Snow Leopard

Editing iCal Events

An update to the Macintosh operating system sometimes leads to complaints. That was certainly the case in iCal in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Suddenly it became much more difficult to edit events. There had been a "drawer" at the side of the calendar in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger that made it easy to quickly edit events.

In Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, the drawer was replaced by a pop-up. This pop-up remains in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard



While it is useful for adding the event, making changes with it is inconvenient, especially if you are making multiple ones. To make changes with it, you must double-click on the event in the calendar, then click the edit button. If you wan to change another event, you must repeat this action:



Apple must have heard the complaints because they have added a new Edit menu item, Show Inspector, in Snow Leopard:



The iCal Inspector does not have an edit button. You can make changes by simply clicking on an item. If you need to make changes in another event, just click on the event and continue editing.



There are lots of new, hidden features in Snow Leopard. Check back soon for more tips.

-- Pat
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Snow Leopard: Do I need Rosetta?

One of the least-understood things about Snow Leopard is its dropping of support for PowerPC processor-based Macs. Let's take a quick look at the issue.

First of all, let's divide PowerPC into its two components, hardware and software.

Hardware

Over the life of Macintosh computers, there have been three different chip types.

The first Macs used Motorola 680x0 chips. They are also called 68K Macs. These chips were used in the Compact Macs, the Macintosh II series, the Macintosh LCs, 500s, Centris, Quadra, and Performa computer with 3 digit names, and early PowerBook computers. Apple discontinued using this chip in 1996. Mac OS 8.1 was the last operating system that could run on 68K Macs.

The Motorola PowerPC was the next processor line to be used. They were used in a wide variety of computers with these chips were produced from 1996 until August 2006.

Apple introduced the first Intel chip based Mac, the Mac Pro in August of 2006. This line of processors is still in use today and it will be used for the future.

It is the PowerPC (and 68K) hardware that cannot use Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Software

The other use of PowerPC is its programming code. It is included in many of the applications that you are using on your Mac today. That element of PowerPC is not being dropped in Snow Leopard

When Mac OS X 10.0 was released in March of 2001, Apple included the Classic evironment, – translation software, that allows applications that were compiled for Mac OS 9 to run in Mac OS X. That feature was available until Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was introduced in March of 2005.

When the Apple moved to the Intel processor from the PowerPC they introduced Rosetta which allowed code written for the PowerPC processor to be run on Intel processors. Although we do not expect Rosetta to be around forever, there are many applications that are still being used that contain PowerPC code. One group of applications that comes to mind is the Adobe CS3 suite. Another is AppleWorks, and still another is Quicken 2006.

How can you tell what kind of applications you have on your computer? The easiest was is to use the System Profiler. The easiest way to get to it is through the More Info… button in About this Mac:




It will look something like this when you open it:




Locate Applications in the left column and click on it:




Notice the scroll bar indicates that there is a lot of the window that is hidden. Use the re-size tab in the lower right corner to drag the window until it is much wider:




You can change the size of columns by dragging on the line in the column header:




You can change the order of columns by clicking on the column title and dragging it to a new location:




You can change the sort by clicking a different column:




You can change the sort order by clicking the small arrow at the right end of the column:




Taking a look at my list of applications, you can see that I have several different types:




My Quicken 2006 is really old in software age. Parts of it will even run on a 68K Mac! I need to replace it, but I am waiting on Intuit to release a new version of Quicken (hopefully Quicken 2010) soon!




Many of my PowerPC applications are parts of Adobe CS3, which I will retire when Adobe CS5 is released. However, scrolling through the list, I have found a number of applications that I will be deleting. Do this cautiously! Make sure that the item you are deleting is a stand-alone application--that is not a part of something like the Adobe CS3 suite!

PowerPC applications run in Rosetta.

Still another kind of application is Universal. These applications contain code to run on both PowerPC Macs and Intel Macs.




These applications include both PowerPC and Intel versions of the code. When a x is present in their Get Info window, tney rely on the Rosetta software. If you have an Intel Mac, you do not want to be running apps using Rosetta.



The last kind of application is Intel. These will only run on Intel Macs. Many of these applications were added when I upgraded to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. These may be are smaller (because they do not contain the code for PowerPC) and many are much faster because they run in 64 bit mode. (I will talk about this in a future blog entry.):




So, do you have to get rid of Classic or PowerPC applications? Not necessarily. My Classic version of Quicken is hidden deep inside the Quicken 2006 package. If I remove it, I might break my ability to run Quicken 2006, so I plan to just leave it alone. I have plenty of room on my hard drive and it takes up only 10.7 MB. The slash through it means that it will not launch on my Intel Mac:




I will be keeping an eye on my PowerPC and Universal applications to see if they have been updated. Over time, developers will release newer versions without the PowerPC code. They will be smaller and they should run faster.

However, in my quest to improve my computer usage, I frequently ask myself--


Am I spending my time working on my computer -- or with my computer?

I have noticed that many computer users spend most of their time tweaking the little things while photos, blogs, movies, email and even work are pushed to the side. Someday all of us will stop using our computers. What will be your legacy? I hope mine includes memoirs, photo albums, movies and projects to pass on to my children and grandchildren! They won't really care how clean or fast my computer was!

If you need some help with your computer -- or help learning to do new things, consider booking a tutorial session with me at Dr. Mac Consulting. The cost is $60 per hour and we will cover just what you want to learn. Give us a call at 408 627-7577 or send us a message at urgentrequest@boblevitus.com.


--Pat

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Snow Leopard: Slow to empty trash?

Whenever Apple releases a new version (or even an update) to the operating system, all sorts of strange things seem to happen. While some problems can be blamed on a bug in the newest software, other issues occasionally appear, but it is difficult to point to a cause for them.

I have seen several reports that the trash can take forever to empty in Snow Leopard. However, I have not seen it happen on my computers or those of any of the clients of Doctor Mac Consulting.

So, what is causing the problem, and how can you fix it?

When you put a file into the trash and use the empty trash command, your file is not really erased. Instead, the name is removed and the space is marked as available in your hard drive's directory file. The file can be recovered if that area of the hard drive has not had a new file written to it.

Sometimes users want a file to really be deleted. They want to make sure someone cannot easily recover the file. In Mac OS X, there is a Finder command to securely empty the trash.



Since there is an ellipsis at the end of the phrase, a dialog box will appear:



But, just what does Secure Empty Trash do? It writes 1's and 0's over the information in the file eight times. If a file is large, or if there are many items in your trash, that can take a LONG time!

Some people want every file that they throw away to be securely erased. There is a finder preference to do just that:



If the check is present, be prepared to wait--and sometimes wait--and--wait--and--wait!

If you only occasionally want a file to be securely erased follow this procedure:

  1. Empty the trash.
  2. Place the file to be securely erased into the trash.
  3. Use the Finder > Secure Empty Trash… command.

Until just a few years ago, data that was over-written eight times was considered to be unrecoverable, even for government security purposes. However, today they require 32 overwrites for a file to be considered unrecoverable.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard has lots of hidden new features. While there are lots of articles and resources available, some of us learn better with hands-on learning. If you would like a bit more help, consider booking a tutorial session with me at Dr. Mac Consulting. The cost is $60 per hour and we will cover just what you want to learn. Give us a call at 408 627-7577 or send us a message at urgentrequest@boblevitus.com.

--Pat

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More Option key menu bar tricks in Snow Leopard

In my last blog post, The Option key does even more in Snow Leopard, I told you about a cool new feature that I found in Mac OS X, 10.6, Snow Leopard.

Since holding down the Option key brought up a whole new Sync menu, I wondered what other secrets might be hidden in the Menu bar. I started with the Spotlight icon:

Without Option key:




With Option key:




There's no change here. Let's try the clock:

Without Option key:




With Option key:




There is no change here either. Maybe I'm on the WRONG track? Let's try one more, the Battery icon.

Without Option key:




With Option key:




Now we are getting somewhere! Holding down the Option key caused the battery condition to be reported. Since I had no idea what might be reported if the condition was not normal, I did a bit of searching. I went to the Apple Support page for Snow Leopard at http://www.apple.com/support/snowleopard/. I entered "Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard battery condition" in the Search Support box:



I was lead to an article, Mac OS X v10.6: About the Battery menu bar extra for portable Macs. You can find it at http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3782.

On to the Volume icon:

Without Option key:




With Option key:




This is pretty neat! I can actually change the sound inputs and outputs without opening the Sound Preferences. This can be important if you use a microphone, headphones or an external speaker.

Let't try the AirPort icon:

Without Option key:




With Option key:




This is some seriously cool information. It's a bit geeky, but it will be really helpful in troubleshooting AirPort connection issues.

On to the TimeMachine icon:

Without Option key:




With Option key:




This is an interesting one! I will have to check out this feature. Does that mean I can recover files from other computers on my network that are using different backup drives?

I also checked out Displays, iChat, and Keyboard. The Option key did not cause changes in those.

I have lots more to explore in Snow Leopard, but this is enough for today! I hope you are enjoying Snow Leopard if you have it installed. If you are waiting, just look at all the hidden new features!

Pat

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The Option key does even more in Snow Leopard

There is one good thing about being an early adopter of Mac OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard! Right now there are so many tips, hints, Twitter messages and Web articles being written, so there are many sources for learning about its new features.

Last night I read a Twitter message (I wish I had saved it) that mentioned that you could learn lots of information about your last sync by holding down the "Option" key while clicking on its icon in the Menu Bar. Let's explore this tip.

First, you will need a MobileMe account. Don't have one? You are missing one of the Mac platform's best features, the ability to synchronize information between your Macs, iPhones, the Web and even PCs. Check here for more information. If you have MobileMe, read on!

The icon for Sync looks like this -- if it is in your Menu Bar:




If it is not there, you can add it by opening System Preferences. Here are three different ways to open them:




Locate the Mobile Me icon:




Click on it, then choose the "Sync" tab. There is a checkbox in the lower left corner of the window. When there is a check in that box, the Sync icon will appear in your Menu bar.




If you click on the icon in the Menu bar, it will look like this:




If it is in the process of synching, it will look like this:




If there is a problem, there will be an exclamation mark in the middle of the icon and the problem will be noted in the box (Sorry--I forgot to capture that one!)

So, what's with the Option key?

Hold it down while clicking on the Sync icon in the Menu bar and you see this:




There is a lot to explore here! I am particularly interested in Sync Diagnostics… and Reset Sync Services…, but it's time for me to get busy. Check back soon for more Snow Leopard secrets and try holding down that Option key while clicking on more of the Menu bar icons!

--Pat

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Using Speak Text in Snow Leopard

My transition to Mac OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard has not been entirely trouble-free. While I await the release of Bob LeVitus new book, Mac OS X Snow Leopard For Dummies, I am doing a bit of searching to find features that have moved in this new version of the Mac OS.

One feature that I use every time I write an entry for this blog is "Start Speaking Text." This useful command means that my computer will read text that I select to me. When I am editing a new post, I will often read over my mistakes. But when the computer is reading the text to me, I can spot errors in what I have typed and I can hear places where what I have written is awkward or unclear. I also use this command to have text from the Internet and emails read to me.

Getting to this feature was not easy in Mac OS X 10.5, Leopard, but I had learned how to get there:
Click here to read more...
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