electronic joy

One of the reasons OS X is great is because it has PDF conversion built right in, you simply save to PDF in the Print dialogue and you’re done. And Preview is faster than Acrobat Reader at rendering and viewing PDFs too. Unfortunately, the PDF functionality beyond saving and viewing is pretty bare bones, requiring you to resort to the command-line or various shareware products to combine, remove, or reorder pages in a PDF (or get Acrobat, of course).

The problem with a lot of these shareware products is that they ask $30-80 for their suite of functions, when all you want is just one part. This morning I was given a high-priority task to take a bunch of Excel spreadsheets and put them in a single PDF, so I went out on the web to find something to help.

I downloaded a few different ones, and found a few that I thought would meet my needs, but little did I realize I would find a product as sweet as Combine PDFs. It does just what it says, allowing you to take multiple PDFs and put them in one document, reordering or removing those pages you don’t want, all in a nice and simple UI.

This app, simply put, rocks.

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ipod in macworld keynote

I’d like a portable mp3 player but the current prices are just a little too much for the time being. As an idle fancy, I’ve been following the rumors that Apple would release a sub-$200 ipod at Macworld this year and when Jobs’ keynote included reference to a $250 4GB mini-ipod, the bulletin boards erupted in absolute horror that Apple priced it beyond what most of the rumors had pegged it at.

I think they’re mostly misinformed–$250 is still an incredibly good price and the smaller size (business card!) increases complexity too–but when they say that it won’t improve Apple’s marketshare, I say, who cares?

After all, as John Gruber points out, Apple targets the creative workers, a small subset of business in general. BMW seems perfectly happy filing a smallish niche in the auto world, and I think Apple would rather be the BMW of the computer world rather than the GM.

Although the cost of the new ipod’s doesn’t completely disuade me, my biggest question is whether the smaller form-factor negates my biggest issue with the ipod: as a hard-drive-based machine, the bumps and jiggles that come from exercising force frequent hard resets, making it nearly impossible to use while running. (Okay, so I don’t run but having such a sweet player might almost get me to start)

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the ibook is back!

Last time it took nine days versus three days this time. Now I have it for the weekend—yea!

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I’m so depressed

After four months of working fine, the iBook’s LCD went out again on Tuesday, this time with no warning at all.

It’s not just the pain of going to the Dell to work that has me down, it’s the anguish in admitting that Apple is fallible. I’m a big fan of the underdog (particularly one as good-looking as this one), but I hope I don’t end up all battered wife on this one, constantly coming up with excuses why things aren’t working out and blaming myself for problems–“Maybe I do use it too much or close the clamshell too tightly or leave it on too long…”

Actually, that last bit, about leaving it on too long, reminds me how incredibly stable OS X has been. In the year I’ve had the machine, it has never locked up and I’ve never had to force a shutdown/reboot. When an application has frozen (which is very rare), force quitting that app has never caused any instability in other apps or across the machine. In contrast, in the two days I’ve been back on XP full-time, I’ve had Dreamweaver, Excel, IE, and Firebird all quit on me unexpectedly, leading to problems with the Explorer and causing me to reboot the machine twice just to clear out any residual side effects.

So while Microsoft, which is ostensibly a software company, has issues with application stability, Apple, which is mainly a hardware company, has problems with the nuts and bolts of their products. What to do?

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DAVid & Goliath

Okay, so Goliath has moved from “apps I’m playing with” to “apps I can’t live without” status in record time.

Because we have WebDAV set up for me to upload files at work, I’ve been using Dreamweaver MX to move files. There haven’t been any issues with checking files in and out until a few weeks back when I had to send my work computer in for repairs (the iBook’s LCD was freaking out). While it was getting fixed, I was using my other computer (a Dell 8100) to work.

No problem there; I had Dreamweaver 4.0 on the PC and simply overrode the checkout permissions for all the files checked out (locked) when my iBook died. The problem arose after I got the iBook back. When I set up 4.0 to DAV into the work machine, I made my profile (email) the same as in MX and when I returned to MX, it still registered the old checkouts and didn’t allow me to check any files in. Oddly, 4.0 still allowed me to check files in and out (I think it has to do with the version control that MX has in it, not because of some problem with DAV). So I had to resort to using the Dell as I figured out a way to override the locking problem.

I knew that OS X had DAV support built in but I had never messed around with it until this situation. Found out that I didn’t need to use the terminal to use DAV; I could GUI in using “Connect to Server” (Cmd+K). I soon grew tired of that; I couldn’t see locked/unlocked status in the Finder, changing the status necessitated a “Get Info” move, and the whole connection, which dragged at times, caused the entire Finder to hang anytime I was connected (even worse when attempting to save a file locally from an application).

So I downloaded a few different DAV clients and tried Goliath. In a few clicks I was able to override all the locked files and reset their states so I could interface with the files in MX with ease. No need to return to the PC, I’m back to doing it all on the iBook again.

Thank you Goliath!

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