Starting Line – My Mac Magazine #54, Oct. ’99

Hello all!

Halloween is just around the corner–my favorite holiday! I love dressing up in costumes, decorating the house as a broken-down, haunted wreck (maybe resembling the now famous house in The Blair Witch Project?), and watching the kids go trick-or-treating. It’s much less stressful than Christmas–and not as cold! There are still leaves on the trees, and watching them blow around on a fall day is enjoyable. Fall is very beautiful in New England; it just never seems to last long enough. But then, nothing good ever does.

I read a very interesting article in The Boston Globe regarding a little town in Texas called El Cenizo. It has nothing to do with computers, but being the person I am, it caught my eye.

It seems the town government (consisting of three individuals) voted to hold its monthly meetings and all official functions in Spanish. I know, I know… some people, maybe even you, think this is a terrible idea! This is America and our language is English! Well, let me point out this little burg is not ousting English and plans to continue to translate all official documents to English. They’ll even translate the meetings into English if someone requests that they do so.

What they are doing is catering to their constituency–as all politicians do. They realize most of the residents of their town are more comfortable using Spanish, even if the resident in question is bilingual Spanish/English. Using Spanish while conducting town business will open up the government to those individuals whose English is poor or who don’t speak it at all. Granted, this wouldn’t work everywhere (New York City comes to mind), but for this little border town it makes perfect sense.

And, let’s face it: America is a country of plurality. It always has been. Yes, eventually, all immigrant families give up their ethnicity to blend in as well as they can, but they rarely give up all of it. Usually, you’ll find families have kept traditional food while incorporating American meatloaf. They’ll listen to the music of their national origin when not listening to Pearl Jam or Usher. And that’s all good! Our diversity has made us strong. It has made us the envy of the world. Even today, people die to get into this country.

So, I say if they want have Spanish as their preferred language, who am I to interfere? I don’t live there, and if I did, they would translate for me. What more would I need?

All right, I was on my soapbox again! I’ll step off now and turn to the reason for this column’s existence: Helpful Hints. (And if you didn’t bypass this entire section, thanks for reading!)

Helpful Hints

Generic Icons — Sometimes, files get corrupted and the icon for an application or file becomes generic. You’ll know this when you see it. The nifty little FileMaker icon you usually see on your database files will no longer be there.

So, how to correct? Try rebuilding your desktop. Yes, the tried and true method of cleaning up your hard drive should solve this pesky problem. How to rebuild? Simply hold down your Option and Command keys after starting (or restarting) your Mac. A dialog box will appear after it goes through its startup procedures asking if you really want to rebuild your desktop. Hit yes. Depending on the size of your drive, it will take a few minutes.

Another way to rebuild your desktop is to use TechTool Pro. This is a nifty little program that not only rebuilds your desktop but can zap your PRAM or perform a host of other maintenance tricks to keep your Mac running smoothly. If your needs are simple, you can download TechTool for free at or purchase a much more comprehensive package either through Micromat or your favorite Macintosh catalog. It lists for approximately $99.00.

Calling all ClarisWorks 5.x users — Teemu Masalin wrote in with a tip. Visit the AppleWorks site for free stationery, tips, and a special corner just for educators. There’s even an update to version 5.0.3 which includes the always necessary bug fixes. You can even change ClarisWorks to AppleWorks. Thanx, Teemu!!

Find File in MS Word — Granted, Microsoft is not my favorite company, but sometimes they do something right (I think it’s just the law of averages!). This is one of them.

Say you are looking to find several files created on the same day two weeks ago. Rather than updating the search criteria for each file, drag a representative file to the Find File box. The criteria will change to match the file you’ve dragged over. Now, you can quickly find all those files in one fell swoop!

Other Stuff

I want to touch base on my Imation SuperDisk Drive. I whined last month how it was more difficult opening floppies on this external drive than it should be. I wrote the company and didn’t hear anything as of press time. However, they did eventually write back. Kudos for Imation! Better late than never!

Anyway, they did ask me to check all the usual stuff, like cable connections and ensuring the power supply was securely attached. They also pointed out a few things I want to pass on:

1. Apparently there is an emergency eject on the drive. I thought there wasn’t. On the push button on the front of the drive is a little pinhole. It will not work if the OS has detected the floppy. Otherwise, use your trusty paperclip to eject the floppy or SuperDisk.

2. Defective disks will take a long time to mount, if at all. Makes sense.

3. Old or damaged disks may cause the drive’s read/write head to become dirty. To clean, use only the Imation cleaning kit available at

4. There are bugs in File Exchange 3.0 (on Mac OS 8.5 and 8.5.1) that can cause problems with some PC disks. Updating your OS to 8.6 corrects the problem.

5. The driver has been updated

I updated and am very happy with the results. No more problems mounting my floppies! Thanks to Randy at Imation Support for his response.

Internet Site of the Month: The Kelley Blue Book, This is a great site if you’re looking to buy or sell a car. It gives you new car prices, options, trade-in price versus selling price… I made a great impression on my new, computer-illiterate boss by giving her all the information she needed to blow away the car salesman. There’s no need now for anyone to fear buying a car with this site at your disposal.

Happy Halloween!

Barbara Bell

Websites mentioned:

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