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Apple Bytes 6/2008

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MAC OS X 10.5.3 is out

Out of the blue, Apple released a nice update of the popular Leopard (OS X 10.5 Operating System. The release occurred about 11:00 AM this past Wednesday. Huge is the watchword for this release. Historically this appears to be the largest update ever for the Mac, at just under 700 MB.. It almost fills a CD. Reports we are seeing indicate all is well with a few minor and random oddities. I personally have updated three machines with absolutely no problems to report. There is a rather long laundry list of changes and all seem to be good, solid, improvements. Apple deserves an attaboy for this one.

Mikey likes it too. It is reported to be the most stable OS ever, according to our resident evaluators.

I have been trying to get through the Backup training course offered by our Special Foreign correspondent Claire Rottenberg. She has an excellent article in this newsletter. It is interesting to note that Claire had a posting on our mail list within barely an hour of the recent 10.5.3 update release. The article was a review along with numerous suggestions of tasks to complete prior to installing of the update. Very conservative and thorough. Thanks Claire.

That's it for now…
See you at the meeting.


Alternative Backup Options to Time Machine
by Claire J Rottenberg

If you use Leopard, you may be leaving all your backup tasks to Time Machine. With Time Machine, backing up can be mindless, but Time Machine has its limitations and it's not necessarily the best backup option for all Leopard users or for all backup tasks. Some of the shortcomings of Time Machine include the need for a significantly large extra external hard drive, use of the Leopard Install disk to restore a complete system, and backups that only occur automatically once an hour, although you can back up manually at any time. And, of course, to use Time Machine, you must be using Mac OS X 10.5. In this article, I'll describe alternative backup options that can be used with Leopard as well as with older versions of Mac OS X.

Cloning a Boot Drive

Probably the most important type of backup is a complete backup or clone of your boot drive, usually to an external hard drive. The easiest way to create a clone is to download the demo version of SuperDuper! This application makes cloning a no-brainer – just select your source and destination drives, enter your user password and SuperDuper! does the rest. If you purchase the full program for $27.95, SuperDuper! can be scheduled to do automatic incremental backups so you'll have peace of mind that you always have a perfect bootable backup of your drive.

If you don't want to use SuperDuper!, you can clone your drive using Disk Utility's Restore feature. However, I recommend SuperDuper! because Disk Utility's Restore feature may result in a clone with permission errors. SuperDuper!, on the other hand, has consistently produced perfect clones for me.

Backing Up Specific Files and Folders

In addition to cloning your drive on a regular basis, you might want an easy way to back up specific files and folders, especially if you don't store valuable data files on your boot drive. Many applications, such as word processors, spreadsheets and databases, include a special option for automatically creating a backup of your work every time you save it. If you use this feature, select a backup location on a second drive so your most important data will always be saved on two separate drives.

Another way to back up critical data is to use a program like Apple's Backup, available for free for .Mac users. You can schedule Backup to automatically save data files to your iDisk so you'll know that you always have an offline backup of the data. The full version of SuperDuper! also lets you save selected files and folders to an external drive on a scheduled basis.

Another easy option is to purchase a USB flash drive and manually transfer critical data files to it as necessary.

Backing Up to CDs and DVDs

Some applications, like iTunes and iPhoto, have built-in features that let you back up your valuable data to CDs or DVDs. This is the perfect solution for data files that are very large, such as a photo or music collection.

Large folders of data can also be easily backed up to CDs or DVDs using the Mac OS X 10.5 Finder Burn feature. Simply insert a blank CD or DVD into your computer's optical drive, move files and folders onto it and click the Burn button on the Finder window Toolbar to create a permanent copy of your data. You can also use free applications, such as Burn or LiquidCD, to create backup CDs and DVDs of your data.

With so many easy-to-use options for cloning your system and backing up your valuable data, there's no excuse for any Mac user to lose data and precious time trying to recreate or restore original files. And, if you use Leopard, you have the additional advantage of Time Machine.


Shirt Pocket

Kiwi Fruitware


Claire J Rottenberg is the author of Easy Guides to Mac OS X software (Safari, Mail, System Preferences, TextEdit) and Course Books on iPhoto '08, iTunes and Mac OS X 10.4. She is currently completing three new Course Books on Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard). More information on her books is available on the CJRTOOLS ebooks website (http://homepage.mac.com/cjrtools/ebooks). [website no longer exists ~mario]

A bit of this and a byte of that…
By Bob Shayler

The 10.5.3 update to my Intel iMac and my G4 iBook went smoothly with no hitches. As usual I prepared the hard disk by running DiskWarrior and OnyX. I used the OnyX options to check the S.M.A.R.T. status and to verify the startup volume (not the same as DW). In OnyX, I ran all the Maintenance items and most of the Cleaning options.

This time, after DW and OnyX, I did a safe boot (hold the <shift> key down during a startup) then rebooted before running the update. As usual, I did not use the Software Update but rather got the combo update file from the Apple website and ran it from each computer. It's all in the preparation if one wants smooth sailing during a system update! I imagine Ed will have the 10.5.3 combo update on the SLMUG CD but if you don't get one, here is the direct link:
<http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/apple/macosx_updates/macosx1053comboupdate.html> [link no longer works ~mario]

I was hoping that this update would improve the performance of iDisk syncing. It did not. For syncing the Calendars and Address Books and so forth with a .Mac account, all is very cool, especially if one has an iPhone. However, syncing websites is simply not acceptable. I host four websites on three .Mac accounts and they all require way too much time to sync files. For a full file sync, over an hour was required for one site. The upload speed is as slow as if one were using a phone line modem; according to Activity Monitor, it averaged 30-50Kps with many interruptions. If a file type other than text or html is being synced, .Mac appears to take many seconds (up to over a minute) to close the file being uploaded. Compared to other web hosts I use and have used, this is abysmal performance. According to Claire (our member in Israel), 10.5.3 has made matters worse than better as you can read on her website (now that it is functional again after she updated to 10.5.3). Apple needs to fix this since it has been going on since 10.3.9 at least.

I had been encountering an interesting issue with Office 2008. When I double-clicked on a Word file icon, Word would start up but it would not load the file I had selected. It just showed a blank new file. Once again, the value of macfixit.com was evident. A message thread there had many such complaints and several proposed solutions. The solution that worked for me was to perform a "Get Info" (<command><I>) on one of my Word files, then use the "Open with:" option to select the Office 2008 version of Word. After doing that click the Change All… button. It seems, although the program (Word) has the same name in both the 2004 and the 2008 versions, 2008 does not automatically open 2004 and earlier files. I also noted the icons for the two versions have slightly different color shades. If you don't visit macfixit.com often, you might give it a try.

See you at the SLMUG meeting Thursday June 5!

May 2008 Minutes

Bob Shayler called the meeting to order on Thursday, May 2 at 7:40 PM.

Tonight we are going wireless!

But first, John talked about DiskWarrior. This powerful utility will automatically transfer files from a sick hard drive to another drive with minimal fuss and bother. 10.5.3 will be the next version, due out in a month.

For detailed instructions and an excellent review on Airport Extreme installation, see Bob's article in the May newsletter.

The story starts when Bob's school had to update its airports because students with new computers could not connect to the older models. Bob installed a new one in his classroom in about 40 minutes without reading the (sparse) documentation. The new Airport is the size of a sleazy hardback novel.

Installing the new software:
The new airport extreme will not work with the old software. Running disk warrior is suggested but not mandatory. The software will install itself in the applications > utility folder. The icon is very different. Open and search for new updates wirelessly. Bob suggests connecting by Ethernet and turning airport off. This is a good idea because the computer will continue to communicate with the old airport. Give a physical name to the airport used in management. Choose a password: this is for management and will be remembered in the keychain of the manager. Have a backup system. One suggestion is Time Capsule (Leopard is required to run Time Capsule). San Leandro HS graphics already has backup capability and Time Capsule (expensive) is not currently necessary. Check the boxes required in the next window. The language is ambiguous. If there is no wireless network, create one. If you choose wrong, go back. The network name is what you will see on the laptops in the class room and is case sensitive. Bob suggests not to use a password. Choose "no security." There will be an objection. Connect to local area network. DSL: choose first option. Cable users will choose the second option.

How do you get the TCP? You don't need one Comcast—> ip(internetprotocol)…. your unique ip address is similar to a zip code. Comcast will provide this number which is sent to the Comcast modem which then sends the the ip out. "www" urls are translated into ip addresses and kept track of.

How do you find the configuration? SAVE YOUR SETTINGS (INCLUDING THE NAME) in the base station. Disconnect Ethernet, reconnect to your old airport, and find the ip display. WRITE IT DOWN. Turn off airport, reconnect to Ethernet, and open.

Airport Extreme keeps its own time even if your computer is off. Choosing update will restart airport.
Options ? Check for firmware updates, remove password from keychain.
Wireless? Create a network for a family of users and pick separate channels. Let airport choose for you.
CREATE A CLOSED NETWORK for security. The device name will not be broadcast and unauthorized use will be prevented.

Disconnect the old hardware and connect the new.
The Wizard software will automatically connect the new Airport Extreme.

Ed discussed the May Disk Of the Month.

Aluminum keyboard – firmware update airport admin utility is for older MACs.

Firmware restoration cd: Intel MAC will allow you to restore to default if your MAC fails (you must burn to cd on another MAC because yours will be inoperable.) MacTracker catalogs every mac ever made. Office: will convert xml to readable files in Office running on older Macs. Senuti allows legal restoration of personal music.

Bob adjourned the meeting at 9:18 PM.

Kathleen Roth Secretary

June 5th meeting features…
We'll discuss recent Apple happenings and announcements. Certainly we will focus on 10.5.3. We will welcome all comments and findings to this latest update. All are free to participate and discuss anything pertinent. As usual Ed will have a new CDom of the month. This month will be a DVD.


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