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ATPM 13.12
December 2007




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Nisus Writer Pro 1.0.1

Nice review. You mention that some of the options are not easily accessible in full screen view and that the text is too small; however, if you move the mouse cursor to the top of the screen (while in full screen view) and wait for a second, the menu bar will pop up and you can make any changes you need, including a higher text zoom percentage. The bar will fade away as soon as you click anywhere in your document.


• • •

Lovely review. Your conclusion is spot-on, that Nisus Writer Pro is the perfect word processor for those of us who need power in our text tools but don’t want all the clutter and crap of Word’s feature-bloat or even Pages’ layout tools.

One thing this review neglected was the professional and classy support from the Nisus people. They are both personable and utterly helpful.

Nisus is a class act, and NWP deserves your accolades.

—Ryan Miglavs

I appreciate your mentioning that. I haven’t had occasion to contact support for NWP, but if your experience is the norm then I do offer them my accolades. Support is a key part of a good product, and you’re right to mention it.

—Ed Eubanks Jr.

• • •

I’m glad Nisus Writer lives on, but still need a few things it used to have (pre–OS X) but hasn’t added back yet.

Can anyone tell me which apps do have comments that are somehow anchored to the text they refer to?

—Cynthia Cheney

Pages (part of Apple’s iWork) handles commenting and “tracking changes” admirably. I understand that the OpenOffice variants (both OpenOffice and NeoOffice) offer tracking of changes as well, but I don’t have experience with them in that area. Apart from these, I don’t know of any non-Microsoft products that support this. Perhaps another reader may suggest one, but if not I think Pages is the best alternative for this particular feature.

—Ed Eubanks Jr.

A Leopard Can Always Change Its Spots

I’m surprised you wrote so much about ZFS without even mentioning the basics about Leopard’s support for it.

For those who are interested, ZFS support does ship with Leopard (type “man zfs” in the terminal if you’re interested; all the command line tools are there, including “zpool,” etc.), but you have to download the technology preview from Apple’s Developer site to get write access or create ZFS volumes.

The documentation is currently unclear on the two things I’m most interested in: whether ZFS volumes can be used as Time Machine targets, and whether ZFS volumes can be root (early betas didn’t support this, but I don’t know what the final word is).

Make no mistake, ZFS is a big deal, if only for data integrity. With current hard drive densities, you get about 1 bit wrong for every 40GB you read. That may not sound like much, but the potential for rot is there. That’s why I’m interested in investigating whether or not ZFS volumes can be used as Time Machine targets (even as sparse bundles on top of ZFS is fine with me). You don’t get any feature benefits, but ZFS’ volume scrubbing does increase data integrity in the real world, right now.

—Alan Yeung

Phone Junkie Says iPhone Clunky

I commented here a few months ago that the monthly expense of being tied to an account with AT&T was cost prohibitive, and I see that point of view was not mine alone.

I opted for a new iPod touch instead, and although it has some limitations, it was the far better choice for my pocket. People like to own things outright, not be tied to a “vig” every month.

I can buy a cheap Motorola Razr phone unlocked on eBay, buy a prepaid SIM card, and make cheap calls all over the world without a dreaded monthly bill waiting for me in Denver.

But this is Apple, Inc., and I’m dying with curiosity to see what the next generation of iPhone will look like. Apple can only go up from here.

—Grover Watson

Graph Paper Maker 1.6.1

Unless you need all of the features of Graph Paper Maker, may I suggest this site. From the way I read what you needed the graph paper for, this would also meet your needs—and it’s $20 cheaper.

—Dennis VanWormer

Coping With Mac OS X’s Font Rendering

The biggest problem with the Mac OS X font rendering system is not in fact the anti-aliasing, as you may believe, but rather the hinting. There is a mistaken belief that hinting is only needed for non-anti-aliased fonts.

This is very wrong. With hinting, most fonts need less anti-aliasing, making them crisper, and smoother. This is why people who have minor visual problems (such as the inability to focus on the black pixels, because of the near presence of the non-black pixels), have such a problem with OS X. For the majority of people it isn’t a problem. Though they would notice the difference if shown a better implementation. Which is the reason Apple doesn’t care—it is good enough for the majority of users.

As an example I have found that with the right settings on a modern GNOME system (such as Ubuntu), the clarity is far better than either non-anti-aliased OS 9 or the merely smoothed OS X. If Apple were to simply implement a proper font hinting and smoothing system, most of the complaints would go away.


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Reader Comments (4)

Joel Landis · December 2, 2007 - 08:58 EST #1
re iPhone user ....
Guess you don't need your email on the run, Guess you don't need your calander / use your phone for business...

An unlocked phone will work all over the world with a pay as you go plan as long as you dont need people calling you.

Plans are for those of us that do...Yes itouch is great as an ipod with a bigger screen..Iphone is for those of us that dont want 2 pieces of hardware hanging off our belt.
Paul Barker · December 2, 2007 - 13:32 EST #2
Nicely stated Joel. i for one have my blackberry with me everywhere i go, it does most of the same things as an iphone will do and again most of the same things that an ipod will as well as a not too shabby camera. it has some shortcomings but sure beats carrying around a batman style utility belt full of gadgets.
tom t. · December 13, 2007 - 19:20 EST #3
-classic with leapord?.......any way to run 9.2?

-old ms works 3.0/4.0 spreadsheets for mac......need to export/save as with cell comments in-tact to excel for

Alan Yeung · December 27, 2007 - 22:01 EST #4
I've finally had some time to experiment with ZFS (using the v101 developer seed; apparently a newer one is coming out soon). If anyone's interested in the answers to my questions posted above, here's the current lowdown:

1) You still can't boot off ZFS or make it root.

2) Time Machine doesn't work directly off ZFS yet. It also seems a little quirky using sparse bundles on top of ZFS, but setting up a regular (non-sparse) HFS disk image an using Time Machine on that seems fine. However, you have to enable the "unsupported" tweak for Time Machine which many people have had issues with. So I don't recommend ZFS+Time Machine at the moment.

There are also a ton of other issues. You can't even delete a file from the finder in the 101 seed, though you could do it in the older seed but emptying the trash didn't work.

However, that all said, ZFS is fantastically easy to set up and the developers are obviously working hard on getting it polished. It seems stable enough for general data storage if you're willing to live on the edge. It definitely is in everyone's future. They've also added ditto blocks so that you can self-heal many errors even without a mirrored or RAID-Z setup.

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