Starting Line
My Mac Magazine #24, April ’97

Dear Readers:

If you recall, last month’s article gave you a blow-by-blow account of my poor Performa getting too wet to function. Well, my horror story continues…

It turns out the logic board in the CPU was fried from the water. No surprise there. What is surprising is that the monitor is functioning perfectly! Yet, I know that the water hit it. When I look close enough, I can see the water spots (how did I miss them prior to bringing my system to ComputerTown, you ask? I can only say I must have purposely blinded myself. Do you blame me? 🙂 ) Now comes the big decision: Do I use my income tax return for a new system or for a down payment on a car? Decisions, decisions…

On a much better note, I now have in my possession (only at work, though!) a brand new QMS magicolor CX laser color printer. And, when working, it’s beautiful! I have lusted after a color laser printer for years and only recently has the technology become a bit more affordable and reliable. I have to say though, that it has been one problem after another in the month since I received it.

The problems began immediately after set up. The printer was printing completely black pages! I got a part replaced and went right to work. Boy, was I happy! Then, I started getting lines on my documents, on every page. The part was replaced again while I was on a business trip. Two days after I return, it starts printing smudges on the page, so I call tech support again. I figure let’s ‘nip this problem in the bud.’ (Bear in mind, I am using this printer like crazy. For one, it is currently the only printer I am hooked up to; second, when the pages come out, folks love them! The quality is outstanding!)

After that tech visit-in which the tech is the last person to touch the printer – I turn it on and get an error message! Now I’m mad. It’s been a month with one problem after another, I’m trying to get my job done, explaining to people the problems with the documents they receive, and trying to justify an almost $8,000 purchase of a piece of equipment we not only have never had before, but purchased with an unknown vendor! I have to admit, I was not a good person that day. Fortunately, the situation has a happy resolution! 🙂

The error message pointed out a problem to the techs they were unaware of, it was probably a factory defect, these things do happen. When this piece is replaced, it should solve all the problems. Additionally, I received some training on the maintenance of the machine so now I have an idea of what to do when it gets quirky-and what equipment doesn’t? Last, and certainly not least, kudos to QMS tech support. I have never received support so quickly or professionally. Telephone waits are minimal, the staff is friendly, calm, and supportive. Should you buy anything from QMS, you will not be disappointed by technical support or the equipment. (In case you’re wondering, so far so good!)

Helpful Hints

HH #11: Creating a new document- I realize that most of you know how to do this, but I do want to reach the very beginners in our group. In a conversation with a ‘newbie,’ I discovered new document creation to be a problem. Happily for us, it’s a problem that is easily corrected.

One of the many great features of the Mac is its consistency. You find the most common commands are the same in almost every application. (Please see March’s column for more information on Command Keys.) Creating new documents falls into that category.

Let’s begin… You are already in an application, working on an existing document. Now you want to start on a new one. So, what do you do? Well, it depends on what you want to do. If the document you are currently in is in a format you need for your new document, go the pull down menu under FILE, select SAVE AS, and name your new document (don’t forget to save the current document first!). You can now easily use the existing document as a template-all the formatting is there for you.

But what if you need an entirely new document? Easy! First, save what you are working on, then close it. Or, if you like, keep the document open. It has no effect on the new document. Return to FILE, select NEW and a new document appears! FYI-depending on the application you are in, a dialogue box will appear after selecting NEW. This box asks for specifications for the new document. You can either click through it or really customize the new page. Again, it depends on your needs. As you get to know your software, you will become accustomed to their idiosycrancies and know exactly what you need.

HH #12: Professional looking documents can be done by anyone- You simply need to know some of the very basic rules of typography and page layout. I highly recommend Robin Williams’s The Mac is not a typewriter. One of the many things she teaches are basic rules of typography. And, if you are a stickler for details, you’ll enjoy that part of the book very much. You’ll also ask yourself why they don’t teach these things in school!

In the meantime, let me give you a few tips. Sans serif type are those typefaces that do not have little fine line extensions. The typeface used in My Mac, Geneva, is a good example. Helvetica is another one. Sans serif is best used for headlines and very small text blurbs.

Serif type contains the fine line extensions. Times and Palatino are both great examples for this category. Serif type is the best type to read. It is easily recognizable by the eye and makes reading easy, fast, and understandable.

There are many different subcategories of type, but a basic rule of thumb is to remember what your reader will be doing with your page. Are they reading a story, looking at a couple of sentences, admiring your artistic ability? Outlandish typefaces are great, but usually are difficult to read. Try to keep them for headlines and subheads.

Text in all-caps is not only difficult to read, but in e-mail, it’s the equivalent of shouting.

The Open Forum

Back in February, this question came up:

  • Here’s a question from Lisa B.: Lisa has system 7.5.3 on a Quadra 610. Using Controls Panels: Date and Time, she can set the date and time, but cannot display the date. The time displays fine in the title bar.Carl M. Lowry of Lower-Y Environments ( wrote: “Another way that I know of is through using Now’s Up-To-Date and TouchBase’s date/time option in the preference menu. This option will override any other date/time control panel or any other application’s date/time settings. The only time Up-To-Date allows other date/time settings to be displayed is when it decides to not load its extension at startup. Since I use SuperClock’s timer regularly, I leave Up-To-Date’s date/time option set to OFF.”

    Thanx, Carl!

    And so ends another The Starting Line.


    Barbara Bell (

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