Out with the Old, In with the New

I’ve been converting my workflow from PC to Mac over the last few weeks and, as the saying goes, there is no good time to migrate, only bad or worse. I can speak with some authority on this as my previous life as a SysAdmin recalls only too well.

As I was conducting this migration for myself, I planned it to minimize disruption as much as humanly possible. It largely went well with the installation of pretty much everything I needed, and I’d be working along at a steady clip until last week and Office 365 suddenly ceased to work. Let me repeat that. Office 365 quit working. I spent over 4 hours on the phone with them Thursday and an hour or so on the phone with them Friday and they advised me “they are aware it’s an ongoing issue with Apple computers and I can continue to try to log in” (that was Thursday) whereas Friday they offered me a refund. I find it egregious of Microsoft to, first of all, have people not schooled enough in their products to give incorrect and conflicting answers and to keep me running around in a Kafkaesque nightmare of bureaucracy. Dig this. The deal was that my account could not be verified via their subscription system. Keep in mind, they had my money, and I could log on to the website (and all the other things which require me to connect and verify, such as Adobe, Steam, XboxLive, WiiU, PS3, et. al. have no problems realizing who I am). They even have given me a license number, but I cant use that to validate my account, as it’s not the proper handshake. This got me thinking about the purported requirements of the XBoxOne (and I say purported, because, until the thing is physically out, who know what’s fact and fancy? The messaging for XB1 has been less than ideal. Am I right?) and it’s need to validate your system at least once every 24 hours. This feels me with a bit of dread and concern. It is bad enough to not get into an online match, just imagine not being able to play a game you rightfully own. There is such a thing as erring on the side of caution, and just throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

As a creative, I believe in some protections, however, I don’t think you should penalize your good patrons because of the actions of those who have grayer shades of morality. For example, we don’t use DRM on our products. Never have. I’m not a fan of it. As a digital product, I expect folks will be doing the stuff one does with digital products, such as cut and pasting stat blocks and the like. Locking it makes it a hassle, because it limits utility.

Returning to point, since I discovered I could no longer reliably depend upon the Office suite, I had to immediately suspend all my work, and go on a spirit quest to find software to replace what I’d been using for years. (Yes. I suppose I could/can buy Office for Mac 2011 on disc, but it’s purported there’s an update in the wind and, honestly, I”m not an Office cheerleader at present.) I took this problem as I needed to do more than get my feet wet, and I should just dive into the deep end of the pool, and tough it out.

For email, I snagged Postbox and am quite pleased with it. I got it configured in just a few minutes, though it took around an hour to tweak and test it out to get it to work exactly as I needed it to work. It has a demo, but after I got it tweaked, I dropped the $9.95 on it. I dig it. It’s like Thunderbird and Apple Mail had a baby. A great blend of aesthetics and usability.

The writing side of things took a bit longer, as I’ve not used any of the OS X stuff (aside from TextEdit) in a long time. Reactively, I got Pages for the iMac and the iPad (though I’m, disappointingly, having a few sync issues for some reason). Pages is prettier than I’m used to, and reminds me a touch of MS Publisher (which is not, I assure you, a good thing). I likely shouldn’t have gotten them, as I’m not really the target audience. I like something with a bit more going on for it, which is why I settled, ultimately, on Nisus Writer Pro. (And I”ll draft up a full review after I’ve kicked it’s tires a bit more.) Suffice to say, it is wonderfully powerful and customizable. The only thing it’s lacking (for my needs, from what I see) is a split screen mode, but there is a macro available which I was able to cut and paste and get working without a hitch. And the Find and Replace function is as powerful as I’ve read. It imports .doc and .docx files (which is important) and is supposed to play well with Word when it comes to Tracking Changes and Comments (both essential for the editorial flow of things). As an aside, I was planning on using SuperNoteCard (as I’ve been a long time fan of the software, but haven’t received an email back from them with my key to install on the Mac.) I took this as another sign to get my education of Scrivener under way. I bought it a few weeks ago when it was on sale (even before I got my computer), as it was one of the reasons I wanted a Mac. I had played with the Windows beta, but knew I wanted the tried and true version with all the bells and whistles for project development, and the plan is to migrate future project development over to Scrivener.

Whereas SuperNoteCard is a fine hammer, Scrivener is a complete toolbox. SNC is great, and I’ve designed a lot of projects in it, and it enables one to easily, conceptually migrate over to Scrivener (which, I’m certain, is going to allow for more rapid development in the longterm). I spent the bulk of this past weekend getting familiar with these various software packages. Evidently, I”m digging the artisanal software. There’s another program called AeonTimeline which allows for timeline creation which is also on my radar (and will be largely helpful with some things in the works). And there is Index Card you can get for the iPad which can be used to sync with Scrivener (in a flat file way). I’ve tested out the syncing and it’s straightforward both directions. There’s no Scrivener for iPad (yet), but there’s one in the works. Hopefully, we’ll see it later this year. For those using iPads and not wanting to wander far away from their work, I’m going to recommend Splashtop2. With it, you can remote into your desktop, and use whatever programs you want. It runs about $5 and it works well, provided you’re on the same Wifi network as your computer. Otherwise, you’ll have too spring for Anytime/Anywhere which runs through their servers and runs about $16/year. I opted for the subscription and have already used my iPad to mock up logos with Adobe Illustrator (something I couldn’t otherwise do on this device) and have access to ALL this great, new software.

I spent the entirety of today using Nisus Writer Pro. I imported the tremulus materials I’m working on (formatting remained intact, I might add), and had no issues whatsoever. As I gain familiarity with it, I’m certain my appreciation for it will only grow.

Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!

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