MacMania: A Sea of Macs

Philip Blog, macmania, Photos, Public Appearances

Messina, a port city in Sicily, was a short but sweet stop. I got off the boat just to wander around the town, rather than get on a tour bus. It’s tempting to take one of the many excursions offered through the cruise line, but it’s great to get out for some exercise and fresh air.IMG_6042.jpgI understand the concept of sea legs now. I have felt a small twinge of weirdness from the motion of the boat. Nothing like full-on sea sickness, but just a enough to keep me from wanting to eat or drink too much; on a cruise ship, this is A Good Thing.What I didn’t expect was to feel a bit wobbly on land. My brain keeps telling my body that we are rocking on the waves, even on solid land.(The cruise ship is so big, you can actually see the smokestack from most of Messina while you walk around. Good for not getting lost. In the photo on the right, the yellow smokestack is visible at the end of the street.)The most interesting thing on my walk around Messina was a large student demonstration marching through the streets. With my rudimentary Italian, I divined that they are demanding no tuition fees and educational reforms. (Actually, even without knowing any Italian, you could figure that out. The 1960s live on!) The sounds of drumming and chanting filled the air.IMG_6046.jpgBut enough about tourism. Let’s talk about Macs.The MacMania sessions have been great. After we pulled out of the port of Messina, I went to two sessions back-to-back by Josamir King from Apple, on iPhoto and Numbers, Apple’s spreadsheet application.I have been using Numbers for quite a while, but haven’t really pushed it beyond being a substitute for Excel. Josamir showed us a lot of tips on using the Apple-ness of Numbers, i.e. how to make your spreadsheet more user-friendly and visually-appealing. He pointed out a dozen little things that I have overlooked.Here’s an example: there’s a tiny icon at the bottom of the Numbers window, next to the Zoom percentage, that opens up options for Print View. That gives you a couple of buttons for landscape/portrait mode and a slider to scale the size of the content to fit on the printed page. As you adjust that slider, you can easily see how your pages will be laid out and you precisely determine how much you’ll need to shrink to fit, without ever going into the Print dialog.(There! Does that convince you that we are really geeking out here? grin )“Extreme Googling” was the topic of David Pogue’s presentation last night. Wow! He showed us so many amazing things you can do with the various Google services, my head was spinning. His main point, and probably the most important in terms of productivity for me was:“Use Google for everything.”Sure, I thought. I do that already. Google is the only search engine I use. But no! I still go to the home page of first before entering a search for a book I want, or to get movie information.From now on, I’ll just Google “Amazon Tipping Point” or “IMDB High School Musical 3” and click on “I’m Feeling Lucky”. In most cases, that will take me straight to the page I want, rather than having to go through the intermediary steps of going to another site, performing a search there and clicking on a link in the results.A little tip I didn’t know: when formulating a search, two dots (..) means “range from/to”. If you were trying to find out, say, the names of U.S. presidents during the era from 1988 to 2008, you can include all the years in your search by using “1988..2008”.IMG_5232a.jpgThe evening finished off on an amusing note. David Pogue’s wife Jennifer convinced a couple of us to go to the “Solid Gold” floor show with her and her youngest son, who is four. The show was a revue showcasing some of the greatest pop hits as interpreted by a young and enthusiastic entertainment troupe. At one point, during a rendition of Hot Stuff by Donna Summer, the male dancers were doing The Full Monty routine (except that they were young and buff).“They’re getting ready for bed,” the little guy said, as the dancers stripped down, losing everything except (thankfully) their little black spandex shorts.“They have funny pajamas,” he noted.(Thanks to Sandy for the photo of the hot boy dancers. See, I told you it was for my blog, not for me…)