The Further Adventures of Stuffit and an Introduction to GraphicConverter
December 23rd, 1998

Last's week's column brought lots of good suggestions and advice from readers. The one I found most useful came from Roger Harris who works for Southwestern Bell Internet Services. Roger called to my attention that sometimes there are things that don't unstuff when downloaded, even when you have stuffit installed. Instead you get a dialog box that says “this file requires Bin Hex III; What do you want to do with it?”... Panic Time!!! In the past when this has happened to me I have given up and trashed whatever I was trying to download. There is a simple solution (I love simple solutions).

First of all Roger says we should make an Alias of Stuffit Expander and keep it on the desktop. Here is how to create an alias of the Stuffit Expander file. Open your pull down menu under File and click on Find. When the Find box appears type in Stuffit Expander and hit enter. Every file that contains those words will then be displayed. In the top box click once on the one that says it is the application program. Then in the bottom box you will see where it is located, which is usually in the Netscape Navigation folder. Open that folder by double clicking on the title and it will open. Don't cluck on the actually icon for Stuffit Expander here or it will open the application. We want to open the folder the application is in so we can use the icon. You will then see an icon labeled Stuffit Expander. Click on it once - it will be highlighted. Then go back to the pull down menu under File and click on Make Alias. A duplicate icon will appear in the Netscape Navigation folder that is labeled Stuffit Expander Alias. Drag the alias file out of the Netscape Navigation folder and put it somewhere convenient on your desktop. Once you have done that it will always appear on your desktop unless you throw it away. Close the Netscape Navigation folder and the find folder as you are finished with them. Then the next time you get a message that says the file requires Bin Hex III; What do you want to do with it? You should save it on your desktop with whatever name you want and then drag that file to the Stuffit Expander alias. That will allow your file to automatically open. Thanks for the advice Roger.

Bob Ketcham pointed out to me that there are more things that Stuffit can do than just open large downloaded files. He said that the program is equally good for dealing with numerous files at once and creating an archive. I promise that I will write about this in January after I have had a chance to try it myself.

In addition to these two helpful letters I received a number that provided me with very technical information concerning how Stuffit works and why - a way of expanding on the amount of technical information provided last week. Most of the information, while clearly explained by the writers, is more than I want to get into in this column. Rather I will refer any who want more information at this time to check out the web site for Aladdin Systems who makes Stuffit. I got a very nice note from Jennifer Lyng, the Public relations & event manager at Aladdin Systems and I feel confident that this company will help answer any questions you may have.

One more bit of follow up to last week. The telephone number and web address for the company mentioned last week were incorrect due to an error on their part (hey, I make enough on my own, I can’t afford to take responsibility for any more.) We corrected it in the column, but just in case, you will find the correct information at the end of this column as well.

In keeping with the discussion of helpful formats I would like to go back and discuss in more depth a program I wrote about in September. As Stuffit Expander is for text files, Graphic Converter is for graphics. GraphicConverter, created by Thorrsten Lemke, has a new version, 3.4, hot off the press. This is the kind of program that you like so much you send fan letters to the author.

To get GraphicConverter 3.4 go to our old standby, and download it. (Note: if you need help using see previous columns for directions.) Once it is on your desk top you can click on it and it will, at your direction, automatically load in the proper place on your hard drive. It comes complete with detailed directions. This is shareware and the cost is $35.00 which you are asked to send to the creator. Most programs that do what this one does are designed for professional users and sell for hundreds of dollars each. GraphicConverter imports a whole array of graphic files. You can find a list of them in the directions. It has editing features similar to the more expensive programs, it has a browser for searching through piles of graphic files and it can be used with scanned pictures and scanner plug-ins.

As an example of how it works let us assume you have received a photograph, sent to you by e-mail. You would most likely save the photograph to your desktop. Rather than open the file by double clicking on it, you could open it from GraphicConverter. To do so, launch Graphionverter, pull down the File menu and click on Open. The program will ask you what you want to open and you will tell it to go to desktop and then to open your photo. It will open and also give you a tool bar, a small version of the photo and an enlarged portion of the photo along with size, resolution, colors, etc. You now have the option of simply saving your photo for future use, or modifying it an any number of ways. You can erase portions, reduce or enhance color resolution, change a color photo to black and white, reduce the number of pigments to a workable number for an art project or for making a pattern, put it directly on your desktop, you can remove parts of it and even draw on it. It offers enumerable options for you. My advice is to download it and try it out to see if you like working with it. Between the pull down menus and the instructions, you can figure out almost anything quickly. Once you pay the shareware fee you will have full access to all the attributes and you can experiment to your hearts content. In my opinion this is one of the best purchases I have made and I am only just begining to find out everything it can do. The best part of it is that you can work on the simplest of projects or create something really complicated and either way it is a bargain.

Mac users who have both Stuffit Expander and GraphicConverter have given themselves many doorways to making the most use of the internet.

If you have any tips or hints on this topic, make sure you write me so that I can share your thoughts with other readers.