Wall Writings
My Mac Magazine #26, June ’97

This Month: Exploring the Net with MIE 3.01 – Apple Still Loves the Cinema – A Couple Random Thoughts

June is here. Summer is upon us again. If you’re like me, when you’re not outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather and hanging out with your friends, you’re probably found sitting behind your Mac, going to movies, and what not. That’s how I plan to spend my summer vacation and so this column makes mention of both.!

Shadows of the Empire
I didn’t like Microsoft Internet Explorer 2.1. I couldn’t really put me finger on why, I just didn’t. Netscape 2.02 was my browser of choice.!

Then Netscape 3.01 came out. I tried it, liked it, and since my computer didn’t complain TOO loudly about it, I kept it. I was looking forward to trying out Explorer 3.0, but it never came out for 680×0 Macs. Then there was this whole CFM-68K extension fiasco from Apple. (I believe Code Fragment Manager for 680×0 Macs is the meaning of the acronym.) If you used a 68K Mac, you couldn’t use that extension, and risked possible data loss if you did. CFM-68K is an extension that allows CISC-based processors to use shared libraries like their PowerPC friends, and you need it if you want to run certain applications on an older Mac, such as Internet Explorer and Cyberdog.!

A while back, Apple posted version 4.0 of the CFM-68K extension, and promised that all was safe and sound for non-Power Mac users. New versions of the affected applications were supposedly on the way. Well, in the middle of May, Microsoft posted Internet Explorer for Mac, version 3.01, and I had to give it a try.!

I’m impressed.!

MIE 3.01 is a good, solid, noteworthy Macintosh application. It has the patented Microsoft look and feel, but it isn’t blatantly offensive or annoying in that regard. It still handles like a Mac application should. For this alone, the folks in Redmond should be applauded. (Then again, I understand there was a specific group of Mac-only developers working on MIE 3.0, and not necessarily in Redmond, either.)!

The minimum install for MIE isn’t that large; about 5 or 6 Megabytes on the hard drive. It will take up double-digit space (up to 15 Megs) if you download the Java, ActiveX, Mail and News, and other extras. MIE’s RAM footprint is defaulted to three Megs – a noble but unrealistic goal. If you use any plug-ins at all, you’ll need to give it five, and as much as eight in some cases. Still, for today’s Web browsers, eight Megs of memory isn’t a terrible price to pay. MIE starts up faster than Netscape does on my LC 575, too – with the exact same plug-ins installed and features turned on, MIE consistently took 30-35 seconds to get going, compared to Netscape’s 45. !

MIE isn’t flawless, though; it freezes occasionally, and quits due to a Type 1 error every once and a while (usually when I’m trying to access the same sites, too – could there be a connection?), but for the most part it isn’t noticeably less well-behaved than its Mozilla counterpart.!

Now that I’ve discussed the overhead and so forth, let me get down to the features. MIE 3.01 really shines in some departments, and is much more customizable than version 2.1. I really like the toolbar; its own standard set and the “Netscape compatible-plus” set have some great buttons that Navigator lacks, such as instant access to your favorites file and your preferences. You can always choose to use Netscape’s standard toolbar if you wish, too.!

With version 3.0, Explorer has implemented a toolbar addition that is similar to Netscape’s Directory buttons. These are preset to Microsoft’s version of Netscape’s defaults, which in other words make them pretty pointless in my opinion. But the beauty of it is that the settings for the bar are kept in a folder called “Toolbar Favorites” in the Favorites menu. Drag-and-drop your own bookmarks into this folder to customize the toolbar, and you’ve got one-click access to your favorite sites. Beats using ResEdit or the shareware program Navigator Button Editor to change Netscape’s settings any day.!

Then there are those features which Netscape has yet to implement. Microsoft beats them to the punch with a “subscription” option, autosearching, and “guessing” of the correct URL. By denoting a favorite bookmark as a “subscription” site, MIE will check for you whether or not the page has been updated since you last visited it. If it has, it will notify you of the change. The autosearching feature allows you to type “go” or “?” plus your search topic directly into MIE’s address bar, and MIE will search Yahoo’s directory for you. As for the “guessing” feature, I found this almost amusing at times, but helpful. As you start to type a URL into Explorer’s address bar, it will fill in the blanks for you, trying to complete the URL before you type it. By using the Favorites file and the History file, it gets pretty close sometimes, and it’s saved me from typing some long URLs a time or three.!

Throw in Explorer’s History feature, improved bookmark-editing options, the ability to import Fetch bookmarks of ftp sites, built-in ActiveX support, Internet Config support, and some great pre-installed bookmarks, and Microsoft’s latest browser offering looks pretty sweet. I’ve still got Netscape installed on my hard drive, too, but when faced with the choice, I’ve found myself double-clicking the Explorer icon quite a bit this past week. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I think the Evil Empire has won me over. At least I didn’t have to pay them for it.!

Big Screen Apples
OK. Enough is enough. Jurassic Park. Mission: Impossible. Independence Day. Ransom. Liar, Liar. And now Volcano. Plus, I’m sure I’m leaving some out.!

What do all of these movies have in common? They all made a lot of money, and every single one of them had Apple computers in them. Exclusively.!

Seeing the PowerBooks and Power Macs dotting the silver screen in Volcano was the last straw for me. As cool as it is to see the rainbow fruit featured on screen, especially when compared to alternatives of Big Blues and/or spotted cows, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s that big of a deal. I mean, has it saved Apple’s reputation from the press? Has it made Macs more popular with the consumers? Has it kept Apple from slipping out of the top five computer makers in the country? Nope, ‘fraid not.!

Now, the even more important question: How much is this costing Apple? It’d be great if every movie maker in Hollywood is pro-Mac and they’re doing this all gratis, but somehow I don’t think that’s the case. So, if Apple’s shelling out this dough for product placement, I’d like to see a little more done with it. There hasn’t been a decent ad with these movies since “The Power to Save the World,” and that wasn’t exactly CLEO-award winning material, either. Personally, I think the money could be better spent on wooing Tiger Woods. (See last month’s column if you don’t follow me.) !

Some Random Closing Thoughts
Apple’s new eMate rocks. It is one awesome little gadget. My high school is buying a bunch of them for next fall, and they had one up and running the other day. The head computer coordinator let me try it out, and I loved every minute of it. Not only is it practical, but it’s just darn cool. Getting things done effectively and having fun while doing them is the best way to go, and the eMate helps accomplish that task. I didn’t have a chance to become comfortable enough with it to write a full review or anything, but I still can’t say enough about this little machine. It almost makes me wish I hadn’t graduated.!

Finally, I must apologize for an error in last month’s column. In my references to US Robotic’s spokesmen, I meant to say Stephen Hawking, not Steven Hawkins. MY mistake.!

With that, I bid you all adieu for another month. Have a great summer!

Mike Wallinga (mlwall@mtcnet.net)

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