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.

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apple, mac

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

Situation:
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.

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mac

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.

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OpenOffice Multiple Page Layouts in One Document

To Use Landscape and Portrait Page Orientation in the Same Document:

  1. Click on “Format” -> “Styles and Formating.” Then create a new page style with landscape orientation.
  2. Click on the first paragraph where you want the new page orientation to begin.
  3. Click on “Format” -> “Paragraph.”
  4. Click the “Text Flow” tab.
  5. Under “Breaks,” enable “Insert.” Then enable “With Page Style.” Select a page style that uses the page style you created in step 1.

For more detailed info with fancy pictures and such, go to the LinuxTopia.org website.

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Are iTunes App Store Prices Too Low?

I just read an article asking a question I’ve been wondering about myself. It asks if iTunes App store prices are too low. App Developer Craig Hockenberry is worried that customers are being trained to want it all for $0.99 or less. To a degree this is a legitimate problem, but only to a very small degree. People want things are cheap as they can get them, this is always true. If you sell something for $100 people will say it should be $90 you can sell the same thing for $90 and people will say it should be $70. That is life.

What I don’t like seeing is developers whining:

We have a lot of great ideas for iPhone applications. Unfortunately, we’re not working on the cooler (and more complex) ideas. Instead, we’re working on 99¢ titles that have a limited lifespan and broad appeal. Market conditions make ringtone apps most appealing.

Before commencing any new iPhone development, we look at the numbers and evaluate the risk of recouping our investment on a new project. Both developers and designers cost somewhere between $150-200 per hour. For a three man month project, let’s say that’s about $80K in development costs. To break even, we have to sell over 115K units. Not impossible with a good concept and few of weeks of prominent placement in iTunes.

But what happens when we start talking about bigger projects: something that takes 6 or even 9 man months? That’s either $150K or $225K in development costs with a break even at 215K or 322K units. Unless you have a white hot title, selling 10-15K units a day for a few weeks isn’t going to happen. There’s too much risk.

Don’t make excuses. Produce apps that are worth more than $0.99 and people will buy them. Not as many people, of course, but that is just simple supply and demand. At $1 people who may not have any need for an application will buy it anyway, just to check it out or “just in case I need it one day.” But at $4 dollars you’ll lose nearly all of those folks.

I would hope that a developer would understand that they can’t sell the same quantity at higher prices. How many people own the free application Firefox? Everyone needs a browser and it is free. It gets downloaded like like it is porn, as of July 2nd Firefox 3 was downloaded 28,340,281 times. How many units of Adobe’s $1,800 Design Premium do you think have sold? Is ten percent of Firefox’s downloads (2,234,028) too optimistic? I think so. How many people need a full design suite? How many need it badly enough that paying almost $2000 is necessary? If the price was $20 I bet you a Zune that Design Premium would be sitting (unused) on way more computers.

But this is old news. What’s the real problem? The answer is simple. Most of the apps in the iTunes store are crap. People are hesitant to pay $10 or more for an application that has only screen shots and a few shoddy reviews after seeing so much garbage. Applications are not mature on the iPhone / iPod Touch yet. Worse is that developers don’t seem to have many worries about releasing (and often charging for) applications that are still in beta stages. Worse still is that many of these stay in beta stage.

I finally purchased my first game for my iPod Touch. At $8 I Love Katamari seemed like a steal. However after downloading it I discovered the game has bugs that make it unplayable and now I see that it is the developers who were stealing, not me. On the other hand, even though it has its flaws I feel that the $20 I spent on the Japanese dictionary called (you guessed it) Japanese was worth it. Though even that application is not to the standard that I would ask of a desktop app. I bought it because it was the best option and has the potential to be worth the price I paid.

My challenge to developers like Craig Hockenberry, put up or shut up. Don’t give us excuses why you are putting out crap. Don’t blame users and talk about us like we are pets that need to be trained. Put out something that is compelling enough to buy.

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Google's Mac Picasa Uploader Installs More Without Asking

If you recently installed Google’s Picasa Web Albums Uploader you got a little more than you bargained for. Google took the liberty of throwing in a daemon or two that try to connect to the internet to update and do god knows what else. You can’t turn it off from the application and it runs even when the application isn’t. Google neither asks nor mention what exactly this little puppy does (unless it is hidden in the long license agreement that almost no one reads).

Want to get rid of it? I did.

You have two options:

  • 1) open up terminal and type sudo rm -dr //Library/Google/; sudo rm /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.google.keystone.daemon.plist; sudo rm /Library/LaunchAgents/com.google.keystone.agent.plist
  • 2) manually delete them.
    • a. click on your hard drive icon, open the library folder
    • b. delete the “Google” folder
    • c. open “LaunchDaemons” folder and delete the “com.google.keystone.daemon.plist” file
    • d. open “LaunchAgents” folder and delete the “com.google.keystone.agent.plist” file

I hate applications that check for updates without asking me. If you don’t hate that then you might be fine leaving the files in place, so long as it is just trying to look for an update to Picasa Web Albums Uploader…

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Block Ads in Safari

I’ve recently grown frustrated with FireFox. A new “feature” basically ruined my browsing experience. So, I switched from being an occasional Safari user, to a full-time Safari user. I miss two things from FireFox, one is Rikaichan (which gives hovering translations to Japan webpages), and the other is Adblock Plus.

While there doesn’t appear to be any solution to my Japanese woes, that isn’t the case for Ad-block. After a bit of research I discovered Safari AdBlock. It has been very effective in keeping out all those ad that clutter websites— especially the infuriating fancy new animated ones that move all over the screen obscuring text.

I highly recommend it. Just make sure to have the lists auto-update. Oh, and you should also know that you’ll to reinstall it every time you update Safari. Even though the AdBlock tab still showed up in the Safari preferences after the update it wasn’t actually there.

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Remove the Arrows in iTunes

terminal application
There used to be a preference to remove the arrows that linked to the iTunes store. That option disappeared from the preferences in iTunes 8, but you can still reach it through the magic of the terminal. And don’t worry it is easy. Open the Terminal application (look in the applications folder, then the system utilities folder). Then just paste this line into the terminal and hit return:
defaults write com.apple.iTunes show-store-arrow-links -bool FALSE

Want those goofy annoying arrows back? Easy.
defaults write com.apple.iTunes show-store-arrow-links -bool TRUE

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Number One Sign of a Bad Website "Wrong OS"

bad websites A student of mine told me about a website, I thought I’d check it out. I clicked a link and was told that I had the “Wrong OS Version.” Hmmm…. I think my OS version is great actually. I like my Mac OS X. Websites that rely on Windows are a thing of the 90’s. Any site that still requires Microsoft is hopeless, and probably won’t meet your expectations.

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