Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lots of action lately

Microsoft FINALLY released the converter so users of Office 2004 will be able to read the .docx and other -x documents created in Windows 2007 Office and Mac 2008 Office. Go get it here: http://tinyurl.com/4z2bfa and follow the instructions. I have not tried it myself because I already have 2008 (slow, dysfunctional turd that it is).
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The notable exploit for Apple Remote Desktop has a couple of other solutions, which you can find on macfixit.com. Otherwise just wait for Software Update to announce a new security update, then wait a couple of days in case they screw it up badly and have to replace it, then install it.
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This past week I have run into two Macs with dead FireWire ports. Nothing would show when plugged into them. In both cases, I was able to fix by resetting the PMMU chip. One was a G4 tower. On the motherboard there is a little button, about 1/3 inch square, with PMMU printed just below it. Get a flashlight and carefully scan over the board. The button is not covered up by anything, unless you have an AirPort card installed, which you should slide out part way if you can't find it elsewhere. Press this button for five seconds and then close up your Mac. Reset the PRAM by hitting the power button and immediately holding down the keys P, R, Command and Option. Keep holding down for three chimes, then release and let it come up normally. If that doesn't fix the port, then it is truly dead.

The other Mac was a MacBook and it was simpler: shut down, remove the battery and power cord, press the Power button briefly, then put the battery and cord back and reset the PRAM as described above.

There was a MacBook that also had the problem and nothing fixed it, so it was off to a Mac dealer to have it fixed under AppleCare. That fix will necessitate a new motherboard, which costs twice as much as the AppleCare contract. If your Mac is less than a year old and you haven't purchased AppleCare yet, do it now. Not only will Apple help talk to you for the entire three years, you will save major bucks if anything goes wrong with the computer.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Epson troubles

Today I had to fix a recalcitrant Epson printer. It had been working for a while but then developed the dreaded "Lost contact with the printer" message. Tried reinstalling the drivers but when I went to the setup utility it did not show the newly-installed driver option.

Called Epson, with trepidation because I have been hearing that the quality of their support has been fading over the years, but had a good experience this time. Even though the tech called himself "Dave" he was obviously in India, or an Indian working somewhere else, but he was understandable. He was overly reliant on phrases like "Thank you for that information" but not impossible and we resolved the issue.

I had to completely remove all printer parts including the Epson Printers in the Library/Receipts folder, the two Epson .plist files in the Preferences folder and everything in the Epson folder in the Library/Printers folder. Then the reinstallation was successful. Still, in the Printer Setup Utility, I had to ignore the printer that showed up initially and choose More Printers, then the popup for Epson Firewire (yours may be Epson USB or Epson Ethernet) and only then did the correct driver show up and the install finish successfully. Sheesh.

The secret phone number to call them is 562-276-1300, which is not listed anywhere on their site.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Installing Leopard

Stephan writes,
I attempted to install the update for Leopard but they said I didn't have enough disc space and that I should remove some of the stuff on my start up drive.  I'm sure you know what that means, but I don't!

Yes, your disk is too full. It should never be more than 80% full and 50% is better. Too many iTunes songs or iPhoto pictures? Something is filling it up. Open the main HD window in list view, then go to View Options and check the box for Calculate All Sizes. Open up subcategories by clicking the little triangle to the left of each folder name. It will take a while but it will calculate the contents of each folder. Don't delete stuff you don't understand (like the Library) but if you find the culprit to be too many movies, pictures or iTunes, delete or archive somewhere else. Then you should be able to upgrade.

Dish Network (No Mac content)

I should start off with a comment about a problem I have been unable to find an answer to: Dish Network chopping off the left and right sides of network programming. Before two months ago, most programs were sent out by the networks and broadcast in 16x9 wide-screen format. On conventional TVs, that would result in letterboxing - black bars at the top and bottom. Those with wide-screen TVs could zoom the picture to fill their screen. When viewing a normal 4x3 picture, they could zoom out so the pic would fill top to bottom and black bars would appear on the sides. All was fine and good.

The local stations are still broadcasting this way, but Dish users with normal (not HD) tuners are finding the picture cropped, obviously so, because credits, ad bugs and the like are cut off. So far, no one at Dish has been able or willing to explain why they started doing this and when they will go back to normal. I can't even verify if it's an Oregon phenomenon or national. The satellite/cable channels do not have this problem; if sent in 16x9 we see them in 16x9.

I'd love both an answer and a verification that this is happening to people around the country, and also if it is affecting DirectTV customers as well.


Welcome to the Moonlight Mac weblog. This replaces my monthly column in ComputerChips magazine, now defunct. To read my past articles, visit the articles page on my regular site.

The appearance of this will change over time as I learn how to configure it. There will be a way to subscribe to it so you will be alerted when there are new posts. This will not affect, but may duplicate, the e-list of my clients who now get alerts and used to get my monthly column.

I will also answer Mac questions whenever possible. If you are in town and need a personal visit to get your Mac working, or just get it working better than it is now, contact me directly via email: mp at moonmac dot com.