MacInations: Day 11

â—Š Country Living: It has its downside. After a young possum failed to move all day in spite of occasional benign torment from the dog, we decided it was ill, possibly infectious and apparently determined to die in place over days. We shortened that period. And of course this has nothing at all to do with PC vs Mac but I thought I’d throw it in.

â—Š iPhoto: Should I remove it? It seems to have reproduced ALL of my images (vs making aliases of them) and then won’t let me get directly to them through iPhoto. And yet Spotlight finds those images but the ones in dated folders (the way I’ve been organizing for years) are invisible. This is a real disappointment.

â—Š Word Processor: For the first time, I’ve needed to send formatted text to someone and resorted instead to cutting and pasting into an email since I don’t as yet have a designated word processor other the trial of Scrivener I’m using.  (And I wasn’t able to save as pdf which, having the full version of Acrobat 8, is another problem to deal with.) Today I’ll be at Best Buy to get a USB cable for the “free” Epson printer. Should I get iWorks?

â—Š Victory: Find out just now how to set default for visible columns in folder windows AND how to make the folder click open a NEW window so I can have two side by side for files transfer. What a small thing, but how very limiting when you don’t know how to make it happen! I’m frankly disappointed with Mac’s file structure navigation. I’m wondering if there are not add-ons that will let a person set up Explorer-like double panes. Sheesh.

â—Š Grayscale: I can’t find a way to control my Canon Pixma 5000 printer to make it print grayscale. Should I load the CD that came with the printer even though Leopard seems to be able to control it at least mostly? But I’m sure the CD is for PC. Hmmm.

â—Š PhotoShop: When I open PS or InDesign, I see the controls around a “workspace” that is my background desktop image or whatever programs were open in it–versus the clean white empty space I’m used to. How to I change that? It’s gotta be DopeSlap simple. So go ahead. Give me a slap.

So. I may be coming out of the thicket of early confusion in this mega-move to Mac. I managed to actually get some work off this morning–a 500 word piece for Evince, the arts and entertainment  flyer down in the Danville area. I already had a piece on the “nature gap” from the purported future book and an accompanying image (that I converted to BW). Wish I could have dressed it up a bit. Got to get that word processor decision worked out.

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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. I certainly don’t have ideas about ALL the problems you’re talking about, but for cheap (i.e., free) word processing, you might want to look at NeoOffice, if you haven’t already done so. I’ve only slightly dabbled with it myself, but it’s supposed to have good interoperability with MS Word. As for iWork, I have used it a bit, and kind of like it. It, too, will read or write Word files. For presentations, Keynote is said to be a lot better than PowerPoint.

    For window and file management, etc., check out Pathfinder. A LOT of people swear by it as a big improvement over the Finder. I guess I’m easily enough satisfied (or amused) that Finder seems OK to me, but YMMV. (Personally, when I have to use Windows, I find ITS file management system very mysterious; I guess it’s what you’re used to.)

    You’re sounding pretty discouraged right now, but I think everything will turn out just fine. Don’t despair!

  2. You don’t need Acrobat to save as a PDF, it is built into OS X. When you go to print something, on the lower left corner of the dialog box will be a PDF button that allows you to save as a PDF instead of printing (this can be done from any program’s print dialog box).

    As for the clean white space in PS or Indesign, I think that is more a Mac vs PC thing than anything else. In Windows, they are all enclosed in their own window, but on a Mac you have the single top menu par that changes based on what program you’re currently in. So all the windows ‘float’ over the background. Unless ‘F’ (which changes the screen mode in Photoshop at least) is what you need. I’ve also heard about people just making their desktop background white.

  3. Your iPhoto problem sounds like the problem I have with iTunes. The program “thinks” it knows better than I how to organize my files…I don’t like that at all. The only thing I use I tunes for is downloading and listening to podcasts…when I want to listen to my music I pull up WinAmp…

    Enjoy the migration…

  4. Andy–Yes, that occurred to me–just make a clean background desktop image. AND i found the option to “hide others” and leave the image I’m working on. I finally feel like i’m making some progress!

    Gary: It has been a bear, and i am just now emerging a little from the fog of war. I have been literally ill feeling so out of control. Funny how much of my identity seems wrapped up in this blessed/cursed machinery and zeros and ones. — FF

  5. You can disable iPhoto as the default program for downloading photos and set up your image transfer (either camera direct or via card reader) to dump to a designated directory. I put everything in folders organized by topic and then date and transfer files via a card reader.

    Text/edit has some formatting features and you can save files in a Word format. You can also use Google Apps for word processing.

    iWork uses its own file format but you can save in other formats as well.

  6. NeoOffice ( is what you want for your office needs. I’d definitely recommend not purchasing iworks. Doug brings up a great point that iworks saves its files in a proprietary format which is a bad thing. Plus NeoOffice a freely available open source office suite that provides decent Microsoft Office compatibility.