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Mac OS X Services in Snow Leopard

Mac OS X Services let one application supply its powers to another; for example, a Grab service helps TextEdit paste a screenshot into a document. Most users either don't know that Services exist, because they're in an obscure hierarchical menu (ApplicationName > Services), or they mostly don't use them because there are so many of them.

Snow Leopard makes it easier for the uninitiated to utilize this feature; only services appropriate to the current context appear. And in addition to the hierarchical menu, services are discoverable as custom contextual menu items - Control-click in a TextEdit document to access the Grab service, for instance.

In addition, the revamped Keyboard preference pane lets you manage services for the first time ever. You can enable and disable them, and even change their keyboard shortcuts.

Submitted by
Doug McLean

 
 

Floppy Woes

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There may be a silver lining in every cloud (and there's certainly one in my hard disk, thanks to La Cie), but I still dislike one of the consequences of upgrading my venerable double-drive SE to an SE/30. The SE/30 has only one internal floppy connector and only one slot in the front of the case (it's really called a bezel, which I thought was what the nuts were called for a long time). Because of this design, I had to give up one of my two floppy drives for adoption. I decided not to upgrade to the SuperDrive at that point because of the cost and the reports of disk failures with it. So I was left with a single 800K floppy drive in a world of SuperDrives. Backups became more of a pain than ever, because I couldn't insert a new disk while removing the previous one. And making copies of my original program disks turned into an elaborate procedure, because I ran into a completely reproducible bug, in the Finder and with no INITs running, that caused the Mac to lock up if I inserted the destination disk first, ejected it, inserted the source disk, and then dragged the source icon to the destination icon. Without even letting go of the icon, the Mac asked for the disk and locked up. I suspect that this is a bug caused by putting an 800K drive in an SE/30 with the SWIM chip, but I can't tell for sure.

With all of this ringamarole, I decided that it was time to check out another drive. The most interesting floppy drive on the market is without a doubt the Drive 2.4 from Kennect Technologies. The Drive 2.4 requires an additional controller in the form of the Rapport, also from Kennect, although the company is working on a version of its software that allows the Drive 2.4 to work without the Rapport on SWIM chip-equipped Macs. Be warned though, that Kennect said the task is extremely complex and will take quite some time yet.

"So what makes the Drive 2.4 interesting," you ask, after I've rambled on about floppy drives for two paragraphs? As its name suggests the Drive 2.4 can format Macintosh HFS disks to a whopping 2.4 megabytes. None of this nonsense with 800K or even 1.4 MB, these disks come out of the format process with 2383K available for use. Of course the Drive 2.4 can also read and write the normal 800K and 1.4 MB disks. For those of you who are so inclined, the Drive 2.4 can even read and write MS-DOS and ProDOS disks in a variety of sizes. I'll list the possibilities later on, in case you're curious.

 

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