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Ask TUAW: External Front Row, iSight mirroring, booting from an external hd and more

It's time again for Ask TUAW, our weekly feature where you ask the questions and we make up the answers... er, I mean carefully research and determine the optimal solutions. This week we'll be tackling questions about using Front Row on an external display, mirroring on an iSight, multiple external displays on a MacBook, timezones in iCal, booting from an external hard drive, and more!

As always readers' suggested answers are most welcome! Please leave your questions for next week in the comments.

PowerLlama asks

Every time I reboot my mac, I have a folder in my trash bin called "Recovered Files." What is recovering these files? Can I delete them? Is something messed up with my hard drive?

This Apple Support Doc has your answer. You probably don't need to worry as they're probably just the result of an application crash. In all likelihood you can just get rid of them, but I would suggest looking through them first to see if there's anything important. If not, just empty the trash and don't worry about it. It really unlikely that there's any kind of hardware problem.


Becky asks

Does anyone know of a piece of software that takes the current view from an iSight and
puts it in a window on the screen (not mirror reversed). Doesn't need to record video or do anything else: just needs to show what the camera sees. Both PhotoBooth and the Video Preview option of iChat show a mirror image. I'm a teacher, and I use my MacBook in class (hooked up to an LCD projector), and sometimes I want to demonstrate an action in real time - fold your paper here, push this button on your calculator, etc.

You need iGlasses ($9.95) from ecamm which has a mirror setting that will essentially undo the automatic mirroring. So if you install it and hit the checkbox the image will essentially be de-mirrored. This should work for nearly application that has a video interface.


Al asks

I am trying to use Front Row on a second, external display (tv). I want Front Row to start on that display rather than the primary (computer) one. I can't seem to find a way to achieve this though. Any suggestions? Apart from making the external display the primary one (with the menu bar).

The whole point of Front Row is to take over the display, so I don't think it's possible to do what you want. Might I suggest just using some other media software such as MediaCentral ($29.99), which supports using different window sizes. In fact, Pure Mac has a nice list of media center software that may be of interest to you.


Jonathan asks

I'm a Programmer and i live by a dual screen setup, however i have a problem. I've got 2 *19" displays (VGA & DVI) and a Macbook C2D 2.0Ghz. What is the best way to run both displays(spanning) from the macbook either directly or indirectly connected to it. Heres a few ideas i've seen already get a second machine connect the display to it, and and run a vnc type app, on the macbook and use the second machine as a client. matrox dual head 2 go, however this supports a max resolution of 2048768 not the 25601024 i need. Is there another solution, or do i need to drop bank on MBP?

The problem is the rather underpowered Intel GMA 950 graphics card in the MacBook. The Matrox is the only solution I know of, and if you check out the Matrox compatibility page you can see that only the MacBook Pro supports the resolution you want. If you have a second machine you might try ScreenRecycler, though I have never used it myself. Since you presumably are mostly displaying text it might work well for you particular application.


Wouter asks

I travel a lot and am working in different timezones. When I am in Europe I can set time settings to GMT +1 but then all my appointments in iCal move a couple of hours. It would be nice if there is some workaround so iCal neglects the timezones.

Well as your fellow reader Rich pointed out you can turn on iCal's timezone support in the Advanced Tab of iCal's preferences. If you activate that iCal will put a little drop-down menu in the top right of the interface that allows you to select a different time zone than the one the computer is set to.


KR asks

How can I run an OS off of my external firewire hard drive. I don't want to partition my local hard drive and run it via bootcamp, which I know would be the best option. So is there a way to install it on an external drive and boot it up from there.

Well it's easy to run OS X from an external hard drive. Just install it there (or make a bootable copy with something like SuperDuper). Then hold down the option key when starting your Mac and you'll be able to select the external hd. As far as Windows goes it's much harder. Officially, Windows does not support booting from an external hard drive, either FireWire or USB. Unofficially someone has gotten it to work with a USB 2.0 hard drive (not FireWire) and has posted instructions. It still requires you to install Boot Camp to prepare to Mac to use Windows at all, but it does apparently work. Obviously, I have not done this myself and so have no direct experience with this.

This information is provided for your entertainment. Neither TUAW nor this author can be held responsible for any problems arising from the use of the information provided here.



It's time again for Ask TUAW, our weekly feature where you ask the questions and we make up the answers... er, I mean carefully research...