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#653: iChat, Migration Assistant, Mail Viewer Fix #2, New ATI Radeon HD 4870s


Happy Tuesday,

Rebecca here, writing for Matt who is lounging somewhere in Fort Lauderdale. While I won’t try to hide my jealousy of tropical temperatures and warm open waters, I’m more than a little excited to begin seeing signs of Spring creeping their way through the months of thick snow and ice.

Living in Montpelier, I’m quickly learning that Spring brings a plethora of flood warnings, sloshy deep puddles and mud mud mud! While I can leave my boots at the door, my pup has made it his job to decorate the apartment with muddy footprints. For anyone who’s attempted to put “booties” on a four month old puppy, you know why this is not an option.

For those folks out there looking to turn over a new leaf this Spring, with Apple’s recent release of iMacs, Mac Pros, Mac minis and oodles of new peripherals, we have tons of new and previous-generation gear at great prices. Now is the time to get great deals! Scroll below to see some of our hottest deals and while you’re at it, why not peruse our website to see all of promotions and discounts.

Be well and keep in touch!


  You Can See Me, But Can You Hear Me?  

The slight touch of Spring that Vermonters experienced this weekend inspired me to get out and take a few nice long hikes with my new puppy and I was reminded of what a beautiful area I live in and how the move from Boston was worth it.

That said, there are a lot of people that I left behind and one way I like to keep in touch with them is through the video chat function in iChat. For anyone who’s experienced the ease of video chatting through iChat you know that it’s clean, easy and has pretty darn good resolution if you’re using a built-in iSight and have a speedy internet connection.

The one complaint that I have is that on some machines the internal speakers rarely get loud enough for the conversation to be clearly heard. While that hasn’t been a problem with my 2.66Ghz MacBook Pro, it was a problem with my last MacBook and with my old iBook.

The easy answer is to use a set of headphones, which is all well and good, but then I thought of my Sound panel in System Preferences and wondered if it could help me. Sure enough, by going to the “Input” tab and pumping my internal microphone’s volume up, the person on the other end could hear me better. They did the same thing on their end and, voila, I could hear them better!

For the most part this has worked really well for me. The only catch is that by turning the input level up on an internal microphone it can occasionally lead to issues with feedback if it’s turned up too high. I didn’t find that to be an issue on the iBook or MacBook, but on my MacBook Pro, cranking the internal mic up full blast leads to a not-so-lovely high-pitched squeal. If that’s the case on your end, just turn the volume back down a bit until you find a level that works for you!

  Migration and the New MacBooks  

I really liked the way the new MacBooks looked as soon as I saw them, and definitely like the performance upgrades. The other thing that stood out, of course, was something that wasn’t there—a FireWire port. Though I am a big FireWire fan, I’m going to leave the discussion and debate about that decision for others. Instead I’m going to talk about how the lack of FireWire affects one of the greatest features of Apple computers: Migration Assistant.

As Mac users, we take easy and (mostly) painless migration of data from machine to machine for granted. Put the source machine in target disk mode, fire up Migration Assistant on the destination machine, grab a FireWire cable, and with a few mouse clicks you are done. Try it on a PC sometime… it’s an exercise in frustration that could take days and cost hundreds of dollars in software and consulting. Migration Assistant really is a great and amazing thing.

The key to this process has been Apple’s Target Disk mode, which converts an Apple computer into a FireWire hard drive that will appear on another Apple’s desktop and allows quick easy data transfers, among other things. The one caveat is, of course, that you need FireWire on both machines!

So how to migrate data onto your new MacBook without FireWire? Apple’s solution is a new version of Migration Assistant. One of it’s new features allows you migrate data between two machines that are booted up—no FireWire mode needed. Connect the two machine via ethernet (or go wireless!). Fire up Migration Assistant, follow the instructions, and off you go… with a few things to keep in mind. The source machine must be running at least 10.4.11 to install and run the new Migration Assistant. And of course, there can be no underlying OS corruption.

We have done quite a few of these transfers in South Burlington using various methods. Ethernet and wireless both work, but usually need some fiddling to work right… and sometimes, big stuff is needed like an OS reinstallation. The process can also be pretty slow if you are used to FireWire. We are talking “overnight-see-you-in-the-morning” slow. If the worst case happens and you can’t get it to work directly, you can image the target machine on a USB hard drive and migrate from that.

To be fair, we mostly see results like this when migrating from PowerPC machines that have been upgraded from an OS older than Tiger. Time does march on, and making the move from a PowerPC machine running 10.2 to an Intel machine running 10.5.6 is likely to be an undertaking no matter what. And I’m sure Migration Assistant will improve as well. So while I bemoan the loss of FireWire on the MacBook, I’ll get over it, and it’s nice to know there is a solution in place.

  You've Got (No) Mail.  

In Tech Tails #648 from February 3, we mentioned and discussed an ongoing issue common to people updating their Machines to 10.5.6. When launching Mail after the update, commonly they were presented with no Mail viewer.

If in that situation, one was to click on the Window item in the Menu bar and select Message Viewer, they would be presented with an empty inbox and all messages and information would seem to be lost. In issue #648 we gave a few steps for resolution of the error that required going into Terminal to fix the issue.

This week, after discussing that not-so-elegant fix with a customer, they contacted AppleCare Support who gave a new solution. The steps are as follows:

  • Go to Users > [Your User] > Library > Mail and remove the two files: MessageRules.plist and MessageRules.plist.backup.
  • After removing the files, launch Mail.
  • Quit Mail once again and place those two files back into their original place.

I have not yet verified this fix at the present time, but the customer who sent it to me verified that this indeed fixed his issue.

  ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB for Mac Pro (2008)  

Apple recently announced a new ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB graphics card for Mac Pros announced in early 2008.

This new graphics card upgrades VRAM to 512MB, and also provides the option of working with Apple’s excellent new 24-inch LED Cinema Display. Read about the card by clicking here.

The 24-inch Cinema Display features:

  • Built-in iSight, mic, and speakers
  • LED Display
  • Integrated power with easy connection
  • Built in USB 2.0 ports
  • Smooth-motion hinge (Tilting)

See the 24-inch display by clicking here.

We’ve created a bundle with both 24-inch LED Cinema Display and the Radeon HD 4870, for $1,229.99 with free shipping. You can see this bundle here.

Please note the HD 4870 is on backorder with Apple for 5-7 weeks. We expect to ship these towards the end of April. If you order today, your credit card will not be billed until the cards are in stock and ready to ship.

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