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ATPM 12.04
April 2006



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Performing a Video Extraction

Have you considered the much-less-time-consuming analog-to-DV option?

The article is a bit out of date now, but the information is basically the same. There are now a number of other models from Canopus from which to choose (high end to low end). Best of all, you would be cutting out most of the export, import, and translation steps by going this route. Also, your final video quality might not lose as much in the translation process. I don’t know this for sure, because I haven’t tried it yet.

I’ve been researching both options for over a year and have frequently thought about doing things exactly as you have done them (I may go both routes simultaneously, just to be safe; but prices will have to continue to drop before I do that); however, I suspect some quality is lost converting from VOB to DV. Am I wrong about that?

I like the idea of converting my many home videos directly to DVD, as you have done, without going through the bottleneck of my computer’s hard drive, but I also really want to be able to edit my home videos in iMovie, and I do not like the thought of all the extra steps involved in converting them from VOB to DV and the possibility of quality loss.

I have read a number of customer reviews of analog-to-DV converters at various sites, and most of them are quite positive. Are you in a position to get “loaner” analog-to-DV converters?

—Mike Welfl

I did consider some of those options briefly. At the time I had a Blue and White G3 that had been upgraded to a G4. I wasn’t sure it was going to be up to the task. The other nice thing about this method is that it should work for those folks that have combination video recorders/DVD burners as long as the unit produces standard DVDs.

I’m not in a position to borrow an analog-DV converter at the moment but may be able to do so soon. With the transfers that I have completed thus far there has not been any significant quality loss. The tapes that I have tried are not a good indication though because they started out in pretty bad condition. Any time things get converted from one format to another and then back again (MPEG-DV-MPEG) there is the potential for loss of quality-especially if the format/settings are not chosen correctly.

—Sylvester Roque

Just Because We Can Do a Thing…


There is something homey and pleasant about ATPM that keeps me coming back. It is demonstrated in part by the fact that you guys show respect for the Ellyns of the world.

I confess, I once had an article or two published by ATPM—impossibly long ago (1995 or 1996 I believe). A major part of what I had to say then had to do with (like Ellyn) running my antique Mac long after the world had galloped off after newer and finer technology. What I said then still applies today, and indeed Ellyn has stated it elegantly!

The day did come that I had to say goodbye to my beloved old PowerBook 180, for the simple reason that it had died—of old age.

Along came a shiny new, Darth Vader black, G3 PowerBook, upon which, six years later, this e-mail is being typed. It has run faithfully for ten or twelve hours, every day of those six years, and now once more old age is creeping in. The case is cracked, the cache is dead (with no one around here able to find a replacement cache), and it has sudden inexplicable crashes.

Oh yes, and it is still running OS 9.2.

I have no wish to upgrade, and no need—other than the said mechanical problems—for everything that I require to do for the normal conduct of my life can be done in OS9 with a 5 GB hard drive. The day fast approaches, however, when the physical machine will have run right into the ground, and yes, I will have to replace it. Sadly, because all things Apple have evolved so much, I am also going to have to replace tons of software, despite the fact that it would have been so much nicer just to port all my data across to the new machine and keep on chugging!

Ellyn knows a thing or two because her subheading is, I believe, a quote of the eminent scientist/philosopher, Erwin Chargaff—whose hugely important ethical dictum insists that one measure the value of an undertaking before deciding to actually do it (just because you are able to do something, does not necessarily mean that you ought to!).

I’m glad you printed her article, and I enthusiastically second everything she has to say.

ATPM you have proved your worth.

—Tony Harwood-Jones

• • •

It’s like my dad always says, “If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it.” I still use a beige G3 333 MHz, and I also use a Power Mac 8500/150. I never wanted to go to OS X, and the only thing I like about it is that when an application crashes it doesn’t take the system with it—that’s about it. If I could run the applications I need on Mac OS 9, I would never even think about going to OS X.


• • •

First of all, congrats for the nice article. Just discovered this e-zine, and your article is the first I’ve read. So if the rest is also this good, then I am a happy camper :-).

Second of all, thanks. I was just about to spend a lot of my money on a new machine (I am a recent switcher and I have a Mac mini), and this article made me realize that I don’t really need one.

I look forward to more articles from you!

—Stelia Iancu

• • •

While there is much to what you say, I feel your article misses an important point by treating the situation as an all-or-nothing scenario. That is to say, that the choice is keep the old as-is or buy completely new with no in-between. Granting that it does require some technical skill and knowledge, it’s really no big deal to learn how to upgrade the flexible parts of your existing computer (like video card, CPU, RAM, and the like) on your own and only slightly more ambitious to buy a used computer (like an older G4) that’s still newer than the one you have and juggle your hard drives into the “new” one. A lot of performance shortcomings can be thusly addressed with a relatively very small investment of funds and time vs. buying new, especially if one’s computing demands are modest. It’s one thing to avoid buying into hype and emptying your bank account unnecessarily, but it’s another to live with shortcomings that aren’t worth living with because they’re easy and cheap to overcome.

—Leigh L. Pang

Leigh, you make an excellent point. My position had a false dichotomy in it, which you have identified. Most of life does not consist of living out on the extremes, but of navigating a path in the middle. Aristotle would be happy with your explanation. Thanks.

—Ellyn Ritterskamp

Path Finder

ATPO readers may want to try Path Finder as a simple Finder-based outliner, using the built-in text editor or something like TextWrangler. There are some attractive reason for doing this. But the fact that you can see but not edit the contents of a file is darn frustrating. That would be my top feature suggestion.

—Ted Goranson

• • •

When Path Finder 4.0 initially came out, I was extremely displeased that Cocoatech emblazoned a “Slow-cooked to perfection” label all over it. It most certainly was not perfect and had a lot of serious issues.

Fortunately, the majority of the gripes I had with it have been resolved in the 4.0.2 release, but there are still three pretty big problems I wish the developers would address. The worst is that your Sort Order settings are never remembered. Open a navigator window. Go to the View menu and select Sort by {anything other than Name}. Close the navigator window. Re-open it. You’re back to Sort by Name. Ditto for the Desktop. It stays sorted by whatever you selected until you either quit Path Finder, log out, or restart—then it’s back to being sort by name.

Second is the filename wrapping—or lack, thereof—when you set the label to appear to the right instead of below.

The third problem is more of an omission than a bug. Path Finder really needs to have an equivalent of Apple Finder’s multiple item Get Info inspector, which doubles as an auto-refreshing information window for anything currently selected. Puh-leeeze add this feature!

—Lee Bennett

• • •

Thanks for the kind words, and the great review! I just wanted to make a quick reply or two on some points made in the review as well as in the comments.

Firstly, and probably most importantly is that while many Path Finder users do use Path Finder as a “replacement” for the Finder, it’s worth noting that Cocoatech doesn’t consider Path Finder completely ready to take the place of the Finder 100%. This is partially because hacks are required to just make the OS think that Path Finder is the Finder, and partially because there are tons of places where OS X makes calls to Apple’s Finder that Path Finder doesn’t support (yet). But we’re working on it!

The tabs feature (and many of the new big features in Path Finder 4) are at version 1.0 right now, and we plan to roll out lots of improvements and refinements to this and other features in subsequent releases.

To respond to Lee’s comment—the sort order bug is being worked on and should be fixed in the next release. I know it’s a big pain as I get poked by it, too! The multi-get info window and other batch file features are on the to-do list.

Ted, I can’t make promises on when this feature will appear, but in-line text editing is a personal wish of mine that I’ve been bugging Steve (Path Finder’s developer) about, so it will make an appearance in a future release.

—Neil Lee (Cocoatech)

• • •

I recently registered Path Finder. I tried it for almost two weeks. Just as you explain, it wasn’t until I went a couple days without Path Finder that I realized how much I missed it, and then I registered. I replaced the Finder completely with Path Finder and only miss Finder when something else tries to access Finder and can’t but that is rare and doesn’t bother me at all. Path Finder is all that. It’s amazing how little the Finder can do after four years of development compared to Path Finder. I think it’s the real case for why writing in Cocoa makes you more efficient. Possibly my favorite feature is filter by name or extension. Such a simple thing but I use it every day.

—Marc Respass

• • •

Miraz says in his review:

There’s another handy feature of Path Finder—its built-in ability to compress and decompress files. It uses the StuffIt engine, so you don’t need to separately install StuffIt Deluxe. This feature alone will repay your investment if you download or need to send compressed files.

Finder (well, BOMArchiveHelper) can decompress Zip, Tar, Gzip, and even Bzip2 files just fine, so it’s already possible to unpack most archives without this Path Finder feature. (Does anyone actually still use StuffIt anyway?)

Control-click on folders or files in Finder and you also get the option to “Create Archive,” which creates a Zip file.

While I would be the first to say that the Finder is an embarrassment to Apple, this review’s implication that the ability to decompress and compress files is somehow unique to Path Finder feels like reaching to me.

—Michael Williams

• • •

I have used and owned Path Finder on and off since its inception, and several of its features I find all but indispensable. However, every time I have returned to Finder, I have found it almost fast compared to Path Finder, and the lesser lag turns out to be more important than the extra features—unfortunately.

—Peter John Pedersen

Post-Microsoft Entropy

While Microsoft is struggling to reinvent itself with Longhorn Vista and Apple is riding the momentum it has initiated, I think this year will be the year of desktop Linux. I say that because there are many interesting things happening to finally make Linux acceptable to “the rest of us.” Both Novell and Ubuntu, for example, are pushing a next-generation enterprise friendly distribution, coming out probably around the time we will see the next generation Intel-powered desktop Macs.

Having to choose between easy-to-use OS X and easy-to-use desktop Linux is a long overdue decision we should hope to soon mull over.

—Angus Wong

SuperDrive Into a Macintosh Cube

I think that the SuperDrive fits better if you remove its little black plastic faceplate. It pops up easily using a small flat screwdriver.


I Dream of iPod

You can’t ignore the Power of the Pod. I just got my first 5th-generation iPod to replace my 4th-generation 30 GB Pod. This is my seventh Pod, so it immediately went into a hard clear plastic case (no scratches ever) and I loaded my music and video onto the unit. I was so blown away by the Video playback, I woke up my wife and son who inherited my U2 20 GB pod and showed them.

To be honest, a 3.5″ screen would be better. It would be better for middle-aged eyes. We can hope, can’t we?

I’m going to baby this one and hope that Apple ups the screen size on the next iPod, and I’m hoping we won’t have to wait too long, as Apple is busy rewriting computing with Intel. My 30 GB unit is for sale! And this black beauty is going to Thailand with me next trip!

—Grover Watson

I agree that the video on the iPod is superb—brighter and crisper than I imagined. I, too, just got my own (well, technically not mine, but sort of a corporate tool that’s mine unless I cease affiliation). I synced it yesterday morning and listened to tunes as I drove to my parents’ house for the weekend, about an hour and a half away. Then, before I went to bed, I watched a few video podcasts I’d found and subscribed to just prior to syncing.

Unlike you, this is only my second iPod—a 60 GB. The first, a 30 GB 3rd-generation, will be donated to someone very special to me if she wants it.

—Lee Bennett

Data Rescue II

Prosoft has informed me that the demo version of Data Rescue II can now recover a single file up to 5 MB in size.

—Paul Fatula

Dossier and Outliner Web Interaction

I just read your article on Dossier vs. MacJournal in the latest ATPO/ATPM. I have never heard of Dossier before, but I’ve used the free version of MacJournal for years. Sometime in the past year, I came across Journler [sic], which is free and will continue to remain free, according to the developer. Of course, I don’t know if you’ve already heard of it or not, but I didn’t see it in your list of alternatives.

Journler’s very attractive GUI may not yet be as intuitive as MacJournal’s (in my probably overly choosy opinion; most others seem not to agree with me), and its HTML formatting is not as simple (yet), but it is certainly no slouch. I really enjoy using it and watching it evolve.

Journler has an incredible amount of features, including the requisite blogging support, smart folders, drag-and-drop importing, keywords, categories, calendar, excellent integration with iLife, and so many more that I cannot list them here.

I am sending you this information so that you might have the opportunity to inform your less wealthy readers about this really intriguing free application. It continually receives high user ratings (4.5 stars out of 5 at MacUpdate, based on 31 reviews, and 5 out of 5 stars at VersionTracker, based on 7 reviews).

—Mike Welfl

Mori and iKnow & Manage

So much of the information on the Web (and especially about software) becomes dated almost as soon as it’s written. If I want to learn about some software and I find a review that wasn’t written within the last month or two, it’s usually of very little use because the feature set (and often the interface) has moved on.

Your columns, however, have a timeless quality because you associate specific implementation of features or functions with the underlying principles that motivate their application to structuring information. I’ll often come back months later and reread an article in this series again regardless of when it was written, as my understanding of the principles grows.

Basically, I just want to thank you for your effort and sharing your hard-won knowledge.

—Jeff Fisher


I purchased the black EarThumps as a replacement for the stock iPod ear buds, which hurt like hell after 10 minutes. I was going to get Sony Fontopias, but two friends cautioned against it. Both have have multiple pairs break for one reason or another and, other than my PS2, I have literally never had a Sony product that lasted any length of time. The EarThumps are a vast improvement on the stock ear buds. The isolation is good but not so much that it dangerously disconnects you from your surroundings. Yes, the midrange could use a little more presence, but it isn’t missed too much. True audio snobs, I mean audiophiles, will want to spend a lot more than $20 anyway. For my purposes, however, which include listening at the gym and occasionally when food shopping (I have a dock with speakers in work and another in the car), these things are perfect.

—Tom G

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