Any sufficiently advanced technology
is indistinguishable from magic.
[Arthur C. Clarke]
My first criteria for a good app is, it is simple. I’m a graphic designer and not a computer scientist. I look for apps that behave themselves (they work without bugs), and apps that are intuitive to use (they have a small learning curve). I spend my main self-education time keeping myself up to speed with my major software tools. I want my smaller apps to be more like a manual screwdriver than an electric drill with multiple bits. These two apps fit the criteria and are affordable.
MyScript© Calculator is magic for sure. It was free! How does Vision Objects© do that? Also it works well and is fun to use. Write numerals and function symbols (+, -, =, etc.) with a finger on a touchscreen and then watch your writing change into real equations with the correct answer. It even charmed my five-year old grandson. When I used it in a knitting class to help people figure their stitches and rows from their gauge, it was fast and accurate. Some students even downloaded the app for their smart phones during class.
Desktop Task Timer by Erik Asmussen is also a winner in my book. I track my design time for billing purposes. In the past 30 years, I have tried using a number of methods to accurately record time and translate it in to an invoice. This app ($0.99) is the best I’ve found so far. I’ve even started tracking my non-chargeable tasks just out of curiosity.
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It is not the employer who pays the wages.
Employers only handle the money.
It is the customer who pays the wages.
I have a self-inflicted rule—to avoid impulse buying, I wait and save up for something that strikes my fancy. If I still want it in time, I’m more likely to get my money’s worth out of it. When I was in high school, my sister and I wanted a high fidelity record player. Our mother gave us a jar and encouraged us to save up for one. During the year it took us to fill the jar, stereophonic record players came on the market. Needless to say, we were glad we waited. Several years ago, a participant at a writer’s conference showed me her Livescribe pen and extolled its virtues. It struck my fancy to the extent that I saved up and finally bought one. It was delightful and fulfilled its promises. Select this link to see what wonderful things it can do.
I have been on a learning curve for several other pieces of technology so I didn’t use my pen for several months. When I tried to recharge it, I had problems with the battery. That is the bad news. The good news is, I emailed the company and received a reply from a customer service person named Wendy. After trouble-shooting to no avail, she made arrangements to replace the pen since the battery was still under warranty (just barely). My new pen came promptly in the mail. Thank you Livescribe and thank you Wendy R.
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Getting information off the Internet is like
taking a drink from a fire hydrant.
[NOTE: This falls under the "I just had to tell someone" category, and is probably only of interest to about three people in the whole world.]
One of my clients needs to reprint a book he published in 2001. He gave me CDs of the original computer files and asked if I could access them after all of these years of changes and upgrades. The original layout artist used a piece of software (QuarkXPress) that I used in the past but no longer keep on my computer. After all of these years, the Quark files were simply grey rectangles with .exec on them. I had no software that would open these files.
I searched the internet for similar quandaries, and found discussion boards that indicated that there was no way I could access these files. I went into a problem-solving mode based upon the premise, I couldn’t make the problem worse so I’d try several hunch-based fixes. I changed the suffix on the file from .exec to .indd (for InDesign) and, TA DA, it opened in my new Adobe InDesign CS6 just as though it had been laid out yesterday.
If I weren’t alone right now, I’d give someone a huge kiss, and buy them an ice cream cone.
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