Living a Microsoft Office Free Lifestyle

As part of my Leopard switch, I set one goal for myself: run nothing but Intel native applications. That meant finding a clear alternative for Microsoft Office.


Pages Sticking with the iWork ‘08 trial, I began my migration quickly and easily. All my Word documents changed peacefully to Pages by default and all opened just fine. The only minor issue I ran into was not having Microsoft’s font book, and therefor several obscure fonts were reset to Times New Roman. If anyone has a quick fix for this, I’d be interested to hear. I imagine I could take the font book from a Mac with Office installed and simply replace my font book with it?

Opening new documents was simple. Using the Blank template I was able to manage around Page’s Inspector. However I quickly ran into problems re-saving edited documents. Pages by default saves in the Pages format. So even editing a .Doc requires you save it as Pages. That’s a bit frustrating. You can export a file into Word for convenience, especially if you’re planning on sharing those documents with others. But it would be much more convenient to be able to choose your format directly from the Save screen. So I began saving my documents in the Pages format and getting rid of the normal Word documents when done editing them. Fortunately for me, I didn’t need to export documents as much as I thought I would. But again, it is frustrating after awhile. At least offer a keyboard command to quickly access the export feature so I don’t have to rely on my mouse as frequently.

The one real benefit I found with Pages and iWork was how quickly it opened. I imagine since Office is currently not Intel native, it requires more time to open. We’ll see how that remedies when Office ’08 goes on sale. But it’s nice not having to wait for a document to open. So far I’ve been happy with Pages, until it comes to creating a new flyer, not based on any of their templates. When creating a new layout or design, I can get more done and faster through Photoshop.

Keynote & Numbers

Keynote I’m lumping Keynote and Numbers together because as a writer my main focus lies solely on document editing. So for a more precise comparison, I recommend trying them out yourselves.

I think watching Steve Jobs’ Keynotes has created a bias for me. Or if you’re more familiar with An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore relies on Keynote for his presentation. Feature wise, Keynote offers very similar features as PowerPoint, just in a more clean, streamlined fashion. Since it meshes directly with iPhoto and iTunes, it’s a lot simpler to import music, photos, or even videos. One feature I truly love about Keynote is my ability to export it directly to iPod. When giving presentations I find it easier to carry around my iPod and A/V chord instead of a laptop and chords. Much less fuss, and much more streamlined. You may not retain as many features, but for someone that needs something portable, it’s a great idea. Over all I feel more satisfied with my Keynote presentations than I have with PowerPoint, so I’m going to stick with it.

Numbers Numbers was an interesting one for me. I could open my previous Excel files fine, but if they contained drop down menus, or set fields I began running into issues. Not a spreadsheet fiend, I think I’d prefer Excel only because of its familiarity and the fact it seems a business staple.


One thing I appreciate overall with iWork and Mac is the attention to detail. For example iWork allows you to move a document currently being editing to another folder without any errors. The document will kindly ask whether too start saving there, or save in two locations. Between Pages and Keynote I feel satisfied for most of my current office needs.

For students, something to keep in mind, is universality. Obviously Office is the preferred choice for schools and teachers, so it might be best for you to stick with it. Especially for note taking, I remember enjoying Word’s Notebook feature. Not only could I simultaneously record lecture from within Word, I could write clear outlined notes using its Notebook format. It was simple, efficient, and helped a lot.

If price is a factor for you, be sure and check out NeoOffice. It provides a classical approach and is completely free. iWork can be purchased for $79, and it looks like Office ’08 will run you up $150 for the Student/Teacher edition or $399 for Office Basic. If you’re running low on hard drive space, try testing out Google Docs and Spreadsheets, ZoHo, or Adobe’s new Buzzword. There are a variety of ways around office applications, so find what works most efficiently for you. If you have any recommendations or ideas, feel free to comment.

Abracadabra! Downloadable DVDs

Harry Potter fans can perform a little magic of their own tomorrow when they purchase the Order of the Phoenix DVD, as it comes with a downloadable version of the movie that can be transferred to a PC or portable device. And Harry isn’t alone. Last month, the Live Free or Die Hard DVD included a downloadable version of the film, while Sony just announced it will offer up a download version of Resident Evil: Extinction via DVD as well.

Warner Bros., which is releasing Order of the Phoenix , is experimenting with two types of DVD/download hybrid options — “E-copy” and “Digital Copy” — according to Video Business. E-copy, which was used on releases like Superman Returns and Ocean’s Thirteen, allowed consumers to download a copy of those films over the web after purchasing the DVD from select retailers. Potter is the Digital Copy option, in which a downloadable file is included on one of the DVDs itself.

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Vid-Biz: NBC, NBA, Ad Spending

NBC Reimbursing Advertisers; the peacock is paying out an average of $500,000 to advertisers due to a ratings shortfall (which started before the WGA strike). (MediaWeek)

NBA Taps Silverlight; Microsoft’s Flash competitor to power broadband video experience for NBA web destinations. (Broadcasting & Cable)

Strike Could be Boon for Online Ads; Lehman analyst says shift of just 1 percent of all 2008 broadcast ad revenue to online could result in $491 million of incremental spending. (paidContent)

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Verizon Blackberry 8830 GPS unlocked?

A birdie told me that Verizon had quietly released a firmware upgrade for the Blackberry 8830 in the last two days that reportedly unlocks the GPS that I have been so vocal about.  The upgrade is over 88 MB big and I haven’t had time to apply it yet so I have to get it applied tonight and see if the GPS is working now.  The timing fits with what I was told by Verizon about the GPS enabling so hopefully this is it.  I’ll report back when I can do so with first-hand information.

Interesting Asustek Eee PC interview: 3.8m units in 2008?

1DigiTimes recently interviewed Jonney Shih, CEO of Asustek and Jonathan Tseng, president of Asustek on the Asus Eee PC and there’s some interesting viewpoints in there, not to mention some aggressive sales numbers. The whole interview is here for your reading pleasure; see if you have the same struggle reading it as I did. (Every time the CEO answers a question, I feel like someone is shushing me… let me know if you get that reference). Some highlights:

  • The Eee PC is a secondary profit line, so low gross margins have little to no business impact on the company.
  • Asustek expects to sell at least 3.8 million Eee PCs through 2008.
  • The target audience is women and children.
  • Intended use for the Asus Eee PC is a secondary device. That sounds familiar…
  • I may have found someone shorter than me in the industry based on the DigiTimes picture of Jonney Shih. Really! Look at how big the Eee appears in comparison to him. Maybe I should strike the same pose with Eeegor and we can have a vote? I’ll have to look for him at CES for a photo opp now…

AppleGeeks Interview – Part 2

Following up on part 1 of my interview with the creative minds behind, here’s what Ananth Panagariya had to say about his role in writing AppleGeeks.

TAB: I’m not sure which one of you came up with the idea, but where did the idea of AppleGeeks come from?

Ananth: Hawk’s older brother Mohammad had the domain lying around, and we’d been talking about starting a comic strip on the web. Hawk and I are both Apple fans, but for me it’s a preference and a fondness – for him, it’s a passion (maybe an obsession, hahaha).

TAB: Where do you get your material for each comic?

Ananth: Real life, often times. Sometimes it’s internet news, especially Apple news. At other times, it’s just stuff that comes out my imagination. Doing Applegeeks can be a fluid process – there’s times when Hawk will suggest ideas and I’ll suggest layouts.

TAB: Can you walk us through your creative process to write a comic?
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Churbuck on Muni WiFi

David Churbuck: While I rather see the private marketplace do its economic magic, the cozy relationship between the Telcos and public utility commissions insures we’ll never see true free market capitalism at work.

Logitech and Skype Deal

Lost in all the holiday cheer was the news that Logitech and Skype are going to be co-marketing each others products and services. Logitech will bundle up to 120 minutes worth of free vouchers for SkypeOut, the pre-pay service that allows Skype users to call traditional phone numbers, with Logitech USB Headsets sold in Europe, the United States and Canada.

Mirra for Mac?

mirra_personal_server_magic.jpgWe have all seen Mirra, the connected storage drive, and some of us have liked it as well. And that despite the fact that it works only with Windows. I complained about this to the company’s senior executives recently. Actually badgered them about why Mac users should miss out on the whole digital drive thing. After all it was Steve Jobs who woke up the entire industry to the “opportunity.” Why then there is no Mirra for Mac? Doesn’t Mirra founder and chairman Tim Bucher now work as senior vice president for macintosh system development at Apple? Now Mirra folks are genuinely nice people who gave into my repetitive questioning and told me that “they were working on a Mirra for mac.” No there is no beta, when I asked, “can I try one?” But they promised that there will be a beta soon? What about the real thing? No answers, except Santa isn’t gonna stuff this one in your stocking!