12/14/07
11:37 am

MacMost Now 11: KVM Video Audio Time Machine

Gary Rosenzweig answers viewer mail: Using KVM switches with Macs, extracting audio from video, Time Machine over Airport Extreme, and Time Machine zoom.

Video Transcript
Hi. This is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now. Let's look at some viewer email.
Drew writes, 'I have Apple's new keyboard but I also have a PC that I use with my Mac Mini. The KVM switch I have doesn't work with both. Do you know of a KVM switch that works with both the Apple keyboard and a PC keyboard?' Thanks for the question, Drew. You know, I hate KVM switches. KVM stands for keyboard video mouse and it's a switch that allows you basically to plug in multiple computers and use one video keyboard set up. But the thing is they're very expensive and they also use old technology, like PS2 keyboard connectors rather than USB or say like a VGA connector instead of DVI. And sometimes you've got to buy tons of extra cables with them. And if you're going to combine a USB cable for a Mac keyboard with a PS2 cable you're going to need a converter. Like for instance this one here's just one of many and you could find them all on your favorite e-commerce shopping site. It'll convert PS2 to USB and then you can get a USB KVM switch. You can also go the other way and have a PS2 KVM switch and convert USB to PS2 but it's more stuff you need to buy. And the same thing with video. You have to convert to use a switch. So I don't like them for that reason. But if you want to find one it's just a matter of looking for all these converters to go with the switch that you already have or trying to see if there's a new switch that does what you want.
John writes, 'I'm looking for a program that will work to extract audio from videos or DVD's. I've been able to extract DVD audio in the past with another program but I'm looking for something simpler and I'm also trying to pull audio out of some mp4's and mpeg's and convert it to AAC or mp3. What would you recommend for this?' Well, I've got just the thing for you. It's QuickTime Pro, one of my favorite utilities. For thirty bucks it's got a lot of features and one of them is the ability to convert from one format to another, even video to sound. Let me show you. So here we've got a movie in QuickTime Pro and it could be mp4, it could be mov, it could be any number of formats that could be opened by QuickTime. And basically all I have to do is export, I can select to export just the sound to an AAFI file for instance, even choose some options. Now once I have it as an AAFI file, that might be good enough for what you need but you could also go ahead at that point and convert to mp3 using say iTunes or something like Audacity. Now if you want to go ahead and convert from DVD to audio you're going to have to do an extra step. First you're going to have to convert it to some sort of thing that QuickTime can read. Way to do that is using a free program called Handbrake. And you can get it right here. Now Handbrake is great, it can take any DVD and here's the interface and it can take a portion of the DVD and then convert it to say a QuickTime movie. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there's any way to convert just the audio but you can basically pull it off with pretty bad video quality, set it for good audio quality and then the second step in QuickTime Pro just get the audio. So it's two steps but it's pretty quick two steps.
Harry writes, 'I was wondering if it's possible to run Time Machine wirelessly from an Airport Extreme?' This is the big question right now. Lot of activity on Apple forums about this because apparently the beta versions of Leopard allowed you to use Time Machine to a back up to a drive that's hooked up to an Airport Extreme, in other words, a remote drive hooked up to your router. And this was removed for the final release of Leopard. There's a lot of complaints. Apparently a lot of people planned to do their backups this way. So there's a couple theories about what happened. One place I read that basically Airport Extreme drives don't confirm whether or not data's been written to the drive in the right way for Time Machine to be sure that the data's been written there okay. And that's why they pulled it. And it will take an Airport Extreme update to before they'll be able to have Time Machine communicate with one of these drives. That sounds plausible except for that the fact that well, so what? Things happen. You're doing backups. Backups can fail for any number of reasons, this just seems like another one. Doesn't seem like a good excuse to disable this entire functionality. Another thing that occurs to me is the fact that when you first use Time Machine it attempts to back up your entire drive which, of course, makes sense. Then after that it only has to back up files that have changed. So if you've got say 100 gigs worth of data the first time you back up it's got to back up 100 gigs to that drive, and then the next couple times it may only back up a few megs. So that first time is brutal. I hear from a lot of people that say when they first started using Time Machine that it seems to back up forever. Matter of fact I recommend that when you first use Time Machine to actually have it back up overnight. Don't try to do it while you're working. Now imagine this over wireless. Doing it through Airport Extreme it's going to be much longer. So my feeling is the user experience was really bad, starting with Time Machine over a wireless drive so they decided to pull that functionality until they could figure something out. But, I don't know, I'd say we probably do need an Airport Extreme update and we probably need a Time Machine update before we see this functionality but it seems like enough people want it that eventually we'll get it.
Scott writes, 'I upgraded to Leopard and I've been using Time Machine to do my backups. However I'm partially sighted and the zoom function under Universal Access doesn't work with Time Machine. How can I see the screen better while using Time Machine?' Thanks for the question Scott. You're absolutely right. It doesn't look like any of the zooming functionality works in Time Machine. This is really annoying and hopefully it's something that's an oversight or something maybe that didn't work quite right so they're going to fix it for future versions so they disabled it. But anyway until then the only way I could get Time Machine to be bigger was by changing my monitor resolution before going into Time Machine. So basically I changed it to 800 by 600 and I was able to see the windows much easier. It isn't a very good solution but if you hopefully don't have to restore anything from Time Machine very often then you should be fine.
That's it for now. Keep those questions coming. You can email me with questions at questions (-at-) macmost.com. Have a good weekend. This is Gary Rosenzweig for MacMost Now.