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ATPM 17.05
May 2011


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An Appreciation

Thank you for yet another copy of what has become my favorite Mac publication. I bought my first Apple in 1979 and first Mac in 1984, and I, too, was told by a Windows guy that Apple’s days were over! Now he is a totally dedicated Mac user.

Again, this is a great publication.

—Chris Albertson

Reader Software

Is there an application that would allow me to buy e-books and read them on my iMac? I do not wish to buy an e-book reader or iPad as my iMac does all the work I can possibly do.

—Herman Hoffman

Amazon has a Kindle reader for Mac OS X.

—Michael Tsai

MacMuser: Help

As of 10 years ago, we published hardcopy manuals, but our process was designed to use the same writing efforts to produce PDFs that the customers could download. I got caught in the 2001 dot-bomb layoffs and found that the employment market had narrowed substantially, so I switched careers. In recent years, every tech-writing job I’ve looked into has mostly involved publishing on the Web, not on paper.

Times change. As a consumer, I miss the days of paper manuals.

—Ed Rush

• • •

I have mostly used software for scientific and game purposes, so maybe things are different out there in the “real” world. Software documentation has never been great, online, in help files, or on paper. Even in the days of DOS and those cute little Macs (later called “Classic”) I never saw the point of actually sitting down and reading fat paper manuals for software; instead, I flipped through the index and table of contents in order to find out how accomplish the specific task at the moment. In fact, if the paper manual lacked an index, I never opened it.

Either the way to do a particular task was obvious after a little fiddling and manual searching, or it was time to find a different program. I’m thinking of things like Excel, CricketGraph, Statdisk, StatView, Mathematica, Maple, Mathlab, Derive, MATLAB, and gnuplot.

—Michael G

Next Actions: iOS Apps Corrections

I note that while the Master List, April 2011 of GTD applications has been updated, it incorrectly indicates that OmniFocus has no iPad app. In fact, it does, and it’s the best of the OmniFocus apps.

While the Mac application is very powerful, it’s also cumbersome. The iPhone app’s value is limited to adding occasional tasks (when away from iPad or computer) and checking them off (rarely). The iPad app takes good advantage of the screen real estate while maintaining ease of use. It’s the app that has me yearning for a real keyboard for my iPad more than any other.

—Michael Dingerson

• • •

Great list but OmniFocus has an iPad app and ThinkingRock has an iPhone app.


Thanks for mentioning the discrepancy in the list. As you may have noticed, I discussed OmniFocus for iPad in a previous column, so the omission was just an oversight.

As for your complaints about OmniFocus for the Mac (not the iOS versions): it’s not an uncommon critique of OmniFocus for the Mac that it is a complex and sometimes difficult application to use. Some decide that it’s just too much and go elsewhere—maybe to Things. Some dig in and find that what seems like an awkward layout or design decision is actually intended for a purpose. One thing is for sure: for a die-hard GTD devotee, OmniFocus has a level of power and implementation that is nearly unmatched.

I think the Omni Group has a whole-ecosystem setup in view: heavy planning, project-building, and large-scale gathering and processing in OmniFocus for the Mac; weekly and daily reviews and small-scale reorganization in OmniFocus for iPad; and on-the-go checkoff and occasional input in OmniFocus for iPhone.

Thanks for reading!

Ed Eubanks Jr.

13-inch MacBook Air

I’ve decided to move to a 13″ MacBook Air for my main work computer. I teach at a small university. I know I’ll have to pare down the “junk” I tend to load up my current MacBook Pro with, but that’s a good thing.

Your article, plus the comments by other MacBook Air users, made me excited to get my new machine and very comfortable with my decision.

—Joe Dulak

My Work PC Has Become a Fork

I think Jobs said it best when he said PCs were trucks and post-PC devices were like cars (better analogy than a fork). You need a truck for the times you need to do the heavy lifting, but the car suffices in most cases for many uses.


Out at Five

Still really enjoying the strip. Thank you! I really enjoyed Cortland. I was sorry to see it go, but things change.

—Grover Watson

Convert Stroke Masks to Transparency in Adobe Illustrator

Thank you for this! Illustrator is not always intuitive, and this is a great method when you’re working on graphics for Web pages. You just really helped me out.


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