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Ask TUAW: iPhone (of course), reinstalling OS X, migrating iTunes and more

This week on Ask TUAW, our weekly Q&A column: an obligatory iPhone question, reinstalling OS X, watching TV on your Mac, transferring your iTunes library, and increasing hard drive capacity.

Remember: everyone's welcome to post questions for Ask TUAW; we're happy to help! Just leave questions for next week in the comments. Now let's get to it.

Graham asks

I know that the iPhone allows for super-easy software upgrades, but will the First Gen iPhones be able to make the switch if AT&T ever stops using EDGE? Also, is there a vibrate mode?

It's almost certainly not possible that the iPhone's EDGE data services could be upgraded to true 3G. This would require different radio circuitry, not just a software upgrade, and if such circuitry were in place it's likely that it would have come to light in the obligatory FCC filing. So in short, there's almost no way that the iPhone ver 1.0 will be software upgradable to 3G.

And yes, according to Macworld the iPhone will have a vibrate mode.


Brandon asks

If I have a computer thats been upgraded to tiger and I now need to format it, but I have no idea where my tiger cd is. I tried using a tiger cd that came with one of my newer intel macs, but that wouldn't work. So if I were to format my computer with a panther CD, would that revert the OS back to panther? If so is there anyway around that? Also two little side notes; I'm not exactly sure which option for formating does what, so could you go over those? And also, what does software restore do?

If you use the Panther disc you'll get Panther. I'm sorry but there's no way "around that" other than to find the Tiger disc.

For an explanation of the different options see this Support Doc from Apple (though this one applies to Tiger a Panther one is here). With regards to the "Software Restore" discs, these will allow you to reinstall non-system software that originally shipped on your Mac (the particulars will vary between Mac models).


steve asks

Is there a way to pipe component HD and composite SD into my Macbook at a reasonable price? All the EyeTV solutions seem to be coax based but I would like to be able to watch tv (non OTA) / game console / etc. in my small office.


For HD you're pretty much out of luck, unless you can get a cable box with a FireWire output (technically you should be able to demand one from your cable company); this article at Mac OS X Hints will get you started. However, the EyeTV Hybrid which we've mentioned many times here on TUAW will allow you get SD composite and S-Video into your Mac. They also claim "virtually no latency" when connected to a game console, but I have not used it in that way myself, and I have heard adverse reports about using the product in that way.


(a different) Steve asks

I plan on upgrading my computer in the near future, and have my entire 60 GB itunes music stored on an external drive. Is there a way to have itunes on the new system find this library without having to manually re-open all the music into itunes on the new computer?

If all you want to do is get the music, then you can use iTunes' built-in import option in the file menu. However, I assume you want to get all the associated metadata in your library. In this case I would suggest following this tip from Playlist using the Consolidate command.


mic1981 asks

I manually store a lot of excess photos and large files etc on a few external drives. I am wondering is there anyway that I can add a large external drive (possibly as RAID), so that some progams such as iPhoto or iTunes will automatically view the drive as one with my internal hard drive and therefore store and retrieve files in the external drive automatically. So basically I want to know can I automatically increase my total hard drive by periodically added a firewire external drive?


The answer to your question depends on just what you mean by automatically. You can set up a software RAID with external hard drives to increase capacity, but each time you wanted to add storage you'd have to set it up again. The only way I know of to add storage capacity just by adding new hard drives that is truly automatic is the Drobo "storage robot" ($499) which we mentioned a while back.

One thing you might do if you feel your internal disk is too constrained is buy a large external FireWire HD, clone your internal HD to the external with SuperDuper, and then boot from the external drive. Another thing you might try is locating your specific iTunes and/or iPhoto libraries on one or more external drives (there are options in the preferences of both programs that will allow you to specify an arbitrary location for your libraries).


Okay that's it for now, remember to add your questions for next week in the comments below!


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This week on Ask TUAW, our weekly Q&A column: an obligatory iPhone question, reinstalling OS X, watching TV on your Mac, transferring...