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#717: Some Like It Hot, But Not My Time Capsule, Sorting Your Mailbox, iPhoto's Hidden Tips


Happy Tuesday,

It’s pretty rare to have air quality issues here in Vermont. With just over 600,000 residents and very low population density, smog isn’t ever an issue. The wildfires in Quebec took their toll on our airspace over the weekend, and there’s still smoke in the air. It was a weird feeling to see what looks like haze when it wasn’t humid at all. Today we have haze and smoke in the air.

Our famous garage sale is under way. We have a garage sale about once a year, and it’s our way of extending one-of-a-kind deals to our loyal customers. There is a great mix of stuff this time around, including some AirPort base stations, tons of iPod and iPhone cases, software, and even some vintage and odd Apple stuff. We’re still adding to the list, so check back often.

I hope you enjoy this issue of Tech Tails, and this short work week.

Keep in touch,


  Some Like It Hot, But Not My Time Capsule  

Last week brought unseasonably hot temperatures to our neck of the woods, reaching over 90° in many areas and bringing some miserable humidity with it. Now, most of us in Vermont don’t have air conditioners and I am in that camp!

While I felt pretty comfortable with the windows open and a ceiling fan going, I noticed one evening that my Time Capsule was flashing amber; this indicates a problem. I opened AirPort Utility (/Applications/Utilities) to see what was up and I saw my favorite error message: “This device may be overheating. Check the Apple wireless device and if it feels hot, try changing its location or removing anything that is obstructing its ventilation.” I may have been comfortable in the heat, but my Time Capsule was not!

Now, it may seem like I’m joking by calling that my favorite error message, but I really was impressed when Apple built that error into the latest renditions of it’s Time Capsule firmware ( I liked it so much I wrote about it here ). The main reason I love this error is that it gives the user a chance to check for heat issues that they may have created or can remedy.

In my case, I keep my Time Capsule in an entertainment center with several other electronic devices including a Mac mini Server, external hard drives, cable modem, DVR, turntable, receiver, UPS, etc. The cabinet does have shoddy glass panels on it that let in air and rear vents to increase the airflow. That said, when I opened the doors to the cabinet it was hot hot hot in there!

According to the Time Capsule’s tech specs, recommended operating temperatures are between 50° to 95°F (10° to 35°C) with a relative humidity of 20% to 80% (noncondensing). With temperatures in the 90’s and the many heat-generating devices in the cabinet, the ambient temperature was close to if not just above the recommended high temp.

However, in general, I would personally try to never run my devices in temperatures over the 70s. So, the temps in my entertainment system were above both Apple and my personal recommendations for heat. It was time to cool things down!

I left the doors to the cabinet open and put a floor fan in front of the Time Capsule. In just a few minutes, the amber blinking light on my Time Capsule turned solid green and the warning went away. While this is a good temporary solution, I’m planning on taking some steps in the future to curb the heat before it becomes a problem and you might want to consider doing the same if you have electronics and live without air conditioning.

First off, make sure you have good airflow around your devices. I never stack electronics on top of each other or stack items on top of them. I also have 4” circular holes in the rear of the cabinet that help circulate the airflow along with the thin glass panes in the front of the cabinet that let in air around the edges.

Since that’s not doing enough for me right now, I also plan to purchase one or two 3-4” square fans that can be mounted into the cabinet. These are a dime-a-dozen and can easily be found with a Google Products search. There are even USB versions so if you’re out of space on your power strip, you can always plug right into the computer or Time Capsule to power them.

The biggest thing is to just think about how the airflow will work in your situation. You may need an inlet and outlet fan, or you may just need one outlet fan to suck out the hot air, providing there are other vents that are able to bring in cooler air. Some folks in cooler climates might not need fans at all; vents could be enough. I do recommend purchasing a thermometer to keep track of the temperatures, as in some situations you really might need to get an A/C unit so your devices don’t overheat.

I definitely encourage you to think about this before the temperatures start to soar. Oh, and if you’re not doing so already, also be sure to use a surge protector with your devices and with your cable and/or DSL modems. Summer brings heat and thunderstorms and a busted power supply or ethernet jack isn’t any more fun than overheated electronics!

  Sorting Your Mailbox  

I try to keep my email as organized as possible, but sometimes I just can’t find what I’m looking for. Generally, the toughest emails for me to find are those that have an attachment (Spotlight can’t find everything!). I remembered that I used to have a column in my inbox that would show a paper clip next to messages with attachments, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to show up.

Turns out it’s one of those quick and easy things: while in your inbox (or any folder in Mail for that matter), select Columns from the View menu and choose what you want and don’t want to see. Alternatively, you can right-click on the column headers and choose from there. I have Attachments, Date Received, Flags, and From in use. Discovering this feature was particularly nice because I actually removed some columns and reduced clutter.

When you click on View in the toolbar, under Columns you might have seen “Sort By.” This will automatically sort by the selected attribute—for most, sorting by Date Received is best, but it’s great to know you have the option to sort so many different ways.

  Tip of the Week: Hidden iPhoto Features  

I’ve recently spent a few hours cleaning up my iPhoto library. This included adding proper image titles, keywords, updating Places and Faces info, deleting duplicates (and redundant photos in general), as well as deleting albums, smart folders, and slideshows that have outlived their usefulness. Here are a few tricks I discovered that aren’t documented by Apple, and apparently little-known on the web.

Did you know know you can compare an edited photo to the unedited original? This only works in iPhoto’s Edit mode. In Edit mode, simply hold down the Shift key and you’ll see the photo in all its pure, unedited glory.

Also in Edit mode, it’s possible to quickly zoom in on a particular area of a photo. Simply hover your mouse pointer over the area of interest, and then press the 1 key to zoom to 100 percent in, or press the 2 key for a 200% view. Jump back to fit to view by pressing the 0 key.

Want to hide certain photos in your iPhoto library, but don’t want to actually delete them? Simply right-click (or Control-click) on the secret photos and select “Hide Photo” at the bottom of the list. If you want to see your hidden photos, select View > Hidden Files in the iPhoto menu bar.

I like Faces (though it’s not always amazingly accurate) in iPhoto ’09. Did you know you can change a person’s Key Photo in Faces? This is the photo that shows on the Faces corkboard. To do this, open a photo of the person in Faces. Right-click on the image you want to be the key photo and choose “Make Key Photo.”

You can also scroll your mouse over the Key Photo in Face’s corkboard view, and while the photos are flipping through, click the space bar on the photo of your choice. That will be the person’s new Key Photo.

Here are some more tips about Faces, from Macworld magazine.

I also enjoy Places, iPhoto ’09’s geotagging feature. It’s fun to see my photos on a map. iPhone photos are automatically geotagged, but my other cameras lack a built-in geotagging tool. It’s easy to manually add this information to a photo, but it’s a chore to do this for a big batch of photos.

However, I discovered that it is possible to copy Places information from photo to photo. Simply select a photo that has been tagged with the correct information, right-click (or control-click) on it and choose “Copy” from the contextual menu. Now select your batch of untagged photos, right-click (or control click) on them, and choose “Paste Location.” Now they all share the same location information.

When you delete a photo from your iPhoto library, it goes into iPhoto’s trash. This gives you a margin for error if you accidentally delete a photo. Over time, iPhoto’s trash can fill up with hundreds or even thousands of photos, stealing gigabytes of space from your hard drive. To see the contents of iPhoto’s trash, click on the trash can icon in the left panel of the iPhoto interface. In iPhoto 09, it’s under the “Recent” header. To empty the trash, click on iPhoto > Empty iPhoto Trash in iPhoto’s menu bar at the top of the screen.

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