Tech Tips
My Mac Magazine #39, July ’98

This month I try to get back to more of the “tips” in Tech Tips, covering a few extension and plug-in issues. You can apply all of the techniques listed below to many more circumstances than what is listed below. On another note, learn how to empty your browser’s disk cache (at least on a somewhat regular occasion) as I just talked to a client whose cache from AOL was at 8,000 files!

I’ve now run across an issue enough times I can safely say it’s not an odd quirk. In Netscape, AOL and Internet Explorer there has been a display quirk in that the font for normal text appears very poorly. It reminds me of the old days (before TrueType fonts) when a computer would not have ATM or TrueType (the extension–remember that one?) and the fonts would be very jaggy at different resolutions.

The reason for the poor display can be somewhat techy, so I’ll just brush over it:
Effectively fonts have certain sizes defined. If a font is of type TrueType, then it will display somewhat smoothly on screen at any point size, whereas PostScript fonts will display smooth at their installed point size, jaggy at any other size. PostScript fonts can be displayed well with the addition of a third party extension (the most popular, by far, is Adobe Type Manager).

Back to the problem. My first assumption was that the TrueType version had become corrupted and the application was resorting to the PostScript fonts. Should be easy enough to remedy, just replace the offending font with a known good one. Turned out that was not the problem. Further diagnosis revealed the Appearance extension had somehow become corrupted (alas, running Disk First Aid and Norton reported no problems). Replacing the corrupt extension resolved the problem–but was a fun item to isolate. On a related note, the Appearance extension is part of Mac OS 8 and up, so if you are running anything prior to those releases you shouldn’t have the same problem.

Next on the list are crashes in Netscape when accessing certain sites on the Internet. It took a little work to isolate what was causing this problem, and you can apply the sleuthing to help solve problems you may be having when opening certain pages. The versions of Netscape did pertain, although other versions may be affected; my clients were using Netscape 3.x (3.0 through 3.0.4). The first steps, with any crash in Netscape, are to empty Netscape’s disk cache:

Pull the Options menu down, go to Network Preferences, click the Cache tab and then click the Clear Disk Cache Now button which will eliminate the possibility of having damaged files in the local cache. If that doesn’t cure the problem (which it doesn’t always do) it’s best to try giving the program more memory: in the Finder, click once on the Netscape icon (the application itself, not an alias or the Launcher button), pull the File menu down and choose Get Info, in the preferred memory box type in a higher number (PowerMac versions want 9000k w/o virtual memory and I suggest at least 12000k).

In this case both suggestions didn’t work. I was able to view the page with Internet Explorer (yes, I use Microsoft’s product quite a bit) and verified the problem. Turned out there was audio associated with the site. Further investigation revealed that the Live Audio plug-in that ships with any version of Netscape 3 doesn’t work very well (um, at all) especially with PowerPC 603-based Power Macs (primarily the 5xxx & 6xxx models). The ultimate fix is to replace the Live Audio plug-in with either a third party version, or easier yet, use the version of the plug-in that ships with Netscape 4.x.

Real World Experience

The System: Color StyleWriter 2400.
The Problem: Smeared print/streaks on page.
The Solution: Cleaned print head assembly.
The Explanation:
Most of the inkjets on the market today are not the cleanest peripherals ever devised and this unit is no exception. During infrequent use a lot of dust, fuzz and unused ink accumulates on the print heads. The Hewlett-Packard printer are notorious (in my book) for streaking ink when the smallest amount of fuzz gets on the assembly. The quick fix is too pull the print head assembly out and clean off the residue with a paper towel and some rubbing alcohol.

Jeramey R. Valley

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