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Extra added "Mactractions." (Macintosh computers in libraries) (column)

Extra Added "Mactractions"

Sometimes, in the grip of nostalgia, older folks may think back to pre-television days when going to the movies was rather special. Along with the main feature (often double feature) came the assorted added attractions: a cartoon, news of the week, or a light-hearted short subject. Similarly, the "main feature" of certain computer applications may have lesser known, added attractions -- the frosting on the disk, so to speak. Concentrating on the mastery of word processing or image control, we overlook some programmer's little gift.


ImageStudio [TM] from Letraset is called a digital darkroom; with this application you control electronic images.(1) You can blur, sharpen, add highlights, and edit the graymap to vary brightness and contrast. Tools include air brushes, charcoal, and smear to simulate effects possible photographically. Then ImageStudio takes off lightheartedly with "pens" that draw stars, leaves, hearts, and sparkles. There's even a candy cane pen.

At the Jeffrey Star Library, ImageStudio is used in the preparation of graphics for newsletters, announcements, and brochures. But all work and no play would never do -- behind the scenes, the staff's morale is enhanced by the quick notes, birthday cards, and party invitations decoratively embellished with the goodies in its Pen and Custom menus.

Vacation Video Viewing

Reference librarian Nancy Morrow is inviting the staff to a showing of videotapes from her first cruise vacation. She kept her camcorder whirring on ship and on shore. For a graphic to announce her show, she opens ImageStudio and selects the paint brush from the tool palette. The brush is given a Pipe "pen" from the Pen menu and quickly shapes a graceful tree trunk with a tropical look.

Next Nancy clicks on the rubber stamp in the tool palette and adds the Leaf Pattern from the Custom menu. A dozen or so passes with this tool, and the tree is well foliaged. Figure 1 shows a screen display of ImageStudio with the tools on the panel on the left and the leaves being added to the tree. The rubber stamp has been circled for emphasis. The bright sun sparkle is simulated with the brush and the Hiliter pen from the Custom menu; a sandy beach is brushed in using the charcoal from the tool palette with an Airbrush 1 pen from the Custom menu. Nancy saves her completed graphic as a MacPaint file to place in her invitation for vacation video viewing.

One to Go for the Big Five-Oh

What can you do when you realize you forgot to get that special birthday card for your co-worker? Roger Finch, head of circulation, whips up a doggerel greeting: "Cheer up," says Fido, "forty-nine is merely seven in canine time." He needs an illustration to go with the verse. ImageStudio to the rescue.

Roger draws Fido's outline with the pencil from the tool palette after clicking the fourth point in the array of eight. (Sizes decrease from one-quarter inch to one pixel.) The harsh edges are softened with the water drop tool from the palette, and the finishing touches of eye, nose, mouth, and whiskers are "penciled" in with smaller points selected. Saved as a MacPaint [R] file, Fido will carry his simple sentiment. Figure 2 shows Fido almost ready to receive his birthday greeting. The water drop tool is in action along his back.

Tables and Calculations

Some "short subjects" have serious implications. Jane Ransome, library director at Jeffrey Star, is preparing a budget document for her president. She wishes to gauge Jeffrey Star expenditures against eleven other comparable libraries. She locates a table with these figures and asks her secretary, Lucy Clarke, to insert the table at an appropriate location in the text.

Lucy is using Microsoft [R] Word 4.0 to input Jane's document.(2) She could use the word processor to format the table, but she takes advantage of an extra added attraction in Word 4.0, the Insert Table command from the Document menu.

When she selects the command, a dialog box appears in which to specify the number of columns (5) and the number of rows (15). As she clicks OK, the dialog box disappears and a table format of five equally spaced columns and fifteen rows are ready to receive her data.

She enters the heading, "Library," in the first cell, hits the tab key, and the insertion point moves to the next cell, where she enters the heading, "Expenditures." She proceeds to enter headings in the remaining three columns and then again hits the tab key to return to the first column in the second row.

A screen display of the completed table is shown in Figure 3. To help set off the columns and rows better on the screen, she selects "Show Table Gridlines" from the Preferences command dialog box (Edit menu). When she prints the table, she can also add borders to separate the cells, using the Cells command from the Format menu.

Frequently, you will want the columns in a table to be of unequal widths. As with a spreadsheet, you can change the width by dragging a small icon. In this case you drag the small T-shaped column marker in the ruler. (You get this view of the ruler by clicking on the ruler scale icon, the rightmost item in the ruler.)

Within the columns Lucy uses the decimal tab key to set the numbers flush right, thus lining them up neatly. To check her copying of the numbers, she employs the Calculate command from the Utilities menu. She selects the values in a column for the twelve libraries and selects the Calculate command. Immediately, the sum appears in the lower left corner of the screen. Lucy's transcription is correct. The sum is also placed in the clipboard and can be pasted anywhere in the manuscript.

To calculate averages, Lucy copies the sum in the Averages cell, enters the symbol for division (/), and enters "12" (the number of libraries). She selects this combination of numbers (for Expenditures "19,695,790/12") and chooses the Calculate command. The average, 1,641,315, appears in the lower left corner and is also placed in the clipboard. Since the cell is already selected, she has only to use the Paste command to enter the average value in its correct position. Tables coupled with calculations in Microsoft Word 4.0 introduce some spreadsheet capability into the word processor.

Friendly Graphics

In an effort to encourage strong ties between the community and the Jeffrey Star Library, Missy McGuire is helping the friends group with their membership drive. For graphics she turns to Springboard Publisher [TM] II's little bonus in the form of six text effects from Emerald City Software's Smart Art [TM] desk accessory.(3) The effects can be used in Mac applications that accept PostScript [R] (EPS) files.

She clicks on Smart Art under the Apple menu and opens Effects. To show the Jeffrey Star Library reaching out to the community, she selects the Shadow effect. A list of changeable attributes leads her through the process of typing in the library name and choosing 24 point New Century Schoolbook [R] in all caps as the font. The shadow attributes she chooses are a 48 point font in 60 percent gray at an angle of 315 degrees. Figure 4 shows the shadow angle slider being positioned. No changes show as she makes her selections. She clicks the Reimage button whenever she needs to assess the results of her choices. Her Mac must be connected to a LaserWriter [R] to reimage because Smart Art uses that printer's PostScript language interpreter to put laser-smooth graphics into her document. The shadow effect pleases Missy. (See the upper image in Figure 5.)

For her second effect Missy chooses Faded. It looks much better than it sounds. The text will appear to be streaking forward -- an image of the Jeffrey Star Library's progress into the electronic age of computers, barcodes, and CD-ROMs. She types the library name in upper- and lowercase 36 point Times [R] bold italic at an angle of 12 degrees. The fade attributes she selects include the angle of 150 degrees, the fade length of 30 and 30 steps to achieve fading. She also chooses to have the text outlined. The Reimage button shows her the final result ready for inclusion in friends' brochures. (See the lower image in Figure 5.)

ImageStudio, Microsoft Word 4.0, and Springboard Publisher II -- these specialized applications all have that little something extra. As you work with other programs, watch for the added "Mactractions." [Figures 1 to 5 Omitted]


(1)For a description of ImageStudio and its capabilities to electronically alter photographs, see Harriett and Richard Johnson, "ImageStudio: the Great Manipulator," Computers in Libraries 9 (March 1989): 17-19. (2)For a description of Microsoft Word 3.01, see Harriett and Richard Johnson, "A Way with Words," Small Computers in Libraries 7 (December 1987): 24-28. (3)For a description of the initial version of Springboard Publisher, see Harriett and Richard Johnson, "Mac Springs to the Task," Computers in Libraries 9 (May 1989): 11-14.

Harriett Johnson is an adjunct laboratory instructor at Hartwick College, and Richard Johnson is the director of libraries, State University College, Oneonta, New York. They are the authors of The Macintosh Press: Desk-top Publishing for Libraries (Meckler, 1989).
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Author:Johnson, Harriett; Johnson, Richard
Publication:Computers in Libraries
Article Type:column
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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