Hello Friends and Family,

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Leaping Leopards

Before I get started on the topic for the week, a bit of follow-up. I did get word this week that the Phoenix/Tempe HP will be closed on January 31. This news makes me realize that I dodged another bullet. If I had continued working at HP and was able to avoid the layoffs (not a done deal since I was doing Finance in IT and those were two of the three areas where cuts were concentrated) I would have still faced the new rules regarding work location for IT personnel. They are not allowed to work from home but must be in one of the centralized IT locations. My situation where I was working in an HP sales office was grandfathered in — so as long as there was an HP office here, no problem. The office closing would have created a big problem — and I would have probably had to move (at my own expense)— either back to the Bay Area or to Texas, most likely Houston or Austin. Fortunately, I do not have to face that decision. Phew!

As I mentioned in previous messages, I have decided to buy an Apple Mac for my photography work replacing a Windows-based PC. Well, this was the week when I finally was going to go to the Apple store and put my plastic down.

But I also discovered that I am eligible for about a 10% discount because I belong to NAPP, the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (who sponsored the conference I attended in Las Vegas in September). Cool! Okay, so I can simply log into the Apple store through NAPP's website and order my new computer.

But I also read the news that the new version of the Mac OS, code-named Leopard, was to be released on October 26. Since I am obviously new to the Mac world, I really didn't want to buy the system with the old OS then have to do the upgrade. They say it is easy but why risk it, right?

So, I stopped by the Apple store to talk to my counselor. He was really quite helpful and recommended (1) ordering online and (2) waiting until the new OS is officially released. The reason for the former is that their discount book does not list NAPP. The reason for the latter is not just that the system will come with Leopard installed but also because Apple often upgrades the hardware in a small way when a new OS is introduced. It might be more base memory or a larger base hard disk. Good reasons to wait.

When I returned home, I did a quick Google search for info on Leopard — which I found on Apple's website — including a video demonstrating the new features. I was blown away — it is so cool. It makes Windows look like a model T Ford next to a red Ferrari.

DesktopTo start with the desktop a has new look (no big deal) but offers a new organizational paradigm. Note how a stack of the application icons have fanned out from the bottom of the desktop. These are related applications — for instance everything related to dealing with photos. I already organize my desktop in a logically similar but less cool way (due to limitations of Windows) — so this feature pegged my coolness meter immediately.

[Warning: Apple Marketing hype!] The new desktop has a semitransparent menu bar and a reflective 3D Dock that perfectly frame your desktop picture — whether you use one of the beautiful included images or customize it with a favorite from your iPhoto library.

The Dock has a bright active-application signal, and the look of Leopard extends to all applications. Every window has a consistent design theme, and active applications are even more distinct, casting deeper shadows. [End marketing hype!]

FinderThe Finder is equivalent to Window's File Explorer. Both can list filenames with or without details; or display thumbnail images of your photos, etc. However, the new Mac Finder adds another choice, displaying a larger thumbnail regardless of file type. So you can see a preview of the contents whether it is a photo or a word document or a spreadsheet. And you can scroll through them like you would scroll through the albums on an iPod or an iPhone. Now that is pretty cool.

Quick LookA further extension of this type of capability is called "Quick Look" — which is simply a way to view the file in a larger image without opening the program that is associated with that file type. Take a look at a photo without opening Photoshop! And since many of the filenames of my photos were generated by a digital camera, they take the form DSC_1324.NEF. The enhanced Finder plus Quick Look is going to make it so much easier to find that one photo I'm looking for. Wow! Just pegged my coolness meter again!

SpacesAnd now something old is new again. For a while, when I was still working at HP, I had a Unix workstation. It had a capability to define multiple workspaces — where one might be where you do word processing and email — and another where you do programming and testing — and so on. When you viewed one workspace, all the others were hidden — almost like you had multiple monitors and could work with one monitor (workspace) at a time.

Apple has now added this cool new feature to Leopard. I love it! (Note the picture at right does not do justice to the concept because you can see all four spaces — but on your monitor, you really only see one at a time.)

I could go on (the Time Machine is the coolest backup program I've ever seen) and on (Boot Camp allows you to run Windows, but why would you want to?) but then you might think that I am on Apple's payroll — so I'll stop. However, if you have a Mac or are just interested in why B. David keeps going on and on about Leopard — just take Apple's guided tour by clicking here.

 Life is good.

 B. David