Question Time: Column View Sorting Woes, iCal Icon Woes, Laptop Battery Woes, and More

Tuesday, 2005-03-01; 22:54:00

Woes-o-plenty and tips-o-plenty

(Originally posted on AppleXnet)

Another Tuesday goes by, and another Question Time gets postponed 'til Wednesday. But Question Time has finally landed this week, and we've got some people with some pretty specific problems. So without further ado, let's dive right in!

Adam writes, "In column view, I want to be able to sort by date modified rather than the default alphabetical sort. Can you help me?"

Unfortunately, Adam, I'm going to have to disappoint you. There are some really annoying limitations to the Mac OS X Finder, and you've hit on one of them. Column view is a great way to navigate your file system, but Apple just hasn't seen it fit to add this little feature in the Finder yet. It's a tiny but unfortunate missing feature.

As mentioned in last week's article, you should let Apple know if you want a feature added to the Finder. It doesn't hurt to send them feedback, and Apple is made aware of little things that users want. (It's hard to believe, though, that Apple is still unaware that this feature is missing. Nevertheless, still let Apple know.)

If you're looking for a $34 answer to your $64,000 question, then look no further than CocoaTech's Finder replacement calledPath Finder. It's a very feature-rich replacement for Panther's Finder, offering some great features like built-in disk image creation, a process drawer that shows all your open applications, a drop stack to allow drag-and-pause-and-drop operations, and, of course, a Column View that is sortable by 12 criteria other than "By Name". You can try out Path Finder for 21 days without any limitations, after which you must purchase Path Finder for $34 -- you're also guaranteed a free upgrade to version 4 when it comes out "around the end of the fourth quarter". It's a bit expensive, but if you're looking for something that the Mac OS X Finder doesn't have, chances are Path Finder might suit you well.

Apple-X Forum lurker Jason (the artist formerly known as JPinBK) is frantic about his PowerBook's battery: "My PB Titanium 667 DVI, 2 1/2 years old, after 10.3.7, was running the battery down in about 5 minutes, then recharging in about 10 minutes. There are many more out there like me with this same problem. I went to the Discussion boards and tried many tips to help matters - resetting the PRAM, the PMU, calibrating the battery numerous times, deleting various caches using Onyx, etc... Now, my battery icon shows an 'X' and when I click on the icon, which would normally show me time or percentage left, it says 'No batteries available,' so when I unplug the machine it instantly dies, not sleep, but actually turns off. [...] Anyway, I hoped you'd have the magic cure".

There are a few things you could try before you give up your battery for dead (and even then there are a few things you could try). Hopefully one of them will get you a working battery.

It sounds like you've done a number of different troubleshooting operations to try and restore your dead battery. Here's one that you may not have tried: find someone else with the exact same PowerBook model you have and try and use the battery with their PowerBook. If your battery doesn't work on your own PowerBook, it's not likely that it will work on someone else's, but it's worth a shot. If it does, you could try doing a clean install of Mac OS X on your PowerBook to see if that rectifies the problem. It could also indicate that your PowerBook has developed a hardware problem that needs to be fixed, and that updating to 10.3.7 at the same time was completely coincidental.

It's important to note that the circumstances surrounding your update to Mac OS X 10.3.7 are important. Prior to the update to Mac OS X 10.3.7, were you able to use the battery for reasonable periods of time (at least an hour per full charge)? Don't rely on the estimate that your PowerBook gave you in the battery indicator menu extra: that estimate can sometimes be a bit overestimated.

If you remember distinctly being able to use your battery before the 10.3.7 update, and being unable to do so immediately after the update, it's worth it to call Apple technical support and inform them of the situation. (Hopefully you bought the AppleCare Extended Warrantee Plan for your PowerBook, because that makes your life a whole lot easier.) Politely let them know that the 10.3.7 update significantly reduced your ability to use your battery, and that you'd like a replacement battery to rectify the problem. Be polite, but be insistent, and if the first rep doesn't concede, ask to speak to a manager. Remember, the Mac OS X 10.3.7 update killed your battery -- you didn't.

Hopefully you'll be able to finagle a new battery out of Apple. If not, and your battery still doesn't work, chalk it up to an aging battery, and plunk down the money for a new one. You'll be happy being free of that power cable again.

For those readers out there who are having battery problems but don't know where to start to try and rectify the problem, here's how you might be able to restore your battery. First, unplug the AC power from your Mac laptop and let the computer use up all the power available in the battery. When it goes to sleep, wait for it to completely use up all the battery power -- you'll see that the pulsing sleep light no longer is active. This is equivalent to pulling the plug on a desktop Mac, so make sure you've saved all your documents and that the minimum number of applications are open. Then, plug in the AC power to your laptop and let it fully charge while your laptop is OFF. Once this is done, hopefully some life will be restored to your laptop's battery.

You also might follow this hint in order to make sure that your laptop is accurately reporting battery life. This hint also lists some extensive information about lithium ion batteries that are used in most laptops today.

Wynand meticulously writes, "I would like to know why the date on my ical icon is off kilter? I've gone through my system and can't find any weird font settings." He offers up the screenshot below, and wants to know how to correct the position of the numbers in the icon.

That's a strange issue, Wynand, and it's probably a font-related issue, even though you say you've checked for weird font settings. Font problems can be tricky to track down, but hopefully you'll be able to track it down after reading this extensive font management article posted on Apple's Discussion boards. Clicking on that link will bring you to the article, which you should follow to eliminate any extra fonts that might be hanging around in your system. Hopefully after cleaning out your fonts, your iCal icon will go back to normal.

Here's one thing that isn't mentioned by that article, though: the font named "HelveticaNeue.dfont" that resides at your startup drive --> Library --> Fonts should stay there. Note that this is not inside your home folder. Not having this font present in that location may be what's causing your iCal icon to be "off kilter".

While dangelovich may not have been specifically seeking an answer to his question in the forums on Question Time, I figure I might answer it anyway. He asks, "How long has this page been at" and points to this inspirational page on Apple's website.

The Internet Archive's WayBackMachine can answer this question. By entering the URL "" into the WayBackMachine, we can see that the "poem" was put up somewhere between April 30 and October 13, 1999. So it's been there for quite a while, dangelovich... specifically, for about 5 years and 4 months.


Enamored with Google Maps (especially now that it has Safari support), and wish you could use it directly from Address Book to get maps and driving directions to the specified contact's address? Well, guess what? You can, with a simple AppleScript. (Big surprise there.) Credits go to unixjunkie, samer, and robg over at You can directly access the hint, if you wish.

To get this functionality, first go to your home folder --> Library and create a new folder called "Address Book Plug-Ins", if it doesn't already exist. Now, download the mapping script and the directions script -- when you save them, save them in the "Address Book Plug-Ins" folder you just created, and remember to change the ".txt" part of the filename to ".scpt" instead.

Now we need to edit the scripts a bit so that it uses your default browser instead of just using FireFox. So go to the "Address Book Plug-Ins" folder and open the first script. Find the point where it says tell application "firefox", and change that line to tell application "System Events". Then, change the next line from OpenURL googleMaps & addressURL to open location googleMaps & addressURL. Do the same to the second script. Save both scripts and quit Script Editor.

Now you're done. Open up Address Book, select a contact who has an address, and click on the "work" or "home" label right next to the address. You should see something like this:

Now you can just select one of the menu items to get a map of the area or to get driving directions to that location. Nifty and useful!

That's it for this week! As always, if you've got questions for next week's article, get those fingers scrambling and send me an e-mail, or just leave a message in the Question Time Q&A forum. So, until next Tuesday (or perhaps Wednesday)!

-- Simone

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