Charles Moore's Mailbag

Dialup Fix for Leopard, Scripting for Cooler Laptops, the Griffin iMate Battery, and More

Charles Moore - 2008.01.02 - Tip Jar

Fixing Dialup Problems in Leopard

From Jim Schimpf:

Hi,

My sister has dial up, and on going to Leopard she had the opposite problem, her email (Apple mail) worked fine, but web browsing was very, very, very sluggish. Going to Slashdot would never completely load after waiting 10 minutes.

Anyway, we found that the MTU from her ISP was specified at 1500, and that did not make Leopard happy. We found that if we set the MTU to 1400 (found the suggestion in a news group), it fixed the problem. The only other issue is you have to do this every time you connect in.

sudo ifconfig ppp0 mtu 1400

We did an automator script for her that pops up, asks for admin password, then does the command above. I'll gladly send it to you, but since you are on dial up I didn't want to impose. You can try the above line in a terminal window after you connect up to your ISP and see if that makes any difference.

- Jim Schimpf

Hi Jim,

I'll check out the command and see if that helps.

Charles

Eudora as the 'Correct' Email Client

From Tony:

Mr. Moore,

re: Eudora Broken with Dialup in Leopard, but Where to Go Next?

Thank you very much for your explorations with Eudora 6.2.4 and Leopard. I have a law office built on Mac, and Eudora is the correct email client. Although always a rapid adopter, I approach Leopard with trepidation in part because of concerns about getting stuck without Eudora.

Further thoughts about how and whether to jump ship will be read gratefully.

Tony

Hi Tony,

I love your reference to Eudora being the "correct" email client. So true! Nothing else is even in the same proverbial ballpark IMHO.

I should say that I am less and less convinced that Eudora is the genesis of the trouble I'm having with email in Leopard. The problem is more likely some weirdness in Leopard that creates an incompatibility (or marginal compatibility) with my dialup ISP, so I hate to dissuade you from trying Leopard, and the whole thing might work just fine with your Internet hookup.

That said, classic Eudora is now orphaned, so we can be sure that sooner or later it will hit the compatibility wall as standards and operating systems evolve.

I'm very much hoping that the Odysseus project to build a real Eudora successor will bear fruit.

Charles

A Fan of Mozilla Eudora

From LHS:

Hi Charles,

Merry Christmas and (soon) Happy New year!

I wrote to you once in the past to share a frustration regarding something said about Opera by another publisher (Tidbits.com) - if you remember. Anyway, many thanks for your many articles.

I share your admiration for Eudora. Still, I have not used Eudora for many many years because of its shortcomings when it comes to multilingualism - a.k.a. Unicode. There are many things that Eudora had that seemed so obvious, that I could not understand how other mail clients could fail to implement those features. Such as how it handles multiple identities. Another force of Eudora is - I believe (though I am not certain - since I had to switch) - that it is a pretty good tool for writing email in.

In the end, I chose Thunderbird for its multilingualism and because I find it the best tool to write email in. Not perfect - but what it is lacking is, in my view, down to lack of care for the details - at least on the Mac platform.

Thunderbird has two editors: An HTML editor and a plain text editor. The HTML editor is the best - for me, as the plain text editor basically is SimpleText or TextEdit without any styling/formatting options - if I remember. While the HTML editor lets you add some structure and style to your letters, which will carry on to the plain text messages that I usually send out. So all in all, I write with the HTML editor, using Courier New as my default font, and have it converted to plain text when I send it.

This way I can e.g. easily create indents - and other such ASCII-artsy stuff. Well - I don't know what others think, but I like this way.

I can also add headers [this is one],

And it it will partly carry over to the plain text version. In my view, many email programs are very bad writing tools. And I am very happy for those things I get of Thunderbird (and Mozilla Eudora). I can for instance make text bold or italic, and then Eudora/Thunderbird will convert it ASCII-mark-up for me ... (Well, I don't use that feature too much, but it is there when I need it ...)

Okay - I digress. I wanted to say that I think you could have said more positive things about «Mozilla Eudora». ;-) For instance, you say in your article that you «don't like "3-box" user interface».

However, Mozilla Eudora doesn't force you to use the 3-pane interface of Thunderbird. You can use a 2-pane layout. It is in the Penelope preferences of Mozilla Eudora.

Also, they have tried to implement some of the Eudora smartness in the Message List. For instance, you can click on the name of a sender, and then all message of that sender in that list will be displayed together.

As I have not used Eudora for so many years, I am not a Eudora expert at all, and never was. But I feel that Eudora already offers some nice improvement compared with the Thunderbird version. And so I have made Mozilla Eudora my preferred emailer. Call it my 2 cents of support for the Mozilla Eudora project.

This said, I too have subscribed to the announcement list for the Odysseus project. It might well be that I end up as their customer. But they will then have to offer a decent writing experience. They must have an alright editor! (There are many okay mailers out there: PowerMail, GyazMail, and perhaps others, but they all fail to give me the a good writing experience.)

All the best,
Leif Halvard Silli
Oslo, Norway

Hi Leif,

Yes, I remember your previous correspondence. Good to hear from you again. Hope you had a great Christmas, and Happy New Year to you as well.

I can't dispute your point about Unicode. For folks like yourself for whom multilingual support is an important matter, if it doesn't have it, it doesn't have it, and you have to look elsewhere.

I agree that Eudora/Penelope is an improvement on Thunderbird, and I will continue to monitor its development hopefully, but it isn't a very lively hope.

I would say that Thunderbird/Eudora 8's biggest shortcoming for my needs is its totally lame and crippled management of multiple email accounts. I have 22 accounts configured in Eudora 6.2.4 with different SMTP servers configured for various accounts, and it all works near-flawlessly.

I'm aware of the two-pane Penelope option, but what I want is Eudora's "no-pane" interface, with just open mailbox and message windows visible, many simultaneously if I prefer. The only other email client I know of that works this way is Nisus Email, which had a lot of promise when it was introduced, but Nisus Software apparently lost interest, perhaps because it is tough to sell an email client when there are good, free alternatives, and it hasn't been upgraded for years, has no SSL support, and so on.

Classic Eudora is a decent writing environment, with inline spell-checking and some basic text tools, but for anything but short replies, I do my composing in Tex-Edit Plus and then copy and paste into Eudora. One of the cool things about Nisus Email, by the way, is that it lets you work in the word processor or text editor of your choice and send mail from within that application directly.

HTML support in an email client is not a priority for me, and being stuck with a slow dialup Internet connection, I prefer to use all plain text anyway.

Meanwhile, I'm glad you are finding Eudora 8 a satisfactory tool for your email requirements. I'm certainly supportive of the effort to keep Eudora alive, although it will have to become a lot more versatile, flexible, and manually controllable for me to embrace it. I expect that the amount of classic Eudora's feature set that can be grafted on to the Thunderbird engine is somewhat limited, which is the problem.

Charles

Griffin iMate Battery

From Ken Watanabe:

Charles,

I quick note to reader Stephen who wrote:

"I've been trying for a very long time to keep my old Apple Extended Keyboard II working with my Quicksilver through a Griffin iMate. But every Tiger update would make it quirkier, and it's not officially supported any more above 10.3.9."

My favorite keyboard is an ADB Apple Extended Keyboard II. I have two of them, and they are both in great shape. I use it with a Griffin iMate also, and it seems to work 100% fine with Mac OS X 10.4.11. I didn't even install the iMate driver. My possible tip for Stephan is that the iMate has a small battery inside. I'm not sure what it does, but perhaps the "quirkiness" Stephen has experienced is from that battery getting weak.

Hi Ken,

Thanks for the tip.

I also have an iMate, although I haven't used it for a long time.

I do have an old MacAlly New Wave 'board that I'm partial to and a few old ADB mice, so it comes in handy sometimes.

I wasn't aware of the potential battery issue.

Charles

Cooler Running Laptops with Scripting

From John Muir:

Hello Charles,

I have one of those first generation 12" PowerBook G4s which can run particularly hot if given the chance. Mine will easily hover around 50ºC while doing nothing much in particular if left to its own devices. So I've been using the same power management tricks as you for a while instead. My early 2003 system has no Automatic mode for its CPU, demanding instead a manual switch from Highest to Reduced. For most things Reduced is a good choice, but I soon tired of fiddling around in System Preferences each time I wanted to switch between the two.

Instead I use a keyboard shortcut.

Red Sweater Software have a utility called FastScripts, which lets you run scripts using systemwide keyboard shortcuts if you like. There's a free FastScripts Lite version of the program if you're happy with ten or less. It works in both Tiger and Leopard in my experience, and right now I have five scripts hooked up to my PowerBook's function keys. I press Function+F1 to engage Reduced CPU mode and Function+F2 for Highest. I also use the next three keys to switch between ColorSync profiles.

The only downside to my solution is that the two scripts I wrote for changing between CPU speeds need to have admin privileges: which means they contain a username and password. Here they are without those:

Reduced Mode Script:

do shell script "pmset reduce 1" user name "yourusername" password "yourpassword" with administrator privileges

Highest Mode Script:

do shell script "pmset reduce 0" user name "yourusername" password "yourpassword" with administrator privileges

Pasting those into Script Editor, substituting a real username and password, and saving as AppleScripts provides a quick way to change modes. I find FastScripts to be the most convenient way to handle several of them which I have in frequent use.

Note that those sample scripts are one single line long each. Script Editor throws up an error if you try them with the linebreaks they've picked up in email form.

And as for winters: I'm up at 56ºN here in Scotland, and our nights start between three and four o'clock right now. If it weren't for having the other side of the Atlantic nearby to even things out a bit, it would be a frozen place indeed. Fingers crossed that the Gulf Stream doesn't find reason to wander elsewhere any time soon!

John Muir

Hi John,

Thanks for the tip about FastScripts. I'm a big AppleScript fan and use them extensively in Tex-Edit Plus. My entire F-key row is assigned to toggle AppleScripts, except for F12 through F15, which handle Eject/Dashboard, Spaces in Leopard, and display backlight intensity.

My 1.33 GHz G4 PowerBook runs about 45-50° in Reduced mode with Leopard. It's fine for most things, and I can always kick it to Automatic if I need the extra power. I'm used to working with slow speed G4s with my Pismos anyway. ;-b

My biggest workflow bottleneck is the Internet.

It gets dark around 4:30 PM here in Nova Scotia these days. I'm at 45°N. The Gulf Stream runs past about 100 miles south of me on its way to you.

Charles

Another Text Processor for Mac OS X

From Dale O'Gorman:

Dear Mr. Moore.

Have you ever considered reviewing software such as TexShop, which functions as a front end for TeX on Mac OS X? As both a Linux and Mac OS X power user, I have found TeX to be an incredibly powerful tool for manipulating and editing text and producing beautiful and consistent output. It seems a shame that such software does not often get reviewed, as it is the most portable and platform agnostic format available.

If you would like, I would be pleased to review the software for LEM at some point in the future.

However I defer to your good judgment in this.

And the fact the software is open source (and free) is a bonus.

Best Regards,
Dale O'Gorman

Hi Dale,

I'll definitely look into it. I'm not especially erudite on the Linux/Unix end of things and wasn't previously aware of the TexShop program, but it sounds great.

Charles

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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