Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which we answer questions e-mailed in by our readers.

This week people wrote in with questions about a Mac continuously booting to Safe Mode, an apparent missing option to ignore ownership on an external volume, where and how to look up Mac model information, and ways to prevent OS X from reopening programs and windows at startup. We welcome alternative approaches and views from readers, so if you have any suggestions then post them in the comments!

Question: Mac continuously booting to Safe Mode MacFixIt reader Andreas asks:

My iMac (late 2009 27", … Read more

Adjust OS X sound volume level per application with Sound Bunny

When multitasking in OS X, sometimes the programs you are using might output notification sounds or otherwise use the OS X audio system in ways that could interfere with your other tasks.

If you increase the volume to watch a movie while you have Mail open in the background, then when you receive a new message, Mail will output a loud New Mail sound. While you can disable Mail's notification sounds or quit the program, you might wish to keep it open and hear when the Mail arrives, but just not as loud.

Other similar scenarios might also benefit … Read more

How to turn old hard drives into one large drive in Windows

Can't afford a 1TB drive, but you've got two 500GB drives just lying around? Windows can combine them.

The Windows XP/Vista/7 feature is called spanning, and it can extend the usefulness of older, smaller hard disks. Here's how to create a spanned volume:

Step 1: Go to Start, then type "diskmgmt.msc" in the search box. This will launch the Windows disk management tool. Make sure that the disks you want to combine, are unformatted and don't contain any partitions. In our example, we're going to combine Disk 1 (298.09GB) … Read more

Add automatic volume adjustment to your Android alerts

You may recall the violinist who played the Nokia ringtone after a member of the audience forgot to silence his phone. Luckily, this gentleman had a sense of humor and decided to make light of the situation. Unfortunately, not everyone is so forgiving of interruptions. If you don't want to be that person, your best course of action is to completely silence or turn off your phone. But what if you forget?

Most people don't turn off their phone notifications until they arrive at their destination. This is likely why many movie theaters show a cute animated feature … Read more

Adjust your volume with ease using Volumouse

If you've ever wanted a faster, sleeker way to access your computer's volume controls, look no further than Volumouse. This innovative program lets you set both mouse controls and keyboard shortcuts to access the master volume controls as well as volume settings for a variety of devices. It's easy to use, highly customizable, and hard to do without once you've gotten used to using it.

The program appears as an icon in the Windows system tray, and clicking the icon launches an options panel where you can configure the utility's many features. You can create … Read more

Windows Phone Marketplace hits 50,000-app mark

Nearly a year and two months after its launch, Microsoft's Windows Phone Marketplace has hit a new milestone.

The collection of apps and games that run on Microsoft's Windows Phone devices now sits north of 50,000 applications, according to a count by the blog All About Windows Phone. More than a third of those were added in the past three months, and nearly 16 percent within the past 30 days, the site said.

In actuality, users have access to fewer than the 50,126 items on the store as of today, with about 6,000 apps having … Read more

The 404 967: Where we feel a lot smaller (podcast)

CNET Audiophiliac and general audio diva Steve "Sphere" Guttenberg is back on The 404 Podcast for his last appearance this year, and as usual he brings a list of talking points, like a kooky theory on how to curb population control, and when the iPad will eventually overtake the big screen TV.

Jeff and the official 404 graphic designer Blake Stevenson have also partnered together for Crave's first weekly comic strip "Low Latency,"and a big congratulations goes out to our video voice mail contest winners! Check out the videos below:… Read more

The 404 966: Where it's all the same in the end (podcast)

CNET's newest TV editor, Ty Pendlebury, joins us on today's episode for a short lesson in Australian holidays and colloquialisms!

Today we're talking about another billionaire bitten by the space travel bug, even though Jeff seems reluctant to travel in outer space.

We'll also bug Ty to tell us why the FCC doesn't care about eardrums, and he'll join us throughout the second half where we'll premiere a new geek speed-dating show on TLC.

Also, be sure to tune in tomorrow to hear us announce the winners of Target's video voice mail competition. Two winners will get their choice of an Xbox 360/Kinect Bundle or an iPad 2!… Read more

How to schedule your volume levels in Windows

Time can be a difficult thing to keep track of when you're at your computer listening to music or playing a game. Sometimes you don't realize how loud the audio is and whether it's disturbing the people living with you or next to you. Volume Concierge is a simple and small app that can adjust your system's audio level at set times so you don't have to worry about it. Read on to learn how to set it up.

Step 1: Download and install Volume Concierge.

Step 2: The program should run automatically after … Read more

Case of the bad firmware upgrade: Jambox

I admit it. I enjoy a good firmware upgrade.

There's nothing like a software fix to make you feel better about your device, especially if it adds new features while eliminating bugs. But not every firmware upgrade is good. Sometimes things go horribly wrong. Which is what happened recently when I updated Jawbone's little Jambox Bluetooth speaker to version 2.0.

The update gave me something called LiveAudio, a "technological breakthrough" that would let me experience my music, games, video "like never before"--as if I was, "on stage, in the action, hearing it live." Furthermore, this immersive, three-dimensional listening experience brought "incredible depth, detail, and unprecedented spatial realism to everything from mp3s to special binaural recordings."

Based on the promo material, I expected a lot; I wanted in on the 2.0 LiveAudio action. Wanted it bad. … Read more