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ATPM 11.12
December 2005



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iPod Batteries

I recently replaced the battery in my granddaughter’s G3 iPod, and it was a simple process. (I’m not a computer or electronics tech by any imagination.) The hardest part was separating the case, but even that wasn’t difficult if you follow the instructions and use the tool that comes with most replacement batteries. If the original battery goes dead on you and you’re going to trash the iPod, why not give changing the battery a go?

—William Chenault

OmniGraffle Pro 4

I prefer version 2.1. It’s not as bloated with a bazillion floating windows, and it doesn’t put a lame outline around every export. JPEG export crashes under Tiger, so the simple workaround is export as PDF, then use Preview to convert to JPEG. Version 2.1 of OmniGraffle was the best they ever did.

—Matt S.

• • •

A very good review Eric. I’ve used OmniGraffle for some time now, and it just keeps getting better and better. I love the ease of use compared to programs such as Visio on the PC. I look forward to producing diagrams with it because it actually makes it fun.

The Omni Group always seem to turn out slick applications, and for me OmniGraffle is their best. I must admit that I’d tend to stick with Chartsmith for charting, but for diagrams I haven’t found any other software that comes close.

—Karen H.

• • •

If using PowerPoint is someone’s idea of “hard work” then I suspect breathing becomes an almost unbearable chore…


I never said using PowerPoint was hard work. I said making PowerPoint look good was hard work. Heck, I can make a bad PowerPoint presentation in my sleep. Making something look good is a different case, entirely.

—Eric Blair

FileMaking: Welcome to FileMaker 8!

Excellent continuation on the previous article. I especially liked the clear discussion of the Portal function. I’m looking forward to the discussion on Summary Fields. I’m trying to figure out how to get FileMaker to tell me how often a specific number is entered into a field in a database.

—John Endahl

• • •

In spite of the fact that the addition of $ and $$ variables is a good advance, you can’t use them on a layout or as keys to get related records from a table—or at least I didn’t find how to do that.

—Carlos Menem

Variables are only available in scripts, so you can’t use them in those fashions. However, I don’t see that one would need to. Script variables are simply script objects that carry a calculated value, and calculation fields can have the exact same value as a script variable, and any field can be placed on a layout and can be used as the key in a relationship.

—Charles Ross

• • •

FileMaker Pro is all you need if you wish to create databases.

Dopey. I wish to create databases, and I need something much more powerful than FileMaker Pro. 4th Dimension and I are doing thousands of things that FileMaker Pro cannot.

a debugger, which allows the developer to step through a script line-by-line to check for the location of a problem

I am sure you will find that useful. I have used the 4D debugger for the last 11 years and love it.

you declare a variable, give it either local (within a script) or global (throughout the solution) scope, and can later refer to that variable

Ditto my comment above, plus we have process variables—but I forgot, FileMaker does not support multiple processes, does it?

—Frank Martin

No one has ever claimed that FileMaker is the most powerful database development environment available. And honestly, I’m not looking for the most powerful database. FileMaker’s claim to fame is its combination of power and ease of use. I think that FileMaker 8 is a good step forward in this regard. It includes new tools to enhance ease of use for the casual user as well as new tools to make it easier for developers to create solutions for it. In my experience, although FileMaker won’t be the most powerful database environment available, it is so far the best for rapid solutions.

Having said that, FileMaker, for me, is not the Macintosh of the database world. I could never picture me moving away from the Mac, but I could picture me moving away from FileMaker if I found the right tool for it, which is why I’m looking into REALbasic as an option. Perhaps I’ll find it works well and perhaps not, and perhaps I’ll take another look at 4D in the near future. Some FileMaker developers have also been fans of Savoy and Valentina. But a development environment has inertia. I’ve been using FileMaker for 12 years, and know the software inside out. A different environment would have to be much better to convince me to switch, allowing me to build databases as quickly as I do with FileMaker but also offering some significant advantage.

—Charles Ross

9 Ladybugs at the X Picnic

As a long-time Mac user, I despise OS X for many, many reasons—not the least of which is the much publicized “stability,” which for me, has been demonstrably awful on several different machines, from G3 to G5, from 10.1 to 10.4. (BTW, most of these machines were set up by vendors) I have literally lost weekends because of this.

I have found that OS 9 still kicks goals in terms of speed and intuitive interface features, and, frankly, all I have to worry about is getting on with my work. I’m a broadcast editor who has used Final Cut Pro from v1.2 to 5.0.2. with DV, Cinewave, Igniter, and Decklink. I still use v3.0.2 on OS 9 very productively and earlier this year I bought a Windows machine (something I thought I would never do) and found it to be quite stable and powerful. And usable.

I don’t get why we are forced to have such a radical change in interface from OS 9 to OS X (no Apple menu, the Dock, window buttons all together, Command-Shift-N for new folder, etc.) when many of these are clearly not an improvement. At least in Windows XP, you can go back to a previous Windows interface (if that is what you prefer), and switch off all of those “eye-candy” animations that look good in the store, but are annoying when you just want to work quickly.

Widgets? Oh please. I just want to have an uncluttered interface, and OS X breaks many of the foundational interface guidelines that made Macs great in the past. OS X is, for me, just another version of Windows. If something breaks in OS X, I have little chance of fixing it, which is just the same in Windows. At least in OS 9, I had a few things I could try, (trashing preferences, using just base level extensions that I can easily browse, reinstalling program, clean system installs, etc.) not the least of which was to have a backup boot partition that was literally just a two-minute drag and drop operation when I set the system up initially. But things have never been that bad that in four years I have had to use that last resort more than twice. Ghost? Don’t make me laugh.

I know plenty of other users with similar feelings.

—Mark Rabich

Axio Swift Backpack

I’m looking at buying a Swift early next month to put a 17" PowerBook in. I saw you said a sleeve was an absolute necessity.

Do you have any recommendation with regard to sleeves which will still fit inside the laptop compartment?

Thanks for your help,


I recommend either the MaxSleeve from MaxUpgrades or the Brain Cell from Tom Bihn. I’ve tested both and found both to be quite nice. The Brain Cell is substantially more expensive, but can stand on its own as a bag in a pinch. The MaxSleeve is pretty much a dedicated sleeve, and I wouldn’t want to use it on its own without putting it inside another bag (which, of course, is sort of the point here).

Take a look at those two reviews and see what you think. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.

—Chris Lawson

Disk Catalogers

Aloha from Hawaii! Thank you, Michael! This is the first time I have run across ATPM, and I am very impressed by your excellent writing, supporting images, and thoughts comparing these two cataloging apps. Thank you for spending your time to bring us such a good unbiased review as this. It has been most helpful.

Now off to download CDFinder!…and check out more of ATPM!

—Kaliko Trapp

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (1)

Matt · December 4, 2005 - 08:20 EST #1
I agree with William Chenault re: iPod battery changing. I recently bought a 2nd generation iPod from eBay. I was aware that the battery may be nearly dead, and it is. So am happy to pay out a little more for one of those nice batteries that has 78% more life than the original battery the very first iPod's were slated for (apparently).

It also means I get to have a nice mp3 player to use with my OS9 iBook. I don't need OSX for anything. I'm also a big fan of Low End Mac, but I suppose you may have guessed that if you've read this far.

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