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Ask TUAW: MacBook Pros, iMovie Export, Shuffle Autofill, Windows Gaming and more

This week in Ask TUAW we have questions about the MacBook Pros, exporting from iMovie, Autofill for the Shuffle, Windows gaming on an iMac, and more. Remember new Mac users and Switchers who are enjoying our Mac 101 series should feel very welcome to post questions for Ask TUAW; we're happy to have them. As always, please submit your questions for next week by commenting on this post.

BobbyW asks

When the Macbook Pro came out there were many complaints about the heat and the buzzing sound. Did the Core Duo 2 fix these issues? What about the newest batch of machines? My Macbook Pro Core Duo runs kind of hot. I'd be interested in upgrading if there was significant improvement in the new machines.

For the most part the "moo-ing" problems that seemed to plague the early MacBook Pros do seem to have been solved. Of course the machines are still going to be quite hot. There's just no way to get around this. So whether these issues have been totally "fixed" probably depends on the what you consider adequate.

With regards to the new MacBook Pros that were only announced yesterday, it's obviously too early to say anything specific. However, I would expect there to be a substantial performance gain vis-a-vis your Core Duo MBP. The new models apparently have the new Santa Rosa chipset (though this does not seem to be officially confirmed by Apple as of yet). If so they will benefit from improved bus bandwidth, as well as slightly higher clock speeds, and so should definitely represent a significant performance improvement over the Core Duo MPB.


Jason asks

I run a video podcast for posting videos of my kids for friends and family in distant places. I've been using iMovie to create the videos since I got my iMac in January. I like to export one full quality version for archival purposes and one iPod-compatible version for posting on the podcast. The problem is that when I select the Share->iPod setting in iMovie, it exports the file as a 320x240 video. I know iPods can support much better resolution, and 320x240 looks very bad on a computer screen. Is there a way to change this setting so that I don't lose file quality OR the convenience of the exporting directly to an iPod-ready format?

This isn't really a direct answer to you question, but I would actually suggest that what you're doing now with two separate exports is non-optimal. Instead, export the high-quality version and then use iSquint (free), or better yet its indispensable big brother VisualHub ($23.32), to convert that to the iPod version. I realize you lose the convenience of exporting directly from iMovie, but you'll find that the conversion in VisualHub is much faster than the second export from iMovie. Furthermore, you'll be able to tweak the setting to your heart's content if you so desire, or you can just go with the defaults which almost always yields excellent results. If you really want to dig into it, you can define expert settings in iMovie (export to QuickTime movie the choose Expert), but I really don't recommend it because the QuickTime exporting engine built into iMovie is so slow.


Zachary asks

When a program creates a dialog box there is always a preselected entry highlighted in blue that I can select just by pressing the Enter/Return key. How can I select a non-default option without using the mouse?

We covered this in a previous Ask TUAW. You need to activate "Full keyboard access" in the Keyboard & Mouse Preference Pane.


altern8tif asks

I've got a questions regarding the iPod Shuffle. Does the shuffle mode apply for all audio media forms? Like audiobooks for instance... I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to listen to an audiobook with the chapters in randomised order.

No, according to this Apple Support Document, the "Autofill feature of iTunes will not add audiobooks and podcasts to iPod shuffle." You need to keep in mind, however, that this will only apply to audiobooks and podcasts that iTunes recognizes as such (i.e. fall under the Audiobook and Podcast categories in iTunes' Library sidebar). If, for instance, you added a MP3 podcast by hand directly into the iTunes library it might be added to the shuffle. As long as you haven't done that, however, you should be fine.


Alan asks

How can I get my keyboard to be recognized whenever I bring my MacBook back from sleep? It's annoying, because my mouse gets enabled perfectly fine. If it makes any difference, it's not a "Mac" keyboard (although it works just fine, of course).

This should not be happening. By any chance is your keyboard plugged into an USB hub? If so I would suggest trying it plugged straight into the computer. If it works then you may need to try a different hub. There was a problem way back with OS X 10.2, but that should not be affecting you. Of course you can always unplug and re-plug it, but that's hardly an optimal solution.


jps asks

I would like to install windows on my 17 inch Imac (current revision and specs) purely for gaming. Given that I'm going to be playing games on it exclusively, I'm not sure whether its at all worth bothering with Vista, or in fact whether Vista would make my life more difficult than just installing XP. Are there any resources online available for figuring out which would be the best choice, and is there any real reason for me to go with Vista?

No, it's probably not worth it for you. The newest games for Windows will require Vista because they're being built with DirectX 10. Unfortunately, the iMac's video card is not DirectX 10 compatible anyway, however. For the foreseeable future any games that will run on your hardware will almost certainly be XP compatible, so in my view it's simply not worth it.


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