AMITIAE - Wednesday 9 April 2014

Mothers Little Helpers (1): The Dock, and the Spacebar
Microsoft Office for the iPad in Thailand - Bangkok Post, Life

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


There are several ways to navigate quickly round OS X, starting at the bottom of the screen with the Dock. This displays icons of several applications including any currently open, plus some minimised documents or browser pages. With the cursor over a Dock icon, click and hold opens a menu in a black frame with options for the file or application. These differ if the application is running or not.

The Dock

While the Dock has a default application set available when the Mac comes out of the box, clicking on an icon and dragging it to the desktop, removes it (with a puff of virtual smoke). Dragging any application, file or folder to the Dock adds its icon. That includes the Applications folder: clicking on this, shows all the apps. Its icon style depends on the user's apps.

The Dock
The Dock - With Applications Folder

The Dock
The Dock - Applications Folder Open

There is little point these days in putting the applications folder in the Dock (although some may like to work with this) because to the left - if the Dock is horizontal - is Launchpad. This displays all apps available just like on the iPad or iPhone. Like those devices, the position of an icon can be changed (click and drag), so screens can be personalised. A search bar allows any app installed to be found quickly. We do not have to put the cursor over search: just start typing and apps appear.

Using Launchpad

Some find that the Dock interferes with work in certain apps and prefer the Dock to be positioned to one side. The quick way to do this is with the faint dividing line towards the right of the Dock: the cursor changes to a white, double arrow. Pressing the Control key and the mouse (trackpad) displays a menu with an option for screen position (Left, Bottom, Right). We may also use System Preferences > Dock and select the position.

The Dock
System Preferences - The Dock

Quick Look

The simple spacebar is part of a useful tool that Apple introduced with OS X 10.5, Leopard, called Quick Look. If a file, like an image or a PDF, is highlighted (click on it once) and the spacebar is pressed, the file is displayed and the contents can be viewed. There are other features, controlled by tools at the top of the panel, such as export (including mail and messages), open in an application, or full screen.

If a series of images is selected and the spacebar is pressed, the first image is opened. Pressing the Full Screen icon shows the first picture again, with a toolbar across the image. One of the controls here is a slideshow arrow: all images are displayed one by one. This is useful for showing a series of photographs without the need for opening applications.

Quick Look
Quick Look controls with a Selection of Images

Quick Look works with many file types including images, presentations and documents. It can also be used in applications such as Mail, so I can view contents of a file before I open it. For ZIP (or other compressed) files I use a plug-in (Quick Look Generator), so I can check all compressed files sent to me and can see any nasty files without opening the ZIP file. This is also available on the Mac App Store. Other plugins for Quick Look are available at QLPlugins and QuickLook Plugins List.

For those who use the Terminal, type zipinfo, add a space and drag a ZIP file into the window (that adds the path and file name). Pressing Enter gives a list of the contents. This works with DMG (Disk Image) files as well.

Microsoft Office for iPad

Microsoft announced last week that some 12 million copies of Office for the iPad had been downloaded. I can announce that the number in Thailand is zero. Redmond seems to have the beginnings of a success on its hands with some good reviews of its Office for iPad: Excel, Powerpoint and Word. Using it to its fullest with Office 365 will require a subscription of $99.99 a year.

I have no intention of using this, but I would like a look. That is not possible. The suite is only available in 135 countries. In Asia-Pacific it is not available in Thailand, Japan, Nepal and Pakistan. It can be downloaded in neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Malaysia. There has been some frustration expressed about this online.

Not Office
Not here in Thailand you Don't

I contacted MS Tech Support by phone on Friday 28 March. They took my details and said they would contact me. I have heard nothing. I also wrote to the company that, according to the Microsoft website, handles public relations: Waggener Edstrom Communications. There was a reply to my email (31 Mar) and I was asked for my phone number. As yet have they not contacted me. Apple support referred me to Microsoft.

Not Office
Not the iTunes App Store for Thailand

As a note, the new Adobe Lightroom for the iPad was available as soon as it was released in the iTunes App Store for Thailand

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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