Category Archives: Personal

Tags for OS X Users – Finding Stuff

I have been experimenting with some tools over the past six months to help me get better organized and increase the chances I can actually find something on my computer. I started my exploration with a program called Together from Reinvented Software.  Together was a good place for me to begin exploring the set of tags I would use and to incorporate tagging into my daily work-flows.  The things I liked about Together:

  1. It did not lock my content up into some bizarro binary file that could never be parsed again.  Instead, it neatly organized all of the files you added to Together in your Documents folder.  Seemed like a pretty reasonable thing.
  2. The tagging UI was pretty fast and had auto-complete.

These aspects of Together kept me using it for a few months until I discovered:

  1. The tags themselves were locked up in some bizarro binary file format! That did not sit well with me thinking about years and years of collected tags. While the program does have some way to sync those tags to Spotlight comments, the author warns that it will slow the application down and consume huge amounts of resources.
  2. The application became slow and unresponsive – even though I did not have the Spotlight-tag-syncing, resource-sucking option turned on.
  3. The work-flow of drag-and-drop became too cumbersome and I wanted something more streamlined.

I continued trudging through my use of Together, when one day the MacUpdate Promo had an application called Tags by Gravity Applications advertised for steep discount. It sounded like a good fit – maybe too good to be true – but the price was right and was worth trying to see if it met the hype. What I liked:

  1. Your tags are not locked away – they are part of the file’s metadata. This should allow my tags to travel as long as Spotlight is around.
  2. Spotlight can search for the tags – try a search like: tag:receipt apple.
  3. The UI is lightweight and fast. It may feel a bit unprofessional (just a personal opinion), but it cuts mustard.
  4. It is integrated with almost every application I use, and thus knows what file I am trying to tag without some cumbersome drag-and-drop work-flow. Very smart and efficient.

I am glad to say that I am still using Tags on a daily basis and have built some Automator work-flows around it as well. And… They recently provided me with an update to get everything working smoothly with Snow Leopard. Overall, I am very satisfied with this solution – I am able to find things reliably.  And after using this work-flow for awhile, it does strike me that this should be a base capability in OS X. I do find some evidence that Apple is headed down this path if you try the following in Snow Leopard: Print -> Save as PDF -> then play around in the Keywords field. I am seeing auto-complete. Are you?

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18 hours and counting to iPhone activation!

I purchased a 4GB iPhone yesterday, June 30th and activated it at 6:00pm. All of the 8GB models were out of stock and I just had to have one. The iTunes activation completed without error on my OS X 10.4.10 machine. At the end of the activation process, it told me:

Your activation requires additional time to complete.
You will receive an email confirmation sent to youremailaddress@.com once your activation is complete.

Well it is now 12:00pm on July the 1st and I still have a $500 paperweight! I have been on the phone with both AT&T and Apple twice yesterday. In both cases all they could do was point fingers at each other. AT&T says everything looks good from their end but they cannot peer into the mysterious activation process and that I would need to call Apple. Apple says that they cannot peer into the mysterious activation process and that I would have to call AT&T! This is ludicrous! Surely one of the vendors can see where things stand in the activation queue…

Here is the really frustrating part of the story. I bought an iPhone for Clayton and his activated and was working within a matter of minutes! So this left me wondering, what is different about our situations… Both of us are existing AT&T customers and should have received an pain free and timely activation; only one of us did. Could it be that because I had a Blackberry and an existing unlimited data plan that I am doomed to activation hell? The last time I spoke to a rep at Apple, they said that I should expect to wait 24 hours as they have 8,000 activations in the queue. Somehow I expect that 24 hours will come and go and I will still not have a working iPhone. So much for Apple simplicity and “it just works”! Argh!

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Outlook 2007 Rant

Update: It looks like Microsoft may have found the problem and provided a solution. The KB933493 article provides a link to an Outlook 2007 patch that claims to fix performance issues that occur when you work with items in a large .pst file or .ost file. Be sure to leave comments with your results. I am trying it now…

I have been a long time user of Outlook and Exchange before that (remember Schedule+ anyone?). Outlook has made steady progression over the years with more/better features and better offline access up through Outlook 2003. However, with Outlook 2007 I am completely and utterly frustrated! I have been running Windows XP SP2 and Outlook 2003 for a while under Parallels on my dual core Macbook Pro with good results. I have since upgraded Outlook 2003 to 2007 and have entered a situation where it literally can take minutes for an action to complete and control returned to me.

This is completely unacceptable. Let me preface the following comments with the fact that Outlook 2007 has very little new functionality and is probably the least overhauled of any of the Office applications in the suite. Now you may be wondering why I do not switch back to 2003 if it performed well and 2007 does not have a bunch of new features… Well there is at least one new feature I am hooked on and it allows me to publish my calendar to an external server for consumption by people outside of the IU organization. This feature alone caused me to try to make Outlook 2007 work for me.

First I thought maybe Office 2007 needed Windows Vista to perform well. So I went down that path and installed Vista in a Parallels hosted VM. No luck – Outlook 2007 is still a serious dog. I have always been a pretty big Microsoft fan and have not bought into the Microsoft produces bloat-ware mantra, but in this case I think it might be true. With that said, I think that overall Office 2007 with the new ribbon interface is a step in the right direction and makes the feature rich applications more accessible to casual or new users. But how could they take an application that used to perform very well, add very little new functionality, and then make it perform like crap?

Others may be wondering why I even care about Outlook if I am running a Mac as my primary operating system. Well to make another long story short, Entourage is also crap and has corrupted my calendar more than once. If you live and die by your electronic calendar, this only needs to happen once before you head for the hills. Will the upcoming Office for Mac fix Entourage; I seriously doubt it. Argh… Rock < Me > Hardplace

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LOL: Get a Mac Vista Security

I have to admit I have not been a huge fan of Apple’s “Get a Mac” ad campaign. I understand how it even is having a negative impact as people are siding with the “PC”. However, I must say that when I watched the latest ad, I literally laughed out loud. For those of you that have used Vista, I think you will have the same reaction I did: :)

http://movies.apple.com/movies/us/apple/getamac/apple-getamac-security_480x376.mov

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Superbowl Halftime ‘Show’

First let me congratulate the Colts on a game very well played. This win is great for the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. Heck, the kids even got to come into school two hours late on Monday due to the “cold weather”. :)

Now, who was in charge of choosing the halftime entertainment and how did they choose Prince? I mean this would have been a great show if it were… hmmm… 1985! Don’t get me wrong, I liked Prince… in 1985! My whole family was sitting around during halftime scratching our heads. Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means promoting another scandalous clothing “failure”. :) What about the year No Doubt played with Sting? Now that was a cool show!

PS – Did you happen to catch Kevin Rose in the GoDaddy commercial?

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