apple, mac, tips, windows

Getting Text From Apple Pages on a PC in a Pinch

The other day I brought a .pages file into a classroom. The problem is all the computers at the school use MS Windows, which can’t open .pages files. Did I panic? Yes. Was all hope lost? Nope.

It turns out that the .pages extension is just a fancy compressed file. That means you can simply change the “.pages” extension to “.zip” or “.rar” and get at the file contents.

The simplest way to get at the text from there is to look in the folder called “QuickLook.” There should be a PDF in that folder with everything in the file. If you need to edit the text, you could simply copy and paste it into a new file. If you are using adobe acrobat it will probably have formatting oddities, so another option is to upload the PDF to Google Docs, which will allow you to convert, edit, and print the file.

If you are feeling really adventurous, there is a final option. The “index.xml” file contains the text and styling of the .pages file. It will look mostly like a bunch of code, but if you go all the way to the end of the file, you’ll find the text is in there.

Of course, none of these are the ideal way to handle .pages files. It is obviously much simpler to export the file as a PDF, RTF, or DOCX file. Just know that if the options are limited, there is still a way to pull a save off.

apple, business, iphone, ipod touch, mac, music, technology

Thoughts on "Stopping Piracy"

There is no way to stop people from stealing. Humans have been stealing since well before computers came around, and they’ll never stop (at least not in our lifetimes). It’s better to let go of the idea of stopping it and figure out ways to work around it.

Theft is an unstoppable force. If you see a car speeding towards you and you want to live, you don’t think of how to stop the car, you just get the hell out of the way.

apple, mac

Fix for Disk Utility: “File system formatter failed.”

You buy an external hard drive for you Mac. You want to format it for the Mac (Mac OS Extended (journaled)).

So you fire up Disk Utility to reformat. Choose erase, click go, and get “File system formatter failed.” shot back at you.

The problem:
The drive, like most, is set to FAT-32. This means you can’t just erase it because, like a bad ex-roommate, FAT-32 leaves all sorts of gross stuff everywhere.

The Solution:
You need to re-partition the drive. Sound tough? It isn’t.
1) You need to click on the actual drive in the menu on the left
2) Then choose partition from the menu on the top
3) Choose “1 Partition” (assuming that’s what you want)
4) click “apply”

screen shot of disk utility

That’s it. You can rename the drive in Disk Utility, or by clicking on the new drive on the desktop and then hitting return.


MacBook Pro Battery is Not Charging

mac battery not charging My MacBook Pro has had it’s fair share of power issues. First was the charger melting, then the battery went from fairly healthy to only holding a five minute charge. Those two problems solved I’ve been given a new one to tackle.

My MacBook Pro flat out refused to charge the battery. The message was straightforward and honest. “Battery is not charging.” I noticed it a while back, but the issue always seemed to work itself out eventually given enough time. Then it started to get progressively worse, until it finally refused charge at all.

If your MacBook or MacBook Pro won’t charge the battery it may be the charger. The only sign I had that the charger was the culprit was the that the little LED light stop turning on. It powered the computer just fine, but for some reason it gave the battery the cold shoulder.

The problem was solved with a call to Apple. They mailed a replacement charger and all’s well in the world again. So it seems that the whole magsafe thing has been nothing but trouble for me. The moral: while Apple does make good computers their chargers seem to be a constant source of grief for me.

mac, outdoors

How the iPhone Saved us on a Mountain in the Winter

My friends and I went Hiking a few days ago. Hiking in very late November, in the White Mountains, overnight can be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. Luckily Casey, Will, and myself all know how to prepare and what to do in common winter hiking situations. The problem was that neither Casey, nor Will, nor I knew what to do with a dislocated shoulder, so when Will too a misstep and ended up dislocating his (in order to save himself from what could have been a much worse injury) we were a little worried.

See, we were on top of the mountain, it was getting dark and the temperature was dropping fast. It was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit at the moment and Will, unable to move much because of the pain and probably entering shock, needed some first aid and to get warm. Because of the dark, the ice, and Will’s inability to move his left arm we couldn’t head back down until morning, but leaving Will in agony over night when the temperature dropped to just below 5 degrees wasn’t an option either. Casey does a good job telling what happened, so if you’re still interested head over to his blog to see how three guys used an iPhone to get out of what could have been a very dangerous situation.

Spoiler: we all lived and the iPhone rocks.


My Leopard Finder Bug

I found a bug in Leopard that kind of stinks. Not a huge problem, but it confused me at first. While it isn’t deadly it could mean lost files for people (it almost meant that for me). I reported it to Apple, see my report below. This bug was first found in Leopard 10.5.1 (9B18)

1) grab file
2) open a folder by hovering the file over a folder in the “places” sidebar
3) open a sub-folder of the first folder by hover again
4) drop file into folder
5) click the back arrow to return to the original folder

1) The moved file will appear to still be in the original folder, as well as the new location.
2) Deleting the file from the original folder will delete the file from new location
3) closing the window and opening a new finder window for the original folder shows the file is no longer in the folder.

It appears that finder does not refresh its file list giving the user an inaccurate listing that could result in accidental deletion of data.

mac, tips

Living with Leopard's Firewall

I made the plunge and upgraded to Leopard. A CompUSA rebate of $30 (bringing Leopard down to a mere $99) was too much to pass up. I like a lot of Leopard and I haven’t had many problems so far, though I do see a good amount of room for improvement. One place that needs serious improvement is Leopard’s new Firewall system. I’d heard that you could now choose to open the firewall on the application level, and I thought that was nice, but I hadn’t heard that you *had* to do on the application level. That’s dumb. Application level rules are fine if I have a simple application I want to open a port for, but if I want to open a port for something like a custom build of apache it can’t be done.

Thankfully you can still use the terminal to open ports in the firewall for Leopard. Not as easy as using the firewall in Tiger, but it gets the job done. Here’s a few helpful tips:

to add a port:
sudo ipfw add allow [udp or tcp] from [port] to [port]
So, if you want allow port 80 with tcp you’d type sudo ipfw add allow tcp from 80 to 80

to see your rules:
sudo ipfw list

to delete an open port:
first type sudo ipfw list, you’ll get something like this

33300 deny icmp from any to me in icmptypes 8
33400 allow udp from to
33500 allow tcp from to

take the number proceeding the rule you want to delete and type sudo ipfw deletem [rule number], so if I wanted to delete the rule “33500 allow tcp from to” I’d just type
sudo ipfw delete 33400

Hopefully Apple will realize that giving users no advanced options is dumb. But until then, start loving the terminal!

mac, technology

Calibrate Your Mac Battery

Battery life not what it used to be on your MacBook? Does your MacBook Pro have you running for an outlet like bad actors in an Imodium AD commercial? While you might have a bad battery there is a good chance you just need to calibrate your battery. How you ask? Well, Apple makes the process clear enough:

The battery calibration for the PowerBook G4 (15-inch Double-Layer SD) and any model of MacBook or MacBook Pro has been updated because of a new battery released with this computer. With these computers, follow these steps to calibrate your battery:

1. Plug in the power adapter and fully charge your PowerBook’s battery until the light ring or LED on the power adapter plug changes to green and the onscreen meter in the menu bar indicates that the battery is fully charged.
2. Allow the battery to rest in the fully charged state for at least two hours. You may use your computer during this time as long as the adapter is plugged in.
3. Disconnect the power adapter with the computer still on and start running the computer off battery power. You may use your computer during this time. When your battery gets low, you will see the low battery warning dialog on the screen.
4. Continue to keep your computer on until it goes to sleep. Save all your work and close all applications when the battery gets very low, before the computer goes to sleep.
5. Turn off the computer or allow it to sleep for five hours or more.
6. Connect the power adapter and leave it connected until the battery is fully charged again.

Afterwards try using a program like Coconut Battery to see how healthy your battery is. Unfortunately if it is like mine (near 60% health after less than 200 cycles) you might need to bring your battery to the good folks at Apple.


iPhone Update Locks Down 3rd Party Apps, Time for a Linux Phone?

With Apple’s recent move to lock down the iPhone and iPod Touch the Linux Phone called OpenMoko is starting to look better all the time.

From the OpenMoko website:

OpenMoko is a GNU / Linux based open software development platform. Developers have full access to OpenMoko source and they can tailor their implementations to underlying hardware platforms.


Our company is unconventional, we openly share our roadmap. And your participation, in terms of actual code, hardware features, suggestions, and usage-scenarios will shape product features of our future devices. …The real power of an open phone… emerges from the interaction of all the users of “freed phones.”

While it may not rival the iPhone in terms of design, I might rival the iPhone in terms of function. It has a little way to go yet, but this phone may rise through the horde of silly closed phones to become a true iPod killer. The combination of openness not only of software but also of network (any GSM network anyway) makes the OpenMoko a compelling alternative to what Apple offers, that being a closed software and closed network phone.

Interestingly the OpenMoko uses a microSD and microSDHC cards for it’s storage. Currently microSD cards can go up to 2GB, but microSDHC are up to 4GB with 8GB cards in the works. This would also mean that a person could carry much more than an iPhone if they are willing to carry around extra cards. One the negative side the UI looks dog ugly, however being Linux, I am sure there will be all sorts of themes for folks to use. Another downside is that it looks like it will be more expensive than the iPhone, but if the OpenMoko takes off that could change as mass production always drives price down. Only time will tell if the OpenMoko succeeds but one thing for sure is that it will be worth keeping an eye on this phone.

business, mac

Apple's World-Wide Pricing

Will Green has created a listing of word-wide prices for a few Apple products and a comparison on their cost to US Customers. I was wondering about this myself recently. So it was nice to see. Of course, the reason for these differences is that Apple is an America company and the prices for the rest of the world try to account for what they would like to get for their products in US dollars and the fluxuation in the exchange rate. I’m interested in how well they account for it. I’d assume that the American price is what they’d like to get on average so a history of how close they’ve come would show how effective their economists are at guessing prices for the products. To see that you’d probably need a full year at minimum of the highs and lows of the dollar versus each currency plus the average. Even then that might not be enough, I don’t know enough about the stores in the rest of the world, do they prices change yearly even? Or is it every few years or is it more sporadic? That could make a difference.

For instance looking at a Mac Pro on the site:
$2499 USD
$2,529.75 USD – Cost based on 6 month average exchange rate for yen in Japan

But it gets interesting to me when more statistics get added in. From what I can tell using Google Finance:
$2,688.14 USD – Current price for Japan (based on the exchange rate at the end of the day 2007.Sep.11)
$2,456 USD – Year’s low price for Japan (approx.)
$2,695 USD – Year’s high price for Japan (approx.)

I’d really like to see a whole history and analysis of their world wide pricing.