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Option-Click AirPort Menu for Network Details

If you hold down the Option key while clicking the AirPort menu in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, you'll see not just the names of nearby Wi-Fi networks, but additional details about the selected network. Details include the MAC address of the network, the channel used by the base station, the signal strength (a negative number; the closer to zero it is, the stronger the signal), and the transmit rate in megabits per second showing actual network throughput. If you hover the cursor over the name of a network to which you're not connected, a little yellow pop-up shows the signal strength and type of encryption.

 
 

Database and Mail Merge

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The database document type/tool, although not fully integrated into the other modules, is a real treat. It's another seeming retread - basically FileMaker Plus. But what a retread! FileMaker Plus was a terrific flat file database that went through several generations to become FileMaker Pro. It had easy field design and flexible layouts, allowed inclusion of graphics, and was easily modifiable at any point. ClarisWorks updates only a few menus and incorporates the common ClarisWorks features - text and spreadsheet frames - within the overall graphical-object ClarisWorks framework. You'd be hard-pressed to find a much better low-end database.

There's not much integration of the database to the other document types, however. Data copied from the database pastes directly into spreadsheet and word processing frames as tab delimited text, but fields and layouts can't be integrated with charting and graphics.

Claris did integrate the database into the word processing document type in the most important way, or at least in the way in which most people will use it: the mail merge. When a database document is opened, any word processing document or frame can be used as a "model" letter for a mail merge. Selecting Mail Merge from the File menu automatically brings up a dialog box with all possible databases listed. Double-clicking a database brings up all the fields in the database. Double-clicking a field name inserts the field marker at the insertion point. The whole database can then be merged with a click of the OK button. I have yet to see a less painful way of doing a mail merge.

 

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