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ATPM 14.09
September 2008


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Photoshop: I Love Layers

Thanks for this. I just found this publication, and Layers have been a mystery to my up util now. This makes them less scary for sure.

—Andrew Spearns

Microsoft, Revisited

You know, Word 2007 is hands-down the best word processor I’ve used, and it makes 5.1 look like an antique. Word 2008 on the Mac doesn’t come close…in fact, nothing on the Mac comes close.

This pisses me off! How can the Mac not have a world-class .doc-compatible word processor?


You know, I have the greatest respect for the MacBU (the Business Unit at Microsoft responsible for Mac products). It’s got to be tough to not only churn out great products but also have to work with people that probably consider you at least somewhat disloyal (to the Windows platform).

I am not sure what it entails to port application code from WinOffice to MacOffice. You know, the old OOP “code-reuse” thingie that we’ve been hearing about since, well, OOP. Maybe it’s hard porting Win C++ to Mac Obj-C (or just C) but I just don’t see why documents can’t render 100% exactly on both platforms. Full, seamless WYSIWYG transparency.

Call it the “Turing Test for Office Docs.” Whatever. The UI elements don’t have to be mirrors between the platforms, but I don’t see why it’s not possible to display, edit, and print exactly.

The same company makes the two products fer chrissake! The same entity owns whatever intellectual property is required to do the task.

(Of course, anything beyond technical reasons why it can’t be done starts the Conspiracy Theory lights blinking, with respect to the Mac/Win platform wars).

—Angus Wong

• • •

I have used MS Word/Office since 1990, even reaching the level of expert on both Mac and Windows versions. But recently on my MacBook Pro Office 2004 went bad, and I have not been able to launch anything except Excel; so I uninstalled it. Between NeoOffice and iWork 08 I have everything I need for exchanging files. Also, I have been using the OpenOffice 3.0 Beta and have been pleasantly surprised. So I won’t upgrade to Office 2008, and would think twice about installing Windows on the MacBook Pro just to get Office 2007.


• • •

I have been trying for a good 2–3 months already to get used to Office 2007, but the longer I use it, the more frustrating it becomes. Certainly, there are some nice features (more seamless editing of pictures you paste into your Word document, a much better PivotTable interface in Excel), I still find it annoying that (a) ribbon takes so much of my screen and (b) keeps a whole bunch of stuff I hardly ever use available, while (c) obscuring things I really am using (try switching PowerPoint presentation windows).

Now, that said—Office 2008 on a Mac is an even further abomination. On my iMac G5 it is by far the slowest to start application of all. So slow is it, I think I am going to “upgrade” it back to Office 2004.

I agree with some of your points on Xbox, although I think that Microsoft’s ability to sustain losses on sale on console was a very important factor. Not the most important one, yet still a major one.


iPhone App Roundup, GTD

I really appreciated this article. It gave me an excellent head-start in finding a good GTD-based tool.

—Robert B.

Knapsack 1.1

This article very clearly depicts the pros and cons of the software. It definitely affected my willingness to buy the software. Thank you.

—Jay Kappmeier

• • •

Thanks, Eric, for your review. We really appreciate the time you took to kick the tires and provide a fair evaluation of the features and limitations of Knapsack 1.1. Many of the items you mention have been brought up to us by our users and we have even touched on some of them already in our blog. In fact, iCal integration was added in 1.1 expressly because of the amount of user feedback we had for this feature…plus, we wanted our trips on our iPhones, too.

The next release of Knapsack will be focused on improving the map experience and more tightly integrating trip’s locations with the itinerary.

It’s direct user feedback and reviews like yours that are helping to shape the future of Knapsack.

—Brad Willoughby, TinyPlanet Software, LLC

Logitech TrackMan Wheel

I’ve used this product for more than 15 years, for both drawing and hard core gaming. Two things…I disagree that the center trackball is better for any purpose. It require side-to-side finger movement, which will eventually get into your wrist and cause problems. The thumb motion is much more natural and easier on your hands as long as you keep the thing free moving. Clean and dry is key to smooth action. Also, replace it when it wears out and starts to drag.

To clean, turn upside down and gently but firmly smack it down on the palm of your other hand. The ball pops right out. I clean mine with a microfiber cloth designed for lenses. You can wash the ball if it gets grungy, but be sure it’s good and dry before putting back in. Be careful not to pop out the little teflon balls that the thumb ball glides on. It’s easy to put them back in but also easy to lose them!

I also keep thumb balls from old mice for swapping out if my current ball has a problem. As long as they are in good shape, they can be reused to replace a damaged or clammy ball.

Another trick…if you spend so much time using the mouse intensely (like gaming) that your palm starts to get sore from pressure on the hard plastic, get a small gel insert for high heels and pad the top. That is one thing I would change about this mouse, to have a soft insert on the top.


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