Kibbles and Bytes – 492

It’s Edward Shepard writing this week. If you have questions or comments about this issue of Kibbles & Bytes, email me at ed @ I appreciate the feedback.

This is a special, double-length issue of Kibbles and Bytes, as it will not be sent out next Friday (the day after Thanksgiving.) That’s the day commonly referred to as “Black Friday,” when holiday shopping begins in ernest. I’ll spend “Black Friday” working in our new store Burlington. It promises to be a very busy day, and a very busy weekend. I’m looking forward to it!

I’m also looking forward to Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday, a day to spend cooking, eating, and relaxing with close friends and family. While most other holidays have become garish schlockfests, Thanksgiving still has meaning. I hope all of you experience a peaceful and satisfying Thanksgiving Day!

Mac Treat #7: How Make Your Mac Immediately Go To Sleep, and Shut Down (OS 10.4) By Ed @

There are a couple of ways to make your Mac shut down or go to sleep immediately, without a pop-up dialog or spinning beach ball. To put your Mac to sleep in jiffy:

Hold down the Option-Eject-Command (the key with the Apple on it) keys all at the same time for about two seconds. On some systems, you can also hold down Option-Command-Power keys. If you have an Apple remote, you can point it at your Mac, and press the play/pause button for two seconds. The Mac will immediately go to sleep.

To immediately shut down your Mac:

Hold down the Option-Control-Command-Eject keys. Only do this if you really want to power down your computer.

To immediately restart your Mac:

Hold down Command-Control-Eject

You can also hold down the Control-Eject keys at the same time, for the dialog box you’d normally get if you selected “Shut down…” under the File menu in Finder.


Take Control Ebooks Excerpt By Ed @

Cheap, convenient and useful – these are three qualities rarely found in one place. However, they can all be found in the popular Take Control ebook series published by TidBits Electronic Publishing. TidBits is the excellent free weekly newsletter that covers the “Macintosh Internet community,” and Macs in general. I highly recommend subscribing to this newsletter; you can subscribe here:

The Take Control series of ebooks are concise, practical, and detailed. TidBits does ebooks right: they are easy to navigate, specially formated for ease of onscreen reading,  and can be read on almost any device that can open PDFs (including many PDAs and smartphones). You can print the Take Control ebooks if preferred. Best of all, the Take Control ebooks are updated free when new information is released. Every ebook in the series has free sample, and a money-back guarantee. They only cost $10, and come with a $5 coupon off your next purchase from See them all here:

This week we have a high-quality excerpt from the new ebook, “Take Control of Passwords in OS X,” written by Joe Kissell. The blurb reads “If you’ve ever found yourself confused by all the passwords your Mac asks you for, or anxious about your level of password security, you should read this book.” So, without further ado, read away!


The Mac OS X Keychain by Joe Kissell

[Excerpted from “Take Control of Passwords in OS X]

Since the days of Mac OS 9, Apple has provided a systemwide repository for each user (identified by Mac OS user name), in which all of that person’s user names and their associated passwords are stored; this repository is called a keychain. The idea is that instead of having to remember (and manually enter) dozens or hundreds of user names and passwords individually, you let the keychain remember (and enter) them for you. The keychain itself is encrypted and protected by a password. By entering just that one password, you unlock all the passwords inside the keychain; the system then hands them to applications, network servers, or other resources as necessary. Not all applications that use passwords are designed to support the keychain, but most do.

(Although I use the word keychain in the singular – as does Mac OS X in most cases – you can have more than one keychain. I discuss the variety of keychains, and issues involving the use of multiple keychains, in the full ebook.)

Whenever someone creates a user account, Mac OS X creates a keychain named “login” for that account. (In some earlier versions of Mac OS X, this keychain was given a name matching the user’s short name – for example, johnsmith. If you had such a keychain in the past and either updated Mac OS X or copied your user data from one machine to another, your current keychain may still have that name.) Normally, this is your default keychain, and the only one you’ll interact with regularly.

Here’s an example of how a keychain can work: Suppose you have two Macs networked together, and one of them has Personal File Sharing turned on. When you go to the other Mac, you click the Network icon in your Finder’s sidebar and the first Mac appears in the list. You select its icon and click Connect. An authentication dialog appears. After selecting Registered User and entering a valid user name and password for the computer to which you’re connecting, you select Remember Password in Keychain and click Connect.

Behind the scenes, Mac OS X makes a new keychain entry containing the address of the Mac you’re connecting to and the user name and password you need to connect to that Mac. Assuming your keychain is unlocked, the next time the authentication dialog appears for this server, it’s already filled in; you need only click Connect. (Had you not selected Remember Password in Keychain earlier, you would have been presented with blank Name and Password fields to fill in manually.)

By default, your keychain password is the same as your login password. Upon login, if your keychain is named “login” (or has the same name as your user name) and your login password is the same as your keychain password, your keychain is unlocked automatically. Of course, by default, Mac OS X also logs you in automatically when you turn on your computer. In other words, unless you change those default settings, your keychain is unlocked every time you turn on your computer – not a terribly secure situation! Therefore, unless you use your computer only in a setting where other people can’t physically access it, I recommend changing your keychain password so that it’s different from your login password and turning off automatic login.

Note that your keychain interacts with most parts of Mac OS X, but since you can’t access it until you’ve logged in, it can’t automatically fill in your login password or firmware password. You can enter those passwords in your keychain manually if you want to, simply to have a secure place to keep them.

**Choose and Set a Keychain Password** — Because your keychain protects all your other passwords, your keychain password should be the strongest one you have – in other words, at least as strong as any other password in the keychain. If your keychain password is less secure than it should be, you can change it in either of two ways:

* Change your login password. If your keychain password is identical to your login password, changing your login password also changes your keychain password to match.

* Change your keychain password independently.

**Use Your Keychain Password** — Mac OS X adds user names and passwords to your default keychain every time you enter them when the Remember Password in Keychain checkbox is selected. You can also add them manually.

At login, Mac OS X tries to unlock your default keychain. If you’ve created other keychains and the default keychain is not “login” (or the one matching your user name), a prompt appears asking for the default keychain’s password.

Even if your keychain unlocks automatically at login (because its password is the same as your login password), you can still lock or unlock it manually at any time, in either of the following ways:

* If the Keychain ( ) menu appears in your menu bar, choose Lock Keychain “keychain-name” (or Lock All Keychains) from that menu to lock it; choose Unlock Keychain “keychain-name” to unlock it. If this menu does not appear in your menu bar, you can add it.

* Open Keychain Access (in /Applications/Utilities). If the Keychains list is not showing on the upper left in the window, click the Show Keychains button at the bottom left. Select your keychain in this list; then choose File > Lock Keychain “keychain-name”.

You can also set a keychain to lock automatically after a given period of inactivity, when your computer goes to sleep, or both. In either case, Mac OS X prompts you to unlock the keychain the next time it’s required to access some resource.

Most of your interaction with your keychain will involve locking or unlocking it, and agreeing (or not) to have various passwords stored there. However, you can do a great deal more with your keychain using the Keychain Access utility, which I cover in the full ebook in detail.

Purchase the entire “Take Control of Passwords in OS X” ebook here:

See all Take Control ebooks here:

Remember, when you buy a Take Control ebook from Take Control, you will get a $5.00 coupon good for any purchase from Small Dog Electronics!


Firmware Update for All Intel Macs – Part 1 By Ed @

Apple recently released a firmware update for all Intel Macs. This update fixes problems with Boot Camp, and resolves start up and wake- from-sleep issues. This firmware update is sometimes referred to as an EFI firmware update, as it updates the Extensible Firmware Interface used by Intel on their current generation of processors. EFI provides the interface between Mac OS X and the Mac’s physical hardware. Apple says “Firmware is a combination of software and hardware. Computer chips that have data or programs recorded on them are firmware.”

It’s important to note that firmware updates are not always automatically displayed with Software Update. If they don’t appear in Software Update, they must be manually downloaded from the Apple Support Downloads site, which you can see here:

Note that each Intel-based Mac model has it’s own firmware version to update.

Read more about firmware updates for Intel-based Macs here:

And even more details here:

From Apple:

Important: Do not unplug, shutdown, or restart your computer while the update is taking place. Interrupting a firmware update can render your computer unusable. If this happens, take your machine to an Apple store or authorized service provider or perform the recovery yourself using another Macintosh computer to download the Firmware Restoration CD disk image from downloads/. This software allows you to create a CD which you can use to restore your machine to working order.

Also, your computer’s power cord must be connected and plugged into a working power source – don’t try and install the firmware update on a laptop unless it’s plugged in!


EFI Firmware Update for Intel Macs – Part 2 By Todd @

So today I was late to work (sorry Art).  It was not only because of that semi trailer ahead of me on the mountain road, but also because I was installing Apple’s EFI firmware update released yesterday.

That’s right.  My trusty 400 mhz powerbook G4 has been replaced by a 20 in iMac.   Moment of silence.  Ok, now for the update.

It is called iMac EFI Firmware Update 1.1 and it was introduced to fix sleep, startup and bootcamp issues.  You need 10.4.6 or better, so keep on top of your system updates.  Even though I have not experienced the issues that it is intended to treat I am a firm believer of preventive maintenance.  Better to install it now than to have an issue you need tech support to solve later.

I don’t use Boot Camp, but added fixes for that is never bad.

Here’s how you get and install the update:

1. Software Update.  (you need to get the OS upgrade first if you haven’t gotten it) 2. If you don’t see it, go here: downloads/imacefifirmwareupdate11.html 3.  Quit all applications 4.  Shutdown from the prompt that the updater gives you. 5.  Press and hold the power button until the light flashes 6.  Watch the progress bar fill 7.  You are updated!

I did it this morning and I did get a rather nasty beep when it started but it shouldn’t be anything to worry about.  You can confirm the update in System Profiler by checking your Boot ROM version compared to the list provided at the link.

Enjoy your iMac, I know I am!


iTunes Store / Albums of the Year / How to End a Wedding Engagement By Ed @

I recently read about a woman who dumped her fiance after discovering he had purchased over $8000 of iTunes music in one month, on a $45,000 a year income. Steve Jobs said that someone spent over $24,000 in the iTunes Store (maybe it was Woz.) I regularly buy albums from the iTunes Store, but nothing like that, of course. I probably buy an album every one or two weeks. Once I buy an album, I immediately burn it to CD as a high-quality MP3, stripped of the DRM Apple adds to the music.

Here are my top ten albums released so far in 2006. I didn’t purchase them all from iTunes – the Sonic Youth, Bob Dylan and two Neil Young albums were purchased on CD. However, they are available from iTunes for a couple dollars less than the CDs I ordered from I wish I had purchased the Sonic Youth from iTunes – the album would have included a 10 minute bonus track, only available with the entire iTunes album.

In order:

1.  Modern Times, Bob Dylan
2.  Living With War, Neil Young
3.  American V: A Hundred Highways, Johnny Cash
4.  Last Man Standing, Jerry Lee Lewis
5.  Live at the Fillmore East, Neil Young and Crazy Horse
6.  Rather Ripped, Sonic Youth
7.  Black Holes and Revelations, Muse
8.  Bring Em In, Buddy Guy
9.  The Information, Beck
10. The Road to Escondido, JJ Cale and Eric Clapton

Next week Tom Waits will releases the three-disk Orphans set. It is listed on iTunes; that’s one I will probably buy on disk. It’s $10 less on iTunes, but I want the printed material that will go with the set. At least I get to listen to samples a few hours early in the iTunes store!


Take the Thom Hartmann Show With You By Ed @

Small Dog Electronics is a supporter of the Thom Hartmann show. A listener named Judith S. suggested we remind people it’s possible to download more than music on the iPod – the Thom Hartmann show and other talk programs also can be loaded on them. We’re making a radio ad from this suggestion. Thank you for the suggestion, Judith!

Since your iPod can go with you everywhere, so can your digital audio files, including music, audiobooks, podcasts, and other audio from the internet, such as the Thom Hartmann show. Here are some tips to get Thom’s show, and other great talk shows and podcasts onto your iPod. Now you can have access to the information and news that’s important to you, wherever you go, and whatever you’re doing!

A “podcast” is a syndicated audio or video program that is distributed over the internet, usually for free. Podcasts are great because you can subscribe to them – whenever a new program is released, it can automatically be downloaded directly to your computer. By far the easiest way to subscribe to a podcast, manage it, and load it on an iPod is by using Apple’s iTunes software. You can get the latest version of iTunes for free by here:

iTunes also comes with every iPod.

Here’s how to subscribe to Thom’s show via iTunes:

1. Make sure you have iTunes 6.0 or higher installed on your computer.

2. Connect to the internet.

3. Click here to launch iTunes to go directly to Thom’s podcast: id=78233611

4. Click “SUBSCRIBE” to download the current show and get future shows.

To search for other Podcasts, launch iTunes, click on the link that brings you to the iTunes Store, and then click “Podcasts.” Or, if you have iTunes installed, click here to launch the Podcast Directory in iTunes:

It’s also easy to listen to the Thom Hartman show online, in a web browser. You can even listen to the show live. In most web browsers, you can also listen to the last aired show here:

If you listen to the show through a web browser, you need to have a computer connected to the internet while you listen. There are several programs that allow you to record and download streaming web audio directly to your iPod. iFill is the best that I’ve used, and it only costs $17.50; see it here:

All things considered, listening to Thom Hartmann’s podcast is probably the easiest way to go.

Small Dog Electronics is a top Apple Specialist, and we have the full line of current iPods, as well as discontinued and refurbished iPods in stock, starting at only $79.00. See them here:



Here are the specials for this week, valid through November 24th or while on-hand supplies last. Be sure to use the wag URL to get this special pricing!


LaCie 250gb Extreme Triple Interface Firewire 800/400/USB – $149!


LaCie 500gb Extreme Triple Interface Firewire 800/400/USB


Apple .Mac 4.0 1yr Internet Service, New or Renewal, w/ FREE Kingston 512mb USB Flash drive – $99!


Apple iPod 20gb with Color Display (r), w/ FREE Belkin Sports Leather case – $159.00!


iPod 20gb U2 Special Edition photo (no coupon/poster) (r), w/ FREE Belkin Leather case -$169


iPod photo 40gb (r) w/ FREE Belkin Sports Leather case – $189.00!


iPod 60gb Photo (2005, R), w/ FREE Belkin Sports Leather case – $209.00!


MacBook 13in 1.83GHz (Core 2 Duo) 512/60/combo, Pixma MP160, Redline Bag, More – $1239!


Love My MacBook Bundle (black) – MacCase 13″ sleeve, Marware kit, Snapballs, iKlear – $49


Love My MacBook Bundle (white) – MacCase 13″ sleeve, Marware kit, Snapballs, iKlear – $49


Brenthaven Edge I Black for 13.3in MacBook, FREE Kingston 256mb USB Flash Drive- $49.00!


Brenthaven Edge II Black case 15.4in for MacBook Pro, FREE 256 Kingston Flash Key – $49.95


Two FB-DIMM 667MHz DDR2 1GB RAM chips with FREE Kingston 256 flash drive – $389.00!


Olympus Stylus 750 Digital Camera 7.1 Megapixel (Black) + FREE 512 MB xD memory card – $379!


$15.00 Rebate on Mac Student and Teacher Edition!


Next Wednesday we unveil our 2006 Holiday Gift Guide. We want to make this year’s gift giving (and getting) as simple and fun as possible!

Thanks for reading!


Leave a Reply