Mac20Q Podcast 100 – Talking to Chris Marshall

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Recorded the one hundred episode yesterday and today. I was pleased that Chris Marshall came on the show to talk about his experiences with his Macs and his new iPad and how it fits in with what he is doing with his writing. Chris writes articles for a newspaper here in Spain and also makes an appearance on the radio talking about things to do with tech and living in Spain.

Chris still has his Harley thing going and him and his wife are keen to save abandoned animals mostly cats. Last time he was telling me that the animals get shipped to northern countries like Germany to get a good home.

The iPad is giving Chris the freedom to do some of his work away from the computer, things like checking emails, looking at the RSS feeds for the news that is of interest to the radio show. Seems like a perfect complement to a workflow that he has perfected using his Mac Pro.

Scrivener for Mac
I talk about using Scrivener compared to using Bean or Pages from iWork. I like the corkboard metaphor in Scrivener. Bean is a bit simple and pages has everything to be able to do Desk Top Publishing

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I listen to quite a few Mac podcasts and at this moment in time I am sick of them because all they talk about is the iPhone4. I will not be getting one as I don’t want to sell my soul to Telefonica again and I have been trying to get away from the gits unsuccessfully anyway. I am not even envious or jealous at all.

Well maybe a smidgeon

But if I hear one more thing about the stupid antenna problem I may just spit. Seems that because it has hit the fan in the normal outside of the Mac fan base news – that all the Mac Podcasters have to comment on it – more like apologise for it really. As if it will make any difference to the people out there in the throws of buying a phone and deciding whether to get an iPhone 4 or go for the Android.

Well I suppose it may make a difference if Leo Laporte says don’t buy the iPhone seeing as he has so many followers. He is actually quite negative about the device and prefers to use the Nexus one I think. Andy Inatkho does balance what Leo says – although he recommends waiting a few months for the first revision or for things to settle down. He says that on balance despite the faults the new model is worth getting because of everything else it offers. He is probably right – him being an intelligent soul and definitely worth listening too. What about you?

Do you do the knee jerk thing and buy the newest from apple because it is shiny and sparkles in the limelight or do you look long and hard to see if it fills a need for you. Or are you like me in that you have to do the hard look because of extraneous influences. For example I have less work this year in the summer to bump up my finances and I don’t want to be struggling to find the monthly money for the noose around the neck contract for the next 2 years.

Also my thinking is that what ever I spend on an iPhone four right now – will remove money from a fund I want to build to buy a more professional video camera which could potentially make me money rather than than just be a drain on the cash flow. In these economic times you have to do what is financially sound – although I do see that some don’t care and just live for the moment. I even saw on Twitter that a self confessed bankrupt just bought a new iPhone despite being in the hole to the tune of many thousands of pounds. It beggars belief it really does.

I could recommend the books by Robert Kiosaki – the Rich Dad Poor dad series, The idea is simple and he drums it in over and over. He does make some good points about wealth though. It is a bit of an antidote to the consumerist lifestyle that it is so easy to get sucked into. I like the bit about aquiring assets and what are assets. For example a car is not an asset unless in gives you positive cash flow. My son has a video camera that cost 6k and that is an asset because it makes him money. The loan he got to buy it is paid off and all the money coming in from it now is the icing on the cake – with a cherry on top.
How is an iPhone 4 going to make money for you?

As for the really crazy people that spent any time standing in a queue, however much you try and tell yourself you were there for the camaraderie and for the fun of it, I suggest you book yourself an appointment for a check from the neck up.
I really hate standing in a queue. In the supermarket I have to talk myself into a calm mode and give myself rules about not changing queue because it is kismet as to how long I will be standing there and changing into a different line will probably make me wait longer anyway.

Do I sound as mad as the people that subject themselves to a queue willingly with that last statement. Maybe….
We have a new Mac in the house with my wife getting the MacBook. I do still see her open the old Windows computer at times – I will have to give her a slap or something. Just kidding honest.

She has complained about the keyboard on the MacBook being a little stiff compared to the crappy one she was using. It is a HP long travel KB that makes a clatter type sound while being typed on and really is horrible but she got used to it. It is the old muscle memory thing.

We still have to move her iTunes library across. I had better do that soon and make sure that any other docs are also shifted although I have got her using DropBox and that has moved all the important stuff to the MacBook.
You have to love Drop Box
I have also set up a Mozy account and I may even pay for an upgrade from the 2GB with that, the pricing is better with Mozy past the 2GB free than it is with drop box although DropBox does have better sharing features.
Also on the back up front we still have to set up a disk for time machine and one more to use with super duper. Thought about cannibalising the Hard disks out of the old machine for that but I think it could be safer to buy 2 new external disks. The old disks are getting a bit long in the tooth.

I paid for a copy of textexpander for her and showed her the basics of how it works. I should probably have another tech session of making sure that she has a workflow to best suit what she does. I want to get her using Mac apps for the word processing stuff and I gave her Bean which she thinks is a bit too simple in terms of facilities. and she also has Pages to use for the tricky stuff. Bean doesn’t do the wrapping text around images unless you use tables to do that. Not ideal by any means.
She does need something that will output files that Windows – Office users can read and send back to her. Bean when you save a file – defaults to the .rtfd format – rich text with graphics and will do the job with simple documents nicely. As opposed to pages in which you have to export to doc formats, which she would then have to remember to do and which in the process will create 2 files.

That is not too bad but she would have to have firmly in the brain that the pages version is the master version and any of the doc files would be best not relied upon as being the version to deal with.
Suppose she sends a rtf or doc file out of Pages to a work colleague – the colleague makes some changes and sends it back, here the file would have to be opened in Pages and then with a file SAVE AS be saved over the top of the master to be the new master of that document.

Or it would have to be saved with a version number of the same document that would have to be kept track of, so that the latest and most correct version is used. It could get complicated and we don’t want complicated. I think a system of that uses SAVE rather than have to mess with SAVE AS would work better but then the problem could arise where a file goes out as a rtfd and come back as a .docx file – although I think Bean can open those types of files too.

Probably have to try out the way of working for real and assess what actually happens so that we can get the best solution. I suspect though that Bean will work the best and with Pages if we need something that is more DTP type of work.
Then again Scrivener is another way to go forward – I am using it to write this script and I love the way I was able to set up sections of the script as a text documents – then I can click on edit scrivenings to be able to see the whole piece. I am also using it as an outlining tool. There is also the cork board metaphor in there to let me see each section as an index card on a cork board and I can move them around as I see fit.

Scrivener doesn’t do images either though as it is really centred around text, although you can put images into the research area to view alongside your writing.

Here is a passage from the Scrivener Help about the philosophy behind it.

The overriding philosophy behind Scrivener was in part inspired by a passage written by the author Hilary Mantel, in a collection of essays by writers on the process of writing entitled The Agony and the Ego. Hilary Mantel described a process of “growing a book, rather than writing one,” which can be summed up as follows:

1.During the first stage of writing, you might jot ideas down on index cards – phrases, character names, scene ideas; any insight or glimpse.

2.When you have gathered a few index cards, you might pin them to a corkboard. Other ideas build around them, and you might even write out a few paragraphs and pin them behind the index card with which they are associated. At this stage, the index cards have no particular order.

3.Eventually, you may begin to see an order emerging and repin the index cards accordingly.

4.After you have gathered enough material, you might take all of your index cards, sheets of paper and jottings and place them into a ring-binder. You are still free to move everything around, but now you have a good idea of how much work you have done and how much more work you have to do.

Scrivener is thus a nonlinear writing tool that provides the writer with all of the features found in any text editor, along with the functionality for “growing” your work organically within the program itself.


That is a good description and I certainly don’t think in a linear fashion. My thoughts and ideas like to bounce around like Tigger in WInnie the Pooh. We know a song about that don’t we children.

I dare say there will more in this series about setting up a MacBookPro for a new Mac User.

The thing with Scrivener thoughts that when you want to export it all out as a complete document you have to use – Compile Draft in the file menu. But when you do you get a huge load of options for which bits to include and how to set it up – content, text options and formatting and lots of file types including html, markdown, Doc files screenplay standards final Draft and manuscript formats.

You can even save all the options to use as a template for the next time you are sending document to that person or entity. I keep learning new things about it.

Love to hear from you any suggestions that you might have for the new Mac User, What sort of problems did you run into when you did a task like this? Was there anything that you thought might be difficult but ended up as easy as pie?

One thing that amuses me at the moment is hearing my wife come out with comments about Apple when she sees an advert for a new LG phone with Android on the TV or when there are those short commercials from Microsoft. The comments usually go along the lines of ‘They didn’t think of it first though – They are just copying Apple”
So Victoria has obviously been influenced by what she has seen on my Macs and probably what is in the news about Apple and the commitment to innovation that Apple has. Still makes me smile though.

It is a shame that it took so long for the old computer to get creaky enough that it had to be replaced. We could have had an all Mac household sooner.

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