MacNeedy: Help Wanted


Help needed from those who know Macs and Apple Soft/Hardware better than I do…

Suggestions–what software do I need:

…to create a multimedia program from still images? I need powerpoint-like transitions, need to be able to set image timing coordinated with voice narration and with the possibility also of musical clips as transitional acoustic “bullets” between sections of the program.

A few of you might have seen the “visual essay” I created in Powerpoint (and cobbled a B-grade version as a flash presentation lacking the luster of the full program.)

Now with the Mac, I’d like to do something similar, better, and easier than I did using PPT which is not really designed to do what I tried to make it do. You can get there, but t’aint easy.

Final Cut Express–the dumbed down version of the software–is still not cheap and designed for movies, not stills. I imagine it will do what I need but I’m not certain. Any ideas out there? Or are there simpler, cheaper programs for my simpler needs?

Of course I need to be able to save in a format that can be saved to disk and then projected via a digital projector.

SECOND NEED: My APC 350 uninterruptable power supply is going on the fritz. And I read somewhere that the Mac Pro requires a bit of a step up from the run-of-the-mill UPS. I’m heading to Roanoke today for a meeting, so could pick one up. Chime in if you have experience, ideas or suggestions. It’s really EASY to spend somebody else’s money!

IMAGE: cinnamon fern fronds unfurling (say that fast five times!)

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Fred, in the iWorks program, which I think I paid only $80 for, is the Mac answer to Powerpoint. I’m using that right now for a slide presentation–check their side for all its capabilities. iWorks includes Pages as a word processor (eliminating the need for Word) and a Numbers app. I’m not sure if iMovie, Frontrow, Silverlight Video (a freebie download) would round out the team to fulfill your needs.

    Otherwise, Adobe Creative Suite or some of the programs might be the way to go, but that’s up there in price.

    Not sure about the UPS, but it looks like certain ones are for certain laptops.

  2. iMovie is a step in the right direction, but only allows movie-type landscape oriented frames, elimating a lot of the images I’d want to use. And Keynote suffers the same limitations of Powerpoint in terms of choreographing running narration to slides and slide transitions and music. Oy!

  3. Definitely Keynote for your first need. You used to be able to download a trial of iWorks from Apple. Not sure if you still can. As for the UPS, we use regular UPS at work, and I use a regular UPS here at home. Never heard of a special need UPS for a Mac. Doesn’t mean there isn’t one though 😉

  4. There are two kinds of UPS units out there: cheap and not-so-cheap.

    The cheap ones take AC current and convert it to DC to power the computer. The DC also charges the batteries in the UPS. When the AC fails, the UPS load switches to the batteries very quickly and then the unit gives you an alarm to shut down the computer.

    The not-so-cheap UPS units (known as a true on-line UPS) take AC, change the current to DC with an inverter, send the DC to the batteries, and then send DC from the batteries to another inverter, which supplies AC to the load.

    The obvious difference is that the cheap units send power in two directions: to the load and to the batteries. The not-so-cheap units send the power in one direction only: to the batteries.

    The not-so-cheap units provide more protection from various forms of electrical mischief than the cheap units. Someone better informed than I can explain the nuances.

    My experience is that the more expensive units provide better all-around protection to the load than the cheap units. You get what you pay for, as always. In an area that experiences frequent power outages, brownouts, and low-voltage conditions, I would highly recommend a true on-line UPS.

    I paid $500 for my unit and it has served me well over the years. I had a cheap unit that allowed a damaging surge through that destroyed the main board shortly after I bought my Mac Mini. I then bought the true on-line unit and have had no problems for over two years.

    Google “true on-line UPS” to learn more.

  5. Fred–I agree with Susan, try Keynote. Much better than Powerpoint and allows for lots more creativity. It does take some time to learn.