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Ask TUAW: iPhone alerts, Migration Assistant, annoying coworkers and more


Welcome to this week's edition of Ask TUAW. As you probably know from last week's column, Mat Lu, your favorite TUAW answer-man, is on vacation and this week I'm here to try and fill his very large shoes. We'll see how that goes but I feel optimistic.

Remember, if you want to ask us a question here at Ask TUAW, just post it in the comments of this post and we'll try to get it answered for you next week. Or, maybe one of your fellow commenters will give you the answer before that. Ok, now that that's done, let's get to this week's questions.

Brent wants to know

Anyone know if there's a way to get the iPhone to keep alerting you that you have a new voicemail/text msg?

Unfortunately, that feature isn't as yet implemented on the device. So, while we wait for the inevitable software updates, you're going to have to live with the iPhone going dark on you. Although, if it really bothers you, you could set the iPhone to not sleep at all by turning off the auto-lock feature -- which can be found under Settings> General > Auto-Lock. Although, if you do that, you run the risk of accidentally pushing buttons you don't want to push or even calling foreign countries.

Maggie asks

I have a macbook and I accidentally downloaded an firmware update that I don't need (the superdrive update 2.1 to be exact). Now every time I turn on my computer I get a message saying that no updatable devices were found, and when I close it my DVD player opens. It's not the end of the world, but it is a bit annoying. Do you know how to delete the update?

Well Maggie, you're not alone. Several other people have reported this problem. It appears that, although the update keeps telling you that you don't have any devices to update, the update may actually have already taken place and the message you keep getting is an error. Or, the update really isn't finding a drive to update. Either way, the message is annoying but you should be able to stop it. To do this, go to your User Account in System Prefs and see if the Updater Application has listed itself in your Login Items. If so, remove it and see if the message goes away.

Josh is curious about

Can you use Migration Assistant from a backup on an external HDD? Or does the migration have to come from a "real" computer? I am thinking that migration assistant requires firewire target mode on the mac, is this the same as using an actual firewire HDD?

The short answer is yes -- provided the external drive in question was made using one of the "cloning" tools such as SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner so it is a bootable OSX drive. If it it, its the same as migrating from another Mac. Just boot from your external Hard Drive and run the Migration Assistant to migrate from your "Mac" (the external HDD) to your new Mac (the computer you want to restore to). It should work perfectly. Although, Migration Assistant isn't a substitute for a real backup solution. So, if you don't have one in place now, you should definitely consider setting one up.

Pete ponders

My iTunes library (about 200 Gb) is on my iMac which is not always switched on. As this is my main computer I would like to keep it here. However, my Mac Mini *is* always on and sometimes it would be more convenient to stream music from there. Is there any way of keeping an exact mirror on the Mini that automatically updates when I change the library on the iMac?

An option you could try is to use a File and Folder sync program such as ChronoSync to synchronize your iTunes Music Folders on each Mac. That way, when you turn on your iMac, it would Sync with your Mac Mini automatically over your network. If you are syncing a lot of large files the process could take quite some time -- especially the first time you do it. However, subsequent syncs should take less time if you've only made minor changes or additions to your library.

Keith is wondering

What is a good video screen capture program? Is there a good one for free?

At the moment I don't know of any good free ones. Perhaps the TUAW readers can lend a hand on that one? If you don't mind paying a little cash to support software developers, there are a few choices out there for you. As Aaron mentioned last week, iShowU is a good choice at only twenty bucks. Some other ones you could check out include Screen Record, Screen Mimic, and, of course, Snapz Pro X -- the big boy on the block in both features and cost. Each has their strengths and weaknesses but all offer a demo version to try out so find the one that fits what you want to do and your budget.

Finally, Aaron is a bit frustrated and wants to know

I would like to know the best way to get coworkers to stop drinking your beverages from a communal refrigerator. I'm on the verge of installing a hidden camera. ;)

It certainly is annoying when others don't respect your stuff. Over the years, I've tried many different methods to get people to learn how to play well with others. You could try polite notes, labels, a sternly worded memo or email, or perhaps even staking out the fridge to see who's pilfering your beverages. And, of course, you could try a more high-tech approach and install a video camera to catch the thieves in the act.

However, if all of that fails and people are still taking your stuff, you could also try a method of persuasion I've occasionally found useful: a baseball bat. Start cracking a few skulls and people will stop messing with your stuff. Works every time.

The answers and information provided here are for your personal entertainment. Neither TUAW nor Weblogs, Inc. makes any guarantee that the answers in Ask TUAW are technically accurate. Use the suggestions and software tools listed here at your own risk (especially the part about cracking skulls with a bat).

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