Joho the Blog » whines

March 22, 2014

Keynote annoyances (and some pleasures)

There are some good things about the new version of Keynote. For example, the Alpha function (i.e., smart erase) now shows you the color you’re Alpha-ing. The Light Table shows you hidden slides without making you click out to another view. The Presenters’ View shows you the animations that your audience is seeing. Plus there are some spiffy new slide transitions that no one should ever, ever use. But there are missed opportunities, such as still not providing a timeline for path animations.

And then there are things that are just plain annoying.

The following is just what I noticed while trying it out on a presentation I’m giving tomorrow:

  • The main palette is now always attached to the window. You can’t get it to float.

  • To see the effect of an animation or slide transition you have to click on a preview button after the first time. “Auto preview” would be a useful option setting.

  • The quick formatting bar is gone. I find that particularly irksome since it means lots more mouse travel and clicking if you want to adjust the font, font-size, color, and background color of some text you just entered

  • When you click on “Animate” with an unanimated object selected it makes you click again to see the list of animations.

  • In the box that lists the order of animations, there is no visual difference between an animation that happens after or with the previous one. [MINUTES LATER: I just noticed that when an animation comes after another, there's a thin line between them.]

  • In that same box I have no figured out the logic of what’s draggable and what isn’t. Bug or weird-ass feature?

  • There is no longer a popup of frequently-used font sizes, so you have to type font sizes in every time.

  • I’ve found no way to tell my Mac not to open my old Keynote files with the new version. That’s some aggressive, user-hostile marketing, Apple!

Overall, with the new updates, I’ll probably be switching to this new version. But it annoys me when an upgrade downgrades functionality

 


By the way, I was unable to find in the documentation what the little symbols in the corners of the slide thumbnails mean. As far as I can tell, three circles in the lower left means there are animated objects on the slide. A triangle in the lower right means you’ve applied a slide transition. A box in the upper right of the thumbnail means there’s a box in the upper right of the thumbnail. Nothing in the upper left means sailors’ delight.

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January 23, 2014

The Flu

I am just emerging from what I will call “the flu,” even though I have no idea what it was, but to call it “a cold” would be to disrespect it. Flu, suh!

I am, of course, a delicate flower (i.e., a man) so I lay on my back and moaned for several days. Today I am upright and moaning, so that’s progress. (BTW, yes, I did get a flu shot this fall. Thanks for nothing, Evolution via Natural Selection!)

Just to catch you up, not that you need to know, but I started coming down with The Flu on our plane ride home from London through which my wife and I walked for several days. Saturday night we had a Bloggers’ Dinner, which was tremendous fun, although physical space being what it was, the socializing was unevenly distributed. But it was great to see people I know through blogging and hadn’t seen for years, and to meet some new people I hadn’t seen in all my years.

The purpose for our trip was to participate in a meeting at the Cambridge University CRASSH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities) about a new program they’re developing in digital humanities. I got to spend a day with an awesome set of people. More later.

From there we went to London for the weekend. London was great fun and I would tell you about it, but I feel an approach of the vapors and now must sleep for 3.5 hours.

1 Comment »

November 3, 2013

This mnemonic does not mnemon

I fall forward far more often than I fall back.

I can’t remember the last time I sprang forward or sprang back.

Worst. Mnemonic. Ever.

3 Comments »

April 30, 2013

I’m tired of your attitude

I remember well the first time I heard the word “attitude” used to mean “negative attitude.” It was shortly after John Lennon had been killed. I was in a mall and the poster shop was selling some crappy Lennon memorial posters at jacked up prices. I was devoted to Lennon, and muttered something about it being opportunism. “You got an attitude,” the clerk said, sneering. “I don’t need your attitude.”

I was tempted to say, “Yes, I have an attitude. We all have attitudes.” But I knew what he meant.

Likewise, nowadays I hear weather forecasters predicting that there will be “some weather moving in.” No, there’s always weather. They mean “severe weather” or maybe just “noticeable weather.” I do sometimes correct them, but since they’re on tv, it hasn’t yet had an effect. Except on my wife who finds it charming every time I do it, or so I choose to believe.

This is far from the first time a quality has been taken as denoting a particular value when used unadorned. “He has a temperature.” “You’ve got a reputation.””He’s in a mood.” I suppose you could even put “a person of color” into that category. So, it happens.

But that won’t stop me from whining about it.

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April 28, 2013

When a new hard drive won’t accept a Mac OS

In my continuing series “How to Be an Idiot,” here’s what not to do when installing a new hard drive into your MacBook Pro.

I started off right. I had everything prepared: a new 500gB hybrid drive, a fresh Time Machine backup, and an 8gB USB stick with the Mac Mountain Lion installer on it. I still managed to fail maybe 20 times over the course of two days booting from everything I could find, re-installing Lion onto the stick, backing up from Time Machine, etc. The closest I came was when I installed off the repair partition over a backup drive. The Mac started up its install process, but got stopped with a message that said that Apple was unable to confirm that my computer is authorized for an OS install. At least, that’s what I think it meant; it’s not a very clear message, and, no I didn’t write it down :(

This made me think that the problem was that I was trying to install the wrong version, although I was pretty durn sure that I had upgraded to Mountain Lion a few weeks earlier, having resisted the blandishments of Lion. Maybe Apple was confused, although I couldn’t see why. I installed the prior version of the OS on my USB drive. Nope.

And now for the answer. And it’s not going to make me look smart, that I promise you.

You see, kids, for Apple to verify my machine, it has to get onto the Internet. It turns out that if during the install process you give your Mac a choice of wifi hotspots to connect to, it picks an open one without asking for your say-so. As a result, it happened to pick a hotspot that requires a login on a web site, but there’s no browser available during the install process. Once I pointed the Mac to another hotspot, it was able to connect and authorize my machine, enabling the installation to proceed.

Sure it was dumb of me. But it’s also dumb of Apple to give us an error message that says that it’s unable to authorize, rather than that it was unable connect. (I also didn’t see a relevant message in the Installer log, but I may have missed it.)

Fortunately, each of the things I tried took a relatively long time to fail, so I was able to get a lot done while trying. Still, the moment of victory was definitely a forehead-slapper for me.

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January 29, 2013

What I missed without my mobile phone

I’ve just spent almost two weeks without a mobile phone as mine was being repaired. I’m glad to have it back.

But why? What did I actually miss? Obviously, the following list is quite idiosyncratic â?? e.g., I don’t do a lot of texting â?? but here goes:

  • Making outbound utility phone calls. I don’t do a lot of socializing on the phone, but it’s nice to be able to check in on plans for the evening, etc.

  • Emergency call availability. I travelled for three days during my Mobile Hiatus, and asked a friend at a conference if I could give my wife her number in case of an emergency.

  • Google Maps for navigating. I was back to printing out a map and, mainly, annoying any competent adult near me.

  • Interstitial amusement. Waiting for the bus, I can read on my mobile, whereas reading a paper book or magazine while wearing gloves only works if you don’t ever have to change the page.

  • Bus location-finder. Given the way Boston buses cluster, getting to a stop 30 seconds late can make a 20 minute difference.

Things I did not miss:

  • Any of the dumb games. I like games. But other than my obligatory time with Angry Birds back when they were still angry and not just mildly pissed off, none have stuck with me.

  • Interstitial email. It’ll wait until I’m off the bus.

  • Weather reports. It’s a once-a-day thing for me, and my various work computers are fully weather report capable.

  • The time. I have a watch. And an alarm clock that actually wakes me up.

  • Typing on a tiny keyboard, although the slidy virtual keyboard built in to the Samsung Galaxy S III is pretty good, and Google’s speech-to-text is kind of awesome.

  • Misplacing my phone four times a day, although others might claim that that is not strictly the phone’s fault.

And you?

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May 20, 2012

Lion fixed my SuperDrive. (Alternative title: Snow Leopard broke my SuperDrive)

Yesterday Disk Utility told me to restart my Mac from a boot disk and run the disk repair function (= Disk Utility). Fine. Except I was unable to boot from any of my three Mac boot disks (including the original) whether they were in my laptop’s SuperDrive (= Apple’s plain old DVD drive) or in a USB-connected DVD drive. The system would notice the DVD when asked to look for boot devices (= hold down the Option key when starting up), but froze after I clicked on the DVD (= no change in the screen after 30 mins).

So, what the hell, I installed Lion, which I had been hoping to avoid (= my pathetic resistance to Apple’s creeping Big Brotherism). Thanks to the generosity of Guillaume Gète, I downloaded Lion DiskMaker, followed the simple instructions (= re-downloaded Lion, all part of Apple’s makings things hard by making them easy program), and now have a Lion boot disk. I was able to boot from it and fix my hard drive.

The whole episode was so reminiscent of why I left Windows (= Windows 7 looks pretty good these days).

2 Comments »

November 8, 2011

Warm Birthday Wishes to [your_name_here]

It used to be that on my birthday I’d get untouched-by-humans birthday wishes from my dentist’s firm and perhaps a local car company and real estate agent. Now I get them from sites I once age-verified for (gaming sites, not porn, fellas), a Prius forum, a diabetes forum, and — one level of abstraction up — from Xing itself.

If these groups are going to issue pro forma birthday wishes, I think they ought to be required to hire someone who has to sit there and actually think warmly about each person before pressing the “send” button.

And then, as a special birthday present, keep your stupid marketing messages to yourself.

2 Comments »

November 2, 2011

The hotel with no metadata

I’m staying at a “boutique” hotel in NYC that is so trendy that it has not only dressed its beautiful young staff in black, it has removed as much metadata as it can. There’s no sign outside. There are no pointers to the elevators on the room floors. The hotel floors in the elevator are poorly designated, so that two in our party ended up on a service floor, wandering looking for a way back into the public space of the hotel. The common areas are so underlit that I had to find a precious lamp to stand next to so that the person I was waiting for could find me. The room keycards are white and unmarked, without any indication therefore of which end goes in the lock.

Skipping metadata has always been a sign of mastery or in-ness. It’s like playing a fretless guitar. But hotels are for strangers and first-timers. I need me my metadata!


BTW, I think the hotel’s name is the Hudson, but it’s really not easy to tell.

6 Comments »

June 21, 2011

The Argument against Word, Reason #513

Here’s what’s happening with Microsoft Word 2008 on Mac. Note that I am not looking for help. I am merely venting.

1. Redefined heading2 so that it begins with an auto number.

2. Now when I select Normal paragraphs and apply the “number me” button to them, they all turn into heading2′s.

3. Create a new element called Normal-List, defined as beginning with an auto-number.

4. After the fourth instance of heading2, begin my fourth set of Normal-List items.

5. That fourth set continues the numbering from the third set. Select the first item and choose “Restart numbering.” It is a no-op.

6. Try every thing you can think of. Nothing works.

7. Re-open it in LibreOffice (nee Open Office) and fix the goddamn autonumbers.

Q: How many years will it take for Microsoft to get auto-numbering right?
A: How many years are there?

This is especially frustrating since the software company I worked at from 1986-1994, Interleaf, got this right about twenty years ago. AAAaaarrrrrgggggghhhhh.

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