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Tech Tails | Apple news straight from the Tech Room | | 800-511-MACS
#641: Broken iMac Screen Fix, Copy, Copy, Copy and Paste, MacUpdate Holiday Bundle


Happy Tuesday,

It’s finally happened: Tech Tails in HTML. About ten years ago now, Art Hendrickson sent out the first edition of Tech Tails. I’m sure Don has a copy somewhere on a Power Mac 8500, but unfortunately it’s not in our archives. The newsletter has been sent in plain text every week since then, and we thought it was about time to abandon the fixed-width plain text for something a bit more modern.

Have no fear, though: if you look just above the header above, you’ll see an option to view the newsletter in plain text, just like old times. You can also find archived copies here:

(Note that you can click on the round “tt” icon at the end of each article to get to the HTML archives as well.)

In the coming weeks and months, you’ll see more interactive content like video presentations and screencasts. If you’ve never been to the Small Dog contact page, you’ll also see pictures of the authors, our dogs, and our offices.

I look forward to hearing your feedback on the new format, and your suggestions for future content as well.

As always, thanks for reading, and keep in touch!


  Hurry--Free Ground Shipping On All Orders over $99!  

Our free shipping promotion on orders $99 and up is still going, with a little over a week left before December 25. Free shipping applies to orders shipping via UPS ground the contiguous 48 states—just a reminder that UPS ground can take up to five business days to deliver, and there’s no delivery on Dec. 25.

So, we’re currently featuring free 3-day shipping on select items as well to make sure your gifts get there in time! Plus, there are over 200 specials on, including discounts, savings on pre-configured Mac and iPod bundles, and both mail-in and instant rebates.

As always, Small Dog does not charge sales tax on any orders that ship out of Vermont! We ship 99% of orders on the same business day as the order is placed, and our warehouse team takes exceptional care when packaging orders.

View our special holiday page here.
View all of our specials here.

Happy Holidays from Small Dog Electronics!

  Broken iMac Screen Workaround  

Some time ago, a customer named Guy wrote in asking for help with a 24” white iMac he bought from a friend. The machine worked fine, save for its shattered screen, and he wanted to know whether he could plug in an external display and have it display the image that would have been on the internal display.

The quick answer is no. By default, plugging in an external monitor will result in an expanded desktop. You’d need to go to the Displays preference pane to modify the arrangement settings, and specify mirroring to accomplish this. I responded to Guy that the best way out is to replace the screen, at significant cost.

Some months later Guy sent me an email as a follow up. He had taken apart the iMac and unplugged the display cable from the display. When he reassembled it, he plugged in the external display, and lo and behold, it was as if mirroring was enabled.

So, if you find yourself with a Mac with a broken internal display, you can eliminate the issue of enabling mirroring by simply unplugged the display cable from the main logic board.

Thanks for the message Guy. I hope this helps someone out there!

  Copy and Copy and Copy and Paste  

After reading Ed’s article a couple weeks ago about the “Paste and Match Style” feature, I was reminded of two of my absolute favorite applications that enhanced my copy and paste capabilities and generally just made me an even happier Mac user.

The first application, PTHPasteboard by PTH Consulting, has become such a vital part of my workflow that I honestly have problems using a Mac without it. No, they’re not paying me to say that. It’s a wonderful little application that saves everything copied to a little “pasteboard.” Why is this awesome? Well, have you ever copied something, and then copied something else and then wished that you could go back and paste something that you copied a few strokes ago? Now you can. It’s quite customizable too. I have mine set up to save the contents of my pasteboard even after restart, so if I lose power I don’t lose what I copied. When I want to access my past clippings, I simply press a hot key and select what I want to paste. This seriously rocks my world (obviously it doesn’t take much).

You can download PTHPasteboard here and use their demo of it for free, and then once you fall head over heels in love, it’s just $24.95 for a license.

Secondly, TypeIt4Me by Ettore Software is another gem that has been speeding up my workflow for years now. It allows you to create simple text templates that can be populated when typing a short phrase. For example, my consulting reports are always in a specific format. Instead of having to type out the template each time, or even having to copy and paste it I can simple type “rebcons” and my entire template pops up. Simple, easy, works every time. I love it!

If you want to love it too, you can download the shareware version here and if you decide to keep it around, it costs $27 for a single-user license.

Give them a try and see how speedy you can be! Just be forewarned, you might find yourself overcome with joy at the possibilities of a world beyond the basic copy and paste.

  Don't Swap Hard Drive PCBs to Recover Data  

If you’ve ever seen an actual hard drive, you are familiar with their basic shape and construction. On the underside of all hard drives is a printed circuit board, or PCB. It is this board that often contains the drive’s firmware and information about bad sectors; it also controls the flow of power and data to and from the drive. In many instances of hard drive failure, there is nothing wrong mechanically, but the PCB itself failed.

In the old days it was possible to swap the PCB from one identical, functional hard drive into a broken unit, and recover the data that way. This was practical and useful on drives up to perhaps two gigabytes in capacity. Now that hard drives aren’t even manufactured in capacities less than, say, forty gigabytes, it is not advisable to swap these boards. Older drives had self-test data, tables of bad sectors, and other diagnostic and operational information on the platters of the drive itself; today, in order to squeeze the greatest capacity out of hard drives and for reasons I won’t even begin to speculate, the information is stored in nonvolatile solid state memory on the PCB itself.

If a modern drive has its PCB swapped out, it may seem to function (spin up and make normal noises), but once it’s spun up and its data port hooked to something, the data will be irretrievably corrupted and totally unrecoverable.

Data recovery at Small Dog Electronics is done with the utmost care, using the most sophisticated software tools available. We are often able to recover the vast majority of data from each drive that comes through our doors, at prices a tiny fraction of those charged by professional outfits like Drivesavers.

When it comes right down to it, there is no reason for anyone to need data recovery. Hard drives are very inexpensive now, and now that we have Time Machine under Mac OS 10.5 Leopard, we don’t even have to think about backing up. Give us a ring and we’ll design a solution that meets your needs and budget!

  MacUpdate Holiday Bundle: 10 Mac Apps for $49.99!  

MacUpdate is at it again, offering another awesome bundle of Mac applications for only $49.99. This is $447 of software if purchased separately. Every one of these applications is highly recommended. I personally use Littlesnitch daily and Rapidweaver weekly. That’s $110 of apps right there, which I could have purchased for only $49.99 with this bundle, and also received the other eight applications as gravy.

All applications are download-only. Once you purchase the bundle, you’ll get an URL with serial numbers to unlock them. All apps are available now. The offer expires at midnight on 12/17/08 (1 day left!).

Again, this is a great deal, and would make a nice present for both new and seasoned Mac users. Purchasing through the link at the bottom of this post will help support our blog and newsletters (at no extra cost to you—and we truly appreciate the support.)

The apps are:

Drive Genius 2 ($99):
Currently the highest-rated disk utility on the market and used by Mac Geniuses at Apple Stores, Drive Genius diagnoses and repairs problems with your hard drive, optimizes your system, and much more.

Buyers will receive a link to download a bootable DVD image of the software to burn, which can be used to boot and fix any Mac that can run Mac OS X 10.5, including Apple’s newest laptops.

Notable Mentions: MacLife Editor’s Choice pick (July 2008), 2008 MacUser Labs winner against competing disk utilities, Macworld UK Editor’s Choice (5/5 rating), “Excellent” rating from ATPM.

DefaultFolder X 4 ($34.95):
Fly through Open & Save dialog boxes at lightning speed.

Notable Mentions: 4.5/5 rating from Macworld, 5/5 rating from MacUser UK, and numerous other awards.

VirusBarrier X 10.5 ($69.95):
Fast, simple, and non-intrusive anti-virus software for your Mac and iPhone.

Notable Mentions: 4.5/5 rating from Macworld in July 2008, which called it “the gold standard.”

RapidWeaver 4 ($79):
Create powerful, professional-looking Web sites quickly and easily.

Notable Mentions: 2008 Macworld Editor’s Choice pick (5/5 rating), 4.5/5 rating from MacFormat magazine.

MacGourmet Deluxe ($44.95):
Like iTunes for food, track recipes, plan meals, manage wines, and more.

Notable Mentions: 4/5 rating by MacLife magazine

LittleSnitch 2 ($29.95):
Monitors your network connection to make sure your Mac only sends out what you want it to.

Notable Mentions: 4.5/5 rating by Macworld, 5/5 rating by MacUser UK.

KeyCue 4 ($27):
Displays full keyboard shortcuts for all your applications; learn them and work faster.

Notable Mentions: 4.5/5 rating by Macworld, 5/5 rating by MacNotes

MacPilot 3 ($19.95):
Access hundreds of hidden features to customize and improve your Mac OS X experience.

Notable Mentions: 5/5 rating by MacCompanion magazine, 4/5 rating by Macworld UK.

WhatSize 4 ($12.99):
Effortlessly identify files that are hogging disk space and that you don’t need anymore.

Notable Mentions: 4/5 rating by Macworld, prominently mentioned in the latest issue of MacFormat magazine.

iVolume 3 ($29.95):
Ensures all your iTunes tracks play back at the same level, so you never have to adjust the volume individually.

Click here or the banner below to order!

  SPECIALS | 12/16/2008 - 12/23/08  

View specials while on-hand supplies last. Please note that some specials may not be available in our retail stores; check for availability.

Over 230 total specials featured online on our Specials page. Check them out here.

Note that many popular items have a free shipping upgrade to 3-day express to help with Christmas delivery!

   iPod classic 160GB Black, FREE Napa Leather Case, Free Shipping!
   Nike + iPod Sport Kit for iPod nano, Marware Sport Pouch (for use with any sneakers)!
   Apple TV 160GB Drive, FREE 10-ft HDMI Cable for connecting to flat panel TVs, FREE Shipping!
   iPod nano w/video 8GB Blue (3G), FREE Sporteer Armband (black), FREE 3-day shipping!
   Aluratek 7in Digital Picture Frame 256MB, FREE Shipping!
   LaCie 500GB Neil Poulton Enclosure, USB Only Interface, FREE Shipping!
   Western Digital Passport 160GB Hard Drive, USB - Black, refurb, 1-year warranty, Free Shipping