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How to remove QuarkXPress from OS X

Apparently to simply know Quark is enough to marry them and be destined to a long life of emotional distance and abuse and crying yourself to sleep every night.

battletoads-vs-quark.jpgNot only do both the 30-day trial and full versions of Quark software *not* come with uninstallers, but searches in their own help forums and support section return 0 results if you search for the word "uninstall".

Oddly, Google searches don't offer any more information so apparently I'm going out on a limb here by posting this "checklist" for filing your divorce papers electronically.

To uninstall Quark seek out and find the following files on your computer and delete them. Then empty the trash and restart your computer:

/Applications/QuarkXPress Folder
/Library/Preferences/Quark Folder
/Library/ScriptingAdditions/QXPScriptingAdditions.osax
/Users/{yourusername}/Library/Preferences/Quark folder
/Users/{yourusername}/Library/Preferences/QXPInstallDataOLD
/Users/{yourusername}/Library/Preferences/User Data {some serial number} (just look for the file with the Quark icon and delete that one)

If I've missed any files here please post in the comments section for the benefit of all. Many thanks.

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on March 31, 2007 | Comments (5)

New Intel Macs: Either go Universal or Get Out

If it hasn't made itself apparent with past posts or in-person rants if you know me, I don't like emulation or on-the-fly translation and I only do it when absolutely necessary. Despite what people say, even with these new amazingly fast computers, having to emulate anything seriously affects performance and everyday users will notice a slowdown if they started with a fast computer then add emulation (otherwise they'll just think they have a brand new computer that's really slow).

Recently Bronzefinger got it's hands on a fancy new MacBook Pro and lent a hand migrating a user over from an old G4 tower.

Before beginning the migration we meticulously combed through the old computer's:
- Applications Folder
- Applications/Utilities Folder
- System Prefs (for add-on extensions)

...and compiled a spreadsheet of all programs that we actually needed. This gave us an opportunity to get rid of some old stuff that was no longer used and keep things lean and mean.

Then we went to the web and looked to see what had been turned into a Universal Binary and downloaded it to a "to install" folder that we created.

checklist.gif
A clipping from our migration checklist spreadsheet

Instead of using Apple's ordinarily great "Migration Assistant" program (which could copy over PowerPC applications or extensions) we opted to start from scratch (recommended) and create a new user account on the new computer and migrate files and email and such over manually. This way we could control everything and keep it clean and keep it native.

Most common things you'll run into:
- Mail.app has mail folder importing built in so all you have to do is point it to the mail folder on your old computer and let it do the work. We installed the httpmail extension and set up all the IMAP email accounts from scratch
- simply copy the items in /Users/youruser/Pictures over to the same folder in your new computer and that will take care of all your iPhoto stuff
- same with /Users/youruser/Music/iTunes music for your iTunes library and songs
- iCal and Address book can be exported on the old computer and imported on the new computer by choosing File/Back up database... and File/Revert to database backup...
- Safari and FF bookmarks can also be exported from old computer and imported on the new
- All non-Apple programs will need to be installed using the updates and installers you downloaded from the developer's websites

Once we had everything migrated and started firing up programs performance was great. Not much has come close to the snappiness of fast G4's running OS 9 (because it was such a light operating system windows would be open the millisecond that you were on the second click of your double-click) but overall performance was enough not to wish for more.

Until, that is, we ran into the unavoidable: Adobe CS.

This system could not wait for the Universal Binary version of 'CS3 (which is reported to offer significant gains) so we had to install CS2 and we noticed a system-wide performance drag immediately afterwards. We are seeing the pinwheel much more often. Windows will lag opening and closing. Since we had a pristine system to begin with it was easy to identify CS2 as the culprit.


powerPC-a-drag.jpg

How do you know if your Intel Mac is secretly running old PowerPC code? Go into Applications/Utilities and open "Activity Monitor". Even for non-techies I always put this program in the "startup items" folder of all user accounts I work on, set the dock icon to "CPU history" and tell the computer owner to glance at it if their machine is running slow and they will be able to see "how hard it's working" and take some solace in that.

Anyway, in the Activity Monitor choose "All Processes" in the top menu and look in the "kind" column -- you'll see everything running on your machine and what is foreign and dirty.

ppc-on-intel.gif
culprits in blue

It sounds like a lot of tweaky "PC-like" work, but if you can bear it (presuming you are migrating from a G3, G4, or G5 computer) the performance gains are dramatic and well worth the extra time spent setting up your new computer the long way.

We're looking into using Matterform Media's yank to rip out CS2 from this machine and Quark 6.1 on a different machine and will report back on that in a future post. Yank has the potential to save a lot of time rooting around on your hard drive to find and delete all the little files that installers put all over the place. I don't consider a program "uninstalled" until every last file related to it is gone.

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on March 22, 2007 | Comments (2)

More "Office Hippies" than "Office Pirates"

Has it been three years already? According to our records it has. Three years ago we first began to wade into the open waters of OpenOffice.org, a free alternative to the Microsoft Office.

At the the time it showed a lot of potential and we knew this was the direction to go; the Microsoft suite of applications had become so expensive and so bloated that it was no longer worthwhile to purchase. If you did you got a pile of programs that had 10x the features you'd ever use dealing you both a performance and financial hit.

Though not necessarily speedier, OpenOffice.org at least let you do spreadsheets for free and enjoy full compatibility with all major forms of document, spreadsheet, and presentation format. It seemed pretty good for Intel machines (Windows, Linux) but wasn't fully compatible with Mac.

In order to run on Mac you had to install an additional service on your computer called X11 (akin to OS 9 "Classic" or the new "Rosetta"). Setup required a developer kit plus a convoluted setup. Launching the program was done by running an Applescript that would set off a chain reaction of starting X11, then the OpenOffice.org suite.

Once you got it running you'd notice how X11 (unix) looks like ass, has an entirely different interface than OS X (everything from windows to menus to the cursor) and doesn't work very gracefully with Apple's fonts or print drivers etc.

Luckily a group of good people took the OpenOffice.org base code and ported it to OS X and have been integrating it slowly with Aqua and more. It's called NeoOffice and it runs off Java which is alright since OS X is running all the time anyway. After an initial lag on startup performance isn't terrible, and it looks a LOT better than the base OpenOffice.org. As of this writing I would also say that NeoOffice 2.1 looks a LOT better than Microsoft Office; it's interface has been given a new set of icons and the interface is really clean and simple.

ship2.jpg
I have to presume that the pirate ship icon is more a "fight the power" kind of thing than "steal software". As such, Haus Interactive designed the Mac icon you see below to replace the existing one.

We are happy to re-release it today:

Control-Click Here and select "Download linked file as..." to download .icns file.

To use:
- after downloading the icon single click it to highlight and "get info" (Apple-i on the keyboard or right-click and choose "get info")
- "copy" (Apple-c on the keyboard or the menu "edit/copy")
- single click on your NeoOffice icon and "get info"
- click on the icon and you'll see it highlight in blue
- "paste" the new icon (Apple-v on the keyboard or the menu "edit/paste")

If it doesn't work you may need to change the permission on the NeoOffice application temporarily. To do this:
- in the "get info" screen expand the "Ownership & Permissions" section and under "details" click the little padlock, enter your password, change ownership from "system" to your name
- after you successfully paste in the new icon change the permissions back to "system" and lock the padlock
chown-neooffice.gif

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on March 22, 2007 | Comments (0)

The problem with cellphones and an example of how freedom (Palm OS) is still the best mobile platform

The biggest problem I see with cellphones are that they are merely technology "teases" that are either unable to realize their full potential (no developer kit or platform) or "crippled" to allow the cell phone provider sell additional functionality for pure profit with no additional strain on their network or customer service.

In my worst futuristic nightmare the RIAA and cellular service providers would bring the limitations of cell phones to the world of computers, absolutely destroying their usefulness.

While most non-technical cell phone users will only experience a few frustrations per phone and provider, those accustomed to a high level of freedom will find themselves gnashing their teeth with all but a few phones.

I'm not sure what the problem is here, but there seems to be a real lack of interest from service providers in making any friends of subscribers. People are rabid fans of Apple computer not because of their love of black turtlenecks, but because the technology opens up a new world for them and they feel that Apple gives them something of value, something empowering.

The thing cell phone companies and providers don't realize (or realize and won't publicly acknowledge until they can fully monitize it) is that cell phones have a lot of potential, and that people want to tap into it.

A good example of this is the Palm Treo which continues to sell despite having an "outdated" OS. Why? Because it has literally tens of thousands of useful applications to empower you to do everything from manage grocery lists to ssh into unix servers to play nintendo games.


Here is a recent story of a very simple desire to use an apparent "feature" of a basic cell phone and where and how often it dead-ended:

My parents recently purchased their very first cell phones. Their package came with new Motorola Razr V3s. Nice looking phones. Well constructed. Tight. One of them came with a music package that included stereo headset/mic, an SD expansion card and some extra software.

One of the things they wanted to do with it was to use the voice memo feature to record notes to their SD card, and then plug the SD card into their computer for archiving. Simple, right? WRONG.

Upon review the owner's manual stated the camera and camcorder preferences could be changed to save documents to an SD card, but the voice memo program's could not.

A few hours on the internet provided me with a few answers, none of which were desirable:
- there are no free applications one can download and install that offer more control of voice recording
- there were no paid applications one can download and install that offer more control of voice recording
- the motomodders (who provide no-warranty versions of modified firmware that provide additional functionality) had addressed this voice memo limitation in their forums but had not discovered the hack to fix the problem.

So I thought I'd break out my trusty Palm Treo 700p and see if it wasn't worlds better in it's standard configuration. I was surprised to find out that it wasn't, but that the limitations were surmountable (just like on a computer):

Out of the box the "voice memo" software was easy to find and use. Sound quality when played on phone was good. Browsing the SD card turned up no audio files, however. No preferences were available to change the recording destination to the SD expansion card.

Online forums mentioned finding what appeared to be the recordings on the phone's RAM using FileZ or Explorer but in the end they were 0kb in size instead of the 100s that an actual recording would be.

So what next? There were still built-in options to send the memos to a computer via email from the phone or bluetooth. (This is less than desirable as this would require manually copying each and every memo instead of having them synchronized with everything else using a standard hotsync)

After copying the file to my computer I discovered that it was in "PureVoice" (.qcp) format which you need to convert to listen to. Qualcomm (the owners of the PureVoice format and the makers of the PureVoice player) dropped Mac support back in the OS 9 days but you can still get if for Windows versions here:
http://www.cdmatech.com/products/purevoice_download.jsp
(while you're on the Qualcomm site you should bitch at them about the lack of an OS X version :-) )

At the time of writing Mac users could convert their PureVoice files online for free at media-convert.com. You have to be careful about the file format you choose to convert to as a standard 900KB Purevoice file can easily turn into a 10MB mp3. I like a nice 16000Hz, mono, 8-bit .wav with no noise reduction as that's pretty close to the original in quality.

So this is a workable solution but a real pain in the ass as there are so many steps involved plus a potential privacy breach by sending all of your precious audio across the web and back.

Thanks once again to a thriving developers community the next step finally brought us the answer:
For $9 you can get yourself a copy of the rather inappropriately named "Voice Mail Recorder" which does NOT:

- pick up your calls for you and record voicemail...

...but rather does:

- record at 16khz which is nice quality for voice (built in voice memo is 8khz)
- allow you to record to SD card as a usable .wav file
- have easy one-handed controls using the 5-way controller
- record to a folder in /Audio/ which does not interfere with pTunes. Also allows you to easily find the folder to add to your sync list if you use Missing Sync for Palm OS

voicemail-memos.gif
Screen shot of navigating to the Voicemail folder on the Treo SD card using Cardreader

With each year that passes, consumers hold more and more power in the palm of their hands and yet few manufacturers or cell phone providers are stepping up to the plate to allow this power to be unleashed.

Only in the world of cell phones do you run into true dead-ends and find problems that simply do not have solutions.

This breeds frustration and has the opposite effect of building a loyal consumer base. It simply keeps the status quo and gives customers reason to not just replace their phones every two years, but their providers as well.

Sadly all they find at their new provider is a new set of frustrations.

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on March 19, 2007 | Comments (3)

How to record multiple simultaneous instruments in Garageband

If you're a musician who is coming from the world of analog to digital, or are a beginner to music the very first thing you're going to want to do after you master a basic program like GarageBand is to add more musicians to the mix and record the gang all at once without spending a small fortune on equipment.

Enter the largely undocumented world of beginner Firewire interfaces. Music ubergeeks are unable to simplifly all their techspeek to explain how simple these actually are and the music beginners don't know enough about them to post a sensible explanation so let me help to fill the gap with three simple images:

inspire-gt-case.jpg
This is the Presonus Inspire. It is a fairly inexpensive ($200 on average) box you can use to plug your band into your computer via a FireWire cable. It has 2 pairs of inputs that can be used simultaneously: pre-amped XLRs for microphones and 1/4" line-levels for a guitar and a bass. You can use one from each pair simultaneously.

The Presonus gear is the only stuff in this price category that I've seen documented sufficiently (both reviews and forum discussions with honest feedback) on the web so this is the one I bought to try. The Inspire "1394" is usually the model you'll find but if you're lucky you can find the "GT" (pictured) which is basically the same thing for the same price but with flames engraved on the top and a software package that includes Cubase LE.

This little Mac-Mini-sized box is compatible with the Firewire standard so on an Apple computer with OS 10.4 you won't need to install *anything*. Just plug it in and open GarageBand.

1-garageband-prefs.gif
In Garageband go to your preferences and set your Presonus Inspire as your input and make some new "real instrument" audio tracks as you normally would.

2-new-inputs.gif
You will see in the properties of the track your 4 inputs. Just choose the right one for each instrument and that's it.

You can install the Presonus control panel if you want more control over microphone popping, gain and other controls. The Presonus control panel is also useful if your microphone uses an XLR to XLR cable which requires that power be sent to it to operate. If your microphone cable is XLR to 1/4" you will not need the 48v "phantom power".

You can "daisy chain" multiple Presonus boxes together via a Firewire cable to add more band members to the mix.

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on March 9, 2007 | Comments (2)