Laptops

Troubleshooting Over the Holidays

Thanks to the seasonal generosity of Macworld's overlords and some accumulated days-off that needed to be used or losed, I've spent the last two weeks officially away from the keyboard. Unofficially, however, the questions continued to pour in--both from outside sources and from sources much closer to home. Here are the greatest hits of the season:

Silent mic

From my mother, during a recent visit to her desert abode:

Mom: I'm trying to use Skype to talk to your sister but she can't hear me. Is my Mac broken?

Me: Huh, your iMac's internal microphone is selected in the Sound system preference and its input gain slider is pushed up, but you're right, it's not registering my voice. And yet when I tap on the Mac it shows some input.... Wait a sec, what's this tape doing here?

Mom: The repair shop I took it to for that video problem taped a note or something to the top and I suppose they didn't remove it all.

Me: I wonder what happens if I take it off.... 'Testing One, Two, Three...' Well, whaddayaknow, it's fixed. Amazing that a little tape over the mic will kill it to that extent.

Au revoir Bonjour

Scant days after Christmas Mark Walerysiak wrote:

I have iChat set up to automatically open whenever I log in to my account, but I don't want the Bonjour buddy list (I just use iChat on my local network) to open up automatically. Is there an option or script I can write to help me get rid of the window constantly opening whenever I log in?

Launch iChat, choose Preferences from the iChat menu, select the Accounts tab, choose Bonjour, and disable the Enable Bonjour Instant Messaging option.

AOL, not dead yet

Reader Jay Donenfeld is in need of intervention and, in an act of holiday charity, I provide it:

I have started using AOL Desktop, Version 1.2.1 (351) recently and have found that I can't download some attached files. I have to return to an older version of AOL (V 10.3.7 Rev.4136.309 US), and open the files there to recognize them for what they are! Any guess as to what is going on, and possibly how to fix it?

Regrettably, AOL got lost somewhere on its way to the 21st century. Its software is unreliable, particularly when it comes to transferring files between computer platforms. The best solution is run, don't walk, to Google and sign up for a free Gmail account and start using it. AOL is a dead end.

If you can't bear to break the bond between you and AOL, you can ask those who send you such attachments to first compress them as .zip archives. When files are compressed into such archives they won't be corrupted by AOL.

Big FAT error

Mike Burgess of the Great White North quickly removed his gloves to type:

When I try to copy files from one hard drive to another I get an error that reads: "The Finder can't complete the operation because some data can't be read or written. (Error code -36)." Any ideas why I see this error?

I'm going to offer a guess that a FAT formatted volume plays a part in this small drama. Snow Leopard doesn't always see eye-to-eye with such volumes when copying files. If this volume doesn't really need to be formatted that way, I'd suggest backing up its contents, reformatting it as a Mac OS Extended volume, and then restoring the files to it.

If that's not an option, you might try Control-clicking (right-clicking) on the item you want to copy and, from the contextual menu, choose Copy "nameofitem." Then move to the volume you want to copy to, Control-click again, and choose Paste Item. This can work when drag-and-drop doesn't.

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