Archive for the 'Mac and iPhone' Category

What’s wrong with Mac OS X Lion

  • Most importantly, many apps no longer work.
  • iCal: A team of software engineers from Microsoft sneaked onto the Apple campus to create this app. The cowboy-themed skin is the ugliest ever developed by Apple, and the user experience makes the most common tasks difficult:
    • In “Month” view, clicking on a day doesn’t select it. Double-clicking creates an all-day event, which you rarely want to do. When you edit the all-day event to create a normal event, it defaults to being an 8-hour event, which you never want to do.
    • There’s a prominent “+” button to create multiple overlaid calendars, which you rarely want to do. I’ve seen a couple of users try to create a new calendar entry with this button.
  • Apparently Apple wants to move to a single OS for both laptops and tablets.  Along the way, laptop users are going to get reduced and awkward interactions:
    • Spelling auto-correct on the iPhone uses the bold and appropriate default of replacing your typing with the correction. It’s appropriate for an interface where entering text is difficult and error-prone.  It’s not appropriate for keyboard input. But now it’s the default in Lion.
    • The tap-tap-hold trackpad gesture used to let you Drag in Snow Leopard. It still works for me because my preference was carried over, but this Preference has been removed from System Preferences:Trackpad:Point & Click.
    • The excellent interface for searching across Mail messages has been discarded. A new impoverished pulldown offers few options, and if they haven’t guessed what you want to do, you’re out of luck. For instance, you can’t search the From field.
    • Previously, double-clicking the bar between column headers in the Finder would expand the column to show the longest entry.  No more.

Apple abuses its Mac users with Lion

As much as I like Apple in general, I have found Apple’s attitude about upgrading to Lion to be inexcusable. says nothing to warn me about the problems that result. Lion is not backwards compatible; many of my applications no longer work, and for some, there is no way to fix the problem.

If you purchased software for a PowerPC Mac, that software will not run on Lion. Snow Leopard included a feature called Rosetta that enabled all PowerPC apps to run on the newer Intel-based Macs.  With Lion, Apple decided to discontinue Rosetta, so none of your PowerPC apps will run,  Apple Says Nothing on their website to warn you, and as a Mac user, there is nothing you can do about it. For some applications, there are newer versions that you can purchase, but for many applications, there is no version that will run on Lion, and there never will be.

  • Quicken will not run on Lion. Visiting Intuit’s website explains that there is a fix as long as you convert your Quicken file before upgrading to Lion. After you have upgraded, there is no way to access your Quicken data. [Update: Intuit has now released an updated version of Quicken 2007 for Mac that runs on Lion]
  • iPhoto doesn’t run.  You have to buy the new version.
  • my Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint don’t run. I have to purchase a new Microsoft Office.
  • Eudora doesn’t run. Eudora is an old mail program which is no longer maintained.  I have been using Apple’s Mail program for several years, but I have 10 years of email in Eudora that I need to consult on occasion. It is impossible to view that mail now in Lion.

The only way to run PowerPC applications is to install a separate version of Snow Leopard in a separate disk partition. I have spent three weeks and three visits to the Apple Store to try to accomplish this.

  • Ideally, I would use vmware’s $75 Fusion app to run Snow Leopard within Lion.  However, Apple has declared it illegal to run Snow Leopard as a vm, so Fusion has been forced to disable this capability.
  • I would prefer to install Snow Leopard on an external drive. But external drives are not Apple hardware, so Apple does not support this and will not assist you.
  • I tried to install Snow Leopard myself on an external drive. But the Snow Leopard dvd that I purchased from the Apple Store just hangs and will not install, since I have already installed a newer version (Lion) on my Mac.

The only alternative is to repartition the hard drive in my Mac. But you can’t repartition without deleting all of the information on the drive. I have done so, repartitioned the drive, and re-installed Lion from a Time Machine backup.  I am still working on getting my Mac to function properly again. For instance, after an hour with Tech Support from Adobe, downloading a “license fix” app, and typing the appropriate “sudo” command into a Terminal window, I can now use Photoshop again.

Convert movies on a Mac for iPhone

My digital camera takes nice movies as well as photos. The movies play just fine in QuickTime, but they aren’t in the right format for the iPhone. Fortunately, Apple’s Automator has the necessary commands to automate converting movies and importing them into iTunes. You can drop multiple movies or a folder of movies onto the app and they will all be converted and imported.

Here’s a screenshot of the Automator app:

To create the script, you drag and drop the two commands from the left side of Automator. If you’ve never used Automator, there’s a nice one-page tutorial at Mac 101: Automator

I use the 720p Setting to encode the movies, since that works well on the iPhone 4S. For older iPhones, you may want to use 480p.  I have the movies added to an iTunes playlist I named iPhone movies. (You create a playlist in iTunes by clicking the “+” in the lower left corner of iTunes. Then with your iPhone plugged in to your Mac, select your iPhone under Devices on the left side of iTunes, click the Movies button along the top of the iTunes window, and click the checkbox for your playlist in the Include Movies from Playlists area.)

Reading documents in Preview

In the Preview app on the Mac — which is great for reading pdf’s — there are a couple of good ways to read documents when a full page does not fit comfortably on the screen.
One way is to use View>PDF Display>Single Page Continuous
Here’s the other way, which I prefer. It uses a nice feature in Preview that lets you Crop a page to get rid of all of the extra white space surrounding the page. This just changes the view, and doesn’t modify the actual page.

  • Click on a page in the sidebar, then Select All (cmd-A).
  • Choose ‘Select’ in the toolbar.  Drag out just the text region of the current page, without the extraneous white space. Click Inspector (cmd-I) (You can also put it in the toolbar). In the next-to-last tab of the Inspector, click Crop.
  • View>Hide Toolbar (this menu item is not available if the Inspector window is frontmost)
  • View>PDF Display>Crop Box
  • View>PDF Display>Single Page
  • Hide the Finder’s Dock, and Drag the window so it’s as tall as possible and very wide (so as not to constrain the next step)
  • View>Zoom to Fit.  If there isn’t plenty of extra gray space remaining on the sides, you didn’t start with the window wide enough. You can now make the window narrower.

The downArrow key will now go to the next page.
Assuming the font is still too small to read comfortably, Zoom In (cmd-+) once or twice. Drag the window so it is wide enough for this zoomed view.
Now, as you read, use (fn-upArrow and fn-downArrow) to jump to the top and bottom of the current page. And if you are currently at the bottom of a page, fn-downArrow will take you to the top of the next page, which is ideal. (I think the PageUp and PageDown keys do the same thing)

How to publish a Word document to MediaWiki

  • In Word, File>Save as Web Page…
  • In Firefox, Open the Web Page and View>Page Source. (In FFox 5, the menu is now Tools>Web Developer>Page Source)
  • Copy everything inside the <body> tags
  • Paste into a new plain text file (e.g. using TextEdit on a Mac)
  • Use the Find command to Replace All <o:p></o:p>  with nothing
  • Use the Find command to Replace All <![if !supportEmptyParas]>&nbsp;<![endif]>   with nothing
  • Go to and paste the edited text into the “Raw HTML” textbox
  • Set Wiki dialect to MediaWiki
  • click the Convert button

Copying the songs in an iTunes playlist

iTunes has a command “File>Library>Export Playlist…” which only exports a text listing of the songs — it doesn’t copy the actual song files.

I just spent a good bit of time searching for a way to export the actual song files, and found a very nice solution. There is a free app called “iTunes Export” available at . Click the black bar labeled “INSTALL NOW”. Installation is a rather involved process, since it uses Adobe AIR, but it works.

  • Use the iTunes command “File>Library>Export Playlist…” and select Format: XML before clicking Save.
  • Start the “iTunes Export” application
  • Browse to the XML file you just saved, then click Next. (Keep using the Next buttons, not the Finish button.)
  • On the “Select Playlists to Export” screen, click the “Select All” button, otherwise the Next button will be grayed out. Click Next.
  • On the “Select Export Options” screen, make sure to choose “Copy Per Playlist” as the “Copy Files” option. Click Next.
  • I found that “iTunes Export” then froze my mouse so I couldn’t do anything until it had finished, but it worked perfectly.
  • Yes, I made a donation. It’s strange — you have to click “Update Total” in the PayPal window.

How to Import the Mac Address Book into Thunderbird

Step 1. Export your Address Book.  To do this, use the Address Book Exporter application. You can download it for free from
When you run this application, choose Export using template: Yahoo

Step 2. Import the saved file into Thunderbird.  In Thunderbird,
Select the Tools>Import… menu item:

  • Choose Address Books and click Next
  • Choose Text file and click Next
  • Select the file you exported and click Open
  • Check the First record contains field names box

At this point, you encounter the bizarre tool for matching Address Book terminology with Thunderbird terminology.  I think — though I’m not sure — that the trick is to start with the last “Address Book field” that you care about and move it into position, then move the next-to-last field, and so on.

In any event, you want to match up the following terms (and place check marks next to them):

  • First Name: First
  • Last Name: Last
  • Nickname: Nickname
  • Primary Email: Email
  • Secondary Email: Alternate Email 1

Click OK and you will have succeeded in importing your Mac Address Book.

Step 3. The final step is to set your View options so that you can properly see what you have imported.

  • Select the Window>Address Book menu item.
  • In the Address Books column on the left side of the window, click the name of the Address Book that you just imported.
  • Select the View>Show Name As>Last, First menu item (What’s really important here is that you DON’T USE the View>Show Name As>Display Name option)
  • From the View>Sort By> menu, choose Name and Ascending
  • Finally, notice that there is a small icon at the top of the scroll bar on the right side of the window. It is used to choose which columns you want to display.  Click the icon and choose Name, Nickname, Email, Additional Email