go ahead, mac my day

a Macintosh girl in a Microsoft world

February, 2009

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Mac Mojo: "waving the red flag"

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    Over at Mac Mojo, I posted an article called waving the red flag, which is about flagging in Entourage. I was inspired to write it by a post at Macworld about finding email easily with flags, which reminded me that I hadn't talked about everything you can do with flags in Entourage. So there you are, and now you even know that Wednesday was my mother's (58th) birthday.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Adobe Illustrator plug-in for Silverlight now supports native text and symbols

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    Mike Swanson has been banging away on his Mac port of his Adobe Illustrator plug-in for Silverlight. On Tuesday, he released a new version that supports native text and symbol support.

    I haven't tried it out myself (I know, I know), but I've heard some good things from people who have been giving it a go. So try it and tell Mike what you think!

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    Q&A: moving from Outlook to Entourage

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    I got the following question via email:

    How do I copy my Outlook 2003 contacts, calendar, email and tasks from my old PC to my new Macbook?

    At this time, we don't provide a direct import from Windows Outlook PST to Entourage 2008.

    There are some workarounds for it. I've never tried them myself because I've never used Outlook, so I can't provide any specific feedback here. These are listed in no particular order.

    If you use an Exchange server, you probably don't need to do anything at all. Put everything on Exchange, and voila: Entourage will download your mail and contacts. If you're using the Entourage for Exchange Web Services beta against Exchange 2007 or later, then you also get your notes and tasks,

    Outlook2Mac is a third-party application that claims to transfer PST files. I've heard that this process is extremely lengthy if you have a very large PST.

    If you have access to an older PowerPC-based Mac, you can try the instructions from the Entourage MVPs for importing from Windows Outlook. It requires you to go through Outlook for Mac, which is a very old Classic application.

    I also understand that it's possible to use Mozilla Thunderbird on your Windows computer. I found some instructions for this on an Australian website. However, this only works for your mail; I'm not sure how you would use Thunderbird to get your contacts and tasks.
  • go ahead, mac my day

    Microsoft employees gave $87.7 million to charity last year

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    One of the things that I love about Microsoft is how it supports charitable giving. Microsoft matches, dollar-for-dollar, any gift that I give to a charitable organisation, up to $12,000 per year. If I give time instead of money, then they also match that: their match is $17 per hour (up to the same $12k per year). For my cash donations, I can (and do) choose to have them take it directly out of my paycheque. That makes my donations automatic and virtually transparent to me. I really do love it.

    Yesterday, Microsoft announced that our employees gave $87.7 million to charity last year. About 60% of the company donates through the giving campaign. The average donation is about $1500 per employee (counting the match).

    Stuart, one of my colleagues, posted about the results of the annual MacBU giving campaign. in which he noted that over 85% of MacBU participated in some way during our giving campaign. We raised more than $433,000. The average MacBU donation is ~$2000. Which is another reason that I love working in MacBU: I think it's awesome that there's such institutional support for charitable giving and that we don't just talk the talk.

    I divide my charitable giving between KQED public radio and RAINN. And, of course, I participated in our annual bake auction (which is where quite a lot of the MacBU donations come from), donating strawberry cupcakes and raspberry tarts to the cause.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    a note about my employer

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    As I assume is apparent, I work for Microsoft. I'm mostly happy here. The job ain't perfect, but it's not perfect in ways that I can deal with. While I'm mostly happy working for Microsoft, that doesn't mean that I agree with everything done at Microsoft. There's things I don't like.

    So, as far as I'm concerned, you can criticise Microsoft to your heart's content. It's not going to hurt my feelings. For that matter, you can make all the jokes you want to about Microsoft, our products, or our leadership. If you're going to share them with me, though, please make them original. I've read /. for more than 10 seconds, so any joke involving chair-throwing is immensely lame. So make the joke, but remember that the bar is higher than the knee-jerk M$ or chair-throwing. Remember, I've been hearing Microsoft jokes for some time now, so you're gonna have to be original. :)

    In other words, I think that you're an adult and get to have your own opinions. They don't have to match up with mine. I don't expect that everyone else (or anyone else) is going to look at the world in the same way that I do. It's part of the beauty of this spinning ball we call home.

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    my favourite feature of Exchange 14

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    My favourite feature of Exchange 14 has just been announced: full support of Safari in Outlook Web Access.

    Right now, in Exchange 2007 and earlier, Safari doesn't support the full OWA experience. You get the light version of OWA, which is admittedly pretty good for Exchange 2007. But if you're a heavy Exchange user like I am, the lack of goodies like tasks or categories really hurts. (Remember, I've been able to sync these with Exchange since I began using internal builds of Entourage for Exchange Web Services several months ago.)

    I'm sure that as I get an opportunity to use it more, I'll find more to love about it. It means that I don't have to drag my laptop everywhere with me to have great access to my Exchange account, I can use one of my Macs at home and get it all. Right now, though, getting my tasks and categories is what I want the most.

    This makes my iPhone the odd one out. I do love my iPhone, but I hate that my calendar isn't properly colour-coded there with my categories. I hate the inability to get my tasks and notes on it.

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    how have you customised OS X?

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    The folks over at Macworld magazine are asking how have you customised OS X?

    I've got two Macs that I use on a daily basis. One is my primary work Mac, a MacBook Pro. The other is my primary personal Mac, a MacBook. I've got other Macs, both at work and home, but they're not used nearly as extensively as these. Each of them are set up in different ways.

    When I'm in my office, my MBP is hooked up to a 24-inch widescreen LCD. The LCD is my primary monitor, sitting directly in front of me, with my MBP open and sitting on a stand to the left of the big LCD so that the tops of the two monitors are aligned.

    I use Spaces, four of them. Space 1 is given over to Entourage. Space 2 is reserved for whatever I'm working on, so the app open there is most likely to be Word or PowerPoint, or maybe RDC when it's time to submit my travel expenses. Space 3 is Safari, and Space 4 is iTunes and other media apps.

    For my two-monitor set-up, I use my laptop monitor as my status monitor. That's reserved for the apps which are visible in all of my Spaces, which are my Twitter client, IM, and My Day.

    My dock is almost entirely empty. The only thing I keep in my dock is a folder, which opens the current build of Office that I'm using. For any other application that I use, I either let it launch on startup, or get launched on an action (say, clicking on a link that I receive in email). For the rest, I simply use Spotlight as my application launcher.

    (An aside: It's a Microsoft thing to do a "daily build" -- that is, we compile our code every day. One of our goals is to have a usable version of Office created every single day. I use one of these daily builds for my work, and submit whatever bugs I happen to find in my regular usage.)

    Document-wise, everything lives in the Documents folder. I've got an extensive folder structure. Since I use the Project Centre in Entourage to manage my larger projects, many of my folders are in my Office Projects folder (which I have added to the list of Places in my Finder). Most of my folders contain my own work, but I have a few folders which contain other things that I need to reference frequently.

    As with my dock, my desktop is almost totally empty. I only use it for the things that I'm working on at this very instant which don't end up in a folder elsewhere -- usually documents that I've been sent via email asking for me to review them. It's my goal to have no files, other than my hard drives, visible on my desktop at the end of the day.

    I always partition my laptop hard drive into two partitions: system and data. My user folder lives on my data drive, so that if (by some horrid chance) my system drive gets borked, I'm less likely to lose everything. I also keep the majority of my applications on my data drive as well.

    I have an external hard drive, which I use in conjunction with Time Machine. However, I don't keep this drive hooked up to my MBP all the time. It's partitioned and shared with my Mac Mini. The Mini has primary custody of the drive, but I manually move the cable over to connect to my MBP once per week so that I've got a backup.

    Hmmm, this got long, so I'll post about my set-up for my MacBook separately, and maybe add in some details about what my other Macs are doing too. And it's probably another post about how I manage my email, since that's a whole thing onto itself.

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    considering the Mac development space

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    The state of Mac development surprises me. There aren't a lot of big Mac dev shops. There's us, with our 200+ Mac developers. There's Adobe and IBM, although I'm not sure if either of them have a lot of Mac-only folks. So, other than us or Apple, I'm not sure if there really are a lot of really big Mac-only development shops.

    Then there's scores of indies, making great apps. Most of these indies are just a couple of people, working out of their home or a coffee shop.

    There doesn't seem to be a middle ground. You've got us with our 200-some people, and then you've got the indies. Maybe I'm just missing it, but I'm not seeing a lot of companies between those two points. Omni? Maybe the Intuit teams working on Quicken and TurboTax? The Aspyr guys, who provide me with my Sims? Who else?

    With a spectrum of development that's so heavily bifurcated, I wonder what that says about the state of Mac development. Does it matter that there's not a lot of middle ground between the indies and the big shops? For that matter, does it matter that MacBU is the definition of "big shop", whereas 200 people (remember, that's not 200 developers, that's 200 people) wouldn't be considered to be a lot of people in a Windows shop?

    Don't get me wrong, this isn't a complaint about having a robust indie development community. There's plenty of indie apps that I use and love. I don't want indie development to dry up 'cause I don't want to lose those apps. I'm simply wondering whether there should be a step or two between indie and big corporation.

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    OOPSLA submission ideas for Mac people

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    I had intended to kind of take a break from OOPSLA this year. I've been on the committee for the past few years, and I wanted to have a year where I didn't focus so much on it. But it's winter, and my mind automatically turns to thoughts of OOPSLA because the first submission deadline is coming up in March.

    OOPSLA was the original conference devoted to all things related to object-oriented programming. The scope has increased to include programming, patterns, and paradigms. It's about looking at the big problems that is facing software, ranging from reliability to ultra-large scale systems.

    I'd love to see a greater Mac presence there. There's plenty of Mac users who attend, but not a lot of people who are really doing Mac development. To that end, here are some ideas for ways that Mac developers could become a part of the conference and thus have another venue for getting together in addition to WWDC.

    Tutorials: Oh goodness, where to start with tutorials. There's so much knowledge here that could be shared: Objective-C, UI development with Cocoa, and Xcode are all great candidates for half-day tutorials. This is one of the areas where I think there could be some fantastic work done. There's a lot of Mac users who come to OOPSLA, so I would think that some Mac tutorials would go over quite well.

    Practitioner reports: The lessons learned in cross-platform development, adding garbage collection to your Cocoa app (what you learned, what improvements you expected, what improvement were actually made, ... ), converting your app from Carbon to Cocoa.

    Panels: Development environment shoot-out (Visual Studio vs eclipse vs Xcode vs ... ), choosing your development platform of choice, why indie development for Mac is so strong.

    Workshops: How about a Mac developer workshop?

    Don't get me wrong, I love WWDC. But WWDC is about a different goal. WWDC is about us as Mac developers learning from Apple. Is is less expressly about learning from each other.

    If you're interested in submitting something for OOPSLA and want someone to bounce ideas off of, feel free to ping me. I'd love to see more Mac content here, so if you have an idea but aren't sure how to best fit it into OOPSLA, I'm sure we can come up with something.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Messenger:Mac 7.0.2 available now

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    I forgot to mention this last week! Messenger:Mac 7.0.2 is now available, so go forth and download!

    This update brings improvements to our support for Office Communicator Server 2007. For those of you who aren't on that server (you're just using Messenger for personal use, not in a business environment with that server; if you're on OCS 2005, you should be using Messenger 6), you probably won't notice anything earth-shattering.

    Before anyone asks: I don't have anything to share yet about the public beta of Messenger which will include audio/video support for personal use. Really, the second I've got more details, I'll share them, I promise. :)

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