I need a flux capacitor to fix this…

I recently wrote an article for TidBITS about the app’s resurrected text-box-linking feature. A reader responded with complaints about Pages 7:

Whatever, it is still the most ignorant word processing software. I can open a document in Word I made in 2007 with office 2016- with Pages no way. I have to update to a more recent version. That’s not just cloudy it’s ridiculous and nobody I know who uses a Mac uses Pages. If they would have made it backwards compatible then it would be a viable software. But as we know Apple only does things (basic word) to their convenience on many levels.

I responded to the “backwards compatible” complaint:

I just dug up an old Word .doc file of mine that was last modified in 2004 and had no problem opening it with Pages 7. I can also open files made with Pages 4 in Pages 7. The rumors of Pages’ lack of backward compatibility may be exaggerated.

Turns out, this reader had a…unique…interpretation of what backward compatibility entailed:

Pages 3.0.3 will not open documents created with later Pages. That’s a problem.

Pages 3.0.3 was released 10 years ago. I suppose I could climb into my Delorean, travel to Apple in 2007, and deliver the Pages 7 file format specs to the Pages 3 development team, but that almost certainly would split the timeline and cause serious instability in the multiverse. So I probably won’t.

I guess the disgruntled reader wins this round.

I don’t need those stinkin’ badges!

I’m delighted that Apple’s iBooks app can display an update badge  to alert you when a book that you have purchased from the iBooks Store has been updated. It would be more delightful if the alert mechanism worked.

For example, here is what I see at the bottom of the iBooks screen on my iPhone. Looks like I have 32 books waiting to be updated.

Updates badges on my iPhone

However, when I tap the Purchased button, I see a list of every book I have purchased from the iBooks Store, but I see nothing to tell me which of them needs to be updated.

Meanwhile, back on my Mac, when I open iBooks (using the same iBooks Store account as on my iPhone), and then choose Store > Check for Available Downloads, this is what I see:

What I see in iBooks on my Mac

Looks like the alert update mechanism, like so much else in Apple’s cloud ecosystem, needs some debugging.


Beowulf: The monster and the cricket

I like Tolkien and I like Anglo-Saxon poetry. So, when a friend sent me a link to a New Yorker piece by dance critic Joan Acocello, titled “Slaying Monsters,” I clicked.

Then I had to scrape the stupid from my retinas.

Selected quotes from this farrago and my notes on them follow:

* On Beowulf’s lack of a “real psychology”: “Unlike Anna Karenina or Huckleberry Finn, [Beowulf] is not a filter, a point of view, standing between us and his world.” Maybe because Beowulf is NOT A FUCKING 19th CENTURY NOVEL!!

* On Grendel’s piteousness: “Tolkien describes how, after the fight with Beowulf, Grendel, ‘sick at heart,’ dragged himself home, ‘bleeding out his life.’” Because Tolkien meant the passage to…oh, wait, he only translated it.

* On Grendel’s childlike nature: “One reason Grendel seems childlike is that he has a mother.” Because everyone with a mother is childlike. Like George Clooney, and Hitler.

* On the battle between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother: “It also shows a man killing a woman.” That fucking sexist pig, Beowulf, and his misogynist collaborator, Tolkien!!

* On the poem’s treatment of time: “As the time planes collide, spoilers proliferate.” Which must have really affected the poem’s box-office receipts.

* On Anglo-Saxon: “If you don’t know German, it doesn’t sound like anything at all.” Your knowledge of Dutch won’t help you, either, you fools! And don’t even talk to me about Frisian!

* On the duties of being a professor: “That is why Tolkien had a job: at Oxford, for decades, he taught the first half of ‘Beowulf.’” Wanted: professor of Anglo-Saxon. Must know first half of English epic, be comfortable wearing burnt cotton.

* On Heaney’s translation compared to Tolkien’s: “Heaney, to his credit, took responsibility for this poem, and turned it into something that regular people would want to read, and enjoy.” Irregular people read something else while trying to coax a bowel movement.

* On Tolkien’s interest in the poem: “Like Beowulf, Tolkien was an orphan.” After the age of 12; before that he was only half-an-orphan, or an orphan-let.

I wave my hand and raise a storm

Late last week I began composing a short piece for this blog about the phrase “get over it.” However, knowing that the weekly edition of TidBITS was running a little light this week, I showed it to the editors there, and they felt it was worthy of publication, so I submitted it, and they published it.

It seems I touched a nerve: as I write this, the article has accrued almost 90 comments in the course of the day. And I didn’t even mention sex or free prizes in it once!

Today in Journamalism™

I keep hearing journalists and correspondents from major media outlets (such as CBS and ABC) talk about the “Republican takeover of Congress.” According to my copy of the Constitution (the one that includes the bit about slavery that has been left out of the group reading staged in the House of Representatives), the Congress consists of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. And the Senate, as I recall, currently has a Democratic majority.

Holy Jeebus on a jet scooter! The stupid: it BURNS!