Well, I’m in the land of the working again. I was laid off for slightly less than a month. Not too bad. I’ve moved from Marketing Communications (which I love!) to Meetings & Conventions (which is really a MarCom specialty). Basically, it means I’ll end up traveling a lot, and that can be fun! The biggest change is moving from a Mac at work to a PC–UGH!!!!!!!!! The dark side is threatening to engulf me!
It has been an adjustment. Not earth-shattering, but unnerving. The more I use that PC (and am I typing my column on the PC? I’ll never tell!) the more I dislike it. It’s more than just little things like the keyboard being different. I’ve read the mouse is more difficult and not as precise. Well, I can confirm that. It’s hard to work with. And special characters!!! On a Mac, you type your option key and a letter on the keyboard, and up pops your special character (like Option-R for Â®). Sometimes, you press your shift key, too, but the more common special characters only need the two. Well, on a PC you press the “Alt” key and four numbers on the keypad. A minor thing, but more time consuming in the long run and less efficient. Also, Option-R is intuitive; Alt 0153 is not.
To top it off, there is no CD-ROM drive on this thing and no sound card! Can you believe it? It’s not that old. Those things we take for granted on Macs don’t really exist on the PC side. All in all, I find it really hard to believe these things dominate the industry. Talk about a good marketing campaign.
So, is there a plus side? Well, the IS department doesn’t hate me, which is nice–and strange. Actually, the IS department at my new company is extremely customer service-oriented and supports the Macs (albeit reluctantly) in the MarCom department. And, they patiently answer my annoying questions like “How do I create a new folder?” and “How can I label a folder in all caps?” Talk about culture shock! It’s very refreshing to use my nifty Bondi Blue iMac at home. (And before I forget, the PC’s keyboard is noisy! The Mac keyboard is relatively quiet compared to these “clicky” things.)
Here’s a puzzle for you and that I need help solving! I received an email telling me of an Easter Egg in Microsoft Excel 95 (it has to be 95). When you open a new spreadsheet, scroll down to row 95, and highlight that row. Tab once so the cell in the second column is selected. Now, under the Apple in the upper left hand corner, select About MS Excel and a dialog box appears. In Windows, you find About MS Excel under the Help drop down menu. Now, still in Windows, you click Alt, Shift, Control, then select the Tech Support button in the dialog box. I believe the corresponding keys on our beloved Macs is Control, Option, Shift. Again, press the Tech Support button.
What should appear is a graphic entitled “Hall of Tortured Souls.” You can move around in the hall using your arrow keys. After exploring the hall, go to the back, blank wall. Type EXCELKFA and a mini-maze appears. Something is at the end of the maze, but I’ve not been able to get that far yet (the keyboard is as difficult as the mouse on the PC).
1) Does the “Hall of Tortured Souls” really appear on the Mac? (I do not have MS Excel 95 on my iMac…) It does occur on Windows.
2) Has anyone made it to the end of the maze? I’d love to see a screen shot!
(As a side note, my best friend might be purchasing a grape iMac. Why should you care? Well, she’s a PC person now and those funky colors Apple has made is catching her, and other PCer’s, eyes. Great job, Apple!)
Speaking of iMacs, I’ve noticed in the Mac catalogs that more and more USB products are being made and now, they’re coming in matching iMac colors! Way cool. Can you imagine an orange iMac, with matching printer and external drive?
And speaking of converting to Macs… I read on The Mac Junkie http://www.themacjunkie.com that a very cool game is being created for PCs only. The Mac Junkie has a petition going to try and convince the creators, Yosemite Entertainment & Sierra, to create a version for the Mac. The game? Middle Earth. It’s a 3D RPG based on JRR Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings. Sounds very awesome to me. Love those books! Anyway, it is supposed to have multiplayer support, permanent character death, weather, and the possibility of being branded a murderer (meaning you could get killed and there would be no justice for your death!). (Editor’s note: see my interview with composer Chance Thomas in this issue.)
If you’re interested in signing the petition, go to http://themacjunkie.com/middle_earth.html
But I digress… My trials and tribulations in the PC world leads me to my first Helpful Hint:
Cross Platform File Transfer:
Use TrueType fonts and DOS file naming (file.ext). Since both platforms support TrueType, there should be less file corruption when moving from platform to platform. And, since Macs don’t care too much what you name a file, the extension you add won’t make it crazy.
Moving Within Folders On Your Mac:
You can quickly move down long folder (and file) lists by typing the first letter of the folder you wish to get to. However, if you are saving a folder, make sure you click once within the dialog box where the folder names are showing. Otherwise, you’ll delete the name of the file.
Also, at the top of the dialog box, there is a drop down box where you can go to all the nested folders that you buried this particular folder/file in. Very handy and quick for moving around. Last, on the right hand side of the box, you will see a Desktop option. This will quickly bring the folder listing back to the desktop so you don’t have to dig through folder after folder.
Practice it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is moving around your computer (especially if you’re used to those darn PCs!).
If you want to unclutter your choice selection, there is an easy way to do that on the Mac. On your Desktop (not in an application!) go to your File drop down menu and select Preferences. There is an option you can check called Simple Finder in System 8.5 and up. By checking it, you reduce the items available in the drop down menus in Finder such as Get Info.
(Get Info: When you highlight a file, application, folder, etc., but don’t open it, you can Get Information on it. Getting information can be done in two ways: Option-I or by using your drop down menu under File. The information you get tells you basic stuff about the item you’ve selected (but not opened), such as what’s going on with memory and file sharing.)
Try it a few times. You may decide you prefer Simple Finder, or you may not. But ask yourself, “How often do I use all this stuff?” If it’s not very often, you might as well remove it from sight. It’s easy to turn back on.
Okay, this is very basic as far as tips are concerned, but if you check these when your problem pops up, at least you’ll be ahead of the game if you have to call tech support.
Internet Site of the month
Travel to Australia via http://www.abfab-australia.com/travel.html This site was created by one of our readers, Teena, who lives in Sydney. How does she find the time? I have no idea, but it’s a great resource if you ever plan to go down under. And, if you never make it there physically, it’s a great way to travel digitally. I also just finished a visit to the rest of her site. She is a very talented artist selling hand-painted silk, glass, and ceramics. I’m VERY impressed. Enjoy your visit!
If anyone has a bug they want to warn the world about, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll get the word out! Have a wonderful summer!