Hard Drive

I just (finally) placed my order for the LaCie 100 GB Mobile Hard Drive. I’m down to about 4 GB of space on my iBook hard disk and have had to move all my MP3 files off of it and onto my Windows machine, temporarily. ZipZoonFly was the cheapest price I found at $223.00 USD with free two-day FedEx shipping.

I agonized over the purchase for the last couple of months, because spending $200+ for a hard drive does not come lightly to me. I wanted to be sure that I had the one that I wanted, and I wanted the best one I could find that wouldn’t go over $200. I decided to purchase this one after reading a review on CNet that gave it a rating of 8.0 (”Excellent”), and compared its speed to that of one of the fastest desktop external hard drives on the market that runs at 7200 RPM. Given the speed of this drive (5400 RPM), it should be able to run an installation of OS X, something I’m considering installing onto it just in case my iBook drive suddenly dies. Mainly, though, I want the external drive to store my music, pictures, some video and my most recent iBook hard disk backup, which is now being stored on my Windows machine.

I also decided to get the 100 GB model, instead of the 80 GB model, mainly because the price was so close to the $200 price limit that I set for myself. Once I get the drive, I’ll test it out for a few weeks and write a review.

Windows: I Almost Miss You (but not really)

To begin, it should be stated that I work on a Windows 2000 Pro machine everyday. I also have an XP Pro machine that I go days without touching. A few days ago a guy I know told me that he had a few issues with his Windows PC. He’s running XP Home Edition, as it turns out, and told me it was infected with a virus. More specifically, he said he opened a trojan program and it was causing issues for him. I told him I’d be happy to work on getting things back in order if he wanted me to look it over.

I typically receive calls from friends for this, and always the same friends too, though this is the first time with this individual. I usually get a call that goes something like this:

[User]: My computer is running really slow and I can’t do anything with it.

[Me]: Have you been updating your virus definitions and being careful about your email attachments?

[User]: I keep getting a message that says my virus thing is out of date and I need to pay for it. I’m not paying $5 a year. I just click close.

[Me]: Very nice. Is this the second time this year that I’m cleaning your PC, or the third?

[User]: Uh…

[Me]: Nevermind. Bring it over and leave it with me.

At that point, the PC usually arrives within a day or so and I go through the Control Panel’s Add/Remove Programs module and first remove everything that shouldn’t be there, that is, everything that has “somehow” installed itself on the machine. Then I get the virus definitions updated and do a full scan, followed by an install of Ad-Aware and a full scan with that app. Usually about five or six reboots and a couple hours later, things are running smoothly again.

Except this time…
I get this PC from this guy and it comes up with just under 1000 Ad-Aware alerts. Not a record, I suppose, but he’s been very busy. The virus count was an even 180, according to Norton AntiVirus. I removed most things via Add/Remove Programs, but a few would not uninstall. I left them alone for a bit while I worked on other things. All but about 40 of the virii or suspected virii were removed without incident. The remaining were actually a form of spyware that Ad-Aware was also trying to remove and could not. With both Norton AntiVirus and Ad-Aware, I’d remove them, and they’d be back.

I could keep going, I suppose, but I choose not to at this point. I called him and explained that he needed to get me the restore CDs that came with this machine, or that I’d install a good copy of Windows XP on his machine for him (no, that’s not a violation of the licensing agreement, since he owns a copy). The difference is that a restore CD would give him everything he had before since Compaq had shipped this machine to him. For a more novice user who is used to his computer looking a certain way, this is the best choice.

I say all this not because it’s really interesting, but to illustrate a point. The fact is, with a little more time, I would easily be able to clean the machine, but why bother? I’m so used to rebuilding my own Windows PC every six to nine months anyway, it’s like a second job at this point. It’s faster and less frustrating.

The main point to all this is that I almost forgot what it was like to have virus and spyware problems. I’m running no antivirus or spyware protection on my Mac, and have had no problems. In fact, when I did have Norton SystemWorks installed on the iBook, it caused more problems than it could have ever solved, and I got rid of it weeks later. (See My First Kernel Panic for details.)

Since I’ve gotten this iBook, a few people have called me and mentioned that their Windows PCs are running slowly and seem to have infections or spyware issues. My response used to be, “bring it over my place and I’ll look at it for you.” My response has since changed to one that I like a bit more: “Get a Mac and be done with it.”

Internet Via Bluetooth Phone

When I purchased my iBook, I was in an Apple store local to me here in New Jersey. Had I purchased it via the Apple Web site, I would have had the opportunity to also purchase internal Bluetooth. Basically, no Internet purchase, no Bluetooth.

I looked around on eBay for the Bluetooth USB adapter, the D-Link DBT-120, as I wasn’t willing to pay almost $100 for the device. But, it turned out that I was going to pay that price anyway. Yesterday, I was in a BestBuy during lunch and saw what I would say is a nicer Bluetooth USB adapter, made by Kensington. I was never blown away by the one Apple offered on their Web site and thought it was less than appealing to look at. I still spent the $100 at BestBuy, but this one is a bit nicer and works just the same. It actually has curves, like the iBook, rather than the boxy design of the D-Link model.

So now I have my Bluetooth adapter for my iBook. What for? Well, I happen to have purchased a Bluetooth mobile phone, the Motorola V505, for use as an Internet connection for my Palm Tungsten T3 handheld. I hardly ever use it for that, as it turns out, because I never really find myself needing Internet access on that tiny little Palm screen. I’m going away on vacation in a few weeks, however, and wanted to be sure that I am not without Internet access if I need it.

Once I got the adapter, I immediately tried to pair it with my phone and use the phone’s GPRS connection to the Internet. I also have a dial-up Internet account, which would be cheaper to have the phone dial, but I wanted to test it out by using the AT&T/Cingular GPRS Internet service that I already have on the phone.

Pairing the Bluetooth USB adapter to the phone was easy. Mac OS X walks you right through it and gets it done within about two minutes. Using iSync to synchronize data between the phone and the Mac’s Address Book application was simple too. Just click and go.

So, at that point I had the devices paired and wanted to have the notebook tell the phone to connect to the Internet. This is where the confusion comes in. First, the iBook wouldn’t display the Bluetooth adapter in the Network preference pane. I spent some time on the phone with Apple support trying to figure this out. The devices were paired, and the iBook could see the Bluetooth USB adapter well enough to do that, but it wouldn’t let me configure it further. Apple support didn’t tell me to reboot the notebook. I suppose that, in the frustration, I didn’t think of it either. It was pretty foolish, really, and someone I work with asked me if I had rebooted. After a restart it saw the adapter, and I was left both happy about that, and feeling foolish that I hadn’t thought to do one of the simplest, low-tech troubleshooting steps in the history of computing.

I found at least five different documents (none, by the way, on the Cingular Web site) with directions explaining how to do this. Each one listed a different number that AT&T expects the GSM phone to dial for the Internet connection. I finally found a document that worked and got it up and running.

The steps I used are posted on Mike Chambers’ Web site:
“Accessing the Internet on OS X with Bluetooth, Motorola V600 and ATT Wireless”
I changed one thing in the instructions, and that’s the setting for telephone number. Mike says that you should use *99# for AT&T, but I left it blank for other reasons. It works either way, with or without it. It seems the keys are (1) using the correct modem script, which the document provides a link to for downloading, and (2) unchecking “wait for dialtone”. Also, I have a Motorola V505, so these instructions work for the V600 and V505, at least. Your milage with other phone models may vary.

All things considered, I’m happy I purchased the Bluetooth adapter. It gets the job done and now my notebook has Bluetooth when I need it.

UPDATE: March 15th, 2016 at 12:18 PM

Just a quick update…

If you follow my instructions above and leave the *99# out (leave the telephone number field blank), you may notice that there is no way to select this new connection from the modem pulldown menu in the Mac’s Menu Bar (if you are displaying the modem status in the Menu Bar). To fix this, perform the following steps.

  1. Open the Internet Connect application and click Bluetooth. You will see a Configuration pulldown menu. “Other” should be the current selection.
  2. Click the pulldown menu and choose “Edit Configurations…”.
  3. From there, click the entry named “Other”.
  4. Change the name to something that describes this connection. I used “GPRS”. Now, when you click the modem icon in the Menu Bar, this new connection will appear and you won’t have to open Internet Connect to launch connect to the Internet via your Bluetooth phone.

Hope this helps. It makes things a few clicks quicker.


Mac OS X Moving to Intel

Today I figured I’d talk about something that everyone in the Mac (and PC) community seems to be talking about this week…

The rumors started a few weeks ago on news sites and blogs, and even the Wall Street Journal threw its hat into the ring. They all read pretty much the same: “Apple to use Intel chips in future Macintosh models.” I thought I’d write this article from a “switcher’s” point of view, rather than from the same point of view I’m mostly seeing, that of someone who has always used a Mac, or at least used one for several years. I have begun moving away from Windows PCs for two main reasons. First, I wanted to have the most advanced operating system in the world, and it happened to be the Mac OS. Second, all I’ve ever read has told me that Apple’s hardware, including the IBM PowerPC processor, was superior to the hardware in most PCs. With the upcoming switch to the hardware that Apple and its customers have mocked over the years, I had to ask myself, “Is this good for me?” Naturally, that’s all I care about. After all, I’m a consumer, and I only care whether or not the platform I’m on is delivering the things I want.

Yesterday evening, when I got home from work, I watched the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote address in QuickTime to see what Steve Jobs had to say about what he called Apple’s “third transition”, the move to Intel processors in all Macintosh models by the end of 2006. He cited the switch to the PowerPC in the 90s and to OS X in 2000 as the first and second transitions, respectively, and I took a moment to think about this. Apple has always been at the forefront of the industry, changing before they were required to do so in order to stay ahead of the curve. I suppose we could trust that they are making the right decision and go along with it, keeping in mind that we have no choice anyway, but I have a concern. If we are going to be purchasing machines with Intel inside, are we going to sacrifice speed and power in the process?

Jobs spoke about the two things that pushed Apple to this decision. First, IBM could not deliver a 3 GHz PPC processor, or, at least, they have failed to do so thus far. Second, he made reference to the lack of a G5 chip with low enough power consumption to make them useful in notebook computers. These are two excellent reasons for a transition to Intel, but my initial question of power and speed still stands. Jobs did not make mention of this, even with the Intel’s CEO making an appearance and playing an old Apple commercial mocking the Pentium processor.

Jobs went on to speak about other things that got me a little excited about the switch, however. Apparently, OS X, since its first release, has been compiled not only to run on the PowerPC processor, but also on the x86 processor manufactured by Intel. At the very least, this was a good amount of forward thinking on Apple’s part, taking into consideration that OS X was first released about five years ago. Jobs called this the “just in case scenario.”

Also presented, because this was, after all, a developer conference, was the ease with which applications written for the PowerPC chip would run on the new Intel design. Jobs unveiled Rosetta, which translates apps written for the PPC to something that Intel’s chip can understand, allowing you to continue to run the OS X apps you already have, whether they are ported to Intel or not. I’m sure this put the minds of many developers at ease, at least for the time being. To demo this feature, Jobs let the audience in on a little secret. Apparently, the machine he was using for the demo was, in fact, Intel-based. Very nice touch, Steve. My only question, and this was not mentioned, is whether or not Classic apps will still run, even with Rosetta. Many users still have Classic apps that they purchased in the past that are no longer updated. These users could be out of luck if Classic support is dropped. Either way, Rosetta seemed pretty slick and appeared to run very fast when Adobe Photoshop was launched as a test.

So, what about porting existing apps to the new Intel-based Mac OS? Well, it seems that this, if it is anything like Jobs has described, will be fairly simple, compared to other ports. XCode 2.1 was given out to the developers at the conference and Jobs promised that making what he termed a “universal binary” would be simple for many applications, and only a small amount of work for others. He described the porting of applications in terms of days and weeks, rather than months and years. This would allow developers to release on application that installs and runs on both the PPC and Intel-based version of OS X. Good for the devs, if Apple’s promise is true.

All things considered, this is a good move. I wasn’t happy when I heard the rumors, but I suppose now I can put myself at ease that my switch was good for me, and Apple’s switch is going to be good for Apple After all, OS X on Intel is certainly better than Windows on Intel, even if the chips are slower. I’m hoping that, given the ability to install OS X on Intel-based machines, I will be able to switch my Dell PC from Windows to Mac, and if Apple won’t make it possible, maybe someone else will write something that will.

Watch the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote presented by Steve Jobs, Apple CEO.