Charles Moore's Mailbag

WiFi Paranoia, iMac-O-Lantern, Magic Mouse Does Click, Free Clipboard Managers, and More

Charles Moore - 2009.11.05 - Tip Jar

Wireless Paranoia

From Anthony:

Dear Charles,

Thank you for addressing my silly questions about the various Mac machines that I've owned through the years! Now, I have another question! This wireless Internet AirPort stuff - yes, it's magnificent, but is it safe?

Thanks, you are a reassuring source of Mac knowledge, the AirPort wireless connectivity is so good, I'm naturally suspicious!

Sincerely,
Anthony

Hi Anthony,

My short answer to your "is it safe?" question is, "I hope so" - but I say that without any emphatic conviction.

Personally, I'm very happy that the transmission tower for my wireless Internet connection is a couple of miles distant, and I really wouldn't want to live near one, or a cell phone tower either.

That apprehension is based on intuition and philosophy as much as it is on science, but as a general rule I try to minimize my exposure to electromagnetic radiation, particularly at the frequencies used by cell phones, portable phones, and now wireless Internet transmitters. There are many who would call this attitude paranoia, but I call it precautionary skepticism.

No one has been able to conclusively establish a strong link between exposure to radiation from transmission towers and various physical ill effect in human beings, but no one has been able to conclusively disprove any cause and effect linkage either.

No one has been able to conclusively establish a strong link between exposure to radiation from transmission towers and various physical ill effect in human beings, but no one has been able to conclusively disprove any cause and effect linkage either.

I've somewhat softened my resistance to using wireless devices, which I avoided like the plague for years. There are several wireless mice, both RF and Bluetooth connected, that I like a lot, and mostly not because they are wireless, although that does come in very handy for use with a mobile machine that doesn't stay tethered to a desktop.

And now, of course, my connection to the Internet is wireless, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the degree of RF radiation I'm absorbing from the AirPort antennas in the laptops will not result in harmful consequences. I have the wireless modem located in a part of the house that is rarely inhabited for lengthy periods of time, such as sleeping. I'm also pragmatic enough to deduce that, at age 58, the risk for me, if any exist objectively, simply based on chronology, is less of a problem than it potentially might be for younger individuals.

Also personally, I would still not be comfortable spending many hours in classrooms, labs, or offices where there are a large number of wireless equipped computers and other electronic devices.

It might be a complete coincidence, but the constellation of chemical sensitivities, neurological issues, and other physical afflictions that I've been struggling with for more than 35 years now began cropping up about a year after I started working for a cable television company back in the early 1970s, where the chair at my workstation was less than 10 feet away from me cablecasting head end, which must have been a potent electromagnetic radiation emitter.

I hasten to acknowledge that there were other people working in that same office who, as far as I know, never developed any of these particular health issues, but there is a degree of genetic predisposition to such things that one usually doesn't become aware of until after the fact. If I had it to do over, there is no way that I would ever have allowed myself to be exposed to the presumed levels of electromagnetic emissions over such a sustained period.

As I said, this is not knowledge, it's what I like to consider somewhat informed supposition. I don't think anyone can make legitimate assurances that these technologies are safe - and we won't be able to for some years or even decades yet.

Charles

iMac Mac-O-Lantern
iMac Mac-O-Lantern

iMac-O-Lantern

Mr. Moore:

I hope you get a giggle out of this. What do you do when you have a dead tangerine iMac and little money for Halloween decorations? You make a Mac-O-Lantern! See attached.

Enjoy, and happy Halloween.

Lonnie

Hi Lonnie,

Very cool. Thanks for the smile. :-)

Charles

Magic Mouse Is Clickable

From Jacub:

HI,

I read your story about Targus mice (2 Wireless Alternatives to Apple's Magic Mouse). Just one clarification. The Magic Mouse is clickable. All the surface is one big button (like on MacBook trackpad) so when you click on left or right side, you actually get the click sound and feedback.

Bye,
Jakub

Hi Jakub,

Thanks for the catch.

Indeed, right you are. My mistaken impression was based on early and incomplete information on that point.

Personally, I still think I prefer an actual button, provided the action is comfortable. The high water mark for me is the buttons on my Logitech V550 mouse.

Charles

Strange Time Stamps in Mail, Skype, and Entourage

From Alejandro:

Dear Charles

I wonder if you can help with this.

I use a MacBook 2 GHz with 2.5 GB RAM running OS X.4.11. For awhile now, the Mail program is showing that all emails arrive at 7.xx - i.e. In the email the date and hour is okay, but on the list of messages you read 7.15 or 7.33 if the email arrived at 9.15 or 12.33.

Skype does the same thing - when I am using the chat, the hour is okay, but next day all chats were at 7.xx....

I got Office 2008 and with Entourage, the same happens....

Someone told me that I should try getting OS X 10.5 and OS X 10.6, which I did, to no avail - still number "7" is king!!! Any ideas?

I also tried Disk Utility and verified the permits -everything is okay....

Greetings
Alex

Hi Alex,

This one truly is a head=scratcher. I have to say that I haven't a clue as to what might be the fundamental problem, and indeed can't even venture a guess with any probable cause other than speculative deduction.

So, speculatively, I'm thinking that it's probably not the applications that are the culprit, but something in the system itself that may have become corrupted or gone awry.

I assume you have checked that the computer's timekeeping function is working properly, although it's improbable (not impossible however) that this is a hardware issue.

Something you could try first is to create a fresh new user account, then see if the same thing happens when logged in as that user. I think it probably will, but it's a relatively easy troubleshooting experiment.

The next step, the best I can figure it, would be to back up all your files to a safe medium, reinitialize the hard drive or partition, and do a clean install of whatever operating system version you prefer to use. I'm pretty confident that would cure your problem, although I can't put my finger on exactly what it would be fixing, but it is a lot of hassle and bother.

You could also choose just to put up with the erroneous time logging.

Perhaps some of our readers will also have suggestions.

Charles

Wishful Thinking: Keyboard with Trackpad

From Tim:

Dear Charles,

Mac Pad concept by Adam BentonAs ever, still enjoying your various columns. My 13" MacBook celebrates its first birthday today, and it recently got a present: the 24" Cinema Display. AAhhh, the luxury of all that screen real estate. You decide to operate in clamshell mode.

Within seconds what do you miss? The touchpad! It's all very well having a wireless mouse, but....

The illustrated idea as an accessory for the Tablet/Slate would be a brilliant solution - and oh! if they unblocked the Bluetooth on the iPhone so that you could use a keyboard like this or the existing Mac keyboard, what bliss!

Rgds - Tim

PS: To repair a pair of PB 1400s, where do you suggest I get the upper lids, not the slide in picture holder, but the bit that houses the display. Both have dreadful hinge cracks, and there is nothing this side of the Pond.

Hi Tim,

Thank you for the kind words about my columns.

Personally, I get along quite happily with my production MacBook using an external keyboard and mouse, and I rarely touch the trackpad when the machine is at its usual workstation. One workaround, if you really like running in clamshell mode (I have misgivings about inhibited cooling convection), would be to use an external touchpad.

I have a very nice Cirque Easy Cat touchpad that I would rate better than any trackpad Apple has ever installed in its notebooks, with the possible exception of the current Multi-Touch unit. A Cirque engineer once explained to me the difference in the respective technologies, but the details have slipped my mind.

Anyway, the USB model works with Macs from OS 8.6 on for basic functions, although their proprietary software for enhanced functions is Windows-only. The third-party USB Overdrive shareware enhanced function driver software is a partial substitute.

I entirely agree that the iPhone and iPod touch would be much more attractive devices, at least to me, if they supported Bluetooth connectivity for other wireless peripherals. Hopefully the forthcoming Mac tablet computer will have that facility. I don't care for touchscreens. Adam Benton's Tablet/Slate picture gets the juices flowing.

My PowerBook 1400 also has a couple of bad cracks in the screen lid. I repaired them with black epoxy some years ago, and the fix has held up, albeit with not a whole lot of use. It also is less than aesthetically elegant. Epoxy is difficult and messy to work with.

If you want a proper replacement lid, Wegener Media has them.

Charles

Replacing PTHpasteboard with Jumpcut

From Doug in response to Jumpcut, a Free Clipboard Manager for OS X:

Nice find, thank you for sharing.

PTHpasteboard was something I thought I would miss enough on Snow Leopard to pay the price.

For the record, the older version of PTHpasteboard (the last free version), works fine for basic clip storage and paste purposes on Snow Leopard. It seems like there may have been a hack or two to get the old version of PTH working on Snow. Regardless, if the developer does not want people using it for free, I don't want to use it for free. Glad for the chance to ease my mind and switch out.

Jumpcut replaces it nicely, and is exactly what I need - no more, no less.

The default key combination is Option-Command-V to summon the translucent window, at least on the version I downloaded. But the shortcut keys are of no consequence on Snow, because text will not paste from the translucent window, only from the menulet. That is fine for my purposes.

Since Jumpcut is Open Source, if pasting from the translucent window is a big enough deal to a developer who cares it can be fixed. That is what I like about Open Source, nobody can arbitrarily take away functionality that I come to depend upon. And anyone who cares to share can add to it.

Thank you again, keep up the good work!

Hi Doug,

Thanks for the comment.

I'm an Open Source fan too.

Charles

Using Jumpcut on Snow Leopard

From Brett:

Hi Charles:

Thanks for the characteristically perspicacious Jumpcut review. I've been using it for about a year now (replaced iClip, which replaced PTHpasteboard), and it's worked fine, including for the last few months in Snow Leopard.

Keep up the good work.

Brett

Hi Brett,

Glad you liked the review, and thanks for confirming the Snow Leopard compatibility.

Charles

ClipMenu, Another Free Clipboard Manager

From Larry:

Read your excellent article on multiple clipboards. I used Jumpcut until I discovered ClipMenu.

It has some additional features, including the ability to automatically paste the clip instead of selecting the clip from the list and the initiating a Command-V, as with Jumpcut. ClipMenu is freeware.

Enjoy reading your articles.

Hi Larry,

Thanks for the kind words about my scribblings, and for the info about ClipMenu.

I'll definitely check it out. Having lots of alternatives is great.

Charles

Color It 4.5 Won't Work with My Intel Mac

From Jim:

I just read Color It 4.5 Does Work with Intel Macs.

Regardless of what Wayne Davis of Digimage Arts says, ColorIt! 4.5 does has a problem running on Intel Macs with OS X 10.5 and above. I have been using ColorIt! for years, and it ran fine on my Power Mac G4, then on my iMac G5, but not worth a darn on my Intel Mac.

Ever since X 10.5 came out, Color It! constantly crashes. That is if it even opens at all.

I have repaired permissions, trashed prefs file & reinstalled ColorIt! over & over again.

To say the least, it's a pain to constantly fool with it.

I have written to them several times, and they tell me what is said in the article. I am about to give up on Color It! & move on to something. Hopefully Digimage will fix it or come out with a new version of Color It! that addresses the problem.

You said, "Works like a charm. One more thing off my configuration To Do list. :-)".

Sure wish that I could say "One more thing off my configuration To Do list".

Regards
Jim

Hi Jim,

Sorry to hear about your troubles running Color It! 4.5 on your Intel Mac.

However, I've been using Color It! 4.5 in daily production for the past six months or so on my 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo Unibody MacBook, currently running OS X 10.5.8, and it's been performing great for me, so I can affirm for a fact that the program can work well on Intel Macs.

Unfortunately, I can shed no new light on what might be ailing it on your rig beyond the information provided by Wayne Davis that I cited in the article, which did the trick for me.

Possibly some sort of conflict with other software your have?

Charles

OS X 10.5.4 Retail Install Discs

From Adam,

You stated:

"I'm still confused about the OS X 10.5.4 install disc. To the best of my knowledge, Apple only sold the generic OS X 10.5 install disc as OS X 10.5, and users are expected to download the combo updater to bring it up to whatever (10.5.8 is the ultimate).

"If it's specified to have 10.5.4 on it, it must be a software restore disc that was originally to ship with a specific model Mac, so even if you get more RAM, I'm skeptical that it will install on your machine, although I have heard of such installs occasionally working."

I took an eMac in to the Mall of America Apple Store for capacitor replacement (quite) a while back, and I quite clearly remember seeing row upon row of Leopard discs with "10.5.4! Newest Version!" (or something to that effect, maybe not those exact words) stickers on them. So it's quite possible that Anthony has a retail copy of 10.5.4.

-Adam

Hi Adam,

Your impression may have been correct, but I was wondering if the "10.5.4! Newest Version!" stickers might have just referenced the latest free, downloadable update at the time. I've never seen an OS X generic retail install disc in other than ".0" configuration, but my knowledge is far from encyclopedic (read on for more on that topic).

One way to distinguish the retail discs is that the disc itself is black. If it's grey, it's a model specific software restore disc.

Charles

Leopard 10.5.4 Install Discs Exist

From Chris,

Dear Mr. Moore

I am emailing a minor correction to your most recent Mailbag - Apple's retail installer discs for Leopard have been released in several iterations, of which 10.5.4 was one (I personally have the very last generation disc, which installs 10.5.6 to start with). It appears that you were unaware of this (maybe as you have bought all your copies at launch). Apple has made this a regular practice, with the last Tiger discs shipping with 10.4.8, I believe, and the last Panther ones with 10.3.7.

Chris

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the correction.

As I said in my reply to Adam (above), my erudition in these matters is not encyclopedic.

Indeed, I've tended to be an early adopter with OS X major updates, at least with Panther, Tiger, and Leopard. I've been a bit of a laggard with Snow Leopard, and you've got me wondering if I should maybe hold off for a couple more weeks or so in hope of getting a 10.6.2 install disc instead of a 10.6.0 or 10.6.1.

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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