I have a hodge-podge of items I wanted to talk about so if it seems like I’m skipping around a bit, it’s only because I am!
Have any of you seen “I Know What You Did Last Summer“? For those of you who have, what do you think of that opening song? Maybe I read too much Stephen King, but the singer sounds like a dead man to me… a dead man who doesn’t yet know he’s dead. At the same time, I find his voice compelling. I could listen to it for hours before burning out.
Finally, we have an ISDN line at work. While I’m not hooked up to it my co-worker is. It’s nice to pretend we’re in the early 20th century!
I recently went white water rafting for the first time in my life. Fun, fun, fun! The river we were on was pretty tame. It was a beginner’s raft trip. Lots of calm water and 10 miles long! Even though, it was pretty nice floating on the water, anticipating the excitement of the upcoming rapids. I am proud to say I did not fall off the boat once, although several of my friends did! And the water fights! I felt like I was in grade school again. If you’ve never gone, I highly recommend scraping together the $$ and taking a couple of days to make a trip. If nothing else, the scenery is worth it.
I recently adopted an abandoned kitten. Someone dropped a box with him and his litter mates into a pond! Fortunately, a friend of my step-daughter found them and we took the most aggressive one of the pack. We figured we needed one with a little spunk to stand up to our Siamese. Boy, did we get what we asked for! What a little fluff-ball of energy! With dark gray, medium length fur and gold-green eyes, he races around the house looking for something — anything — to play with. He’s literally started jumping on the walls just to work off that energy! He’s funny, too. He’s learned how to play fetch better than our Siamese and he pants like a dog when he’s too hot. Not bad for a freebie.
That also brings me to my mini-lecture this month. If you must get rid of some animals, don’t dump them off just anywhere. If you honestly cannot afford the fees the Humane Society charges for leaving animals, then leave them on the Humane Society’s doorstep, on a weekday, so they’ll be taken care of. But what am I telling you for? All Mac people are humane people, right? I knew that we were!
HH#55: Easter Eggs – Easter Eggs are neat little messsages or mini-programs planted by software programmers into software. They can be something as simple as the programmers’ names appearing on the screen or as complex as a walking, shooting alien. And, they’re usually discovered by accident since the key commands to find these things are obscure!!!
Let me share one with you. David Pogue mentioned this in a recent Macworld column. If you use QuarkXpress, you can bring up a little multimedia Easter Egg called Quark the Alien. You have three key configurations, depending on which version of Quark you have, so try all three. They are: Command-Option-K; Command-Option-Shift-K; or Command-Option-Shift-Delete. Sit back and enjoy!
If Easter Eggs appeal to you, a good reference book is David Pogue’s The Great Macintosh Easter Egg Hunt (Berkley Books, 1998).
HH#56: Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance – There are so many little things you can do to keep your Mac running smoothly. For real maintenance, please read “Tech Tips” and “The Senior Macintosh Center” each month. However, to point you in the right direction, this is the place to start.
If you haven’t already, purchase Norton Utilities, or something comparable. It does nifty stuff like optimizing or defragmenting your hard drive. What the heck is that you ask? Well, first, they’re two different things. In a nutshell, both rearrange your hard drive so related files are closer together which makes things run faster and smoother. Defragmenting is the most efficient, but cannot be done from the startup drive while the startup drive is in use, while optimizing can. But, don’t read too much into it here. Buy the software and glance at the book. As with the vast majority of Macintosh software, Norton is easy to run and does a world of good for your computer.
HH#57: Basic Stuff – Here’s a very basic tip for someone just up on the Mac: the mouse. The mouse and the arrow icon on your screen are related to each other, as I’m sure you discovered. You move the mouse, you move the arrow.
Now, the mouse you receive with your Mac is very simple. It has one button to hold down the drop down menus (although I understand in System 8.0, the menus stay down by themselves!). When the menus are down, you move your mouse down the list. Simply stop when you’ve reached the command you are interested in. That action activates the command. Easy!
Say you just have icons on your desktop and you want to open one. Move your mouse over it and click twice. Voila!
There are also third party mice or trackballs you can purchase. These offer various options such as programming quick saves, quick prints, etc. My personal favorite it Kensington’s Turbo Mouse. It is actually a trackball with four buttons. Although my trackball is old and only has two buttons, they serve me well. One button is used for the click and hold — the same function that the button on the traditional mouse is used for. I programmed my second button for printing. One click and the print menu comes up. Very handy and very quick. (And one more reason that Macs perform better than PCs. My print button is programmed with Command-P and since that command is the same in pretty much any Macintosh program you find, that function always works. Try doing that with PCs. They’ve gotten better, but true standardization is still not a reality.)
The other thing I like about my trackball is I programmed it for a left-handed person. Yes, I’m a lefty! The two advantages here are I can actually use my trackball efficiently and it confuses the majority of folks (right-handed individuals). This discourages them from using my system unauthorized.
On the newer laptops, mouse/trackball input is accomplished via “touch” pads. These are simple in theory: put your finger on the pad and move the arrow! In truth, you need a little practice to ‘finesse’ your movements.
If you’ve never used a mouse or touch pad before, or just purchased a third party mouse, trackball, or touch pad, practice with some games first; games that do not require joysticks or game buttons. I found Solitaire worked for me. Get something simple that you find interesting, and play away. By the time you are burned out on the game, you’ll have that device pretty much under control.
Thanx to Buzz Buzzell for the topic suggestion!
The MacBug Tale: Depending on the volume of responses, this is a new section to the Starting Line. I’ve come across buggy software in my time, as I’m sure we all have. So, why not share? Send in your tale of macbugged software and get a byline in My Mac!
Since this is the beginning, I’ll start: I was forcibly converted to MS Word 6.0.1 some time ago. I love the table function and use it frequently. When I clear large volumes of information from a table, I use the Clear button (located on the numeric keypad). Well, I was creating a bar chart in Word and was working in the data sheet portion that supports charts. I needed to delete a large volume of information from the data sheet. I highlighted what I wanted erased. I hit the Clear button. Instead of clearing what I had highlighted, the entire data sheet was gone, as was my chart!
Granted, you could argue that a data sheet is different from a table and you’d be right. However, the Clear button should have only cleared the highlighted areas, not the entire function! I consider that a bug!
So, send in your harrowing tales of dealing with Macbugs. I look forward to reading them!
Internet Site of the Month: http://www.nowonder.com
Free, reliable technical support? Almost too good to be true. But trust me, it is. It’s staffed by volunteers. That’s one of the ways they are able to keep it free. I did try it, as a test. As promised, I received a reply in 24 hours.