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Ask TUAW: Anti-Virus in Parallels, inventory management, sharing iCal without .Mac and more

It's time again for Ask TUAW, you ask, we decide... or something like that. This week we've got a bumper crop of questions on: the need for anti-virus when running Windows in Parallels, managing inventory with your Mac, publishing iCal calendars without .Mac, accessing webmail with Mail.app, using an iPod Touch as a PDA, DVI to HDMI conversion and more!

As always leave your suggestions and/or questions for next week in the comments to this post.

Pau asks

I don't know if this has been asked before, but what are the problems with viruses if I installed Windows with the paralels stuff. Should I install an antivirus to windows, or since it works under OSX that's not necessary..?

YES! You need to install Windows anti-virus even if you're running it in virtualization. Although the underlying Mac OS X installation should be safe, there are no guarantees if the virtual machine can write to your hard disk. In any case, the Windows install is as vulnerable to viruses as a standalone machine, and therefore anti-virus software is an absolute necessity in my view. Fortunately, there is a decent free one for Windows called AVG free, which I would recommend you install if you don't have access to something better.


Robert asks

Tonight my wife's Macbook has died. After crashing and forcing a restart it didn't boot. On the screen the "interrogation mark" on a folder icon and no hard disk visible after booting from Mac OS X installation disk. Disk just gone. I've searched for more info and I've found this Support Discussion (url above) in Apple's web. There is no kind of official answer on this or any solution. Folks still in guarantee or with Apple Care plans are getting a replacement drive (not one of them), but no recovery or cause whatsoever. Have you guys heard of this before? Any clues? Any insider gossip on this one? Exactly how many users are affected by this problem?

I'm sorry this happened to you but this just sounds like a straight-forward case of the hard drive dying. This is just one of those things that happens, and another demonstration of why backing up is so important. I really don't think there much more to it than that.


ACLetras asks

Here's one for next week. I'm looking for some good equipment check in/check out software. We have cameras, camcorders, projectors, etc that we loan out to faculty & students, and right now we just have a handwritten log book to track who takes it and when it comes back. I'd like something with Apple's ease of use, without being overwhelming to use, but haven't found much. There's some potential solutions here, but nothing I like so far. Any ideas? We might just whip up a custom system to do this (either a FileMaker DB, or a web based frontend), but I'd prefer if someone else already did the work

I haven't used it myself, but I suspect that Librarian Pro ($29.95) could be extended to work for you as it has built-in support for managing borrowers. It's focussed more on managing media, but it does also allow you to enter hardware.

If you're interested in something more professional, you might check out the IntelliScanner ($299) which apparently comes with software allowing you use bar codes inventory tracking system.


bobm asks

I have a Perl script I want to run when I login. I put the script in Accounts->Login Items. But it doesn't execute. I think it's because the finder doesn't associate .pl files to Perl (it opens in TextEdit). Any suggestions?

I haven't done any of this myself, but it appears that you can make a shell script executable in he GUI by changing the file extension to .command (and making sure the permission are correct). This would then allow you to place it in the Login Items list. A perhaps more elegant solution is to create a login hook, as described in this Apple Support Doc.


Davy asks

How do I view webmail like Yahoo and Hotmail on a mail client like the Mail app included in OS X?

With Yahoo you can just use POP, but only with Yahoo Mail Plus. With Hotmail you used to be able to use the HTTPMail Plugin, but it seems not have been updated in a while and folks are complaining that it only works with Hotmail Plus.


Chris asks


Do you think apple will ever step up and take responsibility for the bad logic boards they put in ibooks?

Well they did extend the replacement period until earlier this year. However, I seriously doubt they'll do much more than that (unless you're Danish, perhaps).


Paul asks

I currently use and sync a Palm TX to my Macbook. It's mostly used for the PIM stuff (contacts calender world clock etc) with web browsing via WiFi and a bit of GPS navigation on holidays and trips. Ignoring the GPS use (I also have that on my Nokia N73) can the new iPod Touch replace the Palm TX? There's been a lot of coverage of the music, video and web browsing abilities, but how do the basic PIM function fare?

I seriously doubt that the iPod Touch would, at least out of the box, be as good of a PIM as the Palm. As we mentioned recently it appears that you will not be able to add calendar events to the iPod Touch. Now it's possible of course that all the excellent hacking activity now going on with the iPhone will translate over to the iPod Touch and that third-party developers might add in some more of that PIM functionality, but it seems that Apple does not intend the Touch to be a PDA, and thus I would think twice about such a trade given what we know at this time. Of course that all could change in the future. At this time, the iPhone would probably be the better bet for PIM functionality.


Jay asks

I'm a terrible planner - I always seem to find myself agreeing to hang out with friends when I had already planned dinner with my girlfriend the week before for that same night. Either that, or with her teaching and going to grad school classes, I lose track of where she is at certain times of the day, and this sometimes leads to strife between us. We both have MacBook Pros and use iCal as our primary calendars. Is there any way that we can sync up our calendars, to where I can open iCal on my computer and see what she has going on, and she can do the same thing for me? Is this a .Mac feature? Is there a way to do it outside of .Mac?

Yes, just publish the your respective calendars to a WebDAV (or more properly CalDAV) server. If you have access to a WebDAV server already (or want to sign up for an account with Box.net) you can follow these instructions. If you want an even easier method, iCal Exchange offers free hosting. Keep in mind, however, that this will of course share your calendar information with the third-party host (though not the public).


dani asks

I'm trying to run a Keynote presentation from a MacBook Pro DVI port via DVI to HDMI cable to an LG 42"plasma TV. I've been told that because DVI does not carry audio I have to run the audio from the Headphone jack using an analog or digital (fiber-optic) cable. So far so good, but how do you tell the TV to get input from 2 different ports?

You probably can't It would obviously depend on the particular television model but if the TV input is set to a HDMI port then it is expecting to get audio together with video in the same input. You'd think that it would just be an adapter cable, but apparently that is not the case and what you need is something like this Gefen DVI Audio to HDMI adapter, which is unfortunately pricey at $299. If the TV has a VGA port you could go that route and there would likely be a separate audio input that goes with that VGA port. If there is an A/V receiver in the room you could just send the audio to that instead. If not, one final possibility is just to use a separate set of power speakers for the audio.


Laura asks

is there a way to set up, like, a battery profile? I know there's "better battery performance," but there's no one-button way to close all peripheral apps like Quicksilver and Growl when the battery's running low, is there?

One thing you could conceivably do is create an AppleScript that would tell a specified set of applications (like the ones you mention) to quit. Or if you want an even easier way this nice Quit Application Automator action will easily allow you to select all the applications you want to quit together (as long as they-unlike Growl-appear in the Application folder) in an Automator executable.



It's time again for Ask TUAW, you ask, we decide... or something like that. This week we've got a bumper crop of questions on: the need for...