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 Dr. Mac: Mac OS X Panther Update and Inspiration Reviews

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  11-14-03 | This column originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.


Panther Update & Some Inspiration


By Bob LeVitus

It didn’t take long; earlier this week Apple released Mac OS X Update 10.3.1, which can be downloaded ( or installed via the Software Update System Preference pane.

According to the accompanying tech note, this update “delivers enhanced functionality and improved reliability for the following applications, services and technologies: FileVault, Printing, WebDav, and FireWire 800 drives. This update also includes the latest Security Updates.”

I installed the update two days ago and have not had any issues since. Of course I wasn’t having any issues before the update, so you can take that with however many grains of salt you like.

Apple still recommends you update the firmware of FireWire drives before installing Panther and so do I. The best thing to do is check with your FireWire drive’s maker—they’ll be able to tell you if an update is needed or recommended for your particular drive.

Finally, I’m still leery of FileVault, even though the 10.3.1 update is supposed to fix it, I’m still not ready to commit the contents of my Home directory to encryption just yet.

I hate to sound like a broken record but my experience with Panther has been superb. None of the reported issues have bitten me and I have had fewer applications quit unexpectedly, fewer occasions to log out or restart, and fewer headaches overall since my upgrade.

And it’s not just me. I hear it all the time from other early adopters. One guy on a list I subscribe to said Panther is “by far the best OS I’ve ever used. I’m actually astonished it’s so good.” He noticed the speed improvements as well, saying, “all operations seem to be twice as fast as before.”

But enough about Panther—I want to introduce you to Inspiration, a unique program that helps you brainstorm, develop ideas, organize, outline, diagram, and much more.

The multi-award winning Inspiration has been around as long as I can remember and at its heart it’s still the same program, offering a combination of outline processing and diagramming, coupled with the ability to switch between the linear outline view and free-form diagram view instantly.

Inspiration is as easy to use as ever, but the latest iteration, version 7.5, has an updated, uncluttered interface that invites experimentation. Other new features include integrated notes, hyper-linking to any file or web site, audio support, and my very favorite—one-click instant transfer of your document to Microsoft Word or AppleWorks with all formatting intact.

As always, Inspiration comes stocked with 50+ useful templates in areas such as Language Arts (Fiction Writing, Textual Analysis, Biographical Essay, etc.), Social Studies (Conflict Resolution, Effect of Event, Article Comparison, etc.), Science (Experiment Design, Lab Report, Hypothesis Proof, etc.), Planning (Goal Setting, Lesson Plan, Resume, etc.), and Thinking Skills (Idea Map, Problem Solution, Venn Diagram, Areas of Influence, etc.). I love them and rarely start a project without one (thus avoiding the dreaded, “staring at a blank page” syndrome).

Almost everything I write starts with Inspiration. First I select an appropriate template. Next I use RapidFire mode (in diagram view) to spew multiple ideas and topics onto the screen, then I drag the items around hoping to organize them visually by linking related items and forming logical relationships between ideas. After this I switch to outline view and organize my ideas, thoughts, and notes into something more cohesive and linear. Finally, I use the “Trasnfer to Word Processor” command and polish the piece in Microsoft Word.

When it comes to organizing my thoughts, nothing inspires me like Inspiration.

Inspiration. 7.5. S.R.P. $69.
Inspiration Software, Inc., Portland, Oregon.
800-877-4292 or 503-297-3004.

Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on Mac OS and the author of 41 books, including The Little iTunes Book and Mac OS X for Dummies, 2nd Edition. E-mail comments to [email protected].

Copyright © 2003 Bob LeVitus

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