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Apple and Adobe helped us fill this issue with big announcements. Adobe today announced Adobe Creative Suite 2.3, replacing GoLive CS2 with Dreamweaver 8 and upgrading Acrobat Professional to version 8.0. But the bigger news was that Apple last week introduced a new video-enabled iPod, iPod nano, and a much-smaller iPod shuffle before pulling back the curtain on iTunes 7 and the capability to purchase and download full-length movies from the iTunes Store. And then, in a rare pre-announcement, Steve Jobs demonstrated iTV, a set-top box to stream video content to your television. We have a rundown of all the news, plus a look at the HDMI video connections that may play a key role in the iTV. Lastly, Adam relates a truly wacky importing feature hidden deep within iPhoto 6.

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Apple Updates iPods, Introduces Movies, Previews iTV

  by TidBITS Staff <>

At Apple's "It's Showtime!" special event last week, CEO Steve Jobs led off by introducing a slate of revised iPods that retain the existing model names. He also introduced, as widely expected, movies to the iTunes Store, along with a new version of iTunes to manage it all. And in an unusual move for Apple, he pre-announced a wireless set-top box - code-named iTV - scheduled to ship in the first quarter of 2007. In order, then...

New iPods -- The model with the least amount of change is the video-capable iPod, which retains the same design (available in black and white) as the previous version. However, Apple has improved battery life, claiming up to 3.5 hours of video playback, up from 2 hours, or up to 20 hours of music playback. The screen is also now 60 percent brighter. The iPod is available in a 30 GB version for $250 or an 80 GB version for $350; those prices, incidentally, are $50 cheaper than the previous models, which offered 30 GB and 60 GB capacities.

Apple's most successful music player, the iPod nano, arrived in a passel of colors: green, silver, black, blue, and pink, all of which are now anodized aluminum instead of plastic and evoke the look of the late iPod mini. The screen is 40 percent brighter than previous models, and Apple claims up to 24 hours of battery life for music playback. The iPod nano comes in a 2 GB capacity for $150, 4 GB for $200, and 8 GB for $250. However, Apple continues to be selective about its color offerings: the 2 GB model is available only in silver, and the 8 GB model is available only in black; the 4 GB model comes in silver, green, blue, and pink.

The iPod shuffle, which gives Apple a low-end answer to those competing MP3 players that haven't yet been crushed, is now available in a single 1 GB model for $80. The iPod shuffle is quite a bit smaller now - 1.62 inches (4.11 cm) wide by 1.07 inches (2.72 cm) tall - and its white exterior has been replaced with an aluminum skin with a built-in clip for attaching to clothing. It will ship in October.

(It's also worth noting that the packaging for the iPod nano and iPod shuffle is much smaller than in the past, a waste reduction move we applaud.)

The new iPod and iPod nano both have a new "instant search" feature that uses the click-wheel to cycle through letters of the alphabet to spell the start of a song or artist. Also new are games: iPod users can now download a variety of casual games from the iTunes Store for $5 each. Games currently available include Tetris, Vortex, Pac-Man, Cubis 2, Zuma, Texas Hold'em, Mini Golf, Mahjong, and Bejeweled. Although the search feature is available only on these newest iPods, the previous 5G iPod is also compatible with the games. Games cannot be played in iTunes.

iTunes 7 -- As expected in situations that involve changes to the iTunes Store, Apple also rolled out a major update to iTunes. On launch, iTunes 7 alerts you to a welcome new feature - automatic addition of album art to songs already in your library. Then iTunes updates your library, presumably just transitioning to a new database format internally, followed by a long pass to identify songs that need the new "gapless playback" assigned to them. It turns out that gapless playback is always on in iTunes 7. Songs that aren't gapless usually have a little dead air at the beginning or the end of the encoding, which remains (and if they lack that dead air, the transition between songs still usually sounds fine). Truly gapless songs have sound from the start to the end of the file, so the identification pass looks at each file to determine exactly when the audible data starts to eliminate a very slight bit of dead air that occurs when the audio decoder is starting up. You can continue working while gapless playback identification is happening, luckily, since it's quite slow.

iTunes 7 features some new navigational tools that should make it easier to work through the different types of media that have become commonplace in the program. The source pane now has different sections with all-cap headings for Library, Store, and Playlists; Devices shows up when an iPod is connected. Library includes entries for Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, Audiobooks, and Radio (in fact, iPod Games can appear there too, and all the items are optional). Store has the iTunes Store link, along with the Purchased playlist. And Playlists holds your playlists. Gone are the buttons at the top of the screen that let you, for instance, select between TV shows and music videos when the Videos source item was selected.

More striking, though somewhat less functional, are the three views: list, grouped, and Cover Flow, controlled by buttons to the left of the Search field. List view is what we've all become accustomed to. Grouped view collects songs by album and TV episodes by show, showing the artwork to the left of the group; it's not available for podcasts or radio. Cover Flow provides a new, resizable pane that displays album covers as though they were CD cases standing on a highly reflective black table. The contents of the center-most item in the fanned-out list show in a list view below, and a horizontal scroll bar lets you flip rapidly through your collection; sorting the list (by clicking a column heading) changes the items in the artwork pane, too. It's eye candy, to be sure, but we anticipate it being useful when you want to browse randomly through your music collection. In an interesting and unusual move for Apple, Cover Flow was purchased from independent developer Jonathan del Strother.

If you don't have artwork for many of your albums, never fear, because Apple now makes album art available for your music for free, even for previously ripped albums (although the selection is limited to songs in the iTunes Store catalog). If you used a utility to snag low-res album art already, you may want to delete it first by selecting multiple items, choosing File > Get Info, selecting the Artwork checkbox (but don't put anything in it), and then clicking OK. Once that's done, Control-click the selected items again and choose Get Album Artwork. (The Clear Downloaded Artwork command currently works only on artwork downloaded from Apple.)

Functionally speaking, iTunes 7 brings one extremely welcome feature, though with an unfortunate limitation. If you've wanted to synchronize music or videos between computers using your iPod in the past, you've been out of luck (although various third party utilities made this possible). iTunes 7 now synchronizes purchased content between computers, so if you download a song or TV show on one computer, plugging the iPod into another authorized computer makes it possible to copy the content to that computer. While this is a promising feature, it works only with purchased content, not with music you've ripped from your own CDs.

As far as we can tell, iTunes 7 in no way improves the situation of a family that wants to have a single music archive that's shared by multiple computers. Built-in sharing works poorly because only one computer can make playlists, rate songs, and so on, and maintaining a shared music folder on a centralized server works acceptably, but each computer must add new music manually. The one new feature here is that iTunes now supports multiple libraries like iPhoto does; hold down the Option key when launching iTunes to create or switch between libraries. The only real utility we can see to this feature, though, is having a relatively small library on a laptop for traveling, but having another library that points at a shared storage folder when you're at home.

In a nice touch, iTunes now provides a tabbed iPod summary page that summarizes all the information about your iPod, including name, free space, serial number, contents, and so on. (Click the Capacity bar to toggle between viewing space used and number of items.) Plus, iTunes now handles iPod software updates, eliminating the awkward iPod Updater utility and the need to download updates for iPod models you don't own.

iTunes Store -- As expected, Steve Jobs's "One more thing..." announcement was indeed the addition of movies to the iTunes Store (note that Apple dropped "Music" from the name). Jobs announced that the iTunes Store now carries 75 films from Disney, Pixar, Touchstone, and Miramax, all of which are owned by Disney. He also promised that Apple would be adding movies every week, although the real question is whether Apple will be able to negotiate agreements with other movie studios. For now, the movies are available only in the United States, with international distribution anticipated for 2007.

In terms of pricing, most older movies are $10, with new releases priced at $13 for pre-orders and the first week of distribution, after which they'll jump to $15. Prices are comparable to the new Amazon Unbox Video service announced last week. Amazon Unbox Video has a larger selection from studios other than those Disney owns, but it's a moot point for Mac users, since Amazon's service uses Windows Media Player's digital rights management, which isn't compatible with Macs or iPods.

The movies are encoded in what Apple calls "near DVD quality" and have Dolby surround audio, although we'll leave it to others to wrangle about just how good that really is and whether Apple made the right tradeoffs of quality versus download size. Download time will be slow, for sure, though the details will depend on variables other than just size. TV shows are now encoded at 640 by 480 pixels, up from 320 by 240.

Videos require QuickTime 7.1.3, also released last week, which includes a number of security fixes for maliciously crafted movies that could cause crashes. It's available for Mac OS X 10.3.9 and later, and is a 48 MB download from Apple's Web site or via Software Update.

These full-length movie purchases have the same limitations as video shorts, music videos, and other visual content: unlike iTunes Store audio purchases, they cannot be burned to disc in a playable format. With music and the online store, burning to an audio CD format was the one way out of the digital rights management world of Apple's FairPlay technology. With video, you can make backups of the files - something that's extremely tedious with DVDs - but you can't play the files anywhere but within iTunes for Mac OS X and Windows and on an iPod. (iTunes 7 now prompts you to back up purchased content after it downloads; the warning can be disabled. Also, a new Back Up to Disc command can be found under the File menu.)

Movies also appear to arrive without extras. For instance, "The Incredibles" has a variety of features and shorts on the DVD that's sold in stores. Those extras aren't noted in any fashion at Apple's store. sells the full-screen 2-disc set for $18 and free domestic shipping; Apple charges $13 (for the first week, then $15), but you appear to get only the movie. Further, the DVD version has English, French, and Spanish subtitles and audio, plus audio commentary (two separate ones). That's a potentially significant difference between the DVD and the download version for some people.

iTV Sneak Peek -- Playing with the "one more thing" myth, Jobs paused after introducing the addition of movies to the iTunes Store, said, "One last thing..." and introduced the iTV, a wireless set-top box scheduled to ship sometime in the first quarter of 2007 for $300. The iTV, whose name Jobs said would be changing, is aimed at playing all those videos you watch not just on your computer or iPod, but also on that big flat-screen TV you bought after reading Clark Humphrey's "Take Control of Digital TV." You can certainly hook up a Mac to the TV, but it's inelegant, particularly with all the cabling that's necessary. In essence, the iTV seems to be a super-duper AirPort Express, at least in terms of media sharing and playback.

The iTV looks like a flattened Mac mini, with wired and wireless networking, USB 2.0, HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface), component video, analog audio, and optical audio interfaces. Its software interface is highly reminiscent of Front Row, providing access to movies, TV shows, music, podcasts, and photos and driven via an Apple Remote. The HDMI interface is crucial, since it allows high-resolution digital video data to pass through to the TV in an encrypted form. The movie studios have used HDMI to prevent identical copies of their movies from being pushed out digitally from DVD players. But the use of HDMI also means that only certain approved digital video playing devices can use those high resolutions.

Although no discussion of hard drives or optical drives happened during the keynote, the iTV may need some form of cache storage to support playing video from "selected" Internet sites - and we'd love to hear what "selected" means beyond "it can play QuickTime movie trailers from Apple's site." We'd like to see a YouTube channel, for instance. The lack of a DVD drive is particularly disappointing, because it means that a separate Mac, PC, or DVD player will be needed for DVDs that you might want to view in the same environment. In our view, the iTV should act like a sophisticated media adapter, and thus it would be nice to wire more inputs into it, so only its output would be fed to your TV and stereo system.

Questions we expect to be answered in the coming months are whether the iTV can pool video and audio from all computers on a local network, or whether limits apply based on iTunes Store authorization and the irritating restriction on how many different users can connect to a copy of iTunes to share music in a given 24-hour period. Also available for discussion is how multiple iTVs would be managed in a home - we expect they'd be addressable by name, just like the AirPort Express and its music streaming feature.

It's Not Your Parents' (or Even Your) Television

  by Glenn Fleishman <>

Moderately buried in Apple's iTV announcement last week was the peculiar fact that the future streaming media adapter offers only component and HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) video output. These two methods of encoding video seemed a little exotic to me, who only recently upgraded the family 19-inch tube TV (10 years old, and failing) to a 20-inch Dell LCD with DVI and what I considered standard video input - a single round plug.

But I'm just out of sync with the rest of the consumer video world, as I suspect many of you are, too. HDMI, I knew, is common on almost all high-definition television (HDTV) sets; it's a superset of the DVI (Digital Video Interface) standard used for external displays. HDMI incorporates comprehensive audio support that DVI lacks, and using a separate standard, it can encrypt digital video and audio to transmit from one licensed device to another, such as between a DVD player and an HDTV set. This is a part of movie studios' and other video copyright holders' digital rights management (DRM) requirement for "allowing" digital copies of their work to be distributed. (All home entertainment equipment with HDMI interfaces deliver the highest resolutions of digital content using encryption. Non-restricted analog outputs are purposely downsampled or degraded to eliminate copying. There are efforts afoot to block unrestricted use of these analog outputs from digital devices, too!)

Component video is analog, but considered quite high in quality. In consumer component video, three separate video cables carry the signal. One carries luminance information, which is a combination of brightness (the amount of light energy) and detail. Another cable carries the red component without the luminance values, and a third carries blue minus luminance. Green is inferred from the three components. Because of this separation, images are crisper with more accurate color.

Composite video is what we're all used to, in which chrominance (color) and luminance are combined, forming something that's rather muddy in comparison, but which uses a single cable. This encoding method is the U.S. NTSC standard, which has long been referred to as "Never The Same Color" for its erratic fidelity. The other dominant standard elsewhere in the world is PAL, which is similar.

Although I purchased a relatively recent LCD monitor designed to play video, it turns out that I was already behind the times (though in my defense, my Dell is a computer monitor that I'm using as a television, not a dedicated LCD TV). I checked prices at Crutchfield, a well-regarded online audio/video store, and their least-expensive LCD television set - a $350 15-inch Samsung - supports composite and component video, as well as S-Video and VGA (listed as "PC Input"). (S-Video uses a plug similar to that found on the old ADB (Apple Desktop Bus) keyboard and mouse cables, and is better than composite but not nearly as good as component.)

To check on pricing for a TV with HDMI, I used Crutchfield's link to narrow choices to just displays with that interface; it must be a common search request. Their least-expensive HDMI-bearing set is a Westinghouse 27-inch LCD HDTV for $700; it includes HDMI and two separate component video inputs, composite and S-Video, DVI, and VGA.

While these aren't expensive options, if you already own a perfectly good TV receiver or LCD monitor for video playback, why buy a new set? Wouldn't a converter work? Unfortunately, no. There's ostensibly no legal way to unwrap the encryption from an HDMI stream and extract the digital content to encode in different ways, such as DVI. Thus, you won't find an adapter for that - and any adapter would require a computer to handle decryption and re-encoding. Component-to-composite conversion, whether S-Video or the single-plug RCA style, requires an NTSC or PAL encoder to change out the video encoding. I've found units for professionals starting over $300, which makes little sense for home users.

Apple has definitely aimed the iTV at early adopters, and it will push some people with older sets over the edge to buy newer ones with the appropriate inputs. That will make consumer electronics makers happy, too, and for all we know Apple is planning an iHDTV that will work directly with the iTV and other products. Remember that most devices called set-top boxes are also TV and cable tuners.

There's another factor at work here, too, which is that component and HDMI encoding make it difficult for an average consumer to extract and record digital video outside of Apple's DRM approach in iTV. Spending some money enables you to record from the component outputs at a decent quality - unless there's some kind of Macrovision or other watermarking code that will be sent out to distort or prevent analog component recording.

But iTV has encoded in its hardware design the notion that, unlike audio, there are a couple of approved and specific ways of viewing video from the adapter. Not including composite output is likely Apple's way of providing yet another sop to the industry that they must simultaneously court and cajole into releasing more digital content to a wider audience.

Hidden iPhoto Import Capability

  by Adam C. Engst <>

This iPhoto trick is truly weird, but it works. It turns out, according to a tip published on, that iPhoto 6 can directly see photos on at least some digital cameras and memory cards. All you have to do is connect your camera to your Mac, or put a memory card in a reader. In iPhoto's Import screen, don't click the Import button, but instead press Return twice. After a moment, iPhoto switches into edit mode, displaying the photos on the camera or card instead of those in the iPhoto Library. Press Escape at that point and you switch to organize mode, with blank thumbnails displayed; double-clicking a thumbnail loads it in edit mode again.

You can't edit the photos, but you can, if you're using the Edit Photos in Main Screen option in iPhoto, drag the blank thumbnails to your Library to import the actual photos. Unfortunately, on at least some cameras and cards, the photo dates are lost (mine came in as 31-Dec-00) so it's not a good replacement for Apple's own Image Capture utility for selective import, something that iPhoto has long lacked, embarrassingly enough.

It makes perfect sense that the thumbnails don't appear, since iPhoto normally creates separate thumbnail files when it imports photos, and that step hasn't happened yet. There's no reason it couldn't use a technique like the one in Image Capture, which can display thumbnails before import, so perhaps we're seeing code aimed at creating a selective import feature that didn't make the cut for iPhoto 6.

For what it's worth, Apple, here's how a selective import feature should work. When the user connects a camera or inserts a memory card, iPhoto should launch and display the Import screen as it does now. However, it should fill it with thumbnails of all the photos and movies on the camera. Clicking the Import button would still import everything (and the user shouldn't be forced to wait for all the thumbnails to draw before being able to click Import). But the user should also be able to select an arbitrary set of photos and drag them to the Library to import, or to an album to import and add to that album. If the user later does a full import, iPhoto should recognize that any previously imported photos are duplicates, as it does now, and prompt about importing them again.

GoLive Booted from Adobe Creative Suite, Acrobat 8 Released

  by Glenn Fleishman <>

The fate of Web design and management tool Adobe GoLive has been sealed: the program has been booted from Creative Suite, Adobe's bundle of applications designed for print and electronic production professionals. Dreamweaver 8 will replace GoLive CS2 in version 2.3 of Creative Suite, which also has been updated to include Acrobat 8 Professional, announced today and shipping in November. Adobe expects to ship the CS 2.3 bundle in the fourth quarter of 2006.

Adobe acquired Dreamweaver as part of the Adobe-Macromedia merger last year. Dreamweaver has long been viewed as the tool of choice for creating interactive Web sites that incorporate rich media, database content, and scripting with PHP. GoLive was preferred by designers for its integration with Photoshop, direct support for Acrobat internal linking and PDF creation, and ease of use.

In June, I described a leak that had occurred when an Adobe Europe product manager seemed to be saying that both GoLive and illustration program FreeHand would be dropped. After further examination across three languages and a statement from Adobe, it was clear that GoLive and FreeHand wouldn't be part of Adobe's core programs, but would still be developed. (Today's announcements included no news about FreeHand.)

Adobe says that GoLive will continue to be developed as a standalone program, although it's unclear to what audience it would appeal. Credible rumors indicate GoLive may be revamped to be a friendlier Web design tool, with a focus on entry-level users.

The other update to the Creative Suite is the refresh of Acrobat, now at version 8, which is also offered in a variety of versions. New features are a grab bag of miscellaneous items, many of which are only of interest to users in particular industries. Of note, however, is the capability to remove any hidden metadata, layers, and other invisible information that could reveal more than you want, and "redaction" tools that permanently delete text and images from a PDF file. Acrobat 8 Professional will also allow shared PDF commenting and mark-up among a workgroup.

Adobe has slapped the Acrobat name on the latest version of Macromedia Breeze, now known as Acrobat Connect. Connect is a meeting tool, much like WebX or NetMeeting, that enables all kinds of media - PDFs, images, video - to be pushed to all participants. The basic version allows hosted meetings of up to 15 people with limited media use; a Professional version can be installed on a company's own servers with no preset attendee limit. The Professional version contains a full suite of tools for media sharing, voice over IP, and a variety of reporting tools. The hosted version of Connect ships in November, along with the rest of the Acrobat suite; the Professional version is expected in December.

Creative Suite 2.3 has a street price of $1,200 for the premium edition, which includes Acrobat 8 Professional and Dreamweaver. Existing CS2 owners can pay $160 for an upgrade. Owners of any other version or edition of Creative Suite can pay $550 for a full upgrade. Acrobat 8 Professional will cost $450, with upgrades for many previous editions costing $160. Acrobat 8 Standard runs $300, with a variety of upgrades at $100. Acrobat Connect will cost $40 per month per user for the basic hosted version; pricing for the on-site professional flavor wasn't announced. The basic Acrobat Connect will have a free trial running from its release through the end of the year.

Staff Roundtable -- We're trying something a little different with this article. Rather than attempt to have one person integrate into the article the kind of internal discussion that inevitably takes place after an announcement of this ilk, we thought we'd let you listen in on our more trenchant thoughts and comments. Glenn and Jeff have significant background with GoLive, having written three editions of "Real World Adobe GoLive," whereas Adam has spent vast amounts of time in Acrobat Professional fiddling with PDF files for Take Control.

[Glenn Fleishman]: Despite an extremely talented group of people who have been developing GoLive since its CyberStudio days before the Adobe acquisition, the program faltered by release 6.0 several years ago and never recovered its position relative to Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver outpaced GoLive on integrated handling of scripts and database results, while GoLive could only marginally handle these tasks. GoLive 6 included a lot of database integration and scripting preview tools that were all abandoned in GoLive CS, along with any hope of competing directly with Dreamweaver. It's been clear since about 2002 that Adobe management was putting substantially fewer resources behind GoLive than Macromedia was putting behind Dreamweaver. GoLive was never a flagship Adobe product, while Macromedia positioned Dreamweaver alongside Director and Flash as a critical tool.

As for Acrobat, it's becoming ever harder for a mature product to learn new tricks. Much of Adobe's focus in recent years has been the split focus of improving workflow for print production, in which a PDF file is not just an intermediate stage, but is the intermediate and end stage from which the final piece is produced; and workgroup collaboration, where comments and markup are allowed within PDF files so that groups never need to print anything out. Version 8 continues along those lines but seems to offer little that's remarkable, other than perhaps the improved security features.

One might call the "redaction" feature the "oops, we thought it was a Sharpie" feature. Many documents have been converted from, say, Microsoft Word into PDF and then had black marks placed over sensitive areas. But any Acrobat Professional user could remove the black marks to view the underlying text. No more. Deleted items will now be entirely removed from the PDF.

[Jeff Carlson]: I think GoLive is dead, despite Adobe's words. While Adobe continues to claim ongoing development, pulling GoLive out of the Creative Suite is almost certainly a death knell for the program; most people are using it because it's part of Creative Suite (with some others sticking with it from pure inertia). That said, I'm sure some designers will stick with GoLive (assuming it's updated and not turned into something else) because they've developed a familiarity with it, have built templates with it, and otherwise grok its interface - a significant feat. But if I were currently making my living in GoLive, today's announcement would have sealed the long-pondered decision to switch to Dreamweaver.

[Adam C. Engst]: I'm uninterested in GoLive and Dreamweaver, since I decided long ago that learning one of them wasn't really any easier than learning HTML and CSS and working in BBEdit or the text editor of my choice. What interests me more is the announcement of Acrobat 8, since we rely heavily on Acrobat for our Take Control ebooks. From the sound of the press release, Adobe has focused on simplifying Acrobat's interface and enhancing its collaboration tools, which sounds nice, but I'm reserving judgment until I see if they've exorcised the numerous devils in their details.

Using Acrobat Professional to work with PDFs is largely an exercise in constant irritation. For instance, to add a line of linked red text to the bottom of every page, as I do when creating samples of our ebooks, I can create a footer fairly easily, but I must manually change the color of each line to red (because Acrobat doesn't provide color controls for footer text), and I must manually paste and move a copied link into place on each page (since Acrobat doesn't allow footers to contain links, and since pasted links always appear in the middle of the page, rather than in the same relative location as the copied source link). Is it any wonder people create such lousy PDFs when the preeminent tool for working with PDFs makes such simple tasks so difficult? My fingers are crossed for Adobe to get it right with Acrobat 8, but I'm not hopeful, given the number of years they've gotten it wrong so far.

[Glenn Fleishman]: Adam's lack of interest in graphical front ends to Web page building and management highlights one of the key reasons why Dreamweaver has done so well. Most Web sites of any scale now aren't a random collection of individually edited pages. Just like TidBITS and our Web Crossing solution, and, in fact, most blogs, sites are constructed around database-driven templates, which are often extremely difficult to preview outside of specialized tools or a Web page used to edit the template and then view the results. Dreamweaver has reasonable support for previewing scripts, but it is also extensible. What a truly useful Web editing tool would offer now is not just the capability to write and preview in templates - GoLive CS2 has some limited support for Movable Type's format - but the simplicity to write one's own modules to work with programs like Web Crossing that aren't popular enough to warrant direct support. With that kind of support, you could have the power of a visual editor that manages Cascading Style Sheets and helps ensure consistency across all the pages in a site, while still having the power of template-based page creation.

Take Control News/18-Sep-06

  by Adam C. Engst <>

Learn More with the "Macworld Mac Basics Superguide" -- It's time for a Mac quiz! (Answers below.)

  1. How do you change the default look for all Finder windows?
  2. How do you make the Dock invisible?
  3. How do you switch to a different user account without logging out?
  4. How do you quit an application that's frozen and not responding?

If you're uncertain as to the answers to any of these questions, allow us to recommend the just-released "Macworld Mac Basics Superguide," a 78-page ebook from Macworld created in part by TidBITS and Take Control authors. Written in a friendly question-and-answer format, the $12.95 ebook helps you find your way in Mac OS X, use the Dock, set System Preferences, set up and switch among user accounts, work with applications and documents, search your Mac, keep your Mac secure, troubleshoot problems, and get started with bundled Mac OS applications. Every Mac user should know (or would at least benefit from knowing) this information.

Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking, "But I'm a raging thunder lizard when it comes to Macintosh expertise. I edit plists in pico. Heck, I boot into Open Firmware for fun!" I'm sure that's all true, but unless you're also a tremendously patient and giving thunder lizard, helping all your less-experienced friends and relatives probably takes valuable time away from making sure your Web site validates as XHTML Strict. Point them toward this ebook or buy it for them (there's no nasty DRM that prevents you from buying a copy for someone else), and you won't have to answer a whole slew of entirely reasonable questions about things you learned years ago. (Plus, there's a discount off "Take Control of Maintaining Your Mac" they can use to keep their Macs running more smoothly and further reduce your tech support load.)


  1. Choose File > New Finder Window (Command-N), set it exactly the way you want without selecting any file or folder inside, and close it. (Remember that there's an option in the Finder's General preference pane to open all new windows in column view; it overrides other views if selected.)
  2. Choose Apple Menu > Dock > Turn Dock Hiding On (Command-Option-D).
  3. Turn on Fast User Switching in the Accounts preference pane, and then use the Fast User Switching menu in the menu bar.
  4. Force quit it by choosing Apple Menu > Force Quit (Command-Option-Escape), selecting the frozen app and clicking Force Quit. Or, click and hold on the app's Dock icon and choose Force Quit from the menu that appears.

Hot Topics in TidBITS Talk/18-Sep-06

  by TidBITS Staff <>

Changing file formats by changing file names -- BBEdit 8.5 can compress a document into gzipped format merely by saving the file with a .gz or .gzip extension. Is this capability a valuable convenience or potentially dangerous meddling? (3 messages)

FTP client comparison? Readers look at the various File Transfer Protocol applications and debate the usefulness of their features. (13 messages)

Building a Mac Media Center -- As a reader prepares to move into a new house, the question of how to set up a second TV and audio system arises. Which hardware to use? And what's up with a Mac version of TiVo2Go? (12 messages)

Microsoft Word Document Compatibility -- To maintain the best compatibility with Windows users running Word, do you need to buy the latest version of Word for the Mac? (13 messages)

Email-only hosting -- Readers suggest email service providers, and also explore hosting options and the problems inherent in email forwarding. (17 messages)

Intelligent agent sites -- Sites that recommend items based on items you've viewed or purchased seem promising, but often end up with mediocre results. Which sites are recommended? (4 messages)

It's Not Your Parents' (or Even Your) Television -- Apple's iTV announcement brings up the limitations imposed by DRM and how the movie studios' attempts to regulate access to their products could continue to turn off customers. (1 message)

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