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Ask TUAW: Durable iPad Cases, iPhone Mail Signatures and the 'Insert' Key


Welcome to Ask TUAW, your favorite weekly question-and-answer column. We can never have too many questions, so please go to the comments of this post and ask away. To get fabulous answers, we need your fabulous questions. You can also email your questions directly to ask [at], or ping us on Twitter.

Now, off to the questions! Than queries:

I am starting to use my iPad to score my son's baseball games, doing the scoring from the dugout/field. Any suggestions on a good case? Would really like something waterproof or pretty air tight. Some of the fields can be pretty dusty in the summer and I don't want the dust getting into the iPad and I don't want to have to worry about some rain drops.

Than, no case is going to give you perfect protection, but the best cases I've come across are the ones from Otterbox. They make cases for the iPads 1 and 2, plus the various models of the iPhone. The iPad 2 Defender case should provide excellent protection against the elements, and a few drops of rain shouldn't affect the iPad too much.

Another possibility is the TrendyDigital waterproof iPad case. It's basically a bag to put your iPad in, protecting it from water and other environmental factors, while still allowing you full access to the screen. Give both cases a look and see which will provide the protection you're looking for.

Adam writes:

I have one of the first Intel iMacs (Nov 2007) and it's still running well but these new iMacs have got me wondering if I should upgrade.

With Lion coming out soon, is it a good idea to wait until that releases or for the next iMac post-Lion launch as it will be designed for it?

Is the GPU any good in the new iMac? I only have Portal 2 and WoW but that could change and I'd want it to last a while but as it has "M" in the name it sounds like it could be a cut down unit?

And finally, is there any advantage of paying £480 for Apple branded RAM over getting the same spec ram from Crucial for £120? I think I did that back in '07 and it's been fine.

Lots of questions! Your current iMac shouldn't have any problem running Lion, so whether you "need" to upgrade or not is dependent on how your machine is running. If it still feels fast enough for you, you're probably fine sticking with what you have until either A) it's no longer fast enough to run the programs you use in a satisfactory manner, B) it's so old the software you use and/or OS X no longer supports it, or C) it breaks, and it'd cost more to fix it than to get a new machine.

That having been said, if you're trying to avoid buyer's remorse then generally the best time to buy new Mac hardware is right after a hardware refresh. It's highly unlikely the iMac will see another refresh before Lion's release, and the next iMac updates are most likely anywhere from six months to a year or more in the future. If you need the extra power the new iMac will give you and cannot afford to wait that long for the next refresh, then the best time to buy is now. As for Lion being "designed" for the new Mac hardware, Lion will be "designed" for all Macs that support it, including your old iMac.

As for the GPU, while the "M" designator generally means it's a notebook-class GPU, that doesn't automatically mean it's not a powerful graphics processor. According to the footnotes on the iMac performance page, all current iMac models were capable of running the original Portal at the highest graphic settings anywhere from 1.8 to 4.8 times faster than the previous generation iMac. Compared to the 2007-era GPU you're packing in your current iMac, these new GPUs will be able to handle just about anything you throw at them.

There are only two advantages to getting Apple-branded RAM: it's covered under warranty if it breaks, and they install it for you. If you're comfortable installing your own RAM, go for it. Just be aware that if you break anything while installing third-party RAM, AppleCare probably won't cover it.

Ben asks:

Am I just being dumb or is there a way for me to do this through the mail app on my iPad and iPhone?

I want a different email signature for my home email, and my work one. At the moment i have the default setting of "sent from my iPad" but I would like it to hold all my details for work too, when replying or creating a work email.

Unfortunately Ben, you are stuck with a default mail signature -- that is, unless you jailbreak your phone. There is an app called Mail Enhancer that promises a number of tweaks to the standard iOS Mail app, including multiple signatures for multiple accounts. It's available on Cydia for US$1.99.

Dave asks:

My company uses a special terminal-like windows software, that, when i connect from home, I run using Wine on my Macbook Pro with Snow Leopard. The windows software requires the use of the "Insert" Key, which mac doesn't seem to use. How can I send the Insert command to my company's windows-based terminal program, which i run on my mac Via Wine.

That's a tricky one -- and I don't have a definite answer. According to this Apple Support Discussion, "Insert" is mapped to the 'fn'+'enter' key-combo, but that's only on the Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad. There's another Apple knowledge base article that says there is no "Insert" equivalent on the MacBook Pro. Best of luck!

Thanks for the questions everyone, and remember: it's tough to have a Q&A column without Qs. So, put your questions in the comments of this post, or shoot us an email at ask [at] Also, if you have anything to add to our answers, we love feedback and fresh ideas.

Seriously, we want questions! Now, have a great week!

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