Archive for November, 2005

November 30th, 2005

Your Mac Life

New Your Mac Life interview: Take Control of Apple Mail in Tiger and Take Control of Spam with Apple Mail (November 30, 2005)

November 28th, 2005

One and a Half New Ebooks

After even more delays and misadventures than usual, I’m happy to report that two of the ebooks I’ve been working on since way back when are now available for sale.

Today, TidBITS released Take Control of Apple Mail in Tiger, a new 184-page, $10 ebook that is now the definitive reference on the version of Mail that ships with Tiger. Although based loosely on last year’s Take Control of Email with Apple Mail (which covered the Panther version of Mail), this new ebook has been completely revamped, and in the process has grown more than 80 pages longer than its predecessor. It covers such new features as Spotlight searching, smart mailboxes, photo management, HTML email, and parental controls. Anyone who has struggled with Mail 2.x should find a great deal of helpful information in this ebook.

In addition, there’s a minor (free) update available to Take Control of Spam with Apple Mail, now at version 1.2. It covers a few spam-related changes in the Tiger version of Mail, plus the newest versions of several third-party anti-spam utilities.

With luck, we’ll see a major update to Take Control of Mac OS X Backups in the next week or so, followed by the long-awaited Take Control of .Mac. And don’t forget: ebooks make terrific holiday gifts!

November 28th, 2005

Novel Completed; Notebook Recovered

This has been a landmark day. Just after midnight, Morgen and I both crossed the 50,000-word mark in our respective novels, thus making us winners in this year’s National Novel Writing Month (see this post).

NaNoWriMo 2005 winner icon

I think I can safely say this was some of my worst writing of all time. In keeping with the ethic of the competition, the focus was on quantity rather than quality, so that was pretty much the expected result. I think there were a few glimmers of inspiration here and there, and perhaps at some later date I’ll go through the manuscript, extract those few words, thoughts, and scenes, and make something else out of them. In the meantime, let me offer a quick F.A.Q. on my novel, since so many people have asked:

Q: What’s your novel about?

A: It’s about 50,000 words.

Q: Har har. No, seriously. What’s it about?

A: Hard to say. People have conversations, experience perilous situations, and mostly escape unharmed. Except those who don’t. And then they have more conversations.

Q: Yeah, but can you, like, actually synopsize the plot?

A: There was supposed to be a plot?

Q: Um, yeah. So maybe I could just read it and then I’ll tell you what it’s about.

A: No. You can’t read it. In fact, no one can read it. Ever. It’s that bad.

Q: Oh, come on. I’m sure it’s really good, even though you say it’s bad. Let me just have a quick look.

A: No frackin’ way. You may not read it in a house, with a mouse, in a boat, or with a goat.

Q: On a train, perhaps?

A: Not here, there, or anywhere. Sorry.

I hope that’s been helpful…

Meanwhile, another piece of exciting news today. This afternoon, BART’s lost and found department called to say they had the Moleskine notebook I lost more than five weeks ago. Shocking! I’d given up on it a long time ago. But I finally have it back—none the worse for the wear, either. A nice way to end the month.

November 7th, 2005

An Afternoon in Provence

Yesterday afternoon, I had the great pleasure of meeting yet another of my literary heroes: Peter Mayle, author of A Year in Provence and it sequels, several novels, and a few delectable works of non-fiction. His latest book, which I bought yesterday, is Confessions of a French Baker: Breadmaking Secrets, Tips, and Recipes. Mayle wrote this book along with (and as a favor to) baker Gerard Auzet, whose bakery and bread featured prominently in A Year in Provence. It is what it sounds like: a guide to baking bread in the traditional French manner, but written for an audience of mere mortals in Peter Mayle’s inimitable style.

Peter gave a delightful presentation at Book Passage in Corte Madera (just north of San Francisco), where all the biggest writers seem to show up when in northern California. Afterward, when Morgen and I went up for the obligatory autograph (I do seem to be collecting an unusual number of those, don’t I?), I told him that his books had completely changed our eating habits and had been responsible for our taking multiple trips to France (he remarked that it looked good on us); few people can claim to have had such an influence on our lives. Judging by the other comments and questions I heard, he gets that sort of thing a lot.

What a life: kicking back in a comfy home in the south of France, surrounding yourself with incredible food and drink, and making a tidy living writing about your experiences. If Peter Mayle ever quits his job, I’ll be first in line to apply for the position.