Mac


He repeatedly declares that good technology requires the liberal arts, to global audiences.

Now (okay, couple weeks back, I’m slow) he shoots down the classic student entitlement whine.

Student:

Because I have had such good experiences as a college student using Apple products, I was incredibly surprised to find Apple’s Media Relations Department to be absolutely unresponsive to my questions, which (as I had repeatedly told them in voicemail after voicemail) are vital to my academic grade as a student journalist.

Jobs:

Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade. Sorry.

Jobs is a wacko, and there are plenty of days I hate Apple despite being a die-hard Mac user, but you gotta appreciate.

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So, maybe the Kindle beats the iPad as an ebook reader (although, at $140, I could justify a Kindle now and still buy myself a second-generation iPad next year), but with the iPad, things like this are available to a mass audience with a couple clicks:

One example is the ‘Enhanced Edition’ of Nixonland, by Rick Perlstein, a chronicle of our 37th President. The book contains the full text of the book first published in 2008. It also includes 27 videos of the former President and newsreels that put those turbulent years into perspective.

Or things like this:

Civil War: America’s Epic Struggle (US$4.99) from MultiEducator Inc. is a full history course in an iPad and iPhone app. It contains at least as much information as most textbooks on the Civil War at a fraction of the cost, while adding elements that no textbook can. There are 24 multimedia presentations, some as long as nine minutes, a nice selection of music popular during the Civil War, and a wonderful navigation system that just makes sense.

About a day after posting how I used my phone more than ever before, I went to slide it into my purse while leaving the house, missed the pocket, and dropped it about 4.5 feet onto my concrete stoop, where it bounced down onto the next step.

Oops.

No case, either.

The glass shattered.

But the phone still works fine, and the glass shattered in place, it didn’t fall out of the frame. I used it, even, although it felt a little prickly. I immediately drove to the AT&T store and bought a plastic film protector (set of three). As the glass continued to spiderweb, producing little shards, I had to take off the first film and put on the next one, but so far that’s holding up.

Not very comfortable to read on, though.

I’m just hoping I can hold out until the release of the next iPhone (June? July? August?) this way….

I think I’ll buy a case for the next one.

when you have an ecosystem populated by talented people who make really good stuff, it’s a nice place to be.

Written about Apple, but applicable to many things, including an academic department (in which case “make really good stuff” includes teaching).

Such a weak blogger these days—old quotations are all I have for you, at the moment.

Standing in a fabric store, researching which type of satin is best for pillowcases, how much satin I need, how to pick good thread.

Taking quick and easy shots in the process of sewing. I need to do more of this, I like to document things in the making.

Shots of pretty brocades in the fabric store to send to my friend so I can learn her tastes before making her a gift.

Shots of fabrics I want to make something from someday. I anticipate a lot of A-line or full skirts. Trying to figure out how I could make beautiful raw silk an everyday fabric, since I don’t need formal clothing.

Syncing my custom Fabrics, Projects, Patterns relational database to the phone so that I can continue to add pictures, ideas, notes on the go. In fact, I find myself adding pictures on the phone, because it’s way easier than using my laptop.

• • •

Unfortunately, I see a lot of rationale here for moving up to a phone with a better camera when Apple (presumably) releases one this summer. Maybe I can hold out another year. Planning to jailbreak after my warranty is up and the new one is out—that should help.

So, the key to managing information is having it available when you need it, but not letting it clutter your mind or life until then.

A potential approach, for the geeky-minded Mac user. If you’ve ever wondered what use Automator or AppleScript might be, here’s one way I use them. Even then, this post is probably really boring.

I keep notes on the projects and photogifts I am working on in iPhoto, in a quick-to-launch TextEdit file. I never need these notes unless I am actually in iPhoto, doing stuff.

So, I made an Automator workflow that opens my iPhoto Notes file, and saved it in the script menu that always sits in the main Mac menubar.

So—information accessible in two clicks when I need it; but entirely out of the way and not cluttering my OS-wide Favorites menu since I don’t need it that often. Nothing for me to remember about where I saved a file or what I named it (or what words I used in it—full-text search isn’t really the end-all, be-all of file organization, if you ask me). To keep the script menu from becoming cluttered, I saved the workflow in username/Library/Scripts/Applications/iPhoto. Putting it in an application-named folder inside Applications means it will only show up in the script menu when iPhoto is active. (Huh. Maybe you’d think an Apple application might have its own script menu, to make it easier to use AppleScript? Apparently not. Thank you, Apple.)

This is Microsoft’s idea—it’s my attempt to replicate the Work menu in MS Word, which lets you pin certain files that you want quick access to, but that you don’t access enough to keep them in the Recent Documents menu. My Work menu generally consists of my current syllabi, and the Extended CV file where I enter every little thing I’ve done re teaching workshops, showing up at a prospective students day, etc.

The other use I’ve found for this approach is reminding myself to what size I want to crop a photo for my blog header, information I need maybe every 3 months (except for using it 3 times in the last week or so). For this one I used an actual script in Script Editor rather than an Automator workflow (thank you, Apple, for doing a half-assed job with Automator so it isn’t nearly as useful as it could be).

tell application “Acorn”
display dialog “Ocean Mist Theme, default header size is 736×229.”
end tell

“Display dialog” pops up a little dialog instead of launching TextEdit to show me a file, a wee bit quicker for short bits of information.

(I don’t understand how it is that Acorn 1 understands “display dialog” but doesn’t seem to be scriptable such that I could just automate the resize and the crop setting, but okay.)

The Mac software ecosystem has a habit of doing bundles—nine or ten programs for $50 or so. It can be a good way to find new programs or cheaply pick up some programs you think might be useful.

Anyhow, two are running right now, available for the next week or so—check them out.

MacUpdate (rock bottom price on some big expensive programs)

The Mac Bundles (especially has some very good programs for customizing how the system works)

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