Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Extraordinary Machine - 3

It's very late and I'm wide awake, propped up on some pillows in bed with my new MacBook Pro. I'm still familiarizing myself with Leopard. It seems like there's some dazzling new discovery around every corner. I've got Thievery Corporation playing in iTunes, and everything is cool blue and silver, just like in Heaven. I know this is crazy, but this computer—I feel that it loves me.

Real moonlight, full night moon, variable moon, daylight only...

I'm trying out some new software. I've got the EarthDesk demo installed and it's very pretty, even though it says "NOT LICENSED - Evaluation Use Only" right across the African continent. It reloads the composite satellite image of the planet as often as you want, and it will render in a number of different formats, but even though it follows the rotation of the earth, it's still just the same desktop image over and over. Even toggling the options, it's not going to get much more interesting. I'm not inclined to spend money to keep it.

A copy of iLife came installed on the computer, but if it hadn't, I'd pay the $78 to buy it, merely for the iPhoto upgrade, although Garage Band is cool, too. I used it to record a CBC radio broadcast that I had running in Quicktime. And here's the thing that's great about Apple: whatever way you can think of to do something, more than likely the programmers have thought of it, too. I had never even seen Garage Band before, and three minutes after launching it I was recording live radio in it. That was encouraging. Maybe I'll learn to podcast.

I'm on the fence about MarsEdit. It's a handy little program for composing and uploading blog posts. Though I like its simplicity, its features are quite limited. The preview feature is nice, and the idea of having all my draft posts stored in one location where I won't forget about them is tempting, but I think the next generation of these will be much improved. I can't figure out how to insert an image into a post. If it was an Apple program, it would be readily apparent how to do something like that. I have yet to try to upload a post from it, but I'll try it out with this one and see how it works.

[edit: it worked well. Okay - I'm off the fence.]

One program I am going to pick up is Mindmap Pro. It provides you with the means to create a graphic map of your ideas with little more effort that it takes to make notes. In fact, it makes notes for you, putting your mapped ideas into a structured outline that you can use as a template for your writing. I test-drove it by making a map prior to writing these three posts, and that convinced me that I'll get good use out of it.

Okay—I saved the best for last: Apple Mail—the most sublimely simple and beautifully designed mail program that ever was. It's streamlined to perfection, with all the little details taken care of out of view. There is nothing about this program that annoys me. For instance, I am so over bouncing icons that alert me to new mail. Now when I get mail, a pleasant electronic purr sounds, and a number appears on the icon in the dock, indicating how many new items are waiting. It's all very civilized. Although there are many ways to manage incoming information, search retained mail, activate items in iCal, and even leave oneself notes and to-do lists, there are no extraneous functions to clutter the thing up and provide me with details I will not stay on top of. On the other hand, you can handily add in all the extra functions you want.

I've got you where I want you.

Photo 8.jpgMy favorite feature allows me to put the RSS feeds for all your blogs into Mail, so that new posts and comments show up in my mailbox promptly after you post them. Each feed comes into its own separate file in the inbox, but if I place all the feeds into a folder, I'll get an aggregate of all the blogs that I can access with a single click. I used to have a hard time keeping up with what people are posting, but no more. Now it all shows up on my doorstep. This does take some of the joy of discovery out of it, but the added consistency and convenience make it more than worth the trade. In addition to the blog feeds, I've got BOTF and a few other Slate locations tucked into another folder. Best of the Fray posts are even stranger this way—like alien missives when they arrive, anonymousely, in my inbox. If I can bring myself to read one of them, I will try to guess who wrote it. I'm about half right, so far. They're no more readable here than they are on BOTF, but my guessing game is mildly interesting. I only wish I could assign those posts the alert sound that resembles an electronic fart, but it's one sound for everything, alas.

I just love that I get alerted to whatever you post shortly after you post it. I imagine that if I turned the alert sound up while I was taking a nap, the notification would wake me up. I can get my Mac to read your posts to me, too. I tried it the other day. It was fun. I might do that some more. I could run through all the different voices and pick a unique one for each of you. It would almost be like you were reading to me, wouldn't it?

[the pictures of me in these posts were all taken with the MacBook Pro's webcam]


MarsEdit said...

Hi there - thanks for taking a look at MarsEdit. I agree the features in the coming months and years should be pretty exciting. Glad you've had a pretty positive experience so far, though.

Dawn Coyote said...

Apparently, it's not just me.


Hi, marsedit,

I do like it, particularly as a place to organize my posts. I'm confused about the way images upload, but I'll figure it out.

A place to add links would be nice.

Generally, though, a nice platform. I'll buy it.