Starting Line
My Mac Magazine #39, July ’98

Dear Readers,

I was reading the front article in the March 98 issue of Digital Imaging. The article was about digital cameras. However, what I am writing about here is the part leading into the cameras.

The author touched on a variety of subjects and skillfully avoided support of either Microsoft or Apple. What caught my attention was his definition of de facto standards. (De facto is Latin for “from the fact.”)

He states, correctly, that Windows could become the de facto standard for computer platforms. A scary thought, but let’s face it–a definite possibility. Some folks would say that it’s already here.

He then states that de facto standards are the best standards, simply because “they tend to reþect what users are in fact doing…”

Now, I know that our democracy is based on majority rule, but that doesn’t mean the majority decision is always the best or correct decision. Slavery was a majority rule decision and we all know that was whacked. Prohibition was another majority rule decision and it was a grand failure. Look at the parallel in the drug policy today. We lost the “war on drugs” before it ever began.

VHS may have become the de facto standard for VCRs but Sony’s Beta format produced better quality. Well, the list goes on. My point is that “what the users are in fact doing” may make life easier because a decision was made, but the choice made may not be the best. Unfortunately, we are all subject to the opinions, and advertising, of others. And superior advertising, or superiority in number of users, does not automatically mean the better platform is being used.

Okay, enough of my soapbox! Let’s get into this month’s Helpful Hints…

Helpful Hints

HH#51: Key Caps–Key Caps are a wonderful Apple Menu item that makes our lives a little easier. Wanna know more? Go underneath the Apple in the upper left hand corner of your screen.

Go down far enough and you will see an item called Key Caps. Open it. You will get a dialogue box that shows a keyboard with an open bar at the top. When you press down on your option key, the keyboard on the screen changes to reflect what special characters you can access when pressing the option key and the character on the keyboard.

When you press the option and shift keys, the keyboard changes again. This time it reflects what you can access when pressing the option, shift, and character keys on our keyboard.

So, why is this useful? You can type in a slew of â„¢, ®, ©,…, Þ, þ, æ, etc., etc. For folks who are typography fanatics, you can now use the correct symbols or character sets. And, if you aren’t a typography fanatic, using the correct symbols in presentations or reports makes for a much more professional document.

With font sets like Zapf Dingbats, you can also access wonderful characters like o, u, ¶, and ’. Again, these are helpful when creating reports, presentations, or forms.

What makes using fonts better than clip art is the typeface takes up less memory in your document. If you are creating a huge document, or a document that is graphic-heavy, every little byte counts!

Credit to Buzz Buzzell–Thanx, Buzz!

HH#52: Plug-Ins–Reader Janet Alldredge wrote “When I try to download something from the Internet, I keep getting a little box that says something about plug-ins. I haven’t a clue…”

Without the detail of the dialogue box Jan is writing about, I can’t answer her question specifically. However, I did give her, and will give you, the lowdown on plug-ins.

Web sites utilize different programs or applications to add some zip and vitality to the location. Some programs use Java, some Shockwave, Real Audio, etc., the list goes on. When you attempt to access the site without that specific program in your browser, you will receive a dialog box that will advise that you need a specific “plug-in,” be it Java, Shockwave, image viewer, etc. Your browser will also normally “ask” you in a dialog box if you wish to get the plug-in or not. If you click yes, you will be brought to the web site that holds the specific plug-in that you need. You download it, (making sure you have the right version for your system– 68k or PPC) follow the instructions for installation in the read-me, restart your computer and your browser should now be ready to deal with any site that requires that specific plug-in.

Higher end programs, like QuarkXpress, a page layout program and Photoshop, a photo manipulation program, also use plug-ins. These plug-ins are like mini-programs that enhance the functionality of the program they are “plugged” into.

They can be anything such as filters for Photoshop that let you manipulate your photos (and function somewhat like filters used on camera lenses).

I recently purchased a plug-in for Quark that creates an index, a feature that Quark never incorporated into their program. I have another plug-in for Quark that translates PageMaker documents (another page layout program) into Quark documents.

If you have Quark or Photoshop, visit their web sites. They have a lists of third party vendors that sell plug-ins for their products.

Credit to Janet Alldredge–Thanx, Jan!

HH#52: Typographer’s Quotes versus Measurement Marks– Another tip for the typographically challenged… When writing about measurements, like feet and inches, use ‘ and ” respectively. When using apostrophes or quotes, use ‘ and ” respectively. You see the difference?

The latter marks are called typographer’s quotes. Most programs let you set your preferences for typographer’s quotes. If not, you can press option, left bracket for “, option, shift, left bracket for “, option, right bracket for ‘, and option, shift, right bracket for ‘.

Credit to Buzz Buzzell–Thanx, Buzz!

Internet Site of the Month:

Macintosh Tips and Tutorials, This site came to my attention when Cindy O’Hora responded to my request for Helpful Hint suggestions. I visited her site in late May and was very impressed. It is very friendly, loads wonderfully on AOL 2.7, looks comprehensive, and is easy to understand. I recommend anyone with Mac questions to visit her site. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Happy 4th of July!

Barbara Bell

Websites mentioned:

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