How to Avoid a MacBook Meltdown – Part I

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Date: Friday, April 7th, 2006, 10:40
Category: Software

Thank you to all the people that wrote to me about my MacBook meltdown yesterday after installing Mac OS 10.4.6 and the MacBook Pro Firmware update. PowerPage reader Bill Elkus wrote about one of the best suggestions that I’ve received:

Before I install any system update, I make a bootable backup using Synchronize Pro X from Qdea. Then if I don’t like the update, I just boot off the external hard drive and overwrite my internal hard drive with the prior image. It takes perhaps ten minutes because it only writes the changes (most of the time is spent finding the changes).
I use Synchronize Pro X religiously at least once a day and it has saved me more then a dozen times over the five years I have owned various versions of the application. Rather than chase down some corrupted preference file, I just revert to an earlier state of my Mac. If I have done substantial work in the mean time, I can usually keep that too since Synchronize Pro X has an option to show you what it is going to change before overwriting anything and it allows you to selectively remove any particular file or files from the process.

Heed this advice fair reader and learn from my mistake.
Rob Kolter wrote How to Avoid a MacBook Meltdown – Part II on 12 April 2006.

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10.4.6 and/or the Firmware Upgrade Killed my MacBook Pro

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Date: Thursday, April 6th, 2006, 11:48
Category: Software

software-update.jpgDO NOT install the Mac OS 10.4.6 update or the 1.0.0 Firmware update (For the MacBook Pro) on your machine until the dust settles a bit.
I got swept up in all the excitement yesterday about Apple’s release of Boot Camp, an official dual boot environment for Intel Macs. To use Boot Camp you must install Mac OS 10.4.6 and the latest Firmware update for your specific Mac (in my case MacBook Pro (early 2006) Firmware Update 1.0.)
I didn’t follow my own advice to wait a minimum of 72 hours before installing any Apple update and am now paying the price.
Read more…

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Apple Releases Mac OS 10.4.6 Update

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Date: Tuesday, April 4th, 2006, 08:45
Category: Software

software-update.jpgWaiting in your Software Update function is the Mac OS 10.4.6 Update:

The 10.4.6 Update is recommended for all users and includes general operating system fixes, as well as specific fixes for the following applications and technologies:
- login and authentication in a variety of network environments
- file access and byte range locking with AFP file sharing
- network access when using proxy server automatic configuration files
- connecting to Cisco VPN servers using IP/Sec
- using Bluetooth wireless devices
- searching iWork ’06 and Microsoft Office documents with Spotlight
- saving Word documents automatically when using a network home directory
- creating Automator workflows for iPhoto 6
- synchronizing contacts and calendars to .Mac and mobile phones
- mounting and unmounting iDisk volumes
- compatibility with third party applications and devices
- previous standalone security updates
For detailed information on this Update, please visit this website: http://www.info.apple.com/kbnum/n303411.
For detailed information on Security Updates, please visit this website: http://www.info.apple.com/kbnum/n61798.

As always, the PowerPage recommends waiting at least 72 hours before installing any software updates on a production machine.

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Convert WMA to MP3 with EasyWMA

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Date: Monday, April 3rd, 2006, 07:00
Category: Software

Last week I posted a piece on my ZDNet blog about voice recorders lamenting that the new Olympus DS-2200 voice recorder (US$289) I purchased doesn’t yet work with Intel Macs.
So there I was, stuck with a bunch of MWA files that I created (including PowerPage Podcast #13) that I couldn’t do much with. I thought that I’d be able to simply open the WMA files in QuickTime Pro (via Flip4Mac) and convert them to something useful, but alas Flip4Mac isn’t compatible with Intel Macs either. Bleh.
A quick search of MacUpdate yielded a little nugget called EasyWMA a US$10 application that did exactly what I was looking for: converting WMA’s to MP3s.
EasyWMA accepts wma, asf, wmv, wav and features manual or automatic bit rate selection from the source, batch processing and ID3 tags support. Now I only wish Olympus would reimburse me the US$10.

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WMC06 Session: Audio Lab – Abelton Live

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Date: Friday, March 31st, 2006, 17:54
Category: Software

wmc06-live-5.jpg
The following article is from one of the conference sessions at Winter Music Conference (WMC) last week in Miami where the PowerPage was covering the mobile music scene, digital DJing and the pervasiveness of PowerBooks in the Electronic music community.
Miami — Dave Hill, Jr. one of the foremost experts on Ableton and author of Ableton Live 2 Power took us on a journey through Live 5 showing us how to get the most out of the software.
Live is an audio creation, production and performance application used by electronic musicians like Sasha and Gabriel & Dresden. Live 5 is a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) that boasts a bunch of new features that add to its creation, production and performance capabilities, including improvements in remix, organization, instruments and effects.
Read More…

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Daylite Turns Three

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Date: Thursday, March 30th, 2006, 15:01
Category: Software

Marketcircle has announced Daylite 3, the successor to their wildly popular Business Relationship Manager for the Mac. Daylite is more than a contact manager, it’s also a calendar, opportunity, task and project manager that features multiple pipelines, activity delegation, smart lists, powerful reports and super-tight integration with Apple’s Mail.app.
I have been using Daylite for two years now and highly recommend it to anyone that needs to keep track of contacts, relationships and sales opportunities – and who doesn’t?
The new Daylite 3 Productivity Suite bundles Daylite 3 with Marketcircle’s Daylite Mail Integration Module (DMI 2.0) for US$189. Sold separately, Daylite 3 retails for US$149 and DMI 2.0 for US$49. A 30 free trial is available from www.marketcircle.com.

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The Apple Core: ChargerChecker Fixes MagSafe Interruptus

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Date: Monday, March 27th, 2006, 10:14
Category: Software

charge-checker-icon.jpgLast week I wrote about one of my pet peeves about Apple’s new MagSafe power connector: the fact that it comes out too easily without you noticing causing untold hardship when you find your battery completely discharged the next day.
Read about an excellent new donationware app that is the answer to my prayers on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.

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Apple’s Screen Capture Falls Short

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Date: Tuesday, March 21st, 2006, 12:00
Category: Software

I used to love snapping pictures off the screen, Internet, etc. in classic. What I enjoyed most was the ability to assign that image file (screen capture file) to any location such as a folder on a spare harddrive by going through the preferences and choosing a definite location. Now the clunky hot-key operation only allows you to save it to the stupid desktop. If you want to save it elsewhere you have to go one step further and open Grab!
Even the Grab utility does not have any preference settings to allow you to choose other options such as: “ask everytime where to save” nor does it have a feature “save here…” it assumes you like to be asked everytime and thats that. By taking away our ability to choose the end result of where the screen capture goes really showed me that Apple somehow is slipping in the way they interpret users needs.
I’m not going to spend US$30-$60 for a app to allow me to get that one desired single feature. Does anybody know a HACK to allow me to customize where my hot-key screen captures can go other than the stupid desktop?
-DoubleB

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Cool Treo Application: TAKEphONE 6.50

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Date: Friday, March 17th, 2006, 13:26
Category: Software

takephone.jpgOne the problems with the PalmOne Treo’s user interface is that it is difficult to quickly pick up the phone and call someone from your address book. Sure, if you’ve called them recently, you can press the call button for a list of the last 10 people you’ve called, but that list only contains numbers for calls that you’ve placed. Not calls you’ve received.
Digging into the address book requires several clicks to find the contact you’re looking for – hardly ideal, especially while driving.
Enter TAKEphONE (US$20) from SHSH Software, a Palm OS application for the Treo 650 that makes finding and calling contacts incredibly easy. It makes operating the Treo truly one-handed and is an indispensible application.
After you install it, you can configure it to run when you press the green call button (instead of running the default “phone” application). From there you can quickly press and dial one of your pre-defined speed dials (large buttons dedicated to contacts) or you can use another view to quickly search for a contact by typing the first few letters of their name.
TAKEphONE’s enhanced searching capabilities are what sets it apart. In addtion to typing the first few characters of a name (which searches any combination of fields), there are four search methods including a sorted search that allows the ‘and’ operation in search strings.
You can also define up to five seperate “locations” each with calling-card support (auto-dials access-numbers, PINs), extension and IVR handling. TAKEphONE even includes a “capture hack” that allows you to dial numbers from other applications.
TAKEphONE is available for US$20 from SHSH Software.

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Aluminum PowerBook (15-inch) Battery Update v1.1

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Date: Tuesday, March 14th, 2006, 19:21
Category: Software

Apple today posted Aluminum PowerBook (15-inch) Battery Update v1.1 a 400kb firmaware patch that “aids the 15-inch Aluminum PowerBook battery in performing at full capacity.” Accroding to Apple knowledge base article 303035 (“Updating battery firmware for PowerBook G4 (15-inch Double-Layer SD) and some earlier PowerBooks”):

This firmware update is required to keep your battery life up to specification, may recover battery life in some batteries that have developed short run times, and in some cases can recover batteries that are not recognized by the system.

If your PowerBook requires the update, it will be available through Software Update (called “Aluminum PowerBook (15-inch) Battery Update”). You can also download it from Aluminum PowerBook (15-inch) Battery Update v1.1 a 400kb firmaware patch that “aids the 15-inch Aluminum PowerBook battery in performing at full capacity.” Accroding to Apple knowledge base article 303035 (“Updating battery firmware for PowerBook G4 (15-inch Double-Layer SD) and some earlier PowerBooks”):”>Apple Downloads.

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