Good intentions make excellent paving stones this week, with warnings about a utility that circumvents a crucial bit of Mac OS 9’s error checking and a security hole in Outlook Express 5.0. In other email news, Adam announces his new book on Eudora and explains how to use Eudora in multiple user setups, and this week’s poll asks about your favorite Mac email client. Finally, Warren Magnus contributes the first part of an overview of USB mice.
Outlook Express 5.0 Open to Security Breach — Microsoft has issued an alert about a security hole in Outlook Express 5.0 for the Macintosh. Essentially, a malicious person could send a specially composed MHTML (MIME HTML) message to an Outlook Express 5.0 user. That message would then automatically download a file to the user’s default Download folder without the user’s knowledge. (You set the Download folder in the Internet control panel, Internet Config, Internet Explorer, or other Internet Config-savvy application.) If that file were a destructive application, and if you were to launch it, damage could occur. This situation is similar to receiving an application as an email attachment. In this case, though, you won’t be able to connect a message to that file; at some point, you’ll just find an unidentified application in your Download folder with no indication that it might be dangerous. Although Microsoft is working on a fix, the only solution at the moment is to open only downloaded files whose source you can identify. [ACE]
Avoid AKUA Interactive’s Nine 11 Utility! AKUA Interactive Media has released an extension called Nine 11 that prevents Mac OS 9 from stopping certain incompatible programs with error number 119. To quote MWJ publisher and TidBITS contributor Matt Deatherage, this is "an indescribably irresponsible idea roughly on par with disconnecting the buzzers in your smoke detectors." As we explained in "Mac OS 9 Installation & Compatibility" in TidBITS-503, to increase the maximum number of open file forks in Mac OS 9, Apple had to change the file control block (FCB) table that the Mac OS uses to track open files. Even with all their resources, there was no way Apple could maintain compatibility with old code that ignored Apple’s recommendations and accessed the FCBs directly. So Mac OS 9 prevents programs from doing that, because code that goes directly to the FCBs would likely crash the system or corrupt data on your hard disk. Why is this? Applications accessing the FCBs probably want to read data about which files are open, but because of the changes in Mac OS 9, those applications will read the wrong data. If that application then uses that incorrect information as input for other disk-related functions, disk corruption is likely. In short, if you see this utility online, do not download it and warn anyone using it that they do so at significant risk. [ACE]
iMac Knockoffs Barred by Injunction — Apple has announced that Judge Jeremy Fogel of the U.S. Federal Court in San Jose has stated his intention to issue a preliminary injunction barring Future Power and Daewoo from manufacturing, selling, or distributing the E-Power computer, which Apple says copies the design of the iMac. Apple has filed similar lawsuits against eMachines (in the U.S.) and K. K. Sotec (in Japan) and the Tokyo District Court has issued a preliminary injunction barring K. K. Sotec from manufacturing or distributing the eOne iMac look-alike. Although the Future Power/Daewoo injunction doesn’t apply to the eMachines case, it’s also before Judge Fogel, making another injunction likely. Implicit in these initial court victories is agreement from the courts that Apple’s curvaceous and colorful design for the iMac is unique and deserves legal "trade dress" protections. (See "A Case for Color" in TidBITS-492 and "Look Different: Excellence in Apple Design" in TidBITS-430 for more about the iMac’s design.) [ACE]
Dartmouth TidBITS Mirror Gone — Those of you who have been reading TidBITS for years may remember that issues of TidBITS were originally made available on the Web at Dartmouth College’s site, back in 1994. William Murphy converted the issues from setext to HTML, and Andy Williams kindly made the space available on the Dartmouth Web server. In subsequent years, of course, we focused on our own Web server, but Randy Spydell helped us maintain a mirror of TidBITS issues at the Dartmouth site. Dartmouth has decided to remove the mirror (which is no longer as necessary as it was initially), but they’ve left redirects in place from the main TidBITS page there. Nonetheless, if you’re still using the Dartmouth pages, now’s the time to switch over to our main site. Thanks to William, Andy, and Randy for all their help over the years! [ACE]
Poll Preview: Your Preferred Mac Email Client — Here’s a poll in which I encourage everyone to vote. We at TidBITS are big fans of Qualcomm’s powerful Eudora, and Apple bundles the free Microsoft Outlook Express with every Mac and copy of the Mac OS, but there are numerous other programs people use to read email, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Which one do you prefer? Make sure to register your vote so we can get a sense of what you’re all using! [ACE]
Our goal with last week’s quiz was mostly educational, since we expected that most people would know the answer. We weren’t disappointed, with 93 percent of the more than 1,700 people taking the quiz choosing the correct answer of Command-Option-P-R to zap the PRAM. The fact that such an easy quiz garnered that much attention would seem to indicate that people like quizzes to have an educational bent rather than just testing knowledge of Macintosh trivia, so we’ll try to follow that path with future quizzes.
Zapping the PRAM is a relatively obscure trick that many Macintosh users don’t know, but it works on every Macintosh and can be useful for solving strange problems ranging from an inability to start up at all to the Mac displaying the wrong font in places like the Get Info windows. To zap the PRAM, make sure Caps Lock is turned off, then restart the Mac and hold down Command-Option-P-R at startup, making sure to hold the keys down until your Mac restarts itself twice. Be aware that zapping the PRAM on the PowerBook 190, 1400, 2400, 3400, 5300, and original G3 also resets the Power Manager. On PCI Power Macs, hold down Command-Option-P-R as soon as you press the Power key to turn on the Mac to clear the Non-volatile RAM (NVRAM) that stores display information on those Macs. Finally, if you were wondering, the keystroke for zapping the PRAM remains the same on the iMac and other new Macs that use USB keyboards.
A number of people in TidBITS Talk recommended MicroMat’s free TechTool or commercial TechTool Pro as an alternative method of resetting the PRAM. These programs offer three advantages over the standard method. First, they clear all the information from PRAM, more than the standard method does. Second, they enable you to save the contents of PRAM and, if the PRAM doesn’t turn out to be the problem, restore it rather than reset all your settings. Third and finally, they can automatically save and restore your Mac’s manufacture date and hours of use, both of which are stored in the PRAM and are lost with the standard method.
Keep in mind that zapping the PRAM does reset some settings, including those below, so you will need to use various control panels to turn on AppleTalk, change your mouse speed, reset your beep sound, and more.
- AppleTalk status
- Serial port configuration and port definition
- Alarm clock setting
- Application font
- Serial printer location
- Key repeat rate
- Key repeat delay
- Speaker volume
- Alert sound
- Double-click time
- Insertion point blink rate
- Mouse speed
- Startup disk
- Menu blink count
- Monitor depth
- 32-bit addressing
- Virtual memory
- RAM Disk
- Disk cache
You might find these articles from Apple’s Tech Info Library of interest – for more information, search the Tech Info Library on "PRAM."
My latest book, "Eudora 4.2 for Windows & Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide," (Peachpit Press, ISBN 020135389X) should now be widely available. The book is essentially the second edition of my earlier Eudora Visual QuickStart Guide (discussed in "Eudora Tips & Tricks" in TidBITS-405), offering concise, step-by-step instructions for performing almost any task in Eudora. Each task takes no more than a single page and is accompanied by screenshots that parallel the step-by-step instructions. I also include numerous little known tips and strategies for using Eudora’s more powerful features like filters, personalities, saved searches, stationery, and the toolbar.
For those familiar with the previous edition of the book (which is still available for people using Eudora Light and Eudora Pro 3.1), there are numerous changes. I removed all discussion of Eudora Light because nothing has changed with that program since the previous edition of the book and so much has changed with Eudora Pro that covering both programs simultaneously was no longer feasible. I also added new chapters on personalities, window management, and IMAP (Interactive Message Access Protocol, an alternate method of retrieving Internet email), and completely rewrote the Finding and Searching chapter to cover Eudora’s new search feature. For more details on the book’s contents, news and tips about Eudora, and links to important Eudora-related resources, visit the Web site I maintain for the book.
The book retails for $17, though you can get it for less than $14 through Amazon using the link below, and I suspect that many physical bookstores also carry it at a discounted price. Academic institutions interested in ordering quantities of the books for classes qualify for a steeper discount direct from Peachpit; email <[email protected]> for details. Special discounts are also available for non-academic quantity orders such as for businesses that have site licenses of Eudora; contact <[email protected]> for details.
With one notable exception – Multiple User support in Mac OS 9 – the book is completely up to date in covering the latest versions of Eudora Pro 4.2. People using Mac OS 9’s Multiple Users feature can now take advantage of a change in the just-released Eudora Pro 4.2.2 to simplify setting up Eudora for multiple people using the same Mac. Essentially, Eudora now stores its Eudora Folder in the Documents folder by default, rather than the System Folder. If you have Multiple Users turned on, Eudora Pro 4.2.2 automatically uses each person’s Documents folder for that person’s Eudora Folder. Here then are instructions for how you would do this in earlier versions of the Mac (which work for all versions of Eudora) and under Mac OS 9 (which requires Eudora Pro 4.2.2).
Separate Mail Folders Prior to Mac OS 9 — In the past, launching Eudora by double-clicking the application’s icon would load your settings, filters, nicknames, and stored mail from the Eudora Folder in the System Folder. However, you can also launch Eudora by double-clicking a Eudora Settings file, which is the key to setting up Eudora for different people sharing the same Mac. Let’s assume you’re planning on sharing your Mac with a friend, and you want to set up Eudora so you can both receive mail separately. Follow these steps.
Quit Eudora if it’s running. In the Finder, open the System Folder and select the Eudora Folder.
From the File menu, choose Duplicate. The Finder makes a duplicate of the Eudora Folder, called Eudora Folder copy.
Rename the copy to start with your first name, as in "Adam’s Eudora Folder".
Open the original Eudora Folder. Inside it is a file called Eudora Settings. Select that file, and from the File menu, choose Make Alias to make an alias called Eudora Settings alias.
Rename the alias with your friend’s name, as in "Tonya’s Email", and move it to the desktop.
Repeat steps 4 and 5 with the second Eudora Folder. Rename the second Eudora Settings alias with your name, as in "Adam’s Email".
Double-click the first alias you create to launch Eudora.
Configure Eudora with your friend’s email account and settings as you would normally.
Double-click the second alias you created to switch to those settings (there’s no need to quit Eudora), and repeat step 8 with your email account and settings.
You may wish to leave the two aliases on the desktop or copy them to the Apple Menu Items folder. Whenever either of you want to check mail, launch Eudora by opening the appropriate alias file.
You can rename the original Eudora Folder if you like, and you can move both customized Eudora Folders out of the System Folder and put them anywhere you like, since you’re accessing them through the aliases now. However, if you do that, I’d recommend creating an empty text file called "Eudora Folder" and placing it loose in the System Folder in place of the original Eudora Folder. That way, if you launch Eudora by double-clicking the application icon accidentally, Eudora prompts you to open a Eudora Settings file (pick one of your aliases) instead of creating a new, empty Eudora Folder in the System Folder.
Mac OS 9 New Multiple User Setup — Let’s assume now that you’ve just installed Mac OS 9 at home and want to install Eudora Pro 4.2.2 for the first time. Follow these steps.
In the Multiple Users control panel, turn on Multiple User Accounts and create a new user for your friend. The Finder creates a Users folder on the startup disk, placing in it a folder named for your friend. In that folder is a Documents folder.
Install and configure Eudora Pro 4.2.2 normally for yourself as the owner of the Mac. (If the Eudora Pro 4.2.2. application is already installed, launch it by double-clicking the application icon.) Eudora creates a Eudora Folder in the Documents folder at the main level of your hard disk; if that folder doesn’t exist initially, Eudora creates it as well.
From the Special menu in the Finder, choose Logout, then login again as your friend.
Launch Eudora Pro 4.2.2 by double-clicking its application icon. Eudora creates a new Eudora Folder in your friend’s Documents folder.
Configure Eudora for your friend.
As long as you leave these two Eudora Folders in their default locations and don’t rename them, you can continue to launch Eudora by double-clicking its application icon. Eudora automatically loads the appropriate settings and stored mail for each of you, depending on who is logged into the Mac at that point.
Converting Multiple Mail Folders to Mac OS 9 — It’s more likely that when you install Mac OS 9 you already have an existing setup with multiple mail folders, created using the traditional method discussed above. If that’s the case, you have two choices. First, you can continue to launch Eudora from your individual settings file aliases, as you’ve been doing. Second, you can convert your existing installation to work with Mac OS 9’s Multiple Users feature. The decision probably hinges on whether you plan to use the Mac OS 9 Multiple Users feature in general – if you do, conversion is probably worthwhile, whereas if you have no other use for Multiple Users, it makes sense to stick with your existing Eudora setup. If you decide to make the leap to the Mac OS 9 Multiple Users approach, though, here’s what to do. As always, make sure you have a current backup first.
In the Multiple Users control panel, turn on Multiple User Accounts and create a new user for your friend. The Finder creates a Users folder on the startup disk, placing it in a folder named for your friend. In that folder is a Documents folder.
Move your Eudora Folder (which may be called something like "Adam’s Eudora Folder") to the Documents folder in the main window of your hard disk. If no Documents folder exists, create one first. Make sure your Eudora Folder is named "Eudora Folder".
Move your friend’s Eudora Folder to the Documents folder nested within his or her individual folder in the Users folder. Make sure it too is called "Eudora Folder".
That’s all that should be necessary, and from now on, you can just launch Eudora by double-clicking its application icon rather than using specific settings file aliases. Just make sure to logout and login appropriate to access your different email accounts.
Finally, here’s a tip that will make it possible for your friend to check mail quickly without going through the sometimes lengthy logout and login process, make an alias of the Eudora Settings file in your friend’s Eudora Folder and double-click it to switch settings. The reverse is not true – users cannot access anything in the owner’s Documents folder.
The iMac introduced Universal Serial Bus (USB) technology to the Macintosh line – along with a puck-like USB mouse that’s become a frequent target of criticism. The iMac also marked the disappearance of the trusty Apple Desktop Bus (ADB), so third-party mice and input devices wouldn’t work with an iMac without add-on converters. Apple’s push toward USB ubiquity – combined with the iMac’s considerable popularity – has caused pointing device manufacturers to release a flood of USB pointing devices for the Macintosh, all designed to stand in for Apple’s default USB rodent.
I’ve had the good fortune to be privy to the development phases of several USB mice and to witness the maneuvering of driver development. Sorting through the sizable collection of pointing devices here in my office and making a few acquisitions yields a cross-section of all of the major offerings.
Catching Mice of All Sizes — With mice, size and shape matter. The mouse, in many ways, personalizes the user’s computing experience. Given the number of hours that professionals spend at their computers, the mouse must be conducive to good work habits and promote healthy wrist positions. There is likely a user for every mouse shape and size, and only you can decide which mouse shape and size are best for you, based on your individual anatomy and work habits. Fortunately, CompUSA, BestBuy, and similar venues have updated their sales displays to include demo mice that users can try for size and feel. Still, I’ve bought and put in my closet more mice than I care to count.
Currently, most high-end USB mice have similar feature sets. Multiple-button devices reign. Scroll wheels have mushroomed in popularity. Ultimately, though, the mouse driver is what provides the fluidity of workflow and user interface that make up the user experience. These drivers, where the real magic occurs, can be evaluated with some degree of objectivity.
My company, samespace, is a consulting firm that specializes in marketing and business development. As a result, we use our Macs for a variety of common tasks from email and Web browsing to graphic design and page layout. This creates a grueling test track for input devices that also offers a varied application environment in which to test the custom mouse drivers that are bundled with today’s USB devices.
UniMouse… Original or Extra Crispy — When Contour Designs first introduced the UniMouse, they led the market with a three-button replacement for the iMac puck. It’s a mouse of solid design that’s a bit beefy, something that many users love. I never could use it comfortably, but my wife loves hers, oddly enough, given that her hands are significantly smaller than mine.
However, the driver software that shipped with the original UniMouse was awful. It required you to place a custom extension in the System Folder, but offered no configuration options. Changing button settings required you to replace the Contour extension with another pre-programmed one. You set mouse speed via the Mac OS’s Mouse control panel.
Since then, the UniMouse has evolved to include UniMouse Overdrive, a customized version of Alessandro Levi Montalcini’s USB Overdrive that gives the user far more control over individual key definitions and unifies the mouse speed setting to the same control panel. UniMouse Overdrive works well, though its user interface is arcane, suffering the same eccentricities of the shareware version of USB Overdrive (discussed in part 2 of this article). The mouse buttons are now fully customizable. We configured our iMac for a click from the left button; the right button Control-clicks to bring up contextual menus, and the middle button calls up a household favorite application switcher. For those who prefer scrolling, UniMouse Overdrive supports an auto-scroll function that works in most applications. Additionally, UniMouse Overdrive supports application specific sets, enabling the user to define mouse functions unique to where they are most needed. Overall, UniMouse Overdrive is simple, clean, and workable, but mostly a huge improvement over Contour’s original effort.
Kensington MouseWorks… Mostly — Kensington Technology Group has updated their venerable MouseWorks software to include support for USB devices. I’ve now tested it with both their Orbit trackballs and a USB scrolling mouse. Kensington has just released a spate of new devices, including two new scrolling mice and a multi-button trackball that should perform similarly.
MouseWorks behaves as expected when configuring the buttons or ballistics curves for the pointing device. Ballistic curves change the rate at which the mouse responds to movements (for instance, the mouse can be set to move further based on faster motions), thus providing the finest degree of control offered by any driver reviewed.
For those who need more buttons than their physical device provides, MouseWorks supports chording of the mouse buttons, enabling the user to define buttons clicked together as though they were a single additional mouse button. Also, MouseWorks provides a cursor that snaps to the default button of dialog boxes, along with several other functions that improve pointing precision on large displays or at high cursor speeds.
MouseWorks offers numerous configuration options, including support for both scroll wheels and scrolling with mouse movement. Wheel-based scrolling support in MouseWorks 5.3 is vastly superior to the previous version of the software. With the previous release, some applications didn’t scroll at all. The latest release fixes this, resulting in consistent scrolling in most applications. You can now adjust scrolling speed, but I found that even on the fastest setting scrolling continued to feel sluggish. This sluggish scrolling combines with Kensington’s ample buffer to make overscrolling (a condition where the window keeps scrolling well after the wheel has stopped) a common occurrence. Also, scrolling works exclusively on windows that lie beneath the cursor, which can be inconvenient on large displays since it forces the user to point at the window they wish to scroll.
Support for application specific sets is excellent. Kensington has developed this functionality through the previous generations of MouseWorks. The current iteration allows for fluid application changes without unexpected hiccups. Application sets work well enough that users can enforce similar interfaces upon disparate applications by using the extra mouse buttons as simple macros.
More Mice Everywhere — In part two of this article, I’ll cover the rest of the litter of USB mice and drivers, including Logitech’s MouseWare, the XLR8 Point-and-Scroll mouse, Microsoft’s IntelliPoint, and USB’s ubermaus driver, USB Overdrive.
[Warren Magnus is the brains behind samespace, a marketing and business development consulting firm. He also serves as sponsorship chair and webmaster for the MacHack software developers’ conference.]