Archive for the 'Email Questions' Category

Buying & Selling Used Macintoshes.

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Via Email IconThis question came in during the show last night via email from Rob…

“I just bought a used G5. The machine works fine, but I was wondering if I should have it tested. In addition, all of the software remaining is registered to the prior owner. Any recommendations how I should deal with the registration issues?”

Before I answer Rob’s questions, I first want to advise whoever it was that sold him the computer, or any of you that decide to sell a computer… to please, please, please… for your own protection… execute a thorough erasing of all your hard drives before letting that old computer walk out the door… the only thing that should be left when you turn over the keys would be a fresh install of the most current version of OS X that you’re able to provide. That way, the person nice enough to have bought your machine will have a fresh canvas to make his/her own.

As to Rob’s questions, I’ll start with the software registration issues. I was pretty sure I already knew the answer, but I put a call in to Adobe Systems just to be sure…

Say you bought a G5 that had Photoshop CS3 installed on it, registered to the previous owner… you’re allowed to legally use that version (CS3) of the software, on that machine for as long as you’d like… But you don’t have the serial number, so you won’t be able to get tech support, nor will you be able to buy an upgrade (to CS4) at the reduced rate that existing owners of the software are afforded. I suspect this will be the case no matter which companies software you have on your new (old) machine.

And just for the record, the serial number that Photoshop will show you is just the first 20-digits of the actual serial number. The full 24-digit serial number would only be found as part of the original software packaging, typically on the inside front cover of the user manual. Now if the G5’s previous owner had also given you this original packaging, which I sincerely doubt, that would in effect transfer ownership of that software over to you. 

So what software is on your new machine?

And how much do you want to keep it?

If it were mine… the first thing I’d want to do would be what I mentioned up above… zero all data on all hard drives followed by a fresh installation of the current version of OS X… Which is my answer to your first question on whether your computer needs to be “tested”… Nothing to test it for… if it’s working fine than it’s working fine… however you’ll be at a much better starting point if you follow my recommendation to reset the G5 to its factory state.

If you’re looking to keep the software that’s on the machine you just bought however, there’s numerous ways you could proceed. If that’s the case, please continue the conversation by commenting on this post. If there’s an interest, I’ll lay some of those strategies out as well.

And last, as it’s relevant to keeping your Mac in top working order… the premier diagnostic tool available for OS X in my opinion would be Tech Tool from Micromat… 100 of the best dollars I’ve ever spent (although their upgrade prices are a little steep at $59)…

Hoping that helped.

All for now.


Christmas Gifts for the Poor, Middle-Class & Rich.

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Links to Info Icon

Christmas time is here again and maybe you’re looking for some Apple related gifts for family or friends that are on your list… I’ll make some suggestions below that start cheap and move to expensive… I’m going to add to that at the end with some stocking stuffers that aren’t necessarily computer related, but recommended and within a reasonable price range…

How Much Are You Thinking of Spending?


1-Year MobileMe Subscription ($99) • If someone on your list has a relatively current Mac and they don’t yet have MobileMe (formerly… trust me when I say that for $99, you want to be the one to turn them on to it. The service really starts to seem like the steal of the century if the user has at least (2) devices… an iPhone and an iMac for example. MobileMe is in essence a remote server space termed ‘the cloud’. The most current versions of your Contacts, Calendars, Email, etc. are continuously synced to MobileMe and then beamed back down to your other devices. MobileMe also allows you 20gb of remote storage space in the cloud… very cool for backing up those important files… and you’re able to check any of your information stored in the cloud from any computer with a web browser at… Also, easily create public slideshows of your pictures within your space

1TB Lacie

LaCie 1TB d2 Quadra Hard Drive ($280) • Now if this little buddy is within your price range, this is a great gift if you ask me. It’s like giving a painter a blank canvas. If your recipient is into video, this reliable drive represents room for 55 hours of digital video (720/480)… how about audio? Forget mp3’s… with this platter you’ve got room for over 170 hours of lossless audio. ProTools anyone? But perhaps the best use for a drive like this would be for configuring Time Machine on a Mac running Leopard. Many people have it but don’t use it… how much easier would they sleep with a complete incremental back-up? This sturdy little drive from LaCie (I own the 500gb model) connects via FireWire 800/400 as well as USB 2.0… 32mb cache, plug and play and driverless on Mac OSX, daisy-chainable. Stackable, rackmountable or stand it upright… compatible with Mac OS X v10.2.8 or later; or Windows Vista/2000/XP or later. PowerPC G3, G4, or G5 or Intel Core processor; Intel Pentium II 512MHz-compatible.

The Tower of 8-Core Power ($12,700 – as configured) • This one here is more like a gift that you would buy for yourself… driving this machine is like driving the world’s finest automobile, so it might also fill the role of a mid-life crisis pacifier… and seeing as we’re going for broke, might as well configure this leopard to fly like the wind…

Mac Pro

(2) 3.2GHz Quad-Core chips, 16GB of RAM, (2) 500GB & (1) 1TB hard drive in 3 of the 4 available hard drive bays. An NVIDIA GeForce 8880 GT video card driving (2) 30″ Apple Cinema Displays. (2) 16x Super Drives (they’ll burn anything). And just to make sure it’s all protected, we’ll throw in an AppleCare Protection Plan for good measure.

Grand total comes to a staggering $12,696… but shipping is FREE, so get your order in now to beat the holiday rush… Seriously though, this is the fastest personal computer on Earth… Perhaps you were just the beneficiary of a “bailout” windfall that’s burning a hole in your pocket… or your eccentric Uncle Fester willed you a meager sum, in roughly this amount, for a life-long commitment to tending his prized rose bushes… one way or another we (I) need to figure out how to get one of these speed merchants yesterday!

Stocking Stuffers Under $25


JBuds J2 Earbuds ($25) > The big question here is whether or not the recipient will like how these feel in their ears… the JBuds come with (3) different silicone cushions that go a long way in making the fit… Personally, I don’t like the headphones that come with Apple iPods, but I do like these JBuds… For their $25 price tag, these little guys sound good… I’m guessing not as good as the $250 set from Bose (for the audiophile), but who wants to drop that much coin on a pair of disposable earphones? I abuse mine so badly, this under $30 price point is the only way I go… and they come in your choice of 12 different colors. Also featured is a cord that’s four and a half feet long and so far I’m finding the mini-jack connector always holds tight with no drop-outs (definitely a problem over time with every other brand I’ve tried). JBuds are compatible with just about every device you could think of from iPhone and iPods to portable gaming units (PSP, Nintendo DS) to other mp3 players (Sansa, Zune, Sony)… pretty much any device with a minijack headphone connection.

Heart On

Eagles of Death Metal – Heart On ($14) > This platter was my Halloween present to myself this year and I’ve had to have listened to it a couple dozen times over the last month… the only bummer is that it didn’t come out at the start of the Summer… this is a great Summer album… Anyway, don’t be confused… This fusion of Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) and Jesse Hughes isn’t death metal and they sound nothing like the Eagles… I saw it described well in its iTunes review; “they sound like an 80’s punk band dipped in 70’s Rolling Stones raunch (which isn’t a bad thing…)” I love this record… Standout tracks WannaBe in L.A. and High Voltage is Iggy Pop jammin’ in the Ramones garage and Devo stops by…

So that’s what I’ve got for this holiday season… if you’d like to leave some suggestions of your own… please click the Comments link just below and tap ’em in…


Getting Started With Apple’s Time Capsule.

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Links to Info IconLooking into a question from Martha regarding the initial set-up time when configuring Apple’s Time Capsule for the first time, I ran into the following info.

That’s the general info… but Martha mentioned that a power surge/outtage during her initial back up which led me to this relevent information.

So the good news is that what Martha is experiencing is normal behaviour. If your initial backup, which even under ideal conditions is going to take awhile, is interupted for any reason… when it restarts, the process will take even longer than it would have as the computer first has to check the integrity of the backup already completed…

So my advice would be to initialize the backup process and let it ride…


Protecting Your iTunes Library.

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Via Email IconThis question came in after the show via email from Ken…

I went to play some iTunes from my computer and discovered that EVERYTHING I had there is missing! My library is empty as well as every other window. Can anyone tell me WHAT HAPPENED??? and how can I possibly get all my music back?

The one thing I don’t know is if your music still exists on disc? You say that your library is missing, but I’m guessing you’re referring to the library of music that you see from within iTunes.

I need you to check whether your music collection is still sitting on the hard drive somewhere (the default would be your Music folder if you’re on a Mac). If it isn’t, chances are something has gone wrong outside of iTunes as I’ve never heard of iTunes actually deleting song files.

But if your music is still there, iTunes catalogs your music in a database which apparently sometimes gets corrupted, and that can be remedied… probably not how you’re hoping in that you have to start over… but once we get things straightened out… I’ll show you how to make it much easier to recover from this if it were to ever happen again.

The first step should restore your ability to see all your music in iTunes again.

Assuming your music exists in a folder named “Music”, simply choose ‘Add to Library‘ from the FILE menu in iTunes and navigate to and choose your Music folder. All the songs within it should be added once again to your iTunes library.

From there is any playlists you may have created. Unfortunately the news here isn’t as good. You’re going to have to manually recreate your playlists. There’s a way to back them up, which I’ll get to next, but without that backup, you’ll need to recreate them manually this time.

Once you get your playlists recreated, here’s how you back them up;

To save a copy of all your playlists, choose File > Export Library. The exported information is saved in XML format.

And here’s how you restore your playlists from that back up;

Choose File > Import. The imported playlist includes only songs and videos already in your iTunes library. Unavailable items are removed from the list.

I lost my extensive collection of playlists once to this particular ghost in the machine… I still don’t have my playlists back to their former glory but I can promise you that I back up my library once a week. If you have a .MAC account, your iDisc is a great place to store those back up .XML files, that way if anything happens to your hard drive or computer, your playlists are safe.

Hope that helped. Anyone who has alternative techniques is welcome to post them by clicking ‘comments’ below.


Connecting Two Macs Together.

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Do It YourselfThis question on connecting one Mac to another came in via email from Linda…

I have a four year old Mac (OSX/10.3.9) desktop that needs the OS updated. My nephew received the updates with his newer Mac laptop. When he inserted the discs, he discovered my machine has just a CD drive while the update discs are in DVD format. Is there any way his Mac can be plugged into mine to make the upgrade? If not, are there other alternatives short of getting a new computer?

Your question hits on the solution… what you’re going to want to do is connect the two Macs together with a FireWire cable and put your older Mac in ‘target disk mode’… which will cause your Macs hard drive to appear as an external FireWire drive on your nephews computer.

From there he should be able to load the update discs on his laptop and then update OSX on your Mac via FireWire and target disk mode.

Important to do first: Unplug all other FireWire devices from both computers prior to using FireWire target disk mode. Do not plug in any FireWire devices until after you have disconnected the two computers from each other, or have stopped using target disk mode.

To Use FireWire Target Disk Mode

  1. Make sure that the target computer (your computer) is turned off. If you are using a PowerBook or iBook as the target computer, you should also plug in its AC power adapter.
  2. Use a FireWire cable (6-pin to 6-pin) to connect the target computer to a host computer. The host computer does not need to be turned off.
  3. Start up the target computer and immediately press and hold down the T key until the FireWire icon appears. The hard disk of the target computer should become available to the host computer and will likely appear on desktop. (If the target computer is running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, you can also open System Preferences, choose Startup Disk, and click Target Disk Mode. Then restart the computer and it will start up in Target Disk Mode.)
  4. When you are finished copying files, drag the target computer’s hard disk icon to the Trash or select Put Away from the File menu (Mac OS 9) or Eject from the File menu (Mac OS X).
  5. Press the target computer’s power button to turn it off.
  6. Unplug the FireWire cable.

To read more about target disk mode, eligible computers, the ATA requirement, issues when connecting Intel-based Macs to Power PC’s and what to try if this isn’t working for you… Head over to this document within Apple Support.

Another thing to consider here, especially if you’d benefit from giving your older computer DVD ability, would be to pick yourself up an external USB-2 or FireWire DVD drive… they’re relatively inexpensive these days and this would of course give you a drive to do the update from.

And finally, if all else fails… or if you’re lazy… or if you just don’t want to deal with all this… just bring your Mac into your local Apple Store and they’ll update it for you (call ahead for an appointment).

Hope that helps… And wow, you didn’t have to buy a new computer.


Getting Rid of Changes Made in iPhoto.

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Do It YourselfThis question on restoring the original version of a photo edited in iPhoto came in via email from Annie…

I got an iMac two weeks ago and I’m in the learning stages. I am using iPhoto and over-edited a picture and made it worse. I want to go back to the original picture and start over, but I cannot find the procedure.

If you are just starting out… iPhoto ’08 makes it impossible to do harm to your original photos as all the editing is ‘nondestructive’… in other words you can always revert back to the original no matter how much damage you’ve done.

From within iPhoto, simply click the PHOTOS menu and select REVERT TO ORIGINAL down at the bottom. This method will work even after you’ve closed and re-opened iPhoto.

A couple things to keep in mind though;

  • For photos imported to earlier versions of iPhoto and never edited, nondestructive editing WILL apply in iPhoto ’08.
  • However, for photos imported to earlier versions and edited either in iPhoto or in a separate application such as Photoshop, nondestructive editing DOES NOT apply. To use nondestructive editing on these photos, you must undo all the edits to date by doing one of the following:
    • Reverting to the original photo
    • Reimporting the originals from outside iPhoto
  • Nondestructive editing also does not apply to photos imported to iPhoto ’08 but edited in a separate application.

So happy editing. Move bravely forward with no fear in your heart.