Review: iWork ’08

31 01 2008

Overview
iWork ’08, for those of you that don’t know, is a
document suite made by Apple that is quite similar to other programs such as Microsoft Office or OpenOffice.org. The reason I decided to go with iWork over Office was, simply, because it was much more intuitive and simpler to use than Microsoft Office. The interface is quite clean – like many other Apple programs – and is very direct and quite easy to get the hang of. There is a bit of a learning curve, I found, coming from a Windows machine running Office ’03, but once you have the basics worked out, your ready to go. I found, that when making presentations and spreadsheets, the design aspects of everything seemed much easier to create and model compared to that of Office. Sorry for all of the Office comparisons, but there isn’t much more to compare it to.
Pages ’08
Pages is the equivalent to Word that I’m sure many of you are familiar with. Where pages differs from Word is the page layout options that allow you to make even the simplest document look like it was designed by a professional. It comes with a large array of templates for you to chose and modify to your liking. If none of the suit your taste, you can decide to create your own, from scratch. It may sound like it would be a complicated task but Pages combined with the power of the options available make almost any task easy. I say “almost” because I found one minor thing that Apple decided not to include. The ability to make equations inside of pages, or any other of the programs inside iWork, for that matter, is completely absent. Things such as fractions or other symbols that could be found inside of Microsoft Office’s “Symbols” menu, are nowhere to
be seen inside of iWork. Now, this will affect very few of you and this is hardly a deal-breaker, unless you find yourself commonly placing equations inside of documents or presentations. If anyone finds a workaround, please feel free t leave a comment below. Other than that, I have found Pages to be a pleasant alternative to Word and in many ways much, much better.
Numbers ’08
Before you go and think Numbers is just another Excel clone, think again. The options inside of Numbers are seemingly endless when first presented with it. Numbers is very special, in that, it somehow combines the equations and data tables of Excel with the page layout ability from pages, as I mentioned above. This idea of combining the two, creates stunning charts and graphs that are much more appealing to others than a plain chart. Once again, Numbers comes with a large quantity of pre-defined templates ranging from school savings, to budget, to dinner parties. One of the nice features that I discovered inside of Numbers is the quick equation panel, which allows you t highlight a group of numbers and perform some standard calculations on them without ever having to figure out the whole “=(B3:B15*C4:C13)” formulas. I found this feature saved me a large chunk of time when making calculation-heavy charts. Also, Numbers gives you the option to resize your charts to fit more or less columns in a specific table. This feature will also let you input other tables inside of the single page, as well as pictures, text boxes and video. Finally, one of my personal favorite features inside of Numbers is the print view, and no, I’m not crazy. Inside of the print view, you are still able to drag around tables, graphics, text and pretty much anything else thats moveable, so that it suits your printing needs. Also, it has a “Content scale slider” which will shrink the entire document percent by percent so that it fist on your page exactly how you envisioned it.
Keynote ’08
Keynote is pretty much Powerpoint’s brother with some improvements and some not-so
improvements. For starters, the transitions and all around look-and-feel is quite nice and
polished making for some beautiful presentations. The ability to layout a slide is quite nice,
with the snap-to grids that appear when the object lines up with the edge of another object (this
feature is seen throughout iWork). There are a couple downsides though. For one, I haven’t
been able to find an option to embed an online video inside of a presentation, but you are able
to embed one from your hard drive. Also, I found the bullets to be a tad irksome, just simply
because they always center inside the text box, instead of start at the top and work their way
down, but I’m sure there’s a simple workaround for this problem and I just havent been worried
about it enough to figure it out.

Final Thoughts
After working with iWork ’08 for a little bit I have come to love it and would never look at
using Microsoft Office as an alternative to it. There just aren’t enough problems with it. Four
stars.
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Review: Apple iPod Touch

30 01 2008

If you don’t have one already have one, I strongly suggest that you get one. This is been my favorite toy for the last couple of months and I absolutely love it. The touch screen is the perfect sensitivity and all of the applications and settings are very intuitive; the learning curve for it is probably around 2 minutes. I was one of the ones who pre-ordered it the day it was announced, Sept. 5, so I’ve had some time to fiddle around with it and absolutely adore it- I couldn’t ask for anything better than this wonderful product Apple has made.

A couple of weeks after I bought it, I decided to do a little jailbreaking – and haven’t looked back. Now don’t get me wrong, the iPod alone is a great feature – and now with the iPhone apps prepackaged even better – but jailbreaking it adds a whole other dimension to its productivity and the community feeling involved with the product. There are quite a few fun games and applications available for it as well. For instance, the game Tap Tap Revolution is a little touchscreen version of Guitar Hero that accesses your song library and compares it to tabs that people have created and placed on the internet for your use, and allows you to use them free of charge.
All in all, the iPod touch is worth every penny and it would be tough for me to live a day without it. Five stars.








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