Starting Line
My Mac Magazine #21, Jan. ’97

Dear Readers:

As you’re reading this month’s column, I’ll be on the sunny and warm island of Puerto Rico, taking a much looked-forward-to vacation. Sun, museums, warmth … I recommend it for anyone needing a break from your normal (or not so normal!) day to day activities.

To help you in your quest for knowledge, I will be creating a ClarisWorks database containing all the helpful hints you will be reading in “My Mac.” So, if you miss something or want to have your own reference file, just e-mail me with a request. All I ask is that you give me a few months to build the database! Also, it will be an ongoing project. As each issue of “My Mac” comes out, more hints will be added.

Now, on to the good stuff! Last month, I left you with a couple of basic helpful hints that I hope have already helped improve your computer skills. Here’s a couple more…

Helpful Hints

HH #3: Magnets – Keep away! Don’t put any type of magnet near your hard drive or diskettes! I can’t emphasize this enough. Since computer drives are magnetized, (it’s how they keep data intact), putting a magnet near one will wipe it clean. Let me tell you a couple of stories to drive home my point.

Story one: A woman was using her computer at home and saving the information to disk to bring to work. She clipped the disk to a magnet on her refrigerator so she would not forget it. Guess what? Each time she did that, the disk was wiped clean. She didn’t know about the magnet taboo. It took weeks before she was able to figure out what was happening.

Story two: I was moving my computer from one room to another. Because of all the peripherals and associated junk that seems to collect around any computer, I had to break it down. Someone (I won’t say who!) put the hard drive on our carpeted floor. HUGE mistake! The static electricity went to town on my hard drive. Needless to say, when Humpty Dumpty was put back together, the hard drive flashed the nasty question mark! Ugh! Nothing worked except reinitializing the hard drive and reloading the system software, and then all my applications. Not fun at all.

So, please, please! Keep magnets away. You and your Mac will be much happier for it. 🙂

HH #4: Soft returns. What is that, you ask? Say you are typing away and look back at your paragraph. Aesthetically, it looks pretty bad due to all the hyphens your word processing program inserted at the end of each line. To get rid of all the hyphens, you can use soft return to clean up the look of the document. Simply insert the cursor before the word that is hyphenated, hold down the shift key and press return. This keeps the word intact and doesn’t incorporate any paragraph styles you may have in place.

Soft return can also be used to keep a person’s first and last names on the same line, phone numbers together, etc. Remember to use this little ‘trick’ as a tool to help keep documents looking nicer and your text well-formatted and easy to read.

Now, at this point, I would normally be moving on to the Q&A and Open Forum sections, However, since the column is so new (and I’m not hooked up to the internet at home yet!), I don’t have any questions to answer! However, I’m not worried (and I will keep repeating that until I get some questions from you folks out there).

I will give you one more HH instead.

HH #5: Buy, beg, borrow, or steal a copy of Robin William’s book, The Mac is not a Typewriter. A quote on the back cover of the book says it all:

“Ever wonder why some type looks more professional, more sophisticated than other type? The answer lies in the rules and techniques developed for professional typesetting. Not surprisingly, those methods are far different than the training given in Typing 1A.
This book not only lays down the principles governing traditional type, but explains the logic behind them. By following the guidelines explained here, anyone using a personal computer to produce type can create beautiful, sophisticated pages.”

You can pick this helpful book up at just about any bookstore. And while you’re at it, you can gloat over the fact that the companion book, The PC is not a Typewriter, is twice as big. Why? Because everything is so much more complicated on the PC side and consistency among the programs is still a myth. Don’t take my word for it, though. Look for yourself! If anything, it will reinforce the fact your decision to purchase a Macintosh was the right one.

One last note: If you cannot, or don’t want to, find the book, don’t worry. This is one of my reference manuals and I will always be pulling helpful hints from it. So, you won’t miss anything.

Adios and good computing!

Barbara Bell (

Leave a Reply