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Practicality rules in this TidBITS issue, as Adam explains how an architectural problem in Mac OS X can result in certain applications accidentally filling up your hard disk. He also looks at the Kensington SaddleBag Ultra laptop bag, and reviews MercuryMover, a slick utility for moving and resizing windows using the keyboard (complete with a live demonstration of just what it can do in his first ScreenFlow-created screencast). Security editor Rich Mogull then shares his top tips for keeping your iPhone secure, and we pass on news of the Microsoft Office 2008 SP1 Update, which fixes over 150 bugs in the application suite. In the TidBITS Watchlist this week, we look at PageSender 4.3, CrowzNest 2.0, Captain FTP 5.3, AOL Desktop 1.0, Cyberduck 3.0.1, Cocktail 4.1 (Leopard Edition), Dejal Simon 2.4, and the Office 2004 for Mac 11.4.2 Update.

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Microsoft Fixes Office 2008 Bugs, Announces VBA Return

  by Adam C. Engst <>

Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit last week released Microsoft Office 2008 Service Pack 1, fixing numerous bugs and improving security and performance in the process of bringing the Office applications to version 12.1.0. Microsoft also announced that Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) would be returning to the next major release of Office for Mac.

Microsoft's extensive release notes document over 150 bugs and improvements in Office 2008 SP1, making the update an important one for all Office 2008 users. In addition, Microsoft has fixed a security vulnerability in Word that could have enabled remote code execution if the user opened a specially crafted Word file. (Note that if you're still using Microsoft Office 2004, the Office 2004 for Mac 11.4.2 Update addresses this vulnerability.) The Office 2008 SP1 Update also includes all the changes that were part of the previous Office 2008 for Mac 12.0.1 Update (see "Important Updates Released for Office 2008 and 2004," 2008-03-11).

The Office 2008 SP1 Update is available through Microsoft's AutoUpdate utility (most easily accessed by choosing Check for Updates in the Help menu of any Office 2008 application) or as a standalone 180 MB download. The update requires Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later. Before updating, make sure that the Microsoft Office 2008 folder is located in the Applications folder on the startup volume, that you have not renamed or modified any of the files in the Microsoft Office 2008 folder, and that you are installing while using an administrator account. In addition, users who previously installed a beta of Office 2008 need to remove and re-enter the Office 2008 product key, and anyone who had trouble deploying Office 2008 SP1 via Apple Remote Desktop or the command line last week should download the update disk image again to get a version that has an installation script error fixed. Aside from all that, on both of my Macs, the updater just sat there until I clicked Run in an odd "quit_apps" script dialog that appeared behind the main installer window (it took me a while to realize what was preventing the installer from continuing).

[View image]

In the announcement, Microsoft's Craig Eisler also said, "We are very clear that Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is an important feature to certain customers, and we will be bringing support back for VBA in the next version of Office for Mac - along with continuing our support for AppleScript."

Office users who relied heavily on VBA for workflow and automation, particularly in ways that would work for both the Mac and Windows versions of Office, have been troubled by the lack of VBA support in Office 2008. That's undoubtedly a small part of the overall Office user base, but a particularly involved and vocal segment that is faced either with sticking with Office 2004 (which lacks optimal performance on Intel-based Macs) or relying entirely on Windows versions of Office.

So although it's certainly positive to see Microsoft announcing that VBA will resurface, "the next version" of Office could mean a 2 to 4 year wait, which is an awfully long time for those who need VBA. Microsoft told Macworld that the problem with supporting VBA was related to the PowerPC architecture of the VBA support in Office 2004, and supporting VBA in Office 2008 would have required cutting features or delaying the product even longer than the three-and-a-half years between the releases of Office 2004 and Office 2008.

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Take Control News: Two New Books about Apple Mail in Leopard

  by Adam C. Engst <>

Looking to get more out of the latest version of Apple Mail, the one that ships with Leopard? Help is now at hand in the form of Joe Kissell's 95-page book, "Take Control of Apple Mail in Leopard." This title is chock full of handy tips, carefully considered procedures, and troubleshooting assistance. Along with coverage of 14 new features in Leopard's version of Mail, Joe delves into the nitty-gritty of account setup; helps you get organized so you can read your most important messages first; and thoroughly covers the ins and outs of addressing, composing, and sending email. Plus, he examines making Time Machine backups of your email, Address Book integration, RSS feeds, Notes and To-Do items, archiving messages, and how to proceed if you run into a problem with not being able to send or receive email, or some other annoying bug-a-boo.

Joe has also updated "Take Control of Spam with Apple Mail" for Leopard, and it goes far beyond the three pages of basic spam-zapping advice offered in "Take Control of Apple Mail in Leopard." Weighing in at 71 pages, "Take Control of Spam with Apple Mail" gives you background information so you understand more of what's going on with spam, detailed advice for configuring Mail to maximize its effectiveness at eliminating spam, and carefully researched coverage of utilities that can improve Mail's spam-slaying capabilities. "Take Control of Spam with Apple Mail" comes with a coupon for $5 off SpamSieve (normally $30), Joe's top pick for a third-party spam-fighting utility.

Each title costs $10 singly, but you can save $5 by purchasing them together in a bundle. Look for a bundle option at the left side of either book's Web page.

Owners of "Take Control of Apple Mail in Tiger" who purchased before 01-Oct-07 can click the Check for Updates button on the first page of the ebook's PDF to access a special upgrade discount. Everyone who purchased on or after that date should already have received a download link for a free update. Contact us at if our email didn't arrive. Owners of "Take Control of Email in Apple Mail" (the Panther edition) can click the Check for Updates button on the first page of the ebook's PDF to access a special upgrade discount.

If you already own "Take Control of Spam with Apple Mail", you can upgrade for free. Open your existing PDF and on page 1, click Check for Updates, and download the new version from the Web page that loads.

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Move/Resize Windows from the Keyboard with MercuryMover

  by Adam C. Engst <>

Most technical authors aren't wild about taking screenshots because setting up a good screenshot can take longer than writing about it. You have to make sure fields are appropriately filled in, the pointer is showing appropriately, and the window is the correct size. This last bit is often tricky, since moving and resizing windows with the mouse is inherently a loose operation - pixel-perfect alignment is difficult.

However, there's now a utility that can help both authors and anyone who prefers to use the keyboard as much as possible: Helium Foot Software's MercuryMover. It's a small preference pane that brings to the keyboard two basic functions that are generally restricted to the mouse: moving and resizing windows. Press a user-configurable keyboard shortcut (the default is Command-Control-Up arrow), and a translucent heads-up display appears with instructions telling you how to move the frontmost window using the arrow keys. Two other keyboard shortcuts help you resize windows up/left and down/right. (Requiring the user to think about which way a window should be resized seems unnecessarily baroque, but it's unavoidable, due to needing all four arrow keys to expand and contract in both situations.) You can also switch among the three different move/resize modes while the heads-up display is showing. See my screencast for a live tour through MercuryMover's preferences and usage.

[View image]

Once the heads-up display is showing, a single unmodified arrow key press moves or resizes the frontmost window one pixel, but by holding down a modifier key as you press an arrow key, you can move or resize the window 10 or 100 pixels at a time, or take it all the way to the edge of the screen. Pressing = centers the window, and pressing + expands the window to the full size of the screen. Once you have the window looking the way you want, press Escape or click the mouse to dismiss MercuryMover. If you've made a mistake, Command-Z and Command-Shift-Z work as expected to undo and redo your actions, while the heads-up display is still showing. Using MercuryMover is easy, and I suspect that if you use it regularly, its keyboard shortcuts and controls will become second nature.

Much as it's a slick little utility, MercuryMover isn't perfect. Although it could resize Eudora's windows, Eudora didn't always redraw the window contents to match. I suspect there may be other older applications that suffer similarly.

While using the current version of MercuryMover, I found myself wishing it would let me set exact window dimensions and locations by typing in numbers and recall those settings later in order to keep screenshots consistent, something that's devilishly difficult now. Happily, before I even suggested the feature to Keith Alperin, MercuryMover's creator, he told me that the next version will "display the size of the current window and will also have a facility to 'bookmark' specific sizes and/or positions. I call these my screenshot features." I hope that next version is available before I need to update my iPhoto Visual QuickStart Guide again; for this last update, I found myself using screenshots from the previous edition as templates for getting the iPhoto window sized properly for particular screenshots.

MercuryMover costs $24 and can be tested for 30 days. It requires Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later, and is a 782K download.

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Kensington SaddleBag Ultra: The Same Old Bag, in a Good Way

  by Adam C. Engst <>

I've been using a Kensington SaddleBag to haul my laptop and associated crud around on trips for more years than I can remember. It's a messenger-style bag with a padded pocket for a laptop, another large pocket for gear, and a zippered pocket with lots of small internal pockets for cables, pens, business cards, and coins. There are also two external pockets, one on the big flap that closes the bag, and another on the back that's good for magazines. But what has always set the SaddleBag apart for me is a clever pocket on the outside flap that's sized perfectly for airline boarding passes (which I'm always nervous about dropping otherwise) and the hidden backpack straps in the back pocket. Although I usually rely on a nicely padded shoulder strap, there have been numerous times over the years where converting it to a backpack made for more comfortable carrying.

My beloved SaddleBag has been fraying a bit around the edges, but I'm not sufficiently vain that I'd ditch such a highly functional bag based on looks alone. But on our last trip, the unthinkable happened, and a major seam on the side gave way, threatening to spread various electronic gadgets over the floor of the plane. It was time for a new bag for my MacBook and gear (which likely weighs more than the MacBook itself).

My first step was to re-read Jeff Carlson's excellent overview of how to choose a laptop case (check out "Buying a Laptop Bag," 2004-04-05). But as much as I appreciated having all the possible features and pitfalls brought to my attention, it was also a bit frustrating, since I couldn't lay my hands on bags from highly regarded manufacturers like Tom Bihn, Brenthaven, Crumpler, and Matias. If only it had been Macworld Expo time, since many of the bag manufacturers have booths at Macworld where you can poke and prod most of their models, as Karen Anderson did this year (see "Macworld Expo Laptop Bag Roundup and Slideshow," 2008-01-23).

Amusingly, the replacement bag topic came up on a mailing list I'm on just as I was starting my search, and a surprising number of people strongly recommended the Brenthaven Pro 15/17 Backpack, which is designed specifically for Apple's 15-inch and 17-inch laptops. (Many bags, including my SaddleBag, can't handle the 17-inch models).

This was about the time I started to freeze up on the decision. I'm one of those people who is congenitally incapable of purchasing something without knowing all the alternatives, options, and price points. It's a curse, especially when it comes to something like a laptop bag, where there are hundreds of models, each differing in subtle ways that I could probably discern only in person, and ranging in price from $20 to $200. If I was ever forced to buy an iPod case, my brain would probably short-circuit.

That was when I had a flash of insight. I actively liked my Kensington SaddleBag, and the only reason I was in the market for a new bag was because of a seam ripping out. (And yes, it ripped in such a way that I wouldn't have trusted myself to repair it with any guarantee of long-term success.) So I popped over to Kensington's Web site, where I discovered that they still sell the SaddleBag, along with the SaddleBag Pro, which features a bottom-mounted drawer for cables and other junk. Some random searching around the Web also revealed the existence of a SaddleBag Ultra, which still exists on Kensington's Web site, but oddly isn't linked from the main navigation. The SaddleBag Ultra seems almost identical to the original SaddleBag, but with the addition of a webbed pocket on one side for a water bottle, which would be great, since I always disliked putting water bottles inside my SaddleBag with my electronics.

[View image]

So why not just buy basically the same bag again? Sure, I wasn't expanding my horizons, but we're talking a laptop bag here, not some new hobby for my non-existent free time. All my familiar spots for storing different bits of gear would still be there, and years of muscle memory for opening and closing the bag and pulling things out wouldn't be wasted. But what clinched my decision to buy the SaddleBag Ultra was the discovery, via, that it was readily available for between $30 and $40. Compared to what you can pay for a laptop bag, that's practically free.

It arrived a few days ago, and although I haven't had a trip since, I fully enjoyed transferring everything I regularly carry from the old bag to the equivalent spot in the new one. The handle lacks the foam pad from the previous model, but it's similarly soft, and I don't anticipate it being a problem. The backpack straps on the new one are much more padded, though, which will be highly welcome. I can't compare the shoulder straps, since I have an extra-padded one that I bought separately and enjoy every time I use it. Some of the smaller zippered pockets have a slightly different configuration, with some being better and others worse, but all in all, it's basically the same old bag. I can't say if it's the perfect bag for you, but it's inexpensive and meets my needs well.

And that's what I now know I really wanted: the same old bag, slightly updated and improved. This may be a sign that I'm getting older, but luckily, since I am getting older, I don't care.

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Dealing with Doppelganger Folders in /Volumes

  by Adam C. Engst <>

I've been working with CrashPlan Pro recently, seeding backups from my Macs to a 750 GB hard disk that will eventually live at a friend's house and serve as our offsite backup. It all went well for a while, but all of a sudden, CrashPlan Pro on each of the Macs started complaining that the destination Mac was out of disk space. That made no sense, given that my 750 GB disk had over 580 GB of free space, and everything was still set correctly in the CrashPlan interface. Late in the day, I sent email to the CrashPlan folks asking what might be going on.

Before I heard back the next morning, however, Mac OS X warned me that my startup disk was almost out of space, so I fired up GrandPerspective to see where my disk space had gone. Mac OS X's virtual memory can hog disk space, but there should have been at least 5 or 6 GB of free space. A few minutes with GrandPerspective, and I found my culprit, a folder in /Volumes.

Background and Explanation -- The Volumes directory, which is normally hidden in Mac OS X, is the mount point for external disks. That means that when you attach a hard disk to a Mac, that hard disk appears as a disk alias in /Volumes, and the Finder shows it to you on the Desktop and/or in the sidebar, depending on your preferences.

My external 750 GB hard disk is called "Adam's CrashPad" and when I looked in /Volumes, there was a normal folder with that name, to which CrashPlan had been happily backing up gigabytes of data. Although the disk appeared as "Adam's CrashPad" in the Finder, in /Volumes it was called "Adam's CrashPad 1".

As I dug into the situation more, things became muddier. It turns out that the main way this kind of replacement can happen is if a disk is unmounted in such a way that applications using it aren't made aware that it is no longer present, usually by powering it down, or removing a FireWire or USB cable without ejecting properly first. Certain applications then continue to write to the path where the disk had been, and the end result is a folder (and its embedded file structure) that matches what would have been on the disk, had it been present. (I never ejected my external disk improperly, so I still don't know exactly what happened.)

Needless to say, applications should notice the disappearance of a disk, and Matthew Dornquast of Code42 Software said that they had spent nearly 100 hours trying to prevent CrashPlan from writing to a folder in /Volumes if the disk disappeared. However, I received reports of a wide variety of applications suffering from this problem, including the BitTorrent client Azureus, the Perforce version control system, Apple's Xcode development environment, and Mac OS X itself. (This is speculation, but Unix applications and Java-based applications may suffer more than Cocoa-based applications because cross-platform developers are more likely to use generic code that happily creates subdirectories if the parent directory in /Volumes doesn't exist; that way, the same code can work across different operating systems.)

Mac OS X can fall prey to this problem if you set your user's home folder to live on an external disk (which might be your laptop in FireWire Target Disk Mode, a technique that lets you use the same data on a desktop Mac at work and on the laptop at home, for instance). If that external drive is unmounted improperly, which is easy to do if you're leaving work in a hurry and grab your laptop without unmounting it from the desktop Mac, Mac OS X on the desktop Mac blithely recreates your home folder in /Volumes.

You might wonder why /Volumes is writable to user-level applications at all, and the answer seems to be that such permissions are necessary to allow anyone, even a restricted account, to insert removable media, which of course needs to be mounted in /Volumes. If /Volumes weren't world-writable, user-level applications wouldn't be able to create new folders there.

Delete and Reboot, For Now -- Solving my particular problem was easy. I simply viewed /Volumes in the Finder by choosing Go to Folder from the Finder's Go menu (Command-Shift-G), and then typing "/Volumes" in the dialog that appeared. Once I could see /Volumes, I trashed the "Adam's CrashPad" folder, emptied the Trash to reclaim the necessary space, and rebooted quickly, before CrashPlan could recreate the folder in /Volumes. A similar process should work in other situations.

More generally, this is an architectural problem in Mac OS X that Apple needs to fix. Although applications bear some responsibility for creating folders in /Volumes when they shouldn't, the operating system should protect itself from such an obvious misuse. Unfortunately, a vast amount of code, both from Apple and other developers, assumes that /Volumes is writable, which means that fixing the problem would require lots of other changes, and Apple hasn't had the fortitude to force such an unpalatable solution on developers.

Until such time as Apple re-architects this aspect of Mac OS X, it will remain up to developers to work around the problem by avoiding coding techniques that happily create entire hierarchies of files and folders even if the parent volume is no longer present.

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iPhone Security Tips

  by Rich Mogull <>

I was one of those people who never intended to purchase an iPhone before Apple released its putative second version. Yet, I somehow found myself sitting on an airplane home from San Francisco with a new iPhone in my pocket. It may have been the last day of Macworld Expo; to be honest, things are a little fuzzy. The iPhone has quickly become both an indispensable tool and my favorite toy. And like any security geek, I've spent a fair bit of time digging through all the options and making sure the iPhone is as safe as it is a pleasure to use.

We don't spend a lot of time thinking about the security of the phones in our pockets, mostly because the odds of losing or breaking them are far higher than someone hacking them. One thing I realized quickly when using my iPhone is that I need to think of it more as a cross between a computer and a phone. We iPhone users check email and browse the Web on our iPhones as much as on our Macs, but there's one key difference: the iPhone is always in a pocket and always on the network. While there isn't a lot you need to do from a security standpoint, I do have a few recommendations that stem from how we use iPhones differently than other devices.

Set a Passcode -- The first thing that I recommend you do is set an access passcode in case you lose your phone. Your iPhone becomes inaccessible when it's locked down (at an interval you set) until you enter the passcode. Corporations often require passcode protection for smartphones that they require employees to carry, but it's not something we think about for our consumer phones. Since the iPhone contains all your email accounts, all your contacts, and possibly access to private Web sites that control access via cookies, you have more to lose than with a standard phone. If you find that entering the passcode over and over again is too much trouble, think carefully about the data that you've stored on your iPhone, so you can minimize damage in the event that your iPhone is lost or stolen. For example, be prepared to change all your passwords for email accounts you read on the iPhone immediately.

You can set the passcode from Settings > General > Passcode Lock. Don't forget the code you set, or you'll have to reset your phone in iTunes to regain access. I keep my iPhone set to lock itself automatically every 15 minutes since I'm paranoid (as a security writer, I'm a bit more of a target than most people), but most people will be fine with a 1-hour lock.

Don't Remember Open, Unencrypted Wi-Fi Networks -- One nice feature of the iPhone is that it can remember the settings for every Wi-Fi network you connect to, and automatically reconnect to these networks in the future. Have it memorize your home and office network names (the SSIDs) and passwords, and you're automatically connected when you move between home and work, using AT&Ts (slow) EDGE network when you're out and about.

The problem is that a lot of networks use the same network name, like "linksys" (for Linksys-branded wireless access points), "tsunami" (for Cisco), or "default". Your phone can't tell the difference between different open, unencrypted networks that use the same name, even though Wi-Fi access points also broadcast a unique embedded number.

All a bad guy has to do is set up an open access point with a common name and start collecting the network traffic of anyone passing by. If you live in a rural or suburban area, this probably isn't much of a concern, but if you spend time in urban areas, airports, or conference centers it's a small, but real, risk. If any of that traffic is unencrypted and sensitive, say an email password, the bad guy (or, more likely, curious teenager) can capture it.

I wrote more about these risks on my blog, and the solution is simple. On your iPhone, go into Settings > Wi-Fi and set the slider for "Ask to Join Networks" on. For those times you need to connect on an open network, just make sure you "forget" it from the iPhone interface (again, in Settings > Wi-Fi) when you're done.

For networks that you control, like your home network, just make sure to at least enable wireless encryption (preferably WPA). A unique name is also a good idea: with WPA and WPA2, the network name is used as part of the encryption process, and changing the name from its default setting improves your security there, too. (Apple names its base stations with part of the unique network address by default, like "AirPort Network 00b33f", you'll likely want to change that anyway!)

Your phone won't connect to a network with the same name (should you run across one) unless both the network ID and password match. And if you use Apple's AirPort base stations (Extreme or Express), AirPort Utility makes every effort to keep you from setting up an unencrypted network, and even marks an open network as a configuration error.

Use a VPN -- With an ever-increasing number of hotspots offering free Wi-Fi, such as all Starbucks stores as AT&T takes over their hotspot network, it's likely that we iPhone owners will find ourselves connecting to more open Wi-Fi networks in the future to take advantage of free, high speed bandwidth. Any open Wi-Fi network is a risk, free or not, but I for one have always been turned off by overpriced wireless and use free options much more frequently. As we expand our use of free networks, it's also more likely we'll eventually wander into an open network with a name we've remembered (probably near a college) where someone decides to sniff the traffic.

The good news, yet again, is that Apple includes a virtual private network (VPN) client on the iPhone. Virtual private networks are encrypted tunnels between you and a gateway, but by default, they only encrypt traffic destined for that network. If you connect to a VPN to check your email, only that email traffic is encrypted unless you tell your iPhone to "Send all traffic" to the remote network. This is also, conveniently, an option in the VPN settings on your iPhone.

Setting up a VPN is beyond the scope of this article (see Glenn Fleishman's "Secure Your iPhone Connections at Macworld Expo - and Beyond," 2008-01-09, for more details), but if you use the PPTP option, be sure you set the encryption level to "Maximum" to prevent bad guys from sniffing your VPN password.

The biggest problem with the iPhone's VPN is that it doesn't engage automatically. If you wander in and out of a Wi-Fi network's coverage, and the iPhone switches to EDGE and back, you'll lose your Internet connection (if the VPN connection tries to remain active) or your VPN protection (if it does not). Here's hoping Apple fixes that in the iPhone 2.0 software.

Relax and Enjoy -- That's about all you need to do to secure your iPhone, and as I said, keeping an iPhone safe is more about not leaving it in a cab or knocking it onto a hard floor than encrypting every bit of data in and out. Most of you will never have to worry about network sniffing or advanced attacks, but a few extra, simple precautions never hurt. Especially those of you wandering around college campuses or technology conferences.

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TidBITS Watchlist: Notable Software Updates for 19-May-08

  by TidBITS Staff <>

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Hot Topics in TidBITS Talk/19-May-08

  by Jeff Carlson <>

CMYK Conversion with ColorSync -- The capability to output PDF files for modest design needs runs into a snag due to improper handling of how blacks are generated. (1 message)

[ANN] Office 2008 SP1 Update (12.1.0) released -- This week's public service announcement: Update Office 2008 from the Help menu in one of the Office applications, not by trying to launch the Microsoft AutoUpdate program manually. (9 messages)

[Office 2008 SP1] install causes setup assistant to loop -- An issue with invalid product keys could stymie the Office 2008 SP1 update. Microsoft outlines the fix. (1 message)

Best way to make network -- Will an AirPort Extreme cover a reader's entire house with its signal, or is a bridge such as an AirPort Express required? (5 messages)

Monitor recommendation? Readers provide plenty of suggestions for replacement LCD displays. (30 messages)

Digital Rights Misery: When Technology Is Designed to Fail -- Jeff Porten's article inspires debate about whether the content companies are conspiring against consumers, or if the end result of anti-piracy measures only appears to be a conspiracy. (3 messages)

MozyHome -- Readers discuss the costs of online backups and whether the services that exist are likely to remain in business. (4 messages)

SSH failing to launch -- Unix experts come to the aid of a reader who seems to be missing a key file. (3 messages)

Good time or dumb time to buy an iPod Touch -- With the next generation of iPhone and iPod touch on the horizon, is now a good time to wait or buy? (8 messages)

color profiles and browsers -- A reader has a question about embedded color profiles and how Web browsers handle them. Can you help? (2 messages)

Cable TV to Mac -- So you want to watch television on your computer. What's the best approach? (5 messages)

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