Past Meetings

February 23, 2009 - Hammondsport Mac Users Group


ATTENDING: Jack H, Bob S, Jerry L, Bob G, Tom B, Diane B, Henry B, Joe Y.


Thanks to Bob S for the delicious Chase Cherry Mash candy that he brought for all. Also thanks to Jack for the great donuts. While folks enjoyed the treats with their lunches, Tom showed a couple humorous video clips: 1) Alerting us to the dangers of using cell phones hidden in your ear and 2) the profound beauty and simplicity found in country songs such as 'If My Nose Was Running Money (I'd Blow It All On You)'

RocketFM - Using an eight-year old iBook G3/500, Tom gave a demonstration of how to set up a USB FM transmitter called RocketFM made by Griffin Technology. Although this item is no longer manufactured by Griffin, it can be found on eBay for very reasonable prices ($17). After installing the Mac drivers from the CD (or downloading latest here), the device is plugged into a USB port of the Mac. By default, it broadcasts on frequency 88.1 (which can be changed in System Prefs). Internet radio via iTunes, as well as MP3s, CDs and any other music played on the computer will be picked up by nearby FM radios. See RocketFM manual and FAQ. Many radio programs can be downloaded as Podcasts (MP3), played via QuickTime or iTunes, and broadcast through your house's FM radios. Tom played a portion of a recent Car Talk program with Click & Clack available on-line. Another informative radio show for Mac users is Mac Geek Gab.

FM/MP3 player for car radio ($8.74 from DealExtreme - no tax and free shipping) - this thing works great with any USB stick full of mp3s. It plays through your car radio and speakers.

iTunes EQ - Did you know that iTunes contains an excellent 10-band graphic equalizer for bringing out the best sound in your music? Just click the EQ icon at bottom of iTunes windows. EQs can be preset and saved for each track in your iTunes library. See all sample presets .

Backup / Storage - The question of how to back up your files came up if you don't have Time Machine. Using an G3/500 iBook, Tom gave a demo of how to use an inexpensive external HD (see below) with an On-the-Go Firewire board to do quick backups. You can even clone your entire hard drive using the free Carbon Copy Cloner. Be sure the 3-position switch on the board is set to 'BUS' position to power the HD via the USB 2 or Firewire port.

Mercury On-the-Go (Case + board) - $29 for USB - $49 for Firewire at OWC with 80GB Seagate HD - $39 at OWC - great backup or replacement for older Mac laptops. Just slide it into the board of On-the-Go, then plug it straight into your Mac's USB or Firewire port.

MicPlug ($20 at OWC) - Connects any XLR dynamic microphone (such as a Shure 58) to your Mac via USB. A handy on/off switch lights when active. Works with USB 1.0 and 2.0. Great for GarageBand. See MicPlug specs.

USB Light - found at Dollar Store for $1 and Amazon.

Kingston 2GB USB Stick - under $8 at Amazon


Other Stuff

Speed Test - check your line speed for internet connection. Dial up modems should provide 45-49kbps. High speed ethernet Cable should be 8000-10,000kbps. Old cable wiring, multiple splitting and corroded connections cause excessive line noise and drastically reduce speed. Time Warner Rochester customers can check speed here. Another speed test site is Speak Easy.

Speed up Safari Browser (especially for slower Dial-Up connections) -
1) In Safari Preferences under Appearance uncheck 'Display images'
2) Under Security uncheck 'Enable Java' and Enable Javascript'

Ethernet Cable - Cat 5e (10ft) - the fastest way to connect - $1.18 at MonoPrice

Accelerated Dial-Up - here are some highly-rated, low-cost ISPs for Dial-Up Connections. Check to see if there is a local access number for your area. All of the providers below cost about $9.95/month and use an accelerated feature which essentially compresses images into lower resolutions to download faster.

4) - see closeup satellite views of your own house. Just go to . Keep clicking on the map to zoom into your location. Switch to the 'Birds Eye' view when you get closer. For example, this is what Hammondsport village square looks like. Then we visited Jack's ranch via MapsLive and he pointed out the 'obstacle course' he had built in one of the fields near his house. We thought the aerial view of Jack's pasture bore an eerie resemblance to the recently discovered lost city of Atlantis off the coast of Africa. Compare the two photos. What do you think?

Note: you will need Safari 3 to make Maps Live work smoothly. Go to Apple's download site and type 'Safari 3' in the search window.

iFixit - greatest how-to site on Mac repair / take-apart step-by-step guides - great photos! Recently revamped.


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Hammondsport Mac Users Group - Hammondsport, NY 14840 -