How to Convert .pages to text or Word

Pages '09 logoOur high school has apparently started using iWorks for documents, and in particular the Pages word processor and layout tool.  We were unable to open a .pages file at home using Microsoft Word and other programs.  A quick search on the internet provided a helpful solution: export the file in Word format from the Pages program.  So that will work next time – but didn’t help for the file on hand.

So the trick is to move the file to a PC, then add .zip on the end of the file name.  Then double click to open the file, and there should be several files, including

  • Thumbnail.jpg
  • Preview.pdf
  • index.xml

These files can then be extracted.  Thumbnail.jpg shows what the document looks like.  Preview.pdf provides the document in Adobe PDF format.  From there, you can simply select the text, then copy and paste it into Word, or any other editing program.

Thanks to Experts Exchange for the tip.

Portable Hard Drives: Toshiba vs My Passport

Toshiba DrivesPortable hard drives are now very affordable.  These are the small USB-powered drives that have become my preferred backup method.  They don’t require a power supply, and usually work seamlessly with any PC or Mac.

Today, I purchased a Toshiba Canvio 320 Gb drive for $70 from Best Buy.  No special installation software, and the included backup software was simply deleted without any problem.

I mention this last issue because I recently tried some Western Digital My Passport Essential drives.  They come with backup software (“WD Smartware”) that can’t be removed.  The drives are preconfigured with a partition that operates as a virtual CD drive (with the backup software and disk drivers), and another partition for the removable drive that operates as you would expect.

The “CD drive” automatically installs a program that then runs from the taskbar.  To disable this activity, you need to download a special program from the company website, install it, connect the drive, and then reconfigure it to disable the CD drive functionality.  Note that the CD drive files remain – they just stay dormant.  What were they thinking when they designed this?

Or you can just get the Toshiba drive and save yourself some headaches.

PayPal integration

In general, PayPal seems to work well once you get it set up. But sometimes the smallest things interfere with that setup. It took nearly and hour and a half, and 3 PayPal support technicians to figure out why a Paypal payment page was forcing the customer to create a PayPal account, instead of allowing either a credit card payment or a PayPal account. It turns out that the PayPal account name (an email address) had been entered with the first letter capitalized, but I had been using all lower case.  Also, the email address in question, had not been verified (although it had been used back and forth with PayPal).

Once those two corrections were made, the payment system worked just fine.

Digital Humanities at Dartmouth

I attended a part of the Symposium on the Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College. This was a day-long event that included a variety of presentations showcasing applications of technology in the liberal arts.

Some of the programs I learned about:

Project Bamboo: trying to figure out how to use technology and social media techniques to help with research projects.  I didn’t really understand what this was all about.

Dartmouth Dante project: a fairly straightforward compilation of commentaries on Dante’s Divine Comedy. The information is easily searchable, and contains material that is otherwise difficult to get to.

Variable D Salon: a weekly meeting of students and professors to discuss technology.

“Photo Fakery in the Digital Age”: a talk about digital manipulation, with some pertinent and amusing examples from current media. The speaker Hany Farid was very good, and is a professor at Dartmouth.

Archimedes in Bits”:  a talk about using imaging techniques to recover a lost text of Archimedes that was written on a manuscript that had been recycled with something else written on top. Website

And I didn’t go in this, although I noticed it parked on campus – but the Tiltfactor Playcube is quite interesting.

Time Tracking

I finally retired my Access-based time tracking tool, and switched to a new on-line tool called SyncD.  It turns out that it is a New Hampshire product, written by two brothers.  It has most of the features I was looking for:

  • 3 levels of detail: clients, projects, tasks
  • online employee access
  • the ability to enter starting and ending time – this is because I usually enter time at the end of the day, and this helps keep it organized.  Many other time tracking tools only allow you to enter a duration.  This is enough for reporting or billing, but less helpful when checking your time spent against emails in/out, phone logs, etc.
  • easy, intuitive interface
  • optimized, fast data entry

Things I don’t like (but I can live with):

  • no iPhone interface
  • unable to force time to 15-minute increments
  • no approval process – i.e., once a time is approved and or billed, then it can’t be changed

In the process of researching products, I built the following comparison grid:

Time Tracking comparison grid image