You Can’t Go Back

A note in response to a bulk email from an old colleague.

It may be hard for some blog readers to believe, but for a while in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I was “famous.”

My fame was limited to a group of people who bought my books and read my articles about using computers. I started writing in 1991 — as a ghostwriter for a John Dvorak book — and was soon writing my own titles. I learned early on that if you couldn’t write a bestseller, you had to write a lot of books. So I did. And then, in the late 1990s, two of my books became best sellers. Subsequent editions of the same book continued to be best sellers. For a while, I was making a very good living as a writer. At the computer shows where I was a regular speaker, people actually asked for my autograph.

I’m not an idiot. I knew that my good fortune could not last forever. So as I continued to write, turning out book after book and becoming well known in my field, I invested my money in my retirement, assets that could help extend (or at least securely bank) my wealth, and something that I thought would be a great hobby: flying helicopters. I learned to fly, I got hooked on it, and I bought helicopter. I started my helicopter charter business in 2001 — it was easy to fit flights in with my flexible schedule as a writer — and bought a larger helicopter in 2005. Building the business was such a struggle that I honestly didn’t think I would succeed. But fortunately, I did.

Mountain Lion VQS
My most recent book was published back in 2012. I don’t call it my “last book” because I expect to write more. They likely won’t be about computers, though.

And it was a good thing, because around 2008, my income from writing began declining. By 2010, that income began going into freefall. Most of my existing titles were not revised for new versions of software. Book contracts for new titles were difficult to get and, when they were published, simply didn’t sell well.

Around the same time, my income from flying started to climb. Not only did it cover all the costs of owning a helicopter — and I can assure you those costs are quite high — but it began covering my modest cost of living. By 2012, when I wrote my last computer book, I was doing almost as well as a helicopter charter business owner as I’d done 10 years before as a writer. And things continued to get better.

I was one of the lucky ones. Most of my peers in the world of computer how-to publishing hadn’t prepared themselves for the changes in our market. (In their defense, I admit that it came about quite quickly.) Many of these people are now struggling to make a living writing about computers. But the writing is on the wall in big, neon-colored letters as publishers continue to downsize and more and more of my former editors are finding themselves unemployed. Freelance writers like me, once valued for their skill, professionalism, and know-how, are a dime a dozen, easily replaced by those willing to write for next to nothing or even free. Books and magazine articles are replaced by Internet content of variable quality available 24/7 with a simple Google search.

So imagine my surprise today when one of my former colleagues from the old days sent me — and likely countless others — a bulk email message announcing a newsletter, website, and book about the same old stuff we wrote about in the heydays of computer book publishing. To me, his plea came across as the last gasp of a man who doesn’t realize he’s about to drown in the flood of free, competing information that has been growing exponentially since Internet became a household word.

I admit that I was a bit offended by being included on his bulk email list simply because he had my email address in his contacts database. But more than that, I was sad that he had sunk so low to try to scrape up interest in his work by using such an approach. Hadn’t he seen the light? Read the writing on the wall? Didn’t he understand that we have to change or die?

So after unsubscribing from his bulk mail list, I sent him the following note. And no, his name is not “Joe.”

The world’s a different place now, Joe.

After writing 85 books and countless articles about using computers, I haven’t written anything new about computers since 2012. I’m fortunate in that my third career took off just before that. Others in our formerly enviable position weren’t so lucky.

Not enough people need us as a source of computer information anymore. All the information they could ever want or need is available immediately and for free with a Google search. There are few novices around these days and only the geekiest are still interested in “tips.” Hell, even I don’t care anymore. I haven’t bought a new computer since 2011 and haven’t even bothered updating any of my computers to the latest version of Mac OS. My computer has become a tool to get work done — as it is for most people — a tool I don’t even turn on most days.

Anyway, I hope you’re managing to make things work for yourself in this new age. I’m surprised you think a newsletter will help. Best of luck with it.

And if you ever find yourself in Washington state, I hope you’ll stop by for a visit and a helicopter ride. I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am that I invested in my third career while I was at the height of my second.

Maria

Is it still possible to make a living writing about computers? For some of us, yes. But we’ll never be able to achieve the same level of fame and fortune we once achieved. Those days are over.

Creating Time-Lapse Movies

How I do it.

I’ve been fascinated with time-lapse photography for as long as I can remember — and believe me, that’s a long time. I love the idea of compressing a series of still images into a short movie. But what I love more is the way it speeds up the process of things that happen slowly: clouds moving across the sky, shadows changing with sun angles, and things being built or moved. There are a lot of time-lapse movies on this site; click the time-lapse tag to explore them. I do want to stress that my time-lapse movies are very simple. If you want to see something amazing, look at the work of a master like Ross Ching’s Eclectic series.

I rely on certain equipment and software tools to create my time-lapse movies. Since I’ve been sharing daily time-lapse movies of the construction of my home, I thought I’d take a minute to explain how I make them.

The Camera

Hero HD
I use my old Hero HD for most time-lapse work these days.

The first thing you need to create a time-lapse movie is a camera capable of snapping an image at a regular interval. These days I use a GoPro. Although I have three of these great cameras — Hero HD, Hero 2, and Hero 3 — I tend to use the oldest (the Hero HD) for this kind of work so if it’s lost, damaged, or stolen, it’s not a huge deal.

The GoPro has an interval or time-lapse mode that I use quite often. Because the process of building my home is relatively slow, I set it to the most amount of time between images: 1 minute.

(In the past, I’ve used a Pclix intervalometer — that’s a time-lapse timer that triggers a shutter release on a camera at a preset interval — attached to an old Canon G5 digital camera. Again, the camera was old and worthless so if someone walked off with it, no big deal. Losing the intervalometer would have been worse.)

Skeleton Housing
The skeleton housing gives me access to the USB port and SD card on the GoPro.

Power is an issue when you run a camera for hours on end. I use the GoPro Skeleton housing around the camera so I can run a USB cable to it. The cable then feeds into a window on my RV where it plugs into a power source. The added benefit is that I can remove the SD card without opening the housing and changing the camera angle. I use electrical tape to cover up the two sides of the housing to keep dust and rain out.

The Camera Mount

For time-lapse photography, it’s vital that the camera be held still (or moved smoothly, if you’re going for that kind of effect). That means a tripod or camera mount.

Pedco UltraClamp
This is a must-have mount for anyone with a GoPro or lightweight digital camera.

I routinely use a Pedco UltraClamp with my GoPros. I can’t say enough things about this clamp-on camera mount. With a GoPro, all you need is a tripod mount adapter and you’re good to go.

For my construction project time-lapse movies, I clamped it onto one of my RV slide-outs, pointing at the construction site. Easy.

The Software

Okay, so the camera has been running for hours and it has collected hundreds of images. Most of my time-lapses run from 6:30 AM to 4:30 PM. That’s 10 hours with 60 shots per hour. 600 images.

The images are 2592 x1944 pixels. That’s way bigger than I need. In addition, I want a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is better suited for video projects these days. So I need to do some processing.

EasyBatchPhoto IconThe first thing I do is run the images through a program called EasyBatchPhoto. (Remember folks, I’m using a Mac.) I have the app set up to crop the image to 1920 x 1080 — that’s standard high definition. This basically crops away the edges of the image, focusing on what’s in the middle. The app also slightly sharpens the image and applies a date and time stamp watermark based on the EXIF data saved with the original file. It then saves it as a medium-high quality JPEG in a folder I specify. I do this for only the images I want to include in the movie; no reason to process them all. The rest of the images are discarded when I wipe the SD card.

EasyBatchPhoto Settings
EasyBatchPhoto can process huge batches of images at a time.

I should mention that you could probably do all this with another app. This happens to be the one I use. I’m sure some readers will share their solutions in the comments.

QuickTime Player 7 IconOnce I have the images in a folder, I open up QuickTime Player 7, which I’d updated to the Pro version years ago. This is an old version of QuickTime. The current version does not have the feature I need, which is the Open Image Sequence command. I use that command to get a dialog box prompting me to choose an image. I select the first image in the folder containing all of the images for the movie.

Choose the First Image
Use this dialog box to select the first image in the folder of images for the movie.

Image Sequence Settings
Use this dialog box to set the frame rate.

I’m then prompted to set the image sequence settings — basically the frame rate for the movie. There are a lot of options on that pop-up menu. After some experimentation, I decided on 15 frames per second for this project. That compresses 10 hours worth of images into about 40 seconds. Any faster and you miss a lot of the action. When I click OK, QuickTime makes the movie and displays it in a window. After taking a look at it, I save it to disk, usually in the same folder as the images.

Why YouTube?
I was really pissed off to discover that Viddler, the site I used years ago to host video, has made my videos unavailable for viewing. I think it’s because they expect me to pay for hosting, which just ain’t gonna happen. This screwed up a lot of embedded video on this site. Because some of the videos are very old, I can’t find the source files so those videos are gone forever. So I’ll use YouTube on a go-forward basis for all video sharing. It’s free and very easy to access.

The last thing I do is upload the movie to YouTube. I do this with the current version of QuickTime. I just double-click the movie’s icon to open QuickTime and use the share command to share it on YouTube. QuickTime prompts me for a movie description and tags. Within minutes, it’s online and available to anyone who wants to see it.

The entire software process takes about 5-7 minutes and is mostly automated.

If you make time-lapse movies and use a different set of software tools, please do use the comments to share your process. It’s always nice to learn about new software that might make things easier or just plain better.

About Style Guides…and a Tip for Writers

A writer’s cheat sheet — and how I maintain mine.

One of the challenges facing writers — especially tech writers — is maintaining consistency and proper usage of words and phrases that describe the things we write about. Is it toolbar, tool bar, ToolBar, or Tool bar? Is it Fonts panel, Font panel, Font window, or Fonts Pane? Is it iBookstore or iBookStore? Is it inspector or Inspector?

This might seem trivial to most folks, but for writers and editors, it’s very important. Inconsistent or incorrect use of established terms is one of the things that mark the work of an amateur. Professional writers do everything in their power to get things like this right — and editors help.

Style Guides

Chicago Manual of StyleStyle guides help, too. A style guide is a collection of words or phrases that might be used in a work, all presented as they should be in writing. You may have heard of some of the more famous style guides, including The Chicago Manual of Style and The Associated Press Stylebook. These are style guide books published for professionals who write about a wide range of topics.

But there are also style guides for more narrow topics. Apple, for example, publishes a 244-page document called the Apple Publications Style Guide. This is one of the books I turn to when I write my Mac OS books and articles. Written for developers and Apple’s in-house documentation teams, it lists the right and wrong ways to use hundreds of words, product names, and phrases. Not only does this include a correct list of all Apple trademarks, but it goes into tiny details. For example, did you know that you can “click the icon” but you can’t “click on the icon”? Page 37 of the latest (2009) edition is pretty specific on that point.

Microsoft Outlook 2011Individual publishers also have style guides. For example, when I wrote Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011 Step-by-Step for Microsoft Press, I was handed not one but two style guides. They covered all of the product names and program terms I might use, as well as rules about usage. For example, I wasn’t allowed to write a sentence like this: “Outlook enables you to send and read email.” Why? Well, the word enables (in that kind of usage) was verboten. (The average reader has no idea what writers deal with when writing technical books for well-established publishers.)

My Style Guide Needs

Microsoft Outlook 2011Although I never used to have trouble remembering the proper forms and usages of the words and phrases I included in my books, as I’m aging — and as my life becomes more complex — I’m having trouble remembering the little things. So this past summer, when I worked on Mac OS X Lion: Visual QuickStart Guide for Peachpit Press, I developed and maintained my own style guide for the book.

The trick was to put the style guide in a place where it was easy to consult as I worked. I wrote (and laid out) the book on my old 24-inch iMac. I was living in my RV at the time, comfortably parked at an RV park with full utilities, but my workspace wasn’t large enough for the luxurious dual 24-inch monitor setup I have in my home office. I experimented with keeping the list of words and phrases in a Word document file, but the amount of overhead — Word running all the time, big window with all the trimmings, etc. — made it an awkward solution. Ditto for Evernote. All I needed was a tiny window where I could list the words I needed to use — these applications made maintaining and consulting such a list multiple times throughout the day a real chore.

The Solution: Stickies?

Stickies IconI stumbled onto the solution while writing the book. One of the apps that comes with Mac OS X is Stickies. This is an app whose sole purpose is to put virtual sticky notes up on your screen.

I never liked the app. I thought it was kind of dumb. After all, who would use an app to put a sticky note onscreen when you can just put a real sticky note on your screen?

But then I realized that the tiny windows Stickies creates were perfect for the simple lists I needed to consult. I could easily fit them on my screen, beyond the area I needed to work with InDesign.

Style Guide in StickiesAnd so I began creating and maintaining my style guides in Stickies.

And I continue to do so today.

There are a lot of benefits to using Stickies as a solution for this problem:

  • The contents of Sticky Notes are saved, even if you quit the application.
  • Stickies are easily modified and updated.
  • Stickies supports formatting, so if I want to remind myself about a word or phrase that should never be used, I can format it as strikethru text.
  • Stickies can be exported as plain text, so I could, theoretically, save a style guide list before closing the Stickies window when the book is done.
  • Stickies take up very little room onscreen.
  • All active Stickies notes open automatically when you open the app.
  • It’s easy to set up my computer so Stickies automatically opens at startup.

Sounds good, no?

For me, it’s a win-win. I get a solution to my problem. But what I also get is a reason to use a silly little free app like Stickies.

Seriously, Adobe: WTF?

A brief rant about how Adobe software took over my applications folder.

I recently got a new Mac and did a clean installation of my software. Two of the first apps I installed — primarily because I needed them to finish work on a book — were Photoshop CS3 and InDesign CS4. A few days later, I upgraded Photoshop to CS5.

The screen shot illustrates how Adobe invades a computer system and fills it with software that the end user might not want. Yes, I’ve got three versions of Adobe Bridge — which I never use. Two versions each of Adobe Device Central and Adobe Extension Manager. Then there’s Adobe Media Player, which I suppose plays some sort of media. I don’t want it. And Adobe Stock Photos? Who asked for that?

Adobe Takes Over

It gets worse, though, when you peek into my Utilities folder (also shown). One of the installers added Adobe AIR, along with its uninstaller. I do admit to adding Flash — although I really didn’t want to. But tell me, does Adobe really need three folders for its other crap: Adobe Installers, Adobe Utilities, and Adobe Utilities – CS5? Digging deeper into one of these folders (also shown) reveals even more from Adobe.

And these are just the items that aren’t hidden away in secret places all over my hard disk. It’s as if I invited a houseguest and he emptied his suitcase all over my house for the duration of his stay. What makes him think that’s okay? And if I ever kick him out, will I ever be able to find and remove all of his crap?

Even Microsoft Office doesn’t do this.

My question: Why?

Dragon Dictate

Practice, practice, practice.

Dragon DictateWhile I realize that my review of Macworld Expo was not very complementary, I did get a first-hand look at one really good software product: Dragon Dictate. Dragon Dictate offers the possibility of being able to do something that all writers dream about: to dictate what I want to write and having the computer type it for me.

My first exposure to Dragon Dictate was with the iPad app, which is called Dragon Dictation. I blogged about it a while ago. The software has a few shortcomings. For example you can only translate short bits of text at a time. It requires an Internet connection. You really can’t use it for long dictation. It’s more of a novelty. But what it showed me is how well the Dragon line of products might be able to understand what I’m saying. I was very impressed.

The folks at Nuance Software had a booth at MacWorld Expo. I sat through one of the demos. The man doing the demo was very good. He recited some rehearsed text, but also ad-libbed, made changes to the text, and did other things that went far beyond rehearsal. It helped confirm what I thought was true: that the software was ready for prime time and might understand what I could dictate to it.

I bought the software.

Using voice-recognition software is more than simply dictating to your computer. While this software is very good at understanding what I have to say, it isn’t perfect. One of the problems with the software is that you cannot combine keyboarding with dictation. If you try to do this you get all kinds of weird errors. So if you’re serious about using it, you need to learn not only how to dictate properly to it, but how to issue the commands that you’ll need to edit the text as you dictate.

The best way to learn how to use the software is to try some dictation with the manual handy to help you edit as you dictate. The manual that comes with the software is 174 pages long. I printed it two pages per sheet of paper and then cut each sheet in half and inserted it in a binder. I can now access this information as I work with the software to help me edit the text as I dictate.

What I’m finding as I dictate this is that the software gets about 99% of what I say exactly right. I’m extremely impressed by this. The training process before I got started was actually pretty quick. I’d say that the software was ready to use within 15 minutes of installing it. This says a lot about the training process, but it also says a lot about the software’s ability to understand what people say. I should also mention here that I’m using the headset that comes with the software as I dictate to my laptop. On my desktop, I use a much better microphone. Either way, the recognition is amazing.

The 1% of dictation that is not understood or that contains errors must be corrected. Correction is tricky. The software recognizes a certain group of commands. If you use the wrong command the software will simply type what you say. This is very frustrating. If you use the correct command, the software may or may not do what you expect. It’s always great when it does what you expect. But it’s very annoying when it does what you don’t expect.

One of the things that bugs me is when I issue a command that I believe will do a certain thing and the software does something completely different. I think this is a matter of me learning the commands. The software definitely understands most of what I have to say, so the problem is probably me issuing the incorrect commands.

So it’s all a matter of practice. I dictate text and as I dictate I watch what the software types. Then I make corrections as necessary. There aren’t many corrections to do. Having the manual nearby helps me find the correct commands to make the corrections I need to do.

Another challenge is to be able to dictate exactly what I want to say. When I first began writing when I was in my teens I didn’t have a word processor. Back then, I had the ability to compose in a linear manner. In other words, my brain dictated to my hand and I was able to write in full sentences and full paragraphs exactly what I wanted to say. Little editing was needed. But word processing has changed the way I write. Nowadays, I get out the basics of what I want to say and then go back and edit. I insert words and paragraphs, I make changes to sentence structure and paragraph structure. I rearrange text. If I can’t think of how to start, I start with the middle and insert the beginning later.

For a long time now, I’ve been thinking about what a blessing and a curse word processing is. As I struggle to work with dictation software, it seems like more of a curse. Word processing has made it difficult for me to write in a linear manner. Because of this, I struggle with dictation.

I do have to say, however, it’s a real thrill to see the words that I dictate automatically typed for me. The accuracy floors me. So far, everything you’ve read in this blog post has been dictated. Not only have I dictated this text, but I’ve also corrected and edited everything that you see. I have not touched the keyboard once. Yes, I have paged through the manual—that’s the main reason for writing this post—I wanted to learn to use the software better. In a way, this blog post is an exercise. I’m hoping that it will help me to learn the software while letting me practice dictating what I want to say. Practice makes perfect.

I will continue using Dragon Dictate to dictate many of my blog posts. And with practice, I’ll be able to master the software and increase my own productivity by being able to dictate what I need to write. Although I’m a quick typist, Dragon Dictate is a lot faster.

Dragon Dictation? Maybe.

I try an iPad-based dictation tool.

Note: This blog post was dictated into my iPad. Although I’d originally hoped to display the text in two columns to show unedited and edited text (as referred to in the post), I later decided to use DEL and INS tags to show actual text edits required — places where Dragon Dictation actually got it wrong. I did not correct my failure to dictate punctuation or my poor use of words, since those are my errors and not the software’s. A few additional comments are included in square brackets in the text.

I am trying something different today. I’m writing a blog post by dictating into my iPad.

I’m using a program called Capps dDragon caps dDictation. I downloaded it for free on my iPad not long after I bought the iPad. I’ve tried it a few times, and was very pleased with the results. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to using dictation software and than simply saying what you want to say.

These first two paragraph are good example. On the left you see my dictated version. On the right you see my edited version. Notice the changes I needed to make. It’s really not bad, but not exactly perfect.

The main problem with using dictation software. See is that you have to dictate everything you want to type. That means you have to dictate your punctuation, capitalization, quotes, and any other information that you want to put in your text other than the exact words.

You also need to speak clearly directly into a microphone. On the iPad that’s not exactly convenient since the microphone is at the top of the iPad. Right now my iPad is standing up on my table with the microphone close to my mouth so that so that Dragon dictation can understand what I’m saying. Of course if you have an external microphone it will work with that as well.

You also need to be careful about what you say. Any mistakes you make will be transcribed. This makes dictation a useful tool for getting out of a first draft, but not for getting final text. You’ll still have to go through the document and make changes to it as necessary to correct errors and rephrase sentences.

As I dictate this today, I see that I’m quickly getting the hang of it. Although it’s not natural for me to do this, I don’t think it will be difficult to learn. What amazes me the most, is the way the software can recognize exactly what I’m saying. I haven’t edited any of this text other than what you sought saw at the top of this post. [Not true; read note at top of post.] Get Yet as you can see dragon dictation has managed to understand almost everything that I’ve said. This absolutely amazes me. What I don’t understand, however, is how many people reported that dragon dictation could not understand them. The overall reviews in the iTunes store for the app are very low. I can only assume that these people are not speaking slowly and clearly so that the software can understand them.

What I do find a little bothersome about this software is that it needs an Internet connection to work. As I speak it evidently records what I say and then when I’m done it sends it to the Dragon dictation website words where it’s translated and returned to me. This isn’tthe best solution if you don’t have an Internet connection all the time. But given the price of the software, which was free, I really can’t complain.

Another thing I find a little bit bothersome is the fact that it evidently has a buffer. I can’t just go on talking for a long period of time and expect the software to be able to translate. Instead it automatically cuts me off gets the translation in and puts it in the software sometimes while I’m still talking. [Boy, that previous sentence could sure benefit from some commas.] This means that I need to stop at the end of every long paragraph let it translate and then start again.

It’s interesting to me also how the software does not recognize upon a pause as a place to put a comma or period it’s also interesting to me that it probably just inserted those two forms of punctuation instead of the words that I just set. Let’s see. That’s funny it’s got the words as I said them and didn’t put in punctuation. I guess it does take a little bit of time to get used to this. [This whole paragraph is a good example of experimenting. Believe it or not, Dragon dictation made only one error; the other errors were mine.]

As a writer, it’s a dream to be able to say what you want to say and have it automatically typed for you. But the reality is and not so sweet. In reality, I can type a lot faster than I can do this dictation. I can also make a lot fewer mistakes. And I can edit as I go along.

Still, I think the thing that bothers me the most, is that I have to stop at the end of every long paragraph to let Dragon dictation catch up. I don’t type like this. I don’t think like this. I tend to type thing [I corrected myself here but DD didn’t know that.] right write a lot more a lot more fluidly. I also don’t think about the comments commas that I need to put in my documents.

Overall what do I think of this? I think it has its uses, but I can’t see using it as a normal writing tool. I’ll keep experimenting with it, but I’m not sure whether it will ever be something I use daily.

If you have an iPad or my phone iPhone I recommend giving this a try. You might like it. And if you like it a lot. You might want to buy the regular software that they self sell for your computer. They have a Windows version and a Mac version.

LogTen Pro

A mini software review for pilots.

LogTen ProAt the end of 2010, nudged by the availability of a coupon code for 30% (I think) off, I purchased the Mac and iPad versions of LogTen Pro. This program, published by Coradine Aviation Systems, is designed primarily for airline pilots to log their flight time, trips, duty time, expenses, and other data. It can then generate any number of reports, including FAA-approved logbook pages and duty sheets. Of course, pilots with Macs don’t only live in the US, so LogTen Pro supports multiple countries and the reports needed to satisfy their own FAA-equivalent organizations.

Although, on the surface, LogTen Pro seems like overkill for logging pilot hours, its true power lies in the fact that you don’t need to log everything it lets you. For example, LogTen Pro enables you to log flight date, aircraft N-number, duty time in, hobbs out, time out, from airport, to airport, time in, hobbs in, and duty time out. That’s the kind of information an airline pilot might need or want to log. But, in reality, how many people really track that much information about their flights? LogTen Pro is perfectly satisfied just taking the flight date, N-number, from airport, to airport, and total time flown. And of course, you can log day vs. night time, VFR vs. IFR time, etc.

In other words, you can log as little or as much information as you like.

iPad version of LogTen ProOf course, the iPad version (shown here with a screen shot of all my 2010 activity) syncs with the Mac version, so I can log time on the go and sync it all up when I get back to my office. Or I can pull old log entries out of my paper logbook and enter them in my Mac and then sync it all to my iPad.

While LogTen Pro is a bit weak on logging helicopter flight time — for example, it supports the Rotorcraft category but did not include a Helicopter class (although, for some reason, it did have gyroplane; go figure) — it is highly customizable. I simply used one of the undefined Class fields to create a Helicopter class in my copy of the software. Although this is calculated properly in the logbook reports as is, I can also create custom log book pages that eliminate columns I don’t need and expand on ones I’m interested in tracking, such as High DA/Mountain (another custom field I created) or Turbine helicopter.

I could go on for thousands of words about this software — there’s a lot to it. But it would be better to let you view the Guided Tour and just try the software for yourself. If you’re a pilot with a Mac, iPhone, or iPad, download the demo version of the software and see what you think. If you’re geeky and love stats like I do, I think you’ll be sold.