Tuesday, July 1, 2008

slightly mollified

I've just been to Julien Kwan, whose Apple outlet in Grosßbeerenstraße is moving on to pastures new on Thursday. Mission: to upgrade the old Powerbook G4 to 1 gigabyte of RAM so's to run CS3 on Tiger, given as how InDesign (now on the new MacBook) crashes in Leopard every time I try to open it. So the mood is aggrieved. Apple! Adobe! Get your act together! Guys (polite for "incompetent techno-wankers")!

And yet... what can I say? Apple is like the psychosociopathic boyfriend whose role model was Skarp Hedin of Njals Saga. Just when you've decided, for the hundredth time in as many hours, to get out of this abusive relationship and move ON, you're charmed, disarmed...

I was trying to enlarge the image of a desk at Ikea in Firefox, which obligingly opened in a new window and announced DONE to the tune of a blank screen. So I nip over to Safari, as one does, and the Apple website comes up. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a tip for merging PDFs in Preview!!!!!!! A tip which also enables one to move pages around at will in Preview!!!!!!!

All is NOT forgiven, Steve Jobs. But this is unbelievably great. And we have many, many Mac users on this blog:

So for those of you have a Mac and want to know how to merge PDFs by drag-and-dropping in Preview, the link is here.

While Julien was upgrading the PowerBook I improved the shining hour by reading an article on Quark 8.0 in MacWorld's German brother. The news was that saving palettes in Quark 8.0 is a big deal because you have something like 27 palettes. The verdict was that Quark was closing in on InDesign.

I think Quark's being a bit silly. It should look at one of the clever things Apple did to outflank Windows - waaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyy back in the 90s. Back in the dawn of time Apple sold separate language kits for Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese and so on (in a reluctant stroll down memory lane I have, as it happens, just retrieved from storage an untouched set of 3.5-in floppies for the Arabic Language Kit). When they brought out OS 9 (which in itself shows you that this was a loooooooooooong time ago) they did something that was both magical and maddening (if you had just spend 300 quid on assorted language kits) - they included ALL language kits with the operating system. This generosity went slightly awonk with OS X - they went right on a generous helping of languages, without bothering to provide documentation explaining how they worked in OS X. Still, fact is, with a Mac you could produce texts in a wide variety of scripts with a simple Command-Spacebar toggle. (And Leopard, whatever its other shortcomings, provides the documentation that has been lacking lo these many years.)

So Quark, anyway, has apparently tried to fight InDesign on its own ground. It has made its UI cooler; it has multiplied palettes. If you want to typeset Arabic or Japanese in Quark you STILL have to buy an extension. If they had had the cunning of Apple, though, they would have done something quite different: they would have made ALL those other extensions native to vanilla Quark. And they would have wiped the floor with the competition. But they didn't, so they're just closing the Abstand.


Anonymous said...

But why not just typeset it all in XeTeX and have done with it? So much the better solution all around. And free!

Ithaca said...

You mean instead of faffing about with InDesign or Quark? If I were publishing a book myself that might be a good solution, but if I were going through a publisher my guess is that they would fight tooth and nail to avoid using software unfamiliar to their printers.

nsiqueiros said...

Apple is like the psychosociopathic boyfriend whose role model was Skarp Hedin of Njals Saga.

That sentence just made my day.