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ATPM 15.01
January 2009




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Mac OS X Services

Thanks for this article. I have been a Macaholic for 22 years and have gotten behind in my all things Macintosh. I had no idea how to use this feature, but now I will explore it some more.

—Andy Melton

Art Text 2.0.2

Why would anyone pay $50 for this application? Most of Art Text’s features exist within simple drawing or project programs (such as The Print Shop) that cost the same as Art Text but have many more features. Full-featured drawing and illustration programs such as Canvas X can do everything that Art Text does, and they have layers, masks, and convert-text-to-path functions.

—Gregory Tetrault

Sometimes less is more. When I reviewed Art Text 1.0 I mentioned Word Art within Microsoft Office and some other feature with NeoOffice. While it is true that what Art Text provides may be found in other programs, ease of use is not the same with those programs. I find that with Art Text it is much easier to apply effects and such. Price can be an issue, but you do get frequent free updates with Art Text.

—Linus Ly

• • •

Art Text is, from my brief experiences, essentially a new incarnation of the old Mac OS program TypeStyler. Some of the same criticisms raised by Gregory above are ones that people used to make of TypeStyler, and Linus’s response is, well, pretty much the same response: yes, you can do just about anything Art Text does in another program, but sometimes a program like Art Text will make that work much easier. (To stretch the point a little facetiously, there’s very little one can produce in Photoshop that can’t be produced in Photoshop Elements, Pixelmator, or Acorn, but there are some things that are going to be a darn sight easier to produce in Photoshop.)

—Watts Martin

iRecord Pro

Here’s a little something I failed to mention in the iRecord Pro review—the power cord is only three feet long. As far as I’m concerned, any piece of electronics should include a minimum of six feet for a power cable.

—Lee Bennett

• • •

Seems to me (new owner of an iRecord Pro) that the iPod problems aren’t as insurmountable as your review describes, and that reading the manual would have helped. (Available as PDFs.) One should copy from stick/drive/iPod to PC, import to iTunes, then copy to iPod. OK, clumsy, but no more sync problems.

—Andrew Bustin

Yes, you’re correct, and I covered this in the original iRecord review. My position is that there are a number of ways to acquire a recording and keep it, such as recording to a memory stick, or recording to an iPod or iPhone.

You say the “solution” is to record to a USB memory device and then transfer. That, in fact, is not a solution, but rather accomplishing the task via a different means. It still does not “solve” that recording directly to iPods and iPhones is problematic.

—Lee Bennett

ExpanDrive 1.3.1

Give our latest release [1.3.2] a spin. All known issues with FTP and MacFUSE have been resolved since the 1.3.1 release reviewed here. Thanks!

—Jeff Mancuso

Hard Drives as Floppies

NewerTech has a new unit that looks like the BlacX N0028USU but with a quad interface: NewerTech Voyager “Quad Interface” FireWire 800/400/USB 2.0/eSATA—SATA I/II Hard Drive Docking Solution.

I saw one listed at the Other World computing site.

I am wondering if anyone has tried one out.

—Doug Hogg

Taming the Two-headed Monster

If you run Keynote there is an explicit option in the preferences to use the second monitor as the display monitor. This puts the second monitor into full screen mode and shows some presenter information on the primary screen. This is a really nice way to use the second screen without changing it to be the primary screen.

When iDVD starts playing a movie it defaults to full screen on the primary monitor. Hit the Esc key to get out of full screen mode. Now drag the window to the second monitor, then in the playing movie click the icon for full screen mode. The movie will be displayed in full screen mode on the second monitor, and the primary monitor will be darkened.

iTunes works almost the same way. Drag the full iTunes player window to the alternate monitor. Start playing a movie, click on it to get a window then inside the window of the playing movie click on the full screen icon to get a full screen presentation on the alternate monitor.

iPhoto works this way as well when showing a slide show. Drag the open viewer to the alternate screen then start the slide show.

There are probably a number of other interesting niceties like this, but I haven’t discovered them.

One problem I have is with older projectors. I’m guessing that Dell laptops for some reason use a higher signal level on the VGA out port. Projectors made to work in business situations with Dell computers expect this brighter signal. (I haven’t had the opportunity to figure this out. It may be that people have calibrated their projectors to match to the Dell laptops. It may be something else.) In any event, when I plug in my Mac the video is rather dark.

The solution is to calibrate the signal sent to the projector. I won’t go through all the instructions, but in the Display Preferences panel (see above) there is a calibrate button. Click that and soon you will see a button for Expert or Expert Mode (forget which). This gives you access to some brightness and contrast controls so that you can get a usable signal. This might also help with old projectors that have weak bulbs.

—John Konopka

YouVersion Bible Review

YouVersion Bible is up to version 1.6 and now has a bookmark feature. If I were reviewing it at this stage, I’d have marked it as an Excellent rating.

—Lee Bennett

Datahand Keyboard Comments

As a person who has been using a Datahand keyboard since they first came out (almost 18 years ago), a response to one of the Datahand comments in the current issue might be helpful. I think the company does not provide for enough depronation, and as a result there can be static stress in the arms unless the user fixes the problem on their own. I have a video showing what I have done and how to do it, but in general, I think the hands need to be raised on the thumb side at least 30 degrees for most people. I prefer 45 degrees, and I have known some people who like to put the Datahand at 90 degrees (vertical). That is too much in my opinion, and the company does not guarantee the units will work well at more than 45 degrees (because of the gravity effect on the magnetic switches).

I have tried to get the company to recognize the need for more angle, but I think they are worried a strange looking keyboard will be made more strange looking. I think I know what I am talking about because I have been using the Datahand keyboard for many years, often 12 hours or more per day, and over the years I have communicated with many other users. The company sometimes calls on me to help when users have special needs, and I assist willingly whenever I can. More might be said, but maybe it is enough to offer to send the video to anyone who is interested. E-mail me at, but wait until after Christmas, if possible, because things are tight at the moment, and I also have to get a new computer set up. Stuff is going to be in a mess for a while, and e-mail could get lost in the shuffle.

Full disclosure: I am a Datahand shareholder, but that has never stopped me from saying exactly what I think is good and bad about the Datahand keyboard. When the current model came out in 1996, I wrote the company a 28-page memo about the things that I thought still needed to be made better. (I had been using the two prior models already for five years at that point.) Some of the issues have since been fixed, but not all of them. Nonetheless, the Datahand keyboard is the best keyboard I know of, and it has been a lifesaver for me. I could not do as much writing as I do without it. Nothing else comes close.

—Don Patterson


Congratulations! I’m a little late reading the last two issues of ATPM because I was away. It is a delightful ending. I have enjoyed every episode since it began. I will look forward to your next comic strip. Thank you.

—Heather Isaacson

Soundsticks Advice

After reading your review of Harman Kardon Soundsticks II, I figured out that I would seek you for advice.

My name is Lars, and I live in Norway. I just bought myself a tube amplifier that I want to use together with my iMac. In your review of the Soundsticks II you use an similar setup, so I wondered how do you implement the Soundsticks minijack to the amplifier? The connection of the iMac through the amplifier is OK, but what type of connection do you use from the Soundsticks jack to the amplifier?

My pockets are unfortunately shallow so I need to build a music system based on the tube amplifier quite slowly.

I would be very pleased if I can use the Soundsticks together with the components mentioned above, which I already have, while I’m dreaming of some future setup.

Anyhow, thanks for writing such an enjoyable review and for reading this e-mail.

—Lars Solberg

P.S. I actually want to buy one more Soundsticks together with my equipment so I have all in all four satellites and two sub-woofers.

Congratulations on the purchase of your new tube amplifier. I am a big fan of tube amps, as you probably could tell from my article. However, it is not possible to easily connect the Soundsticks to a tube amplifier. You would need to make some serious modifications in order to do this. There are a few reasons why. First of all, the subwoofer has a built-in amplifier, and that amplifier drives both the subwoofer and the satellite speakers (e.g. the Soundsticks themselves). You could theoretically connect the Soundsticks (without the subwoofer) to the tube amplifier, but you would need to change the wiring in order to do this. (You could probably cut the RCA connector off and split the positive/negative cables to form a traditional speaker lead wire, but I have not tried this. Nothing terrible should happen if it doesn’t work, but be careful of course.)

However, under this setup the subwoofer would not be in the system. To get the subwoofer working you would need to have a set of RCA outputs on your tube amplifier that could drive the subwoofer and then use an RCA-to-minijack adapter. What you ideally want is a set of RCA outputs that come after the volume pot, or a “variable output” but you could probably manage with a set that come before the pot, or a “Fixed Output” or “Tape Output” and then adjust the volume on the subwoofer itself to compensate. If you use a “Variable Output” then you would want to keep the volume pot on the subwoofer relatively low to avoid overdriving the amplifier and causing distortion.

I have never tried this, but it should be possible. Recognize, however, that you could easily overdrive the Soundsticks and blow them up if you have a very powerful tube amplifier, so do not go crazy if you try this and be careful with the volume level. The Soundsticks are designed to work with the built in amplifier in the subwoofer, which I believe is probably 6–10 watts or something fairly modest.

There are many, many other speaker systems you could use with your new tube amplifier that would work better, and I would encourage you to speak to someone at a local hi-fi shop who can advise you on the best choice.

I hope this is helpful. Thanks for reading!

—Evan Trent

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