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As we gear up for Macworld Expo in New York, our thoughts turn practical: how can I import Netscape bookmarks into Safari, why use PrintFIX to build ColorSync profiles for printing photos, and what's new in Retrospect 5.1? We also cover Nisus Writer Express 1.0, WorkStrip 3, and Style Master 3, offer additional details about AirPort 3.1 compatibility, and note Jeff Carlson's talk at the Apple Store Bellevue Square on Saturday!
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More Details on AirPort 3.1 Compatibility -- Darn those nit-picking product numbers! Last week I wrote in "AirPort 3.1 Supports Third Party 802.11g PC Cards" that Buffalo Technology's 802.11g PC Card costs about $60 and works with Macs thanks to the AirPort 3.1 update. Alert reader Dale Rice pointed out that Buffalo Technology actually sells two 802.11g PC Cards: the $60 WLI-CB-G54 card is not actually compatible with AirPort 3.1, whereas the $80 WLI-CB-G54A is. Make sure you get the right one!
Dale also noted that he'd seen reports of AirPort 3.1 working with a Belkin 802.11g PC Card. More interesting, for those people who would like to connect a pre-AirPort Extreme Power Mac to an AirPort Extreme network, are anecdotal reports of 802.11g PCI cards from Buffalo Technology (the WLI-PC-G54) and Linksys (the WMP54G) working with AirPort 3.1. The moral of the story would seem to be that compatibility is broad, but check for specific compatibility claims or at least user reports before buying. [ACE]
New Life for Western Civilisation -- Style Master, Western Civilisation's flagship editor for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), has arrived on Mac OS X with version 3 (see "Precision Web Pages with Style Master" in TidBITS-501 for more details). This is not a mere port or carbonization: the program has been completely rewritten, to brilliant effect. Floating windows and dialogs have been replaced by drawers, colorful toolbar icons have been added, and the whole interface has been made more informative and just plain easier. There are no modal dialogs or even OK buttons: as you work in one window, Style Master updates its other windows on the fly. It even provides live reporting of compatibility between your CSS and a dozen common Web browsers. Style Master 3 is a top-notch example of a program that knows the syntax rules of a complicated markup language and mediates between those rules and a clean, clear interface. As a result, the user can create, edit, and preview CSS-based Web pages with no formal knowledge of CSS whatever. A new online manual and CSS tutorial is included. Style Master 3 costs $50 ($30 to upgrade from an earlier version), and a 30-day demo is available as a 4.3 MB download. [MAN]
Nisus Writer Express 1.0 Released -- Nisus Software has thrown its hat into the Mac OS X ring with the release of Nisus Writer Express 1.0, a new Mac OS X word processor. Although this version isn't as full-featured as the company's long-standing Nisus Writer Classic 6.5, it's no slouch. It reads and writes documents in plain text, Microsoft Word, Unicode, RTF, and RTFD formats, and it features non-contiguous text selection and a customizable interface. Fans of the Classic version will appreciate the inclusion of the three-level Find and Replace feature, including regular expressions (grep), and multiple editable clipboards. Nisus Writer Express also provides scripting support using menu scripting, AppleScript, and Perl. Most important, however, is that this version provides a Mac OS X foundation to build upon as future releases come closer to the full power of Nisus Writer Classic. Nisus Writer Express costs $60; licensed users of Nisus Writer 6.0 and later can upgrade for $35 for a limited time. A 3.9 MB demo version is also available for download. [JLC]
Have a Nice Strip -- SoftChaos's WorkStrip 3 is a major upgrade to WorkStrip X (see TidBITS-647). WorkStrip is like having multiple Docks blended with the classic Now Menus; its hierarchical menus and file-list panels are excellent for file navigation and manipulation, and its workspace organization is great for assembling applications, documents, and folders specific to particular projects. This version lists (and can switch to) individual windows of running applications, and its Recent Items feature now tracks documents opened from the Finder and from within applications. (There are exceptions, though; some applications, such as Microsoft Excel, remain opaque to WorkStrip's gaze.) There are many aesthetic and keyboard-shortcut improvements as well. WorkStrip 3 costs about $40 and requires 10.2.4 or later. A 30-day demo is available for download. [MAN]
Jeff Carlson at Apple Store Bellevue Square -- With Adam and Tonya now living in Ithaca, New York, there's no need for other TidBITS staffers to make the trek to New York City for this week's Macworld Expo, which means I miss out on meeting TidBITS readers and rubbing shoulders with thousands of Mac users this time of year. Instead, I'm going to do something more engaging (and with a much better commute). On Saturday, 19-Jul-03, I'll be at the Apple Store Bellevue Square in Bellevue, WA between 10:30 AM and noon to talk about iMovie 3, video editing, and other topics related to my just-released book iMovie 3 for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide. Stop by and chat about video editing or just say hi! [JLC]
by Adam C. Engst <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tomorrow Dantz Development will release Retrospect 5.1 for Macintosh, the latest version of the company's popular and powerful backup software, which we've relied upon for years to help us recover from lost or corrupted files and damaged hard disks. Retrospect 5.1 improves upon the previous version in a number of ways.
New Features -- Most important is that Retrospect 5.1 now ships with a disaster recovery CD-ROM that can boot a Mac OS X machine, thus eliminating one of the big gotchas that has plagued Retrospect users who back up to removable media. The problem is that Retrospect must be running in Mac OS X to restore permissions properly, but the only way to boot into Mac OS X on a machine whose hard disk had been reformatted was to use an external hard disk. The Retrospect 5.1 recovery CD doesn't drop you into the Finder, but instead runs Retrospect so you can initiate a restore and get back to work without having to reinstall Mac OS X from scratch, then restore the rest of your files with Retrospect.
Unfortunately, the Retrospect recovery CD won't solve everyone's problems. Apple doesn't provide any way for bootable CDs to access a network, making the recovery CD useless for restoring from a Retrospect backup server over your network. It's still worth keeping an external utility hard disk around. (See "Configuring a Utility Hard Disk" in TidBITS-672.) Dantz's license with Apple also doesn't let them include Disk Utility, so you'll have to use the Mac OS X Install CD to reformat or repair a problematic hard disk.
Note that Retrospect's disaster recovery CD boots into Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar, and if you use a slot-loading iMac that hasn't had its firmware updated, you could experience the video problems Geoff Duncan explained in "Update Firmware Before Installing Jaguar!" in TidBITS-653. This isn't an entirely theoretical problem - Alsoft's DiskWarrior 3.0 also comes with a bootable Mac OS X CD, and I've seen reports of the problem occurring when someone used that CD to boot an iMac that hadn't been updated. So make sure to update your firmware if you have a slot-loading iMac!
Also new in Retrospect 5.1 is a Retrospect Client application that works in Red Hat Linux to let you back up Red Hat Linux machines to your Macintosh- or Windows-based Retrospect backup server. Other flavors of Linux aren't currently supported, but Dantz is working on adding them for future releases.
People who have struggled with Retrospect's lack of support for specific models of optical drives will particularly appreciate Retrospect 5.1's new optical drive auto-configurator. When Retrospect finds a writable optical drive that it doesn't recognize as a supported model, it interrogates the drive by sending command after command and analyzing the responses. At the end of the process, Retrospect will have built up the necessary set of commands to use the drive for backup, assuming of course that the drive passed all the tests sufficiently well (Retrospect will still refuse to back up to drives that don't pass the necessary tests). In some cases, the configurator may allow use of drives that had previously failed Dantz's in-house testing for the preferred packet-writing method; Retrospect 5.1 can now test for and use a track-at-once writing method, which manufacturers reportedly get correct more often, but which doesn't use space quite as efficiently.
Lastly, although we don't have full details, Retrospect 5.1 reportedly builds in numerous bug fixes and customer requests. One feature I'd like to see still isn't present - the capability for a backup set to span multiple hard disks, just like it can span multiple disks for forms of removable media. Now that I'm using Granite Digital's FireVue hot swappable FireWire drive bays with multiple hard disks, it would be great to be able to treat these hard disks as true removable media in Retrospect, because otherwise my backup sets are limited to the size of the disk.
Pricing and Support -- The most notable pricing change for Retrospect 5.1 is that Dantz has stopped selling the low-end $80 Retrospect Express, which lacked a few of the more powerful features available in other versions of the program, such as the capability to customize selectors and work with Retrospect Client software to back up networked computers. The bottom of the product line will now be occupied by the $130 Retrospect Desktop, which comes with licenses to back up two networked computers with the Retrospect Client. Dantz found that enough homes had multiple computers that most people were paying $50 more for network backup capabilities. Upgrades from either Retrospect Express or Retrospect Desktop 5.0 cost $60.
Retrospect Express isn't exactly going away though, and companies that bundle the product with hardware (such as Maxtor including it with their hard drives) or software (like Symantec bundling it with the just-released Norton SystemWorks 3.0) will continue to do so. The bundled version remains at 5.0 for now; it takes longer to slip a revision into bundling situations.
The more-expensive $500 Retrospect Workgroup and $800 Retrospect Server retain their prices and configurations, with Retrospect Workgroup including 20 licenses for Retrospect Client and Retrospect Server including 100 licenses. Retrospect Server is also necessary for backing up multiple Macs running Mac OS X Server. Upgrades from Retrospect Workgroup 5.0 cost $100, and upgrades from Retrospect Server 5.0 cost $160.
All of these prices are the prices Dantz charges for direct sales; resellers such as TidBITS sponsor Small Dog Electronics offer discounts on new copies and upgrades that range from 30 to 40 percent off the list price. Value-added resellers (consultants who help clients install, configure, and maintain Retrospect) can also sell Retrospect at a discount.
Finally, Dantz has developed a new and significantly cheaper annual support and maintenance plan. For some time now, Dantz has had to charge for tech support calls ($40 per incident for Retrospect Express, $70 for all other versions) because it costs them $30 to have a tech support engineer merely pick up the phone (support via the Web forum remains free). Now people who buy Retrospect Server and Retrospect Workgroup may want to opt for the annual support and maintenance plan. Along with unlimited telephone support, it includes both this upgrade and the next one for free, which makes the $280 cost of the plan for Retrospect Server an easy decision (since upgrading to Retrospect Server 5.1 costs $160, and the next major upgrade will cost at least as much, probably within a year). The plan for Retrospect Workgroup is almost as good, at $200, but it's not particularly worthwhile for Retrospect Desktop, for which the plan costs $180. Dantz expects relatively few consumers to opt for the support and maintenance plan for Retrospect Desktop since it may not pay for itself on the upgrade fees, as it will for the other versions of Retrospect.
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by Adam C. Engst <email@example.com>
The initial beta releases of Apple's Safari Web browser could import bookmarks you had created in Internet Explorer; they appeared as an Imported IE Favorites collection in Safari. This happened the first time you launched Safari; the interface offered no way of importing at a later time.
However, by the time Safari 1.0 shipped at the Worldwide Developer Conference a few weeks ago, Apple had quietly added the capability to import bookmarks from Netscape and Mozilla as well. Again, this happened only the first time Safari was launched after the upgrade. However, for many people, the import process for Netscape and Mozilla bookmarks didn't work due to the technique that Apple uses for finding the location of those bookmarks. This should improve in the future, but if you have bookmarks stored in Netscape or Mozilla and Safari didn't import them into an Imported Netscape/Mozilla Favorites collection, you can use the following technique to bring them into Safari.
Note that there are a wide variety of other techniques for working around this problem, ranging from a simple drag of bookmarks from Netscape or Mozilla into Safari's bookmark view to using a full-fledged bookmark utility like Alco Blom's URL Manager Pro, which can maintain a list of bookmarks that are then accessible to multiple Web browsers (see "Tools We Use: URL Manager Pro" in TidBITS-635 for more details). You can also find utilities that enable Safari's Debug menu and initiate imports from there. But for now, I'm focusing only on showing you how to make Safari's built-in import functionality work.
The Problem -- Netscape and Mozilla both allow you to have profiles that enable multiple users to maintain different account settings, different preferences, and different sets of bookmarks. These profiles are stored in the ~/Library/Mozilla/profiles directory; each profile has its own folder. It turns out that Safari can find bookmarks for profiles stored only in the default profile folder, which must be named "default". If you've named your profile in any other way, Safari will fail quietly. It's not clear how common it is to have profiles with other names; the entire issue arose because the profiles I'd created had names like "Adam's Default Profile" and "Default User", neither of which worked.
The Solution -- If you find yourself in this boat, follow these steps to convince Safari to import your Netscape or Mozilla bookmarks (they're the same, since Netscape is based on the Mozilla code).
Quit Safari and Netscape or Mozilla, if they're running.
Locate your profile folder in
~/Library/Mozilla/profiles (the profiles folder inside the Mozilla folder in your user's Library folder). Rename that folder from whatever it is to "default" (no quotes, all lowercase). Remember the original name for later.
~/Library/Preferences, open the
com.apple.Safari.plist file in a text editor like BBEdit, or, if you have it installed, in Apple's Property List Editor utility.
Search for "Netscape" and in the line following:
<key>NetscapeAndMozillaFavoritesWereImported</key>, change "true" to "false". Save and quit.
Launch Safari, and from the Bookmarks menu, choose Show All Bookmarks. If everything has worked, you should have an Imported Netscape/Mozilla Favorites collection.
Back in the Finder, rename your Netscape/Mozilla profile folder back to what it was originally (this step may not be absolutely necessary, but it's best to avoid confusing Netscape or Mozilla).
Soon to Be Unnecessary -- Apple is undoubtedly working to resolve this issue, so a future version of Safari should make these steps unnecessary for those people who have Netscape or Mozilla profiles that don't use the name default. In the meantime, this simple process will help you avoid the tedium of moving bookmarks over manually.
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by Keith Cooper <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the first installment of this article I discussed some of the advantages that, as a Mac user, you receive from having ColorSync on your machine (see "Improving Your Mac's Colour" in TidBITS-687). The color profiles that come with your printer are often quite good, but are really intended only for use with the manufacturer's own inks and papers. For best results the profile must be matched to each ink/paper/printer combination you use. How do you acquire these custom profiles? You can pay a professional to generate profiles for you, or you can generate your own, as I did recently with a product called PrintFIX. What follows may seem complex, but don't forget that, once created, custom profiles can benefit an iPhoto user just as much as a pro photographer.
Where Do Printer Profiles Come From? The profile for any particular ink/paper combination is specific to an individual printer. If you print out a test image containing many known colours and then measure the results, you can build up a translation table between what you want and what you printed (part of the profile). To build an accurate profile you need lots of coloured patches and a highly accurate means of measuring them. There are specialists who can make profiles for you, such as Pixl.
Accurate hardware for colour measurement is not cheap, and profile building requires skill and expertise. If you are planning to make lots of prints with a particular printer/ink/paper combination, it's worthwhile to look at having a professional profile made. They'll send you a target file (or files) containing lots of coloured test patches. After you print and return the results, they'll build your custom profile and send it back to you for use with your printing setup.
PrintFIX: Do It Yourself Profiles -- As a photographer and teacher, however, I was looking for a cheaper way of profiling that I could also use to demonstrate some of the principles of colour management to my students. A number of solutions are available, but most cost more than I was willing to pay. Instead, I tested out ColorVision's $350 PrintFIX printer profiling system. It is a combination of software and a small USB-based scanner that scans test print patches that you've printed on your target printer with a your chosen ink and paper. It works as a plug-in from within Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (the pair of which I'll refer to as Photoshop for brevity).
ColorVision lists currently supported printers - generally higher end Epson color inkjets - on their Web site (check the Requirements tab in the page linked above). Beware - if your printer is not supported, the PrintFIX solution won't work! Fortunately there is a form on the ColorVision Web site where you can suggest models for them to support.
Using the PrintFIX plug-in, you select and print one of the supplied target images, which contains 729 tiny colour patches. After the print has dried, you run it through the PrintFIX scanner to create a scanned image in Photoshop of how the printer reproduced the 729 different colours. To build your profile, the software compares this image to what it knows should have been produced.
To illustrate this process, consider what happens with one individual colour patch. The original target color (it's what we are aiming for - hence the term "target") in our example is a particular bright red. The printer lays down what it believes are the appropriate inks on the paper you've chosen, creating a reddish patch on the paper. PrintFIX compares the color value from the scan with the values it expects to find from that patch to arrive at one sample of how the printer represents the colours it is given. Replicating this process for each of the 729 color patches provides the information for the software to make a profile.
After the PrintFIX software has done its job, it invites you to name your new profile. You may be producing several prints and profiles to refine the accuracy of the devices, so give the profile a meaningful name. Then, quit and restart Photoshop so it recognizes your new profile. If you like, you can use the ColorSync Utility (detailed in last week's article) to view your new profile. It will probably appear as a somewhat different shape when compared with the manufacturer's profiles, partly due to the fact that it shows the range of colours that your printer/ink/paper combination can actually represent, as opposed to the manufacturer's predictions.
The Results -- PrintFIX includes a convenient test image for you to test your profile. At this stage it's best to use one like this rather than a photo of your own, since a lot of work has gone into making this particular test image extremely accurate. The test image is akin to a complex version of the old TV test card; it has objects and people on it to provide a range of tones and colours that will highlight any deficiencies in your printer. A copy of the royalty-free test image (a 630K download) is available at the link below if you want to see how well your current printer handles it.
Using an Epson Stylus Photo 1290S printer, I compared the same print on Epson Premium Glossy Photo Paper using first the Epson PGPP profile and then my custom PrintFIX profile. I also compared two versions of the same print on a generic matte photo paper using the Epson Photo paper profile and another custom PrintFIX profile.
Overall, both PrintFIX profiles were better than the Epson profiles. The saturation of colors was excellent, with yellows in particular being much better than the Epson profiles. The PrintFIX results weren't perfect, though, looking slightly too green in the highlights and a little light, compared to the image on my calibrated monitor and how I thought the picture should look. The deficiencies were minor though, and by going back to my scanned target image I was able to make minor adjustments to the PrintFIX software's profile generation settings to clean up the profile. (For more results, with pictures, visit the page at my Web site linked below.)
PrintFIX Conclusions -- I was happy with most of my custom profiles after a minimal amount of tweaking. To achieve the best print results with third party inks and papers you need a custom profile, and PrintFIX didn't let me down. I tested several generic papers and got noticeably better results than using any of the profiles from the printer manufacturers. I will be using it as part of my photography teaching, where being able to make and use a profile should help explain some aspects of colour management, which is one of the harder concepts for students to grasp when moving to digital photography.
I can see the PrintFIX as a useful resource for photo clubs, enabling people to try out profiling on their own printers. It would also be perfect for testing new printer/ink/paper combinations for short print runs, where the expense of creating a custom professional profile is not justified.
One downside is that black and white printing can be somewhat hit-and-miss. Creating good black and white profiles (neutral greys) requires extremely precise measurement with accurate equipment, which ColorVision freely acknowledges is beyond the capabilities of PrintFIX. You might get a good greyscale, but then again you might not. Since much of my photography is black and white, I have another printer set aside for black and white, using specialized inks.
If accuracy is all-important and you will be producing large numbers of prints on the same printer with the same ink and paper, you can't beat buying a good profile from a reputable profile maker.
Through 30-Sep-03, ColorVision is bundling a copy of its DoctorPRO software with the PrintFIX package. DoctorPRO offers considerably more advanced adjustment of profiles, but requires a much greater level of Photoshop expertise and understanding of colour management. (See the extended PrintFIX coverage on my site for more details about DoctorPRO.)
Getting Your Colour Fix -- Despite the fact that you can pay hundreds of dollars for a custom profile built by a professional, profile building is not an arcane guild secret. Thanks to PrintFIX, it's possible to create very good profiles with a do-it-yourself approach. Certainly, any potential purchaser should have realistic expectations and be aware of the product's limitations, but it is reassuring to see that ColorVision offers a money-back guarantee. So, if you're not happy with the colour of the photos you're printing, I'd encourage you to learn a little more about the world of colour management (try these Web sites below) and see if you can use the PrintFIX to create your own custom profiles.
[Keith Cooper is a photographer and long time Mac consultant. He also teaches photography and digital imaging to adult classes. More photography and Mac information can be found at his Web site.]
by TidBITS Staff <email@example.com>
TidBITS Ice Cream Social 2003 -- If you'll be in New York City on Tuesday, 15-Jul-03, and want to meet me and other TidBITS readers, come by the TidBITS Ice Cream Social at 8 PM at the Paramount Hotel. Details below. (1 message)
Reselling an iPod -- Want to resell your iPod and buy a new one? Read this for information on how to wipe the old one clean first. (2 messages)
Moving virtual memory swap files -- The discussions of optimizing hard disks morphed into a question of whether or not you can improve performance by moving Mac OS X's virtual memory swap files to another disk or partition. (17 messages)
iBook battery problems -- Recent versions of Mac OS X 10.2.x have seemingly caused and resolved problems with iBook batteries, so this thread is worth a read if you're having battery problems of any sort. Unfortunately, none of the suggestions have helped Adam resurrect his blueberry iBook's battery. (10 messages)
Software Update operations -- Two facts of note: Software Update can operate fully only when an admin user is logged in, and there's a command line version that's also available. (4 messages)
More on color management -- Readers chime in with additional details on Keith Cooper's article on color management. (4 messages)
iTunes Music Store exclusive CD -- Apple scores an exclusive CD for the iTunes Music Store - the soundtrack to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Of course, if you want to buy a physical CD, there's still an option for that too. (2 messages)
Reading TidBITS on the Palm -- Lots of different methods of reading issues of TidBITS on Palm OS handhelds, including a four-year-old conversion service from Dave Charlesworth. (7 messages)
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