Adapting to Change: OSX updates and a new Bluetooth adapter

By Graham K. Rogers

The 10.3.2 update cured some problems and then created a couple more: slow startups for some computers, and PowerBook fans coming on too much. With the former, several cures for this appeared. I tested a few, including those that require work at the Terminal command line.

The best utility I found to fix the slow starting (written by Swiss user, Nico Rohrbach), is the aptly-named "fixslowstartup". It can be downloaded from Nico's site on .Mac and it first checks for the Boot Cache file. This was missing on both Macs I use. After any changes, the computer must be restarted twice: to create the mising file; and to use the file in the startup.

After the second restart on the home iMac, the speed that the login screen appeared brought an unprompted "Oh!" from me.

The fan problem was an over-compensation after complaints of hot PowerBooks and burned knees. A file was ammended in the update and the fan came on at a lower temperature: some almost permanently.

There are trade-offs between heat and sound. Some heat can be reduced by changing energy saver settings. Adding memory will help: this means less disk activity. Users must decide for themselves about other changes after reading the information in the Apple Discussions.

I was annoyed with myself a few weeks ago when I lost the Bluetooth adapter for my Palm. I thought I had dropped it when I stopped out in the country to talk to another rider.

As priorities range from iPod, PowerBook, new fridge, and parts for the bike, I thought I would just have to do without an adapter. I was in Phantip Plaza early the next Saturday morning and called in to Dinosaur, on floor 3, which carries Palm accessories. I was really "just looking" but the young lady was quick off the mark when I asked the price of a new adapter: "1,500 baht", she said. The same adapter had cost me over 5,000 15 months ago. Out came the credit card and within a couple of minutes it was mine.

I tried to test the adapter by sending an SMS message. The lack of success confirmed an idea I had some months ago when trying a student's Bluetooth adapter with the G4 at work: the pairing is not just the device but the adapter too. Change this and devices no longer recognise each other.

I paired again and this time the SMS message worked. I confirmed the settings a few minutes later by checking e-mail.

At home, I plugged in the adapters (computer and Palm) and accessed the OSX Bluetooth preference: this does not appear until the adapter is inserted. I deleted the current Palm and iMac pairing, then re-paired. In the most recent versions of OSX there is now a Setup Assistant. This can either be started via the Preference or in the Applications> Utilities folder.

I walked into the Oriental Shop in the World Trade Center a couple of weeks later and the ever-helpful staff there handed the old Bluetooth adapter to me. I had dropped it when fumbling for cash.

I had a couple of embarrassed Computer Engineers in my office recently. In my hand was the paper that they were working on. I had downloaded it from their computer along with a large game and some other files. I could have deleted their Final Year project.

No guesses as to which operating system they were running, with no firewall and no password protection.

I know of one system administrator who refuses to allow users to have passwords on their XP machines in case his personnel need access to the computers. This is a shortcut to disaster under the (somewhat thin) guise of convenience. IT personnel who make this type of rule at the cost of security have no place in any organisation.

With OSX, creating an acount and password are part of the initial setup. Even if you turn off the need to log in, a password is still needed for installation of applications, and for entering via a network. Some operating systems only pretend to have passwords and many ignore these. With the students, the username was blank and so was the password: like taking candy from babies.

I would admit to being an oddity with computers. I like Macs, but enjoy working at the command line. I revel in the values of the World Wide Web, but (despite no programming skills) prefer to code pages by hand. While this guarantees a certain simplicity, it is a nuisance when testing to have to switch between text editors (I use BBEdit) and browsers.

I came across a utility recently called "Web Minimalist" that has a dual purpose as editor and page previewer. You can switch between the two functions with a button click. It is simple to try something out, test it and return to the original (or save if it works).

The program is a native OSX application -- written in Cocoa (the language, not the drink) -- it is just as easy to write pages in Thai as in English. Come to that, it just as easy to switch to Russian, Afghan Uzbek, or Vietnamese (I tried). They can all be displayed in the preview screen. I downloaded my copy from Versiontracker and the writer, Emlyn Murphy, has a site where he also has some of his own music for free.

Note:If you are writing in another character set, like Thai, do not forget to include a meta tag that lets the browser know. For example:

META http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=tis-620"

I am grateful to Peter Satrap-Binder, of Altaway who host eXtensions, for information about the character set and displaying Thai.

The latest version of Ian Page's Mactracker, now coming in at close to 8MB, arrived recently. As the Apple range increases, so does the data that Page provides in this free download. As well as versions for OSX and the earlier Mac operating systems, there is an update for the Windows version -- allowing PC users to see what they are missing? -- and a new version for the iPod. Downloads of Mactracker are also available on Versiontracker.

Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to Graham K. Rogers.

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