Book Bytes welcomes O’Reilly Associates to our distinguished list of preferred publishers, joining our regulars: Peachpit, Macmillan, and IDG (plus Osborne from time to time).
I just double-checked my Book Bytes archives, and the July issue was our first anniversary, the same month the Nemo Memo made its debut. My Mac has reviewed dozens and dozens of books since that first humble offering. We have settled on eight books per month as our standard fare, with special bonus sections from time to time. When you have a moment, please let me know your opinion of Book Bytes, and what you would like to see us cover during the next year or two.
PalmPilot, The Ultimate Guide
by David Pogue
O’Reilly & Associates
ISBN 1-56592-420-7, 489 pages plus CD
$29.95 U.S., $42.95 Canada
This is weird. I’m holding a CD containing over 900 programs for the Palm-III, and I have absolutely no way to test them. I’m attempting to obtain a review-copy of this popular handheld computer, but I want readers to become familiar with this book immediately. If someone out there at Palm Computing is listening, please send me a Palm-III right away. Thanks.
David Pogue is one of my favorite authors. His writing consistently jumps off the page with humor, solid facts, and idiosyncratic insights. This book is no exception.
David loves his PalmPilot. Excuse the confusion, but what formerly was called PalmPilot is now called simply Palm, as in Palm Computing, and the latest version is the Palm-III, which I will abbreviate as P3.
Let’s start at the rear of PalmPilot, The Ultimate Guide. In the first appendix, “150 Programs Worth Knowing About,” Pogue pays special attention to the applications he considers the cream of the crop. His top 150 are itemized in alphabetical categories covering 25 pages, ranging through Calculators, Eating and Cooking, Plain Old Fun, gazillions of Games, Utilities, Word Processing, and plenty more.
The author is a certified gadget freak, so Appendix B covers accessories, from practical stylus replacements to the Rhinoskin Cockpit (no kidding, friends): “If this titanium coffin can’t protect your Pilot, nothing can.”
Scanning the book from back to front, we encounter tons of upgrading and troubleshooting tips in Chapters 16 and 15, then a cadre of communications features in Chapter 14, “Paging, Faxing Printing, and Beaming.” Every chapter concludes with an “Executive Tip Summary,” which augments his wit-and-wisdom approach to an otherwise serious subject.
Chapters 13 and 12 were real eye-openers for me, in which I learned how the Palm-III is a breeze for browsing the Web and sending/receiving email. Programmers and hackers will love Chapter 11, which goes right to the heart of writing software for the Palm.
Did you know you can play music, plus paint and draw on the little thing? How does David Pogue know all this stuff? When does he have time to figure it out, then write about it, and always be current in his approach?
The front half of the book is the no-nonsense part, with extensive chapters on setting up the Palm, installing new programs, entering words and data, connecting the P3 to your computer (Macintosh, of course, but it also does Windoze), and using the many versatile built-in programs.
I’m getting VERY frustrated, and am ready to try out this magnificent little computer myself. Enough reading and writing. Get yourself a P3, crack open PalmPilot, The Ultimate Guide and its abundant CD, and send me an email message. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Plus Pack for Palm III: Killer Software CD
Macmillan Digital Publishing USA
(with golf companion, world clock, language translator, picture viewer, pocket drum kit [honest!], electronic flash cards, and Pocket C, to “create and run C applets”)
… and …
Business Plus Pack for Palm III: Business Tools
Macmillan Digital Publishing USA
(contains a special calculator, world clock, project tracker, time tracker, money tracker, screen magnifier, database viewer, and personal info manager)
QuarkXPress 4.0 in a Nutshell
by Donnie O’Quinn
O’Reilly & Associates
ISBN 1-56592-399-5, 525 pages
$19.95 U.S., $28.95 Canada
This book is the first of several we will review here at Book Bytes, in O’Reilly’s “nutshell” series: “comprehensive, quick-reference books, at truly affordable prices, for the sophisticated user.” I agree with this PR description, and it is a pleasure to be able to breeze through QuarkXPress 4.0 in a Nutshell for my initial look at the lineup.
I would not normally consider a 500-page book to be a quickie, but neither is XPress. I am in awe of desktop publishing pros who blast through QuarkXPress on a daily basis. Should they stop work for a moment to purchase this book, then use the darn thing? We’ll see.
Part One covers the multitude of tools available in XPress. These 40 pages are all text, but are highly descriptive. The astounding array of features and commands that derive from the FILE and EDIT menus consume over 125 pages in the next two chapters. There are a few screen shots, but again exhaustive text is dominant.
Next comes equal treatment for QuarkXPress’s STYLE menu used when a *text* box is selected and the Content Tool is active; followed by a similar chapter for the STYLE menu used when a *picture* box containing an imported graphic is selected and the Item Tool or Content Tool is active.
On and on goes the encyclopedic reference approach of QuarkXPress 4.0 in a Nutshell, through the ITEM menu, PAGE menu, then VIEW and UTILITIES menus. Whew! I’m exhausted trying to capture the spirit of this ambitious book in a capsule review. There are countless “Special Notes,” the name for the author’s practical tips.
After all that time spent with menus, Part Three tackles QuarkXPress’s powerful palettes: Measurements, Document Layout, Style Sheets, Colors, Trap Information Palette, Lists, and Index.
The two appendices may themselves be worth the price of admission: Common Techniques illustrate proper use, or “represent the dominant techniques and issues required by an advanced XPress user,” with 100 pages of specific examples! Each feature is presented in the same sequence as in the main chapters, and tips, now called “Notes,” are plentiful and sensible.
Finally, in Appendix B, “XPress Shortcuts,” every single one of them, are listed in mind-numbing detail.
Overall, I am very impressed with QuarkXPress 4.0 in a Nutshell. Donnie O’Quinn and O’Reilly have done a stellar job of giving us a phenomenal quantity of information in an approachable format. These books are now available in most large bookstores, and can be ordered from any bookseller in the world.
I admit that much of this book is beyond my capability, but I am confident that “this reference will prove invaluable to any serious XPress user,” as the book jacket promises. RECOMMENDED.
Word 98 for Macintosh, Visual QuickStart Guide
by Maria Langer
ISBN 0-201-35354-7, 260 pages
$17.95 U.S., $24.95 Canada
Word is here to stay, and so are Maria Langer and Peachpit Books. Yeah! In the first chapter, after a very brief intro, we encounter a large view of “The Word Screen,” with itemized arrows pointing to its nineteen different features and functions. Next, the mighty Microsoft Toolbar is explained in detail. All of the basics of Word 98 are covered in Chapter Two.
Maria appears to have gone overboard, in the best sense of the term, with respect to screen shots, graphics, and tips. The Visual QuickStart format is perfect once again, utilizing outside columns for text and inside columns for the illustrations.
In the subsequent chapters we learn about basic and advanced formatting. The author appears to have left no stone unturned in her efforts to aid readers in getting the most out of this massive application. Word’s extensive AutoFormat options are my kind of feature, and I like the way Maria explains complex operations in straightforward language.
I have always been a complete numbskull when it comes to setting up tables within a Word document. After reading Chapter Ten of Word 98 for Macintosh, turn me loose on your tables and watch the rows and columns fly. The author’s tips in this section are especially valuable, such as: “To insert a row at the bottom of the table, position the insertion point in the last cell of the table and press TAB. An empty row is inserted.”
Here are some of the additional subjects covered in the book:
• Menus, Preferences, and Shortcut Keys
• Envelopes, Labels, and Mail Merge
• Inserting Objects and Multimedia Elements
• Web Pages
Power users may prefer a more substantial text, but most people will be able to maximize their performance using Microsoft Word 98 by allowing Maria Langer into their computing life once again. She has created a companion website, full of examples from the book and additional online resources. Quit monkeying around. If you use Word and want to extend your skill and proficiency, hurry up and get Word 98 for Macintosh. RECOMMENDED.
FileMaker Pro 4 for Windows & Macintosh
Visual QuickStart Guide
by Nolan Hester
ISBN 0-201-69664-9, 321 pages
$17.95 U.S., $24.95 Canada
Each week it seems that more applications are cross-platform. We Macintoshers may ultimately be the beneficiaries of this trend, as software developers and book publishers can consolidate their resources and include us in the process.
Authors usually either provide screenshots for both Mac and Windows, or mix ‘em up equally throughout the text. Both techniques are acceptable. This book handles the cross-platform issue effortlessly, indicating both major and minor distinctions clearly.
FileMaker Pro 4 (FMP4) is a powerful database application, yet its concept of creating and modifying “records” is easy to grasp. As Visual QuickStart Guides go, FileMaker Pro 4 for Windows & Macintosh follows the mold, without breaking any new ground (excuse the mixed metaphor; couldn’t resist).
Beginners and converts from ClarisWorks will appreciate the detail the author puts into the first seven chapters, covering all the essentials of working with FMP4. Experienced users and serious newbies will get right to work in Part Three: “Creating and Designing Databases,” which comprises the bulk of the book. The biggest chunk, over 50 pages, is devoted to creating layouts, which is my personal downfall. (Excuse me, while I read this chapter again. Time out. It is just wonderful.)
Relational databases are new to me, and I look forward to learning how to set them up, thanks to FileMaker Pro 4 for Windows & Macintosh. FMP4’s most outstanding new feature is being able to publish databases on the Web, with either instant or custom Web publishing.
The seven Appendices are the cake’s icing: installing, setting preferences, using the help and tutorial components, plus functions, script commands, keyboard shortcuts, and online resources. I think this one is an easy call. Beginner and intermediate users of FileMaker Pro 4 need this book. Admirable text, screenshots, and price. RECOMMENDED.
Sams Teach Yourself Excel 97 in 10 Minutes
by Jennifer Fulton
ISBN 0-672-31326-X, 205 pages
$12.99 U.S., $21.95 Canada, £10.99 U.K.
Excel 97 is close enough to Excel 98 that I wanted to see if this little book would be helpful for total beginners. Excel’s features are well-suited to a series of mini-lessons, such as Toolbars, Getting Help, Entering Data, and Editing Entries.
I keep thinking that these tiny Sams books will disappoint me and prove to be inadequate, but they consistently surprise me by packing a potent punch within a petite package. For example, working with Charts is one of the most powerful and most misunderstood aspects of using Excel. Teach Yourself Excel 97 in 10 Minutes goes deeper into this topic then I would have thought, and also covers 3-D charting.
If you find yourself quickly needing to learn the basics of Microsoft Excel, this book will do the trick. For a bit more money, though, the following book is a better choice.
Excel 98 for Macs for Dummies
by Greg Harvey and Shane Gearing
ISBN 0-7645-0227-1, 362 pages
$19.99 U.S., $28.99 Canada, £18.99 U.K.
“This book is written expressly for users of Microsoft Excel 98 running under version System 8 of the Macintosh operating system.” Okay, guys, now what? Excel is the ultimate heavy-duty spreadsheet application, but Excel 98 for Macs for Dummies treats it like a muscle-car that needs just the tiniest bit of proficiency to go roaring down the strip at 130 miles per hour. Snappy writing, plentiful screen shots and tips, and sidebars galore.
The approach is very much bottom-up, beginning with 50 pages on the basics: launching Excel, working with cells, and the meanings of the various mouse pointer shapes, all seven of them. Excel’s Toolbar is extensive, so each icon is pictured, named, and explained. Ditto for the Menu Bar features and dialog boxes.
Beginners will appreciate Chapter Two: “Creating a Spreadsheet from Scratch,” including AutoFill, Formulas, Functions, and AutoSum. Chapter Three utilizes the lesson-style of instruction to explain cell and spreadsheet editing, plus custom formatting. Next come plain English explanations on how to change data, then save and print either the working document or finished product.
The authors do users a great service in Parts Three and Four, including five chapters under the headings “Getting Organized and Staying That Way” and “Life Beyond the Spreadsheet.” As the reader’s understanding of Excel’s power grows, Greg and Shane keep the writing friendly and personal. I am no wizard with charts, but “Conjuring Up Charts with the Chart Wizard” took away my feeling of intimidation from the first paragraph.
The book concludes with sections on macros, hyperlinks, and then dozens of common-sense tips and keyboard shortcuts. For newcomers to Excel 98, look no further than Excel 98 for Macs for Dummies. It is enjoyable to read, and it helps you get the job done correctly first time around. RECOMMENDED.
Macworld Office 98 Bible
by Bob LeVitus
Deborah Shadovitz, Edward Jones,
and Derek Sutton
IDG Books Worldwide
ISBN 0-7645-4041-6, 843 pages
$39.99 U.S., $56.99 Canada, £36.99 U.K.
This bible is a monster, so prepare yourself accordingly. I have had more requests to review the Macworld Office 98 Bible than any other book in the history of Book Bytes. What’s the big deal? Well, Office 98 is the biggest deal around, and it requires a massive book.
For openers, every user of Office 98 should memorize Chapter One, which covers installation, setup, and basic features of the suite of applications. Ignore this advice at your own peril. Each chapter concludes with a bulleted summary, plus an itemized list of “where to go next” based on logical links to other parts of the book.
The component units of Office 98 each have a separate chunk of the book devoted to them, beginning with nearly 300 pages for Word 98. I call them books-within-a-book, because they are very extensive. More power users utilize Microsoft Word than any other Mac application, and it warrants full-service handling in the Macworld Office 98 Bible.
Page after page, from templates to text to graphics to formatting, special features, and loads more, Word gets top-drawer treatment in a dozen chapters. It’s all here: keyboard shortcuts, toolbar buttons, tables, outlines, mail merge, indexing, and faxing, plus working between Word and the other Office 98 components. The (dreaded?) Word Macros are explained so even I can understand how to run them.
Chapters Ten and Eleven hold the most interest for many users: desktop publishing and “Word on the Web.” Finally, the “Word Top Ten” addresses the most common concerns users have, in extensive Q&A format.
Yikes, here comes Excel, ranging through another dozen chapters and 200+ pages. Same thing: thorough, well-written techniques for doing it all with Microsoft’s workhorse spreadsheet. Copious screen shots and tips are lucid and logical. Did you ever give much thought to the “Format Painter”? If not, here’s your chance, on page 381.
Macworld Office 98 Bible is consistent in the way each major unit unfolds, facilitating both systematic and task-based reading.
Onward we travel, next with PowerPoint, Outlook Express, and a quick overview of Internet Explorer. I am not doing this book justice with such a sketchy commentary; you must see it for yourself.
The five appendices address installation of Office 98, then Quick Start sections for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and a clever “one-stop shop” on “Customizing Toolbars and Menus.”
I must be honest, readers. Many of you know I’m a ClarisWorks guy, and my needs are satisfied without requiring me to run Office 98. This book truly hits the mark, and makes me secure to use Office 98 with confidence, as the need arises. I predict this Macworld Office 98 Bible will be a best-seller for the authors and for IDG Books.
Researching Online for Dummies
by Reva Basch
ISBN 0-7645-0382-0, 329 pages plus CD
$24.99 U.S., $35.99 Canada, £23.99 U.K.
I have written this book many times in my imagination. Now that it is sitting here on my desk, how does the real thing compare? The librarian-author has a tremendous list of credentials and credits, so she had better be good, right? Reva Basch’s goal is to “convey what it’s like to approach the online world from inside the mind of a virtuoso researcher who truly enjoys her work.”
Chapter Two is our first giant step, “Thinking and Working Like a Researcher.” These fifteen pages are more than most Webheads ever bother to learn, regarding focusing, organizing, conducting, and evaluating an Internet search. Next come Reva’s favorite general and specialty search engines, followed by “subject catalogs,” such as Yahoo and The Mining Company (http://www.theminingcompany.com), which uses guides to “mine the Net for premium resources and haul these resources out, into the light of day.” Neat! I’ll check it out very soon myself.
My favorite section in Part Two, “Tools of the Trade,” is Chapter Seven, covering “ready reference: finding facts fast.” Bazillion libraries are indexed through the sites in her “visiting libraries online” chapter. Gated servers, such as LEXIS-NEXIS, receive extensive descriptions, as do the people-based services, such as DejaNews.
The book gets serious in Part Three: government, business, and the news media are discussed thoroughly and patiently. Researching Online for Dummies concludes with units on copyright, and then, in “The Part of Tens,” special tips and techniques that help users crystallize all the information previously digested.
There are two bonuses. I applaud the inclusion of a 30-page Internet Directory, in Yellow Pages format, which is itself worth most of the cost of the book. The CD contains essential software and specific links to assist users who really want to get the most from this unusual book. I will use Researching Online for Dummies, and you should too. RECOMMENDED.
Windows 98 for Dummies
by Andy Rathbone
ISBN 0-7645-0261-1, 382 pages
$19.99 U.S., $28.99 Canada, £18.99 U.K
A warm-and-fuzzy attitude keeps readers and new users interested, for learning the essentials of Win98. Good value for money, and suitable choice for Windows newbies.
Master Windows 98 Visually
IDG Books Worldwide
ISBN 0-7645-6034-4, 713 pages plus CD
$39.99 U.S., £36.99 U.K.
I have always adored maranGraphics productions, for their blend of illustrations and text. The book is organized in two-page lessons, full of bullets, arrows, and numbered graphics. My personal choice.
Alan Simpson’s Windows 98 Bible
by Alan Simpson
IDG Books Worldwide
ISBN 0-7645-3192-1, 1112 pages plus CD
$39.99 U.S., $56.99 Canada, £36.99 U.K.
A well-designed and written bible, in the tradition of the many fine IDG/Macworld Bibles covering Macintosh products. The text is written in the first person. CD has over 160 shareware programs, which are described in the book. Serious Win98 users will want to sample this book or its heavyweight competitor, listed below.
Windows 98 Secrets
by Brian Livingstone and Davis Straub
IDG Books Worldwide
ISBN 0-7645-3786-7, 1207 pages plus CD
$49.99 U.S., $69.99 Canada, £42.99 U.K.
Very impressive and expensive. Power users with an unlimited budget of time will appreciate the care put into this book. The CD contains 250 MB of software.
Next month we’ll get back to the colorful world of website design and graphics. Bye until then.
As I write this column in mid-August, Apple’s introduction of the iMac is still pending. Initial signs all seem to point to a resounding success, but I’m a little leery of a few factors that might still mar the machine’s initial and long-term success.
First, and perhaps foremost, is the tendency for technology journalists to become infatuated with power—sometimes losing any sense of perspective on products they write about and review. On the surface, the iMac appears pretty powerful, but it’s not the machine for heavy duty graphics work (though a few years ago a graphic artist would have been thrilled by its speed) and it’s not a machine aimed at the desktop publishing market (though I remember some desktop publishers awfully pleased with the much slower Quadra line). I fear you may read that the iMac has: a slow system bus; or only a 512 Meg back cache; or a mere 15 inch monitor; or a slower than SCSI universal serial bus (USB). The naysayers may even suggest it only comes in one set of colors (though that may change) or it’s too heavy to carry around by its handle.
Somehow, Apple has to step through this minefield by emphasizing that the iMac is aimed at a very specific target group—’non-power users’—in much the same way the original Volkswagen Beetle was targeted at people who simply wanted to get from one place to another. And like the Volkswagen’s New Beetle, the iMac will get you where you want to go with class.
Another concern is iMac connectivity. This may sound strange given that this is supposed to be one of the machine’s strengths, but connecting the iMac to an older Mac is not particularly easy. If your older Mac has an Ethernet port, you’ll need an Ethernet transceiver and an Ethernet crossover cable. You’ll also need to turn on AppleShare and start up file sharing, create users on both machines, select AppleShare in the Chooser, and then choose the name of the drive you’re sharing from the list that appears in the dialog box. The fact that I suspect I’ve left something out of this process indicates just how complex this whole procedure might appear to a ‘non-power user.’ If you have an older Mac without an Ethernet port, you’ll have to spring for some sort of USB/serial adapter and a go through much the same process.
I trust that around the time of the introduction of the iMac at least one of the print magazines may address this problem, but in a way, that’s too late. Apple expect to sell loads of iMacs to their already installed base and moving files from the old Mac to the new will be everyone’s priority. If Apple takes a black eye in the press for its failure to appropriately resolve this issue, the iMac’s market momentum could be affected.
I’d like to see an iMac Connectivity Kit that includes the hardware necessary to connect a Mac to an iMac along with some simple software script that could automatically set up users, turn on sharing, and pop the hard drives up on each respective desktop.
While visiting the Washington, DC area this summer, I had a chance to check out the local CompUSA and assess their iMac marketing effort. My initial impression was that at least this particular store was not prepared for an enormous iMac rush. There were no iMacs on display and I found only one salesperson ready to talk about this machine. My very unscientific study pointed to avoidance behavior by most of the sales staff. I asked the one ‘Mac expert’ about moving files from an old Mac to the iMac and, though he mentioned a USB/serial adapter, he incorrectly suggested that USB was just as fast as SCSI. I asked for the specifications and cost of a USB/serial adapter and he indicated that this information would be forthcoming when the iMac was officially launched. I also requested information about the CompUSA iMac $800 promotion and had a difficult time finding anyone who knew anything about it. After considerable delay, a manager asked if I was willing to put $200 down on the purchase of an iMac, to which I suggested that I’d like to see details about the promotion first. She then went into a back office, retrieved a coupon book, and let me look at it briefly, while she hovered over me.The manager informed me that two weeks prior to the release of the iMac, the store had already received some 20 pre-orders.
As CompUSA expands its Macintosh business, it’s crucial that the store staff be knowledgeable and enthusiastic about Apple products. The company should also ensure that CompUSA branches fully support its own national marketing efforts, such as the iMac $800 promotion.
Word 98’s new graphics capabilities are very powerful and can be used to help perform basic desktop publishing tasks like creating business cards, certificates, newsletters and the like. Making business cards can be frustrating because graphics and text blocks need to be arranged and placed in a table cell while avoiding the cell’s tendency to apply its built-in word processing regimens. It’s also possible to inadvertently lose a graphic beneath the table text.
A successful strategy I employed entailed measuring the card; constructing the card on another, non-tabular page; grouping all the pieces into a single object; and then pasting and aligning the card object onto the business card template. Pasting the card object appears to neutralize interference from the table’s built-in formatting.
The following outline demonstrates this strategy while providing experience with some of Word’s important new tools. (Note: the addresses have been changed to protect the innocent!)
Select a format (Avery, etc.)
Choose Envelopes and Labels, Labels, and then Options; select the required Label Product (Avery, MACO standard, other); scroll down to the appropriate business card format; after clicking OK, choose ‘Full page of the same label’ and then ‘New Document.’ Turn on the Drawing Toolbar and create a rectangular frame the same size as a single label; Copy the frame to the clipboard, create a new (non-tabular) working document, and paste the sample frame into the new document. (Note: you could also, of course, simply determine the size of the card and draw a similarly sized frame on your working document.)
In your working document use a different text box for each section of the card; choose a TrueType Font and an acceptable font size and style (I used mainly 6, 8, and 10 point text); use a borderless table inserted into a text box to organize columns of information; use different font colors to highlight particular areas; use the format text box toolbar to ensure that text and graphics boxes have a wrap set to NONE. (Note: the format text box toolbar is summoned by double clicking on the edge of the text box.)
Place graphics in text boxes; test print graphics to check print resolution; where graphics contain bit-mapped text, consider cropping or use a graphics editor to remove the bitmapped text; replace this with Word text (use a separate text box with transparent background and stack it properly using the Draw Toolbar).
Construct card by arranging text boxes and graphics inside the sample frame you pasted into your working document; check stacking order and background transparency to ensure desired degree of visibility; once card is arranged, use the Draw Toolbar to group text and graphics boxes; though it’s tempting to keep the box frame around the card, remember the card will be automatically framed in white once you separate them; if you do use a frame, group it with the other objects.
Construct card page
Prior to constructing a full page of labels, make sure the one label you’ve created in your working document is exactly the way you want it; select entire card and choose ‘Copy’ from the edit menu; go to Window and select your label layout; paste card into top left cell; also paste card in top right cell and align the two cards.
Test Print and adjust
Do a test print and hold printout behind template included in the Avery business card box. (Note: Most boxes of business cards include a couple of blank templates for this purpose); determine if cards are entirely enclosed in corresponding cells; if not, make adjustments using ‘Nudge’ commands in Draw Toolbar; once cards print out properly, group the two cards, copy and paste them down to the next two cells.
Test Print and adjust (2)
You may have to adjust the vertical distance between the two sets of cards; once your printed cards fall entirely within the template, copy, and paste to finish the page; some card formats have an odd number of cards vertically and so you may be required to copy and paste just two of the cards at a time; finally, print your cards at the highest resolution.
Cover by Mike Gorman
MyMac Magazine #41, Sept 1998
The Dog Days arrived early this year. The thermometer in Wichita read 108 in June and the dew point wasn’t far behind. In spite of an unremitting wind, we’d hit the summer doldrums before summer began. And July continued what June begot – with a vengeance.
As for the Mac, we were in a sort of doldrums of our own. No, not a ‘down in the dumps, this is the pits’ sort of depression. It was a period of well-deserved calm. A time to regroup and reflect on the tumultuous turns of the past year. We could see the light at the end of the tunnel, the inn at the top of the mountain, the port after storm. We began to feel relieved, relaxed and gotta face it, just a bit bored.
August. Texas lay panting under a searing sun as the Mac world curled up in the shade, biding its time. The first iMac exhilaration was over and the bondi-blue beauty not yet ready to ship.
Sure, Steve had livened things up in July with his red eye flight to address the crowd in the Big Apple and ‘beleaguered’ was no longer our Apple’s first name. Profits were soaring and both the media and Wall Street were once more finding Apple a surprisingly sweet byte. Ahhh. How delicious it was.
But: Where was our daily fix of angst and anguish? The frenzied search of the Web for the latest dose of Mac mania? Where had all the invigorating rumors gone? What was life without a couple of Mac conspiracies crisscrossing the Net, gaining momentum as they went? It’s been a far cry from the hysteria mustered up last August.
The thrill of victory is all very well, but were we Mac lovers too long galvanized by the agony of defeat to savor success? Had we gotten hooked on living at the bleeding edge? Was an occasional bone from the media too fleeting to keep the old adrenaline pumping?
Guess I, at least, had been well and truly hooked. Suddenly the Web seemed a lackluster pla’ce, fit only for those savvy enough to understand the underpinnings of ‘Carbon’ and OS X’ or to feel passionately pro or con about ‘Charcoal’ as System font by default.
Was the ever-ready Microsoft, the only action left? Were we to be reduced to reading nothing but The Tale of Two Bills? I don’t know about you, but I was getting mighty bored with both. Microsoft, as they say of poverty and pestilence, is always with us. But their theme song of ‘One for All and All for Bill’ soon loses its charm. And as for the other Bill — I blush to watch the nightly news.
Monica surely takes ‘not washing the hand that shook the hand’ to new heights. Gosh, I didn’t even save my prom dress. But don’t blame Bill too much. He’s like a kid in the candy store who can’t keep his hands off the darn marshmallows. And hey, the marshmallows are free.
Still, it’s almost mid-August, and the two Bills are, no puns in intended, the hottest thing going. Both are in danger of being called to account for their deeds — in the flesh and under oath. Or to take the Fifth as need be.* (Yes, I know, Bill C plans to testify via tape. Maybe, under the circumstances, baring all that flesh was just too much.)
Which reminds me, the closest I’ve come to a whiff of conspiracy lately is to wonder if the Dark Side might not be behind the call to charge Janet Reno with Contempt of Congress. Let’s see now, Microsoft is annoyed by the DOJ, which like a pesky gnat on a summer’s day, just won’t go away.
They’ve even got the audacity to order Big Bill himself to take the stand for not one, but two, sessions. There goes a lot of golf out the Window. If you were the richest guy around and had more lawyers on tap than the rest of the free world combined, what would you do?
But I’m not hooked on DNA, National Politics or Microsoft. I’m hooked on the Mac. Withdrawal makes me edgy. I yearn for something Applelike, something sweet and juicy, to sink my teeth in. Something to put a little pizzazz in my summer.
Wait just a minute! Hold everything! It’s August! And it’s almost half over. Could the Ides of August** be upon us already? Lord-a-mighty, today’s the 14th. Hallelujah! It’s iMac Eve!!! Where does the time go? Only one more shopping day, folks, til that bondi-blue beauty hits the shelves. Finally, a chance to touch it. Stroke it. Gaze soulfully into it’s translucent blue innards. As the old song says — ‘Make it mine… Make it mine… Make it mine!’
Gotta go, Guys. Gotta wash my hair and gas the car. Maybe stick a few iMac brochures in the window and hang a really, really big sock by the fireplace. So much to do. So little time. See you in the farthest corner of the nearest CompUSA (just behind that bondi-blue stocking ladder) first thing tomorrow.
We had an Apple Education event at our alternative High School last week with a variety of teachers, three Apple reps and one ice cool iMac. After our local I.T. person opened by pointing out that, in spite of a large number of new Macs in the classrooms, Topeka was ‘really an IBM’ district, we got down to business. Playing with the iMac.
The I.T. lady notwithstanding, the host school had just ordered four blue beauties and everyone was anxious for some Hands On. But when it was time for questions and answers, my concern remained the one I’ve been voicing since May: How to get things off and on a computer with no floppy, SCSI, serial, parallel or ADB ports. And USB stuff that won’t talk to a Mac.
Yes, I know that some new owners will plug right into a home, school or business network. And, yes, I know about the Internet. Boy! Do I know about the Internet. Not many high speed lines in this neck of the woods.
And then there are the creative solutions. Like noting that the iMac has an infrared thingamabob. And Hey! What a coincidence. So does your neighbor’s sister-in-law’s grandson’s 3400 PowerBook. Shanghai the kid. Empty files onto a bunch of Zips (the old fashioned SCSI sort). Load old Mac programs on a bunch more SCSIs and Zip into the PowerBook. Stick Powerbook and iMac belly to belly and voila — instant miracle.
Back at the seminar, things were a little less innovative. The Apple rep assured us there were all sorts of USB products in the marketplace. Today. Wrapped up and ready to ship. But what does he know. He just works there.
Many of us see the iMac as Apple’s Last Best Hope, Custer’s Last Stand, and The Last of the Mohicans, all rolled into one. We check USB specs like Yuppies check Wall Street. This time, Apple, it has got to be right. Face it. Fine words do not a download make.
But, just in case there’s less B.S. and more USB about, I hitched a ride on the Web. Well, I tried. Streets must have been mighty empty across the US last weekend. Every Sunday driver was out cruising the information byway looking for Starr’s version of ‘The Playboy of the Western World.’
I slogged from MacWarehouse to MacMall, MacZone to MacConnection. Once there, things were about as speedy as a 2400 baud modem on a graphics based Web. And, as if we needed a secondary road jam, with all the MacCatalogs now having a PC doppelganger, searching for ‘USB’ tends to bring up hundreds of PC products that must be winnowed down to the occasional Mac bit.
So I tried ‘Zip’. That brought in some 155 returns. Everything from zippered wallets to refurbished 6500 PowerMacs. But not a USB Iomega ZIP among them. It was nice to find that the Rainbow Ten Pack was now less than $100. Course, to take advantage of those zesty Zips, you’ve gotta have that SCSI : (
Every catalog said the same thing. Come on in and lay your money down, Folks. The USBs, they are a-coming. All you need is patience, prepayment and a bountiful bladder. OK. So, maybe you had to read between the lines.
I found myself approving of the Mac catalogs that were up front about their goods. Thanks to MacZone for letting us know when stock is expected. And to MacConnection for making things clear with a quick ‘in stock? Yes or No.’ Or MacMall for its handy ‘units in stock:’ followed by the quantity or advice to call.
Thumbs down on MacWarehouse expecting the shopper to click on ‘buy’ and then pull hair before finding out they must ‘Contact.’ Bad enough anytime, but that extra step, each step of the way, on a slow day . . . Skip it.
But, things change overnight in the iMac world. If USB is headed our way, it’s only fair to give it another go before posting my tirade. So, Wednesday, a month and a day after the big iMac event, I checked out MACS4U.com.
Wow, one stop shopping for all your iMac needs. And no PC clutter to confuse the harried shopper. Just the Mac stuff. So, what have they got in stock. Well, they’ve got a hub. An ‘Express Bus Four Port USB Hub’ by Belkin. In stock. Ready to connect up all your USB stuff.
What stuff? Well, there’s the catch. There really isn’t much stuff. Not enough to necessitate a four port hub. There is a Printer. An Epson Stylus Color 740, complete with USB cable. Hard copy, here we come.
To get pictures into your iMac, Kodak has a Digital Science DC 260 USB compatible camera. In stock and only $979.95.
You swallow hard a couple of times. That’s almost as much as I paid for the iMac! Anything cheaper? Not to worry. Umax has a scanner for only $179.95 and it’s… um, it’s due in any day now. Figures.
But what about my files, you groan. How to get’m in. How to get’m out. How to get’m from the old Mac to the iMac. In other words, what about Imation!
Where’s that symbiotic SuperDisk drive they promised us last summer??? Ah! Yes! There it is. Number Three on the list. And only $169.95. It seems like a lot for something you’ve mostly taken for granted, but you are plumb full of files and can’t be bothered by trifles.
You leap onto the Web, waving your Visa. Only to be met with a firm, but friendly, notice. “Due,” it says, “10/1/98. Reserve yours today!” AUGHH!
Two more miserable weeks until you can dump those files. It’s a new twist on an old Microsoft favorite. We call ours Pay and Pray.
Up iMac Creek Without a Paddle
Up iMac Creek without a paddle
What a prickly place to be
Floppies! Floppies! Everywhere
And not a drop for Me
Nope! Not a drop of USB
Oh, what a spot to be in
Plumb full of Stuff and Bound to Bust
Without a pot to pee in
Extension Overload 2.7
Author: Teng Chou Ming
If you are one of the many users who are lost in the countless files littering your Extensions and Control Panels folder, take heart. Help has arrived in the form of a nifty document called Extension Overload 2.7!
Encyclopedia o’ Extensions
The author of Extension Overload claims that it contains information of 666 extensions (INITs) and 245 control panels. After using Extension Overload to look up some of the most obscure extensions I have (it even listed an extension called ‘Cham Hangul’, an extension I need for foreign language operations), I was convinced that this figure was easily accurate.
Extension Overload vs. InformINIT
Dan Frakes also publishes an excellent electronic document for extension and control panel information called “InformINIT” (shareware, $25). Regardless of which document has more extensions and control panels covered, Extension Overload tops InformINIT in many ways.
Organization is Key
First of all, Extension Overload provides the information to users in such a clear way that they don’t really need to read the directions at all (except to register, or course). Extension Overload also lists all extensions and control panels alphabetically, making finding the one you’re looking for simple. On the other hand, InformINIT uses many different colors and conventions which are useful but could easily confuse the reader who hasn’t read the long version of the directions, and makes browsing the database difficult by dividing everything into overly-specific categories (Apple Control Panels, Apple Extensions, Non-RAM INITs, Groups, Third-Party Extensions, Third-Party Control Panels, Enablers, and Microsoft files). Fortunately, both include a “Find” feature.
Extension Overload also provides the latest version of each extension and control panel where applicable, along with a URL (also when applicable). InformINIT does the same, but goes one step further by providing “hot links” to the website. Clicking on the “NN” or “IE” button (depending on which browser you use) will take you to the URL, but only if your browser is already running in the background. This quirk can make the feature essentially useless; users can always simply copy and paste the URL into their already running browser.
To top it off, Extension Overload has a smaller file size; it isn’t bloated with huge graphics like InformINIT. This means that downloading new updated versions becomes less painful. It’s also cheaper, but advanced users may not get all of the techie info (RAM usage for instance) for certain extensions and control panels that is contained in InformINIT.
Extension Overload packs 666 extensions, 245 control panels and a few extras into an easy-to-use format—all for $10. For any true Mac user, this document is a must-have source for extension and control panel information.
Author: Antoine ROSSET
If you looked at the hefty $99 shareware fee listed above, you might be in shock. You might even think to yourself, “99 dollars, you say? That must be a typo!” Trust me, that’s not a typo—it’s actually a great deal on the best music players/editors/converters for Macintosh (or even Windows). PlayerPRO is the all-around best program for beginners and advanced musicians alike.
The $99 shareware price will not only get you the shareware program, but a CD crammed with more than 4,000 songs, 500 sampled instruments (for use in your own songs), the latest PlayerPRO software, other music shareware, and the PlayerPRO development kit. No other software package comes close to PlayerPRO’s impressive CD.
But we’re all not music professionals, and the registration information didn’t mention any way to register PlayerPRO without buying the entire CD package. The only listed way to register PlayerPRO is to order the CD, which may cost too much for casual users.
The Perfect Player?
PlayerPRO is digital audio heaven.
To start, it can play files in just about every popular music or audio format, including MOD, S3M, Midi, MTM, MADx, OKTA, snd (System 7 sounds), MINS, WAV, XI, AIFF, AIFC, MED, 669, IT, ULT, and XM. PlayerPRO can also convert files to several of these formats.
In addition to its support for a vast array of file formats, PlayerPRO also has a host of other features with which to see your music. For instance, the mesmerizing oscilloscope and spectrum views are great visual aids while listening to music. There are even enough views to satisfy veteran digital musicians. The digital synthesizer, song track, instrument list, pattern/partition view, wave preview, and music adaptor windows all provide easy access and views for advanced features (especially suited for composers). It also features a music list, which is automatically saved when you quit and restored the next time you run PlayerPRO (music lists can also be saved as individual files).
Speaking of eye candy, PlayerPRO also boasts several full-screen viewing modes. ‘FullView’ is a visual delight, showing the oscillograms of each instrument (also outlining their loop regions, and highlighting them when they play), real-time oscillograms of each channel, and general song information—all while scrolling some personal messages from the author along the bottom of the screen. The ‘ScreenSaver’ mode is very similar to FullView, but it shows different real-time 3D audio-sensitive displays (basically polygons that move to the music). It also shows the credits and advertises PlayerPRO with a cool snowfall animation. The other two features are basically useless. The flawed ScrollText mode requires exactly 256 colors on exactly a 640 x 480 display, and the 3D cube option is disabled on my computer; I don’t know what it does.
Completing PlayerPRO’s ensemble of features is its editor. Even here, PlayerPRO provides astounding variety. Music can be written and edited in 4 ways: the digital editor, the box editor, the piano, and the classical editor. The digital and box editors are very similar, although the latter is easier to use. In both windows, holding various modifier keys (like option and command) allow you to do things like preview the sound at a certain pitch. The piano input method is very self explanatory. It is essentially—surprise!—a piano-like keyboard, where piano keys are assigned to keyboard keys (clicking the mouse also works). However, pianists may not like the fact that PlayerPRO’s piano keys are all side-by-side; the accidental (black) keys are not offset in any way from the rest. Lastly, the classical editor is just like a musical score; notes are laid out on a staff. This editor will probably be the most familiar and popular one for most musicians who aren’t familiar with digital music trackers.
‘B’ is for ‘bugs’. Although PlayerPRO is the most robust digital audio solution, it still has its share of minor bugs. It also has a small memory leak which can be remedied by quitting and opening the application again when an ‘Out of Memory’ error comes up.
If you’re looking for the most advanced, robust, and compatible music editor, player, and converter on the Macintosh, PlayerPRO is the way to go. Its $99 CD will include everything you need to enjoy digital audio at its finest. But if you just want to get your feet wet in the massive realm of digital music, PlayerPRO’s price might just be a bit too steep.
When CompUSA opened its doors in Tucson in June, sparks started to fly. The sales floor was mobbed with lookers, gawkers, and a few buyers. The selection was vast, prices were competitive, and the Mac-store was well-stocked.
Inside the store-within-a-store is CompUSA’s school-within-a-store, the Training Center. Here in Tucson, the manager is Michael Lupien.
A few days after the new store opened, Mike came to our monthly TMUG meeting and generously donated several Mac classes to our raffle. He reappeared at the July and August meetings, and continued to promote CompUSA’s Training Center with free classes and user group discounts, including the new iMac.
Mike is a Mac man through and through. His eyes light up when he discusses his experience with the Macintosh.
Nemo caught up with him for a few intense conversations during the summer months. What follows is a play-by-play of Mike’s background, and his articulate perspective on computer training within the retail environment.
John: Hello, Mike. Thanks for supporting our user group. Say “hi” to the readers of My Mac Magazine.
Mike: Thank you, John. I look forward to working with you and all the Macintosh enthusiasts. Where do you want to start?
John: How about your background?
Mike: Certainly. I grew up in New England and attended the University of Massachusetts. I received a double degree in business administration and computer science.
John: Impressive. Did that lead to your first job?
Mike: Yes. Out of college I worked for Digital Equipment installing a business inventory system (MRPII). After three years I was hired by the software company, Computer Associates, as a national trainer.
John: Meaning lots of travel?
Mike: Tons. I flew to companies and conducted week-long training/ consulting sessions with such corporations as Alcoa, Digital, Dow Chemical, EDS, and Silicon Graphics.
John: Mainframes, I expect. Where did the Macintosh fit in?
Mike: I started using the Mac to write up reports during this time, in 1986. Computer Associates transferred me to Silicon Valley as a marketing manager, where I used the Mac exclusively to write all my project specifications, even though we had a complete Unix system.
John: One of the original “think different” evangelists. Good for you. What next?
Mike: In 1988 Acer offered me a great job directing a software relations program. I was in charge of an entire channel of sales, including advertising, direct marketing, manuals, collateral, you name it. All my output was created on Macs.
John: What did the execs think of you, Mr. Renegade?
Mike: My department saved a tremendous amount of money by self-creating without an ad agency. Much of my material is still used by my successors.
John: Did that lead to a job in desktop publishing or public relations?
Mike: Hardly. In 1992, I was tired of all the travel, so I entered consulting.
John: Big time or small scale?
Mike: Big, very big. I did a number of large jobs for Oracle, HP, Acer, and Wick Communications, who own the local Arizona publications “Inside Tucson Business” and the “Daily Territorial.” Wick owns 40 newspapers country-wide.
John: Was your work focused on specific sorts of tasks?
Mike: Just the opposite. I created every possible type of document during this time, from business cards and marketing materials to annual reports and multimedia!
John: Am I correct to think you are shifting over to the Internet?
Mike: Exactly. I have been focusing mainly on website work since 1994. I moved to Tucson in 1997 to do some large projects for Wick.
John: Just a sec. It’s a long way from being a corporate consultant to being a corporate employee.
Mike: I was ready for another major change. CompUSA is my first corporate job in six years.
John: Our readers can’t wait to hear the reason why.
Mike: I chose to go back because of the opportunity to help people integrate the computer into daily life. There is still a tremendous amount of computer fear. I have been helping people overcome this fear since 1984. What motivates me is the feeling I get when a person learns a skill that makes their life easier, and gets over the fear. It’s the proverbial light bulb going off.
John: Is it fair to call you a “realist altruist,” Mike? I admire your point-of-view, and your action in support of it. How does the Mac fit into the picture?
Mike: I am dedicated to the Mac platform. I specifically made it a point to have a Macintosh curriculum here at the CompUSA Training Center. When we show people the power of Photoshop, Illustrator, Painter, and the other versatile applications, they are amazed.
John: Are the courses successful in accomplishing your goals?
Mike: When you compare our courses to college-based training, I believe that intensive learning works better for computer skills. People have to perform a procedure over and over to lock in into their brains. By investing one to three days with our classes, the participants are productive, with new skills.
John: You are quite passionate, Mike. Let’s have a summary of your thoughts up to this point, please.
Mike: Mac training is alive and well. My business motto is “Pride Through Performance.” I live by it.
John: Let’s get physical, Mike. Please describe the arrangement at Tucson CompUSA.
Mike: With pleasure. CompUSA Training has three networked classrooms with 44 Windows NT workstations, all communicating over an NT 4.0 LAN (Local Area Network).
John: Do you have Internet access from the store?
Mike: We have a T1 Internet connection for our Internet services. All machines can access the Net because they are served by a proxy server, “a road cop” which tells the LAN whether something should go to the server-hard drive or to the Net.
John: Where are the Macs?
Mike: I have added eight Apple stations to this network thus far, each having a G3/233MHz tower, with 64Mb of memory and a 2-gig hard drive.
John: I can live with that ratio, for now. What does the
Mike: In each classroom the instructor’s desktop is
projected upon a white screen so all the students can follow
every move of the instructor.
John: What about written material and software?
Mike: Each course has a lesson book with practice floppy disks. Students are encouraged to load the same material on their home computers to go back through exactly what they learned during the class.
John: How do you determine the proficiency-level of the students?
Mike: Potential students initially receive a free consultation from our staff where we develop course road maps with them, called “tracks of learning.” We get to know a person’s desires, and direct them into certain classes which provide the skills they seek. I have added new subjects to the schedule based on the needs of the people. For example, we created a class dedicated to scanners and digital cameras, covering how to configure them and use them for best results.
John: That is called “needs-based curriculum,” and is very dynamic. Do the students take more than one course from you?
Mike: Most people join us as members, paying what I call a semester fee. This allows them to take as many classes as they wish and pay one low fee.
John: With no limit?
Mike: None during the prepaid time period. When a person tells us they would like to get a job as an Internet designer, for example, we develop a specific curriculum of class dates and times. All this training, if taken over three months, is only $495.
John: That is great. What are the demographics of your students?
Mike: Our Mac courses are designed for three types of users. The first category, “new computer purchasers,” are people who have just bought their first or first-in-a-while computer. These people require operating system experience.
John: How do you get them up to speed?
Mike: The goal initially is to teach software basics quickly, eliminating the frustrations that happen during self-learning. We offer introductory classes in Macintosh OS 8.1, Claris Works, Internet Basics, Internet Researching, Quicken, and Microsoft Office.
John: Who is the second group?
Mike: The “desktop publishing and small business” crowd.
John: Long may they thrive.
Mike: The Mac has always been the premiere printing and publishing computer system. Adobe developed most of their software originally for the Macintosh. People requiring these skills are usually either artists, graphic designers, or small business owners looking to produce their individual marketing materials. We teach them Photoshop, Illustrator, PageMaker, QuarkXPress, QuickBooks, and Painter.
John: That brings us to group three, who are?
Mike: The “Internet Website Design” students. Here is where my personal, professional background really pays dividends. I have used my Mac to design websites since 1994. Every day the Net becomes more integral to our lives. In this area we teach everything from “what is the Net” to “how do I conduct business and make money?”
John: Do you go deeper, with this Internet curriculum?
John: Very ambitious. What is the diploma?
Mike: Upon completion of a class, the students receive a certificate of accomplishment, but more important is that they have real skills they can apply the very next day.
John: Can we switch gears, Mike, and talk a bit about your school-within -a-store concept?
Mike: With pleasure. CompUSA has a total of 241 Training Super Centers, after the recent buyout of Computer City. With such a large number of schools to support, CompUSA made a minority investment into a design and printing firm called Infosource, in Florida.
John: Who creates the classroom material?
Mike: In some cases we use third-party materials from Ziff-Davis, but for most courses we use our own creations. We have a course project team in our Dallas corporate office dedicated to project manage any new topic. They work with Infosource to produce the product using CompUSA’s template of design. Our manuals use extensive screen shots. This allows the student to see and mirror every step that the instructor does for them during the class.
John: I have seen these workbooks. The couple sitting next to me at the TMUG meeting have just finished taking every beginner Mac course offered. They’re waiting for the iMac price to do down, and then take the plunge.
Mike: Elise and Ernie, a great couple. They’re really
getting their money’s worth out of our semester
John: Who writes your software floppy tutorials?
Mike: Infosource also creates CBTs for us (Computer Based Training Disks). These are animated multimedia programs that exactly mirror the same materials as the instructor-led classes, providing a home study option for the student. They are so good I use them to learn any new subject myself!
John: Where do you get your teachers?
Mike: Finding and certifying new instructors is my favorite part of the job. Many people have come to me and inquired about teaching for us. I encourage this because the desire to share one’s expertise is what makes a good instructor to me. Personally, I use group meetings like TMUG to meet new, friendly, talented people. I look for sincerity, follow-through, patience, and communication skills. Good instructors can feel where the student is and help them grow.
John: Are they skilled before they go on the payroll?
Mike: All of our instructors are tested on each class they want to teach, and then certified in their ability to instruct, convey their knowledge, carry an audience, and learn new skills themselves. We have perfected this system over the past 12 years and fine-tuned it in over 150 locations.
John: And the ultimate satisfaction for you is…?
Mike: We are confident that in six hours we can make a student productive.
John: Mike, this has been a pleasure. Save one of those G3s for me, next time I itch to learn a new piece of software.
Mike: With a bit of luck, John, you will win a free class at the September TMUG meeting. Best wishes to you and your readers.
See you next month. Thanks for reading Nemo Memo!
Each month I receive a variety of letters from readers with all sorts of questions. Since everybody else is talking about the iMac and I haven’t been able to see it myself I thought I’d do something a Denver Sports columnist occasionally reverts to… answering his readers.
Who do you think you are criticizing Apple?
I’m a loyal Mac fanatic who one year ago was tired of seeing a great company go down the tubes in part due to incompetent marketing. But instead of just whining about it I wanted to offer some fresh ideas.
Do you really think anybody at Apple actually reads your column?
Yes. People can’t help reading about their job and what others think about it. I think some of them have actually agreed at times. And I’m sure thought I had no clue as to what was going on on other occasions.
Do you actually think somebody at Apple was going to use one of your commercials?
Honestly, at first I did. Matter of fact, I had thought up what it was going to cost them. But after the first month I came to my senses. Now I just do it to feed my addiction to be heard.
What kind of Mac do you own?
Currently, (my wife says for a long time) I have a Performa 6360 (160MHz 603e) with 1.2 gig and 48 megs of RAM which I hope to increase to 102 megs very soon. I’ve always liked the looks of the 6360 and the price was a steal. My monitor is an Apple 14″ with the Trinitron tube (I’m very partial to Sony tubes). To round things out a Color Stylewriter 2500, Mustek 600II scanner, Zip Drive, and Altec Lansing speakers.
Where do you get your ideas for commercials?
The first few months were really easy, I had a list in my head and all I did was add things to it. Many of the early ideas came from personal experience. Now, I spend several hours, usually driving to and from work working on each idea. I have a lot more respect for ad people who have to spend years coming up with new ideas for the same company.
What was the funniest comment you ever got?
It was from a teacher in a newly all Wintel school, after explaining his plight he ended with the phrase, “Why me”? But, seriously, he knows what is ahead of him and it isn’t going to be fun. I just don’t understand the reasoning of making things more difficult for classroom teachers.
What is so bad about the Windows platform to you?
It’s an operating system designed for engineers and tinkered with to fool the vast majority into thinking it’s easy. I like to compare Windows to H-P calculators “Reverse Polish Notation” wherein you key in a number, hit enter, key in the other number, then hit the +/-/x key to get your answer. You don’t say six enter, two enter, times. That is what using Windows is like, foolish steps that take time away from productivity.
What do you think of Bill Gates?
Honestly, I’m apathetic. I think he is a very shrewd marketer who understands how to keep the market happy while at the same time guiding it to his own interests. He and Alan Greenspan are very similar because they both turn congressman into blubbering idiots who buy everything they say without truly questioning their motives.
My favorite Gates story was not when he got hit by the pie but what supposedly happened on his first night in his monsterous mansion. As the story goes, the NT operating system that ran everything in the house was having all sorts of problems (surprise surprise). The giant disappearing screen in the master bedroom would not turn off and go down. Supposedly Bill himself tried to force the display down into its recessed cabinet. He ended up having to place a blanket over the screen so he could go to sleep.
Will the iMac save Apple?
No, I think Steve Jobs has already saved it. The goal of the iMac is to get non-Mac people the opportunity get in on the Macintosh experience.After all, isn’t the time spent with the machine what hooked the rest of us? The iMac will increase the base of Mac users once the initial flurry of current Mac owners upgrading ebbs.
What was your favorite Apple commercial you came up with?
It would have to from my first article I called it “Classroom”
Scene: Middle School, technology classroom, Mac and Wintel CPUs.
Students at the Wintel machines, some with hands raised, others trying to read a manual. One student even pulling his hair. The teacher and an assistant hurriedly running from machine to machine. On the other side, students are shown on Macs surfing the Internet, printing reports, developing multimedia with animation, even writing the school newspaper. The camera then focuses on two boys who turn to look at the students on the Wintel machines. “Great idea, Jake. From now on, no showers after gym so we can get a Macintosh”. “Yeah”.
The boys “high-five” as the camera pans to the right showing two cheerleaders, one holding her nose as the other bends forward crinkling her nose, both saying “Eeew”! Screen blackens, famous Apple ad voice speaks:
“At Apple, we understand that technology only educates children when it works”.
Apple and the Mac OS logos appear.
As a classroom teacher it says everything, much like a Norman Rockwell painting. Thanks to all of you for a wonderful first year. Next month I’ll return to writing TV commercials after I have a chance to see the iMac ads.
Company: Apple Computers, Inc.
Estimated Price: $3899 (midrange)
Imagine this: A laptop computer that’s as fast
as a desktop, has a huge screen, offers
breakthrough design, but doesn’t leave a hole
in your wallet. Well, you can stop dreaming,
and start believing. That laptop is here, and it’s called the PowerBook G3. It offers an astounding price-performance value not found in most laptops today. Oh, and it toasts the Pentium II processor 🙂
I had the opportunity to use various configurations, including some of Apple’s standard configurations, as well as my own built-to-order (BTO) configuration. I will talk about all the features, and give you my recommendations at the end of the review.
Truly Intuitive Design
The PowerBook G3 has a completely redesigned case that sports dozens of improvements, including a handy sleep indicator light, PC card eject buttons, and labels on the inside of the port door so you don’t plug your SCSI cable into the Ethernet port! Other improvements include stereo speakers (the sound is a great improvement over the 3400’s) and an easily opened modem port door located between the PC card slots and the left expansion bay. However, the modem port door is somewhat flimsy and opens by itself all too often.
Models with the 12.1 inch display ship with brightness and contrast controls above the keyboard, while the 13.3 and 14.1s ship with brightness controls and a volume adjustment control in place of the contrast control. All configurations have a mute button to the left of the brightness control, and a power button that’s finally off the keyboard!
The PowerBook G3 can be configured with a 233, 250, or 292MHz PowerPC 750 (G3) processor. There are no performance compromises on the 250 and 292MHz processors, as each sports a 83MHz system bus and 1Mb of backside level-2 (L2) cache. This runs at a 2:1 cache to system bus ratio, making a PowerBook G3 equipped with either of these processors absolutely fly.
The compromise is in the 233MHz processor. It has a 66MHz system bus, which is still acceptable by industry standards. What is regrettable is the lack of backside cache, making the 233MHz processor sluggish in some operations.
That is not to say that the 233MHz is any turtle! All three of the processors were quite fast. We don’t have a hi-tech lab here at My Mac Magazine, and we don’t reprint Apple press releases stating benchmark numbers, so I will say that the 250 and 292MHz processors were very close in performance in real world tests, such as opening applications, etc. The 233MHz processor was noticeably slower in all operations, especially when using Photoshop.
One advantage of the 233MHz processor is that it runs quite cool, much cooler than the 250 or 292. Using a 250 or 292 on your lap for an extended period of time becomes painful due to the heat, so it’s definitely something to think about when configuring a PowerBook.
Seeing is Believing
Next to the processor, the size of the display is the next most important buying decision. Laptop screens have always been limited to smaller sizes, and no PowerBook screen could ever stack up to a desktop monitor–until now. My 13.3 inch display measures very close to my Apple 15″ Multiple Scan display, but feels much bigger due to the 1024×768 resolution. It is also brighter, sharper, and, in my opinion, more enjoyable to use than an external monitor.
The PowerBook G3 can be configured with a 12.1 inch passive matrix display, or a 13.3 or 14.1 inch active matrix display. The 12.1 inch comes with 2Mb of SGRAM (video memory), while the 13.3 and 14.1 inch-equipped models come with 4Mb of SGRAM. The 12.1 provides 16 bit (thousands) color at 800×600 on the internal screen, and millions of colors through the standard VGA (adapter included) video output port. The 13.3 and 14.1 provide 32 bit (millions) color at 1024×768 on the internal screen, and the same to an external monitor.
The 13.3 and 14.1 inch displays also come with a S-video output port for connections to electronic devices such as TVs and VCRs. I used the S-video with a composite S-video to S-video cable connected to a Sony TV. 640×480 NTSC was the best resolution, and didn’t look too shabby playing games, but made text unreadable, and absolutely mangled graphics. I wouldn’t recommend using this for such purposes as classroom instruction or slide show presentations.
The 12.1 inch display was dark, even at the highest brightness setting, and it’s refresh rate was surprisingly slow. Furthermore, it looks downright silly sitting in such a big case. On the other hand, the 13.3 and 14.1 inch displays are absolutely beautiful. They are very bright, and actually need the brightness turned down. They are also large enough to usefully support the 1024×768 screen resolution; a welcome addition to mobile computing. In use, though, any differences between the 13.3 and 14.1 inch screens are not striking, as the 14.1 inch display offers only .8 more viewable space than the 13.3. The 13.3 screen, however, is 1.2 inches bigger than that of the 12.1 inch model, a difference which is quite noticeable when using most applications.
A Typist’s Dream
Certainly my favorite feature of the PowerBook G3 is the keyboard. In fact, I’m enjoying typing this review on it right now! The keyboard feels very soft to the touch, its keys are full size, and best of all, it has the full functionality of a standard keyboard. The arrow keys are in the inverted “T” position, and using the new “fn” (function) key in conjunction with other keys will allow you to use functions such as a numeric keypad, page up/down, home, end, and forward delete, among others.
The PowerBook G3 has two hot swappable expansion bays that will accept a variety of devices, from floppy drives to hard drives and everything in between. The right bay supports 3 1/2 inch or 5 1/4 inch devices while the left bay only supports 3 1/2 inch devices. The two bays are completely interchangeable (provided that the module is 3 1/2 inch), and both accept batteries, allowing for up to 7 hours of power without recharging.
The 20X CD-ROM module or DVD-ROM module (12X CD/1.5X DVD) will only fit in the right bay, whereas the floppy drive module and Zip drive module from VST Technologies http://www.vsttech.com will fit in both (look for a review of the VST Zip drive next month). VST also makes hard disks that are interchangeable in either expansion bay.
Yes Sir, That’s Standard
In addition to all its options, the PowerBook G3 comes with many standard features. These include built in 10BASE-T Ethernet, a Lithium Ion battery for up to 3.5 hours of use, 16 bit stereo sound input/output, two CardBus-compliant PC Card slots that accept two Type II cards or one Type III card, and a 4Mbps (megabits per second) IrDA infrared port that works very well. Also included is an AC adapter, and 2D/3D graphics acceleration via the ATI 3D Rage LT chip set.
The three most common configurations of the PowerBook G3 are:
(The above price reflects BTO configuration at time of purchase: 29 May 1998.)Other configurations can be found at various catalogs and resellers, and BTO configurations can be ordered from The Apple Store http://www.apple.com/store.
Note: at the time this was written, the 292/14.1 configurations were still very rare.
When choosing a configuration or custom-configuring a PowerBook G3, there are a few recommendations that I would make:
Well, there isn’t too much to say about the PowerBook G3 that isn’t good. It’s a winner, hands down. Its speed, screen, and design are unmatched in the computer notebook industry today, and it offers the best price/performance ratio of any notebook, especially in the midrange configurations.
While it is still on the heavy side, the PowerBook G3 is a wonderful addition to Apple’s product line, combining the speed of the G3 processor with the versatility of a PowerBook. It truly rivals desktop computers, and I use mine as a complete desktop replacement. It brings me great joy to congratulate Apple, and give the PowerBook G3 my highest recommendation.
MacMice Rating: 4
Stan ended his visit with the Individualist promising to get in touch with them if he noticed or heard of any problems with B.G. Enterprise’s monitoring system. Anita had confided in him that someone named Steve Jobs was about to do something. Something big. Something that would change the lives of everyone living under the suffocating blanket of the New World Government. Stan didn’t think that one man could make much of a difference in his life, let alone the lives of everyone else. But then again, Bill Gates was just one man.
Riding his electric motor bike back to Garnersville, the name Steve Jobs swirled in and out of Stan’s memory. He felt as though he should know the name. Was sure he had heard it before, but just couldn’t place it. He made a mental note to check it out at the main info console when he returned to work.
Arriving home that evening, Stan’s wife Emily was obviously upset. “Where have you been , Stanley?” (She called him Stanley only when she was upset.) “The Controllers have been sending messages here for the past six hours asking for you. They said you hadn’t logged in since the number 7 recharge station on the west Hudson bike trail. I told them you probably left the trail and lost track of time.”
(Emily had not been worried that something untoward had happened to her husband because that sort of thing just didn’t happen anymore. Everyone carried with them their own personnel locator transmitter, so if Stan had gotten hurt or was incapacitated the transmitter would have sensed this and activated itself, transmitting a signal to the closest Controllers’ station, sending a rescue team out immediately.)
“Their last message said they were sending out a search team to look for you. What were you doing, Stanley?”
Before answering his wife, Stan walked over to the central com center and quickly entered his social security number and allowed the retina scanner to positively identify him. He typed a short message into the machine.
Stan Walker, 012-52-5197. Reason for tardy login: I Left the bike trail and to my embarrassment got temporarily lost in the forest on the west slopes of the Hudson River. I apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused the Controllers.
Stan hit send and waited for an answer. The Controllers replied within seconds.
Stan Walker, 012-52-5197. Message received. Explanation temporarily accepted pending mandatory investigation of unaccounted whereabouts of user. Penalty to user for failure to activate Locator: 200 Purchasing Units.
“Damn you people!” Stan yelled at the screen.
“Stanley! What’s wrong with you? What’s going on?
“Nothing. It just burns me that the Controllers have to know where we are every minute of every day. They keep tabs on us like we were prisoners. It isn’t right.”
“It’s the way the system works, Stan. It’s how they keep everyone safe. You know that.”
“It’s “1984” come true, is what it is Em. Just a little late.”
“Stanley, what’s gotten into you? Why are you so angry?”
Stan told his wife about having spent the whole day with a clan of Individualists. He told her how happy and content they had seemed. How none of the news reports they had been hearing about the inevitable demise of the Individualist were true. How maybe, just maybe they had made a big mistake choosing this life over what he had seen today.
“Oh my God, Stanley! You can’t be serious! You’re not thinking about giving up what we have here to go live in the woods with a bunch of nomadic crazy people, are you? Is that what your saying?”
“They’re not crazy, Emily! Stan yelled. “They’re normal people just like us. Except they chose to be free, to live their own lives, make their own choices. They refuse to be led around on a leash, dependant on the government for every aspect of their lives, like we are. If you ask me Em, we’re the crazy ones.”
Crying now, Emily Walker attempts to reason with her husband. “Stanley, we’re too old to go traipsing off into the wo…woods. We wouldn’t last a wu…week out there. Things aren’t so bad here, are they Stanley?” Emily’s crying turns into heart wrenching sobs. She covers her face with her hands, unable to continue.
Transfixed by what he was seeing, Stan walks over to his wife and puts his arms around her, hugging her closely. “Emily, my dear Emily, look at you. Crying like a baby. I never said we were leaving, and we’re not.” He moved her hands away from her face and lifted her chin so he could look into her eyes. The sobbing had stopped but tears were still flowing from her ducts. He slowly kissed each of her cheeks, savoring the salty taste of her tears.
“We’re not going anywhere dear,” he told her again. “But tell me, when was the last time you cried, actually cried, like you did just now?”
“I don’t know. Why? Why would you ask such a thing, Stanley?”
“It’s been a long, long time, hasn’t it, Em?”
“I suppose. But so what? Do you get pleasure seeing your wife break down in tears?”
“No. Not pleasure Em. More like relief.”
“What are you talking about? You’re not making any sense, Stanley.”
“Yes I am, honey. Think about it. You can’t remember the last time you cried. Hell, I can’t remember the last time I cried about anything either. Even more disturbing is that I can’t remember the last time you or I laughed, actually had a rip-roaring laugh about anything. And it’s not just us, Em. Do we ever hear laughter at work? No, we don’t. How about when we walk past the park when it’s full of children. Do we ever hear laughter coming from the children, or even crying for that matter? No again.”
“So what are you saying, Stan?” asked Emily.
“I’m saying that our feelings and emotions are dulled. We’re turning into automatons, emotionless robots of this New World society.”
“You’re scaring me again, Stanley!” Emily shuddered.
“Sorry. But maybe we should be scared. Maybe if more people were afraid and incensed over their lives being manipulated and controlled by the NWG they would try to do something about it.”
“Do what, Stan?” Emily asked. “Start a revolution? Start a war?”
“No, Em, I don’t think it has to get bloody.
“Look, we were all grateful when Bill Gates convinced the world to disarm, and by doing so eliminated the threat of planet-wide destruction by a handful of hotheaded, egotistical political leaders. Hell, if it hadn’t been for Bill Gates stepping up to the plate with his zero tolerance verifiable disarmament technology the highest form of life inhabiting this planet today might be some mutant species of cockroach. For that he deserves his rightful place in history as the man who single-handedly saved the Earth from nuclear holocaust.
“But it should have stopped there, Em. At that point, Bill Gates’ foolproof monitoring technology should have been made available to all the governments of the world, allowing them to individually monitor and suppress any further attempts at rearming. We never should have allowed B.G. Enterprise to become the Big Brother of the world. We had laws in place to prevent that sort of thing from happening and we didn’t use them. Willingly, we allowed, even assisted Bill Gates in rewriting the laws to conform to his agenda. Like a deer caught in the hypnotic glare of oncoming headlights, we froze, we did nothing to prevent him from running right over the top of us. And by the time we blinked, it was too late. We had handed over control of the world to this one man. A man who admits to being a technology addict and a man who, however unintentionally, may very well reduce the human entity of the Earth into an unthinking, inconsequential biological form whose only usefulness will be as an expendable and replaceable extension of a self-sustaining, self-governing societal machine that no longer requires, nor will accept the input of human thought.
“It may be a safer, less threatening world we live in Emily, but at what cost? At what point does the price of simply maintaining an existence become too high?”
Emily had never heard her husband speak like this before, with such fervor, such conviction. She was tempted to assume it was because of what he had seen and heard at the Individualists’ camp. But Stan was never one to be swayed easily by someone else’s political rhetoric. As far as she knew, Stan never really paid much attention to, nor cared about the political goings-on of the world.
“Maybe your right, Stan,” Emily said. “But what can we do about it? You just told me we weren’t leaving here to go live with the Individualists. You haven’t changed your mind, have you?”
“No, no.” Stan answered. “Fortunately, I don’t think we have to do anything about it. I think someone else has already done something that will change things, change the way we live. All we have to do is take advantage of the changes when they present themselves. I think!
“Who’s going to change things, Stan?” Emily asked.
“The Individualists call him Steve Jobs. I intend to find out more about him when we go to work tomorrow.”
Stan and Emily did not register with the medical module that night as was required by the system prior to partaking in sexual activity. Thwarting the system further they refused to make love in their bed which would have picked up their activity through sensors in the mattress and they would have been rudely interrupted by the clanging alarm of the medical module insisting they register before indulging. Instead, they spent the night on the living room floor, physically and emotionally enjoying one another more than they had in a long time.
Stan and Emily worked for B.G. Enterprise. In fact, everyone worked for B.G. Enterprise. It wasn’t the only game in town, it was the only game on the planet for those who chose to live under the New World Government.
Before 2009 Stan had been a pilot for Delta Airlines and Emily a real estate agent in Garnersville. However, now that property was assigned to people according to their needs and ownership was not allowed, demand for real estate agents no longer existed.
Stan’s career as an airline pilot had also been pulled out from under him. Ever since the transportation industry was taken over by B.G. Enterprise and all forms of commercial transportation around the world had been upgraded to operate off the perfected Embedded Chip technology of B.G. Enterprise pilots, ship captains, railroad engineers, and even truck drivers were no longer needed. Planes fly the skies, ocean vessels navigate the seven seas and trains and trucks zig-zag across the land delivering their cargo, all piloted by a removeable silicon chip no larger than a credit card which is inserted into a vehicles onboard navigator prior to departure. This advanced version of the self-programming auto-pilot not only propels and navigates a vehicle from point A to point B but is capable of foreseeing mechanical problems developing within the vehicle under its control and initiating repairs before the problems have a chance to become malfunctions. The chip will also reprogram the onboard navigator in the event that weather and/or other traffic along its route dictates a deviation from its original auto-plotted course. This is accomplished through the chips interpretation of the continuous flow of data it receives from the global positioning and weather satellites above it.
Originally, this system had been designed with manual override capability. Back then the designers held to the assumption that should it ever fail, the reasoning abilities and common sense of the human brain would still be needed to take over for the non-thinking, inherently stupid electronic pulses of a computer system.
However, in the two years following implementation of this self-navigating chip technology into the transportation industry, it was determined that the added redundancy of the human element had been the single underlying cause of every accident, missed delivery, delayed shipment, or overlooked maintenance requirement that had been investigated.
It was the fatal collision of two passenger-laden Boeing 797s over the dark, cloudy, rain filled skies of Seattle, Washington that had precipitated the elimination of all human interaction with the self-navigating capabilities of all commercial aircraft. This one tragic event, which killed 681 people aboard the two aircraft plus another 210 on the ground, was quickly determined to have been caused by human error. Specifically, pilot error.
The final report stated that the pilot of the incoming 797 had overridden the auto-land sequence of his aircraft when his radar scope indicated another heavy was about to cross in front of him on the same course and at the same altitude. In reviewing the black box’s data of both aircraft it was determined that the onboard radar of the incoming jumbo was indeed displaying faulty altitude numbers on the pilot’s scope, but was also in the process of repairing the numerical glitch and resetting itself when the pilot took control. Had the aircraft been flying in clear skies instead of the zero visibility of the soupy cloud cover, the incoming pilot would have seen that the other aircraft was actually a safe 1400 feet above him. But the pilot, ignoring the absence of any warning alarms in the cockpit (which, according to procedure, was the only condition that allowed for pilot override) took control of the aircraft and frantically added power and tried to climb. When the proximity alarms finally did fill the cockpit as the result of his climbing to within a thousand feet of the aircraft above him, the pilot wrongly assumed that he had anticipated and properly reacted to the near miss projected on his radar screen even before his onboard computers picked it up.
The only word captured on the incoming 797’s cockpit voice recorder was the unfinished wail of, “Nooooooooo…!” This having been heard and recorded seven-tenths of a second before its starboard wing cut into the bottom of the fuselage just forward of the tail section of the hopelessly maneuvering aircraft in its path. Both aircraft exploded and fell six thousand feet, one crashing into the waters of Puget Sound while the other scored a direct hit onto a 300 unit apartment complex killing an additional 210 of its sleeping, unsuspecting residents.
As a result of the investigation, all pilots were removed from the cockpits of all commercially flown aircraft and the override capability of the onboard auto-pilot was de-activated. Not long afterward that trains, ocean going vessels, and trucks followed suit. Since then, there has not been one recorded incident involving a crash or even a near miss in the transportation industry. Stan no longer flew.
To compensate for the millions of jobs that were being lost to the advancing technologies of B.G. Enterprise, the New World Government assured all its people that they would be found gainful employment and be taken care of under a generous employee package of B.G. Enterprise.
During the initial transition from the free and open society that was once the United States to the closely scrutinized and protective global society that is now the New World Government, Stan and Emily had been employed as Installers. They were trained and given the task of installing monitoring devices in hundreds of residential homes in Garnersville. Upon completion of this job they were assigned to one of the Monitoring buildings that were being erected all around the world. They were fortunate in that they didn’t have to relocate because Monitoring Site #7243 had been built only a short distance from their home.
Now, Stan and Emily work side by side in one of eighty monitoring cubicles located on the third floor of the five story Monitoring Site. The building itself sits discreetly amongst a stand of fir and pine trees overlooking the Hudson River. However, what should have been conducive to a pleasant and soothing work environment for the employees inside was lost due to the fact that the building was windowless, as were all of the Monitoring Sites. Monitoring had become the name of the game in 2019 society and that’s what took place in these buildings every second of every day.
Stan and Emily both work the 1200 to 1800 shift. And although six hours doesn’t sound like much of a work day, the monotonous, mindless, drudgery of their work often made those six hours seem like ten or twelve. Their job is to monitor ship movements in the Atlantic Ocean. Each has their own 200 square mile grid of ocean to keep track of on a 17 inch tracking screen. Emily’s grid encompasses the northeastern most area of the United States — or what use to be the United States, now just another part of the New World — from the southern tip of what use to be Nova Scotia to two hundred miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Stan’s grid covers from Cape Cod on the north to the southern tip of New Jersey on the south. They consider themselves lucky in that their respective grids are in the commercial shipping lanes of the North Atlantic and not situated out in the middle of the ocean where you could stare at your tracking screen for weeks without seeing a single blip cross into your grid.
On August 11th, Stan and Emily intentionally arrived at site #7243 fifteen minutes early, allowing Stan to spend a little time at the main informational console located in the lobby. Here one could access information on anybody who was registered, or if not registered, at least known to the New World Government. This information was provided in a personal biography accessible to anyone who cared to look. The biographies were updated as notable events or changes took place in a person’s life, for example, a change in work assignment, medical problems, the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, etc. Privacy no longer existed in today’s world and secrets were hard to keep.
Stan searched the database for one Steve Jobs, limiting the search to the North American continent. He watched as a list of 27 people with that name popped up on the screen. Scrolling down the list, Stan was able to quickly eliminate thirteen of the names that were followed by the word ‘deceased.’ Reading the bio’s of the remaining fourteen, Stan found that eight were under the age of sixteen, two were over ninety years old, and one was presently confined to a long term quarantine facility. (This usually meant AIDS or some other infectious disease.) Stan deleted those eleven, leaving three “possibles”. Of those three, the one that caught Stan’s eye was a Steve Jobs living in Livermore, California. Stan read that this Steve Jobs had been a co-founder and two-time CEO for a company called Apple Computer, which had been credited with creating the enormous personal computer industry of the 1980s. Also to its credit (or detriment, Stan thought), Apple was cited as the last remaining hi-technology company to be swallowed up by the global conglomeration of B.G. Enterprise, surviving numerous hostile takeover attempts until succumbing to the inevitable in the year 2009. Apple had even outlasted NASA and the European Space Agency, which had both been privatized and taken over by B.G. Enterprise in 2008.
Stan also learned that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had at one time worked together in their early careers. The bio went on to say that Steve Jobs had initially and vehemently argued and warned against Bill Gates’ proposal for a global government, but failing to convince more than a handful of humbled politicians and a terrified population, Jobs withdrew his objections and actually joined Bill Gates’ team as the head of B.G. Enterprises’ Embedded Chip production facility located on the campus of what once use to be the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories in Livermore, Ca.
Stan thought this had to be the same man the Individualist were hanging their hopes on. How this one man was going to accomplish any major changes in the way the world was being run, Stan hadn’t a clue. He exited the database and rode the elevator to the third floor where Emily was waiting for him in their assigned monitoring cubicle. He quietly told her what he had found out and then whispered, “I guess all we can do is wait and see what happens. The Individualists told me that whatever this guy Jobs has planned, it’s tied to the monitoring systems.”
Continued next month
NuPowr G3/250 upgrade for the PowerBook 1400 series
Company: Newer Technology
Estimated Price: $979.00
Newer Technology has really come through with a great upgrade for PowerBook 1400 owners. Their NuPowr line is a user-friendly, easy-to-install, high performance G3 upgrade for the 1400 series which packs a good price/performance punch.
The NuPowr came packaged with ample padding, an anti-static strip to use while installing, and most importantly, a well-written and easy to understand manual. (Additionally, the manual had a great sense of humor! Some of the photographs in the manual featured ill-advised handling techniques, such as propping the 1400’s flip-up keyboard up against the LCD display, and the manual is quick to point out the mistake with some humorous comments.)
Installing the upgrade card was as easy as pie. I had already gotten inside my 1400’s guts once before to install a RAM upgrade, so the procedure was not foreign to me. However, someone without a lot of experience handling computer components could probably install the card, too. Both Apple’s engineers, who made the 1400’s innards incredibly user-friendly, and the manual writers at Newer, who gave a nicely detailed description of the steps involved, deserve a pat on the back for this fact. To put it simply, once you’re inside the 1400, installation requires nothing more than removing a few screws with a small Phillips screwdriver, popping out the existing 603e processor, replacing it with the G3 card, and putting all the screws back where you found them.
Once you have the upgrade in place and the control panel installed, you’re ready to fly. According to MacBench 4.0 from Ziff-Davis, my 1400c/133, running with 64 megs of RAM, a 2048K disk cache, and virtual memory off, scored a 135 on the processor test, a 169 on the floating point test, and a 139 on the disk test. The NuPowr G3/250’s default settings scored 842, 616, and 271 on those tests, respectively. Using the control panel, you can tweak a few settings (most notably the speed of the backside cache), and doing so varied the processor score from a low of 744 to a high of 874, while the other scores remained virtually unchanged. Running the tests with Virtual Memory on also had very little effect on the scores, as MacBench 4.0 reported a performance drop of only about 1%. A more detailed description of the scores can be found in the chart below, but the bottom line is that the NuPowr G3/250 boosts the 1400’s processing power by more than a factor of six, while more than tripling the floating point unit’s performance and doubling the disk access capability.
All those numbers may sound impressive, but the bottom line is, how does the thing actually perform in real-life use? The answer is, simply put, fast! Extremely fast. Booting the PowerBook takes less than half the time it used to, and Finder operations, such as copying files and emptying the trash, occur in the blink of an eye. I had to change my trackpad and mouse control panels to slower settings, because I would routinely fly past the menu command or folder that I wanted to select- that’s how much of a difference the upgrade makes! Other applications, such as Netscape and ClarisWorks, open much, much faster than before, too. (I forgot to time the launching process for these apps with the 133 processor installed, so I can’t make an accurate comparison, but rest assured the G3/250 takes only a fraction of the time.) Graphically heavy and RAM-hungry games, like the Marathon series and Riven, are incredibly responsive with the NuPowr card, too.
The only conflict that I have run across with the NuPowr upgrade concerns PC-formatted disks. Using an unlocked PC-formatted disk with a NuPowr-upgraded 1400 will cause the disk to be unreadable by most PCs. However, other Macintoshes will read the disk and see the PC files on the disk just fine. (I don’t know whether or not using VirtualPC, SoftWindows, or a DOS processor card in a Mac will allow you to use the PC files on the disk in a Windows environment.) Newer knows of this problem (in fact, I was informed of it by a notice that was including in the box by Newer themselves), and is working on a fix. It should be available from their website shortly.
Some users have recently complained about the NuPowr causing the PowerBook to run hotter and drain the battery more quickly than the original processor. These are valid concerns, but they also should have been expected, since a not-so-powerful processor is being replaced with a more powerful one, and a small L2 cache is being replaced by a very large one. So, if you’re in the market for a NuPowr upgrade, be aware of these issues — you don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised after you’ve made your purchase!
Personally, I don’t have much of a problem with either concern. For starters, my PowerBook functions primarily as a desktop machine. It normally sits on my desk, hooked up to the campus Ethernet network and plugged into an electrical outlet. So, heat from the bottom of the computer is not a problem for me, nor is the reduction in battery time. (However, I would recommend buying and attaching some small rubber feet to the bottom of the PowerBook to provide some space in between it and the desk; this will make it easier to dissipate some of the excess heat.) However, there are times when I do want to take my PowerBook with me, such as when I want to do research at the library, get some typing done on a road trip, or do some work at home when I visit my family. My solution to the heat/battery issue in those instances is simple: I disable the backside cache. Yes, this causes the performance to drop dramatically, but it is still significantly faster than a stock 1400/133. The cache draws a significant amount of power, and with it turned off, the notebook can rest comfortably on my lap without it feeling too hot. And I still get acceptable battery performance — roughly what I was used to with the 603e processor (in between 35-50 minutes, depending on what tasks I’m doing).
Some people may think that sounds more like a cheap workaround than a true solution, and they may be right. However, if you’re going to need top-notch G3 performance while you are mobile, and the heat and battery concerns are big problems for you, maybe the NuPowr G3/250 isn’t for you. In that case, I would suggest ditching your 1400 in favor of a brand new G3 PowerBook. Another option for the mobile professional is to go with Newer’s other model, the NuPowr G3/216. It featured a slightly slower processor and only 512 K of backside cache, but costs a couple hundred dollars less, uses less power, and runs a little cooler. It should be ideal if you consistently need G3-caliber performance on the road, but don’t want to get rid of your 1400.
On the other hand, if you don’t need to be on the road all the time, want blazing speed and top-of-the-line performance, and don’t mind a little heat, the NuPowr G3/250 is the right choice for you. It makes the PowerBook 1400 slightly faster than the 250 MHz models of Apple’s G3 series, and the cost is pretty reasonable. It suits my needs perfectly, and has assured me that my PowerBook 1400 will be a viable desktop replacement for at least the remainder of my college years. With easy installation, very few known conflicts, and great performance, it is an awesome way to revitalize your trusty 1400. I am one very impressed, satisfied customer.
MacMice Rating: 4.5
A few months ago, I talked about my purchase of a new PowerBook 1400c/133, and how it provided another option for Mac users wanting portability, but not wanting to spend a bundle on a new G3 portable. Well, as trusty and reliable as my 1400 has been for the past four months, I decided it was time to do some upgrading. I wanted to be able to load my web browser and view graphic-heavy, Java-loaded, and plug-in intense sites with decent speed (after all, in college I get to use the campus T1 line, so I may just as well take advantage of the connection speed by being able to view the biggest, baddest pages in the world!), I needed to be able to do compiling and programming work in Code Warrior as quickly as possible, and, most importantly, I wanted to be able to play Unreal.
Fellow My Mac writer Susan Howerter has been known to mention the “trailing edge” from time to time. I hope that I am accurate in my paraphrased definition of Susan’s term when I say that the trailing edge is yesterday’s hot technology that has just seen a significant price drop in order to make way for tomorrow’s hot technology. For the most part, these computers are very fast and feature-rich, and provide most users with all the bang they’re ever going to need for the fewest possible bucks. I’d have to say that, for the most part, I agree with Susan; I certainly went for the trailing edge when I picked up my PowerBook 1400c/133 a few months ago. However, I decided to take Susan’s theory one step further: I decided to take advantage of the popularity of upgrade components to put my trailing edge machine on par with today’s cutting edge machines and found out that I came out ahead in the deal. Sort of.
For the sake of my argument, I’m going to draw just as much from current prices and products as I am from my own personal experience. For example, I purchased an internal Ethernet card from Farallon for my PowerBook 1400, and bought a cheap 33.6 PC Card modem. My rationale was that I will constantly need the Ethernet card to connect to the campus network, and rarely will need to use a dial-up modem. So, it made little sense to me to buy a brand new 56k modem or combo card. However, all of today’s cutting edge products come with 56k modems, so I decided to include the price of a 56k modem in my comparison below.
In the comparison below, all product prices quoted are from Cyberian Outpost (a great Internet-based computer dealer, and a My Mac sponsor!), except for the PowerBook 1400 itself, which I quoted from MacMall. (The Outpost was sold out of 1400s.) Here is the breakdown of the costs involved for upgrading a PowerBook 1400 to a top-of-the- line machine:
As you can see, for well under three thousand dollars it is possible to put together a screaming PowerBook with Ethernet and modem capabilities, a decent-sized hard drive, an acceptable amount of RAM, a reasonably fast CD-ROM drive, and a high-quality screen. Let’s compare this cost with the costs of a couple of brand new G3-series PowerBooks, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each machine over the upgraded 1400. Again, these prices and configurations were current at Cyberian Outpost as of this writing.
Let’s take a look at the first PowerBook G3 model. It is the most similar to the upgraded 1400 in terms of RAM, hard drive size, screen size, and connectivity. It features a faster CD-ROM drive, and costs over $300 less. However, the 1400/G3 will be much faster than this model, because not only is the processor’s clock speed higher than the G3/233, but the G3/233 has no backside cache. (Read my review of the NuPowr G3/250 upgrade to see what a difference the presence or absence of a backside cache makes!) Plus, even though the G3/233 has a bigger screen, it is a passive matrix display, rather than an active matrix one such as the 1400c. This saves money, but really compromises viewing quality (the 1400cs screen that John Nemerovski detested in his column last issue was a passive matrix screen, quite similar to the 12.1 inch PowerBook G3 screen). Finally, the low end 233 MHz G3 model does not come with a floppy drive, and the floppy drive is standard equipment for the 1400 series. If you need a floppy drive, it’ll cost over a hundred bucks extra, and that cuts the difference between the upgraded 1400 and this G3 model to a more modest $200.
Now, let’s check out the second model in the chart above. This model is the closest in price to the upgraded 1400. This time, there is a much larger, high quality screen, in addition to the faster CD-ROM drive. However, this configuration still features the slower processor, and the floppy drive AND a 56k modem are not included. Buying those two add-ons would bump the price of this model up to over three grand.
Finally, the third G3 configuration listed has turned out to be one of Apple’s most popular. It’s speedy processor is right on par with the NuPowr G3/250 in the upgraded 1400, and it also has the large, gorgeous active-matrix screen. It has a hard drive twice the size of the upgraded 1400, a faster CD-ROM drive, and all the other extras, such as a floppy drive, Ethernet capability, and a modem. The catch? It costs almost $3700!
Of course, there are many other configurations of G3 PowerBooks, and many other dealers to buy them from. You can even configure one to your liking online at The Apple Store. However, Cyberian Outpost featured some of the best prices and most popular configurations, and I chose to stick with their listings for consistency’s sake.
The verdict? There really isn’t one. If you’re in the market for a new PowerBook, the best route for you will depend upon your needs and wants. If you want the power of a G3 notebook and don’t mind a lesser quality display, the 233/12.1 configuration is a great buy. If you want an excellent big screen, a larger hard drive, and a speedy CD-ROM drive, as well as built-in connectivity, the 250/13.3 configuration is an excellent and popular choice; My Mac’s webmaster, Adam Karneboge, can attest to the quality of the 250/13.3 model. However, it costs considerably more than the other models listed in this column. (We won’t even mention the price of the top-of-the-line 292/14.1 model — I’m a starving college student, for Pete’s sake!)
The other way to go is the option that I chose. In upgrading my PowerBook 1400, I got the top-notch speed and capabilities of a G3/250 model, and only had to sacrifice a few unnecessary extras (an 11.3 inch screen instead of a 13.3 inch one, an 8x CD-ROM drive instead of a 20x one, 2 gigabyte hard drive instead of a 4 gigabyte one, etc.). Plus, I ended up saving several hundred dollars! This is a perfect solution for people who already have 1400s, and it’s also a very viable option for those out there who are in the market for a brand new PowerBook (if you can still find a PowerBook 1400c anywhere, that is!)
Of course, with the last few 1400s out there being sold and many of the “better” G3 models being short in supply, this whole deal may be a moot point soon. And, as is always the case in the computer industry, it won’t be too long before Apple introduces faster and better PowerBook models. The lesson to be learned here, though, is much more general than that. I simply wanted to point out even for a first-time buyer, buying an older computer and upgrading it can be very cost-effective. This is also true in desktop models, with companies such as Newer Technology, Vimage, Sonnet, and Interex making G3 upgrades for older Power Macs. I hate to quote a marketing slogan, but it does seem to fit my experience pretty darn well: sometimes Newer is better than new.
Escape Velocity Override 1.0
Company: Ambrosia Software, Inc.
Mike: Ambrosia’s slogan for the release
of their sequel to Escape Velocity was
“Rediscover Addiction.” In my case, it
was discovering addiction for the first time.
I didn’t spend too much time with Escape Velocity when it was first released, but after playing the sequel, I had to go back and see what I had missed in the first installment. I ended up getting addicted to both games at the same time!
Adam: I had never heard of Escape Velocity, let alone played it. However, like Mike, I am now completely addicted to Escape Velocity Override (EV Override).
Gamers new to the world of Escape Velocity (EV) need not worry; both games can be enjoyed on their own, without any knowledge of the other title. Fans of EV will also be glad to know that EV Override contains many of the little touches that made the original game so popular. So Mike, tell us a little about Escape Velocity and its sequel, Override.
Mike: Well, Adam, the original Escape Velocity casted you as the owner of a shuttlecraft in the mid 21st century. Through the process of trading, buying, selling, carrying passengers and cargo, and embarking on special missions, you could earn enough money to buy a new ship, outfit it with your preferred capabilities, and control your own destiny. You could remain neutral in the interstellar war between the Confederate government and the Rebels, or you could take a side and join the war. You could remain a simple merchant and amass a fortune, or you could become a mercenary and accept dangerous missions. You could even become a pirate and make your living plundering other ships.
Override is set 100 years later than the original EV. The Confederate/Rebel war has long since ended, and the human race has reached out even farther into the uncharted vastness of space. In the process, it has discovered new worlds, new technologies, and new enemies. Another war is at hand — against an alien race known as the Voinians. The war is expensive and trying, and some people have become discontent and restless. The universe is torn between interplanetary war and civil unrest, while being on the threshold of exploring amazing portions of deep space and making enormous technological strides.
You have just graduated from the Academy, and are ready to make a future for yourself in space. You have your trusty shuttlecraft — a newer model than the one featured in the first EV game — and 10,000 credits with which you start to make your fortune. Will you become a merchant? A trader? A fighter pilot in the war? A rebel or a pirate? An explorer into uncharted space? As the saying goes, the choice is yours…
Adam: That choice is not always easy or clear, especially at the start of the game. It’s easy to become overwhelmed playing EV Override, since the universe is so vast and there are so many things to do.
Mike: You can land on planets and browse the mission computer while having a drink at the local bar. You can hail other space ships and trade greetings and tips. You can fight battles, hire escorts to aid you in your travels, board and search disabled ships, or gamble for more money. Best of all, your actions have effects on the rest of the game: complete a mission successfully, and you will gain favor with your employer, increasing your chances of more exciting and better paying missions. If you mess up, or if you do something to upset the government, you may find yourself in hot water when you try to return to certain planets.
Adam: Gaining extra credits also means increasing your chances of survival. After hyperspacing into a certain system, especially ones farther away from Earth, you will jump directly into battles, and ships will attack you, even if you don’t fire on them. With extra credits, you can buy missiles, rockets, or even new, more powerful ships to combat these unexpected attacks.
Mike: EV Override is very nonlinear, offers a little bit of everything, and is a blast to play. The universe is five times larger than the original Escape Velocity universe, there are all new ships and weapons to try out, and plenty of new subplots and inside jokes to enjoy. It’s a little unfortunate that the user interface wasn’t expanded or improved a little bit; hailing a ship or going to the bar brings up the same old (somewhat boring) dialog boxes as they did in the original. Not to say that’s bad, but it definitely lends a slightly dated feel to this otherwise fresh, brand new game.
One thing that has expanded along with the EV universe is the RAM requirement. EV used 6.5 to 8.3 Mb of free RAM, but the sequel wants at least 12.5 Mb. A little hefty, and be warned: the more physical RAM, the better. I experienced a little slowdown and occasional freezes on my ‘040 LC 575 with 8 Mb RAM and RAM Doubler enabled. However, on my PowerBook 1400 with 64 MB of RAM, it ran flawlessly.
Adam: Good advice, Mike. Also expanding in the sequel is the shareware fee, from $15.00 in the original to $25.00 this time around. But when you’re addicted, no amount of money will stop you from playing, and asking $25.00 for this top-notch game is not unreasonable.
Escape Velocity Override requires an 8 bit (256) color screen that is 13″ or larger, and it recommends a ‘040 or PowerPC processor, but judging by the way it played on Mike’s old computer, I recommend a PowerPC.
Mike: For fans of science fiction and adventure, and EV veterans, Override provides an immersive experience that does nearly everything right. For newcomers to the genre and gamers who have never tried EV, Override should be a pleasant surprise. Ambrosia has really outdone itself this time around — it definitely is time to “rediscover addiction”.
Adam: When a shareware game comes out, the way to really judge it is not by its graphics, sound, or even storyline; it’s by the degree the game has you addicted, and EV Override has me addicted 100%. Whether you’re rediscovering or just beginning, chances are you’ll enjoy Escape Velocity Override.
Download Escape Velocity Override 1.0
With this column, I’ve been writing the AppleCarts for My Mac for about a year now. And what a year it has been! We’ve seen Apple go from emotional high to emotional low and back sky high again in just one year since Steve Jobs became our unofficial CEO.
This seemed like a good time to recap the ups and downs of Apple and what could be more fitting than a bit of nonsense verse set to the tune of The New Christy Minstral’s version of ‘The Cat Came Back’.
It would be hard to find a better introduction to the early years of Apple and the Mac than Steven Levy’s book “Insanely Great”.Wonder about Steve’s vision? What’s all this about pirates? Read the book. It helps make sense of where we are today.
I would also like to thank Glen Sanford for all the hard work at his site, Apple-History.com, in putting his Apple timeline online for those of us who came to computing late and can’t keep it all straight. I’ve been having trouble getting into the site lately. Do you suppose I wore it out?
A note to those who like to sing along with their Macs, the chorus follows the tune (as best I recall it) fairly well, but you could twist a tonsil trying to make music out of the rest.
In 1976 when Apple’d just begun
Steve and Steve broke ground with their Apple #1
In 1977 what was left for them to do
But Wow the World again
With their Apple #2
Then… In 1981, The Woz fell from the sky
With a company to run, for Jobs t’was do or die
He knuckled down to business, Gee Whiz! He worked ’em late
For Steve had found a vision
That he called ‘Insanely Great’
And the Mac was born the very next day
(Well 1984 wasn’t all that far away)
The Man had a plan and it felt like fate
If you can’t be a Pirate
Be Insanely Great
Now, the Mac came of age with a smile on its face
The very first day changed the human race
Yes the Mac was born and the World couldn’t wait
It took us all by storm
It was Insanely Great
But in 1985 with the Mac in disarray
Scully at the helm and Our Steve had gone away
Would the Mac survive or was it all passé
They had to let the workers go
Because they couldn’t pay
But the Mac came back the very next day
Yes the Mac came back, it just wouldn’t stay away
Don’t call the Undertaker, Shout ‘Hooray!’
PostScript and PageMaker
Saved the day
Now 1989 was a nervous sorta time
Far too many PC clones coming down the line
And that 1990 Windows wasn’t just a pretty face
It came straight from the Macintosh
Thanks to Mr. Gates
But the Mac came back the very next day
Yes the Mac came back, it just wouldn’t stay away
The Mac’s more fun cuz they found a better way
To help us get our work done
And think of it as play
1991: Saw the PowerBooks come
1993: Saw Scully out the door
1994: The PowerPCs prevail and Performas are for sale
In every store
Then in 1995, Poor Apple took a dive
And 1996 could barely keep the faith alive
The Doomsayers said our beloved Mac was Dead
And about a Billion Dollars in the Red
But the Mac came back the very next day
Yes the Mac came back, it just wouldn’t stay away
If we lost the Mac, our hearts would surely break
It wasn’t just a box
It was Insanely Great
Still, the DarkSide had a ball, as they damned us one and all
Like hyenas on a hunt, just waiting for the fall
Besieged! Beset! Kaput! Beleaguered was our name
Doomed! Deceased! Defunct!
‘Down with Apple’ was the game
Lame duck! Washed up! Hanging by a thread!
Outta luck! Dumb cluck! Dontcha know you’re dead?
December ’96, were we castaway?
Without a Mac to cling to
Without a prayer to pray
But the Cat came back the very NeXT day
Yes the Cat came back, guess he couldn’t stay away
Some rang the death knell and some sang his praise
But all he ever said was
“Give me ninety days!”
And what a rocky ride! It cannot be denied
Many times in ’97, I thought I’d run and hide
Oh me of little faith,I was shaken deep inside
As the Media kept on saying my beloved Mac had died
But both fists raised, his face ablaze
Steve spit’em in the eye and cried
“Give me ninety days!”
G3s, PowerBooks, Chiat Day
A bushel full of iMacs at Comp USA
Three Quarters running, the profits kept a-coming
Apple riding high, Wall Street kept a-humming
Steve just grinned and kept on a-strumming
“Hey! Hey! Hey! What did I say!”
“Gimme ninety days and I’ll blow you away!”
Yes, the Mac came back the very next day
Stocks were on a roll! Our Steve had led the way
Now none can say that my Mac is second rate
How is my Mac?
It’s still Insanely Great!
Yes the Cat came back! Put Apple in the Black
Now the Whole Wide World is on a Mac Attack
So, how does it feel in 1998?
How does it feel?
It feels Insaaaaanely Great!!!
Levy, Steven. Insanely Great
New York: Viking Penguin, 1994
Glen Sanford at Apple-History.com
This month found the AppleCart inbox full of information that needed to be shared. August was focused on the Trailing Edge and the excellent buys available across the board this summer. Everything from PowerBooks to Desktop G3s have seen big price drops, almost before the ink was dry on the original warranties.
Not only has the power user been smiling at the plummeting prices for last year’s high-end Apple desktops, budget travelers have had a hard choice deciding between the user-friendly 1400 series, the 2400 lightweights and, most recent King of the Hill, the 3400s with their wonderful screens and their zippy performance. Then in mid-August, the current crop of G3s hit “fire sale” pricing to make way for the iMac and the even more powerful next generation of G3s.
But the main focus of the August AppleCart was on the last hurrah of Umax and the SuperMac. Not only were the rock bottom prices below $1000 for a S900/200 (and lower yet for the J700, C600 and C500 series) both the quality and speed blew my computer-gourmet son away.
Still, for guys like Chris, enough is never enough. And the empty slot in his SuperMac S900 was churning him up inside. No matter that suddenly he was blazing away as never before. That graphics loving, speed addicted kid was yearning to try out dual processing for himself. How fast would Photoshop and LightWave do their thing if only Chris could figure out what was needed, where to find it — and, a frowny face here — how to afford it? Alas, it looks like he may never know.
As I was continuing my web search for some solid information on the secondary processor, I received this email from Kennedy Brandt of the Umax SuperMac support team.
Greetings, Ms. Howerter –
I just came across your “Summer of the SuperMacs” article at mymac.com. (August 1998, issue #40) It’s good to see that someone else agrees with me that older boxes are often the best way to go. It’s also very gratifying to see that the terrific systems myself and many others worked so hard to create are still getting some appreciation and recognition, even at this late date.
I do have one comment and one question on the article. The comment is on your suggestion that “With Umax out of the Mac business at the end of July, it seemed like a good idea to get the answers pinned down fast.”
Good advice, but UMAX will be around. Our license to build new systems expired on Friday (7/31/98), but we expect to be selling until the end of the year and will most likely continue our compatibility and integration testing until April of next year.
Plans are for us to gradually merge into UMAX Technologies Inc.’s PC system division early next year, and with two-year warranties on all new S900’s sold after 3/1/98, service & support will have to continue anyway. I expect that by the end of the year, the SuperMac web site will transform entirely into a Product Support center.
Thanks for the feedback on the SuperMac article. As a new owner myself, I am glad to know that Umax will still be there for us. I’m especially pleased about the two year warranty as we bought in June of this year. Both my son and I registered online, but haven’t gotten any feedback from Umax. Could this mean we didn’t actually get through? I’ve learned to be a little leery of the Internet — you know, that iffy thing that Steve Jobs thinks can serve all our backing up and file management needs on Apple’s new iMac.
Getting no response from the online registration doesn’t indicate anything, really, as historically, most companies simply archive the product and demographic information they get through each registration, checking it from time to time to see whether their marketing efforts seem to be reaching the intended customers or not. Most importantly, registration really has no bearing on one’s warranty at Umax. It’s the original sales invoice showing date of purchase that defines, more than anything else, when the warranty coverage officially begins.
With some companies, registering is indeed vital. Digidesign, for example, provides no support or warranty service unless and until the product is registered. SuperMac and Radius, on the other end of the spectrum, had one person to manually enter years’ worth of registration card info and then simply threw it all in the trash bin about two years ago.
Thanks for the quick response. Your information on registering was very interesting. I think most of us assume that registration is vital — which is why we feel so guilty about all those little cards we will never get around to sending in. So, the real answer is to hang on to those receipts. Thanks. (But… better keep your registrations up to date, folks. Many companies have a different policy than Umax does on registration.)
I slanted much of the article toward high tech users, such as my son, who might be needing a secondary processor card. I see that Small Dog Electronics, who apparently received all the remaining cards, are almost sold out. If you know of another source I would appreciate the information as I am likely to get questions during the month.
Being outside our Sales & Marketing organization, I’m not the most in touch with where various processor upgrades went, but I’ve also heard that Small Dog was the largest recent recipient. I’ll ask two of my buddies up in our Fremont office, as they sometimes know not only where products are in the sales channel, but also when they arrived and on what store shelf they’re currently sitting. I’ll let you know what I can as soon as I hear back from him.
Thanks. If you are able to find any news on other
sources of the secondary processing cards, I would
appreciate it. There were only a couple dozen
newly listed at Small Dog and they were apparently snapped up by hungry users. I have seen a few 180s mentioned in some of the online catalogs but don’t know if they can be used with a S900/200.
My quest for a secondary 200MHz processor has had mixed results. All remaining finished-goods units for resale appear to have gone to Small Dog, and as of yesterday afternoon (8/8/98), they had ONE of the secondary 233MHz cards left.
If you check the information at
however, you’ll see that the secondary processor does not have to match the speed of the primary processor in order to operate — it’ll just operate slightly slower if it’s not the same speed as the primary. The two processors negotiate a mutually agreeable bus speed that allows the primary processor to run at its intended speed while the secondary gets as close to that as possible.
If, for example, you were to put a 233MHz secondary in your S900/200, the secondary would clock itself to run at 225MHz and the primary would still run at its intended 200MHz. Even the 180MHz secondaries that you’ve seen here and there on the net wouldn’t clock themselves any lower than 175MHz in order to work with the 200MHz primary, so your options may be a bit broader than you first thought.
Hope this helps. Either way, I’ll keep your situation in mind and might be able to offer something else in the future.
Thanks for all the technical stuff. It’s just what the power users among us need to know. Having checked out your SuperMac site and, especially the FAQ listings (see URL at the end of this column), I can see that there is a huge amount of good information online.
My quest for secondary processor cards is not going well. The product sales manager told me that all available cards were sent to Small Dog, but he’s rechecking inventory. While I don’t yet believe we’re out of them, I’m not surprised to find that they’re so elusive. Asymmetric
multiprocessing wasn’t embraced by the developer community at large, though the applications which can take advantage of it do so to very impressive results. We probably produced more secondary 180MHz processors than any other speed, with 250MHz ones next, then 200MHz, and 225/233MHz at the bottom of the list.
Now, considering that a G3 upgrade isn’t sufficiently friendly towards asymmetric multiprocessing to work with even a G3 secondary processor (none of which exist outside of engineering labs), anyone who upgrades from a DP system to a G3 system will have a secondary processor lying around. You might want to check out the SuperMac User Group mailing list at http://www.mactimes.com/lowend/supermacs and raise a flag there that you’re looking for a secondary processor to buy…
Kennedy M. Brandt
UMAX Computer Corporation
Thanks so much for all the hard work and the information. I will post your findings in the September ‘Out of the AppleCart’ / My Mac Online. With all the SuperMacs sold this summer, I know the information will be much appreciated.
Thanks So Much,
My Mac Online
So there it is. Not great news for all the SuperMac-SuperSlot hopefuls out there. It doesn’t appear that there was ever a large supply of the ASPD cards needed to turn your powerhouse Umax into a juggernaut processor. And the few remaining leftovers sent to Small Dog Electronics went like hot butter in a Texas summer.
As Kennedy mentioned, SuperMac owners will also be interested in the information found in MTN Dan Knight’s Low End Mac, SuperMac site. Begun 6/20/98, this is “A Low End Mac email list for users of Umax SuperMac computers. Maybe they, or possibly ClassMac, will eventually have a second-hand secondary processor slot sale. Do not say the preceeding with a mouthful of popcorn.
On another note, with PowerComputing long since gone, warranty work seemed gone as well. Apparently DecisionOne is now handling Power’s computers. Thanks, J.C. for for the tip. Wonder why warranty owners didn’t get the same information through the mail or via email?
DecisionOne’s site requests that you click the “infoReQuest” button or call 1-888-287-9200. That call leads you to 1-800-287-9200 which sends you on to 1-800-448-8986. The good news is that real humans intervene along the way with real information.
When you, at last, reach the proper number all you need is the serial and model number of your computer. I was not able to test service further as the PowerBase in question has been stuck in son’s closet all summer and said son is out of town. Sure hope he makes it back before his warranty strikes midnight.
This month My Mac interviews two people deeply involved with the Macintosh platform and the software that operates on it: Matthew Caughron and Sam Caughron, better known as Proteron Software, or even better yet, as the developers of Go Mac. So for all of you that were wondering where they got the idea for Go Mac, sit back, relax and find out the solution to that hidden mystery.
My Mac: Mat and Sam, welcome to My Mac. Can you give us some information on your background, how long you’ve been involved with Macs, and an idea of your work experience?
Mat: We’re proud to say that in over thirteen years of working with computers, we’ve only been involved with Macs. We’ve had our occasional brushes with Intel based machines, just never owned one. From the first MacXL a.k.a. Lisa sitting on my desk chugging along at 4 MHz, it’s been all Apple.
Sam: And as far as schooling goes, since we’ve only worked with Macs there never was the need. We took the time instead to get degrees in Liberal Arts so we could come up with a cool name like Proteron. grin
My Mac: What kind of Macs do you use?
Sam: It’s a bit of a sensitive issue around here, but since I do the bulk of development, I get to sit in front of a desktop G3/266 with 64M of RAM and a Zip drive. Right now it also has an external 9G ultra-wide drive and ATI XClaim VR video card with TV Tuner for testing, but the setup changes frequently.
Mat: I lope along on a PowerMac 7300/200 with 64M of RAM and an external Zip drive. Sam claims “developer’s prerogative” to get all the cool toys, though I was deemed worthy of a 9G ultra-wide drive.
Sam: I ought to add that, although we both use pretty fast systems, that’s been a relatively recent development. Until about 6 months ago, Mat was on a 7200/90, and before that, a IIci! So we’re sensitive to the fact that not everyone is as lucky as we are in the machine they use and make a point in development to insure that things run quickly on older Macs as well.
Mat: If you’re wondering about PowerBooks, we have a couple older ones lying around for testing but haven’t splurged yet on a newer model. Given the sleekness factor on those new G3PBs, however, we just might have to find a need for mobile power. Quam dulcis est! Development wouldn’t need that, right? More of a sales/marketing necessity I’d say. LOL
My Mac: What would you consider to be the “ideal” Mac for you?
Sam: When I become rich and famous, I’ll keep myself outfitted with the latest, fastest desktop and PowerBook. What else is there to the ideal Mac besides more speed, memory and disk space? The Mac OS is so consistent that every machine shares in the ideal to the extent that it approaches the fastest mode — assuming it has GoMac installed. grin
Mat: Sounds platonic, seems right.
My Mac: What kind of software and other hardware do you use?
Mat: I guess we already outlined some of the extra hardware, except monitors. We both have 17″ Sonys.
Sam: Who can list all the software they use? There’s a ton of stuff, shareware and commercial on all our machines. I guess most development is done with MetroWerks Code Warrior — a great product I might add — and ResEdit. Web work is done with BBEdit, Photoshop and GraphicConverter. We use FileMaker, Illustrator and Acrobat for their respective tasks, and for Internet stuff it’s the Navigator, Claris Emailer, and Fetch.
Sam: Oh, and development couldn’t take place without MacsBug.
Mat: PalmPilots are another fave gadget around here.
My Mac: What are your favorite software programs? Why?
Mat: Favorite software? Hmmmm. It all depends on what I’m doing of course. I guess my favorites are SnapShot, Photoshop — though not its hefty price — and GraphicConverter for graphics work. Office 98 is finally a Mac-worthy piece of software from Microsoft.
Sam: I guess I would agree with Mat that favorite would have to be qualified towards what you are doing. As a developer, I probably am with nearly every other developer out there as a huge fan of Code Warrior.
My Mac: What are your favorite pieces of shareware/freeware that you would consider essential for Mac users?
Mat: GoMac, of course. Seriously, we here have a hard time using Macs without GoMac installed. Once you get used to that task bar there’s no going back. We also are big fans of Default Folder, and who can resist the charm of Ambrosia’s stuff?
Sam: I would add that for strict utility, Turly O’Conner’s FinderPop is great. It’s one of the few pieces of shareware I keep installed other than for testing purposes.
My Mac: What’s a typical day for you and your Macs?
Sam: No such thing as a typical day. Better to say typical night, since the best coding and website hours are generally between midnight and 3:00 AM.
My Mac: You stated that the best coding hours are generally between midnight and 3:00AM… Why?
Sam: Hmm… That’s a good question, and I’m not sure I can pinpoint the exact reason. It probably has something to do with the strange constitution of the programmer’s mind. Whatever the reason, it’s an actual fact — at least at Proteron.
Mat: I can attest to that. Fewer distractions, greater bandwith…
My Mac: How do the two of you do your work even though you’re separated by distance?
Sam: We’ve been doing collaboration work via the Internet for several years now. Lot of time on the phone… the usual.
My Mac: The most obvious question is: What gave you the idea for GoMac?
Mat: Funny you should ask. It’s hard to say what gave us the idea for a task bar on the Mac. Was it a little birdie that whispered the idea in the wind? Did it appear emblazoned in the sky after thunder and lightning shook the heavens? Was it written in blood at the bottom of a bottle of barolo? Inscribed into the rock that got stuck in my tough leather shoes? Who knows for sure… though I think it was perhaps a certain Wintel je ne c’est quoi.
Sam: Yea, I can’t remember where I got the inspiration either. Musta’ been from Mat. He’s the creative one. grin
My Mac: Can you give us the background, the present and the future of GoMac?
Mat: Sam originally had the idea of porting the task bar to the Mac while we were unemployed in Omaha and wasting time between classes. We hashed out the details in a rusted-out brown 1985 Bronco II on route to Kansas City.
Sam: The idea was straighforward enough; the real challenge was the technical side of things. The biggest breakthrough came when I was able to figure out how to reliably claim real-estate at the bottom of a monitor on the Mac OS. I think that’s the greatest feature of GoMac. It’s something Now Utilities and several other utilities have never been able to manage.
Mat: Presently GoMac is in use throughout the world. Paris, the Cayman Islands, Walburga Australia, Iceland. Even Redmond, Washington and Cupertino, California. Yes, users from both Microsoft and Apple have registered.
Sam: We estimate around 100,000 users at this point, give or take a hundred thousand. grin
Mat: GoMac has been translated into Korean, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Norwegian, Swedish, Arabic… I think that’s all. At times the international response seems to be more favorable than the American response.
Sam: Suprisingly enough, though all the major German, French, and Japanese magazines have reviewed GoMac, Macworld here in the states has yet to even so much as mention us.
Mat: The Microsoft-favorable IDG did buy out MacUser recently. Hmm. Maybe it’s a conspiracy.
Sam: The future of GoMac? Without giving away too much, we suggest looking at the task bar on Windows 95/98 with Active Desktop.
Mat: Until Sam can get that accomplished, though, we’ll be implementing most of the requested features including windows in the task bar, a quick-launch strip, and a drag-rearrangeable start menu.
My Mac: Does GoMac and your other products provide for both of you? I’m not trying to pry — just find out if it’s worth your while. Perhaps your success may be an incentive to some of our readers who may be interested in writing shareware themselves.
Mat: Let’s put it like this: shareware is fun; if it weren’t, we wouldn’t do it. But no, GoMac et. al. don’t provide for us.
Sam: Which is really unfortunate because they probably could if people would just pay the shareware fees. Then we would have more time and resources to develop other shareware. But people don’t, so we can’t. A shareware author’s life is a beggar’s life. C’est la vie.
My Mac: What problems do you encounter as software developers?
Sam: I’m not sure software development has many “problems” besides those attending any other essentially creative job like editing or graphics design. Every day has its own unique challenges and setbacks. There is always the necessity of coming up with new ideas. Software development would probably be most unique in that these classic “problems” have a more mathematical/logical bent.
My Mac: How hard was it for you to develop GoMac?
Sam: The answer to that question is a bit tricky. I guess version 1.0 took six months of blood, sweat, and code. I mentioned before how tricky claiming real estate on the Mac OS was. Without that, it would have been straightforward. Instead, it was a bit of a nightmare sometimes. But I woke up one day and was working on a sweet product.
LiteSwitch was only a few weeks of work, since the coding was already mostly done in GoMac.
My Mac: Can you provide us with some background on your other software item… FMPro Tuner?
Mat: Sure, although most of the history is provided on our
FMPro Tuner page http://www.proteron.com/fmprotuner.
FMPro Tuner was developed in response to a request for
help from William Croft at Stanford University.
Bill had noted a slowdown in FileMaker Pro’s performance when it dropped into the background. He rightfully assumed that this could be fixed and sent out a letter to several Mac software developers including Proteron. Sam saw the letter, poked around a bit, decided the project was doable and FMPro Tuner was born.
My Mac: What else do you have in store for the Mac public? New projects, products, etc.?
Mat: We do have several projects in the works and intend to branch out a little. We like to keep development under wraps so that our press releases will truly be interesting though. Sorry. I can say that GoMac 2.0 is a big priority, though, as you can imagine. To pique your curiousity, we’ve been playing around with PalmPilots and printer driver technology.
Sam: For those addicted to keyboard switching, there is
a good chance that all of the tab-switching features will
be removed from GoMac and put into LiteSwitch, which
as you know is currently our freeware good-will offering
to the Macintosh community.
My Mac: Your website speaks of investment in the ideas… Is Proteron considering going public on the market? (It wouldn’t hurt to get in on the ground floor 🙂 )
Sam: Not at this time.
Mat: Not yet, anyways. In the past six months we have bootstrapped ourselves into sufficient venture capital that market growth will be our primary focus for the coming year. This is an important step towards the company going public.
My Mac: What tips or recommendations would you have for new developers or those interested in bringing new items to the Mac community?
Sam: Go for it. This is one very friendly and responsive community of computer users.
My Mac: What changes would you make to the Mac OS?
Sam: Protected memory.
Mat: It looks like 8.5 has accomplished much of what we want, the only thing I’d really like to see added is flawless operation on Intel processors — but that’s an impossible dream.
My Mac: What are your feelings for the future of the Mac and the Mac OS? Where would you like to see the Mac OS go?
Sam: I think OS X was a great strategic move for Apple. What they did is fantastic. They won’t lose a single user since the OS will continue to be backward compatible — granted with limitation. But they will also be able to bring the greatest features of Rhapsody to the mainstream Mac ASAP. That’s just great work.
Mat: IMHO, it is tragic that MacOS X won’t work on the Intel platform. Apple’s insistence on proprietary hardware really works against it. I guess that’s where I’d like to see the Mac OS go… for its own good.
My Mac: Any final words of encouragement or thoughts for the Mac and PC users out there?
Mat: Stay tuned. We’re attempting to bring to the Macintosh all of the relevant features in the task bar and start menu from Windows 98. When we pull this off, there will be great rejoicing and shouting in the streets. The best part of it is that you won’t have to pay $189 retail for an OS which is primarily a bug fix release. ; )
Another item of general interest: Mac users should in general encourage direct Internet sales. It used to be that you could save money by avoiding the high-overhead retailers and ordering mail order. Now, however, it is generally better to order software and hardware straight from the source since the mail order houses demand so much from software companies in terms of buying space in the catalogs. Apple’s online store sets a great example. Look at companies like LinuxPPC or Bare Bones software. Buy what you can direct on the Net, save money, and encourage the software authors directly with your purchases.
We are seriously considering taking GoMac commercial and want to let our past and future customers know that they will always have the best prices on our products straight from the Proteron website.
My Mac: Thanks guys!
For those of you who haven’t tried out GoMac, what are you waiting for? Visit Mat and Sam’s website at http://www.proteron.com Download GoMac and try it out!
Every once in a while something gets me steamed. No, I am by no means angelic in my temperament but there are times when I really get angered by an issue that I think is absolutely ridiculous. Yes, da Mac man has climbed da miff tree! Fasten your seat belts!
Case in point:
I am a Macintosh Service Technician (as you already know). I fix broken Mac stuff. It’s what I do. I like what I do. It’s gratifying to recover someone’s crucial data (when I can) and turn their frown upside down. Often, I have to call the Technical Support Departments of different companies to get help with one or more of their products. Here is where I get mad… I am sick and tired of all this twenty-five, twenty-nine, etc. dollars per incident business! There, I said it. No, I don’t want to have my credit card information ready to give to the next Technical Support representative! No, I do not want to sign any waivers or any other junk just to find out what driver I need for a customer’s modem. No, I do not want to have call a long distance number to be told that just because my client’s product is 30 seconds out of warranty that I’m going to have to sacrifice my first-born just to get a human being on the other end of the line to talk to me. No, I don’t want to be referred to a list of FAQ’s that are absolutely irrelevant to my issue!!! Can you tell that I’m not happy? I thought you could.
Honestly, there should be some point of contact that can help you without having to empty your wallet every time you need support. I work as a technical support specialist all the time with many of my clients. They have a seemingly simple question and usually I can answer it. If not, I try to send them off in the direction that I feel can help them best. Shoot, some of my faithful readers ask me questions all the time (Hi Bennett!). Now, I’m not a martyr but some of these questions are simple enough that I don’t mind answering their e-mail or phone calls. Yes, it can get hectic but I figure that if they will rely on me for the smaller things then they won’t mind paying when the inevitable catastrophes strike. Yes, there are some bad apples that try to abuse my generosity and after a while it’s easy to separate them from the good clients. Do I charge for my technical support? Nope! I usually give each client 5 minutes of my time. If I can’t resolve the issue in that time I then get them to bring in their equipment. Simple! Then it’s billable!
Well, now you know why da Mac man is mad. It’s not a good thing. No, I don’t have a quick-fix solution. (Ping! An idea!) Tell ya what I’m gonna do. I would like those of you that have any ideas on how the standard Technical Support Department should handle questions e-mail me with your thoughts. Brainstorm! Put on your thinking caps. Go ahead, it won’t hurt. Well, maybe just a little. Let me know what you think. And the next time you read my column, I want you to have your credit card information ready for me…
I am as always, da Mac man (still miffed)!
GoLive CyberStudio 3.1
Company: GoLive Systems, Inc.
Estimated Price: $549.99
As the Internet grows and becomes more popular, websites are becoming increasingly complex and feature rich. Naturally, this is a good thing for all of us web surfers, as we’re now able to find more of the information we want. It’s also true that websites are easier to navigate than they were just a short time ago.
What has not become easier, however, is creating these feature-rich websites. With Dynamic HTML, mouse rollover action graphics, streaming audio, JAVA applets, and more, creating web pages has become a skill akin to programming. Not only do you take all the skills you learned yesterday into a new project, you have more skills to learn tomorrow. Fast paced, innovative, and complex websites take a lot of time to create. Thankfully, GoLive Systems, Inc. has provided webmasters with an application to help create complex websites quickly and cleverly.
GoLive CyberStudio 3.1 is a major step toward true WYSIWYG website authoring. More than any other product in its class, this third version of the popular software package adds many new features, a better overall handling of entire website management, and more of the latest technologies webmasters are clamoring for.
I first started using GoLive CyberStudio when it was released as version 1.0. I immediately fell in love with the program, though it did show signs of a first-run release with many bugs and shortcomings. Version 2 of the software improved site-management handling, and corrected many of the shortfalls and bugs that I found hindered version 1.0. Version 3.1 users will find those bugs largely eradicated, as well as many new and improved features added.
There still remain some quirks, though they are few. For some reason, FTP uploading has not been very reliable, and I find it easier to simply use the shareware program Fetch to handle my FTP work and let GoLive CyberStudio 3.1 handle the task of creating websites. I was pleased to learn that when you make changes to a entire website, CyberStudio 3.1 only uploads to the server supporting the files that have changed. This feature will save you time and brain cells trying to remember what files changed and which have stayed the same.
A really nice feature is the Finder integration. When you move a file around in the Site Management window, the files are physically moved around on your hard disk. The reverse, however, is not true. I tested this by creating two documents, both in the same folder. I used a text link to point from each document to the other. The link would correct itself if I moved one of the documents to a different folder via the Site Management window, but if I quit the application and moved a linked document to another folder (within the site-management folder), the link was lost when CyberStudio re-opened.
One of the main features I use the most in CyberStudio is the Layout Grid.
The Layout Grid allows you to
precisely layout graphics, text, and
any other feature you want on your
website in the exact position of your
choice. No other program I have used comes close to this feature, though with CyberStudio, the placement is not always consistent. Layout always looks great in the “Preview” mode inside CyberStudio, but can look much different when you preview the page in a web browser. In essence, after you have laid out items where you want them, CyberStudio creates a HTML Table to accommodate your layout. If you open a CyberStudio created web page in another web page authoring program such as Claris Homepage, you will see the Table that CyberStudio created to match your design. In fact, web pages created in CyberStudio are pretty much unusable in other web page authoring programs. The other programs are simply not equipped to understand the design layout CyberStudio creates. A good illustration of that can be seen in the picture below…
Netscape / Explorer / CyberStudio
Besides looking different in Claris Homepage 2.0 (which didn’t even display the correct background color), layouts in CyberStudio don’t always appear quite as designed in the two major web browsers, Netscape’s Navigator/Communicator and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (any version). To use CyberStudio 3.1, you must have both browsers installed on your computer so that you can check layouts in both programs. Of course, you also should have access to a PC, so that you can also preview your website and preview what PC users will see. I found many web pages created with CyberStudio look great in both Explorer and Navigator on my Mac, but not so good when viewed on a Wintel machine using the Windows versions of the same browsers. Of course, you also have to contend with America Online’s browser, which tends to produce the worst results. (Note: That seems to be addressed quite well with AOL’s 4.0 software.) This is not just a CyberStudio problem, however. Many good looking websites look a little less ‘nice’ on a Windows PC.
Mouse On Over
Creating “mouse over” animations with CyberStudio is very simple. For instance, you may have a button that looks normal until you place your mouse over it, at which time it may glow or change colors. To do this in a conventional web page authoring program can take hours. With CyberStudio, the task is easy to accomplish.
Any application as complex as CyberStudio 3.1 needs a good manual. Mac users are notorious for never reading manuals, but when you invest this much money into a program, you would be foolish not to. GoLive Systems has included a well put together manual to help you get the most out of your purchase. Weighing in at over 700+ pages, the book is written with every type of user in mind, from the beginner to the seasoned professional. It not only includes a very nice Index and Visual Index, but also a great visual table of keyboard shortcuts.
Also included are: A 130+ page manual titled “Using WebObjects with GoLive CyberStudio”; A 45+ page tutorial book that covers basic information; and a hard paper reference guide listing shortcuts that folds into a pyramid. Very helpful, and very thoughtful on GoLive’s part. Bravo!
Ease of Use
While CyberStudio 3.1 may have many features, the layout is very simple to learn. Floating palettes show you the most common activities, and their icons are clearly representative of their functions. When you position your arrow over a object in a palette, the name of that object is displayed in the same box.
Drag and Drop is fully supported, though with all the palettes, screen clutter is a problem. Fortunately, you can close all the palettes to clear some working space.
GoLive has created a great program in CyberStudio. Version 3.1 adds several new features and has corrected nearly all the bugs of previous versions. The competition, in this case Macromedia’s Dreamweaver 1.2 and NetObjects Fusion 3.0, simply fall short of the goal that CyberStudio has reached. While both Macromedia’s Dreamweaver and NetObjects Fusion offer many of the same benefits as CyberStudio, they fall short in many of the areas that CyberStudio excels.
If you want a powerful, intuitive, and feature rich program to help you create the best website you can, the choice is simple: GoLive CyberStudio 3.1.
Estimated Price: $24.99
Ten miles in any direction from my front door. That is the maximum distance I have to go to find a great place to hunt deer. Okay, so I am not a hunter myself, as I would prefer to take a picture of the deer than shoot one. But a game titled “Deer Hunter” sounded really interesting, so I had to try it out.
Looking at the pictures on the box, I figured this would be a really fun game. Walk around the woods, shoot some digital deer, call it a day. Besides, I have read that Deer Hunter was one of the most popular games last year on the PC. That, to me, would suggest a game rich in graphics, realism, and game play. Why else would a game sell so well? Could thousands of PC users be wrong? (That was a rhetorical question; after all, they did buy a PC rather than a Mac…)
The Hard Truth
Yes, thousands of PC game buyers were wrong. Deer Hunter is lacking in most of the categories that makes a game a winner. The graphics are very lifelike, true. But there’s no interaction with the scenery. For example, if you’re sitting in a tree stand and face the tree, you can shoot your gun or bow. That’s nice, but wouldn’t it have been better if as a result of that you could see and hear a huge chunk of the tree get blown away from the force of the blast? Or you see your arrow strike and penetrate the tree?
From the Map View, you can choose different locations of the woods you are in to hunt. To do this, you point and click to the new location. However, in the actual game play area, the terrain doesn’t look much different.
You can’t walk around in the game play area, either. Let’s pretend you see a deer. You take your shot. You miss. Want to run after that deer? Sorry, not an option. No tramping through the woods allowed.
During game play, you hear the voice of your character. From time to time, he may say something like “Hmm… It’s pretty windy out here” or “Maybe I’d have better luck someplace else.” Wow, thanks, Mr. Obvious. And hey, perhaps if you stopped talking and making all that racket, a deer might just show up!
The background noises are also meant to lend a touch of realism to the game. It does, for about an hour into it. Then it just becomes irritating. It appears that the noise in each hunting area is a three minute loop of the same sounds. After a while, I could time when that stupid crow would make his “Caw-Caw” sound. A bubbling brook or stream is also heard in the Arkansas Autumn Woodlands, but after five minutes, the sound just made me want to get up and use the bathroom…
As I said, there is no interaction with your surrounding area. I would think that if I let a shotgun blast rip, most of the wildlife in close proximity would scurry away. But no, two seconds after my blast, there goes that “Caw-Caw” again. Hey, this game would be worth the price alone if I could just shoot that damn crow!
The Hunting Grounds
You have four choices for hunting areas. They are the Target Range, Arkansas Autumn Woodlands, Colorado Alpine Meadows, and Indiana Winter. Other than the scenery and background noises, I found nothing different at all in any of these choices. Of course, you don’t hunt at the Target Range. You’re there to practice your marksmanship.
You also have some choices for game play. You can hunt with a rifle, shotgun, or bow. The rifle gives you a scope, but you’re limited to only one shot at a time and a long reload time. The shotgun has no scope, but you can reload much more quickly. The bow is nice and quiet, and you can actually see the arrow on the fly. But from my experience, none really stands out as a better choice that the others. In the practice range, I was just as good shooting the bow as I was the rifle or shotgun.
You can also select to use a tree stand, which gives you a higher view of the target area. You’re also equipped with a “call” horn to attract deer, a deer antler “rattle” for the same purpose, and a binoculars to get a closer view of whatever it is you’re trying to see. (You need it, because there are times where you may think you’re firing at a deer, but a look through the binoculars reveals the ‘deer’ is really just a clump of trees fifty yards away!) Binocular use, however, makes whatever you’re looking appear blocky and pixelated. The lifelike quality of this game’s graphics goes right out the window when you use the binoculars.
Slow and boring…
That pretty much describes my attitude toward this game. While I didn’t expect to kill a buck in the first five minutes of game play, I did think I would at least see one after hours of sitting in front of my monitor. But it was not to be. It’s not because I lack patience (I’m the father of a four year old girl, after all!), but this game was simply too boring to play for a long time with nothing happening. “Maybe I’d have better luck someplace else,” my hunter would say. “No, you think?” I would answer sarcastically. But I was determined to give this game a fair review, and not one merely based on my first few times playing it.
Three days later, and about four hours of game play, still no deer. It was at this point that I decided to use the cheat codes I had found online, just to see what a deer looks like, and what happens when I shoot one. While the cheat codes did work, they still didn’t help me bag a deer. sigh…
For the record, I have actually hunted deer before. It was years ago, and I remember waking up very early in the morning and trekking through the snow here in the woods of central Michigan. It was cold, I was tired, but there was an excitement to it. I was out there, and we were tracking a buck. We knew that any minute we might see it. Pumping with adrenaline, we continued on patiently, hoping we would return home with a trophy, or at least a story to tell. That day, the deer evaded our best efforts. In the last few days, his digital brethren did the same thing. So in that respect, Deer Hunter is very realistic.
If you like spending countless hours in front of your computer looking at the same scenery, waiting for something to happen, then this game is for you. And if you like limited game play with annoying sounds, this game is for you. But if you like excitement and a fun challenge, this game is not for you.
MacMice Rating: 1