Mothers Ruin Software

Frequently Asked Questions

Installation & Updating


Using Section Lists

Previewing & Opening Items

Tracking Read & Unread Items

What version of Mac OS X does iMedia require?

This version of iMedia requires one of:

As of iMedia 2.1.2, we have stopped testing on Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar). iMedia will probably work okay on Mac OS X 10.2.8 (the last version of Jaguar), but since we are no longer testing it, we cannot make any promises.

iMedia will definitely not run on Mac OS X 10.1 or earlier.

How do I install iMedia?

Install iMedia in the usual Macintosh manner. Download the disk image, open it, and drag the iMedia icon to your Applications folder (or wherever you want to keep it). You can then eject and throw away the disk image.

If you already have a older version of iMedia installed, you can simply replace it with the newer one. You'll need to quit the older version before replacing it, though.

How do I check for iMedia updates?

By default, iMedia will automatically check for updates each time it starts. If an updated application is available, it will tell you, and offer to take you to the web page where you can download it.

If updated site definitions are available, iMedia will notify you. iMedia will download and install the site updates for immediate use, although you can always cancel the update process and do it at a later time. However, since most site updates are to fix broken or missing items, be aware that items from some sites may not appear properly if you opt not to install updated site definitions.

Can I turn off automatic updating?

Absolutely. Go to Preferences and uncheck Check for updated site information when iMedia starts. You can (and probably should) manually check for updated site information periodically, since some sites break frequently.

To initiate a manual check, choose Check for Updates... from the iMedia menu. Note that site updates installed this way will not be available until you quit and relaunch iMedia. This is unfortunate, but is an unavoidable limitation at present.

How do I import my favorite authors from iMedia 1.x?

The first time you run iMedia 2.0, it should automatically import your favorite author list from earlier versions. It should also import the information about which items you have read. Please contact us if this doesn't work!

How do I uninstall iMedia?

Drag the iMedia application icon from the Applications folder (or wherever you have it) to the Trash. You can also remove the iMedia support folder: under your home folder, go to Library, then Application Support, then Mothers Ruin, and drag the iMedia folder to the Trash.

All your sources are liberal. Where are the conservative sources?

It takes time and effort to add a site to iMedia, and an ongoing commitment to fix problems as the site changes. Owing to our political opinions, we are interested in doing this work for progressive sources. We are not interested in doing this work for conservative sources. Since iMedia is a completely free product, we think this reasonable. Obviously, it will make iMedia unappealing to some people; we don't expect everyone to like or use it.

What about balance and objectivity?

The six multinational corporations that dominate the U.S. mass media are under no obligation to be balanced. In fact, since the Reagan FCC undid the Fairness Doctrine, they are not even obligated to present any opposing points of view. (This despite their free use of the limited resource known as the public airwaves. If cable, satellite and the Internet have really made broadcasting unimportant, why do broadcast licenses routinely sell for hundreds of millions of dollars?)

If the media corporations who make billions of dollars are not expected to be balanced, why should iMedia, from which we make not a single penny, be so expected?

The corporate media can and does make noise about being objective, but we dispute the notion of true objectivity. The media make thousands of decisions every day about which stories are worthy of being reported, as well as deciding which stories should lead and which should be buried on page 37C. All of this is influenced — sometimes consciously, sometimes not — by the biases of the people in charge. We prefer sources that don't pretend to be objective, so you know where you stand.

Again, we understand this will appeal to some people and offend others. We don't expect everyone to like or use iMedia.

Will you add to iMedia?

We are happy to consider adding new sources to iMedia, but cannot make any promises. First, any new source would have to meet our subjective determination of appropriateness for iMedia (see above). Second, the source would have to be friendly to the sort of extraction that iMedia does, without becoming a maintenance nightmare; this is a bigger obstacle than you might think. Finally, we need to have the time, since we have actual paying day jobs, too.

All that said, if you have a suggestion for a new site that is in keeping with the iMedia theme, feel free to send it to us. See the Support page for contact information.

Where can I learn about the media reform movement?

A great starting point is the Free Press website. There are many interesting articles, and links to other organizations working on media reform and independence.

Why don't you go back to where you came from?

No thanks. We never did like Los Angeles all that much.

How does iMedia decide what is a headline and what is a column?

Admittedly, the distinction is a bit thin. That is why we opted for Headlines and Columns, as opposed to news and opinion (see our doubts about objectivity above). Usually, iMedia goes with the classification established by the source site; sometimes it just comes down to whether or not the item is bylined. The main reason why iMedia displays columns separately is to allow you to sort on columnist names, and focus on your favorites.

How can I change the order in which items are displayed?

In the standard sections, iMedia presents items in the order in which it receives them from the source site. This tends to group articles by source (although not as consistently as one might think).

To change the order, click the header for the column you want to sort on, just as in the Finder. Also as in the Finder, clicking repeatedly on the same column header will reverse the sort order, as shown by the up or down indicator on the right side of the column title.

If you want to go back to the original sort order, go to the View menu, choose Sort By and then As Loaded.

In Smart Sections, you can choose an initial sort column, so that iMedia automatically sorts on that column when the section is first selected. Of course, you can still change the sort order at any point after that, by clicking on the column headers.

Can I resize or reorder the columns?

Yes, columns can be resized and moved around in the normal Mac OS X ways: drag on the line separating two column headers to resize the leftmost one, or click and drag on the column header itself to move it elsewhere. This also is just like the Finder (not coincidentally, since Mac OS X implements all this stuff for us).

Your preferred column size and order will be saved between runs of iMedia.

Why did my column sizes change when I updated iMedia?

Sorry. We probably added a new column. Mac OS X doesn't handle this too well at present, so iMedia sometimes has to discard some column widths to avoid having columns vanish entirely.

Why do some items appear multiple times?

It is often the case that the same article is posted in multiple places. iMedia doesn't yet attempt to filter out the duplicates. This is on the list of bugs to be fixed, but differences in how titles are formatted makes it tricky to do.

Why do some items by my favorite authors not appear in the Favorite Authors section?

When you select a favorite author by clicking the checkbox in the Favorite column (e.g. in the Columns section), iMedia uses the exact spelling of the author for that item, including any punctuation. Because middle initials and suffixes are not always used consistently, other columns by the same author may be missed by iMedia. This becomes even more confusing when an article has two authors.

This is also on the list of bugs to be fixed, but it also requires a sort of fuzzy comparison that makes things tricky.

When are items reloaded from the source site?

When a section is first selected, iMedia loads items from all the appropriate sites for that section. It will not reload items from those sites until an hour has elapsed since the original load. After that time, iMedia will reload from those sites the next time the section is selected.

You can force a reload at any time by choosing Reload Section from the Sections menu. You can also change the default reload time, or turn off automatic reload altogether, in the Preferences window.

Why does the Go Back button give me blank pages?

When you change sections, iMedia blanks out the Preview Pane. Unfortunately, the Mac OS X web infrastructure considers this to be a page like any other, and we haven't figured out how to remove it from the history. One more click should get you past the blank page.

How does iMedia handle links clicked in the Preview Pane?

If the link leads to a regular HTML web page, and doesn't try to open a new window, that page will be loaded directly into the Preview Pane, just like in a web browser. If the new page happens to correspond to an item in the current Section List, that item will be selected.

If the link attempts to open a new window, iMedia will send the URL to your preferred web browser. You can change this in Preferences, so that the link is opened within the same Preview Pane, essentially ignoring the new-window directive. However, you may see strange behavior if the new URL attempts to open popup windows.

If the link leads to a media file (e.g. a RealAudio link, or a QuickTime file), iMedia will ask Mac OS X for an appropriate application, and will ask you to confirm before actually opening it. This is a precaution against malicious links. You can turn off this confirmation in Preferences, if you wish.

How can I open items without loading the preview?

If you want to always use your web browser for reading items, and don't want to load them in the Preview Pane at all, you can simply hide the Preview Pane, by dragging the handle at the top all the way to the bottom. When the Preview Pane is hidden, it will not load selected items (unless and until you make it visible again).

Alternatively, you can use the text-only preview, which can be enabled in Preferences. The text-only preview does not always you give you the full text of the item, and it still has to load a page (for most sites). But because it loads only a single HTML document per item — and doesn't load any images — it may still be faster than the built-in web browser.

Why does iMedia open items using that web browser?

When opening links to web pages, iMedia just asks Mac OS X to open the URL in your preferred browser. This is same mechanism used by most Mac OS X applications. If the wrong browser is being used, this is probably because the Mac OS X setting is wrong.

In Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther), your preferred web browser is set in your web browser ... maybe. At minimum, you can set it in Safari, even if it isn't Safari you prefer, using the General pane of Preferences. Some other browsers, such as OmniWeb, allow it to be set directly as well.

In Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar), use the Internet pane of System Preferences to select your preferred web browser. Isn't that silly?

What application does iMedia use to Play Audio or Play Video?

When iMedia enables the Play Audio or Play Video button for an item, it expects a certain type of streaming media, based on the source site. At this writing, all iMedia source sites provide RealAudio and/or RealMedia (video).

To locate the proper application, iMedia asks Mac OS X for the default application for the appropriate file extension: .ra for RealAudio or .rm for RealMedia. In both cases, this will typically be some version of Real Player (or RealOne Player).

You can check or change the default application by using the Finder's Get Info window on any file with a .ra or .rm extension. (If you don't have one lying around, you can just create a dummy file, such as in TextEdit, and then use the Finder to change the extension to .ra or .rm.) Choose the Open with pane, and if Real Player is not labelled with (default), select it and click Change All.

If you need Real Player, go to and look for the Free Real Player button in the upper-right corner.

Why does iMedia not open some audio/video links in the right place?

The source sites do not always include the right start times for each segment in their links. As a result, iMedia can't provide them either.

Why does the Tab key sometimes skip the Preview Pane?

If the page loaded in the Preview Pane contains one or more text entry fields — e.g. for searching the site or subscribing to an email list — the Tab key will cycle through the text fields but never select the Preview Pane as a whole. We consider this a bug, but haven't been able to fix it. (Not coincidentally, Safari displays the same behavior, but we don't know if Apple considers it a bug or not.)

When the keyboard focus is on a text entry field, neither the Up and Down arrows nor Space and Shift-Space will scroll the preview. However, if your keyboard has PageUp and PageDown, these will still work correctly. Of course, using the mouse to click inside the Preview Pane will restore focus to it.

Enabling Move keyboard focus to preview pane after loading page in Preferences may make this problem less annoying.

When does iMedia decide an article is read?

iMedia allows you to choose when the unread indicator gets removed from an item. The Preferences window offers the following choices for Mark items read when:

The former is the default behavior, but the latter may make more sense if you truly use the Preview Pane as only a preview, and generally read complete items only in your web browser.

Why does an article I never opened sometimes get marked as read?

iMedia tracks a read item by its URL (which is generally the most reliable unique key). However, in some cases, multiple items may have the same URL, particularly with RealAudio segments that have not been given individual start times (see this entry).

How do I mark something as read without opening it?

With the item selected, choose Mark As Read from the View menu. Obviously, this makes sense only if you have the Preview Pane hidden, or have chosen to mark items as read only when opening them in your web browser (see above).

How do I mark something as unread again after opening it?

With the item selected, choose Mark As Unread from the View menu.

Where does iMedia keep the list of read items?

The list of read items is kept in your Library folder, inside the folder named Caches. The name of the file is com.mothersruin.iMedia.App.ReadCache. Hopefully, you will never need to do anything with this, but we mention it because we hate trying to hunt down cache files when applications do strange things. (Have you ever tried to force Safari to reload a favicon for a particular site? It ain't pretty.)

Mothers Ruin Software