I have complained about Intuit’s Quicken software here and elsewhere before. But geez louise, apparently a recent QuickBooks update for the Mac version deletes the user’s entire Desktop.
There are so many great apps out there from independent developers for the Mac OS, it is unreal. Lately, I’ve been watching the apps on MacSanta just to see if anything interesting goes by. I haven’t bought anything, yet, but I’m just astounded by the variety of apps available. When I was a Windows user, it seemed that most of the good software was either free or from one of the big software companies. (I have a friend who is an independent Windows software developer, but the software he develops is for IT departments, not home users. Maybe that’s the difference? Dunno.) The Mac OS, though, has quite a stable of independent developers putting out terrific stuff. MacUpdate is also running a terrific promo for a few more days: $59.99 for 12 different apps with a total retail price of $666.74. If we weren’t in the midst the annual Christmas budget drain, I’d buy that one, even though I’m only interested in 2 or 3 of the apps. I did get in on a similar promo put on by MacHeist last year which netted me some software (most notably the amazing TextMate) that I now use daily.
We have been making books as Christmas presents for several family members this year. Since I use Flickr for my online photo management, I told Becky that we should just go with Blurb. I assumed that this would be the easiest thing to do, since they are a Flickr partner linked from Flickr’s “Do more with your photos!” page. Big mistake. Their software for book layout is horrible. It nearly ground my wife’s (old, but not that old) laptop to a halt. She’s a trooper, though, and was patient enough to layout a first draft of the book, anyway. When I (being considerably less patient) tried to export the book and load it up on my (faster) computer for final tweaks the layout changed in numerous unexpected and difficult-to-correct ways. So, I had to go back to her computer to complete the process. I thought I was going to die in the nearly three hours that it took me to make a few very minor changes and upload the final layout. (After spending an hour or two on the first round of changes a few nights ago.)
To add insult to injury, I just found out yesterday that my new photo-management software, Apple’s Aperture, can also layout photo books. Dollars to doughnuts that would have been a heck of a lot easier. I plan to give a more complete review of Aperture later. In short, though, it’s awesome.
Update: I should have provided a bit more detail regarding my claims about Blurb’s horrible software. I am running their Mac version; perhaps the Windows version is great. But the Mac version seems to have a rather severe memory leak. If you don’t quit and restart the software every 20 minutes or so, then things get slower and slower and slower (and believe me, they weren’t fast to begin with). And, the software crashed on startup on my Mac a couple of times, although the main problem was that the layout of the book changed between export and import.
Speaking of photography, the more I work to improve my own photography, the more I notice that I am inundated with horribly bad photographs. I’m by no means a great photographer, but I can sometimes avoid the most common errors. And when I can’t avoid them, I at least keep them to myself. Just today I noticed a poster-sized group picture of my department taken at our faculty retreat in August. Now I can’t say for sure if this was the picture taken by the professional photographer or the one taken by another faculty member, but I think this one was taken by the pro. And the exposure is all wrong. They had us line up on a grassy hillside. The grass is properly exposed, but the people are massively underexposed. You can identify the people if you get up close to the poster, but from a distance it looks like a giant mob of people in silhouette against a bright green field.
Update: To make this slightly more educational, there are several things that could have been done to correct this problem, in order of preference. First, and best, would have been to choose a different location or a different time of day. I can’t remember what the angle of the sun was when the photograph was taken, but I think it may have been almost directly overhead, and maybe slightly behind the group, neither of which is good. Second, 2 or 3 or 4 flashes fired at the group could have done wonders to fill in the shadows. Third, if all else failed, a bit of Photoshop could have increased the exposure on the people and/or toned down the grass.
For the last week or so, we have all had the crud: atypical (for me, anyway) but miserable bad colds. And then Becky threw her back out on Friday and was largely immobile for a couple of days. She is doing significantly better now, but it’s been pretty rough.
And that’s more than enough randomness for one evening…