Starting Line
My Mac Magazine #34, Feb. ’98

Dear Readers:

In magazine time, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Spring is anticipated, teasing us with an occasional warm day, telling us she’s on her way. In real time, New Year’s has just passed and I’m frantically preparing for a major annual meeting at work. And yet, I’ve started to catch up on reading my business reading… well, almost!

The reactions by the industry journals to the MS alliance has been very interesting. In the November/December 97 issue of The Journal of Desktop Publishers, columnists Bill Troop and Susan Marshall state “…(Apple) continues to show courage in the face of public and media scrutiny.” And, like the alliance or not, like what’s happened to clones or not, I have to agree with Bill and Susan. Every time Apple is knocked down, they get right back up swinging. Not always in the right direction, but with a lot of energy.

Steve Jobs is making bold moves to save Apple and was able to get Bill Gates to help him. Now, I don’t believe for one second Bill is doing this out of the goodness of his heart. Really, who does?! But, if you’re having a hard time understanding why Bill might want to help Apple (other than the free R&D), look in the February, 1998 issue of Macworld. Columnist David Pogue makes some interesting points explaining why Apple can’t die. I won’t go into detail here, but get a copy if you can. If nothing else, it makes you feel more positive about the whole situation.

My take on the announcement in October is that it was so unexpected, no one really knew how to react. I admit I was very upset. And, after thinking about it, I’m still not completely happy. But when I remove my emotions and try to look at “the big picture,” it almost makes sense. All the manufacturers have to work together. Why? Compatibility is more of an issue than ever for their customers and the customers have to be happy or they won’t buy. Most, if not all of us, have to work with Wintel at work and that means having to move back and forth between our beloved Macs and the hated DOS (and Windoze is nothing more than DOS acting as a Mac-wannabe).

I continue to remain hopeful. Macs aren’t going away. And if the biggest manufacturer of software continues to make real investments in the Mac side of things, then the Mac will at least maintain. And, with a little luck, the situation will go beyond maintaining and into improvement. Keep your fingers crossed! I sure am.

Helpful Hints

HH#36: Peripherals-And just what do I mean by peripherals? Well, I’m talking about all those nifty little gadgets that did not come built into your Mac and you’ve added on over the years: scanners, CD-ROMs, Zip drives, etc., etc.

For years at work I was plagued with system freezes whenever I scanned. Finally, I heard the dreaded musical number that plays when your system will not come up, ever again.

I called my tech, absolutely desperate. Well, it seems that I what I was doing with my scanner was a no-no. What was that, you ask? I only turned my scanner when I used it, which is okay, but I did not shut my system down first, which is not okay.

It seems your Mac checks out all the peripherals on the SCSI chain when you start up. If you add something or shut off something after the check, your Mac gets confused.

How did we solve the problem? With a simple 1/2 hour phone call. I disconnected every SCSI device and restarted my system with Norton, which I then ran. Afterwards, I restarted my system on its own. It was there! Last step, I reconnected everything (after shutting down, of course), and things were back to normal.

So, please, never fool around with your SCSI devices unless your Mac is turned off. Trust me on this.

HH#37: 256 Colors vs Thousands-This is an issue I’ve never paid much attention to until now. Last year I purchased a used Mac (which I’ll get to later). It came with a color card and a Radius pivot monitor.

One day after the purchase, the color card and/or monitor died. Still not sure which. I called the friend from whom I bought the equipment. Long story short, it never got fixed. I didn’t pay too much attention as 256 colors is fine for home and I could use one of my older monitors without any problem.

Then I bought my eldest step-daughter “Cosmopolitan Virtual Makeover” for Christmas. It said I could use a monitor with 256 colors but I would have to change it to thousands. I thought, “No problem. I have 256 colors!” Well, it is a problem because I cannot switch to thousands. I can’t even load the program without the thousands of colors my computer will not give me.

I spoke to our esteemed Jeramey Valley via email and he mentioned that the number of colors your monitor shows is determined by the computer, not the cable, nor what the monitor is capable of.

In other words, I could buy a monitor that supports thousands of colors, but because my computer does not support it, I will still end up with only 256 colors.

My point? This is something to pay attention to when you buy your computer and/or monitor and when you buy software. If you don’t, it will come back to haunt you.

HH#38: Purchasing Used Computers-Now, I’m not talking about reputable dealers. I’m talking about your friends and acquaintances. I purchased a used Mac that I was told had a 6100 motherboard in it. I found out later from our esteemed Jeramey Valley that this really isn’t possible. I know I have some sort of PowerMac processor because I can run PowerMac applications. But, don’t ask me what it is!

Then there’s the monitor problem I described above. No need to discuss that further.

And last, the modem wouldn’t work! The cable wasn’t included, and I didn’t think too much of it at the time. You can pick up cables anywhere, right? However, I discovered that the modem was originally manufactured to accompany a specific Performa series and the cable was no longer being made. I contacted Apple and the manufacturer and no one could help.

Moral: Check everything out ahead of time, no matter who you are purchasing from. This nasty little mess is my fault. Because I was purchasing the system from someone I thought I could trust, I failed to do that. I figured he was a friend and if there was a problem, he’d take care of it. Was I ever wrong!

I don’t want to say this is a bad computer-it isn’t. And, except for a couple of items, it is more than sufficient for my needs at home. The point is that I paid for specific items which I did not get. And, because this was a private transaction, there wasn’t a lot I could do to correct the situation.

So, folks, stay with reputable dealers. And when your friends want to sell you that nifty computer they’ve outgrown, steer them to the same dealer you buy from. You’ll both be happier.

Internet Site of the Month:

200 Letters for Job Hunters,
I checked it out a couple of months ago and found it to be pretty good. It’s a nice resource for job hunters.

Last, and certainly not least, if you have a particular area that’s giving you trouble, or have a solution to a problem and you want to tell the world, please email me. I’ll answer you personally and then post it in the column. And I promise I won’t use your name if you don’t want me to!


Barbara Bell (

Websites mentioned:

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