Graphic Arts IT Guy Q & A

Q. I have a software issue. All the applications that I use often have started quitting unexpectedly. Garage Band, iPhoto, Safari, Mail. I can’t delete or reset without it quitting. Help!

A. It may be a system font issue. The “Apple” applications use System Fonts in OS X. Fonts are normally cached by the system for easy retrieval. Problems occur because the caches can become corrupt.

If you’re running Mac OS X Tiger (10.4 ) you can start with the “Shift” key to clear caches. For older systems (10.2, 10.3) you need “FontFinagler”. (Available at http://homepage.mac.com/mdouma46/fontfinagler/ ) FontFinagler will delete the font caches that become corrupt.

You could also download a copy of Firefox if Safari keeps crashing. I always recommend that you have two web browsers and two email programs, just in case one gets corrupted. After running FontFinagler to remove the caches, reboot your Mac and the system will create new font caches.

Another routine maintenance you should habitually perform is “Repair Permissions” with Disk Utility. Applications on Mac OS X rely on system permissions due to the underlying UNIX operating system. During Software Updates or application installs, these permissions can get changed. Running “Repair Permissions” returns the permissions back to the settings that Apple recommends.

By the way, never try to remove any fonts from System, Library, or any other folders using Font Book…You can seriously mess up the Apple applications and possibly the operating system.

Q. I need to buy a network switch and I’m not sure if I should buy a managed or unmanaged switch. Will the unmanaged hub automatically switch and keep all the 1000-speed items at full speed?

A. First of all, there is a difference between a hub and a switch. A hub acts as a centralized connector between all devices. A switch is also a central connector, but is more advanced than a hub. A switch controls each separate port and creates a segregated connection between two devices. It is much like a railroad switch, as network traffic is routed or “switched”.

The speed of network devices has increased from 10BaseT through 100BaseT and now to 1000BaseT—using unshielded twisted pair wire, UTP, loosely referred to as “Ethernet”. Inside current Ethernet cables, eight wires are twisted in pairs. The wires wrapping around each other cancel any electromagnetic interference that would affect their performance.

Early devices ran at 10BaseT, or 10 megabits per second using 4 of the available wires. Using the unused 4 wires for error correction greater speeds are achievable. Today’s network speeds are 100BaseT, at 100 megabits per sec and 1000 megabits per second—the latter referred to as Gigabit Ethernet.

In answer to the first part of your question, the answer depends on what you want to do. If you ask a networking guru, he or she will tell you to buy a managed switch. With a managed switch you can configure each port’s speed, enable ports, and create VLANs to separate traffic. For homes and small companies this much power may be overkill.

In answer to the second part, when two devices connect though a switch they will communicate at the lowest speed. Two 1000BaseT devices will connect at 1000 Mbs. If a 10BaseT device connects to a 1000BaseT device they will run at the lower speed—10MBs. But even while the latter two run slower, the first two will continue to run at 1000Mbs. Such is the beauty of a switch.

Q. I was watching some Flash video on the Internet and all of a sudden I have no sound on my Mac. It plays mp3s with iTunes and the alerts work, but no sound on the video. How do I fix it?

A. You should test whether the problem is restricted to Flash video. Try to run some Quicktime video by visiting Apple’s Quicktime site http://www.apple.com/quicktime/ and some Flash video at youtube.com. Many of the Flash videos are encoded with audio at 96Hz and for some reason it messes up the audio settings on your Mac.

The way to fix this is to go to Applications > Utilities > Apple Midi Setup. You will find that you can adjust the output setting back to the standard 44 KHz for Audio Devices. This setting should correct the audio setting for Flash video.

Timothy Mitra
IT specialist (IT Guy)
Do you have a question you would like answered by the IT Guy?
tim@it-guy.com
416.278.8609

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