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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...




Netscape Printing & "Smart Browsing," And More MP3 Quality
April 7th, 2000

Good day, and welcome to Ask Dave! This week we will be discussing issues surrounding Netscape's printing and "Internet Keywords" features, converting documents from an old Mac to a newer PC, and a reader-supplied explanation about enhancing the playback-quality of MP3s. If you have any questions of your own, feel free to e-mail me directly or ask everyone in the Ask Dave Forums. It's a good one this week, folks, so enjoy!

Keith (papa) Smedberg wrote, "I have an HP 870 (printer) and cannot adjust my printer margins when in Netscape. All or most of my pages are 1 page and about 3 characters wide! How do I change the margins the to get everything narrower? I have a G3 powerbook and Mac OS 9."

Well, Keith -- the first place I would check would be to go to your File Menu, choose Page Setup, and look at the "Scale" setting. If this is set to less than 100%, your pages might get reduced down in size when printed. The other thing you may want to check is Netscape's "Fit to one page if possible" setting. This is either going to be on the same screen as your "Scale" setting, or it may be on one of the other "option" screens available from the Page Setup dialog box (if you're using Apple's LaserWriter driver, there's a pull down menu that lets you get there). Try changing the status of that box (unchecking if checked and vice versa) to see if that helps. Keep in mind that web pages aren't really designed with printing in mind, so there are bound to be some rendering issues depending on the specific page you're trying to print. Try a different web page and, if all else fails, use Internet Explorer for your printing needs. My luck took a dramatic turn for the better when I started using IE for all my web-printing. The engine included is much more robust than that of Netscape.

Phil Pearson (of MacSurfer.com and TechNN.com fame) wrote, "Is there a file that can be adjusted that lets you type either 'technn' or 'TechNN' or 'techNN' in the location line (Netscape) and then points you to www.technn.com?"

Actually, Phil, that's something that's controlled by Netscape's "Smart Browsing" feature. If you go to the Edit menu, choose Preferences, click on Navigator, and choose Smart Browsing, you'll see an option at the bottom for "Internet Keywords." When this checkbox is on and you type a one word entry into the location bar, it actually does a search for this term at Netscape's web site. They have indexed most of the commonly visited web sites, which is why typing 'macobserver' or 'macsurfer' in there points you back to www.<what-you-typed>.com. However, if they DON'T have that particular web site indexed yet, you get a list of the search results based on that term. You can, however, turn this off. If you have Internet Keywords disabled, then it will just automatically add the "www." and ".com" around the phrase you typed and it will bring you to that page (I tested it with 'technn' and it worked fine). As far as "adding" a site to this search engine, there doesn't appear to be any obvious way to do so, as it seems they've got a robot that just constantly scours the web on its own.

You can find more information about this at Netscape's Internet Keywords information page. One cool feature is that you can type "quote aapl" into the location bar and it will return a detailed quote of Apple's stock price! Pretty cool!

Lou Note writes, "Here's the problem. I have a word processing document (of 190 pages of text) created in Claris Works 2.0 on an old Mac LC II. It's on the hard drive as well as a Macintosh formatted 3.5" floppy disc. I want to make a copy that is converted to a PC floppy disc in any of the following formats: Pagemaker 6.0 for Windows 3.1, Word for Windows 98, Claris Windows 3.1, or ASCII Text. I live in the New York City area, is there anyplace I can bring this or send it to have this done? (The Kinko's Copy Centers do not have Claris anymore in their computers)."

Well, Lou, I think you can perform this magic at home (at least partially). Since it sounds like you still have both the document and Claris Works 2.0 on your LC II, let's start there. Open the document in Claris Works, go to the File menu, and choose "Save As". In the dialog box where it lets you choose the location and name of the file, there should be a pull-down menu with choices as to the "format" of that file. You probably won't see "Word for Windows 98" there, but something along the lines of ASCII Text should be an option. A better option, though, would be to choose Rich Text Format (also called RTF). This format is something that ALL of the programs you listed will read, and it retains formatting, font types, sizes, and the like. By saving it in RTF format, you can be fairly certain that it will work in most word processing applications. Be sure to follow "MS-DOS" file constraints -- 8 character filename, no spaces, and end it with ".RTF".

Once you've got the file saved, you now need to save it to a PC-formatted diskette. Your LC II has the hardware capability to do this, but it may or may not have the software. Put an empty 3.5" diskette in, click once on it, and then choose Erase Disk from the Special menu. If you have the right software, you'll have a drop-down list of formatting options, and one of those should be DOS. Choose that, format the disk, and then copy the RTF file to it. If you don't have these options, you'll need to copy the file to a Mac disk, take it to your favorite Kinko's and copy it to a PC-Formatted disk on one of the Mac's they have there. Most (if not all) of the Mac's you're likely to find at Kinko's will have this capability.

One word of warning, though -- each word processor appears to interpret RTF just a *little* bit differently, so you might notice some strangeness once the document has been opened on the Windows side.

What Sound Jam's Realizer is Actually Doing...

After my mention last week about Sound Jam's MP3 playback quality and the "magic" that the Realizer plug-in performs, Rick Pepper, AppleScript Programmer and Macintosh Professional, wrote in with this descriptive explanation of what's actually going on:

"The magic that the Realizer is doing, and why it is a great thing for MP3 playback, is that it's basically generating harmonics of the upper end of the frequency spectrum, and adding it in. It basically (although un-judiciously) generates high frequency content (and since MP3 cuts off at 16k, you're actually/potentially re-generating content above 16k - for what it's worth to the individual listener). The Aphex Aural Exciter is the longtime hardware piece that this concept is based on, and I have had great success with using the Aphex for 'DJ' type scenarios and my Mac - with SoundApp. I chose SoundApp because (at the time) it was the only AppleScriptable player, and of course it's free and converts everything-in-the-world (and Norm's a cool guy). Granted, most MPEG users are playing them at their desktop and the price differential between the Aphex and SoundJam is about 2:1, and the convenience factor is about 10:1 in favor of SoundJam.

Not disagreeing with you, just saying I'm with you on using harmonics-producing solutions as a way to bring MPEG files back to life. And that there are a few of us OUT there, doing some interesting fusing of pro-audio, computers, and music (specifically with MPEG files). For example, I have an AppleScript based jukebox that uses FileMaker Pro as the front end - for the 'customer', and SoundApp as the engine to play the tunes."

Thanks for the letter, Rick! I know this stuff may only apply to the nerds and audiophiles out there, but I felt it informative enough to share!

That's it for this week, folks. Have a splendid week, and I'll catch you next time! As always, feel free to e-mail me your questions to askdave@macobserver.com, or post away in the Ask Dave Forums and talk to everyone about these and other issues.

P.S. Have a Nice Day.

is President and CEO of The Mac Observer, Inc. He has worked in the computer industry as a consultant, trainer, network engineer, webmaster, and a programmer for most of the last 10 years. During that time he has worked on the Mac, all the various Windows flavors, Be, a few brands of Unix, and it is rumored he once saw an OS/2 machine in action. Before that he ran some of the earliest Bulletin Board systems, but most of the charges have since been dropped, and not even the FBI requests that he check in more than twice a year.

Ask Dave is here to answer all the Mac questions you have. Networking, system conflicts, hardware, you ask it, he can answer it. He is the person from whom all Mac knowledge flows....


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