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There. I thought I’d come straight out and say it. I love Macs, as in the computers. I agree, there is the slightest chance you might have spotted the fruit flavored bias in one or two of my previous posts, but I thought it was time for full disclosure. At least, on the computer preference side of thing, everything else you’ll just have to make up for yourselves.

My imagination is going wild.



Phew, good.

And just in case anyone is thinking I’m a little too biased, I’m going to do a Windows tips post next week.

And Linux? Because, don’t forget, I’m a starving artist.

Well, maybe Linux, but I’m slightly less of an expert there. We’ll see.

Talking of starving artist, how’s the loft in Paris? Managing to get something written with all that peace and quiet.

Peace and quiet? Have you ever lived in Paris? People scream by on 50cc mopeds at all times of the night. Dogs bark, cats howl, the roof leaks, and the neighbors? Don’t even get me started about them.

Soaking up the ambience, then?

If it rains much more, I’ll be doing some soaking all right.

Have you got out? Taken in the sights?

I’m in a coffee bar, and given their prices, I’m certainly being taken in at the moment! In fact, starving artist takes on a whole new dimension at Parisian prices.

Time to get on with justifying why I love Macs then, eh?

I was hoping there’d be a point in the blog where you’d do that, being as it’s kind of hinted at in the title. Besides, this Brit has started looking over my shoulder and reading this stuff, better not disappoint, eh?

Ok, you asked for it.

Why I love Macs.

1) No viruses.

Knock it off, Nigel. We know there are viruses for the Mac.

Yeah well, there might be the odd one or two, but they are odd, and there’s only one or two.

No matter how you look at it, it’s much better than the supposed thousands that are waiting to sneak onto every Windows machine out there. According to The Register: There are about 60,000 viruses known for Windows, 40 or so for the Macintosh, about 5 for commercial Unix versions, and perhaps 40 for Linux.

Yeah, but that’s why we have anti-virus software.

That’s sounds like that quote from the great philosopher, Homer Simpson; alcohol, the cause of, and the solution to, all of life’s problems.

That’s inspired. The man’s a genius.

I get the awful feeling you’re talking about Homer, so I’m going to move on.

2) Their keyboards are great and their are displays are even better.

If you’re going to write, these are the basics.

Ok, no argument on that one, but you’d expect that given the price.

Fair enough.

While we’re on the subject of displays, don’t go plugging your new MacBook into, say, a year old 24in Viewsonic monitor. It’ll be such a disappointing experience you’ll take your shiny new MacBook back to the store claiming it’s broken. At which point they’ll demonstrate how crappy your average cheapo monitor looks compared to one of their dazzel-o-rama gazillion pixel things, and you’ll leave wondering how much you could get for a spare organ on eBay. Not that I’m speaking from experience here. Well, at least, not on the organ thing.

I’m kind of keen on keeping all my organs, too.

Good plan. So let’s stick with our current set of organs, the MacBook monitor, and move on.

3) Zoom

Zoom? What, like they go fast?

No. Zoom, as in the screen function. Open up System Preferences, Click Universal Access and turn Zoom on.


With Zoom enabled you can, wait for it, zoom in on the display (are we paying for this stuff? -ed). Hold down the control key and swipe two fingers upwards on the trackpad (or one finger if using an Apple mouse) and, hey presto, everything gets bigger. You can move the mouse pointer around the screen and it’ll move with you (how it moves can be configure under the Zoom “options” button, above).

This is great on web pages that use negative font sizes and places where you have to input your 16 digit credit card number in a box the size of an electron.

Like when you’re trying to buy a replacement organ on eBay?

I wouldn’t know, I’ll have to take your word for that. But I do know that even when you’re zoomed in on something the interface still works, meaning you can cut and paste, drag and drop and click on things.

Cut and paste? Drag and drop? Sounds like what I have to go through to get some service around here.

Right, and while we’re on the subject to gestures, here’s the next reason.

4) Trackpad Gestures.

Hey, I’ve got a few of those ready for when Gmail Motion becomes gets out of beta.

Ah, you mean for spammers and such like.

Yeah. I’ve got a choice few for them.

You know that was a hoax, right?

I … er …. it … Yeah. ‘course I knew it was a, er, hoax. Yeah. Hoax. Yeah. I mean, it had hoax written all over it. All over it.

Glad we’ve cleared that up.

Back to trackpad gestures. There’s a whole bunch of them. One of my favorite is the two-finger scroll.

Er, Nigel, this Brit, looking over my shoulder, just fell about laughing.

Ignore him. He’s a Brit, they’re like that. And contrary to anything he says, the two-finger scroll allows you to scroll up and down in a window. This is great in Safari, iTunes, Mail and yep, Scrivener. You can scroll up and down anything that has a blue scroll bar. It even works for left/right scrolling as well. Great.

And how am I supposed to remember all these gestures?

I’m glad you asked.

I didn’t, that bit wasn’t in italics.

Well, lets pretend you did and keep moving, no one will notice.


If you open up System Preferences, Trackpad, you get a list of the possible gestures. You can selectively turn them on or off. But if you move the mouse pointer over each of them the video, on the right, changes to show you the gesture. For example,

Trackpag Gestures.png

Hey, there’s the two-finger scroll … oh, there’s goes the Brit again.

Just ignore him.

I’m trying. Mind you, so is he.

Let’s see if this will distract him.

5) Exposé

Exposé will arrange all your running programs and windows so you can choose which one to bring to the front. For example


On most modern Macs there is a key for this function, F3.

Yes, Windows 7 does a similar thing with its revolving stack of windows, but this has more of an at-a-glance feel to it.

While we’re on the subject of glances –

Ah, you noticed the girl in the corner as well, huh?

No. What corner? This is a blog, not a video connected do-hicky. We don’t get to see you and your coffee bar. And my bet is she has a Karate black belt, so leave her alone.


Back to glances. Lots of actions are animated on the Mac (and no, not things like the infamous Microsoft nodding bloody search dog, an idea so lame it’s put dogs in, well, the dog house).

Right back when they first came out with OS X, people wanted to see what was happening with all these cool effects. Well, ok, when OS X first came out the only real effect was the genie minimizing thing. So the nice people at Apple put in an option so you could see the genie minimizing effect more easily.

If you shift-click on the minimize button you’ll see the whole effect in slow motion as the window is squeezed down into the Dock. If you expand the icon back up with shift-click you can see the effect in reverse.

You’re easily impressed, aren’t you?

Hey, it was 2001.

Positively prehistoric. So what else is there, while you’re trying to impress us?

Tons of things.

Spaces – which allows you to set up several virtual screens, each with their own application windows and swap between them using control-right/left arrow.

The Dock – Under System Preferences, Dock, turn on magnification of the dock to get, well, magnification of the dock. It highlights the icon you’re pointing at and looks cool.

Careful, you’ll he heading back to 2001.

Yes, it did the magnification thing then as well.

Then there’s all the i-apps, iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, and for i-reasons I can’t explain (non-i)Garageband. They’re all excellent, integrated, and likely to make the average Joe or Joe-ess look professional. You know, like the computer actually did help make you look better, rather than the Microsoft approach which generally just highlights that you don’t know how to set up a IIS server with XML RPC reverse address trouser profile management enabled (which is strange, because I managed it with no problem -ed).

And don’t go believing everything an editor tells you either.

Oh, I don’t. *winks to editor*


I guess the last thing I like about Macs is that Apple generally has a plan.

Well, Microsoft has a plan too. There’s always another version.

Yeah, let me think. Windows 1, 2, 3, 95, NT, 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, and now? Windows 7, in six different versions at once! Yeah, now that’s what you call a plan.

Well, if you ignore NT and ME and 2000 and think of 95 and 98 as a single release, it makes, let me see, 1, 2, 3, da-da, 4, da-da, 5, da, 6, yeah 7. Yeah, it all stacks up. You’ve just got to know how to count them.

You amaze me.

A lot of people say that.


Talking of amazing, and having a plan, how are things with your work in progress?

Ha. Well, I was at 40k, but then you started me thinking.


I looked up inciting incident.


Mine was going to be at the end.


You’re supposed to have it near the start.

That’s traditional.

Yeah, so I’m back to 10k.

Kind of like, you’ve cut a long story short.

You’re not very funny.

Sorry. What about a log line.

What? I’ve got an inciting incident, do I need one of those as well?

Done correctly, it gives your whole book a point.

Does it need a point?

Think about it …

Ooooooooh, right. I don’t want anyone to call my work pointless.

Me neither.

Ok. I’ve got a few days left in the loft in Paris. I’ll see what I can do.

Sounds good.

I could tell you a bit about it if you like. There’s this spaceship, see and its –

Wow, is that the time? Rats. We’re out of blog time, again. Gonna have to cut you off there.

Maybe next time?

Yeah. Maybe.

I have to go as well. Coffee’s finished and they’re trying to throw me out.

Ah, the life of a starving artist.

Don’t get too sad, the girl in the corner seems very sympathetic.

Wait! Don’t go just yet. Let me know, put me straight. Am I nuts to value zoom? Does Windows 7 have the very same feature lurking somewhere? Would Be (now Haiku) have taken over the world if they hadn’t run out of money? What’s the favorite features of you chosen (or enforced) OS?

Ok. I’ll do my best, but the girl’s leaving. I’ve gotta run.

Have fun.


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