Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.


As most of you will recall, I decided to give up on the PC world and jump into the Mac world with both feet. Well, sort of. I am actually being a bit more cautious that that first sentence would suggest. In fact, I received my Mac Pro and 30-inch monitor early in November, then barely had time to get them into place before I left for Maryland to visit my folks. And when I returned, we had auctions to complete (busy Christmas buying season) so mostly what I did on the Mac was work that is pretty much the same on both platforms — Photoshop. You have been seeing the photographic results the last few weeks in LAHP.

Mac ScreenWe have now posted our last auctions for this year and we have a little free time (except for answering questions, collecting payments and shipping merchandise) — and I have begun to learn more about the Mac. I have to admit that so far I am impressed. Obviously, the additional screen real estate with the larger monitor is very useful. I can bring up all the photos of an auction item and actually see something bigger than a postage stamp. Now the photo to the right may not impress you — but knowing that it is actually 30 inches on the diagonal impresses me.

In addition, I find that the new Spaces feature (multiple screens) allows me to keep related tasks together then totally switch to a different set. For instance, auction listing stuff in one space then Photoshop work in another and so on. As we used to say — greatly improved work flow.

HP-12cI have also found a few inexpensive utilities that perform similar functions to those I have on my PCs. First I needed an HP-12C calculator emulator — sorry but I just do not like the algebraic calculators that are ubiquitous — and this is one product that HP did right and even 30+ years later they cannot top it. And this one has my name and HP tenure engraved on the gold case — or should I say the image thereof. This application was only $16.

O2MSecond, I am thinking of moving all my email functionality and storage to the Mac. The standard programs on the Mac are not as complete as MS Outlook but they do have most of the features — but, in some cases, with a different approach. For instance, the Mac address book offers Smart Groups which allow you to point to entries in your main group. The benefit of this approach is that if you change an entry, the changes appear in both the main group and the smart group. I have wanted that feature in Outlook for ages.

However, in order to make that transition to the Mac, I need to migrate hundreds of contacts, scores of folders with thousands of emails, a calendar with hundreds of entries. To ease that effort, I found a $10 utility called O2M that extracts all the info from Outlook and formats it so it can be imported into the Mac applications. I have done a couple of those export/import operations and it seems pretty straightforward. However, it does appear that a little housecleaning is in order before completing this migration.

SOHO NotesThird, I needed a note taking application. I have been using OneNote on the PC and despite its clunking interface, I have become dependent on it. There appears to be a lot of these applications on the Mac but I settled on SOHO Notes — only $40. I like the interface better than OneNote and I am using it for our cut-and-paste responses for Mizuki's auction (you would not believe how many times someone will ask a question that is already answered in the listing).

Any downside, you ask? Well, the only thing I have found challenging is that the PC and the Mac use similar two-key combos for actions such as Cut, Paste, Bold, etc. Unfortunately, the <Ctrl> key on the PC is labeled <control> on the Mac but is not the right key. The right key is labeled with an apple and a cloverleaf (of sorts). Once you get used to using that key and go back to the PC, the key in the same position is the <Alt> key. I am slowly getting the hang of it.

The other problem that I had was moving my Epson 3800 printer from the old PC to the Mac. I installed the software from the original CD that came with the printer but some things were not working correctly. So I downloaded the latest software from Epson's support web site, installed it but things got worse — the computer could not even see the printer. A call to Epson revealed that the install instructions were flawed and they helped me get it running correctly.

There is a lot more to like about the Mac environment but you are probably getting tired of hearing it — so I'll close for this week. Enjoy your PC or Mac or whatever. I plan to do the same.

 Life is good.

 B. David