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Saturday, April 20, 2013

LibreOffice 4 for Mac-Not Perfect, but darn cheap


In my last post, I promised I would cover LIbreOffice, an offshoot of

LibreOffice occurred because several developers and corporate sponsors of felt dissatisfied with the way that Oracle dealt with it. Oracle acquired OpenOffice when it bought Sun Microsystems. It finally gave it to the Apache Foundation, which sponsors the Apache Web server program. “Here, you deal with it.” So several developers left and started

Anyway, LIbreOffice’s development has continued. It now offers version 4.02 for Windows, Linux, and Mac.

When it comes to word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software, it’s run of the mill. It doesn’t offer the flashy graphics of iWorks, nor the corporate ubiquity of Microsoft Office for Windows.

What it does offer is a free office suite that will meet 90% of your needs, plus an amazing ability to read numerous formats.

If you want a program to read WordPerfect text and graphics files, then save them in another format; try LibreOffice!

If you want a program to read Microsoft Works, try LibreOffice!

If you need to use a graphics in the archaic ZSoft .PCX format, try LibreOffice!

Below are screenshots of all the formats LibreOffice will open

It will NOT write or export to all these formats:

Text Documents:

OpenDocumentFoundation (ODF) Text Document (*.odt) (read/write)

ODF Text Document Template (*.ott) (read/write) 1.0 Text Document (*.sxw) (read/write) 1.0 Text Document Template (*.stw) (read/write)

OpenDocument Text (Flat XML) (*.fodt;*.odt;*.xml) (read/write)

Unified Office Format (*.uot;*.uof) (read/write)

Microsoft Office 2007/2010 XML (*.docx;*.docm)(read/write only *.docx)

Microsoft Office 2007/2010 XML Template (*.dotx; *.dotm) (read only)

Microsoft Word 2003 XML (*.xml; *.doc) (read/write)

Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP/2003 (*.doc) (read/write)

Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP/2003 Template (*.dot) (read only)

Microsoft Winword 5 (*.doc) (read only)

Microsoft Works Document (*.wps) (read only)

AportisDoc (Palm) (*.pdb) (read/write)

DocBook (*.xml) (read/write)

Hangul WP 97 (*.hwp) (read only)

HTML Document (Writer) (*.html; *.htm) (read/write)

Lotus WordPro Document (*.lwp) (read only)

T602 Document (*.602;*.txt) (read only)

Text (*.txt) (read/write)

Text Encoded (*.txt) (read/write)

WordPerfect Document (*.wpd) (read only)

Office Open XML Text (*.docx;*.docm) (read/write *.docx)

Office Open XML Text Template (*.dotx;*.docm) (read only)

PDF- Portable Document Format (Writer) (*.pdf) (read/export)

Spreadsheet Documents:

OpenDocumentFoundation (ODF) Spreadsheet (*.ods) (read/write)

ODF Spreadsheet Template (*.ots) (read/write) 1.0 Spreadsheet (*.sxc) (read/write) 1.0 Spreadsheet Template (*.stc) (read/write)

OpenDocument Spreadsheet (Flat XML) (*.fods; *.ods; *.xml) (read/write)

Unified Office Format spreadsheet (*.uos; *.uof) (read/write)

Microsoft Excel 2007/2010 XML (*.xlsx; *.xltx) (read/write)

Microsoft Excel 2007/2010 XML Template (*.xltm;*.xltx) (read only)

Microsoft Excel 2007 Binary (*.xlsb) (read only)

Microsoft Excel 2003 XML (*.xml; *.xls) (read/write)

Microsoft Excel 97/2000/XP/2003 (*.xls;*.xlc;*.xlm;*.xlw;*.xlk) (read/write)

Microsoft Excel 97/2000/XP/2003 Template (*.xlt) (read/write)

Microsoft Excel 4.x-5.0/95 (*.xls;*.xlc;*.xlm;*.xlw) (read only)

Microsoft Excel 4.x-5.0/95 Templates (*.xlt) (read only)

  • Data Interchange Format (*.dif) (read/write)

dBASE (*.dbf) (read/write)

HTML Document (Calc) (*.html;*.htm) (read/write)

Lotus 1-2-3 (*.wk1;*.wks;*.123) (read only)

Pocket Excel (*.pxl) (read/write)

Quattro Pro 6.0 (*.wb2) (read only)

Rich Text Format (Calc) (*.rtf) (read only)

SYLK (*.slk;*.sylk) (read/write)

Text CSV (*.csv) ) (read/write)

Web Page Query (Calc) (*.html;*.htm) (read only)

Office Open XML Spreadsheet (*.xlsx; *.xlsm) (read/write)

Office Open XML Spreadsheet Template (*.xltx; *.xltm) (read only)

Presentation Documents:

ODF Presentation (*.odp) (read/write)

ODF Presentation Template (*.otp) (read/write)

ODF Drawing (Impress) (*.odg) (read/write) 1.0 Presentation (*.sxi) (read/write) 1.0 Presentation Template (*.sti) (read/write) 1.0 Drawing (Impress) (*.sxd) (read/write)

OpenDocument Presentation (Flat XML) (*.fodp; *.odp;*.xml) (read/write)

Unifed Office Format presentation (*.uop;*.uof) (read/write)

Microsoft PowerPoint 2007/2010 XML (*.pptx;*.pptm) (read/write only *.pptx)

Microsoft PowerPoint 2007/2010 XML Autoplay (*.ppsx) (read/write)

Microsoft PowerPoint 2007/2010 XML Template (*.potm;*.potx) (read/write only *.potm)

Microsoft Powerpoint 97/2000/XP/2003 (*.ppt) (read/write)

Microsoft Powerpoint 97/2000/XP/2003 Autoplay (*.pps) (read/write)

Microsoft Powerpoint 97/2000/XP/2003 Template (*.pot) (read/write)

CGM-Computer Graphics Metafile (*.cgm) (read only)

Office Open XML Presentation (*.pptx; *.pptm) (read/write only *.pptx)

Office Open XML Presentation Autoplay (*.ppsx) (read/write)

Office Open XML Presentation Template (*.potm;*.potx) (read/write only *.potm)

PDF-Portable Document Format (Impress) (*.pdf) (read/export)

Graphics formats:

ODF Drawing (*.odg) (read/write)

ODF Drawing Template (*.otg) (read/write) 1.0 Drawing (*.sxd) (read/write) 1.0 Drawing Template (*.std) (read/write)

OpenDocument Drawing (Flat XML)( (*.fodg; *.odg;*.xml) (read/write)

WordPerfect Graphics (*.wpg) (read only)

DXF-AutoCAD Interchange Format (*.dxf) (read only)

  • EMF-Enhanced Metafile (*.emf) (read/export)

EPS -Encapsulated PostScript (*.eps) (read/export)

MET- OS/2 Metafile (*.met) (read/export)

PCT-Mac Pict (*.pct;*.pict) (read/export)

SGF-Starwriter Graphics Format (*.sgf) (read only)

SGV-StarDraw 2.0 (*.sgv) (read only)

WMF-Windows Metafile (*.wmf) (read/export)

BMP-Windows BItmap (*.bmp) (read/export)

Corel Draw (*.cdr) (read only)

Corel Presentation Exchange (*.cmx) (read only)

GIF-Graphics Interchange Format (*.gif) (read/export)

JPEG -Joint Photographic Experts Group (*.jpg;*.jpeg;*.jfif;*.jif;*.jpe) (read/export)

PBM-Portable BItmap (.pbm) (read/export)

PCX-Zsoft Paintbrush (*.pcx) (read only)

PGM-Portable Grayamp (*.pgm) (read/export)

PNG-Portable Network Graphics (*.png) (read/export)

PPM-Portable Pixelmap (*.ppm) (read/export)

PSD-Adobe Photoshop (*.psd) (read only)

Microsoft Publisher 98-2010 (*.pub) (read only)

RAS-Sun Raster Image (*.ras) (read/export)

SVG- Scable Vector Graphics (*.svg) (read/export)

TGA-Truevision Targa (*.tga)

TIFF- Tagged Image File Formats (*.tif, *.tiff) (read/export)

Microsoft Visio 2000-2013 (*.vdx; *.vsd; *.vsdm;*.vsdx)

XBM- X Bitmap (*.xbm) (read only)

XPM -X PixMap (*.xpm) (read/write)

PCD-Kodak Photo CD (768 x 512) (*.pcd) (read only)

PCD-Kodak Photo CD (192 x 128) (*.pcd) (read only)

PCD-Kodak Photo CD (384 x 256) (*.pcd) (read only)

PDF-Portable Document Format (Draw) (*.pdf) (read/export)

SWF-Adobe Flash (export only)

HTML related formats:

HTML Document (*.html;*.htm)

HTML Document Template (*.oth) 1.0 HTML Template (*.stw)

Text (StarWriter/Web) (*.txt)

Text Encoded (Writer/Web) (*.txt)

ODF Master Document (*.odm) 1.0 Master Document (*.sxg)

Text Encoded (Master Document) (*.txt)

ODF Database (*.odb) (read/write)

ODF Formula (*.odf) 1.0 Formula (*.sxm)

MathML 1.01 (*.mml)

Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog

Lotus Symphony 3 for Mac review

With the elimination of AppleWorks 6 from Macs, you may have wondered what office suite you could run in its absence. Apple wants you to run iWorks, but you may hesitate at spending $60 for 3 programs you can’t test beforehand. You may have legacy documents, too, that you need to work with.

For that reason, I will present to you two free/donationware programs that can cover your needs for basic word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, vector drawing and databases. Oh, and file conversion.

IBM Lotus Symphony is the first program. IBM resurrected the name “Lotus Symphony” from a 1980’s era MS-DOS program that also served as a multi-purpose office suite built on top of the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet. In this case, IBM has taken the 3.0 codebase and reworked it. They put on a new interface that improves on the aging multiple windows interface of OpenOffice and its many derivatives. They have released versions for Windows, OS X 10.7 & 10.8, and Linux.

They have reduced the number of tasks from the plethora that offered. Now you just have the Writer word processor, Calc spreadsheet, Impress presentation software and a simple Web browser derived from Mozilla’s Firefox 3.0. So the codebase lags behind the latest code available. IBM, though, took the time to eradicate bugs and improve the menus and overall interface.

In, you launch a separate window for each document. If you work with a lot of different documents on a project, this leads to a messy window.


By contrast, Symphony uses a tabbed interface. You switch between documents by clicking on them.


IBM provides thorough documentation in its Help file for Symphony. You do not have to fiddle with a PDF file, but use a hyperlinked HTML document that Symphony serves up to your default Web browser. This works great with Safari 6.

Problems with Lotus Symphony

I encountered significant problems in installing Symphony that you may encounter. I overcame these problems.

First off, IBM’s Web site for downloading Symphony is designed for corporate developers. You have to go here to get to the Web site. It’s not an intuitive name

You have to set up an account with a user name (your e-mail address) and a password. You have to manually select which version of Symphony to download, whether for Windows, OS X, or Linux. It’s not friendly one-stop shopping.

By contrast, the Web sites for and LibreOffice provides a one-stop download portal, which can tell which operating system you use and provide the version of OpenOffice/LibreOffice appropriate for your OS.

In IBM’s defense, they think in terms of corporate customers with an emphasis on corporate security over convenience for personal users. And while they do ask for an e-mail address, they do not flood your inbox with junk mail.

Once you do download the program, you’ll find that Symphony does not have a digital signature. OS X 10.8 will flash a warning message about this. Even worse, the installer will fail.

To get around this, you have to go to the Security preference pane to change the preference from “only use programs with a digital developer signature or from the Mac App Store” to “All programs”. Then OS X 10.8 will put a final warning about lessened security. Take the risk in this case.


With the security setting at “Anywhere,” the installer for Symphony will work and you have a full-fledged program!

Unlike OpenOffice/LibreOffice, it will not import WordPerfect documents. The PC Magazine review of Symphony noted this, stating that “Expert users who need to open files in a wide range of formats, including Microsoft Works, Corel WordPerfect, or Lotus WordPro, will prefer LibreOffice, because Lotus Symphony only imports Microsoft Office and documents—but that's all that almost every office environment ever needs.”

Performance of Lotus Symphony

As for performance, the PC Magazine review of Symphony noted that importing a complex Excel spreadsheet did not bring the whole program to a screeching halt. Only the spreadsheet halted, while the word processing and presentation portions continued. In fairness, only Excel could successfully open this complex Excel spreadsheet used for torture-testing non-Excel spreadsheets.

In my simple tests of the presentation portion, it opened the PowerPoint presentations without any problems. It isn’t the fanciest presentation program. If you need to create cutting-edge stuff, you’d use Keynote ’09. If you just want to see funny PowerPoint presentations you get through e-mail, use this.


IBM Lotus Symphony provides an improved version of the 3.0 office suite. IBM improved the overall interface using tabs instead of multiple windows and tightened up the code.

IBM does provide training and templates on-line. It’s just not blindingly obvious where it is. Anyway, go here for training. Go here for templates and clip art.

IBM hasn’t publicized it. PC Magazine referred to it as the best free office suite you’ve probably never heard of and gave it an Excellent rating with an Editor’s Choice.

As for the legacy document formats that I talked about, I’ll cover how to work with them & LibreOffice for Mac in my next post.

How to incorporate WordPerfect into your Mac

If you used WordPerfect for DOS on your PC during the Reagan and Clinton years, you may have fond memories of it. You probably have a copy of the program somewhere, as well as many files originally written in it.

Well, you have options with your Mac to read and write these files again! The bad news is that it takes a lot of hard work to set up WP for DOS to run with a Mac. The good news is that someone else already did the work and made it available for you for FREE. All you have to do is copy over the essential WordPerfect for DOS files that you acquired by whatever means some years back.

You DO NOT need to install Windows to run WordPerfect for DOS on your Mac. The free/donation-ware DOSBOX which emulates MS-DOS serves as the basis for this method of running WP for DOS on an Intel Mac. Software has been already compiled for you to use. Just go here and read the instructionscarefully.

The one-stop information site for all these options is Edward Mendelson maintains the site and he is a long-time writer about computers. WP for DOS is a passion of his. This site compiles all he and many other contributors have done to keep WP for DOS running.

If you used WordPerfect for Mac during the ‘90s and beyond, you should know that a dedicated group has kept good ol Classic WP for Mac up and running. Go here on Edward Mendelson’s site for more information on running Classic WordPerfect for Mac on an Intel Mac. Yes, it can be done.

If you run WordPerfect for Mac, you should know about the Yahoo Group for WordPerfect for Mac. Edward Mendelson belongs to this group and frequently contributes to it. John Rethorst runs the group. God Bless Him and all those who keep their favorite software up and running.

Finally, if you just need to read WordPerfect files, download LibreOffice here. It’s free, but not Mac-specific. If you want a Mac-specific program that reads WordPerfect files, donate $10 to No complaining about MIcro$oft unless you are willing to help an independent developer!

A word about WordPerfect for Windows. Yes, you can run it on your Mac in a Windows virtual machine. Yes, you have to buy Windows.

No, WordPerfect for Windows does not work well-if at all-under the Crossover/WINE software. Crossover is a brilliant idea & application. I salute Codeweavers for what they’ve accomplished. Check on their Web site for a list of Windows software that does and does not work under Windows.

Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hints from Jill Duffy at PC Magazine.rtf

I have to send a shout-out to Jill Duffy’s column in PC called Get Organized. She has lots of good tips for organizing both Macs and Windows. Since a lot of us live in blended computer households, I advise you to regularly check Jill’s column out.

If you don’t see it at the site, just enter Get Organized and you’ll see a listing of past and present columns.

The first one to bring to your attention is the one on Keyboard Shortcuts. She lists 25 for Windows and 25 for Mac.

Borrowing from Jill, here are the 25 most essential Mac shortcut keys:

Commonly Used OS-Level Shortcuts

1. Command + Tab (toggle between programs)

2. Command + M (minimize active window)

3. Swipe three fingers up on trackpad (show all active windows)

4. Command + Shift + 3 (take screen shot; the default settings will save it to a predefined location, usually the "Pictures" folder and name it "Picture1," "Picture2," etc.)

5. Command + N (opens new Finder from desktop; new window/file in most other programs)

Browser Shortcuts

6. Command + T (open a new tab)

7. Command + Shift + t (reopens the tab you last closed in Chrome, Firefox, Opera; works multiple times)

8. Command + R (reload page)

9. Backspace (go to previous page; works multiple times)

10. Control + Tab (cycle between tabs/go to next tab in Chrome, Firefox, Opera)

Commonly Used Shortcuts in Most Applications

11. Command + Z (undo last operation)

12. Command + Y (redo last operation)

13. Command + O (open file)

14. Command + S (save)

15. Command + W (close active window or file)

16. Command + Q (quit application)

Copy-and-Pasters' Delight

17. Command + A (select all in active window; e.g., select all text on page)

18. Command + X (cut to clipboard)

19. Command + C (copy)

20. Command + V (paste)

Find, Select, and Navigate Text

21. Command + F (find; helpful if you're searching for a particular word on a website or document)

22. Command + Shift + down arrow (select until end of line)

23. Command + Shift + up arrow (select until beginning of line)

24. Command + up arrow (move cursor to top/start of document)

25. Command + down arrow (move cursor to bottom/end of document)

Since a lot of us use Microsoft Word for Windows and Word for Mac as our default editor at work and home, here is a column of Jill’s on achieving greater productivity with the Redmond Beast.

Read it and learn it.

Tom Briant

Editor, Macvalley Blog

Sunday, April 14, 2013

More Articles from Arnold Woodworth-Happy Birthday Cellphone!

Happy 40th birthday, cellphone!!

Forty years ago today, Motorola engineer Martin Cooper made the first cellphone call.

Apple's iMessage encryption trips up feds' surveillance

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hey HP, How do you like them Apples?

An interesting commentary from Brooks Crothers of about the slow-motion collapse of the desktop computer market in favor of the tablet. And the tablet largely means the Apple iPad and iPad Mini. Hewlett-Packard sees a shrinking market for its Windows PCs.

Now I see ads on for lots and lots of desktop PCs. I see them at Costco. I use one at work at a large institutional setting with a wired LAN connection to the wider hospital. So the term “collapse” may be overkill. “Consolidation” is more like it.

But I also know that I bought a new HP printer and I wanted a wireless connection between it’s scanner and printer and my computers so I didn’t have to futz with a tangle of USB/Ethernet cables.

I am bemused that 90 to 100 years ago, the great race in radio was to establish communications over greater and greater distances. Now the race is on to establish communication between your computer desk and the printer on the next table. The trick here is make sure someone else can’t intercept the communication and that multiple users in a large condo complex don’t step on each other’s links.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Transferring cassettes to iTunes with the help of Audio HiJack Pro

I originally planned to use Audacity, the Free! open-source audio editor. It is Free!, it is open-source; and as a full-featured audio editor, it takes some time to learn.

I only wanted to transfer some of my sister-in-law’s old 80’s mix cassettes to CDs for her Christmas present last year. I didn’t have a lot of time to learn a new piece of software. So to cut to the chase, I turned to Rogue Ameoba’s wonderful program, Audio Hijack Pro. It is not Free!, it is not open-source, and I am so glad I spent the $32 to buy it.


Audio Hijack Pro v 2.10.6 only works with OS X 10.6 through 10.8.3. Audio Hijack Pro takes its name from its foremost capability, that of rerouting audio in your Macintosh. It also has the ability to record anything that plays on your Mac to several different audio formats. These formats range from AIFF, for capturing audio you intend to burn to CD, to M4A, the default iTunes audio format, to plain old MP3 for Internet distribution.

The rest of this article will cover how to transfer an old cassette tape into a format suitable for iTunes/iPod/iPad.First, you need an tape player. I am lucky, I have a high-end Sony cassette deck. You may have a boombox or Walkman.

Clean the tape heads with at least denatured alcohol and the cleanest Q-Tips you can find. If you have a Walkman, get a head-cleaning tape. I assume the readers of this article live in an urban area or close to one. You can go to Radio Shack or Best Buy or Fry’s for tape deck cleaning supplies. You might also try Al & Ed’s Car Stereo stores.

Second, you will need a cable to connect the tape deck. For a high-end audio deck , you will need a cable with RCA jacks on one end and a 1/8” stereo

minijack on the other end. Figure1-Patchcable-stereominijacktoRCAjacks-2013-04-3-19-51.png

You plug the RCA jacks into your tape deck’s line-out jacks (Figure 2) and the minijack into your Mac’s audio-in jack (Figure 3).If you use a boombox (Figure 4) or Walkman, you need a patch cable with 1/8” stereo minijacks on each end. Figure4-SonyBoombox-2013-04-3-19-51.jpg


Once you've done this, open up Audio Hijack Pro. Make a new Session by clicking on the + sign at the bottom of the column. (Figure 5).


You get a new default session that you change to fit your needs. For instance, set the Source Type selector, from the drop-down list, from “Application” (Figure 6) to “Audio Device” (Figure 7).



Set the Input Device to “Built-In Input: Line In” (Figure 8).


Plug in the cable from the tape deck or boombox if you haven’t done so already.Set the Output Device to a set of headphones or monitor speakers. In my case, I use a Griffin iMic as the output device for my headphones. You can just use “Built-in Output: Internal Speakers” and plug in a set of headphones if you like. (Figure 9)


(Now your Session may say “Built-In Input: Line In” instead of the name you prefer. In that case, go to the bottom of the Session column and click on the gear icon to the right of the minus sign. You pick “Rename” and change the name of the session to your desired name. In my case, it was “King Crimson and Pink Floyd”. (Figure 10))


Finally, adjust the Recording tab as desired, setting the file type and entering the desired tags. You have several options for the file type. If you just intend to transfer music to your iPod/iPad/MP3 Player, select the format “For recording streaming music” for files in the same format as those you purchase from the iTunes Music Store. If you want to burn these tunes to a CD, choose “For burning to CD (AIFF)”. (Figure 11)


   Now you're ready to hijack and record. Click the Hijack button on the toolbar, then click the Record button on the toolbar. (Figure 12)


Now start the audio playing from your source, and it will be recorded. That's about all there is to it. When you're done, turn the hijacking off, and disconnect the input device.

For recording audio from a record or cassette, using the Split button will seamlessly create a new audio file each time you hit it. Hit it in between tracks, and you'll wind up with different files for each song. You can also try using the Silence Monitor in the Recording tab to automatically split between tracks. Try the Analog preset to start, or experiment with a Custom setup.

If you want to copy your files to iTunes when you finish your recording session, go to the Recording tab and click on the Scripts drop-down list. You can pick a script to copy your files to your iPod or Itunes.

If you want to copy your files to an Audio CD, you can do so within Audio Hijack Pro. Go to the upper-left corner of the window. Click on Recording Bin. On the right-hand, you will see a display of all your recorded files in the /Music/Audio Hijack folder. (Note: you may want to clear this folder out from time to time, particularly if you want to record tapes and LPs as AIFFs for burning to CDs. This file format takes up a lot of space on your hard disk!)

If the files you want to burn to a CD follow each other, click once on the first one to highlight it. Then hold the Shift key down and click the last file. Now you have a highlighted list.

Click on the Burn icon and follow the instructions. Choose the CD burner you wish to use, insert a blank CD-R, and burn your CD.You can also import the AIFF files into iTunes via the scripts list drop-down box or via the manual drag-and-drop method you’ve used in the past.

Finally, what if you want to play back a snippet of the file and rename it? Simple, go to Record Bin, click once on the song you wish to inspect and the click on the Inspect icon.

You’ll see a window with a toolbar with 4 buttons: Summary, Tags, Lyrics, and Artwork.         

Summary gives information on the file format. It also has a mini-player. Click on the right-facing arrow and hear your song. Yes, that’s the song you wanted! (Figure 13)


Now go to Tags and fill in the information (Figure 14) .


Assorted Notes: -Many people also want to remove noise on the signal. As you may know, AH Pro supports VST and AU plugins in the Effects tab. With the low pass filter, you may be able to remove some hiss from cassettes. Other plugins such as Excitifier may allow you to improve audio fidelity. Experimenting to your taste will likely enable you to get the results desired. However, if you're planning to do a lot of audio importation, you may wish to invest in a more professional solution. Check out Bias Inc's SoundSoap VST plugin. It'll plug right in to AH Pro and clean up all kinds of artifacts. It's not cheap at $99, but it will almost certainly serve your purpose.*If your Mac doesn't have an audio input jack, you can use Griffin's iMic to gain an audio input.


For $32, Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack Pro provides a quick and simple way to transfer audio played through your Mac onto files for your iTunes/iPod/MP3 Player. It’s simpler to use than a full-fledged audio editor such as Audacity or HairerSoft’s Amadeus Pro.

You must run at least OS X 10.6 and an Intel Mac to use this program. Sorry, PPC Tiger & Leopard users.

I would like to thank Rogue Amoeba software for the use of selected text excerpts from their manual in this article.

(Thomas Briant was the editor of the MacValley Voice and now edits the MacValley Blog. When not transferring old ‘80s cassettes to iTunes, he enjoys writing about the experience for his fellow MacValleyites. You can reach him at

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bitcoin and Cyprus

The BitCoin web site -- the basics of how BitCoins work


Listen to an interview with a founder of BitCoin

An article on Cyprus and Bitcoin

(h/t to Arnold Woodworth on these articles)

Sticky Note programs for the Mac when you need to capture data quickly

My instructors at San Diego State University back in the ‘80s introduced me to “data capture”. Data capture means that you get the information into your database as quickly as possible. Someone tells you a phone number, you write it down or type it in as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you might transpose digits in the future.

Now as for the term “database,” it brings to mind row upon row of servers under fluorescent lights behind locked doors. No, a database is a collection of information. A list of phone numbers in a Dayrunner is a database. So is a photo album full of your baby’s pictures.

Esoteric books fill engineering library shelves on how to best organize information in a database. For the purposes of this article, the database program should give you some way to organize the data, such as by name or date or color of the note.

Now let’s get to the database programs. I am not going into Filemaker and Bento. I will present you the simple options. Apple has shipped a simple database program with every version of OS X and before that with Classic OS.

That program is called Stickies. PastedGraphic-2013-04-2-18-07.png Stickies is the program you should start with when you need to capture data, such as phone numbers and Web page excerpts,

You can sort notes by the color of the note, the date of the note, the content of the note, and where it is on the screen.

Advantages of Stickies:

System-wide hot key (Shift+Command+Y) to copy selected text into a note.

Service to Make New Stickie from selected text.

It can hold text, pictures, music, and video.


You can’t directly set up a table in Stickies. You must work around it by setting up a table in TextEdit. Then you copy and paste it into a stickie note. Stickies uses the same text engine as TextEdit, but Apple didn’t turn on all the features.

It lacks scroll bars for the text. You can insert a text block longer than the visible note, but you’ll have to use the Up and Down arrow keys to maneuver through it.

You can’t search in Spotlight for a note. You must use Stickie’s own search.

You can’t summarize numeric data in Stickies. Stickies treats all characters as text. You can style the text, but that’s it.

You can’t set up separate databases for different projects. It’s all mixed together. Try using colors to differentiate between projects.

Think of it as a Rolodex for your Mac. A simple database with one database file you can add to and subtract entries from. For many people that’s all they need.

For You Windows Users...

As for Windows users asking if they can get something similar to this for their machines, I would recommend they try the Notes built into MS Outlook. I use it to maintain my secretary’s database of arcane information at work.

If you don’t use MS Outlook, I would recommend the open-source PNotes

It surpasses the default Windows 7 Sticky Notes. But I still miss the all-time champ of simple Windows note programs, Cardfile from Windows 3.1. Look into AZZCardfile if you need a modern version.

Variations on the Theme

Anyway, back to Stickies. Many developers have used Stickies and made improvements to the basic concept. I will cover 3 apps here. Go to,, and the Mac App store for scads more of stickie note programs.

Stick-Em-Up improves upon the basic stickies by allowing you to segregate your notes by categories. You start out with 3 categories and can add more on your own.


You can also import an existing database of Stickies into Stick-Em-Up. They go into their own category of Apple Stickies.

No table function in this program. You have to use the work-around of constructing a table in TextEdit, then copying and pasting it into the note.

This program works with OS X 10.4 through 10.8, Intel and PPC.

SketchBox is another free (as in “buy our other software!”) stickies program. It offers several unique features.

Each note has 3 layers; a text layer, a drawing layer, and a timer layer.


You can’t import existing Apple Stickies databases into SketchBox, but you can use Sketchbox along with other stickies programs.

SketchBox works with 10.4 through 10.8, Intel and PPC.

Finally, a paid option. I read about Sticky Note in the December 2012 issue of Britain’s Macformat magazine. Intrigued, I went to the Mac App Store and installed it.

Sticky Note costs $7.99, comes from the Scottish developers Random Sequence, and runs on Intel Macs running 10.6 or higher.

It imports your existing Apple Stickies database.

It will set up tables on its own and comes with scroll bars.

Hit the Option/Alt key and you can arrange notes in a descending sequence. (Arrange in Front)


You can attach notes to applications. If you have a note about a document you composed in Word, you can attach a note to Word. Unfortunately, you cannot attach the note to the specific document.

You can send notes from one user to another over a LAN if they both use Sticky Notes.


That’s a sampling of the sticky note programs available for the quick capture of data. If you capture a lot of data from Web sites, then the default Stickies program best suits your needs. If you want to keep your stickies separated by category, go with Stick ‘Em Up. If you need to draw as well as write notes, then SketchBox should be considered.

Finally, if you need a program with more features than the default and free ones, consider Sticky Notes.

Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog



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