E Channel News are spammers

It appears that the people at E-ChannelNews.com do not want you to contact them. You cannot unsubscribe from their unwanted email (the provided mechanism doesn’t work.) There is no phone number to contact them with and any attempt to email them bounces back.

It is this author’s expert opinion that they are spammers – and I am going to report them. If you are having trouble getting off their mailing list I suggest you do the same.

Unlocking Leopard and iLife08’s iPhoto Library

Q. Before upgrading to Leopard I was able to see my photographs in the Finder. After the upgrade I can only see the “iPhoto Library” so I cannot import images into QuarkXpress. Is there a way to import my iPhoto images into Xpress?

A. Apple has changed the way iPhoto stores images and changed the “iPhoto Library” from a folder into a “bundle”. A bundle is a special folder that appears in the Finder as an object and in fact all applications on MacOS X are bundles. Bundles were created so that an application’s resources such, as icons and other support files, could be stored in the same place. When you click on a applications icon in the Finder you are clicking on a bundle. So it would seem that you cannot access the images in the bundle…

You can see the contents of a bundle in the Finder by “right clicking” (or control clicking) the bundle which opens a contextual menu. Choose “Show Package Contents” from the menu and the bundle will open like a folder. You can then navigate through the folders to view the resources inside. You can also use this method to find your images in the iPhoto Library. The original images are located in the “Originals” folder sorted by year and date. Unfortunately you cannot use QuarkXpress’s “Import Picture” function so you will need the “Drag and Drop” Xtension.

Fortunately the folks at Quark Labs (http://labs.quark.com) have made an Xtension that will allow images to be sent to a QuarkXpress layout. Download the “Image Drag and Drop” Xtension for QuarkXpress 7 and copy it into you Xtension folder. Once there you can open iPhoto and drag an image onto the QuarkXpress layout. The Xtension is able to locate images inside the iPhoto Library bundle.

Can’t Open new Word “.docx” files

Q. Our client has recently started sending us Word files that we cannot open. They say they have the latest version of Word. Is there another way that they can save their files?

A. Your customer has recently upgraded to either Word 2007 on Windows or Word 2008 on Macintosh. Previous versions of Word and Excel stored the data that made up the file in a binary format. This made it difficult to work with, outside of Microsoft’s suite. If you take a close look at the filename you may see that the file extension is “.docx”. This is a new format from Microsoft based on “Office Open XML” format = making the files more portable. This means that more features can be contained in a single document using specialized document objects.

If you have the new Word installed you can avoid complications when sending out files by choosing “Save As” and selecting “Word 97- 2004” format. That will ensure that the file is saved in the older, more familiar file format. If you need to, you can choose “Preferences” from the “Word 2008″ menu on your Mac and choose “Word 97 – 2004” format from the Word tab. On a PC, click the “Office Button”, go to “Word Options” and choose “Word 98-2003” format.

Microsoft has also made file converters available for converting “.docx” files on a Mac or PC without the new Office Suite. On a PC you can install the “Office Compatibility Pack” (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/924074). For Macintosh you can download the Open XML converter at (http://www.microsoft.com/mac/downloads.mspx)

Leopard Sharing

Q. I recently upgraded my Macs to version 10.5 Leopard and I cannot figure out how to connect to my computers for File Sharing. When I connect I only see a “Drop Box”. How can I access other files on the shared Macs?

A. The answer is simple – Apple has simplified File Sharing. You’re being confused by the simplicity… read on.

The latest incarnation of Mac OS X 10.5 aka Leopard has changed a few things about how we can connect and collaborate with other computers. Before Mac OS X, there was a way to connect to another Macs and access “shared foders” – which until recently was only possible by using a File Server, installing a third party application such as “Share Points” or by modifying the folder permissions on the remote Mac and possibly creating further problems. File permissions are set to protect our data from other users and ultimately from ourselves.

Mac OS X Leopard combines UNIX (POSIX) permissions and Access Control Lists (ACLs) in way that has made it easy for almost anyone to manage – you don’t even have to understand this sentence. Leopard makes it possible to quickly and easily connect to our neighboring Macs. In one step, you open the “Sharing” pane in “System Preferences” and put a checkmark next to “File Sharing”. Other Leopard Macs will immediately be able to see you in the “Side Bar” on any Finder window. They simply click on your Mac’s icon and they are connected as “Guest” and have instant access to the “Public” folder in your home folder.

To connect as a specific user and access more files, they can press “Connect As” and they will get the familiar login prompt – where you enter a username and password. Then depending on the permissions they have access to virtual any files and folders on your Mac. A new feature is that from the File Sharing pane you can create a “Share Point”, by clicking the “+” and choosing a folder and set the sharing permissions.

If you have connected and opened a folder on a remote Mac as “Guest” and you want to access as another user. Press the eject icon in the side bar, then click on the icon and choose “Connect As” to get back to the login prompt.

Another cool feature is that you can also use “Screen Sharing” where another user can control your Mac’s screen with a remote computer. You can instantly collaborate or have someone manage your computer for training or support.

Outlook’s missing addresses

Q. I recently moved my files over to a new PC but I’m having a problem with addressing email. In the past, when I started typing an address, they would appear. On the new PC I have to go to the Address Book and even though I have imported by email and contacts some addresses are missing.

A. Most email programs, especially those from Microsoft, store email addresses in a cache file. Luckily for you, this file is not deleted when you exit your mail program. If you can go back to your old PC you will find the address cache in a file called “Outlook.NK2”. Look for this file in “Documents and SettingsyournameApplication DataMicrosoftOutlookOutlook.NK2”.

To get the old cache onto your new PC, first exit Outlook, locate the current “Outlook.NK2” and rename it “Outlook.bak.NK2”. Then simply copy the file from your old PC and place it in the same folder. When you start Outlook again it will use this cache file. If you’re running Microsoft Outlook 2007 it may complain that the program wasn’t shutdown properly and it will repair any inconsistencies.

Vista Email problems

Q. I am having trouble with my email on Windows Vista. There is a message stuck in my Outbox that will not go away. I’ve called my ISP and they can offer no help. What can I do?

A. Welcome to “Window’s Mail”, Microsoft’s replacement for Outlook Express – the free email program that came with previous versions of Windows. With Outlook Express the email messages, contacts and tasks were stored in a single database file. With Outlook you could usually run a built in utility to repair the database. In fact Microsoft Outlook 2007, part on Office 2007 will automatically repair itself if something goes wrong.

The new Windows Mail stores all of the parts of your email in separate files so fixing things may prove to be easier. The message that you have stuck in the Out Box is a phantom email message of sorts. It is possible to rebuild by removing the file and allowing Windows Mail to rebuild them. If you want to keep your messages, then you would copy the files to a safe location, like your Desktop, and then re-import them into the repaired Mail.

You will find the Mail files under your user folder. (Microsoft has also gone to a more Unix like folder structure.) Look in “UsersyournameApplication DataMicrosoftWeb Mail”. You will a bunch of files there. Copy the “Web Mail” folder to your Desktop. Then remove all the files from the original location. When you start Windows Mail again it will rebuild the contents of the “Web Mail” folder.

After it has started again, you can go the File -> Import -> Messages and re-import your messages from the copy you stored on your Desktop. Note. You may have to start your machine in “Safe Mode” to be able to delete the files – if it says they’re busy. If you don’t know how to start in Safe Mode then you shouldn’t be doing this, should you?

safari vs keychain

Q. Every time I launch Safari it asks me to enter my Keychain Password. I’ve entered my password but it won’t accept it. How can I fix this?
A. The reason why the Keychain prompt comes up is probably because your login password was changed recently. By the way, I’m referring to the password used to log into the Mac when it starts. In fact, your Mac may be set to “login automatically” in which case it doesn’t ask for you password.
There are a couple of ways to change your password. You can simply change the password through the System Preference pane “Accounts”. Simply type a new password into the Password field (you will be asked to supply the old password.) Once the new password is confirmed it becomes active.
Your password can also be changed by your system administrator (I’m not going to go into that now – it’s a “need to know” issue of security.) Often when the “login” password is changed but the “Keychain password” is not changed.
The Keychain is a utility that stores frequently used passwords, such as server logins, your mail login and some web cookies that can store your passwords. You should be aware that if you save a password in the keychain (by checking “Add password to Keychain”) then any other user can access these areas if the use your account.
Additionally, if you know your Keychain password you can go to the “Keychain Access” utility (located in /Applications/Utilities) and remove the passwords you don’t want stored there. You will see a list of your stored keychain items. You can even see the password that was entered. You will need to enter your password to see the stored password.
A word of CAUTION. You should be aware of this feature and never store banking passwords or any other sensitive passwords in the keychain. If someone can figure out your login password they can find out your stored keychain passwords.
Now to answer the question of how the fix the original problem, when you don’t know your Keychain password: Simply open your “Keychains” folder in the Library of your home folder. Find the file with your login name and throw it in the Trash. Your Mac will then build a new empty keychain – with your current password. Then you won’t be asked to enter the unknown password.

Mac OS X fonts

Q I often seem to have problems getting fonts to load with Suitcase. Either I have to restart Illustrator or I get warnings of font conflicts when the offending font is not open.What’s going on?

A. This is a common query with users on MacOS X. Fonts continue to be problematic whether you’re using Suitcase XI or Font Book. However, this gives me an opportunity to explain some preventive maintenance that you should perform regularly.

To begin with you should “fix permissions” on your Mac on a regular basis (once a month or so.) To do this go to “/Applications/Utilities/” and open Disk Utility. You will see you hard drive listed on the left. Select it by clicking on it. Then under the “First Aid” tab click on “Repair Permissions”. You’ll often find something that needs to be repaired as permissions get altered by software installers and some system updates.

Next, this is the Font part, you should search your Mac for “Adobefnt.lst” files. These are font caches created by Adobe applications – you can safely send these to the trash because they are regenerated as required by the Adobe apps (Illustrator, InDesign and PhotoShop). If you’re a regular Adobe app user you’ll find many of these.

Another area that requires serious attention are font caches. The Mac caches fonts when they are loaded to make subsequent loads faster. When a font is opened, the complex file is examined and the results are stored in a cache file. From time to time these caches can get corrupt and cause font display problems and incorrectly report conflicts.

The easiest way to clean these up is to download “Font Finagler” from “homepage.mac.com/mdouma46/fontfinagler” (formally know as Font Cache Cleaner). Font Finagler will locate all of the font caches on your Mac and delete them. When it’s finished you’ll reboot your Mac and start with a clean slate. The next time you load the font(s) the information will be stored in a font cache.
Performing these steps, repair permissions, remove font lists and caches on a regular basis should keep your Mac running smoothly.

Font is a four letter word

Nothing can bring Quark Xpress to it’s knees quite like a corrupt font. In fact, the whole operating system can suffer. With the introduction of Mac OSX, and it’s ability to use multiple font formats the future looked bright. Missing fonts can still be a headache but at least now when a customer sends a PC TrueType font you can use it. A corrupt fonts can wreak havoc over your Macintosh, which entitles us to say that, “Font is a four-letter word.”

MacOS X seemingly has added another level of complexity to the management of fonts. Fonts can be stored in several locations and are activated in a particular order creating confusion for the average user. Certain fonts are required by the operation system, as well as Apple own applications, so removing them or deactivating them can lead to trouble.

Recently, I was called in to investigate a case where Mail would work intermittently. The user would open the application but the Message Viewer window would not open. Initially, it looked like corrupt Mail preferences. We moved the preferences to the desktop, launched the Mail application but the program still didn’t work.
If you’re having a problem with an application, one of the first things you can do is recreate the application’s preference file. Another trick is to create a second user account, then log in with that second account and test the applications. Nine times out of ten, the application is fine – the problem is the user’s preferences file(s).

You’ll find your application’s preferences in the Preferences folder under your own home folder. (Eg /Users/[yourlogin]/Library/Prefernces). Look for a file ending with “.plist”, with a similar name as your application. In the case of Mail – you would look for “com.apple.mail.plist”. Note: If you delete this file you would be prompted to recreate your mail account login. The other common problem with Apple’s own applications occurs if you move them from the Applications folder. Restore the program to its original location and it may behave.

Returning to the Mail problem, I discovered many other Apple programs were misbehaving. Safari, System Preferences, Mail and even Font Book wouldn’t open properly. In most cases we had to “force quit” the applications. This user was using Font Book to manage her fonts.

Apple has included Font Book as a method for dealing with fonts. It has been improved for the latest system, MacOS 10.4 as Font Book 2. While it enables users to create font sets and has a utility for resolving font conflicts, it is still not as flexible as Third Party applications such as Extensis Suitcase, Font Reserve (and FontAgent Pro) for managing fonts, because they don’t interfere with the operating system – when adding fonts. There are also shareware tools such as FontFinagler for fixing font issues. Most users may deal with a few fonts in their daily workflow, but if you’re a publishing professional, then you know you need a robust font management tool – that can deal with hundreds of fonts and font versions.

In MacOS X, there are several locations for fonts to be installed. The first location belongs to the System “/System/Library/Fonts”. These fonts are best left alone, they’re always active and some are absolutely required by the system.

The second location are the Library fonts “/Library/Fonts”. The third location is the User fonts, “/Users/[yourlogin]/Library/Fonts”. Each user has his own fonts under his home folder. The fourth location is the Classic fonts, “/System Folder/Fonts”. These fonts are available to MacOS X applications even if Classic is not running.

The last two locations are Network fonts and Application fonts. Network fonts are located on a MacOS X Server. Application fonts are stored the Library under Application Support.

If you have duplicate fonts installed, you should be aware of how you Mac deals with them. If the system finds duplicate fonts, then it follows a specific order to activate them. First, it will look in the Application’s own font folder. Second, it will look in the User’s font folder. Third, it will look in the local Library font folder, then Network, System, and Classic font folders.

To resolve the mystery of the applications that wouldn’t open we had to delete Font Book’s preferences. The two main culprits are “com.apple.FontBook.plist” and “com.apple.ATS.plist”. Deleting these to files and rebooting the Mac, restored the functionality to the Mail (and other) applications. Then we were left with the task of figuring out which font was corrupt.

Occasionally a font may appear garbled. If that’s the case then there may be a problem with your font caches. Here you’ll need to remove the following files from “/System/Library/Caches” com.apple.ATS.System.fcache, com.apple.ATSServer.FODB_System, and fontTablesAnnex. You’ll need to be an administrator to do this. Remove the “com.apple.ATS” from the “/Library/Caches” folder, and also remove the “com.apple.ATS.plist” from your own Preferences. Once you’ve done this, restart your Mac.