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#663: Facebook/Twitter Contest, More on Safe Sleep, Stainless/Chrome, Software Updates

 
     
 

Happy Tuesday,

Jon Spaulding writing this week for Matt. We talk about the weather a lot in the Small Dog newsletters, and I guess it has to do with our agrarian roots. It’s May 19th and this morning I woke up to frost on my front lawn. While the temperature only went as low as 36 degrees last night according to my fancy thermometer, I’m confident it was a good bit colder based on the crispy white layer on the lawn.

It was just yesterday that my wife, with a day off, planted a large selection of perennials around the house, trying to make it more attractive to prospective buyers. The house has been on the market now for sixteen months. The poor little flowers and two large hanging baskets will probably succumb to the frost–truly disappointing.

What worries me more, though, is the frost’s effect on local farmers. Growing up on a dairy farm, the Spring tasks started with mending fences and always ended with field work and the planting of corn for the cows. It was my father’s goal every year to have the corn in as close to the 15th of May as possible to maximize the growing period. We usually grew relatively long corn, maturing in 95 to 100 days. If the corn was in by the 15th of May, it would be ready to be cut and fed to the cows as pasture diminished in late August.

Planting early, we always feared a late frost that could wipe out the seedlings and sprouts as they just emerged from the soil. While many of the farms located in the Mad River Valley just started to till and harrow the soil this week, farms in the Winooski Valley I pass on my commute have, in some cases, already put the corn planter away for the season. While I don’t expect that they will have to replant, in this difficult economic time—with milk prices at $10.00 per hundred weight—another shock, like having to repurchase corn seed, may just be the catalyst that pushes many over the edge. The weather can be truly cruel, and in farming so much is dependent on and at risk because of her.

Thanks for reading, and keep in touch.

Jon
jon@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  Facebook and Twitter Contest!  
   
 

We are continuing our monthly tradition of randomly selecting two winners of a Mac / iPod gift pack from our Facebook fans and Twitter followers.

If you’re not already in our Facebook group, you can join here:
Small Dog Electronics on Facebook.

Not on Facebook? Sign up here.

Do you use Twitter? We post Mac tips, tricks, news, contests and more on our Twitter feed. Click here to follow us on Twitter.

 
   
     
  Stainless: Chrome on a Mac?  
   
 

Google’s Chrome was introduced as a beta for Windows in September last year, and version 1.0 came out December 11th. The basis of Chrome was open source projects released under several licenses. Up until now, you can use it only through Parallels, Fusion, Boot Camp, or a similar Windows-on-the-Mac solution. In response, Mesa Dynamics released a browser called Stainless that shares many of the features found in Google’s Chrome browser.

The beta is available at www.stainlessapp.com. A defining feature of Stainless is that it’s aware of multiple sessions. This means that you can be logged in to a password-protected site, open a new window, and need to log in again. The employ a system of private cookies to make it all happen.

I installed the software onto my iBook last night and went to Apple’s private service website, which is password protected. After establishing this connection, I opened a new tab and again had to log in to the service site. I then returned to the original tab, logged out, and returned to the second tab to see that the session was still open and unaffected by the actions taken in the first tab. Cool. For the second test, I tried out Facebook, but the sessions were linked across each tab. I guess you can’t win them all, and this is of course beta software not yet fit for mass consumption.

Stainless is sleek, and I find it to be every bit as fast as Safari. It uses a little less real estate at the top of your screen than Safari. The navigation bar, tabs, and buttons are all pulled from a common library of graphics, so the buttons are very similar to Safari, with the exception of bookmarks, which are held on a shelf along the left of the page. I think that’s where they find the space to make the toolbar thinner and save space.

When passing over embedded links, the address of the link that you may click on are displayed at the bottom of the window. I find it interesting to display that information. Maybe it’s an addition to preference they’ll change in the future.

When in use, to add a tab, you click on the plus sign above the address bar to open a new tab. As in Safari, you may create a new tab with the keyboard shortcut command-T. I’ve only used it for a few short hours at home after work. I do like the look and have few qualms at this point. It’ll be interesting to watch this browser grow up!

 
   
     
  More on Safe Sleep  
   
 

A couple weeks ago, Matt wrote a great Tech Tail regarding Safe Sleep. I wanted to touch on this topic again, because there is a choice for the MacBook owners out there as to how they want their machine to behave when the lid is closed.

The basic function of Safe Sleep is to dump the contents of memory (RAM) to the hard disk when you put your computer to sleep. This also allows the computer to even have it’s power removed entirely for a short time, and when plugged into power, the contents of memory are restored from the hard disk back to the RAM. Similar to ‘hibernate’ mode in Windows. This doesn’t mean it’s not using any power. However, it’s using a negligible amount.

As a portable user who moves your machine around a lot, but never lets the battery go completely dead, you may not desire Safe Sleep. It can lead to premature failure of your hard disk if you move the machine before it’s fully asleep because it can take up to a minute for your system to write 4GB of memory to the hard drive (and some new machines have an 8GB maximum of system memory).

When I close my laptop, it’s because I’m ready to leave. I often don’t want to wait a minute before moving the machine. If I do have to move it in a hurry, I also don’t want to risk damaging the hard drive by swinging the laptop around while it’s writing 4GB to the hard disk.

Pros to Safe Sleep:

  • Reduced power consumption while sleeping
  • Data in RAM is safe if battery dies

Cons to Safe Sleep:

  • Increased power usage while writing your RAM onto the hard drive
  • Wait time after closing the lid, but before moving the machine (sometimes up to one minute or longer)

How do I shut it off?

IMPORTANT: The commands for Leopard and Tiger are different. Please make sure you are running the correct OS before running these commands by going to the Apple Menu and selecting About This Mac. Also, your mileage may vary and we beg you to have a current backup of your system before trying this out.

Open Terminal, which is under Macintosh HD/Applications/Utilities (don’t worry, this isn’t complicated)

For Leopard (10.5): Copy and paste, then press return: sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0

For Tiger (10.4): Copy and paste, then press return: sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0 followed by sudo nvram “use-nvramrc?”=false

 
   
     
  Software Updates - Tips and Tricks  
   
 

Every now and again, Apple releases software updates to all Mac users. It’s rare now to see updates for 10.3 and earlier, but they do pop up now and again. It is generally safe and recommended that you install each of the updates as they become available, and it’s generally a good idea to install all of the updates instead of selecting updates only for the software you use. For example, an update to Safari can affect function of the iTunes store.

Huh?

Part of the underpinnings of Mac OS X are frameworks, or shared resources. Without writing a novel, think of frameworks as sections of the operating system that any program can draw on. I mentioned that a Safari update can affect iTunes, because the HTML rendering engine, WebKit, is what renders web pages in Safari and the content you see in the iTunes Music Store.

There are a few reasons that software updates fail. Among them is a slow or otherwise finicky internet connection. If your computer is trying to download a large update, but stalls, the Apple server sending the update to you will think you were disconnected after a short while. This is often referred to as a “timeout error,” and is sometimes accompanied by an error message that says “Make sure you can connect to the Internet, then try again.”

I sometimes hear from customers who see this error message. The fix, 99% of the time, is to just reset both your AirPort Base Station (or similar by another manufacturer like Netgear or Linksys) and your cable, DSL, or satellite modem. Whenever resetting these devices, it’s best to leave them unplugged for about ten minutes to dissipate any residual electricity stored in capacitors.

After ten minutes, plug the devices back in. A few minutes later, your computer(s) will recognize your network and should be re-connected to the web. Your software updates should download just fine now.

If, for some reason, they do not download successfully, it may be due to extraordinary network traffic on Apple’s servers, like that occurring after the release of a major update like 10.5.7, released just the other day at over seven hundred megabytes for some users!

 
   
     
  FEATURED SPECIAL: 500GB TIME CAPSULE FOR $199.99!  
   
 

Save $100 on 500GB Apple Time Capsule (2008) - New low price plus FREE Shipping!

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This week we have the 2008 Time Capsule on sale for only $199.99! Time Capsule includes an AirPort Extreme wi/fi base station along with a 500GB hard drive. This allows you to wirelessly back up your Mac or PC, as well as use Time Capsule as a wireless community shared hard drive!

Also serves as a network router. Perfect for home or office, and only $199.99!

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