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Stuff That Installer

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There's an odd trend I've been noticing. People have been complaining about StuffIt Deluxe's installer and several months ago, people complained about StuffIt Classic's installer. I thought of writing an article then, but refrained after I downloaded StuffIt Classic and tried it myself. I saw why people might complain - StuffIt creates a bunch of folders and files in the System Folder without being entirely up front about the process - but didn't think that it was that big of a deal. It helped that StuffIt Classic's installer created folders that adhered to Apple's guidelines about where to store preferences and help files. There have also been complaints that StuffIt Classic reports some files as infected by viruses when no virus checking program can confirm the infection. I'd double check with the latest Disinfectant if you run into this.

Now I don't personally use StuffIt Deluxe for various reasons. Nonetheless I was surprised when a number of people claimed that StuffIt Deluxe's installer had created a variant of the so-called "Folder from Hell" problem. If you haven't already heard of the Folder from Hell, it's an empty folder that you cannot throw out without resorting to some ugliness with ResEdit or using Norton Utilities (which doesn't always work either). In this variant, the installer program created multiply-nested folders that could not be thrown out due to a lack of Finder memory (or at least that was what the error message said, and the Mac wasn't admitting to anything else). Backup and reformat time. This sounded like an obscure, if nasty, bug but one which stung a few other people on Usenet, judging from the discussion.

Luckily, Aladdin helped explain the mess. Evidently, the bug is real, but Aladdin can't reproduce it consistently and it has only affected a tiny fraction of the StuffIt Deluxe users. There is an interaction between the installer and a system or toolbox call that handles bad sector information (though some of the people in question checked their disks and found no bad sectors). It's unclear whether the fault is with the installer or with Apple - these things are often hard to pin down completely. I was relieved to hear from the people who had experienced this problem that they were still extremely fond of StuffIt Deluxe despite the installer.

Even better is news from Aladdin that the installer has been rewritten for StuffIt Deluxe 2.0, a free upgrade that Aladdin will release this week. So enough of the bad news, and if you've bought but not installed StuffIt Deluxe 1.0, you might want to register quickly and stick with 2.0 to avoid that 1 in 10,000 chance that your hard disk drew the short straw. StuffIt Deluxe 2.0 will be a significant upgrade to 1.0, but in an extremely nice move, Aladdin is making it a free upgrade. I'm not saying that every company should do that since upgrading programs can be a lot of work, but when I get a free upgrade I usually walk around for a few minutes muttering about how much I like that company.

The top of the list in new features and enhancements includes "tremendous" speed boosts (I'm not touching that one until someone's done a comparison), a "Best Guess" feature for picking the smallest compression format, the ability, as in StuffIt Classic, to create self-unstuffing archives, and a bunch of StuffIt Tools and Optimizers. StuffIt Deluxe is rapidly becoming one of the most heavily accessorized programs, with a whole load of XCMDs, QuicKeys2 extensions, DAs, and who knows what else. I think that's good, although many people will be somewhat overwhelmed by the variety, and there is certainly room for tools that don't come with a catalog of accessories as long as the one that comes with Barbie dolls. One way or another, the upgrade will be showing at Macworld in San Francisco, so check it out if you're there.

Aladdin -- 408/685-9175

Information from:
Bill Johnston -- johnston@oscar.ccm.udel.edu
Marco Gonzalez -- aladdin@well.sf.ca.us
Garance Drosehn -- Garance_Drosehn@mts.rpi.edu
Dave Newman -- daven@svc.portal.com
Leonard Rosenthol -- leonardr@svc.portal.com
Ken Weaverling -- weave@brahms.udel.edu
John Starta -- starta@tosh.UUCP
Ken Hancock -- kenh@hscfsas1.harvard.edu
Rich Holmes -- rsholmes@rodan.acs.syr.edu
Peter Colby -- peter@hari.Viewlogic.COM
Brad Cox -- cox@stepstone.com

 

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