When Apple got it wrong, we got it right later?

A list (with pictures) of some of the times Apple didn’t get it right. Of course, the definition of not getting something right is often in the eye of the beholder (or user), and items like the Newton, Apple IIc and Lisa (all of which I’ve used) all contained elements that contributed to better designs in the future (for Apple and its competitors). I think the MacBook Air might be in this category of a niche-product that helps stimulate all sorts of developments down the line, independent of how successful a system it is in its own right.

See Learning From Failure: Apple’s Most Notorious Flops

Word 2008 and pasting plain text

Useful article (with AppleScript snippet) for adding some helpful functionality to Word 2008 for Mac for pasting plain text into a document. Pasting plain text is something I do fairly frequently, so I’ve filed this link away for the possible time I have to use Word 2008. See TidBITS Problem Solving: Word 2008 and the Paste Plain Text Dance.

Mac OS X Applications for Bloggers

Problogger, Darren Rowse, publishes his list of useful blogging tools for Mac OS X. I use (or have tried many of them) – Ecto (article editor which I have on both Mac and Windows), CyberDuck (FTP client), ImageWell (for quick manipulation and posting of images) and Firefox. I prefer TextWrangler over TextEdit though (I used BBEdit Lite from way back)

The full list is at 14 Essential Mac OS X Applications for Bloggers

There’s no standalone newsreader application in there though because he uses Google Reader to do that. See Greenflame · NetNewsWire (Free now!) for my preference there. I used the Sage plug-in for Firefox for ages, as well as Bloglines, but I really like having one app that does a single job well, but can talk to other apps if need be.

MS Word’s native bibliography/citation handling?

Both MS Word 2007 (Windows) and MS Word 2008 (Mac) claim to have citation and bibliographic features for writers who need that support – though with a limited set of bibliographic styles. Does anyone have any experience working with them or compared them to a third-party add-on like Endnote? If you only used the supplied styles could you do away with EndNote (and the perennial compatibility problems whenever the OS, word processor or EndNote gets updated)?

Links:

MS Office related links

A couple of links relating to the ubiquitous Microsoft Office.

Firstly, a look at how the new versions of Office for Mac and Windows compare over at How Does MS Office for Mac Compare to Office for Windows?

And secondly, a link through to an article that notes that the recent Service Pack 3 for MS Office (for Windows) will disable Office’s ability to open a number of different legacy file formats. Not good if you have a set of older documents that you open occasionally or are maintaining for archive purposes. You can ‘undo’ the effects of this ‘upgrade’ but it involves Windows Registry hacking (yuck). Or you could install OpenOffice to access some of the older formats. See Microsoft Office Drops Support For Older File Formats | Compiler from Wired.com.

I can see an increasing need to have several different virtual machines on one’s computer that allow the booting into legacy operating systems and running of older versions of software – sort of like RLP here post-switch to Mac OS X.

NetNewsWire (Free now!)

I use NetNewsWire Lite to keep up with my blog feeds, though I’ve never felt the need to upgrade to the full version. Now, however, the full version of NetNewsWire is being released for free as its developer focuses upon growing their online services. So, if you you’re running Mac OS X 10.4 or later you can grab the latest version and take it for a spin.

More information at: RSS Reader for Mac – NetNewsWire

Hat tip to: TidBITS Networking: NewsGator Turns NetNewsWire Loose for Free

(Of course, I’m still stuck in 10.3.9 for the foreseeable future [anyone want to donate me a MacBook?:-)] and will be plodding along with the old Lite version just fine.)

Bento

I like databases, which means that when I see that there’s a new iTunes-style interface database, Bento, coming out for the Mac (by the same developers as FileMaker (Thanks, Matt)) I’ll sit up and pay attention. See Bento: Mac’s New Database App Is iTunes for Control Freaks:

It’s only available for Mac OS X 10.5, but there’s a preview (Alpha? Beta?) available at Meet Bento

I really, really hope it works well, though the reviewer at TidBITS Home Macs: FileMaker’s Bento: Undercooked and Slightly Fishy is less convinced.

Now, if someone could bolt a Leopard interface on top of MySQL and make it as easy to use as iTunes then that’d be cool.

Matt also notes in the comments that SQLite is lurking as part of Mac OS X 10.4 (see here).

The Cult of the Mac

As a Protestant Mac user working part-time at a Catholic theological college where everyone uses Windows PCs I found last Thursday’s technology section on Radio New Zealand National : Nine to Noon (Thu, 25 October) fairly amusing.

You can find the full transcript over at it.gen.nz » The Cult of the Mac, and at the end of it Colin Jackson quotes a chunk of Umberto Eco’s 1994 article The Holy War: Mac vs. DOS in which Eco comments:

The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach — if not the kingdom of Heaven — the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: The essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can achieve salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: Far away from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.

(Windows is, Eco argues, like the Anglican church, at times appearing Catholic but also in places deep down quite Protestant).

New Zealand 2007 daylight savings update for Mac OS X

The new daylight savings dates for New Zealand got missed out by Apple in their updates so here’s a link to a page with updates on it for the new DST information. DST starts this weekend in NZ. See New Zealand 2007 daylight savings update for Mac OS X.

Hat tip to: TidBITS Macs & Mac OS X: Daylight Saving Time Rules Fixed for New Zealand:

BTW – I’ve been reading TidBITS since it was available as Hypercard stacks way, way back in 1990. I admire their longevity and commitment in a field that has seen many come and go in that time.

Mac Skype hardware

I’ve thought about putting Skype on the iBook and wondered about Mac-compatible hardware to support it – yelling at the laptop didn’t seem ideal. But really had no idea where to start. I’ve found in the past that quite a few USB devices (speakers, keyboards etc,) do work in Mac OS X but the boxes never say that because it’s unsupported. However TidBITS (which I’ve been reading since it used to be distributed as HyperCard stacks) has a recent, helpful breakdown here of some options.

See TidBITS: Choosing Mac-Compatible Skype Hardware.