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#693: iTunes Transfers: Easy As Drag 'n' Drop, Tweak Your Trackpad, Address Book Adventure, Releases and Bulletins


Happy Tuesday,

I spent some time on Saturday getting my snowmobile ready for the season, and finally got around to buying insurance and paying the trail maintenance assessment. We are very lucky around here to have an incredible network of snowmobile trails, and Small Dog’s Waitsfield headquarters is right on the trail.

If this snow sticks around until Wednesday, I’ll be riding on my lunch break. Both Sugarbush and Mad River Glen reported excellent early season conditions, and a few of us at Small Dog were skiing over the weekend. Here’s hoping the temperature falls below freezing again.

As always, enjoy this issue and keep in touch.


  iTunes Transfers: Easy As Drag 'n' Drop  

Making the switch from a Windows PC to a Mac can be both liberating and daunting. It’s great moving to a secure intuitive operating system with trusted (and beautiful) hardware, but what about transferring the data? Luckily, that process is easier than you might think.

Today’s tip is specifically about transferring your iTunes Library from a PC to the Mac. This process assumes that you have set up a fresh user on the Mac and have not begun using the iTunes program on your Mac yet. If you’re running a recent version of iTunes on your PC (suggested to use iTunes 9 or higher, though some earlier versions work with this technique as well) then the process is as easy as drag-n-drop.

Simply copy your ‘iTunes’ folder to an external hard drive by right-clicking on the ‘iTunes’ folder and select “move to” then select your external drive as the destination. Depending on what version of Windows you’re running, and how you’ve configured your machine, the ‘iTunes’ folder can typically be found within ‘My Documents’->‘My Music’.

Next, safely remove your hard drive from the PC, plug it in to your Mac, and drag the ‘iTunes’ folder to the ‘Music’ folder located within your Home Folder (the folder with your username and the little house icon next to it). Once the copy is complete, launch iTunes.

Since this should be the first time you’ve opened iTunes on the Mac, it will walk you through a brief setup assistant. One question asks if you’d like iTunes to organize the library for you. I suggest checking the option to leave your folder intact; do not have it organize the music for you.

Once iTunes finishes the setup, you should see all of your music, movies, podcasts, applications and playlists just the way you like them! It should be identical to how it was on the PC. Hope that tip keeps you rockin’ with your new Mac!

  Tweak Your Trackpad  

The first-generation unibody laptops (with removable battery) feature a trackpad that supports many useful gestures. Made of glass, it feels great and the whole trackpad is the trackpad button. You can press in certain areas to accomplish simple tasks like right-clicking, and the supported gestures are, I’m sure, only a precursor of what’s to come.

I received a few emails from customers asking whether the feel of clicking can be adjusted at all. They find that the noise from clicking is too loud, and that there’s too much travel in the mechanism for their comfort.

This is a rare hardware hint, and as such your mileage may vary and you’re wholly responsible for any damage that might be caused!

Start by removing the battery cover of your unibody MacBook or MacBook Pro. Remove the battery by pulling on the clear plastic tab—it’ll pop right out. You’ll notice a screw on the underside of the trackpad with a Y-shaped head.

Using a small flat screwdriver, turn it clockwise about an eighth of a turn. I’d advise reassembling the unit, testing for the desired tactile feedback, and continuing or backing off as necessary.

Be sure not to turn the screw too far in one direction or the other, as you may either lose the screw or cause irreversible damage to the trackpad. Neither of these outcomes would be covered by your warranty!

  Address Book Adventure  

I ran into a very interesting problem during a consult last week. One of my regular clients had been working in his address book, preparing a list for mailing holiday cards.

When he was finally ready to print labels, he ran into a vexing problem and asked for my help. He would select his list, select all the cards, and choose Print, and then choose Mailing Labels under the Style menu. While the addresses would show on the preview, it would not show the address count, instead indefinitely displaying “Sorting addresses.” Printing didn’t work, and gave error messages.

I tried backing up and restoring the address book data. I tried with the same list on his wife’s Mac (synced by MobileMe). I tried cleaning the address book with Spanning Tools, a shareware toolkit for cleaning up contacts, calendars, and sync information.

Find it here: Spanning Tools 1.1

Nothing worked! I was thinking that maybe there was some invisible data corruption in his address book data, but that didn’t seem to be the case. I thought, ‘maybe there is just one record that is causing this problem, and label printing might work if I fix it.’

But how do you go through 500 addresses to find just one that has a problem? I thought back to my childhood, and some of the puzzles I remembered enjoying, and realized I could do it in just a few steps—no more than nine, in fact.

I divided his address book entries in half, and tested each half in the Print dialog. One half looked fine and gave me a proper count, but the other half still stalled at counting addresses. I was onto something! I divided the problem list in half and tested each half, repeating until I narrowed it down to one card!

I checked out the card, and found it had an extra address, with just a country. I removed the country and that address, and the holiday list was saved! My client was able to get his holiday cards out on time.

  Security Bulletin: Adobe Flash and Air  

All of us have Adobe’s Flash software installed, as it is part of the default Mac OS X installation. Flash is the software your computer uses to view videos on YouTube and is what’s used to power many web applications.

Adobe Air is a platform for developing rich internet applications. Adobe recently posted a security bulletin on their site explaining that the vulnerability “could cause the application to crash and could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.” Unless you’ve updated your Flash and Air software since December 10th, your Mac is vulnerable.

To patch your system, head to Adobe’s site detailing the vulnerability, download the software from the Flash and Air pages, and simply run the installer.

If you do not meet the system requirements for the most modern Flash Player software (if you’re running Mac OS X 10.3 or earlier), Adobe provides a patch for the legacy software.

  Google Chrome Beta Released  

I last wrote about Google Chrome, the web browser from Google, in Tech Tails #626. A beta of the browser had just been released to the Windows community, and finally the Mac community can join in. Chrome was praised back then for its JavaScript performance, but big improvements were made both to Safari and to Firefox in the intervening months.

Chrome is unique in that each tab runs as its own process. If you’ve ever had Safari quit unexpectedly because one of your windows or tabs encountered a situation it couldn’t handle, you’ll appreciate this feature of Chrome. If one tab encounters a situation it doesn’t know how to handle, only that tab will quit. The other open tabs will be unaffected. This leap is is similar to the protected memory in Mac OS X vs. the shared memory of the classic OS. Remember the day when one application crashing meant you had to restart the whole computer?

While developer previews were available some time ago, this is the first public beta of Chrome. It is quite fast, and I haven’t been able to make it crash yet. There are plenty of benchmarking articles out there, but I’m not prepared to declare any browser fastest until Chrome is no longer a beta. With Google’s tendency to keep products in perpetual beta, when or if that happens is uncertain.

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