Meeting Topic: Apple’s Pages Word Processor

Feb 21, 2017 Meeting Topic Overview: Pages

by Jamie Cox

“Expect a lot from software and you’ll usually get it.” – Eric Newman, MacMAD President emeritus

In Feb 2017, the current version of Pages for Mac is 6.0.5. For iOS it is version 3.0.5.

There are three ways to run Pages:

  • On the Macintosh
  • On an iPhone or iPad
  • From a Web Browser on iCloud

Pages Running on the Mac

Pages Running on the iPhone

Pages Running in a Browser from iCloud.com


How to Get Pages

Pages probably came with your Mac or iOS device, or getPages via the Mac App Store($19.99),or getPages via the iTunes App Store($9.99).

Competition / Alternatives to Pages

  • TextEdit – came with your Mac; Open Source; For simple tasks,it does more than you think
  • Microsoft Word (Office) – For giant documents and giant companies (Now with iOS version)
  • Open Office – Free and Open Source Office suite
  • NeoOffice -Commercialized version of Open Office customized for the Mac
  • GoogleDocs – Cloud-based, free

 

What Pages Does

Although Pages has a deceptively clean and simple design, it does a lot of things you might have expectedto need separate applicationsfor. Pages includes these functions:

  • Word Processing (obviously)
  • Page Layout
  • Spreadsheet
  • Charting
  • Photo Editing
  • Publishing
  • Collaboration Software

Integration with iCloud

Work on your document from all your devices.

Pages Has Two Document Types

All Pages documents are either:

  • Word Processing Documents, or
  • Page Layout Documents (have no body)

Word Processing documents have body text which is a continuous flow of text within the document. It may flow around images, tables, etc.

Page Layout documents have no body. All text in a page layout document exists as part of something else: a text box, a shape, or a table.

Consistent Text Operations

Text can exist in:

  • The document body,
  • Text boxes
  • Shapes,
  • Tables,
  • The header and footer

All are treated consistentlyas far as styles and formatting.

Shapes and Images

  • Wrap
  • Align
  • Resize
  • Rotate
  • Shapes can have text with the usual attributes
  • Images can not have text
  • Shapes have adjustable opacity
  • Images have opacity and Instant Alpha
  • Opacity is the opposite of transparency
  • Alpha isjustselective transparency – pixel-by-pixel

Import and Export

Import Microsoft Word Format

Export Your Document As:

  • PDF
  • ePub – for eBook readers like Kindle and iBook
  • Microsoft Word
  • Pages ’09 – For users of older versions of Pages

Learn More

http://www.apple.com/pages/

Pages 101 Tutorial Video with David A Cox(YouTube) (no relation)

 

 

VPN – Virtual Private Network Meeting Topic

MacMAD’s October, 2016 Meeting topic is VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). Here are some accompanying links and information.

People generally use a VPN for these reasons:

  • Security and privacy when using a public network, such as at a coffee shop or hotel.
  • To allow access to online content which is subject to geographical restrictions.
  • To allow remote access to a private local network such as your home network or your employer’s network
  • Provide privacy at home (prevent your ISP from knowing what you are up to)

VPN Features to Look For

  • Automatic connection and reconnection – prevents accidental leakage of unencrypted data
  • Choice of VPN endpoint – What country would you like to be in today?
  • Self Installation/Configuration – Avoids lots of technical settings

Client and Server

VPNs follow a client-server model. The client app usually runs on your computer or portable device. The server can be either a commercial VPN service or you can run your own VPN server at home on your router (some models) or on another computer. There are many (hundreds) commercial VPN providers. The following list is not at all complete.

Commercial VPN Providers

VPN Software

VPN Protocols

Your choice of protocol will probably be determined by what your server or provider supports.

  • PPTP – (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) Old, do not use. No longer supported in macOS Sierra. or iOS 10.
  • L2TP – (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) needs IPSec or similar to be secured.
  • IPSec – (Internet Protocol Security) A modern protocol. Can work in conjunction with L2TP.
  • IKEv2 – (Internet Key Exchange version 2) A modern protocol.

Here’s the MacOS VPN Dialog in System Preferences

vpn-dialog
MacOS Network Preferences — adding a VPN interface

 

openvpn-1
The iOS app OpenVPN

Quicken For Mac Discussion

The following is a transcript of a disucssion we had with a prospective Mac user about Quicken financial software.

Sue:

Hello, I have been considering purchasing a Mac for a long time, but am reluctant to do so because I hear that Quicken does not work well on a Mac. Can you provide any information regarding this issue?

Dennis:

I have been using Quicken on a Mac for years and while they had some problems a few years ago the new release of Quicken for Mac 2016 works fine. I would not hesitate to purchase a Mac because of a perceived problem with Quicken.

Jamie:

My wife is a heavy Quicken user and she was not happy about Quicken for the Mac. It works well for a new user, or a light user, but if you are used to advanced features on the Windows version, you’ll be disappointed. The solution we came up with is to run Quicken for Windows on the Mac using Crossover. That combination has been very faithful and reliable, and I’ve had no complaints from the wife. Crossover is an emulator. Unlike BootCamp or Parallels, you don’t need a copy of Windows, and [therefore] it will be cheaper.

Sue:

Thanks for the great input. How would you define a “heavy” Quicken user? I use it for downloading transactions, sending online payments, and sometimes for transferring funds. Also, will I be able to transfer my Quicken info from my PC to a Mac?

Jamie:

The Windows Bill Reminders feature allows you to estimate bills. The estimate can be based on your credit card balance. This feeds into the “Bills Projected” feature which shows you your upcoming cash flow. The Mac version accepts only fixed, exact estimates, therefore the bill projections can be wildly incorrect. The Mac version requires you to enter some amounts as Debits or Credits, which many users will not understand. The Windows version did not.

Quicken has a conversion tool program to convert data from Quicken for Windows to Quicken for Mac. Get this — it only runs on Windows! It is riddled with errors and won’t work on some older Windows systems (XP). I eventually got it to run. It spewed error messages, but eventually produced output.

Here is direct quote from Quicken tech support: “Converting from Windows to Mac often takes a long time and can be complex. We offer a free service to help with the conversion process. If you send us your data file we will do some of the conversion for you and send you back a file ready to be used in Quicken for Mac 2015. It will save you some time and make the conversion easier for you. ”

We did NOT send them our data.

After conversion, there were many problems and issues, I think mostly with various securities and transactions(e.g. mutual funds). [Edit: These problems were realtively minor. The reason we gave up on Quicken for the Mac had more to do with day-to-day usage and relearning.]

Sue:

Ugh. That sounds way too frustrating for me, thus adding to my reluctance to
purchase a Mac. Thank you for the info.

Jamie:

But, none of that was a problem using the Windows version of Quicken on the Mac in Crossover.

Genealogy Meeting May 2016

Here are the slides from our presentation on Genealogy at the May 2016 meeting. Thanks to everyone who turned out in torrential rains to hear this! If you missed it, or just want to look at the slides again, here they are.

First, the main part of the presentation:


[slideshare id=62157723&doc=macmadgenealogytalk-160518193609]

Followed by the story of what genetic genealogy revealed about my own family. (I’m providing just the slides first, followed by a YouTube video with the slides + narration, below.)


[slideshare id=62158375&doc=dnaevidence-160518195444]

Below is the video of the same DNA slides with narration. (9 minutes)


 

Combining MPEG Movies

I was looking for a straight-forward way to concatenate separate MP4 (MPEG 4) movies into a single movie. I am novice at all things video. I have at my disposal just some basic tools: iMovie, QuickTime Player, QuickTime Player 7 and MPEG Streamclip.

iMovie seemed like overkill. I couldn’t find any hint of a “concatenate” or “append” menu item in QuickTime Player or MPEG Streamclip.

Totally by accident, I found the trick in MPEG Streamclip. If you open multiple files at once, by command-clicking or shift-clicking them in the open dialog, MPEG Streamclip treats the group as one big video — instantly concatenating them together. It does not open multiple windows, but opens them all together in a single window as though they were a single continuous file.

Hopefully, you have named them in such a way that the sort order represents the order you want them to appear in the final video. Now, all you have to do is export that combined video into whatever format you want. It will take a while, but you didn’t have to fool around with trying to cut and paste video segments, which wasn’t working for me at all, anyway.

How to Get Files Out of iCloud

Apple is doing its best to get users to useiCloud. It does have its uses. iCloud saved my day when I was able to open Keynote as an iCloud web app on a Windows PC, and do my presentation from iCloud just like I was in Keynote on my Mac. That was nice.

Sometimes, though, there is just no substitute for having your own files on your own hard drive. There’s no place like home. Apple makes it surprisingly hard to move files between iCloud and your own storage. Unlike, say, Dropbox, iCloud doesn’t integrate with the Finder. Really? Third party software works better with MacOS than iCloud does? Don’t ask me why Apple would ever do that.

The document-oriented Apple apps that use iCloud are Preview, TextEdit, iMovie, Keynote, Pages and Automator.

Instead of using the Finder, iCloud documents can only be manipulated from within Applications. You can use the Move To… or Export… menu options to move or copy a singleopen file from iCloud to local storage or vice versa.

The screenshot below shows how to dragmultiple files from iCloud to the Finder. The window on the right is the open-file dialog for the Preview Application. On the left is a finder window. The default behavior is to move the files. If you want to copy instead, hold the option key while dragging.

Dragging files from Open-File Dialog to Finder
Dragging files from Open-File Dialog to Finder

Since each application can only see its own files in iCloud, you must repeat this operation in each application that has files to be moved.

You may notice that there are no folders or directories in iCloud — just a big list of files.

Apple seems determined to move users away from the file system paradigm. Since the file system is probably the most successful and widely used abstraction in all ofcomputing, it’s certainly daringly Avant Garde of Apple to try to ignore it. However, I’m afraid that they are doing so to increasingly limit user’s options and further corral usinto Apple’s walled garden.

The file system is a powerful abstraction in which the relationship between files and applications that act on those files is not pre-determined. It puts a lot of power into the hands of the user who gets to decide who does what to what file, and which file goes where. The current, featureless iCloud takes that power away.

The Many Modes of iTunes

“For the most part, try to create modeless features that allow people to do whatever they want when they want to in your application. Avoid using modes in your application because a mode typically restricts the operations that the user can perform while it is in effect. If an application uses modes, there must be a clear visual indicator of the current mode” -Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines, Apple Computer 1995

This article was written with respect to iTunes version 11.2.2, 2014. Your version may vary.

Don’t Mode Me In

Many users, especially novices, have trouble navigating the iTunes interface. I am often asked the question:  Where is that control or feature I saw in iTunes previously? I can’t find it. These difficulties can be traced to the confusing number of modes iTunes has. iTunes started out years ago as a music player. It has since taken on many additional functions such as interface to the iTunes store, movie player and control center for iOS devices.

Understanding the way iTunes modes work will help you use the program, but will also reveal why it needs a complete overhaul. Let’s take a look at the iTunes interface.

Library Mode Bar annotated

iTunes has three major modes and at least 30 minor modes. Larry Don’t-Mode-Me-In Tesler of the original Mac design team must be totally revolted by this. iTunes’ major modes are:

  • Library Mode – You are browsing content in your iTunes library on your own computer
  • iTunes Store – You are browsing content available for sale, rent or download from Apple
  • iDevice Mode – You are browsing and configuring an attached iOS device or iPod

Generally, important user interface functions are located at the upper left, like the home button on a web page. Bizarrely, iTunes puts these major mode controls way over on the right side of the window.

iTunes only allows a single window to be open, so these modes all operate to change the function of iTunes’ single main window. The controls available in each mode vary in an inconsistent manner, as we will see. The table below shows the major mode navigation available by default in iTunes. There are buttons in the upper left to change modes. However you cannot get directly from the iTunes Store to your iDevice or vice versa, without first going through the Library. Weird.

iTunes Mode Table

To read this table, find the mode you are currently in on the left. Then find the mode you want to be in at the top. The intersection shows you if that’s possible. For example, if you are in the iTunes Store, and you want to see your attached iPhone, well, you can’t get there from here. But, you can go from the Store to the Library, and then from the Library to the iPhone.Weird, huh? When the table says “Button”, there is an appropriate button at the upper right of the iTunes window.

With the number of modes in iTunes and the weird controls for accessing them, it’s a virtual certainty that most users have never even seen most modes. They may need or want something that those modes can do, but they have never found their way to it. If they do happen to stumble across something they like, they are unlikely to be able to find their way back to it later.

The Sidebar

The table above is strictly true only if you have not enabled iTunes’ sidebar. It is hidden by default. With the sidebar visible, you now have the ability to navigate directly from any mode to any other. This is reason enough for me to show the sidebar.

View/Show Sidebar
How to Show the Sidebar
The iTunes Sidebar
The iTunes Sidebar

But, when you show the Sidebar, the mode buttons on the upper right disappear. What?! Seriously?

Same Name, Different Things

Want to see something else weird? Supposed you want to review your iTunes store purchases. The sidebar offers a Purchased link under STORE. There is also a Purchased link under QUICK LINKS on the iTunes store home page. These two links lead to two very different modes. The sidebar link, despite being under the STORE heading, does not open the store, but leads to a playlist of all the media in your library that was previously purchased. The other Purchased link shows a list of things in the context of the iTunes store that you have purchased on any device. From there, you can download any of them that may not be in your library.

iTunes Purchased annotated

So, the Purchased links in the sidebar under STORE are actually playlists in your library, not in the store, but they are not listed under PLAYLISTS, but are listed under STORE. Everybody clear on that? Makes total sense.

Similar Choices, Different Controls

When you are in your library, iTunes offers a choice of sub-modes: Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, etc. These choices are presented in a pop-up control on the upper left. The iTunes store has a nearly identical list, but how are they presented? As a series of buttons across the top of the screen. Why do these have to be different?

Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, iTunes U, Audiobooks, Books, Apps
Library Mode – Popup Menu
Music, Movies, TV Shows, App Store, Books, Podcasts, iTunes U
Store Mode – Row of Menu Buttons

Does nobody review this software before it is released?

Don’t Forget to Sync

If you are using iTunes to load music or videos onto your iGadget, arguably the most important control in iTunes is the Sync button. If you don’t Sync, none of your changes are applied, and you have accomplished nothing. This all-important button is in the lower-right corner of the iTunes window, where nothing else in iTunes ever appears. It’s all too easy to overlook.

Sync Button is Way Down Here
Sync Button is Way Down Here

It’s Not Just You

I hate helping people with iTunes because I end up apologizing for how terrible it is. If you’re new to iTunes, at least now you know, it’s not just you — iTunes really is that weird. Maybe you’ll now have a better idea of what it does and how to get there.

P.S. Why, oh why does iTunes only have one window? If I could change only one thing, this would be it. I would like to have my library visible while shopping the iTunes store. Is it too much to ask?