Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Boy and His Apple

Anxiously awaiting Lucian's classroom door to open at pickup time...


The gorgeous sweater Keagan is wearing was lovingly handmade by my dear friend Melissa. You have to marvel at the detail! It's actually been cold enough to bundle up in the mornings!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spooky Dudes



Ya gotta love Photo Booth. I'm grateful to Steve Jobs and his direction for the ability to create and share these memories with my children. Still hard to believe he's gone. I wish he could see this. I think it would make him smile.

I hope it makes you smile today.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Made on a Mac

It's a sad day in the Mac Community as we mourn the loss of Steve Jobs.

Personally, I am still in denial. It has yet to hit me that we will never again hear the love and passion in his voice as he delivers a Keynote presentation to tell us of the revolutionary new products Apple has made.

Right now, I'm still trying to gather my thoughts.

All I can think about is how much of my life is Made on a Mac and how happy and satisfied that makes me feel.

Here is just one of the many memories I'd like to share, again.



Apple Store Visit from TheMacMommy on Vimeo.

I'll write more soon, but first I need to rest while the children sleep.
If only this were all just a bad dream.

In the meantime, I'm taking comfort in knowing that there is a huge and growing Apple Community out there who realize and put to good use Mr. Jobs' vision of how the personal computing devices can make the world a better place.

I am so grateful not just for everything Steve Jobs has done for humanity but for the personal relationships that were made possible by his products.

Happy Fall

Hope you enjoy your day!

IMG_3242.MOV Watch on Posterous

Melissa Davis
TheMacMommy
Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from TheMacMommy

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac: Back on Track


Back to School Season is among us. Out here in the west, we’ve already been back for a few weeks now, but I know many of you are just getting into the swing of things. Routines can be challenging to implement and I bet you’re inundated with all the stuff kids need these days. Picking out clothes to outfit your kids is one daunting task, and picking out software to outfit your budding student’s Mac shouldn’t be one more thing on that already long list. When families have the right tools to get organized, daily activities can become more manageable.
In this multi-part review series, I aim to give you the advice you’re looking for when it comes to getting the right publishing software for your Back to School Mac.
I also have some project ideas I’d like to share. As for the clothes, sorry, but you’re on your own!

Last month, Microsoft provided me with a license of Microsoft Office 2011 for the Mac Home and Business Edition for the purposes of evaluation. Along with it, they included a wonderful Back to School Backpack full of goodies. Everything goes better with metaphors, so I’ll attempt to utilize those analog tools to compare with the digital tools in the Microsoft Office 2011 suite in my subsequent reviews.

To summarize what I’ve experienced after a few weeks of using Microsoft Office 2011 for the Mac, I’d have to say I’m impressed with a few caveats. I wouldn’t be doing my blog justice if I didn’t critique it before I geek it.

Let’s be up front and comment on the track record. The last Microsoft Office for the Mac was 2008 and it was not a treat to use. I know one too many Mac users who used it only because they had to, not because they wanted to. No one can deny that Microsoft Office is pretty much the standard in the corporate world. The education world must follow suit so students graduate knowing how to use the tools they’ll be using out in the field. In my professional opinion, the 2011 edition of Microsoft Office is on track for turning it around. The Mac development team has been doing their homework when it comes to usability and consistency, but this Mom isn’t prepared to give them high marks just yet. There is still a bit of work to do. (What can I say, moms want the best, so more on that later.)

At this point, I can only see improvements on the horizon and I would definitely recommend Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac-using students and professionals. The price gap on the single user license has closed in on iWork and the redesign is packed with many features. Despite the little nags I experience along the way (I’ll explain in more detail later), the most noticeable improvement is speed. Word now launches just about as fast as Pages and there is a noticeable speed improvement for documents that contain mathematical equations. That alone could be a deal-breaker for high school and college students who are studying any of the sciences where they are required to create lab reports.

If you’re a power user on the Mac or on a tight budget, or your needs are not those of a student or professional writer, I know you may be thinking, “What about iWork?” (Notice there is no ‘s’ on the end of iWork!)

Ok, I am still a loyal iWork fan and it’s still my preference; however, it is not as widely accepted as Microsoft Office. For the purposes if this review, my target audience will be students and professionals who work in an education or corporate environment where they must slide between Windows and Mac operating systems. I will add in comparisons to iWork features when I feel it’s necessary in future reviews. This isn’t an iWork vs Microsoft Office smackdown; although that may happen in the future depending on how both suites progress over time in the way of upgrades and enhancements.

 Microsoft Office 2011 for the Mac Buying Guide 
pricing is US dollars
  • If you are a student or work for a school (in some cases even retired from working at a school — couldn’t hurt to ask) then you are eligible for a discount. I recommend you take advantage of it. Also check into military discounts. I have heard of some military personnel (or their spouse) who have purchased a Mac for a discount and no taxes. Check out your local Base Exchange to see if software for discount is available.
  • If you have a choice to purchase an online download, do it. Be kind to our planet and get instant gratification! What could be better? It may cost a little less and there is one less cardboard box lying around. The online versions of tutorials are much more helpful than the printed versions that may come in the box. These days there is less and less printed material that ships with the disc anyhow. If you catch a free shipping deal, you might also skip paying additional taxes depending on where you live.
  • If you don’t absolutely need Outlook for email, calendar, and task management, then skip it and just get the Home and Student Edition where you can install it on 3 Macs. (Ask yourself if you feel Outlook is worth an additional $50.00.)
  • For students, Microsoft Office is about double the price of iWork, depending on where you buy, but consider it is packed with more features than the current offering of iWork and it will be more compatible with Windows versions.
  • To whittle it down even more, compare the 3-license price of Microsoft Office 2011 Home and Student Edition versus the Family Pack 5-license price of iWork and now you’re down to about a $50.00 difference.
  • Sure, you can export different versions from iWork, but perhaps paying $50.00 more affords you the time and energy you’ll save from doing that extra step. Don’t stop there though.
  • Take a look at the pricing on the single license versions of each available on Amazon.com. Compare iWork to Microsoft Office 2011 Home and Student Edition single install and then there is only about a $10.00 price difference. (Hmm. I wonder why the Apple Store doesn't list the single user license?)
  • You can justify the extra cost of Microsoft Office over iWork if you really need and like the additional features, newly designed interface and compatibility between Mac and Windows as many do.
  • Consider the trade offs of price over convenience. If you’re a student or professional working in an environment where Microsoft Office is the standard on both Mac and PC, if you must collaborate using tracked Word documents between Mac and PC or even other Mac users, or if you are using advanced mathematical computations, then Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac is for you.
  • If you just want simplicity and do not have the need to collaborate extensively and you’re not a science major, then iWork is for you. Granted, there are workarounds for using iWork with mathematical equations and it can be done — it just seems for now you can hit the ground running with Microsoft Office easier if you’re a scientist or mathematician. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong though. I’d love to hear from science or math majors on how they use iWork.)

    Microsoft Office for Mac 2011
  Home and Student Edition  
Office for Mac 2011 Home and Student - Single User


Office for Mac 2011 Home and Student - Family Pack (1 User/3 Installs) [Download]
Apple.com educational price for 3 installs box is $149.95 and they do not currently offer a single license
If you prefer the boxed version, it’s currently the same price, free shipping from Amazon
Office for Mac 2011 Home and Student - Family Pack (1 User/3 Installs) [DVD in Box]


    Microsoft Office for Mac 2011
  Home and Business Edition  
Apple.com educational Price: 1 license $199.95 or 2 licenses $279.95


This is just the first of my reviews for Microsoft Office 2011 for the Mac. I hope you’ve found this information helpful thus far in your Back to School purchasing decisions. Come back for more reviews on individual products, tools and features along with some constructive criticisms within the Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac suite. I’m thinking of calling the series “The Microsoft Mom Reviews” or something to that effect. I have projects I’ve been working on that I’d like to share with you and also talk about how we use Microsoft products in a predominately Apple household. Oh, the irony! Stay tuned to see if Microsoft can win over this TheMacMommy!

Windows users with Microsoft Office 2010 will want to check out this link for helpful tips on Back to School for the PC.

iWork (for comparison)
Single User
Amazon has it for $79.69 free shipping and depending on where you live, tax free
Apple.com educational price is $71.00, regular price $79.00, free shipping but tax added


Family Pack
Amazon has it for 99.85 free shipping and, depending on where you live, tax free
Apple.com price is $99.00 – no Apple educational discount available, free shipping but tax added

Monday, August 29, 2011

Melts My Heart

This past weekend, Lucian said something that just melted my heart and I never want to forget it.

Nate and I were getting ready to go out on a date, thanks to our friends to offered to babysit for us. We have been trying to "date" more regularly now because, well, it's good for us. When you have little kids, it's really hard to find time for yourself let alone with your spouse. It feels good to take time out to shave, dress up and apply makeup or perfume once in a while.

I was sitting on the edge of our bed putting my earrings on. I had just finished most of my hair, makeup and put on some new scented moisturizer. I was feeling pretty decent about the outfit I had picked out.

Lucian was standing in the doorway staring at me. Sometimes he stares off into space like we all do, but this time he was watching me intently.

I looked over at him after a little while and he said to me,

"Mommy, I'm staring at your because you look so beautiful! And you smell so gooooood!"

Doesn't that just make you melt? I told him thank you very much and that his compliment made me feel so good.

He truly is the little boy of my dreams.

Then, Keagan barged into the room and proceeded to claw at my top and demanded to be nursed. That child has not met any cleavage he didn't like! Ah well, he won't always be a boobie boy — someday he'll wean and I'll miss it or he'll chase other girls around! I suppose I'm doing them a favor? ;)

I love to be needed and I love to be loved.

A few other little things of note from Lucian are some words he's made up that I think are just too cute.

(1) He calls hand sanitizer "hanitizer." Makes sense to me!
(2) I asked Lucian to get a pizza out of the upright freezer out back (yes, we keep our freezer, washing machine and dryer outside of the home here in the desert where those things just heat up the house unnecessarily!)

When he came back in, he said,
"Mommy, I brought the pizza in from the freezerator."

Freezerator — get it? Freezer that looks like a refrigerator = Freezerator.

Yep, that's my Lucian!

IGG Software Pledges One-Day Sales Revenue to Vermont Disaster Relief

August 29, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEIGG SOFTWARE PLEDGES ONE-DAY SALES REVENUE TO VERMONT DISASTER RELIEFMatching Donation Also Promised To Benefit Community Relief Efforts
(PUTNEY, VT) — In the aftermath of statewide flooding and destruction caused by Hurricane Irene, IGG Software today announced that 100% of sales revenue generated on Monday, August 29 will be donated to Vermont relief programs. Sales at both IGG’s online store and the Mac App Store will count toward the total. In addition, IGG will double that amount with a matching contribution of its own.
“IGG is a part of the Vermont community, and our community has suffered tremendous damage and loss,” said IGG president Ian Gillespie. “We’ve been given so much by Vermont, and now we’re fortunate to be able to give back.”
IGG Software, Inc. has been Vermont-based since shortly after its founding in 2003. The majority of its employees are also located in towns throughout Vermont, many of which were hit by devastating flash floods that destroyed homes, roads and bridges. Some of IGG’s team members were affected personally with significant property damage and, in one case, an emergency evacuation.
IGG’s software products include iBank 4, the leading Mac-only personal finance program; iBiz 4, a complete small business solution for time-tracking and invoicing; and iBiz Professional, a networkable package for teams in which multiple users generate billable hours.
The retail price of iBank 4 is $59.99; licensed users of iBank 3 can upgrade for $29.99. iBank 4 requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or higher, is Lion-ready, and will run on Macs using either Intel or PowerPC processors. The latest version can be downloaded at http://www.iggsoftware.com/ibank, where there is also access to a growing library of iBank 4 video tutorials.
iBiz 4 sells for $39.99, and upgrades are $19.99. iBiz Pro retails for $99.99 and includes one license for iBiz 4 Server and two licenses for iBiz 4 Client. IGG offers free trial downloads, free support and a 90-day unconditional guarantee on direct purchases from the IGG web store.
iBank 4 and iBiz 4 are also available on the Mac App Store. iBank 4 has been a number-one selling finance app, as well as the top-grossing finance app, since the launch of the Mac App Store in January.
IGG Software, Inc., was founded in 2003 by developer Ian Gillespie to offer intuitive, elegant and powerful applications for individuals and small business. Based in Putney, Vermont, its flagship products are iBank, for personal finance management, and iBiz, for time-tracking and billing. For further information, review licenses, or to schedule interviews with Ian Gillespie or Chief Architect James Gillespie, please contact IGG Marketing Director Scott Marc Becker: scott@iggsoftware.com.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Too Bad I'd Need to Move to Be an At-Home Advisor

I don't know why I never knew this position existed!

Perhaps because it's only available in 3 states: TN, UT and GA. What a bummer! Hey Apple, I already do this job. Can you add AZ to the list, pretty please?

Company cafeteria.  Redefine work.

Company cafeteria.  Redefine work

What if you could enjoy all the comforts of home while working with the coolest new technology? What if you could tap into great employee benefits without even leaving your bedroom? What if that job also happens to be with America’s technology innovator? Now you can redefine work—your way—as an Apple At-Home Advisor. Welcome to your future.

welcome

Work the Way You Live

In this critical role, you’ll create another outstanding Apple experience for our customers. As the first point of contact, you’ll field calls from people with iPhone or Mac questions. You’ll provide award-winning customer service, troubleshooting, and support. You’ll use your technical expertise, creativity, and passion to improve people’s lives and put a smile on their faces. You’ll impress, engage, and inspire, all from the comfort of your own living room. Or den. Or bedroom.

Phone

Who We’re Looking For

You’ll work independently, from home, 40 hours a week. You’ll use your technical savvy to multitask across systems and applications, analyzing and resolving a variety of complex technical issues. You’ll need excellent verbal and written communication skills, as well as the ability to effectively prioritize and manage your time. You’ll need to be a creative problem solver and decision maker who can self-motivate and work as part of our virtual team. You should also be comfortable navigating a Windows environment.

Bunnies

And Now for the Good Stuff

As a full-time Apple employee, you’ll be entitled to all the perks that come with working for America’s coolest company. These include fantastic benefits, employee discounts, and the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to people’s lives. What else? You’ll start to build a career with an amazing company. There’s no commute, so you’ll save on gas. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint by working from home for a green company. You can wear your bunny slippers to work, every day. You’ll redefine work.

Redefine Work for Yourself

If this sounds like the kind of opportunity that suits your passions, we’d like to hear from you.

Some Things You’ll Need

To be an At-Home Advisor, your workspace must meet specific criteria and you should have certain skills. Below are some of the requirements for this position.

A private workspace in your house, where ambient noise can be minimized during work hours.

A workspace with a desk and ergonomically fitted chair that allows proper installation of your technical equipment.*

An analog phone line that can be dedicated to contact center calls (monthly allowance provided by Apple).**

Internet service meeting minimum system requirements (monthly allowance provided by Apple).**

Self-motivation and the ability to work remotely from coworkers and management.

Technical savvy, including the ability to install, maintain, and troubleshoot your own hardware and software.

Posted via email from TheMacMommy

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Information Management: It's a Beautiful Thing

Do you have a password manager?
Does your password manager also manage details of your software purchases?
Does it sync across multiple devices and platforms?
Are the software developers totally awesome?
Are compatible mobile apps available that show you the same information when you need it at the drop of a hat?
These are questions you should ask yourself when looking at software to manage your most intimate personal data. Save yourself. Go here: http://agilebits.com/products/1Password

Friday, July 1, 2011

Guest on 'Not Another Mac Podcast - Episode 010'

Last week I was a guest on Not Another Mac Podcast with my friends Mark and Kevin. This is the last time I knew I'd be able to talk before my tonsillectomy surgery so I gave Skype a run for its money and even managed to break it temporarily! Had a great time recording with these guys. Looking forward to another show after my voice has healed!

Tap Here to Play Audio
Audio Source: Not Another Mac Podcast - Episode 10

Here is an except from Mark's blog:
"This week sees Dennis back in the hosting chair keeping Mark in line and on topic…Well trying to anyway! Discussing all things Apple and Macintosh!
Melissa Davis and Kevin Allder are our guests this week. 
Melissa can be found at http://www.themacmommy.com or http://momsgonegeek.net/ where she produces a technology based podcast and blog relating to technology in the home and how it effects your daily lifestyle. Melissa can also be found on Twitter with username @TheMacMommy  
Kevin can be found http://biginva.posterous.com/ and can also be found on Twitter with username: http://twitter.com/Big_in_VA  
The topics on this Episode revolved solely around MobileMe and the services which have officially been discontinued. We discuss other options to the MobileMe offerings whilst also discussing the disappointing way in which many useful MobileMe services have just been discontinued without Apple assisting users to move to new services."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Guest on TUAW Talkcast: Apple's Rough Week

Even though I drink the Apple Koolaid, I'm just as critical of the brand. And so we discuss Apple in all its glory as well as shortcomings and bad foo on the TUAW Talkcast which happens each Sunday night at 10 pm EST over on TalkShoe. Join us sometime, won't you?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother’s Day TUAWradition

For the fourth year in a row, it has been an honor and a privilege to participate as a guest on the Mother’s Day edition of The Unofficial Apple Weblog’s weekly Talkcast. Spending time geeking out with my friends on TUAW always completes my Mother’s Day as it’s now become a tradition.

TUAW Mother's Day Edition Talkcast Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download (25)
If you enjoy gabbing about Apple stuff and would like to join fellow comrades in sipping the option-shift-K-oolaid, then this is a show for you.
 At the 34:00 minute marker, take a listen to my advice on making it easier for your kids to call family members (if you want to allow that) on your iPhone by utilizing the “nickname” card field in the Contacts app.
Click here to listen to what was discussed on the TUAW Talkcast. Join TUAW each week for the live Talkcast over on Talkshoe Sunday nights at 10:00 pm EST.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spreadsheeting the Love

iWork Numbers Invoice
[Edit: I've added a link to the original Numbers document in addition to the Template version. Enjoy!]
Hand-Made Mac Tip No. 15
Taking the Spreadsheet to the Next Level - Spreadsheeting the Love

Did you know you can create a customized template with iWork Numbers?

(Please note: there is no 's' on the end of iWork. The application that preceeded it was called AppleWorks and that did end with an 's.' Sorry, pet peeve of mine.)

Did you know that Apple's iWork Numbers is the equivalent to Microsoft's Office Excel?

Did you know that Numbers can do more than just create a  plain old spreadsheet? You can actually design something extremely usable with Numbers!

I've been working on this project for some time now and I'm pretty pleased with the results. I'd like to share it with you and would love some feedback if you decide to use it and modify it to suit your own needs. I've created a customizable invoice that will calculate time and pricing using a series of sliders and cells where you enter variable information.

Sure, Numbers does come with its own ready-made templates for which there are invoices. I took a look at them first to be sure I wasn't reinventing the wheel. I didn't like any of them. They just didn't do what I wanted my invoice to do for me. Like with many of our technological advances, when you can't find it, you build it.

Here is a screen shot of what one of my
TheMacMommy invoices looks like.

Click to view larger.
So, this is what I've built: a client invoice to send to my clients showing them how much they owe me and how I arrived at the total. I also use it to document what we worked on during our sessions together. Tech support is not cheap. I at least try to make it affordable for my clients so they call me back again and again.

Until I find a better solution, I've been using PayPal to invoice my clients so they can pay me online using their credit card or bank account. Most of my elderly clients still prefer writing out a check, which is fine and I can deposit it to my bank account using my iPhone camera. That method is free, and takes a bit to clear, while PayPal is somewhat convenient and helps me keep better accounting for my taxes. I still don't like the cut PayPal takes though (even though I realize I'm paying for convenience) and pretty soon I'll be needing to hire some part time childcare and will need that money for a babysitter.

The way it's working for me is I first create an invoice for my client using the Numbers document I've built. I plug in all the variable information and type up my session notes. Then, I log in to PayPal and use the custom invoice template I created there and plug in the same information regarding fees, rates, hours and dates (not enough room for session notes though). If the totals match up, then I know I've got everything accounted for. That makes me feel more confident to bill the client.

I saved a copy of my customized invoice and created a generic version so you can make changes to it that suit your needs like using your own company colors, fonts and logo. Basically, all the variable text or cells you need to interact with have blue text. Other cells where the text is black or a shade of grey are automatically calculated based on what you modify in the cells with the blue text. When you click on the cells with blue text, you will be presented with either a slider or a drop-down menu with different choices. Adjust the values and watch other cells update automagically! Try it! If you use the Inspector tool, you can adjust those settings and enter your own values. I thought this was such a cool feature!

Here is where you can download the Numbers Template File I created using iWork Numbers '09 version 2.0.5. If you want to original Numbers document, you can download it here.

I'd love it if someone could try this out on an iPad and let me know if it works!

Once I've created an invoice for a client, I then save it as a PDF file using the nomenclature of YYYYMMDD_LASTNAME (of the client). The date I use is the date of the invoice to make it easier.

This screen shot shows you the path of where you should save the template file. Once the file is placed in your Home/Library/Application Support/iWork/Numbers/Templates/My Templates folder, you can then launch Numbers and select File/New from Template Chooser/My Templates (from the sidebar)/Generic Consulting Invoice.

Click on the image to enlarge it so you can read the path at the bottom.
Development
This all started with a spreadsheet I created in Numbers. Then one night, I asked my science teacher of a husband to help me adjust the formulas to make the cells calculate time and present me with a  total. We both kept tinkering with the settings and features in the Numbers Inspector and finally beat it into submission.

Every couple of days I would just keep tweaking it and moving cells around and adjusting formatting until I felt it could be a viable tool to use in my consulting business. Sure, I KNOW there is an app for this...I know there are probably over 50 that might do it on my iPhone easier. I just had much more fun creating this on my own. I can only imagine this might be somewhat similar to what application developers might experience when they create an app. I enjoy working with the user interface of iWork products. I think they are beautifully designed and very intuitive.

Every time I use Numbers or Pages, I'm always amazed at what these applications have to offer. (I wish I had more use for Keynote because it has a gorgeous interface!) Having come from a printing, production and graphics background using Pro applications like Quark Xpress and Adobe InDesign, that's saying a lot. I used to consider myself a real snob and couldn't be bothered with the inferior AppleWorks or other lowly "desktop publishing" applications. I loathed converting files from programs like "Punisher" — which was my pet name for MS Publisher. I just hated the interfaces and it rose my blood pressure whenever I had to take some layperson's "design" and make it print-ready. Despite being damn good at it, I didn't like being a Production Artist.

Years ago, I cringed whenever I heard the words "desktop publishing." I used to correct people whenever they asked me if I was a "desktop publisher." I would correct them by saying, "No, a desktop publisher would be my little brother making greeting cards on his PC. I use a Mac and have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Communication Design, therefore I am a designer." (and you have to say it in a really snobby voice and elongate the "i" sound in deeeee-siiiiiiigner.)

Much of that changed when I exited the printing industry and started honing my technical skills. I realized that maybe it wasn't all that bad being a Production Artist and started focusing more on my skills in the areas of production, training and troubleshooting. When I started working in the education field as a site technician, I no longer had the luxury and access of using Adobe products like Photoshop or Illustrator. I had to make do with whatever the schools could afford and so I forced myself to become proficient in using the Apple products that came with the machines or could be had for educational pricing. Even though I could still use my creative side, it was the enjoyment I found in teaching staff and students how to use creative applications like AppleWorks or even TuxPaint. I learned how to embrace desktop publishing and ironically, became an advocate for it. Working in a school setting, in my opinion, really teaches you how to be frugal. So, if a teacher wanted fancy certificates for her 5th grade class, then I took pride in creating a turn-key workflow for her using the AppleWorks database feature combined with the built-in fancy borders. It made them happy and I felt like a rock star.

I'm still rather picky about certain things that have been programmed into my brain from college professors. I still think some of them might be proud of me if they could see some of the things I've designed over the years. I've gotten very creative when it comes to tweaking user interfaces and pointing out to consumer level users the intricacies that they might never have noticed on their own. My eyes are trained to see details that others might not see and I utilize that in my teaching much of the time.

I wish more people used iWork and really learned how to make it a replacement for Microsoft Office. It always pains me when I watch my husband use Word. He gets so frustrated when it just won't do what he'd like it to do. Having a former typesetter for a wife hasn't helped him much as I've berated him over the years about using single spaces and properly formatting text the way I was trained as a designer.

I understand people's needs to just use what they know. I just wish for people to step outside of that zone a little bit and try something that might alleviate some pressure and strain. You know, um, Think Different. I would like for others to experience the satisfaction I get from my computing experience. Creating this invoice for my business use was technically work, but I enjoyed working on it and it felt rewarding to create something that would later save me time and do the work FOR me.

Instead of swearing at your computer because it's just not computing the way you told it to, give iWork a chance and use a product that doesn't actually make you feel like you're doing, well, work. You might be surprised or even delighted.

Please leave me a comment if you've found this useful. I enjoy getting feedback :) Happy tinkering!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Today's Egg

Hubby and I write little notes to each other on the bottom of hard-boiled eggs. This one in particular put a smile on my face today.

Some of the messages I can't/won't share ;)

Posted via email from TheMacMommy

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Super Powers

I am so thankful for all the gifts and talents I've been given. Despite the physical problems I've been dealing with lately, I still feel so incredibly lucky for my life and the people with whom I share it. There are many times when I get anxious and depressed, but it doesn't have a whole lot to do with my emotional state but rather I get frustrated with my physical inabilities and that's what gets me down. It's times like these, when I come home from a house call, I feel so validated. I really find joy in nurturing whether it's my children, my friends and family, my friends' children or my clients; I just feel my best when I'm making a difference for someone else. As a Technologist working part time in the field of consulting and support, I feel my super power is nurturing users with the advances of technology to address specific needs. Accessibility for the young and old is near and dear to my heart.

I am so incredibly grateful to do the kind of "job" that doesn't require a lot of physical effort. I feel "able" when I am performing technical duties that require more brain than pain. I feel like it's a natural skill I'm honing and able to use it to do something that helps support my family and my personal needs. I wish I could say I didn't need the money, but now more than ever, I'll be needing it to support my medical issues in the near future. It's kind of sad that in this great country, the "land of the free," we are such slaves to bureaucracy. If health insurance and medical bills weren't threatening us with bankruptcy, I wouldn't **need** to work as much. Still, if I won the lottery, I think I'd still do the same kind of work for free just because I get paid with so much more than money. Not many people can say that about what they do to make a living so I'm very fortunate.

I am so grateful for my clients and feel so blessed to have them and "work" for them. It's hard work, but it's also hard to call it "work." They are so good to me and I thank God for them on every trip home from a house call. My car is my "church" and I'm grateful for the solitude of the road where I can follow a path not unlike faith. When it comes to religion, my belief is that while your mileage may vary, the destination is the same.

Tonight I set up a brand new iMac for a lady who has macular degeneration. She is such a joy to work with. She is so patient and understanding. She just had surgery on one eye and is about to have the other fixed soon. She was limping along with an older iMac G5 and decided it was time to upgrade so she called me to come out and get it set up for her. One of the areas for which I specialize is customizing the Mac OS for seniors and addressing their accessibility needs. Sure, Macs are really easy to use, but not many people really tweak them and the way they come by default can really cause some repetitive stress injuries if you're not careful. The first thing I do is make everything bigger...much, much bigger! I LOVE the shrieks of joy when they watch me use the Finder Preferences to enlarge the text and icons and then the Accessibility System Preference Pane to enlarge the mouse pointer. Another favorite is customizing scrolling features on trackpads or mice with wheels or touch surfaces. The look of sheer delight is just priceless to me.

Another of my favorite clients is a dear woman who is mostly a recluse who has anxiety issues. She is the definition of a life-long learner and loves to learn, research and try new things on her Mac. It's been amazing to watch her blossom over the past few months and I feel incredibly proud. We have a lot in common and I just adore spending time with her. She has arthritis so mousing and tracking can be quite the challenge. I'm trying to train her to use the keyboard shortcuts and it's really helping her. She adores using 1Password to keep track of all the information she's terrified of forgetting as she ages — yet another thing we have in common.

There are lots of times I work with people and they spend a lot of time showing me things about their lives and open up about personal issues. Sometimes we spend more time talking and reminiscing than actually working on the computer. I used to get frustrated thinking to myself, come on lady, you're not paying me to listen to your stories — I felt so guilty I wasn't doing "tech stuff" every second while on the clock. I discovered though that they ALL do the same thing. They really NEED to just take a break and chit-chat about life because it's important to them. I've learned that it's a way for them to process information and allow their brains to cycle and keep momentum. We address their needs and goals and assess their progress along the way. They tell me and show me how they've improved over time and I feel really proud of them. So many times I walk away feeling more like a therapist than a technician!

Many of them introduce me (to their friends or family when present) as their "Computer Tutor." When they say it that way, it doesn't seem much different from a physical therapist that provides in-home care for the elderly who have had, say, a hip replacement. It's finally dawned on me that another of my dreams have come true — doing what I enjoy for a living. When I decided to attend college, one major I was incredibly interested in was called Art Therapy. My two passions were always art and psychology. Sadly, the college where I got accepted no longer offered the course so I decided to study advertising design instead. Long story short, I ended up taking a different path and fell in love with the technical side of things. Lately, I've realized though that I ended up doing what I originally set out to do which was to work with people using a medium not normally associated with "therapy" such as art. In this case, it's technology. Teaching people how to use a computer interface has become a great source of therapy for my clients. They feel they are learning and staving off age-related issues like Alzheimer's or dementia by continually exercising their brains and learning how to create on the computer. They tire very easily, as to be expected, but each time, they feel like they've gotten a mental workout. It's amazing how this niche of "computer tutoring slash/brain therapy" seems to be growing among seniors. I'm just extremely grateful that it's a priority and that they choose to pay me to help them with it. Sometimes it's hard to take money for doing this type of work, but I suspect they can tell by the way I go out of my way for them at times. I truly believe that you reap what you sow. This is just one of the many rewards of being a Mac consultant.

Talents and skills are something we overlook a lot of times, but my clients always remind me of what I have and how I use it and that makes me feel good inside. I believe we all have something, we just need to dig deep and discover our own super powers.

How do you use your super powers to make a difference?

Posted via email from TheMacMommy

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sacked!

I get knocked down but I get up again...

Posted via email from TheMacMommy

Toddler Time

Keagan started walking a few days before Christmas. There's no stopping him now! This is a clip of him at the local mall play area. He loves to climb!

Posted via email from TheMacMommy

Friday, February 11, 2011

Let The Games Begin

It's been a while since I've blogged something really personal. It's been a while since I've had the time, energy, motivation or courage.

It's no secret I've been feeling physically craptastic these past few years. All this time I've been chalking it up to getting older and having kids so late in life. I've pretty much always believed I just deserved to be in pain all the time or that it's, as my mom says, "just the bad coming out of you." Maybe all those years prior to starting a new life here in the west - the smoking, the partying, making bad decisions, hanging with the wrong people - just caught up with me and I was paying my dues?

Under the guise of Postpartum Depression, I sought the help of a family therapist and a prescription for Zoloft and I've been doing that for over a year now.

It's like trying to polish chrome that's got years and years of tarnish and crud covering it. Sometimes you have to break out the heavy duty cleaner, maybe some sandpaper and an electric buffer. Somewhere underneath there is something shiny and it just needs to be brought out and reconditioned.

Anyhow, screw the waxing philosophic bullshit for for a bit. I got my fat ass to a doctor today. I'm sick of being in pain all the damn time. I just turned 36 but I feel like I'm 76. (and I only know that because I work with lots of old people all the time and they tell me all about getting old. It sucks and it ain't for wusses.)

I'm sick of feeling this way and I DON'T effing DESERVE to feel this way either, damn it.

It's going to take some time before I don't feel quite so shitty, but at least I've taken the first step in being honest with myself, so bring it bitches. (Can you tell I've now watched that Suburban Housewife YouTube clip too many times?)

There was a time I was really opposed to taking a little yellow pill to make my brain attempt to function closer to normal. I whined, "but I don't wanna have to rely on chemicals and pills to be normal!" Then I had a second child and the sleep deprivation and self pity got the best of me. Literally - THE BEST OF ME and what I could offer my family. It's not fair to them if I don't care for myself. I know too many people who play the martyr and I don't want to be one of those. They allow themselves to go without, depriving themselves of happiness and essential care and for what? So others feel sorry for them. These are examples that have been set for me but I've made the choice to stop emulating them.

So I finally picked a PCP and met with her today and I really like her! Today's visit was just a meet and greet and to establish a new patient profile. It's going to take some time but over the next two months my goals will be to lose 5 pounds, see some specialists for my allergies and joint pain then get a crapload of bloodwork done in April. (I can't wait till Dexter Season 5 is on Netflix!)

Since I've had some pretty severe allergy attacks over the past year, twice when my breathing was severely compromised, she now wants me to carry an epi pen. Yikes! I seriously do not want an Uma Therman Pulp Fiction Moment!

She's referring me to an ENT specialist to determine if I have a deviated septum that maybe I can get surgically corrected to alleviate my allergies and chronic rhinitis. Great - a nose job - just what I've always wanted!! Ok, not really, but a nose job sounds better.

The chronic joint and muscle pain with weakness is probably what worries me the most. She wants to rule out Rheumatoid Arthritis and next Fibromyalgia and take a look at my Thyroid. All of these are autoimmune deficiency diseases which could explain my inability to recover from all the illnesses my little Petrie dishes, err, I mean, beautiful children sling at me. The other strike against me is heredity since most all the women on my mom's side have these issues.

Thanks Mom. I'll be sure to pick out a nice retirement home for ya. I'll paint your toenails but I refuse to change your diapers!!

I also need to be screened for Type 2 Diabetes since I'm at an elevated risk after having Gestational Diabetes twice. I may need to go to M&M Rehab for that one. Please tell me there is such a place? I was supposed to have had this done last year but I lost my medical benefits for a while and waited till we could afford health insurance for me again. Ugh. Health Insurance is such an ugly word to me. I don't even want to go there. I already feel pukey.

I've developed a hump at the base of my neck and it's really bothering me. My tiny grandmother is all hunched over from severe osteoporosis but I always thought I could escape that one because, unlike her and her Vegan lifestyle, I drink lots of milk. I always thought my calcium intake would prevent me from it but my mom said it doesn't matter. She's developed the beginning stages of osteoporosis and hers also began with the hump behind the neck.

I am sooooo bringin sexy back with this post. Seriously. I can't wait to see the google ads the spiders inject into my blog once this is published or the target market twitter accounts that spam me later.

Speaking of hot and steamy procreation, like the kind on the Discovery Channel - since, let's face it, Alphie, that's what it's all about - I'm not convinced we're done having kids so it's another reason why I want to get control over my health. I would really like one more but I really suck at being pregnant. They make it look so damn easy in health class! Boy do I have news for them. Since I've now had 2 C-sections, chances of a VBAC are, well, I don't think there are any chances now and that's sad. I loathe the idea of being carved open on the table once again.

And, why can't they romanticize a C-Section a little more like they do for normal deliveries on TV? What's up with that? I guess there's just no way to make having your organs taken out and put back in look very appealing. A photo of the OB holding up your intestine while smiling I suppose just isn't appropriate. I totally disagree with the whole "cosmetic surgery" approach to C-sections these days and it really pisses me off. I think all OBs should be required to have had a C-section themselves. You don't even need to have a uterus. Just have someone cut you open, take out your guts, put them back in and then endure the recovery process. Oh, and throw in a catheter so you can pee through a straw for a couple of days. Learn how to really appreciate a good bowel movement. I'm not asking for much, really.

At least they were playing some Bob Marley when they wheeled me into the OR this last time. Too bad it was a shitty radio station and the rest of the alien abduction, oops, I mean - birth process - was performed to the sound of commercials. Maybe that's why I hate radio commercials now. At least I still like Reggae. I guess that's a good thing.

Yeah. Still bitter about the C-Sections in case ya couldn't tell. I'm in therapy for it. Still processing. It's gonna be a while though and it's one of those effing progress bars that can't make up its mind first telling you 3 hours and then 1 hour 25 minutes and then 2 hours 18 minutes later it's done.

Seriously though, I love being a mommy and I love my babies but they better get me some serious bling for this bod when they're all old enough to get a job. They can pay me back in diamonds and pearls since chocolate isn't exactly part of the diet now.

Is Valentines Day gonna suck now or what?!

Oh, wait. There's always lobster, right?

I really like my new doctor. She's only 3 years older than me and has a 9 month old so I feel a tad better about the whole "advanced maternal age" thing. Despite my health issues, she and my OB think I'm still healthy enough to have another.

Man, you know you're gettin old when you're close in age to your own doctors! That's a new one for me. Not exactly lookin forward to a time when I'll be older than the doc. Unless he's super hot and I'm going through menopause - then maybe I'll reconsider.

Soooo. I guess today was the first day of another chapter in my life.

Now I lay here in bed, nauseated and feverish from the flu shot in one arm and the Tetanus shot in the other trying to resist googling Rheumatoid Arthritis. Hubby graciously took the boys out grocery shopping so I wouldn't puke on them or him. Laying here blogging on my iPhone is somewhat cathartic while I have a lot of information to digest and it's helping to keep my mind off my nausea at the moment.

I'm nervous about the future and how we'll pay for it all in case something is seriously wrong with me. Thankfully I've been working a lot more with clients lately and have been able to afford health insurance this year for myself along with some other minor luxuries. We saved up this year for a King-sized bed and memory foam mattress. What a difference the right bed makes. Depending on how well business keeps up, the next thing we're eyeing up is a Wii Fit and games for the kids. I'm hoping it might help this family to exercise more. After all, geek is what gets me to do most things in life! So, if that's what it takes to motivate me then that's what I'll do.

I won't be getting bloodwork done until April but I'm hoping to see some specialists before then. Weight loss is going to be the major goal so I might return to blogging about it. I do have several iPhone apps just taunting me in the damn "Healthcare" folder I made.

Sigh.

Let the games begin. I've now pressed the play button. I just hope I make the most of my life levels! Wish me good scores, please and thank you :)

Posted via email from TheMacMommy

Beaver Food?

Mommy's Little Monsters

Lady Gaga's got her Little Monsters.

I do too.

Mine are volume partitions on bare external drives I have connected to an old PowerBook G4 that has a busted screen. I mount them via FireWire 800 using a "toaster" a.k.a. Newer Technology Voyager Dock. This one's name is Backup_Grover. You know... "Near!" "Far!" "Near!" "Far!"

All because Hubby didn't like my previous nomenclature using the date, time or drive size formats. He said, "Can't we just call them Bert and Ernie?"

"Fine." I made it so.

I named the first drive partitions Bert and Ernie but then I decided I wanted to go with a theme for the rest of them so I named them all for Sesame Street Monsters. I have several drives, both partitioned and single with various monster names such as Elmo, Telly, Zoe, Oscar, and Murray. I even made my own disk icons for each one.
Depending on what mood I'm in, I can mount them so I have little monsters pop up in my Dock, Sidebar or on my Desktop. I really like to see them in the Time Machine Preference Pane window.

It just kinda makes you WANT to be sure you're doing your backups, right?

So, what have you named YOUR hard drives?

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