Tuesday, June 21, 2005

One little Thing: Computers are like 2 year old children

How often do we use these machines, trying to get some work done (or what passes for work in this information economy of ours) - and are stymied by one little thing......that one little checkbox left unchecked, or one setting left not set, or one button not pushed.....

Case in point: I've been trying to send in some blog entries for three weeks, but nothing was posting. It turns out that there was one checkbox in the blogger settings that needed to be checked - and asn't.

Never mind that there was just one word - "Publish" by the checkbox, and no explanation anywhere on the page. (You had to really dig in the help area - incidentally, one of the bettter written help sections out there - to find out what the checkbox did).

Which brings up the point of this entry: Computers are like 2-year olds, in some respects. No, I'm not going for the obvious "garbage in garbage out" analogy - that would be way too easy....and obvious.

No, somputers are like a two in that they are very literal. I once told by oldest son - who was two at the time - to go ahead and "hop into the tub". Fortunately I managed to catch him before he whanged his shins against the tub trying to jump in.

He took the statement literally - as do computers. There cannot be a situation where there is a diconnect between the commands given and the result. I am, of course, blatantly ignoring the plethora of malfunctions, bugs, and errors of unknown causes by making this statement - but the point remains:

The computer does what is it told to do at some level.

This creates a problem, though - we don¹t work that way....and this permanent disconnect between the human way of expressing ourselves, and the machines need for precision in instructions is what causes all sorts of frustration.

If you think about, the need for higher level programming languages, the graphical user interface, etc etc are all attempts to bridge the gap, so that the human can stop trying so hard to adjust to the machine's world.

Go back to the 70s, when I was a teenager (oops, I just dated myself. Oh, well). At one Boy Scout area-wide event, one Explorer troop had a little microcomputer of sorts running. I remember it had several blinking lights, a keypad, some chips on a breadboard - and the guy was programming it by typing in assembler code. I can't remember what the program was supposed to do, but I remember thinking it didn't look like much fun.

The human had to adjust to working like the machine.

The same is still true, but to a lesser degree. How many times do we modify a preferred workflow because the machine works better if we follow process B instead of the preferred process A?

When will it get better? Only God knows!

In the meantime, keep yourself out of trouble body-wise. Don't adjust your body to fit the machine - adjust the machine to fit your body.

Rephrased: Don't move your arm to grab the mouse. Move the mouse to where you don't have to move your arm!

------------------------------------------------ The MaconMacGuy Putting the Pieces Together Mac etc. Tech Support Macon, GA Basic info | www.tomrule.info/mac The MacGuy Blog | maconmacguy.blogspot.com ------------------------------------------------

Monday, June 13, 2005

Mac OS X Advantage

Don Mayer, from SmallDog.com, wrote something incredibly concise and apropos:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------- There are about 20 thousand things that distinguish Apple's OS X Tiger from the "operating" (using that term very loosely) systems found on PCs. Here's an overview of some of the important ones:

Reliability and Stability

1) Beneath the surface of Mac OS X lies an industrial-strength UNIX foundation hard at work to ensure system stability and performance.

2) If an application should ever crash, the Mac OS X memory protection prevents it from taking the rest of the system down, isolating the effect of misbehaving applications (see Tiger Recovery below for even more enhancement to this feature in Tiger).

3) Preemptive multitasking and multithreading lets a system do more tasks at the same time, safely and independently, which minimizes the impact of one application on another, improving system stability and performance.

Ease of Use

1) The Finder, Expose, and Spotlight make it easy to use, navigate, and find files and applications, eliminating frustration and increasing productivity.

2) You can quickly switch between users without quitting running applications by using Fast User Switching ‹ and it has really cool visual effects!

3) Mac OS X goes well beyond the U.S. government's Section 508 Accessibility statute to provide smooth, elegant features to those with difficulties using computers.


1) There are over 10,000 Mac OS X-based applications in areas such as education, digital media, professional design, productivity, web production, video editing, business, scientific research, and others.

2 There are Mac counterparts to popular Windows applications like Microsoft Office, Adobe InDesign CS, Adobe Photoshop, Intuit Quicken, Macromedia Dreamweaver, and Quark Xpress, to name but a few.

3) In addition, there are thousands of games available on the Mac, including titles such as Star Wars Jedi Night, Halo, Doom, Medal of Honor, and Myst.

Cross-Platform Interoperability

1) You can add a Mac to any environment with support for major file formats and network file services, as well as major peripheral and digital devices.

2) Mac OS X is compatible with every major file server protocol on every major server platform on the planet today, including AFP, SMB, WebDAV, NFS, and FTP. Mac OS X works well in Active Directory environments.

3) If you use Microsoft Exchange, you can sync your email and contacts with Mac OS X's Mail and Address Book applications automatically.


1) Mac OS X's reliability, stability, and performance come from its industrial-strength UNIX foundation, which has more than 30 years of time-tested capabilities.

2) Apple's technology and open source business model allow Apple to respond more quickly to security issues when they arise.

3) Apple doesn't like to toot this horn, but there are fewer viruses and spyware for the Mac.

Even Intel recognizes this. During this week's Wall Street Journal "D: All Things Digital" conference, Intel chief executive Paul Otellini was pressed by Walt Mossberg about security on the Wintel platform, to which he offered a startling confession: He spends an hour a weekend removing spyware from his daughter's computer. Asked whether a mainstream computer user in search of immediate safety from security woes ought to buy a Mac instead of a Wintel PC, he said, "If you want to fix it tomorrow, maybe you should buy something else."


1) Mac OS X keeps users connected to their work no matter where they go, allowing them to move effortlessly between networks and keep their communications and documents secure.

2) Business travelers can connect to their office networks using a standards-based VPN client.

3) You can connect to Mac, UNIX, and Windows file and print servers over wired and wireless networks using standard protocols.


Another site to check out, comparing Mac OS X and Windows XP, is:


More reasons why I use and endorse Macs!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Email - 8 ways to keep it from being a complete waste of time


The above is a link to a flash cartoon that everyone who emails should watch - ESPECIALLY those people who insist on forwarding every "funny" or "interesting" thing that crosses their inbox.

It is truly amazing how durable some of the material floating around the 'net is. (This would probably be a good subject for a psychology doctoral dissertation). I have seen some material come in that I saw 10 years ago - in the Web's infancy!

....and then you have all of the urban myths and online hoaxes that are still floating around.

It is amazing that we get ANYTHING done via email.

So, how do we get anything done? Here are some suggestions.

1. Don't forward any funny/thoughtful stuff/rumors, unless it's to your best friend and you have already talked with them about it. We're all busy, and more than half the stuff out there is old anyway.

2. Keep answers short and sweet. Good, concise writing is at a premium online, and will get you noticed. (Yes, your high school English teacher was right all along).

3. Organize your incoming mail. Use the filtering and rules built-in to your email program to file your mail based on source or destination.

4. Don't leave your email program up all the time. Specify a time period every so often (maybe one an hour, maybe once a day, etc.) to deal with the incoming email.

You pay a huge brain-time penalty when switching from task X to checking email, and then switching back again. Leave the email program off until you actually need it.

5. Delete Delete Delete. The electronic equivalent of cleaning out your shelves - get rid of the stuff you don't need. If you are in a regulatory environment where everything needs to be archived (like the financial services or healthcare industries) create a separate mailbox for stuff to be stashed - out of the way of your regular in-box.

Don't keep it if you don't need it!

6. Attachments - don't leave them in your inbox. They bloat your in-box, and can create problems if the box takes too much space on your hard drive. If you don't need them, delete them! If you do, save them in a standard location on your drive (say, inside an "attachments" folder in your standard documents folder.)

7. Be ruthless when it comes to deleting suspicious looking emails. There's no free lunch available when it comes to relationships, cheap commercial software, or Nigerian bank accounts.

8. Do I even need to mention keeping your anti-virus stuff up-to-date, and your spyware database as well? This is ESPECIALLY critical for Windows users.

So there you have it - 8 ways to make your email use more productive. Do you have some more? Add a comment!

------------------------------------------------ The MaconMacGuy Putting the Pieces Together Mac etc. Tech Support

Basic info | www.tomrule.info/mac The MacGuy Blog | maconmacguy.blogspot.com ------------------------------------------------

Monday, June 06, 2005

Macs in the Business world?

Here is a link to an article with some food for thought, for those who say the Macintosh does not belong in business.


...and here is a great blog regarding the Mac's inherent security advantage.


Today's announcement that Apple will transistion to using intel processors should have no affect on Apple's security advantage, because Window's security weaknesses are the result of bad coding and design practices - and have nothing to do with the processors used.

What do YOU think? Add a comment!

------------------------------------------------ The MaconMacGuy Putting the Pieces Together Mac etc. Tech Support

Basic info | www.tomrule.info/mac The MacGuy Blog | maconmacguy.blogspot.com


Friday, June 03, 2005

Studio Setup: The Next Chapter part 2

I am typing this on the Mac Mini now comfortably ensconced in the "outhouse" (the outbuilding where my studio is located). It was a bit of a challenge to get the KVM working with both the Mini and the 8500. It turns out that the 8500 - since it has an added USB/Firewire PCI card, doesn't power up the card until after the OS is loaded - which means that the KVM switch doesn't receive a full-powered monitor signal until that point. So while the machine is booting up, you get a dim, flickery image on the monitor. VERY distressing the first time it happened! The KVM is working nicely, but the Mini keyboard doesn't have a NumLock key, so there is not way to switch between machines. That isn't currently an issue, but it may be at some point in the enar future. I may swap out the keyboard from the iMac up at the house (which has a numlock key) to see if it will work. That would be a shame, though - I really like the feel of the Mini keyboard.