iMovie expert Jeff Carlson offers advice on how to get the most from iMovie 3, including workarounds for a few of iMovie’s most annoying problems. Adam chimes in with a comparison of a pair of wireless gateways from Asante and Linksys. In the news, we report on the Apple Corps trademark suit against Apple Computer, Adam’s upcoming speaking engagements, and the releases of a Panorama V preview, PageSender 3.1, PowerMail 4.2 and iView MediaPro 2.0.
Hey Jobs, Don’t Make It Bad! Apple Corps, Ltd., the management company formed by the Beatles in 1968 and now jointly owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and the estate of George Harrison, reportedly filed suit in a British court on 04-Jul-03, once again accusing Apple Computer of trademark infringement. According to reports from Reuters, Associated Press, and the BBC, and confirmed by MacCentral, Apple Corps objects to the use of the name "Apple," and the Apple logo in conjunction with downloading prerecorded music from the Internet via the iTunes Music Store.
Since Apple Computer was founded in the late 1970s – and named in direct homage to the Beatles – Apple Corps has repeatedly taken Apple Computer to court over infringements on its trademark of the Apple name. These suits have resulted in monetary settlements to Apple Corps and agreements as to how Apple Computer may use the Apple name – essentially that Apple Computer could not publish music or produce music-related products. The most recent agreement (related to QuickTime, multimedia, and audio capabilities) purportedly gave Apple Computer wide-ranging privileges to use the trademark, but it seems the emergence of the Internet and the unveiling of the iTunes Music Store have once again crossed a line with Apple Corps. (It’s worth noting that Apple Corps has not made Beatles tracks available to iTunes Music Store or any other online music service.) [GD]
iView MediaPro 2.0 Manages More Assets — iView Multimedia has released iView MediaPro 2.0, a major upgrade to the company’s powerful digital asset management program. New features include more editing capabilities (beyond the free iPhoto, but not to the level of Adobe Photoshop Elements), performance improvements and support for larger catalogs, additional control over cataloged images in the file system, PDF output of image collections, advanced slideshows customizable down to the individual image level, enhanced HTML export, and more. iView MediaPro’s new capabilities are powerful and welcome; unfortunately, the program still suffers from interface awkwardnesses that obscure its full power for those accustomed to the simplicity of programs like iPhoto. It’s also no longer cheap, at $160, with upgrades from version 1.5 available for $88. For those looking for a less expensive image cataloging program that outperforms only that aspect of iPhoto, iView Media 1.2 lacks iView MediaPro’s more advanced features, but costs only $30. Lastly, for viewing and playing slideshows of existing catalogs, there’s now the free iView Catalog Reader. Time-limited trial versions of both iView MediaPro and iView Media are available. [ACE]
PageSender 3.1 Adds Fax Scheduling — Don’t want to wait for Panther’s fax capabilities, or worse, wait only to find out they aren’t what you need? Check out Smile Software’s PageSender 3.1, an update to the company’s Mac OS X fax software that integrates into Print dialogs. PageSender 3.1 adds scheduled and deferred faxing, manual sending, multiple local area codes and ten-digit dialing support, and more. PageSender requires Mac OS X 10.1.3 or later, and costs $30. A free 30-day demo is available. [ACE]
Panorama V Goes Native — ProVUE Development has released a public preview of the Mac OS X-native version V of its flagship database program, Panorama, last reviewed in "Seeing the Light with Panorama" in TidBITS-606. (This marks the end of an era on my computer; the only remaining program I regularly start up Classic for is Adobe FrameMaker, which will probably never be ported to Mac OS X.) Panorama V also sports a more three-dimensional look, live searching (similar to iTunes), and many significant improvements to the programming interface. The final release must wait upon completion of the Windows version, but in the meantime the preview is working fine. It may be downloaded and used for free; the only restriction is that until you pay for the program, saving a database with more than 250 records is inconvenient. [MAN]
PowerMail 4.2 Improves Speed, Searching — CTM Development has released PowerMail 4.2 , the latest version of their email client (see "Migrating to New Climes with PowerMail" in TidBITS-530 for a review of PowerMail 3.0). New in PowerMail 4.2 is CTM’s high-speed FoxTrot searching technology, which reportedly offers speeds 300 to 500 percent faster than the previous Sherlock-based searching PowerMail used. PowerMail 4.2 also boasts other performance increases in launching and drawing large lists, enhanced filtering that can filter on message content, searching on cached IMAP information, and more. Upgrades are free for registered PowerMail 4.x users; they cost $30 for users of PowerMail 3.x, or $50 for new customers. A 30-day demo is available as a 5.0 MB download. [ACE]
Adam Speaking at Kansas City MacCORE — On Wednesday, September 17th, at 7:00 PM, I’ll be speaking about wireless networking (and any other Mac-related topics we have time for) at the monthly meeting of the Kansas City MacCORE Macintosh users group. If you’re in the area, come and say hello! [ACE]
Adam Keynoting O’Reilly Mac OS X Conference — This appearance is a bit further out at the end of October, but since you’ll need time for travel and hotel plans, I thought I’d also mention that I’m giving a keynote address titled "Panther Report Card" at the second O’Reilly Mac OS X Conference (see "Mac OS X Report Card: October 2002" in TidBITS-650 for last year’s grades). The conference runs from 27-Oct-03 through 30-Oct-03 in Santa Clara, CA. My keynote takes place on Wednesday, October 29th at 8:45 AM, with Andy Ihnatko on next at 9:30 AM to give a tour of 10 years of Macintosh hardware, software, and the things PR people do to promote said products. TidBITS Contributing Editor Matt Neuburg will be presenting "AppleScript Everywhere" at 10:45 AM on Thursday, October 30th. Many of the other sessions look extremely interesting as well, such as Gordon Meyer’s "Living the Digital Hub: Your House and Mac OS X," Matthew Barger’s "Give your iBook a REST," and Cliff Skolnick’s "Advanced Mac OS X Wireless Tips and Tricks." [ACE]
My first wireless gateway was a graphite AirPort Base Station that served us admirably when we lived in Seattle, but when we moved to Ithaca, its coverage area couldn’t quite reach Tonya’s office, and because my cable modem had to plug into its single Ethernet port, it could provide only wireless coverage. So, I cannibalized the Lucent WaveLAN card from it to turn my PowerBook G3 into the gateway for my long-range wireless Internet connection. I then replaced it with a Linksys Wireless Access Point Router with 4-Port Switch (model BEFW11S4), which has a pair of small antennas that provided better wireless coverage, and its built-in 10/100 Mbps 4-port switch helped connect the wired and wireless parts of my network. Despite annoyances like a lack of AppleTalk support and having to apply firmware updates from my little-used PC, the Linksys BEFW11S4 has worked well.
Not long ago, however, Asante sent me their 802.11b-based FriendlyNET FR1004AL wireless gateway, which provides basically the same feature set as the Linksys BEFW11S4 (wireless access point, Internet sharing, DHCP service, 4-port 10/100 Mbps switch, etc.). But the Asante FR1004AL also supports AppleTalk, can have its firmware updated from a Macintosh, and has a parallel port for sharing a printer. Might this be a better choice for a Mac user who doesn’t want an AirPort or AirPort Extreme Base Station?
AppleTalk Support — Although I would have appreciated AppleTalk support when we first moved, since I had a LaserWriter Select 360 laser printer along with a number of Mac OS 9 machines still using AppleTalk for file sharing, it doesn’t particularly matter to me any more. All the Macs on our network now run Mac OS X, so all file sharing is done via TCP/IP and discovered via Rendezvous. The LaserWriter isn’t an issue either, since I simply set our Mac OS X-based internal file server, which is always on, to share the printer for the rest of the Macs, as I discussed in "Printer Sharing and Print Spooling in Mac OS X" in TidBITS-673.
So the Asante FR1004AL’s support for AppleTalk, though admirable, isn’t actually useful for me any more. Those with older machines or printers around would likely appreciate it.
Mac-based Firmware Updates — Having to fuss with a PC or Virtual PC to update the firmware on the Linksys BEFW11S4 has been annoying. But even more annoying was the fact that the Asante FR1004AL basically didn’t work at all for me until I updated its firmware. It had trouble picking up a DHCP-assigned IP address from my cable modem provider, and I spent hours troubleshooting it. I might have wasted less time, but the Asante Web site’s interface for listing downloads was sufficiently poorly done that my searches came up empty, and I assumed I had the current firmware. That assumption proved wrong, once I talked with a tech support engineer, and he told me how to make the site reveal the firmware update download. It turned out to be a good thing I spoke with him, also, since I would have used Safari to download the firmware update, and he said that likely would have failed, and instead recommended I use Internet Explorer.
In the end, I’m glad I was able to use the Mac to download the firmware update, but thanks to Asante’s badly designed site and insufficient information about current Macintosh browsers, I spent way more time updating the firmware than I ever did with the Linksys BEFW11S4, even with having to use a PC.
Printer Sharing — The Asante FR1004AL includes a port not found on the Linksys BEFW11S4 – a DB-25 parallel port. Macintosh users generally aren’t familiar with such ports, but they have long been a mainstay in the PC world, with USB replacing them in some cases recently. Many printers have parallel ports, and you can connect them to the Asante FR1004AL and share them with other computers on your network. Unfortunately, there’s a catch. For such a shared printer to be accessible to Macs, the printer must be a PostScript printer – inexpensive inkjets need not apply. (It’s possible that using Thursby Software’s Dave would enable a Mac to print to such a shared printer, but I haven’t tested that.)
Theoretically, I could connect my LaserWriter Select 360 to the Asante FR1004AL, but since I already have a workable solution with Asante’s FriendlyNET Ethernet to LocalTalk Bridge, and since I’d rather not position the LaserWriter within close proximity of the Asante FR1004AL (which must live in our bedroom closet), there’s not much point. As with the AppleTalk support, this printer sharing feature could be quite useful for those who haven’t already worked around similar problems.
Other Factors — So if I was buying a new wireless gateway today, would I buy the Asante FR1004AL over the Linksys BEFW11S4? Even if the Asante FR1004AL’s main features proved relatively moot for me, there are a few other minor points to consider.
Signal strength. Using MacStumbler, I compared the strength of the signal received by my iBook at a number of different locations throughout the house. The Asante FR1004AL provided slightly better signal strength at all locations, which was quite welcome.
Roaming. One capability that I had thought was standardized – creating a roaming network – doesn’t seem to be supported by the Asante FR1004AL. In theory, you can attach two wireless access points to the same Ethernet network, give them the same name, assign them different channels, and roam between them without having to change any settings on a laptop. This didn’t work for me when I tried it with the Asante FR1004AL and the Linksys BEFW11S4, and I was told by Asante that roaming wasn’t supported. Bummer, since creating roaming networks is the best way to extend the range of a wireless network if you have Ethernet in the appropriate locations.
Uplink port. The Linksys BEFW11S4 has an uplink port for connecting to other hubs or switches, although you can’t use it and the normal Ethernet port next to it at the same time. More conveniently, the Asante FR1004AL can use any of its ports as an uplink port, and it senses the need to switch to an uplink port automatically.
Interface. Both gateways use a Web-based interface, and I found both a little flaky to reload pages on occasion. The Asante FR004AL’s interface is easier to use, but almost any change requires that you restart the gateway. Even though that’s easily done from the Web interface, it’s an annoying extra step that’s not necessary for most changes on the Linksys BEFW11S4.
Network services. For the most part, they’re the same, but the Asante FR1004AL has a built-in dynamic DNS client, which could be a welcome aid in running a Web server on an account with a dynamic IP address. On the other side of the fence, the Linksys BEFW11S4 offers an option to allow VPN software to work through it; I can’t find anything similar in the Asante FR1004AL’s interface, though perhaps it’s just the default setting.
Cost. Neither gateway is expensive, though the Linksys BEFW11S4 costs about $70 on the street, whereas the Asante FR1004AL is a bit more at $90.
Go with Mac Support — As you can probably tell, testing the Asante FR1004AL in place of the Linksys BEFW11S4 hasn’t exactly rocked my world. Everything works more or less the way it used to, and I’ve already found solutions to the problems the Asante FR1004AL addresses with special features. But despite the more expensive price, I’m still going to recommend that you consider the Asante FR1004AL if you’re looking for an 802.11b-based access point, for one simple reason: Asante knows about the Mac. Linksys is at best ignorant about Macs, and even when their equipment works well with Macs (as it usually does), you’ll have a harder time talking with a support person who will have a clue about any Mac-related issues.
Of course, at this point in time, the question is whether you should buy an 802.11b-based wireless gateway over one that supports 802.11g, since the newer 802.11g-based gateways offer faster speeds for Macs with AirPort Extreme cards, full backwards compatibility with older 802.11b gear, and only slightly higher prices. On the other hand, you would also need to buy new wireless network cards (where possible; see "AirPort 3.1 Supports Third Party 802.11g PC Cards" in TidBITS-687) to take advantage of 802.11g’s speed, and it may not help if you’re just using your wireless network to share an Internet connection, since even 802.11b’s 11 Mbps is faster than most Internet connections. I’m also not sure if any non-Apple 802.11g wireless gateways currently support AppleTalk (though I’m sure Asante is working on an 802.11g update to the FR1044AL).
In end, I hope this article gave you some insight into how you might compare wireless gateways in the future, even after these particular models are no longer available. There are often multiple ways to skin the proverbial cat, and depending on your situation, a particular wireless gateway may be just what you need.
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iMovie has become something of an odd duck in the Macintosh world. When Apple first introduced iMovie in 1999, the notion of easily editing digital video on a consumer Mac wasn’t an easy sell. At the time, we described iMovie as "a consumer version of Apple’s Final Cut Pro video editing software, which Apple apparently hopes will reveal a market for consumer video editing it has been trying to find for more than three years." (To our surprise, many readers expressed much interest in video editing then, via both TidBITS Talk and a poll we ran that week.)
Since then, iMovie has been a huge success for Apple, cited as much for its ease of use as for its capabilities as a video editor (even four years later, no Windows product has matched iMovie’s features and ease of use). Although iMovie never displaced Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere in professional circles, it has provided a new outlet for expression to amateur filmmakers, vacationers, hobbyists, and school kids.
iMovie also helped give rise to Apple’s digital hub strategy, which was especially evident in the release of iMovie 3 as part of the iLife suite of applications at last year’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco (see "Apple Software Spices Up iLife" in TidBITS-662). iMovie 3 imports music from iTunes 4 and images from iPhoto 2 with ease, and offers a direct route for turning movies into DVDs through iDVD 3.
So why do I say that iMovie is now an odd duck?
Unlike most Apple software – or, in fact, most software in general – iMovie took a lurch backward in terms of performance with version 3. This quickly became apparent as I began work on my most recent book for Peachpit Press, iMovie 3 for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide. Although the program introduced a number of welcome new features, performance was sluggish, the program crashed for no reason, and exporting data was problematic (see "iMovie, Take 3" in TidBITS-665). iMovie 3 had become the new Word 6 (for those who remember that giant step backwards).
Then again, it may not be that bad. It must be noted that some people report having no problems with the program at all. I salute those lucky souls, because for me and untold others with whom I’ve corresponded, iMovie 3 has been unexpectedly troublesome.
How this came about isn’t clear, and Apple is characteristically mum on the subject. However, I’ve read reports that a big factor was an Apple mandate to rewrite iMovie as a Cocoa application, versus existing in Carbon as was the case with iMovie 2 (for that reason, iMovie 3 will run only under Mac OS X, whereas iMovie 2 works under both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X). Another reason could be iMovie 3’s greater reliance on QuickTime; as QuickTime improves, so does iMovie, which was evident when iMovie 3.0.3 and QuickTime 6.3 were released together in June with dramatically improved performance.
That said, iMovie 3 isn’t a lost cause. The latest updates above improve performance and fix many of the program’s initial shortcomings. Since we haven’t written much about iMovie 3 specifically in TidBITS, I want to cover some tips about a few of the new features and point out some areas where the program still needs work so that those who are using iMovie 3 won’t be tripped up.
Working with iDVD — As part of the iLife integration, iMovie makes it easy to create an iDVD project of the movie you’ve built. You can also set up chapter markers in iMovie that the viewers of your DVD can jump to without fast-forwarding through every frame of your movie. The chapter markers are pretty rudimentary: move iMovie’s playhead to the location where you want to start a chapter, switch to the DVD pane, and click the Add Chapter button. It would be nice to be able to edit a marker should you decide that the chapter should begin at a different location on the timeline, but instead you must delete the marker and create a new one. Once chapters are set, simply click the Create iDVD Project button, which launches iDVD 3 and assembles the project.
But what if you don’t own iDVD 3? Perhaps you chose not to pay for the iLife upgrade (since iDVD 3 was the only iLife application not available as a free download), or perhaps you’re using iMovie on a Mac that doesn’t include a SuperDrive. In iMovie 2, you could save your movie using a "For iDVD" option in the Export dialog box, but choosing the same option in iMovie 3 results in a polite message that says you need iDVD 3. Fortunately, you can still export your movie in a format that iDVD 2 will read. In the Export dialog box, choose To QuickTime from the Export pop-up menu, and then choose Full Quality DV from the Formats pop-up menu. You can then import that QuickTime movie into iDVD 2, though you lose any chapter markers you may have set up.
Speaking of iDVD 3, remember that you can now run it on machines that don’t include a SuperDrive by applying the iDVD 3.0.1 update (see "Using iDVD 3.0.1 on Non-SuperDrive Macs" in TidBITS-690). When I wrote that short article, I said it wasn’t possible to install iDVD 3 from the iLife discs because the installer checks to make sure your Mac has a SuperDrive installed. It turns out that I didn’t dig far enough. If you have an iDVD 3 installation disc (which is a DVD, not a CD, so you at least need a media drive that can read a DVD), follow these steps sent to TidBITS Talk and linked below.
QuickTime Reference Movie — Astute video editors may have noticed an extra file in each iMovie project folder. In addition to the project file itself and the Media folder where video and audio clips are stored, iMovie 3 creates a QuickTime reference movie that reflects the state of the timeline at the last saved state. The file itself isn’t very large because, like the iMovie project file, it contains only pointers to which sections of the media files are in use, as well as which titles, transitions, and effects have been applied.
The reference file becomes useful when you want to preview your movie outside of iMovie, such as in QuickTime Player or other third party viewers. It’s also a quick way of adding a movie to an existing iDVD project. That’s because using the Create iDVD Project button in iMovie 3 causes a new iDVD project to be created. If you instead drag this reference movie into iDVD, it creates a new folder in the project containing the movie and all of its chapter markers. This approach also retains the Play Movie option in iDVD, which can play the movie from start to finish while still retaining the chapters.
Audio Export Gotchas — Unfortunately, the audio quality in exported iMovie movies remains one of the program’s most annoying problems. Users report audible pops and sections where audio and video get out of sync.
One suggestion is to make sure your audio source is recorded at 16-bit audio instead of 12-bit. With 12-bit audio capture, the camcorder records audio in two separate stereo channels, which leaves room on the tape to go in and record more audio if necessary. 16-bit capture grabs audio at a higher quality level and leaves no room for more recording. However, since you’re editing footage in iMovie instead of on the camera, the only benefit to using 12-bit audio is that it takes up less hard drive space when you import it; also, iMovie doesn’t recognize separate audio channels the way other video editing software (such as Final Cut Express) does. If your footage is currently in 12-bit audio, export it from iMovie back to a blank MiniDV tape in your camcorder set to 16-bit audio, then re-import it into iMovie.
Another suggestion sounds a bit more dubious, but seems to work. If, after exporting, audio fades aren’t working, or if clips you had marked silent are still audible (which happened to me on one DVD project), the fix seems to be to have one clip selected in the timeline when you export your movie.
For clips whose audio has slipped out of sync, try extracting the video clip’s audio to a separate track (select the clip and choose Extract Audio from the Advanced menu). Make sure the audio track is locked to the video track by positioning the playhead within the two clips and choosing Lock Audio Clip at Playhead from the Advanced menu.
Performance Issues — Perhaps the most sporadic issue with iMovie 3 is general performance. Although iMovie 3.0.3 greatly improved performance, I still see stuttering audio and video, and occasional sluggish response when selecting clips or switching between the different effects panes. One general recommendation is to reduce the size of iMovie’s window (now that the program doesn’t cannibalize the entire screen, as in iMovie 1 and 2). Also, remove any third-party iMovie plug-ins to see if that helps. Since iMovie (and Mac OS X) love to consume memory, quit other running applications, and consider installing more RAM if your budget permits (see dealram for current RAM prices).
Sticking with iMovie 2 — If the performance of iMovie 3 is unacceptable, and if you upgraded from iMovie 2, you can use it to open projects created in iMovie 3 as long as you don’t mind abandoning iMovie 3’s new features. If you haven’t yet upgraded to iMovie 3, be sure to make a copy of iMovie 2 to ensure that the version 3 installer doesn’t overwrite it. Or, if you have a set of your Mac’s Software Restore discs that include iMovie 2, you can use a utility such as Pacifist to extract the iMovie 2-specific installer.
No doubt I haven’t covered some problems you may be facing with iMovie; Apple’s support discussion boards are filled with people reporting unexpected crashes, for example, that appear to be sporadic or difficult to reproduce. Although frustrating, these types of issues can be solved only by Apple’s engineers. Given the company’s high-profile push for iLife and the digital hub lifestyle, it’s hopefully only a matter of time before Apple works out these issues. Nonetheless, I strongly recommend letting Apple know what you’re running into by going to the feedback Web page listed below or by choosing Provide iMovie Feedback from the iMovie menu. Apple employees have assured us that these feedback reports are read, and enough of them can encourage an executive to reapportion development budgets to address the reported problems.
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Eudora 6 comments — Eudora 6’s new spam-catching capabilities generated lots of questions and answers, as did problems with Eudora’s extremely helpful way of opening Web pages in the background when their URLs are Command-clicked. (40 messages)
Extending networks with WDS — Glenn Fleishman’s article about the WDS compatibility between AirPort Extreme Base Stations and Buffalo’s WLA-G54 prompted discussion about how wired network segments were handled under WDS-bridged networks. (3 messages)
.Mac a year later — It’s been a year, and TidBITS Talk participants are trading notes on whether or not they’ll be paying Apple for another year of .Mac service. (10 messages)
Safari faster without cache — Safari is a fast Web browser, but could it be even faster if you turn off its caching of Web pages? (4 messages)
SideTrack trackpad driver — Previous discussion of scrolling techniques had Nik Gerber moaning about how the Mac lacked custom trackpad drivers that would let you scroll using special portions of the trackpad. He mentioned this to Alex Harper, author of uControl, and a short while later, Alex released a public beta of SideTrack, providing extra trackpad functionality. Check it out! (1 message)