Up iMac Creek Without A Paddle

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

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