I wrote a few weeks ago in “Tech Tails #688”:http://blog.smalldog.com/techtails/?c=tt688 about a 27-inch iMac with a screen flicker issue shared by many on Apple’s discussion boards and around the Internet. Apple addressed these concerns yesterday with a “firmware update”:http://support.apple.com/kb/TS3181?locale=en_US as predicted here in Tech Tails.
If you have a 27-inch iMac with an ATI Radeon HD 4670 or 4850 and a screen flicker issue, select Software Update from your Apple menu and install this update!
Last week and this week, I have dealt with a few situations where I have had to setup backup systems or restore files or entire Macs from backups. I don’t have a story to tell, so I want to use this space to encourage you to make sure you have a proper backup system for your Mac!
If you have a Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or 10.6 Snow Leopard, you can take advantage of Apple’s Time Machine software with any external drive connected to your Mac, a drive connected to an Airport Extreme, or an Apple Time Capsule (Wi-Fi router with built-in hard drive). I encourage you to get a backup drive larger than your internal drive, since Time Machine is an incremental backup technology, and will store multiple versions of files, not just one.
Check your Time Machine menu item (a clock icon with a counter-clockwise arrow) regularly to make sure you are getting backed up each day. If you are not, make sure you drive is plugged in, turned on, and that you have it selected in Time Machine in your System Preferences.
If you are running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, or want an additional cloned backup for a newer system, I encourage you to use “SuperDuper,”:http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper/SuperDuperDescription.html a terrific shareware tool for creating an identical clone backup of your system. If you pay the $27.95 shareware fee, you can use the Smart Update feature, where you can have a clone update itself on a regular basis, which is much faster than re-cloning the entire system every time. There are also other tools you can use, including Carbon Copy Cloner, but SuperDuper has the easiest interface.
Don’t lose valuable photos, music, or email. Get backed up, and stay backed up!
Many of us already know of the ancient keyboard shortcut ⌘-Shift-3 to capture your screen to a picture file. It’s been around since System 7, and it’s still with us. We’ve made some significant progress over the years. The ⌘-Shift-3 trick captures a full-resolution image of your screen and places the PNG file on your desktop. From there, you can open and edit the image as you see fit.
It’s rare, though, to need a full screenshot. For these situations, I use ⌘-Shift-4, which turns the mouse pointer to a crosshairs to allow for precision selection of a portion of your screen. I often find myself writing documentation for company procedures and posting the information to our company wiki (powered by “Mac OS X Server”:http://www.smalldog.com/product/74523), and taking screenshots is a very effective way to visually convey knowledge. I love saving the step of cropping in Preview.
⌘-Shift-4 is more powerful than it might seem, though. You can press the key combination and then press the space bar. The mouse pointer changes to a camera, and individual windows and menus are highlighted when you hover over them. Clicking the mouse yields a screen shot of just that window or menu.
The Grab application, found in your Applications folder, allows you to take a timed screenshot by selecting “Timed Screen” from the Capture menu.
These tips can be taken a step further by taking the screenshot and automatically copying it to your clipboard for pasting wherever you’d like. Simple add the Control key to the shortcuts above and you can paste the screenshot directly into any application.
Snow Leopard takes this concept a bit further by allowing you to record video of your actions on screen in QuickTime Player. It records your voice and your screen by default, and it’s my new favorite tool for producing training materials.
Last week I talked about moving music from a Windows PC to a Mac. The next most popular item to transfer is photos! As with iTunes, transferring photos to your new Mac is a simple process and all you need is an external hard drive to do it!
The majority of Windows users keep their photos within the ‘My Pictures’ folder that lives inside of ‘My Documents’. Depending on what version of Windows you’re running and how you’ve personally set up your PC, your pictures might be in a different place or could even live in multiple folders. The first task is to figure out where you keep your pictures on the PC. Once you’ve determined that, simply copy your picture folder(s) to the external hard drive (right click > ‘move to’ > select your external hard drive).
Once all of your pictures are on the external hard drive, safely remove the external drive from your Windows PC and plug into your Mac. Here comes the fun part! Look for the iPhoto application in your dock (it lives there by default, unless you moved it). Now, drag the picture folder(s) to the iPhoto icon in your dock. iPhoto will automatically launch and you’ll actually be able to see each picture as it’s importing. Note: if you have embarrassing pictures in your library you might want to make sure there’s no one else in the room with you.
iPhoto automatically categorizes your pictures by “Event”, which is determined by the date the pictures were taken. Events can then be combined or split up to your liking. If you took the picture with a cell phone or a device that supports GPS, iPhoto can even show you on a map where you took the picture! To learn about all of the awesome features of iPhoto, and for helpful video tutorials, check out “The iPhoto Support Page.”:http://www.apple.com/support/iphoto/
Considering the frequency of broken screen and cracked glass incidents on unibody machines in Burlington, VT–a college town–we will offer screen and glass replacements for all Intel-based Apple laptops both in our retail stores and through the web after the new year. While it’s never a good thing to have a physically damaged screen or cracked glass on your MacBook, we were able to source OEM-quality tempered glass panels, special adhesives, and replacement display panels. When you choose to have this repair done through Small Dog, you’ll pay less than half of Apple’s costs on identical repairs. I’ll lay out the details in next week’s Tech Tails.
We are able to do this because Apple elected to not provide its service providers the individual parts of the screen module. If a panel were to fail, we’d replace the whole assembly. That includes the camera, glass, display, cabling, housing, clutch cover, hinges, and a few other components. It’s not efficient or environmentally-friendly to make such a signifiant part disposable, and is a curious decision by an Apple touting its greening efforts. Replacing individual components instead of the whole module is a much less costly proposition and reduces “ewaste.”:http://www.smalldog.com/ewaste
As the holiday season winds down and a new year approaches, I can’t quite believe how quickly the 2009 went by. I wish you and yours all the best for the end of 2009 and beyond. Don’t forget our “Charitable Giving Program”:http://www.smalldog.com/charity, through which Small Dog will match up to $200 of your donation to one of our pet charities.
As always, thanks for reading, and keep in touch.