Should I Upgrade to Office 2011 for Mac?


Background

Office 2011 for Mac is Released October, 2010. I got my hands on a full version a whopping 3 days before October. Here’s a quick review:

Short Version

Hello Outlook for Mac! (Goodbye Entourage)

Office for Mac 2011 matches up with Office 2010 for Windows.

Upgrade As Soon As Possible and you won’t miss a beat if you are an experienced Outlook User or Office 2007/2010 user

Wait until you have time to learn a new interface if you are used to Office 2008 or older on the Mac.

Skip it if you are happy with your current version of office and – you can open DOCX and XLSX files with your current setup – you use OSX’s MacMail and iCal or another program for mail and calendar and so you don’t care about Entourage or Outlook

A Bit More

If you are used to Office 2008 or older for the Mac, the learning curve of jumping to Office 2011 is bigger than any other version upgrade you’ve experienced. If you happen to know Office 2007 or 2010 for Windows, the switch to Office 2011 will be intuitive and easy. The crux here is that the whole Office user interface is now based on ribbons. Mac users still have menu items, but all the important User Interface (UI) stuff is in the Ribbon, a big toolbar across the top that changes according to what you are doing. If you want to insert a Table in Word, for instance, click the Tables tab and the “Create Table” is right there, along with most Table options you’d ever want.

The upgrade is similar to the one Windows users went through when they went from Office 2003 to Office 2007 (and recently Office 2010 was really just a refinement on the 2007 interface changes). Going from Office 2003 to 2007 was hardest on the power users. These are the people that knew how to harness every nuance from Office 2003. Now with the new ribbon interface, that knowledge did them no good. Casual users or those who used just the basics of the Office Suite had no problem upgrading. And in the end, I have heard over-and-over that once you understand how the ribbons are organized, they’re simply great. So, once again I say, upgrade if you are ready to deal with the new ribbon-based interface. Upgrade as well if you want a new email program that is on par with the Windows version of Outlook. But for those of you who don’t want to spend the money, or want to wait for something incredible beyond Outlook for Mac, wait for the next version.

And even more:

Things I haven’t gone into here but hope to along the way.:

  • Office online power
  • New features beyond the ribbon interface
  • DOCX and XLSX format discussion.

Create a Fake Life on Facebook

[EDIT: I’ve now opted to treat Facebook as a primary means of real communication — primarily for sharing all things tech, so some of the following information does not apply to my Facebook account any more. But the possibilities are still there]

Short Version

I looked into creating a fake life on Facebook, but in the end gave it up because of social dynamics — the very thing I was hoping to poke fun at.

If you are diligent with the friend requests you accept and reject, you could have a lot of fun.

Here’s What Happened

The idea of posting public photos and status updates for the world to see is anathema to some. I see it as a creative outlet. Once an old high school girlfriend made contact, I realized that I had the opportunity to create another whole persona. Ahh, an alternate life. What life to choose?

Option 1: Go with a more positive braggy life wtih the smug tone of, say, Colbert but go all materialistic and brag on my Tesla and things.

Option 2: Go the other way and have horrible things happen in my fake facebook life, but still have a happy attitude about it, in the spirit of Candide. Aha! What a great vision, I thought. A parody Facebook page, based in spirit on a parody novellette!

I chose Option 2 and took the first few baby steps in this direction when I updated my Facebook image. It’s still there today:

Here’s how I really look:
Here’s how I look on Facebook:

I imagined two groups of people seeing my Facebook page:

Group 1: Close Friends and Family — the folks I’ve stayed in touch.

Group 2: People I haven’t stayed in touch with.

I originally tought that all people in my world fell into these two categories. And so, for Group 1, they’d be in on the joke.  Group 2 folks would be the jokees; they’d read the alternate reality and perhaps think it was real.

I really wanted to take it all the way with funny (to me) posts that were outrageous lies about my life. I could hint at a sex-change operation perhaps, or about a vague tragedy that I’m recovering from, talk about how “despite it all, I know people are good and the world is beautiful.” Talk about which affirmations help me the most.

But then something happened: I realized that there are way more than two groups following me on Facebook. There are people I wish I had kept in touch with but just hadn’t, there were in-laws of all sorts: cousins by marriage in Franceand Florida; and there were old dear friends the family. There were people I work with who all have great senses of humor. And there were others who don’t. There was my mom.

I realized that if I were gong to take this Facebook thing extreme as I had imagined, it might backfire in many big ways.

So, I just stopped.

I sit paralyzed between sharing true life things that may be mundane but true, or follow a fake life story that may be tragic in its vision, but creatively interesting to me? I have yet to decide. But I think I’m going to go for truth.

The Big Payoff

The other day, a best friend told me that someone asked him, with hushed concern: “What happened to Chris?”  It took my friend a few minutes to realize the guy had looked me up in Facebook seen the picture and was gossiping. Ahhh. At least I got that satisfaction of at least one person taking the bait.

What Should One Really Do with Facebook?

  • Set the privacy settings just right.
  • Keep in touch with friends new and old.
  • Be light but honest.
  • Avoid the mundane.

Should I upgrade to Windows 7?

Short Version: 

Yep. Install now.

A Bit More.

Operating System upgrades are a big deal from your computer’s perspective, so it’s not an automatic decision.

If you are running Vista, upgrade. Do it. Win7 is Vista refined.

If you are running XP, only upgrade if your computer is 2 years old or newer or if you have 2 gigs of RAM or more.

The more RAM in your computer, the better.

Windows 7 was released October 22, 2009 with pre-release versions available months before that.

Live Stream Video from Customer’s Location (or Anywhere)

The Problem
A flooring installer wants to put up a webcam that shoots the room he’s flooring and they owner can go to a website and see what’s going on right now.  

The Short Version:
Use an iPhone with unlimited data plan and stream the video via the uStream application. Stand the phone up by putting it in a custom coffee snuggly holder.  

A Bit More and Other Options:
There are a lot of variations to this problem, so there are different roads to take:

The biggest issue is connection to the internet.

Options are:

  • Customer’s home WiFi or wired network
  • Cellular network access card or usb device such as those available from Sprint or Verizon
  • Personal wifi hotspot via cellular like verizon mifi
  • Smartphone feed (feasible only if you have an unlimited dataplan like those that were available for iPhone until recently

Good options depending on the connection

If his customer(s) have wifi or a wired network in their house, use a security-webcam and software.
Big Issue With This Approach: setup could take a good hour at the customer’s location. There are lots of consumer-level options in this space, which makes streaming easy and good as long as you’re willing to share your login information on the web site. Here are a couple ideas in this space for examples.

Try ustream

  • From a smartphone with unlimited data plan (easy, but low quality)
  • From a laptop with a built-in camera or usb webcam and a connection to the internet. (connection can be customer’s network or cellular data connection or hotspot).

There are surely other solutions here. Any other suggestions? Please Comment!