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IT ‘experts’ and Mac Biases

IT ‘experts’ and Mac Biases

David Sparks discusses anti-Mac prejudices he has experienced when presenting at various functions.

Many (but hardly all) of the IT professionals serving these industries have been far too busy earning Microsoft certifications to pay any attention to Apple and they are not only unhelpful, they can actively lob hand grenades at your attempts to get any work done with your Mac.

I have a number of friends and colleagues who work as IT professionals who, seemingly, have similar anti-Mac biases.

Macsparky is on the money with the idea that Microsoft Certifications, at least in part, at the core of the problem. Microsoft has done a good job convincing employers that they should hire people with these skills, and thus lots of IT specialists chase those certifications.

In my own pre-Mac days I undoubtedly had similar biases. But it is certainly my own experience in the past six years of Mac usage that plug and play functionality is stronger in Macs than in Windows machines.

I personally try not to present if I am forced to use a Windows machine.

Avoid Presentation Interruptions in Mavericks

Avoid Presentation Interruptions in Mavericks

I’ve written before about how I believe that system interuptions should be completely disabled during presentations, and how Windows devices shouldn’t be used for presentations if possible because of their propensity to interupt the user anytime.

In my experience, Mac OSX devices are far better for presentations because the system tends to not interupt you when doing important things. With the recent enhancements to the notifications functionality, there is a growing possibility that individual apps will popup notifications that will appear on screen. So you might get a text message on screen, or a news update, or similar.

OSX Mavericks has a great way to avoid this. In System Preferences navigate to Notifications (System Preferences>Notifications) and in the Do Not Disturb option check the box to turn on DND “When mirroring to TVs and projectors”.

Attention to detail like this will allow your presentations to be smoother and you will be less likely to have your presentation, train of thought and audience’s attention interupted.

Windows – The Wrong Platform for Presentations?

Windows – The Wrong Platform for Presentations?

Windows PCs should not be used for Presenting

One of the best events I get to go to every couple of years is OZTeK, a conference that focuses on the science, technology and mentality of diving on the cutting edge. It’s even cooler (for me) that for the third time this year, I was one of the MCs of OZTeK.

With a variety of the world’s best speakers in diving, including the likes of Jill Heinerth, Simon Mitchell, Michael Menduno and many others, I consider OZTeK to be a TEDx of tec diving. The presenters are fantastic, and have wonderful stories to tell. As with all presentations everywhere, the quality and style of the supporting media was varied.

Consisting mostly of PowerPoint slides and some supporting video, some of the media actively supported and added to the stories, and some were neutral. Unfortunately, a small number even detracted from the presentations. What was cool was that a few presenters chose to ditch the slides altogether, and instead just spoke. They had good stories, and were clearly passionate about those stories.

I give a lot of presentations, and these days am doing more and more of them from my iPad. My MacBook Air continues, however, to be my main presentation device. What I like about presenting from the Mac is that once you’re in presentation mode in Keynote, the Mac gets out of your way. I would be loathe to use a Windows machine for presenting these days, and my experience at OZTeK only reaffirmed that. You see, Windows machines (provided by the contracted AV company I believe) were used in the conference rooms for presenting.

The biggest problem with Windows is that it is an interuptive device. Windows machines, the Windows OS and Windows applications are often attention seeking little suckers, popping up left, right and centre, craving for you to do something. Or nothing. But at least talk to it, or it will do something anyway.


On several occasions, the little popup bubble shown on the right popped its head up. This one isn’t too bad, because at least it doens’t stop the presentation running. To be fair, notifications in OSX (using Growl or Notifications Center) do much the same. In all cases, these can (and should) be turned off. Especially if you use notification centre for other things, like emails, iMessages, etc…

With Windows, however, the default setting seems to be for the system to automatically download the update (and aren’t there a lot of Windows updates) and for many of these updates to require a restart. Which it also does automatically, although at least the system is nice enough to give you a warning.

Restart coming

Problem is that it will kick you out of what you are doing – even if you are presenting. In presentation mode. You, the presenter, are talking away and start to notice some of your audience giggling. You turn and see the screen. You rush over to hit the “Restart Later” button, because it seems that mostly you have 60 seconds to do so.

Presentation machines – Windows, OSX or even iPads – need to be setup so that once in presentation mode all notifications are automatically blocked from popping up and interupting. And they should never be allowed to kick you out of what you are doing.

With Mac OSX and iOS devices, turning off notifications is quite easy. With Windows, the interuptiveness is deeply embedded in the architecture. It is possible to turn things off, but (in my experience) the process is like the little boy plugging the holes of the dam with his fingers. After plugging 10 holes, things get interesting. And there’s always another hole.

So, as a presenter, I would suggest that you present from a device that allows you to turn off all interuptions. Of course, some notifications might be exceptions – you would want to know if you’ve got a critical battery issue, and you and your audience might want to know if the Centers for Disease Control announce a zombie outbreak.

In my opinion, Windows PC’s are not the right device to present from.

Day One for iOS gets a huge update with PDF export and more

Day One for iOS gets a huge update with PDF export and more

Day One appOne of my absolute most used apps is the journalling app Day One, available for iOS and OSX. The iOS version this week received a major update, going to version 1.10, where the ability to export entries (single or a range) to a PDF file was introduced.

This is a terrific enhancement that allows the user to extract key data, perhaps sorted by tag (introduced last year to the iOS version) to a standalone PDF document, or perhaps to a PDF document that might then be stored in a system such as Evernote or DEVONthink.

Other updates include:

  • Custom date range- Tag filtering
  • Send PDF to iBooks, Dropbox and other apps
  • Export will run in background
  • Quick single entry export via Send menu
  • Historical weather increased from 3 days to 30 days
  • New reminder sound
  • Added Sanchez font option
  • Improved header and HTML styling

I love the direct Day One is taking, and look forward to these updates (and previous ones like tagging and geo-location) being introduced to the OSX version, soon (please)!

Week 2 of the Get Stuff Done Promo on the Mac App Store

Week 2 of the Get Stuff Done Promo on the Mac App Store

We have entered week 2 of the Mac App Store’s Get Stuff Done promotion.

Get Stuff Done on the Mac App Store

Get Stuff Done on the Mac App Store

This week’s focus is on the Organise part of productivity, and features apps to reduce clutter in your mind, your house and on your Mac.

I am a big fan of the MindNode Pro app. I used to use MindManager, but I’ve found the OSX and iOS versions of the app to be lacking. Mindnode Pro works smoothly, and integrates iCloud to make the most of sycning between Macs, iPhone and iPad. It’s my current pick for mindmapping.

I also like the extremely useful Daisy Disk, which I use regularly to check out the data on my Mac drives.

I’ve taken advantage of this promotion to grab Gemini to see how it goes in cleaning up duplicate files.

Check out the Mac App Store’s Get Stuff Done promotion if you’re in the market for apps that will assist

The Launch of OmniFocus 2

The Launch of OmniFocus 2

CEO of Omni Group, Ken Case announced the Debut of OmniFocus 2 (at Macworld/iWorld):

…our goals for version 2 are to bring back to the Mac all of the design and innovation that went into our iPad edition of OmniFocus: dedicated Forecast and Review modes, clearer navigation, and a fresh look and feel.

As a long-time practitioner of what is a personal evolution of David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach, I’ve used a variety of organisational tools on a variety of platforms – OSX, iOS, Windows, PalmOS, etc. These have included native and third party apps. OmniFocus on OSX and iOS remains my pick due to its all around power. I love the fact that the Omni people have uncovered a very clever workaround to get OmniFocus to work with Siri.

A lot of people however find OmniFocus to be a complex app, particularly on the Mac (OSX). As Katie Floyd mentioned in her post about the announcement of OmniFocus 2, there is the perception amoung some users that you need a “degree in OmniFocus”!

OmniFocus for iPadBy contrast, OmniFocus for iPad sports a brilliant UI, and is actually where I do most of my process and review activities. I use the OSX and iPhone versions of the app to capture and also to check off next actions completed. The iPad version has a special “review mode” that takes you through a review of Projects that have had the appropriate attention recently. This powerful function will be a feature of OmniFocus 2.

The other factor that has made OmniFocus less approachable to the average user was its pricing. In his post he also outlines a new pricing approach, which will see a standard version available at US$39.99 – still a high end app, but half the price of the current version. There will be a Pro Version with support for custom workflows. There will also be special pricing for users of the current version of OmniFocus on OSX, available through the Omni Group’s website.

OmniFocus is a high end, quality app. With the new UI in OSX, and with its new pricing model, it will continue to be the first choice for productivity power users, and will be an excellent choice for less full-on productivity enthusiasts. Availability has yet to be announced, and it will go into private testing shortly.

The Canning of iWork.com

The Canning of iWork.com

According to MacRumours.com, Apple’s iWork.com services is being canned from 31st July 2012.

I am sure this is hardly a surprise to anyone, given that it has been a little underwhelming. I’m a pretty hardcore Apple / iWork / iCloud user, and I never really got what iWork.com’s use case would be, at least for me. I have used it once or twice, mainly for quick sharing of an iWork document from iPad, but that would be it.

I think iWork.com functionality is still needed for collaboration. Even if its not been heavily used at this time, such functionality has to be part of Apple’s long term plan for iCloud and iWork.

The timing of this is interesting. 31st July is “late (northern hemisphere) Summer 2012”, the timing Apple has specified for the full launch of OSX Mountain Lion. I somehow expect that there will be new functionality baked into OSX Mountain Lion and iCloud that will easily allow document collaboration between users.

As I’ve stated in the last few posts, iWork on OSX desparately needs iCloud’s Documents in the Cloud feature enabled. Until then iCloud is going to be clunky compared to DropBox for desktop users, though it does have the advantage for users that are predominately iOS based. For users that switch back and forth (like me, and most others I reckon), either solution is clunky.

I hope that Documents in the Cloud for OSX will be opened up soon – much sooner than 31st July. It certainly needs to be before MS Office is released on iOS.

But, I look forward to the concept of document collaboration between users being baked into iWork and iCloud, from OSX or iOS.