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Macs as a successful force in Education

May 2nd, 2009
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Mac computers are a successful force in Education as well as in Industry. Apple has come a long way in shaping this platform, and now Macs, which have always been lauded as easy to use, are now also perceived to be in the same level with PCs in terms of market acceptance.

Mac computers, however, are still allegedly view as expensive by some. Despite this, it is not hard to understand how they have become a powerful force as part of a learning environment.

Since its inception, Macs have been used by people in education — both professors and students for several reasons. First, Macs are easy to use and durable, essential characteristics for machines that you want to use for 4 or more years during your college degree.

Also, it is particularly important that they are durable machines — the hectic environment in our schools makes it every day harder to keep the machines working in good shape for all those long hours.

Here is a list of tasks in which Macs have become indispensable over the years:

·         doing lab assignments

·         researching the web

·         writing lecture notes and even recording them

·         keeping work safe from computer viruses

·         creating outlines for assignments and essays

With all of this going on, it is important to have good computers that are flexible and easy to use. Especially important is to have simple software with a good interface, and this is another area in which Macs are some of the best computers around.

Apple Keynote and Microsoft Powerpoint: a Comparison

May 1st, 2009
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As workers in the knowledge information era, there are specific software that anyone must be familiar with in our companies. For example, word processing is an early example of software that virtually everyone needs to use.

In most companies, however, presentation packages are coming close to word processing in the competition for the most used piece of software. What is more common in American businesses than scheduling and delivering meetings? If you want to grow in your company you must be able to communicate well in meetings, and this involves using a presentation package such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote.

In this article I will try to list the difference between these packages and how they can be used to enhance your presentation.
Microsoft PowerPoint
PowerPoint is nowadays the standard for business presentations. If you want to give a successful presentation, you almost certainly want to enhance it with nice graphics of high quality, and other visual material that will keep the attention of your audience.
The problem with PowerPoint, however, is that the styles that it make available by default are not very engaging, and will make your presentation look very simplistic or plain ugly.
If you search the standard models presented with PowerPoint, you will only see the pre fabricated, low quality styles that have been shipped with the application. Using them will not enhance your credibility with your audience.
Of course, you can spend money with external styles, which be bought from several places in the web. You can also even pay someone knowledgeable to create good slides for your, but I believe this is over the reach of most users.
Enter Apple Keynote
Keynote is a software developed by Apple to create presentations on the Macintosh. It is conceived after the philosophy of PowerPoint, but it is much more well designed.
With keynote, you have a lot more choice of how to create your presentation. Instead of a fixed background that will be used on all slides, Keynote provides users with a large pallet of different styles elements that can be applied on each slide separately. This is made easy by the several style-related tools in the software.
The graphical elements in keynote also distinguish themselves by the quality of the result. All images in Keynote are presented in high-resolution, with stunning graphic effects. The transitions in Keynote are not only beautiful, but are also sophisticated. If fells like these transitions were created by expert graphic designers, not by an average programmers (like they feel in Microsoft PowerPoint).
The Conclusion
PowerPoint and keynote are software packages targeted at similar purposes: to present slides for public presentations. However, there is a difference when it comes to the quality of the result.
My experience, and of many others, is that Apple Keynote is engineered is such a way that makes it easier to achieve your results. The available interface options are more focused than the thousand of buttons in PowerPoint — even if you consider the ribbon interface. There is also a lot simple way to achieve stunning effects that are difficult to replicate in PowerPoint.
So, although a good graphical designer can do approximately the same work in both PowerPoint and Keynote, I believe that average computer users can do much better with Keynote.
Moreover, if you compare the price of both products, you will see that Keynote is an excellent deal. Keynote sells for around $70 (along with Pages, a powerful text editor), while the MS product cannot be bought for less than $200, depending on the version of MS Office you are trying to buy.

 

 

 

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Versions of Mac OS X

May 1st, 2009
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The MacOS X is the operating system used in all modern Macs. It was developed by Apple to respond to the growing gap between the capabilities of modern operating systems and the existing Mac OS 9. Previous versions of Mac OS were all based on the code developed in the 80s, when the Macintosh platform was still based on early microchips.

Mac OS X came as an evolution of a previous operating system, the NextStep. NextStep was created by a company founded by Steve Jobs, and its goal was to bring the power of UNIX systems to the desktop. Although the company succeeded in creating a new operating system, it failed commercially and was later sold to Apple.

Merging UNIX and Mac OS

After the return of Steve Jobs to the board of Apple, the Operating System used on the Next machines was modified to run the Macintosh software. It was really a difficult process where two separate traditions of software making, namely UNIX and Mac OS, had to converge in order to create something bigger.

The result of the merge between NextStep and MacOS was an operating system that had a proven design and a user friendly user interface. The Mac OS X was initially released as an optional operating system, while Mac OS 9 was still the official version.

Later on, Mac OS X was sold as the sole operating system, although Mac OS 9 was maintained for compatibility reasons. Even as late as 2005 I had the chance to run quite a few programs using the Mac OS 9 emulator in a PowerPC box.

The versions of Mac OS X are named after felines. The names of big cats used up to now are: Cheetah, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, and Leopard. All thes versions introduced new features and enhancements, but the basic operating system, based on UNIX, has remained the same with only improvements and additions.

Conclusion

Mac OS X is the result of several iterations of software development. It follows the traditions of UNIX (through the NextStep operating system) and Mac OS, the original system used by the Macs. Mac OS X is rapidly evolving and new releases are frequently released by Apple. Nowadays, Mac OS X is used not only in desktops, but is also the operating system used in portable devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch.

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