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MacBook experience...

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Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Apr 29, 2008 at 03:11 PM


I’ve been dabbling with my new MacBook for the past week and a half. I’ve downloaded several outliners/information managers/writing tools… major CRIMP action! I’m a long way from being able to give any kind of in-depth commentary on these tools, but I did want to share some of my initial reactions:

1. The MacBook is a sweet machine. The keyboard is great, the screen bright and easy to read. It powers up much faster than my Dell Lattitude 420, and shuts down more quickly. The battery lasts three or four hours depending upon what I’m doing. I’ve never been a fan of track pads, but the one on the MacBook makes it bearable to use. The pad is smart enough to know the difference between a deliberate motion and an incidental contact, so there are not the accidental cursor juggling that I’ve experienced in the past.

2. The Mac operating system appears efficient and easy to use, although I’m still getting used to the different conventions. Installing software is as simple as dragging an icon to the Applications folder. And uninstalling it requires dragging the icon to the Trash bin.

3. All the software I’ve used could have all come from the same developer… that’s how standard the interfaces are. This is both good and bad. Good in that they all operate the same way, so once you learn one, it is easy to pick up the conventions of the others. However, the sameness of it all is a little disturbing… it almost goes against that famous 1984 commercial in which the Mac broke through the blandness of conventional thinking. To some extent I miss the haphazzardness of the software I’m used to in a Windows environment.

4. A further benefit of the sameness is the amazing amount of interoperability between the applications. Programs share information easily… the calendar, address book especially.

5. There seems to be much less ability to customize programs… especially toolbars. I’ve found this to be a problem when trying to add a toolbar button for functions that seem to have no keyboard shortcuts… such as bulleting a list.

6. There are some nice applications for the MacBook, but none that have really blown me away and made me think that, yes, this is lightyears ahead of what you can get on a PC. In fact, most of these programs are less powerful than some of the Windows applications I use—nothing comes close to Zoot (excepting Zoot’s lack of text formatting, of course). There is nothing I’ve found as powerful as WhizFolders Deluxe. But the interface on the Mac is easier to use… what I mean by that is, though I have admired the power and functionality of WhizFolders, I never use it because I found it too clunky and unintuitive (I know this is a subjective assessment, one not shared by everyone). So, even though some of the programs are not as feature-rich as their PC counterparts, I find them to be somewhat more user-friendly.

The software I’ve looked at includes the following titles:

Scrivener (writing)
Journler (note taker, journaling, not mis-spelled)
Mori (note taker)
Yojimbo (info organizer)
EagleFiler (info organizer)
Curio (mind-mapper plus)
Bento (scaled down version of FileMaker)
Voodoo Pad Pro (wiki)
OmniOutliner (outliner)
Opal (outliner)
Tao (outliner)
NoteTaker (OneNote-style note taker)

So far I have bought licenses for Scrivener, NoteTaker, Yojimbo and Opal. My purchase of the NoteTaker license may have been premature, as I’ve found other note-taking applications may be superior (Journler, for instance).

Overall, I am glad I bought the MacBook. I think that the overall effect will be positive, because of the integration of the applications. (For the record, I still spend most of my time on a PC—at the office. Plus, my desktop computer at home is a PC, so I am a long way from leaving Windows behind.)

Steve Z.


Posted by Hugh
Apr 29, 2008 at 05:46 PM


A couple of thoughts, Steve:

- if you’re trialling a lot of software, you may find Hazel useful (http://www.noodlesoft.com/hazel.php), especially if deployed as in this blog series: http://kinkless.com/article/kinkless_desktop/1_no_mercy_cleanup. The software describes itself as a virtual housekeeper - accurate IME. One of its functions is to clear up wayward files from downloaded applications you’ve consigned to the trash (if of course downloaded after Hazel has been installed).

- in the previous Mac thread I was sceptical about SOHO Notes. However… encouraged by a poster on another forum who said he uses it with full confidence for fiction-writing research, I’ve given it another whirl. And maybe it’s not so bad. There have been one or two odd freezes at unexpected moments, and (possibly) inability to find stuff it should have done. But nothing’s been lost. And it remains one of the few Mac note-taking programmes (the only one?) to to be able to take in data or files or search for a note when the application itself is closed, both of which it does with no fuss. As I said before, parts of its reputation rest on misconceived upgrades in the past. Perhaps that’s history now…



Posted by Harlander
Apr 29, 2008 at 05:59 PM


Stephen, please be sure to try out DevonThink Professional (http://www.devonacademy.com) and Tinderbox (http://www.eastgate.com/tinderbox) - my main instruments for writing, research and education ( I work as a teacher). You may need to spend some time with them, especially Tinderbox is not easy to master, but I am sure you will like them.



Posted by Harlander
Apr 29, 2008 at 05:59 PM


Sorry, I meant http://www.devon-technologies.com


Posted by Harlander
Apr 29, 2008 at 06:02 PM


My last reply. Watch out for deals like on http://www.mupromo.com/ or http://www.macheist.com - they are selling bundles of often great software for a fracture of the original price.

That’s all. Bye.


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