view in plain text or web browser  
Tech Tails | Apple news straight from the Tech Room | SmallDog.com | 800-511-MACS
 
#754: Internet is Running Out of Addresses, Precise Volume Adjustment, Less Can Be More, Preview Within An Icon

 
     
 

Happy Tuesday,

Yesterday was the first real thaw of the season. Foot-thick sheets of ice slid off rooftops, including the one right over my head, and the river is rising. Roads are still flanked by massive, dense snowbanks, and all the meltwater doesn’t have anywhere to go. With temperature expected to fall to the lower teens tonight and tomorrow, we might have some very interesting driving in the coming days. It’s never fun when your road turns to mud, and tire tracks freeze in place only to be removed by snowpack or snowplow.

Owen is enjoying the weather, though. He’s spent a good chunk of the morning outside, mostly laying down on top of the highest snowbank in the parking lot, staring across the field at the still-frozen river. Soon enough I’ll have to go fetch him from the river, in warm Spring weather.

We still have a good number of used MacBooks that were tested and cleaned up by Small Dog technicians. They’re an excellent value at only $599, and they come with MacOS X Snow Leopard and iLife ’11 (the very latest software from Apple).

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

Matt
matt@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  The Internet is Running Out of Addresses  
   
 

I’ve written in past Tech Tails about IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, and how every single device connected to the Internet needs to have its own IP address. Under the current system, known as IPv4, the addresses are formed as four groups of up to three digits. Each group of digits can go from 1 to 255, but no higher than 255. For example, Google’s IP address is currently 74.125.226.148. When you type in a web address in your browser, it’s actually translated into an IP address by DNS servers.

The problem with IPv4 is that the four groups of up to three digits only allows so many unique addresses. It must’ve been hard to imagine in the early days of the Internet that so many billions of addresses would be needed, but here we are and some experts claim that we have less than a year before the last address is taken.

I’m not sure I’m ready to fill my basement with canned goods and iodine tablets quite yet. But just in case we find ourselves in an era of an overpopulated Internet, there is another protocol called IPv6 that will replace IPv4 over time. The new protocol boasts an address allocation (number of possible addresses) with so many zeroes after it that I can’t even think how to pronounce the number.

Needless to say, this transition will take time, and in some cases users may see some speed issues. The IPv4 and IPv6 networks will essentially be two different Internets, and there will have to be “translating” services, or gateways, to bridge between the two networks. These gateways will certainly be bottlenecks.

The whole protocol and the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 is going to take some time and there will likely be bumps along the way. But there’s really no need to panic as some have suggested. There’s a wealth of information out there about the transition and the protocol itself. Wikipedia, as is so often the case, is a great place to start.

 
   
     
  Tip of the Week: Precise Volume Adjustment  
   
 

We’ve all been there. You arrive at the office intent on listening to your tunes, only to discover you’ve left your headphones at home. At Small Dog, a quick trip to the warehouse to browse our inventory for a replacement set is all that’s required, but many are without that luxury. So lets say you’re sitting at your desk in complete silence, and decide that ‘Pyromania’ simply needs to happen now! How can you pull it off without disturbing your co-workers? Easy.

Though all Macs feature 16 steps of volume adjustment at first glance, there are actually 64. Each time you adjust the volume from the keyboard (F11 and F12 on current gen. Macs) The level jumps by a box with an accompanying “pwipt” noise. However, holding down a series of keys prior to adjusting the volume enables you to fine tune your level further.

By holding: Option + Shift, and pressing: Volume Up or Volume Down, you can adjust your Mac’s volume in 64 increments instead of the usual 16. You’ll notice that each box divides into four precise slices while using this method, allowing you to set your volume as low as 1/64 if you have picky co-workers.

Further, if you only hold down shift while adjusting the volume, that “pwipt” noise will be disabled. It can get awfully loud if you’re wearing headphones!

 
   
     
  Less Can Be More  
   
 

Apple’s Migration Assistant is a great way to transfer your files from one Mac to another. It (usually) is able to seamlessly move your programs, documents, and settings over with a minimum of fuss, relying either on FireWire, USB, Ethernet, or AirPort. For some of us though, particularly those of us who upgrade all the time, you might find yourself having issues that get worse with each transfer.

This is particularly true with non-Apple programs. The iApps like iPhoto, iMovie, etc. tend to transfer over just fine. But others, like Microsoft Office and various other third-party applications, simply do not like being transferred with the assistant.

Perhaps you’re someone who is always looking for the latest software gizmo, downloading apps small and large from the Internet and the App store. Odds are very few of these apps are used past the evaluation period; if they’re free apps, odds are they haven’t been opened in a long time.

In today’s world, where your new Mac will come with at least a 320GB hard drive and up to 8 terabytes built-in, it’s not strictly necessary to conserve disk space. But, wouldn’t it be nice to open your Applications folder on a brand new computer and not be reminded of your old computer? Why wait longer for the window to open, and for the icons to draw, when you can simply elect to not transfer your applications when you use the Migration Assistant?

When I get my next computer, I won’t be migrating my programs. Instead, I’m going to install the applications I need, and only when I find myself needing them. Really, I don’t need a menu bar item telling me the temperature of a fan sensor; the half-dozen alarm clock apps I didn’t like don’t need to be there; and who uses Microsoft Messenger anyway?

 
   
     
  Preview Within An Icon  
   
 

One of my favorite features in Mac OS X is that certain icons themselves are a “preview” of the file’s contents. A photo’s icon is a tiny version of the photo itself, making browsing through a packed-full folder in the Finder less of a chore than it might be otherwise. A customer came in yesterday wondering why some of his icons showed this preview and others didn’t. I didn’t know the answer at first and began poking around preferences and ‘asking’ Google. This was a great question that had me stumped for a few minutes.

I revisited the “Show View Options” window from the Finder’s View menu and saw what I missed the first time through: a checkbox for “Show icon preview.” With this checked, all icons—not just a random few—were turned into previews. Snow Leopard adds functionality to the icon preview for PDF files. If you resize the icons to something greater than 64 × 64 pixels using the slider at the bottom-right of a Finder window, you can place the pointer over the icon and arrows will appear, allowing you to preview the document page-by-page.

 
   
     
  TT SPECIALS | 2/15/11 - 2/22/11  
   
   
   iPod touch 32GB (4G), AppleCare Plan + Free MiLi Blue/White AC Adapter!
349.99
View  
   $20 price drop! Verso Leather Case for iPad (red)
39.99
View  
   Save $40! MiLI Power Pack External Battery for iPhone 3G, 3GS (White/Gray)
39.99
View  
   Save $100! MacBook Pro 15.4in 2.66GHz i7 8GB/500GB, AppleCare, Free Sleeve!
2,589.99
View  
   Save $100: MacBook Pro 13.3in 2.4GHz 8GB RAM/250GB, AppleCare, Free Sleeve
1,399.99
View  
   iPod shuffle 2GB (Pink), A4Tech Headphones (Pink), + Pink Chill Pill
89.99
View