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ATPM 11.11
November 2005


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Business Card Composer

Discus 3.13 includes the ability to create very beautiful artistic cards and is much more interesting and fun to use. By comparison, Business Card Composer is stuffy and way less flexible. For example, Discus allows you to outline fonts, put them in circular format or almost any direction. The backgrounds provided are also quite beautiful…less “business like” but more suitable for people such as myself (I’m a musician). Discus also offers the ability to make CD covers and labels. The cost is $39 and it has allowed me to create personal business cards that people actually want to keep.

—George Marsh

• • •

Small businesses and self-employed people will need letterheads, envelopes, flyers, etc. in the same style. An application that provides only business cards will not suit them. The average home user, on the other hand, will design only one business card. $35 seems like too much for that. Could I suggest that the developer provide a Web service were one can use this software to make a PDF with business cards for $5 or so?

—Arno Wouters

The Silver Screen Keeps Shrinking

People often seem to assume that it’s only large-scale, effects-driven movies that lose power when viewed on a small screen. But what about the subtleties of facial expression, the telling detail of a hand gesture? Any time I’ve had the chance to see a favorite film on a cinema screen—even something I think I know backwards (e.g. Some like It Hot, which I must have seen twenty times on TV), it’s been a fresh, new experience. Casablanca on a phone screen? At best, it will refresh your memory of the real thing. But if you haven’t seen it on a big screen, you haven’t really seen it at all.

—Miche Doherty

• • •

I think Steve Jobs is right. There may be an initial excitement of being able to view a movie on a cell phone or a hand-held device, but I think the public will grow tired of this idea of watching on a small screen very quickly. Why is HD coming on strong with excitement? Because of the richness of detail and color on a large screen—even better than at the local cinema, with its holes and poorly kept screen and very poor audio, mainly because cinema owners refuse to reinvest and upgrade and are insensitive to quality. More and more people are going to stay at home to watch their films on DVD. Even if one were to forgo viewing an HD DVD, even a standard DVD will look better on HD screens.

—Robert Hutwohl

TAO and OmniOutliner Pro

Thanks for another great column and for your comparative review of OO and Tao. Your responsiveness to requests is much appreciated.

I look forward to the next installment.

—Jeff Nailen

• • •

While, there are simple splits and joins in OO, they are basically single item merging and splitting. TAO’s approach is a little more robust. Spliting is still limited to a single item (obviously), but the split portion can be placed as a child, sibling, prior sibling, or parent’s sibling—with a single keystroke.

Joins are different. You can select fifteen notes, press the join keystroke, and they will all be merged together with the last selection as the target, in one of two modes, with a space, or with newlines between them. There is also a third option with no default keystroke, to merge with no delimiter. So you can work on a section of your article with items-as-paragraphs, and once you have the bulk of the editing and ordering done, merge it all into an item-as-section. Thought is also given to comments. Merged items have their comments merged, too, using the same selected delimiter.

Joins are prohibited in OO if both items have a note, or if the source item has a note. Oddly, if the source has no note, but the target does, it will allow a merge. If you use a lot of notes, joining in OO would be a pain.

OO is also limited to adjoining items for functions. TAO is limited to free selection of multiple items, at any point in the tree. OO is more focused on strict list ordering, ignoring level structure, while TAO is more aware of level structure. For example, in OO, if you have item A with three children, and a sibling item B with two children, if you do a join in OO from B, it will automatically demote the item, and all of its children, tacking it onto the last child of A.

In TAO, this would not happen unless you specifically chose the last child of A. If you select A and B and join them, their children will combine and become siblings of each other. Everything stays in the same structure.

You can do this in OO, but it requires first collapsing A, moving B under A, if necessary, and then joining from B. The children will then be merged. Note the emphasis on strict visual order as opposed to underlying structure.

So here is where we get to the philosophy fork. OO does what seems right for how the outline currently appears, while TAO does what seems right for how the document is actually structured. OO’s emphasis is on adjoinment, and differing behavior depending on collapse states versus TAO’s emphasis on specific item selection prior to executing a command. OO feels more like a word processor, TAO, more like an outline.

—Amber Vaesca


Topic 1

I haven’t researched this, so it’s just speculation, but I wonder if the color of the iPod makes a difference.

I would never want to own a black car. Not that I have anything against black cars. It’s just that black cars show dirt, nicks, scratches, etc. far more obviously than other colors. My boss has a black car, and he has to wash it at least once each week or it looks horrible. When it’s washed, it’s gorgeous. The day before it gets washed? Bleah.

Perhaps the black iPod just shows the scratches more than the white iPod?

Topic 2

I would agree with Brent Simmons—I don’t see how the Finder written in Cocoa would be any different. But the Finder written in Carbon has some political advantages for Apple.

I remember WWDC back in 1997, where Apple told us that if we wanted to get on the boat, we were all going to have to rewrite our applications in Objective-C and NEXTSTEP. And I remember every developer pretty much saying that if they were going to have to rewrite their applications, it would be a heck of a lot easier to rewrite them for Windows and not have to put up with Apple’s crap anymore.

Thus, in ’98, we heard about Carbon and Cocoa. And by making the Finder in Carbon, people said, “Okay. We don’t have to worry about Apple dropping/ignoring Carbon.”

So, politically, having Finder in Carbon makes some very important developers (Microsoft, Adobe, Intuit, etc.) feel warm and fuzzy.


Disk Catalogers

Very thorough review, thank you. Another reason I read and support ATPM.

—Jan McClintock

iPod Nano

You said “My old 3G iPod is approaching its end of life as the battery slowly and surely dies” and you still continue to buy iPods ? This 3G iPod is only one year or two, it cost you a lot of money, and it can’t be used after so few times because it’s impossible to change the battery. The iPod is the biggest shame of all recent industry. It’s like buying Kleenex at the price of silk-made (and with gold lace) tissues.

I can’t understand how Apple can sell so many iPods. That’s why I won’t buy any iPod until it will be possible to change the battery by myself at a reasonable cost.

—Jean-Jacques Cortes

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