Charles Moore's Mailbag

Keyboard and Mouse Advice, MS Word and Signatures, OS X Bible Software, USB Hub Problem, and More

Charles Moore - 2003.02.17 - Tip Jar

iBook attached keyboard and mouse

From Lowell Neudeck

I have an iBook 800 Combo with 14-inch screen. When home, it would be handier to use an attached keyboard and (wireless or optical) mouse.

What do you recommend?

TIA

Hi Lowell,

You can really use any Mac compatible USB keyboard and mouse that suits your fancy. If you like the light, short-travel, scissors action of the 'Book keyboards, the closest you can come in a freestanding keyboard is the Macally iceKey.

The Apple Pro Keyboard has pretty nice action, too. If you want to go full wireless/optical, check out one of the Logitech Combo sets. I tested a Logitech Elite Combo keyboard and mouse recently that worked well.

Actually, you can use ADB keyboards and pointing devices as well if you get a Griffin iMate Adapter.

If you go this route, I encourage you to also invest in a laptop stand that will get your iBook elevated to a more ergonomically sound viewing angle. The LapVantage Dome and the Griffin iCurve are popular examples, but there are several others on the market.

Charles

Graphire 2 Handwriting/Note Taking?

From Neil B. Chapman

Mr. Moore,

I have a Graphire tablet that I use with my TiBook, but for the life of me I can't figure out how to sign my name to documents with it. The closest thing I can do with it is to use the Draw function in Microsoft Word, which looks jagged as hell.

My understanding is that the special note taking software that comes bundled with the Graphire is Windows-only.

It would be very cool if the Graphire could be used seamlessly for note taking (saved as a TIFF or JPEG) like the Tablet PCs allow. This would give a laptop user much of the function of the expensive Tablet PCs, though clearly not as portable.

I would appreciate if you could explain how you are able to use the Wacom tablet to sign your name, etc.

Cheers,
Neil B. Chapman, Esq.

Hi Neil,

You just need a pixel based graphics program in which to sign your name and save the signature as a PICT or TIFF file. Then you can copy and paste the saved signature into letters or whatever.

My Graphire II came with Adobe Photoshop Elements, a "lite" version of Adobe Photoshop, but freehand input from the Wacom tablet works fine in Color It! 4.1, my favorite all-round graphics app, and I presume will work with the shareware GraphicConverter program, the paint module in AppleWorks, or any similar bitmap graphics program.

Another way to import a handwritten signature for pasting into letters and documents is to scan from paper copy and save the image as a graphics file.

In OS X, the Inkwell feature has a mode that allows freehand imaging using a Wacom tablet as well as handwriting (actually printing) recognition.

Charles

Editor's note: Don't blame Word for this shortcoming. Word processing software is optimized to handle text input, not graphics. Mac users have been using scanned signatures, as Charles suggests, as long as there have been scanners for the Mac.

Read your review of the Wacom graphics pad - got a question...

From Sandy Mitchell

The Wacom sounds great, but I can't afford one right now. Are you at all familiar with KB Gear's "Pablo-Internet Edition" graphics pad? Some months ago I picked one up for a mere $20 (Model #KG-PB20) and never got around to installing/using it. It has USB connection and sounds somewhat similar to the Wacom (no mouse though)...

I bought it from a local used-computer place and tried loading the software (it came with a CD labeled "Tablet drivers for Windows and Macintosh") on one of the Macs they had there, but it wasn't easy figuring out how to use the thing once I installed the drivers.

So I'm just writing on the off chance that you might have some experience with the product - maybe just to warn me off it!

Thanks,
Sandy Mitchell

Hi Sandy,

Sorry, I've never heard of this KB Gear graphics pad. Perhaps our readers can help.

One big advantage the Wacom tablets have over other brands, is that OS X Jaguar "Inkwell" only supports Wacom tablets.

Charles

Editor's note: According to this article, "KB Gear liquidated and as of Nov. 1, 2001, is no longer in business." If the drivers Sandy has don't work, that may be the end of the story.

OS X Bible Software

From Stephen Ashton

Hello Charles

I saw your comments on Bible software available for OS X. I find that the best Bible program is the Online Bible, which is currently only available for OS 9/Classic, but an OS X update is promised in March.

Regards
Stephen

Re: OS X Bible Software

From Andrew Main

Charles,

Do you know about the Online Bible for Macintosh? Not OS X, but it's free. Maybe it'll be ported forward one of these days.

Re: "TextEdit and Web Pages": What is "this TextEdit trick"? This is noninformative to anyone who doesn't remember what it refers to (I don't), and there's no link.

Andrew Main

Hi Stephen and Andrew,

Yup, I've had Online Bible on my hard drive for a while. Actually, the one I use most often is BibleBrowser/BibleViewer, which is small and fast, albeit basic.

Frankly, I don't recall exactly what Peter Gethgen was referring to in the "TextEdit and Web Pages trick" letter. However, I did ask Tom Bender how he got OS X spell check to work in Tex Edit Plus, which is a Carbon app. Tom says:

"TE+ is a Carbon app, however it is not just any Carbon app. It has been extensively reprogrammed to make use of native OS X event handling. This makes it much easier to add floating palettes and to interface with OS X facilities such as the spell checker, the fonts toolbar, standard file dialogs, standard print dialogs, the Services menu, etc.

"TE+ also is a Mach-O binary (OS X native application structure) and uses nib files (OS X native resource files) to create all UI elements. The result is an application that is smoother and more stable than a simple Carbon port."

Charles

A PB 1400 question

From Doug Arnott

Hello Mr. Moore. A question for you from a fellow Canadian.

I purchased a 1400c 166 online a while back and have been really happy with it. I got it for a pretty good price PowerBook 1400(even after Revenue Canada got their cut at the border), and it has been pretty much all the computer that I need. If I had an obscene amount of disposable income, I'd probably get the battery rebuilt and maybe even change the processor out.

Well, either that or just buy a new 'Book.

Anyway, recently my financial situation has changed. I can now think about upgrading the RAM and being able to afford to eat this month. It won't be much, but it will make life run a little faster. The problem now, unfortunately, is getting into the little blighter.

All the Apple info on opening up a 1400 seems fairly straightforward. You flip the keyboard up, pull the heat shield out, and should be face-to-face with the RAM module, the processor, and the video slot.

My heat shield, perhaps in an attempt to preserve the 'book's modesty, will not budge. Not even a centimeter. I tried pulling the hard-drive so I could get my fingers under it. No such luck. I even tried (inadvisably, but driven by pigheaded stubbornness) to lever it off any place I could slip a screwdriver.

Do you have any idea as to what the problem is here? I have to be able to see the RAM currently installed to be able to order more, since there are two different kinds of RAM cards (a 'bottom' card with an expansion connector and a 'top' without.) The agency I bought it from, of course, does not know which card is resting in the bowels of my computer.

For what it is worth, my 'Book seems different than the one in the Apple illustrations. According to the Apple drawing, the shield should pull straight up after the screws are removed. It appears that the shield on mine tucks under the plastic on the bottom right-hand corner, making it a little hard to pull it straight up.

The alternative is to pay $60 more for a 48 MB 'card' (actually two 24s), and then trust a local technician to install it - something I'm loathe to do, since the people around here, for the most part, seem far more knowledgeable about modern machines than relics like mine. Not surprising, of course, but not especially helpful for Low End Mac users like myself.

Thanks for your time,
Doug Arnott

Hi Doug,

We have two PowerBook 1400s currently in the family, a 117 and a 133, but I must confess that I have never opened either of them up. The 117 has 40 MB of RAM and the 133 has 64 MB.

My guess is that the one in the Apple photos was a 117, and the 166 you have is slightly different inside.

I'm going to have to appeal to the reader s on this question.

If you're within convenient range of an Apple-savvy service outlet, it might be worth a shot giving them a call to ask if there is a simple solution.

Charles

Thank you!

From Jean

Hello Charles -

I just finished devouring your article, Wide Selection of PowerBook Drive Upgrades (3 August 2000).

I have a PowerBook G3, and I needed help understanding what I was getting into with upgrading hard drive and RAM. I am so excited, I can hardly stand it - having searched sufficient suppliers to make a selection; understand what I need and what to watch out for, etc., etc.

Thanks so much for your time and effort writing such a good article.

Keep up the good work.

Jean

Hi Jean,

Good to hear that the article was helpful.

Charles

Trying to get zapo.net to work...

From Christian Ressel

Attn. Mr. Charles Moore

Dear Charles,

Having caught your page at <http://www.lowendmac.com/misc/02/1023.html> makes me believe you could kindly assist me at getting my account at Zapo.Net to work:

I understand the POP account to be mail.zapo.net, yet please, what exactly does the SMTP account have to look like?

Regards, Christian

Hi Christian,

If you can even get the zapo.net website to come up, you're having better luck than me. It appears that they are either having prolonged server difficulties or have disappeared.

I suggest trying one of the other services mentioned in the article. Note that GMX is no longer signing up new accounts outside German-speaking Europe.

Charles

T3Hub Ultraportable USB-Hub

From Andrew Main

Charles,

This is truly a clever little device, but unfortunately it doesn't work with the Mac model most in need of a USB hub: the original iBook, which has only one USB port. The USB port is recessed into the iBook's casing, and the casing of the T3Hub prevents it being inserted fully. The T3Hub comes with an "optional" little USB extension cord that can be used to connect it to the iBook, but that kind of defeats the point of it.

I got a T3Hub for a client with an iBook and was very disappointed to find it didn't fit - a fact not mentioned anywhere in the company's publicity. In desperation, I took the thing apart and carved its casing down with a razor blade, a rather inelegant "solution", but I returned the two others I'd bought at the same time for future needs. Of course I was out the shipping. Not impressed.

Andrew Main

Hi Andrew,

That is an issue that definitely should be mentioned as a caveat in the promotional and sales literature. Thanks for the heads-up.

Charles

Daystar Turbo 040 And System 6

From John Allan

Hi,

Don't know if it counts, but you can run a IIci with a Daystar Turbo 040 40 MHz on System 6.

John

Hi John,

That's pretty esoteric, but I guess it counts.

Charles

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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