Computing2 Comments
May 09

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac: Experiences and Incompatibilities

I am generally happy with Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac. Things work pretty well – Word docs interoperate with Windows versions seamlessly ; Excel works almost perfectly with complex documents too. Entourage is faster, in general than Outlook, not a big achievement. But shortcomings do rear their ugly heads.

I would highly recommend avoiding the use the old Word format (.doc) with large documents and sticking with .docx (the modern extension). While working on my thesis, I was suddenly told there was no space on my hard drive when trying to save the .doc. Saving as .docx worked fine. I sweat bullets getting to that conclusion with no real support from Microsoft’s online documentation. This may have been addressed in the patches Microsoft issues regularly.

With Entourage, I was unable to find a way to get my notes – the Post-It looking things – which I use on my Blackberry for temporary information. Entourage also cannot invite people as optional. It can do great things Outlook cannot do, such as grouping contacts and emails into Projects. That’s neat but not fundamental.

Finally, today I encountered a big issue with PowerPoint 2008: On the PC, when saving a presentation you have the option to embed the fonts you used (assuming they have no copyright restrictions) with your file – to ensure optimal viewing or editing. The Mac version does not even offer that option and DOES NOT save the fonts for you – almost guaranteeing issues. Somewhat of a dealbreaker for me.

All in all, though, the layout of the applications is much less revolutionary (read Office 2007 for PC) and drastically more useful. There is some hint of the Office 2007 ribbons, but without the nonsense, hidden commands and extensive headaches. The applications also appear generally much more stable than their PC counterparts and run faster. Microsoft gets a solid 8 for this effort, as long as you are aware of the limitations and constraints.

Apr 09

iMovie Tip: How to rename projects

I am new to iMovie, Apple’s iLife video editing application. It is pretty darn awesome and in many many ways is better than Windows Movie Maker. More than anything, it is fun to work with and is very intuitive. Except for one thing: how do you rename projects after it was created.

Amazingly enough, the project properties window does not have that option. Instead, you need to locate the Project Library button on the upper left corner of the application’s window. In the window that will slide out, double click the name of the project that you want to change. Enter the new name and press return and you are good to go.

Maybe I am just stupid. Probably.

Mar 09

DoubleTwist not living up to promise

DVD Jon is a great guy to some, evil to others. Responsible for cracking DVD DRM schemes right and left, he decided to pursue new challenges and is now leading development on a Mac-only application called doubleTwist (sic) that aims to seamlessly transfer files, encode and transcode, from your Mac to virtually any device. Great idea, especially to owners of Nokia devices burdened with dreadful software to support the phones. While Nokia’s software on the Mac is far better than the bulk and heft on the PC, it is far from great and hence I was eager to try double Twist.

doubleTwist looks nice and simple; very much like iPhoto and without the clutter and noise of iTunes. It tries to incorporate social features which I had a problem understanding their use. Probably sharing media sometime in the future, maybe file sharing – who knows?

My test was pretty demanding: transfer a video to my N95-8GB phone. It failed. Twice. I was using a MP4 AVI file and well, it told me it was done but nothing really happened. The phone was initially not detected by doubleTwist (it was by the Mac) but reading a support forum posting I changed the connection type on my device to Mass Storage which fixed that issue. Still, no files were transferred.

Another test was connecting it to my PSP. Again, same video file (that works fine on the Mac and on a PC) – and again doubleTwist appears to be doing something but in fact nothing really happened.

Both devices are on the product’s website as fully supported (N95 is a Symbian S60 Series 3 phone; PSP is there outright).

I hope it improves sometime in the future – premise is interesting – but for now, a fail.