TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Dec 00 KoolTools Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 12
Column Tag: KoolTools

KoolTools

By Ben Baumer

Kick-Off!

Kick-Off! 1.0 is the football-shaped USB cousin of Rebound! 2.0, the remote server godsend produced by Sophisticated Circuits. Because of subtle differences between the USB and ADB communication channels, Kick-Off! requires a slightly more complicated set up than Rebound. Rebound is a simple ADB device that plugs into your computer's ADB port and allows your keyboard to plug into it, thereby intercepting signals between the two. Kick-Off! has a slightly more complicated setup. It plugs into your computer's power outlet, and has your existing power cord plug into it, while at the same time plugging its USB cable into your computer's spare USB port. Once you've got the hardware set up, just run the installer and you can say goodbye to remote server downtime...almost.

Kick-Off!'s most basic and helpful feature is the ability to restart the computer when the system crashes, but there are some qualifications that should be made. The main issue I had with Kick-Off! was not that it failed to detect crashes and restart properly, but that it did it too often, sometimes when the machine had not even crashed! Beware of applications that hog the system's processing abilities. For example, in my first test of Kick-Off!, I wanted to take the processor out for a little spin, so I started up Quake III and began blowing bots to oblivion. Although I had almost instantly forgotten about my Kick-Off! test, I was cruelly reminded when the machine abruptly rebooted exactly one minute into my game (I had set the crash detection timer to one minute)! However, when I restarted Quake and changed from full-screen mode to a window, it worked fine. Now, nobody in their right mind would ever play Quake in a window, so if you are running applications like this, Kick-Off! will not make you happy.

Still, most servers aren't running applications like Quake III, and it would be unfair of me to base my entire review upon this one aspect of Kick-Off!. In most other situations, Kick-Off! performed exactly as planned. Its reboot mechanism works well when the system does in fact crash, and can be used in conjunction with application crashes as well, which is a particularly helpful feature if you are using Kick-Off! on a remote server. Kick-Off! is able to respond to application crashes in a variety of different ways; it can restart the application, or the computer, or both, or any combination of either. I used Crash Test, I freeware application (also from Sophisticated Circuits) that causes several different types of system and application crashes, to test Kick-Off!'s effectiveness. For two types of system crashes, Kick-Off! detected the crashes admirably and restarted the computer as planned. Crash Test can also perform two types of application crashes: it can hang an application, and it can allow its application timer to expire. The latter function is designed specifically for Sophisticated Circuits' equipment, and not surprisingly, Kick-Off! was able to accurately detect this type of crash and relaunch the application. However, when I told Crash Test to "hang" itself, Kick-Off! understood this as a system crash and performed a hard restart when the system timer expired. So, while Kick-Off!'s system crash detection works quite well, its application crash detection is not quite as effective.

I recommend using Kick-Off! in place of Rebound on remote Mac servers that support USB (rather than ADB) devices. However, it is somewhat limited in its ability to correctly ascertain whether a particular application has crashed or not, and you will not find it reliable without an additional line of defense. Make sure that if you are using Kick-Off! to relaunch applications, you have adequately tested them and are sure that they support the Kick-Off! application timer. While Kick-Off! is not the savior of network administrators, it will help to reduce those 3 AM trips to the Office for server restarting.

Syslogd

If you're like me, you want to know as much as possible about what's happening with your network at all times. If you're having unidentified problems and you want to see what your switches are doing, you can be in a tough spot if you're using a Mac. In steps Syslogd, a shareware utility program written by Brian Bergstrand. The current version of Syslogd (2.1.8) allows an administrator to view all sorts of actions taking place on his/her network.

Syslogd is, of course, titled after its UNIX namesake. Accordingly, it brings you right down to the nitty-gritty computer instructions that the Mac OS historically prevented the user from seeing. However, for the network administrator interested in such matters, Syslogd serves up a hot plate of delicious, abstruse UNIX-style information. Easily downloaded at Bergstrand's web site www.classicalguitar.net/brian/apps/syslogd, the application features a quick AppleScript installer to get you started. (You will need AppleScript installed to perform some of Syslogd's convenient functions, but the actual application will run without it). Make it a point to also download Stairways' Interarchy 3.8, which provides you with some helpful tools (including a UDP Ping-er) if you get stuck using Syslogd. The Syslogd application should load and begin running on system start-up, but you'll want to run the Syslog Console application as well, at least at first. In order to get information displayed in the console window, I had to set up a CONSOLE log in the Syslogd Admin control panel, which is a piece of cake. After a Syslogd restart, you should start seeing messages zip across the console window. If you choose not to use the console application, you can still view the logs in your favorite text-editor, after running the Cycle Logs AppleScript included in the package. Presumably, you should be able to find the information you're looking for somewhere in the Syslogd logs.

Unfortunately, Syslogd 2.1.8 will not run on your old LCIII, or any other 68k machine. In addition, Syslogd is not compatible with Timbuktu, and you can expect a system crash if ever the twain shall meet. While setting up the application and getting messages to appear in the console window was not particularly intuitive (especially if Interarchy is not available), Bergstrand himself is a fantastic resource if you get into trouble.

Link Tester 2.5

Recently, I had the opportunity to evaluate Link Tester 2.5 from VSE Software on our www.mactech.com website. Link Tester is a program that crawls its way through your web site following each link in your site one-by-one (it can test web pages, images, downloadable file links, and even JavaScript links) and reporting any pages that have problems displaying or any pages that link to dead material on the World Wide Web.

The program has a rather pleasant, if minimalistic, user interface and is pretty straightforward to use. You simply install the program on your machine, enter the web address of your web site, and let Link Tester do all the work. You may tell Link Tester to check just links on pages you specify, or to follow all links on your site recursively. The default mode is to check all links on your site recursively.

As a link is broken or otherwise malfunctioning it is added to a HTML-formatted report that is presented to you at the end of the site evaluating process. This report lists all links that were checked, the broken ones, and the reason(s) for failure. There are options to save this report and you can even click on the link of the bad page just to see that indeed the link is really broke. In addition you can also click on an error message for a more detailed description of that message.

Link Tester will attempt to open multiple connections to the website being tested so that it can complete its job faster. You are allowed some control over this by being able to choose a 'Server Load' level of 5 different steps between Very High and Very Low. It is recommended that when connecting to remote servers you should always use the Very Low setting out of respect to those server operators.

MacSense CT-2? Cable Tester

For most of us, working with computer cables is about as enjoyable as being a White House intern. You have to make sense of indistinguishable strands of gray matter, often woven together in an intricate pattern of loops, tangles, and knots. In order to get at them, you are often required to move heavy furniture, or wedge yourself in unsavory places that even the vacuum cleaner has forsaken. All too often, all of your energy goes for naught when you later discover that you put a bad cable in place. For anyone who knows this frustration, the MacSense Cable Tester is for you.

The CT-2 is a simple, yet ingeniously designed device that will save you hours of troubleshooting agony. It has six main ports: two each of RJ-45 (Ethernet), RJ-11 (telephone), and MiniDin (serial). Plug each end of a cable into a port, press a button, and the CT-2 will tell you which pins or wires within the cable are responding, and how well. It can also tell you whether the connection is parallel or non-parallel. Never again will you confuse a crossover cable and a patch cable, nor will you waste time installing a cable that doesn't work, or doesn't work well. For older networks, the CT-2 has a BNC port that can accommodate a 10base2 T-connector and determine its terminator value.

There are many cable testers on the market, but the CT-2 has one essential advantage: it splits into two pieces, allowing you to test cables whose ends are no where near one another. Additionally, the CT-2 can test connections through other devices. For example, I recently used the CT-2 to debug a problem I was having installing a new Ethernet jack in the wall. Through repeated uses of the CT-2, I was able to quickly isolate the problem, which turned out to be a faulty Ethernet port in one of our hubs! At one point I had one end of the CT-2 connected to one end of a patch cable, which connected to the patch panel, which connected to Category 5 wire running through the walls to the jack that I had just installed, to which another patch cable was connected, on whose other end the remainder of the CT-2 rested. Clearly, without the CT-2 I would have been helpless.

MacSense has just released a new and improved version of the CT-2, known as the CT-210, which swaps the older serial ports for USB ports. The essential functioning of the device remains the same. If you ever have to do network troubleshooting, save yourself a lot of frustration and pick up a CT-210 cable tester from http://www.devdepot.com.

Cleaner 5

If you spend any time at all working with multimedia files, Terran Interactive's latest release of Cleaner will quickly become one of your favorite applications. Especially useful for creating streaming multimedia files, Cleaner is a powerful program that can be equally appreciated by the high-end system administrator for making streaming QuickTime or RealSystem movies, or by the enterprising college student ripping MP3s in the wake of the Napster fallout.

As you can see from the list of supported file types below, Cleaner is about as versatile as they come. In addition to merely converting these files, Cleaner gives you the ability to tack on a few bells and whistles as well, such as adding fade in/fade out to audio or movie files, or blurring/sharpening image files. Aside from out and out editing of the actual content of a file, Cleaner is a fully functional application for putting the finishing touches on any media project.

DVReadsWrites
QuickTimeReadsWrites
WAVReadsWrites
PICT, JPEG, PNG, BMPReadsWrites
TIFF, GIFReads-
RealSystem-Writes
Windows Media-Writes
Video for Windows (AVI)ReadsWrites
MPEG-1ReadsWrites
MPEG-2ReadsWrites
MPEG Layer I and II audioReadsWrites
OpenDMLReads-
Macromedia FlashReads-
MP3ReadsWrites
AIFFReads (including importing audio from CDs on Mac)Writes

One limitation that I ran into when using Cleaner occurred when I tried to burn an Audio CD of AIFF files exported from Cleaner using Adaptec Toast. The AIFF files exported by Cleaner were compressed, and Toast didn't want to burn them. I quickly found a simple work-around, however, by using SoundApp (a tiny shareware application) to convert Cleaner's AIFF files to SoundApp's AIFF files, which Toast happily accepted. (Note that SoundApp alone is not a viable solution, since it only reads WAVs, AIFFs, and Mac System Sound files.) Unfortunately, Cleaner also won't read RealAudio documents, so converting all those Grateful Dead shows you downloaded from ftp://ftp.deadshow.com/ to MP3 won't work either. I know, I know...it hurts me too.


Figure 1. Cleaner 5 eats up MP3s but can't read RealAudio.

Still, Cleaner 5's batch processing capacity makes it a must if you are working with large numbers of files, and its easy to use interface makes choosing from its myriad options surprisingly easy. One additional feature that I did not get to try out is MotoDV, which allows you to capture DV directly from your FireWire compliant video camera. Terran promotes Cleaner 5 as a "complete camera-to-web" solution, which I don't see how they can justify when you consider Cleaner's inability to actually edit the content of movies (a la Final Cut Pro or iMovie). However, its Leatherman-like abilities mean that if you haven't already, you will greatly benefit from adding Cleaner 5 to your multimedia application arsenal.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Skype 7.5.0.738 - Voice-over-internet ph...
Skype allows you to talk to friends, family and co-workers across the Internet without the inconvenience of long distance telephone charges. Using peer-to-peer data transmission technology, Skype... Read more
PushPal 3.0 - Mirror Android notificatio...
PushPal is a client for Pushbullet, which automatically shows you all of your phone's notifications right on your computer. This means you can see who's calling or read text messages even if your... Read more
Logic Pro X 10.1.1 - Music creation and...
Apple Logic Pro X is the most advanced version of Logic ever. Sophisticated new tools for professional songwriting, editing, and mixing are built around a modern interface that's designed to get... Read more
VLC Media Player 2.2.0 - Popular multime...
VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It... Read more
Sound Studio 4.7.8 - Robust audio record...
Sound Studio lets you easily record and professionally edit audio on your Mac. Easily rip vinyls and digitize cassette tapes, or record lectures and voice memos. Prepare for live shows with live... Read more
LibreOffice 4.4.1.2 - Free, open-source...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
VueScan 9.5.03 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Freeway Pro 7.0.3 - Drag-and-drop Web de...
Freeway Pro lets you build websites with speed and precision... without writing a line of code! With its user-oriented drag-and-drop interface, Freeway Pro helps you piece together the website of... Read more
Cloud 3.3.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
Cyberduck 4.6.5 - FTP and SFTP browser....
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more

The first ever action 3D card battler Al...
On the other hand, you probably haven’t played an action 3D card battler – until now. Step forward, All Star Legion. All Star Legion is a 3D QTE-based action RPG card battler, but fear not – the game itself isn’t as convoluted as its description.... | Read more »
Travel Back to the 1980s With the Making...
Headup Games has released a hilarious making of video for its upcoming title, Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic. The game is a RPG/Roguelike where you control three heroes set to save the township of Pixton from an evil cult called The Sons of Dawn.... | Read more »
Heavenstrike Rivals Review
Heavenstrike Rivals Review By Campbell Bird on March 2nd, 2015 Our Rating: :: HEAVENLY STRATEGICUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Despite a few flaws, this free-to-play strategy game is a fun mix of new and old strategy... | Read more »
Get The Whole Story – Lone Wolf Complete...
Get The Whole Story – Lone Wolf Complete is Now Available and On Sale Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 27th, 2015 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Who Wore it Best? The Counting Dead vs....
Like it or not, the “clicker” genre, popularized by cute distractions like Candy Box and Cookie Clicker, seems like it’s here to stay. So Who Wore it Best? takes a look at two recent examples: The Counting Dead and AdVenture Capitalist. | Read more »
Card Crawl, the Mini Deck Building Game,...
Card Crawl, the Mini Deck Building Game, is Coming Soon Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 27th, 2015 [ permalink ] Tinytouchtales and Mexer have announced their new game, | Read more »
Witness an all new puzzle mechanic in Bl...
Well, BlastBall MAX is not one of those games and is bucking trends such as timers, elements of randomness, and tacked-on mechanics in favor of pure puzzle gameplay. When you first boot up the game you’ll see a grid made up of squares that are each... | Read more »
This Princess Has a Dragon and She isn’t...
This Princess Has a Dragon and She isn’t Afraid to Useit. | Read more »
Mecha Showdown Review
Mecha Showdown Review By Lee Hamlet on February 27th, 2015 Our Rating: :: IN A SPINUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Mecha Showdown replaces traditional buttons with a slot machine mechanic in this robot fighting game,... | Read more »
Reliance Games and Dreamworks Unveil Rea...
Reliance Games and Dreamworks Unveil Real Steel Champions Posted by Ellis Spice on February 27th, 2015 [ permalink ] Reliance Games and Dreamworks have announced that a third game in | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on...
 B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on sale for $2299 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for... Read more
Apple Launches Free Web-Based Pages and Other...
Apple’s new Web-only access to iWork productivity apps is a free level of iCloud service available to anyone, including people who don’t own or use Apple devices. The service includes access to Apple... Read more
Survey Reveals Solid State Disk (SSD) Technol...
In a recent SSD technology use survey, Kroll Ontrack, a firm specializing in data recovery, found that while nearly 90 percent of respondents leverage the performance and reliability benefits of SSD... Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished Mac Pros for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The... Read more
Updated Mac Price Trackers
We’ve updated our Mac Price Trackers with the latest information on prices, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers: - 15″ MacBook Pros - 13″ MacBook... Read more
Apple CEO Tim Cook to Deliver 2015 George Was...
Apple CEO Tim Cook will deliver the George Washington University’s Commencement address to GWU grads on May 17, at which time he will also be awarded an honorary doctorate of public service from the... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis for up t...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 Mac minis, with models available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz... Read more
Save up to $50 on iPad Air 2s, NY tax only, f...
 B&H Photo has iPad Air 2s on sale for $50 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi: $469.99 $30 off - 64GB iPad Air 2 WiFi: $549 $50 off - 128GB iPad Air 2... Read more
16GB iPad Air 2 on sale for $447, save $52
Walmart has the 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi on sale for $446.99 on their online store for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only,... Read more
iMacs on sale for up to $205 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ iMacs on sale for up to $205 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 1.4GHz iMac: $1029 $70 off - 21″ 2.7GHz iMac: $1199 $100 off - 21″ 2.9GHz... Read more

Jobs Board

Sr. Technical Services Consultant, *Apple*...
**Job Summary** Apple Professional Services (APS) has an opening for a senior technical position that contributes to Apple 's efforts for strategic and transactional Read more
Event Director, *Apple* Retail Marketing -...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global engagement strategy and team. Delivering an overarching brand Read more
*Apple* Pay - Site Reliability Engineer - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.