Things Nobody Remembered To Tell You
October 16th, 2002

This week's column will be a review of some of the stuff I learned the hard way. Actually, if I really put my mind to it I could probably do 6 months of columns about stuff I learned the hard way, but that would get into messy stuff like marriage, children, jobs, etc. Besides, most of the readers of this column have been there, done that for themselves. Rather, I will concentrate on useful computer things I have learned the hard way. Meaning that I don't think a column on all the techniques I use to try and win more "Farewell to Kings" games than the computer does qualifies as really useful information.

HINT: New computer users may be unfamiliar with some of the terms used in this column. If you come across something you are unfamiliar with you may go to the Computing With Bifocals Index for help.

About Making That Printer Work.

If you are downloading printer drivers to your computer you can't finish the installation process unless the computer you are working with is actually hooked up to the printer. You can try for hours, but it won't make any difference. Nobody tells you this stuff.

Making the Dock Work in OS X.

OS X has a Dock at the bottom of the desktop screen. The best comparison to the older systems is the Apple Menu, though Windows users might mistakenly liken it to the Windows Task Bar (the mistake comes from the fact that Microsoft based its Task Bar on the NeXT Dock, on which the Dock in Mac OS X is also based). The Dock comes set up and includes at a minimum the Finder, System Preferences, Apple's iApps, Internet Explorer, and the Trash Basket.

If you are using OS X then you have probably discovered that you can click once on something in the Dock and it will open, but what if the Dock images are too small for you to see and work with? Or what is they are so large they get in the way of your work? Or, worse yet, what if the size changes and you don't know how you did it or how to change it back? Nobody tells you this stuff. Try this to change the size. While you are in OS X locate the small, vertical white line located somewhere on the right side of the Dock.

Example of the Sizing Line For The Dock

Place your mouse on it and click and hold down the mouse button. A resize double arrow will appear and you can drag it up or down to control the size of the Dock which automatically changes the sizes of the images.

Another option for controlling the Dock is to choose Dock from the Apple pull-down menu and then choose Preferences. A window will open that allows you to make choices.

So....How Much Memory Does Your Mac Have?

If you are wearing a shirt that says Mac Geek on the front of it you are supposed to be able to answer these teckie questions right? Even if you aren't wearing that shirt there are times you need to know the answer to this, or to "what processor you are using." When you call your internet provider for technical help you will sooner or later get asked one or both of those question. Here is how to find out.

In OS X, go to your Apple Menu and choose "About This Mac" from the blue Apple pull-down menu. A window similar to the one below will open, giving you the information you need.

About This Mac Window from OS X

In OS 8 or 9 you get this information by selection "About This Computer" from the Apple Menu after first clicking on a blank spot on your desktop to make sure you are not in any application. Once you have clicked on "About This Computer" a window will open. How it looks will vary according to which OS you are using, but you will get the same kind of information no matter what the appearance. Following is how OS 9.2 looks on my machine.

About This Computer Window from OS 9.2

Here is another example of "Nobody Ever Tells You This Stuff." RAM and Memory are the same thing, at least in so far as how to answer the question "How much RAM you got?" or "How much memory you got?"

There Are Two Types of Fonts?

That was my response to the statement that, indeed, there are two types of fonts. To this statement I responded brilliantly, "Oh no, my Mac has a couple of dozen fonts." As usual I knew just enough to get into trouble because nobody ever tells you this stuff. The fonts most of use on a daily basis are TrueType fonts. They are relatively readily available, and often available freely on the Internet. There is a technical description of them, but you probably don't care any more than I do so long as you can get all the fonts you want. If you do care you can look up a definition on any search engine.

The other kind of fonts are called PostScript fonts. They are high quality fonts that meet specific publishing requirements. They are more difficult to create than many TrueType fonts, and are often more expensive to purchase. PostScript fonts are used by people in the publishing industry. Anyone who needs to know the how and why for using them shouldn't be reading this column in the first place.

A Paperclip?

The primary tool I need to take care of my Mac is a paperclip? That is a bit of an exaggeration, but from the first Mac I used to my last iMac, a paperclip has always served a necessary function. With earlier Macs that have floppy drives or CD-ROM drives containing trays for disks, the straightened paperclip was frequently used to open the tray. Right next to the tray was a tiny hole. When the drive got stuck, one could insert the straightened paperclip into the hole, and the tray would pop open and the user could remove or replace the disk and then gently push the tray back in and continue working.

Even with an iMac and a USB keyboard (up to the iMac G4), I found that the trusty paperclip still has a function. It can be used for an emergency restart of an iMac. First you open the door on the side of the iMac and locate the reset hole which is marked with a triangle symbol. Then gently push in that straightened paper clip. The iMac should restart. On most PowerPCs and older Macs (pre USB keyboards) you can restart your Mac from the keyboard by choosing Command, Control and the startup keys by holding them all down at once.

Alas, it appears that along with the smiley face, the straightened paper clip no longer has a place to call home. I wonder if I could mount and frame that ever so useful paperclip? Naw, too many explanations would be required.