A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....
Holiday Help, Lefty-Tips, & Cool Sites September 27th, 2000
Pat Serafine, a reader from Austin, wrote this past week about how he likes to decorate his computer for the holidays and it reminded me of how much fun it was to do so last year. However, if you are a brand new, or relatively new, user you may want to practice this now so that it won't take too much time to do it during the busier holidays. And remember, our goal continues to be to impress our grandchildren! Pat wrote about Halloween which is primarily a children's holiday in the U.S.
I like to decorate my mac's desktop for Halloween, since I don't decorate my house. I like to change all the folder icons to ghosties and ghoulies, and cauldrons and such, and I usually pick an appropriate desktop picture. I especially like changing the folder names to funny Halloween-related names. The IconFactory has many links to icon sites for your collecting pleasure, and one of those, BlueSkyHeart graphics, has free holiday desktop pictures, as well as desktop consoles you can buy. I have bought some of them, and they are really nice pictures, with built-in docks for icons. I am not really much of a collector, never had a stamp collection or coin collection, but I do collect icons for some reason. I currently have about 105 Megabytes (over 22000 icons) in my collection, and I haven't even scratched the surface of what is out there. It can turn into an obsession if you are not careful... when you find some really nice icons, not the cheesy ones that look like they belong on a windoze machine. I especially like when the IconFactory folks change their entire Web site for Halloween each year... including new animations.
I was not familiar with this site and decided to check it out myself. The first thing I noticed is that this site is dedicated to the Mac. Icon sets are designated by operating system and they already have icons designed for OS X.
The IconFactory Guide
To download a set of icons scroll down the list on the Warehouse Page and click on the downward arrow to the left of each set. It will automatically download to your desktop. If you click on the underlined name of the set you will see a quick preview of what the set contains. These icons are free. This site offers for sale (US$20) an application that allows you to change all your icons at once. It also offers easy to follow instructions for making your own icons. I think it is worth a visit.
Another site that may be worth a visit is called Home Town Shops. Basically, this is a gathering of specialty items that probably are not too readily available on the internet. For instance, there is a hand made soap shop, a shop that makes custom cake tops, one for hand made mirrors, and one for spices and herbs. There are many others as well. Who knows when you might be looking for a really unusual gift or items for yourself.
Reader George Carrington has just recently discovered Computing With Bifocals and he went back and read some previous columns. Welcome George. George has some suggestions concerning people who are left handed or who use their mouse from the left side. George writes:
I noticed that some time back you talked about using the mouse with your left hand. I was taught that trick at work nearly 20 years ago, for the very reasons you stated. Being also the only right-hander in a family of southpaws, it's just as well that I use the mouse left-handed - fewer arguments! Something you may never have come across is Lefty - it turns the cursor arrow around to point from left to right - this being, according to its originator, much more logical for left-handers. Its an INIT - which tells you how long it's been around, but still works under Mac OS 8.6.
The whole issue of mousing left-handed generated lots of response and strong feelings. You can catch up on those columns from last March and April by visiting the Computing With Bifocals Index and scrolling down to Left-Handed.
One thing that often distinguishes generations is the catch phrases we use. Of course, there are certainly differences between countries and regions as well. I remember when I lived in Idaho people would look at me as if I had grown another head whenever I said I was "fixin" to go someplace. However, the generational catch phrases are more universal and most of the time we don't think about them or where they come from. If I say "What's behind door number one," most readers over 50 will know it comes from "Lets Make A Deal." How about "Cut the Mustard", "The Whole Shebang", "Buy The Farm", "Beat Around the Bush", or "Minding Your P's and Q's"?
One last web site recommendation. If you visit Mac Freeware you will find lots and lots of free applications for your Mac. I counted over 50. Some will not be of interest to new users, but each one comes with a detailed explanation of what it offers. The first one on the list is Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you have not yet discovered this application I recommend that you check it out and download it. The reader allows you to view PDF files and as the internet grows you will find that more and more information is available in PDF for the simple reason that it is not platform specific. If you want to know more about PDF you can read about it in a column from February, 2000.
If you have ideas related to using your Macintosh for the upcoming holidays that others would like, please take a moment to write me about them.
Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping. To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.
Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color,
covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.
Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.