Sunday, October 01, 2006

Facing the Mac

Fellow Teachers and Students,

I've been an avid follower and member of foodblogs'cool but have never posted anything here because I'm more of an observer not a participant (and it doesn't help that I am somewhat shy). This time I have mustered up enough courage to post something on and hope you can provide me with some pointers.

I will be receiving my MacBook soon and am very excited to use it to write and post blogs (I have been MIA for couple of weeks now because of studies and work but I hope the new purchase will get me back on track with renewed vigour). My first question is that if anyone is using a MacBook now and had changed from a Windows interface recently. Is the Mac interface is helping or setting you back? Are there any programs that have been particularly useful?

My next question is that when one writes query letters and such, the preferred program, I heard (correct me if I am wrong), is Microsoft Word. With a Mac, how does one ensure that the query letters/resumes turn out the way one wants when, say, the editor, opens your resume to read it? What program would prevent problems like these from occuring?

Thank you for your patience in reading and your help.

This Post was written by celine from Black.Salt


Derrick said...

Microsoft Word for the Mac has worked just fine for me; I've sent article drafts to numerous Windows-based clients with nary a problem. The Track Changes function even works between the two versions (which are concurrent with each other--you're not using some ancient version of Word on the Mac).

A suggestion: If you can fit your query (I'm assuming for magazines) into the body of a short email, you might have better luck with editors. Any impediment to them seeing your text makes it more likely that they won't read it, or will be annoyed at the extra effort. But it's not like I have a 100% success rate with editors, so who knows what one will like and another will not?

Ed Charles said...

If you are sending a resume I usually save it as a pdf, which is easy on the Mac via "print". Derrick is right also, the Mac and Windows versions of Word work well together.You should have no problems. One of the great things is how, ical and address book integrate. I also use Kinkless GTD to manage my time which you can find more about on and usually has loads of good mac hints. For pics you can download a utility from Flickr that allows you to upload and resize pics quickly. On the downside, current versions of all Adobe software do tend to crash the machine although Photoshop is better than the others.
Also you may want to download something called Flip4Mac which helps Quicktime play Windows Media Player movies. Oh, and SuperDuper is an excellent back-up tool. Welcome back from the darkside!

xiamaze said...

oh my god.
this blog has the most number of members i have ever seen!
this is really cool.

paul said...

In order to answer your question, you'll have to send me your Mac Book for a 6 week trial.

Just kidding I use a Mac myself.

There's no difference between Mac and PC Word, but be cautious about using any fancy Mac based fonts that PCs don't use. One common mistake on resumes is choosing a fancy bullet point, which turns into some funky symbol when opened on a PC.

A PDF is definitely the way to go, it embeds the fonts and any fancy typography changes so it looks exactly the way you made it.

I second Ed- Mail, iCal and the address book quickly become essential (and your calendars and contacts sync onto your iPod if you have one).

For the Mac, I recommend BBedit for any HTML work you'll do. Shortcuts for images and links, powerful find and change (even over multiple documents) text tools and a syntax checker to find your HTML and CSS typos and errors are just some of the reasons it's worth the $125.

Celine said...

Derrick: Thank you. I usually do try to fit that into the body of my email. I guess what I was more concerned about was when I send written articles over in document form. If I don't have MS Word for Mac, will it be a problem? I picked the upgrading of my RAM over a free MS Word and I can't afford to purchase MS Word anytime soon.

Ed Charles:Thank you, the pdf thing is a very good idea, and you have provided me with a lot of information to return from the dark side. I will definitely look into it once the much-awaited MacBook arrives.

Xiamaze: I know!

Paul: I was so close to asking you for your address for you to test the mac out for me. No, just kidding. Thank you for all that information. I think I will need to use BBedit but I probably won't be able to get it anytime soon. Thank you anyway.

Derrick said...


You should actually look into Text Wrangler. It's by the same company that makes BBEdit, but it's free. I'm a heavy text editor user (as a programmer) and I've never felt the lack of the full BBEdit features.

If you don't have Word, I don't know how I would send files to editors. With some exceptions, my editors tend not to be the most tech-savvy crowd, and I could imagine them flummoxed by a text file sent their way. (Even if s/he could just paste the text into Word). But I think once you have the assignment, you can probably just explain the situation and it should be fine.

maki said...

I have been a Mac user since prehistoric times, and a BBEdit user for about as long, but nowadays I spend more time using Textmate. I do all of my writing in it, and it's great for coding also, though I do keep BBEdit around too I'm so comfortable with it.

There is a fun site where people can list what apps they use on their Macs. Looking through them can give you an idea of what's out there.

(my page is here fwiw... )

Also, Openoffice is open source (=free) software which produces Word format docs without any problems, provided you dont need macros and other junk: (also for Windows and other platforms)

I hate Word so that's what I use.

faith said...

First of all, congratulations!! A new MacBook - lovely. The best part, at first, is opening the box. I just sat there and stared at mine for a bit.

Do be prepared for a couple months of awkwardness and some frustration, reorienting your computer habits. My main piece of advice, as someone who has switched, is do put the work in, up-front, to learning the ins and outs of the operating system. Read about keyboard shortcuts and some of the new features. There's an excellent book called "Switching to the Mac" that was helpful for some of my specific questions. There's all sorts of helpful and delightful features that I gradually discovered.

Then sit back and enjoy it and be prepared to never want to switch back.

Also, if you're not getting Word, as everyone here is pointing out you should probably send things in PDF. PDF is simpler and more reliable to read than Word anyway. It's easy on a Mac - any time you hit "Print" you have the option to save as a PDF instead actually printing. If you are sending just query letters and resumes then that's the way to go. If you end up working on a manuscript back and forth with an editor that's another issue.

Have fun! Enjoy it all...

Celine said...

Dear Teachers and Fellow Students,
I have received the much-awaited mac and have attempted using it. Although my excitement has been somewhat thwarted because of the unfamiliarity in using the mac, I'm sure, as you have mentioned, it will get better. Thank you for all the feedback and suggestions. I'm now looking into checking out all the sites you have suggested to make my transition to the mac easier. Please do still keep the comments coming though!

Cyndi said...

I, too, am using a brand-new MacBook, and absolutely love it. It's 10 times faster than the Mac G-5 I have at the office, and 100 times faster than my poor old ibook. I have learned that for almost everything I do, Safari is a great browser. I have downloaded Firefox, though, since I come across websites that just don't interact well with Safari., for example. I can't click on the products in Safari, but I can in Firefox. You might want to give Firefox a try (it's free). I had Microsoft Office on my ibook, and transferred it to the macbook via a cable, so I didn't have to buy a new copy. I email documents back and forth between my office, home, and other offices that use PCs, and have had no problems-I just have to remember to put .doc after the filename. Enjoy your new macbook!

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