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Ask TUAW: Keeping Afloat and Finding Missing Folders

Mat Lu

Okay folks, it's time once again for Ask TUAW answers. As before, I'll be offering answers to several reader questions from last week. I encourage other readers to offer their thoughts, and especially to pose more questions for next week. This week we'll be tackling questions about keeping windows afloat, finding missing folders in Save dialogs, static IP addresses, and more. So without further ado, let's turn to the questions

Dewey asks

Is there a way to have the iChat window always up while in use? I can expose it but when going back to another window the iChat window closes and I have to go back down to the dock to have it re-appear. Windows Messenger windows work the way I'm trying to describe, if anyone uses that. Thanks.

I don't think there's any way to do this with iChat by itself, but fortunately you can accomplish what you want with the free Afloat plug-in from infinite labs (which we have previously mentioned). In version 3, it relies on a SIMBL plug-in to allow any Cocoa application (including iChat) to stay afloat above all other windows. You can even set the transparency of the floating window, so you can turn make your iChat window semi-transparent if that's the kind of thing that floats your boat. As you can see below, it adds a "Keep Afloat" option to the Window menubar item of every Cocoa application.

Just select the iChat window you want to keep above everything else, choose "Keep Afloat" and it should give you want you want.

Mike asks

i'm an ibook g4 10.3.9 user, recently i had the chance to upgrade my dsl to 6.0 Mbp speed and was offered a free static ip with my connection. Should i take it? is there any advantage to a home mac user to have a static ip?

my home network is a wifi belkin router (g) with an old imac (g3 crt from 2001), my ibook over wifi (always), and sometimes another ibook (slow minimum hardware g3)

Okay first a little background. Most home users have dynamic IP addresses, which means that their ISPs periodically change their IPs. This can be a problem if you're trying to access your home machine from somewhere else because you won't necessarily be able to predict its IP address. So for instance, say you wanted to SSH into your home machine while you were on the road, if you have a dynamic IP you won't necessarily know where to point your ssh client. A static IP, on the hand, will not change, so you always know where to find that machine.

There is a downside to having a static IP, however. As my colleague Michael Rose pointed out to me, having a static IP potentially makes you more vulnerable to snooping (e.g. packet sniffing) or even Denial of Service attacks. In fact, you can actually get most of the benefits of a static IP even if your ISP assigns you a dynamic one by using a DNS service like DynDNS. If you sign up for a free account, and run an updating Client on one of your computers, this will allow you to register an alias (e.g. ) which will point to your home computer no matter what its IP happens to be. The Client runs constantly on your computer and senses when your IP has changed. When it does the Client uploads the new IP to the DynDNS servers, so that they always know where to point traffic that you send to your alias (some routers also have DynDNS updating clients built-in which can obviate the need for a computer client; I don't know about your Belkin model).

To actually answer your question I'd say this: you probably don't really need a static IP as you can accomplish practically anything you'd need one for with DynDNS. The only reason I can think of that you might actually want a static IP is either for convenience (though you then have security issues) or if you were running a web-server, but it doesn't really sound like you have any interest in doing that.

Daniel asks

How do I save a file in a specific folder? I have notice in other apps but the most recent is fireworks & dreamweaver. Fireworks and others will only allow saving in a folder that is a master such as pictures or documents but not a folder inside of pictures or documents. After saving the item I then have to go and clean up the picture folder and move stuff around to the folder I want the item to reside.

Is there an option I dont know about? Sorry but in xp(windows) you can save files anywhere you want.

Okay, when I first read this question I was a bit nonplussed. What the heck was Daniel talking about. So I decided to download Fireworks and see for myself. And sure enough, if you go to save a file you get the following:

Daniel, what you need to do is simply click on the drop-down button I've marked here with the big red arrow. When you do that you'll get a full save dialog that looks like this:

As a side tip, even in the closed position you can still customize what folders will appear in the drop-down list (the yellow arrow in the first picture). Those folders are just the same folders that appear in your Finder sidebar. So the drop-down list:

equals the Finder sidebar as below:

So if you want to customize what appears in that drop-down list just drag a folder into the Finder sidebar below the line. Incidentally, this is a standard OS X feature and not specific to Fireworks, etc.

virtuelt asks

Can i transfer my Win XP Pro from my bootcamp to my parallels ?? I have a macbook pro. and run both bootcamp and parallels.

According to Parallels this is now possible with the newest betas of Parallel's Desktop. You can "connect" to your Boot Camp partition as a Virtual Machine. This is a significant advance as before you had to have two entirely separate installs of Windows on your machine. If you do this, however, be sure to heed their warnings, particularly that you do not suspend a Virtual Machine connected to Boot Camp as this has been reported to cause kernel panics.

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