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Mark Delfs’ latest Sharkbytes column “Yes, Virginia, it’s time to upgrade,” set me to thinking. Like Mark, I’ve learned that, if you want to stay in the game, never say ‘never’ when it comes to technology.
In spite of my husband’s heartfelt proclamation (on upgrading from our first 386 25 MHz to a 486 33 MHz some years later): “This is the last computer I’m ever gonna buy!” — it wasn’t.
Though, now that I think about it, in his own way, he may have been right. Gene has not bought so much as a piece of software in the last four years. I, on the other hand, discovered the Mac and never looked back.
So, I certainly agree with Mark on taking a hard look at your current needs, biting the bullet and at least checking out your options. Where I see things a little differently may be with what happens to that old, out of date machine. If you really love your little shavers, don’t saddle them with that ancient Mac and expect either their gratitude – or their grades – to sky rocket.
I know. It’s easier to justify spending big money on the grown ups, if only we can pretend it is really for the kids. Done it myself.
“Hey Ma!” says Pa. “Gonna get a new Mac. The old Classic just won’t cut it anymore. Gonna give this old one here to the kids for Christmas.” Wowee! Happy Holidays, Kids.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. As computers go, that old Classic has a lot more life in her than a DOS-based machine of the same age. But, if Dad has outgrown his old Mac, the kids are sure to find it a pinch as well. This is especially true if Dad (or Mom) is of the word processing, data base, spreadsheet generation.
The older computers were designed for just such tasks and many a book has been written or a checkbook balanced on a Classic. But take a look at current software for the kids. Unless Junior spends most of his time writing black and white reports on ‘My Summer Vacation’ and Sister is devoted to making a database of her current boy friends, that Classic will spend more time off than on.
But there’s Pa, still yearning for a new Mac. Maybe he wants into games big time. Shame on you Pa. Is your daily dose of blood and guts more important than Junior’s JumpStart 2nd Grade? Or Sister’s HyperStudio project? And how about Ma’s passion to get her Ph.D. or to keep in touch with the family using pictures scanned into her email?
Then again, maybe Pa’s a struggling PhotoShop sort of guy. In that case Pa, go for it! I have to admit, you are overdue for an upgrade. Just don’t think you have done the kids a really big favor in unloading your Classic, SE, LC, or aging Performa on their eager little fingers. Or that your well-past-its-prime Mac is the answer to their computing prayers.
Their computer needs are equal to your own. Their software, rightfully rich in graphics, movies, sound files and information, can be as demanding of resources as your favorite game.
Being a true Mac fanatic, and believing in my heart if not my mind that one Mac is never enough, I say buy a couple. Give the Classic to Grandma for the church newsletter. (Sorry Grandma. Simply trying to protect the grandkiddies here.) Just don’t pawn it off on the kids and then pat yourself on the back.
Before you say “You gotta be crazy! Think I’m made of money?” think again. Think about the ‘Trailing Edge.’ History would indicate that today’s Macs will have their prices cut in the near future. Rumor says we might see some bargains around Christmas. Buying your new computer on the trailing edge, just as the next generation comes along, often means having great technology at a fire sale price.
So, here’s an idea. Why not get an iMac or two and network that old Mac as a floppy/SCSI connection for the pair. Instead of a family focused on Nintendo and the tube, your family will group enthusiastically around your new USB hub.
The whole flock will be there. Egging Dad on in the latest games. (Trashing Dad’s buttocks in the latest games!) Getting a jump start on great educational software. Scanning those family photos into a school project. Sending them off to Aunt Bertie via email. Checking out the Net under a watchful eye.
It’s a paradigm shift, Folks. (Don’t you hate these trendy words!) Once we gathered around the hearth, then the radio and now the TV. But in the world of tomorrow, what can I say? Families that USB together, will *be* together. (Ouch – how’s that for thinking different!)
So, let’s try another paradigm shift. What’s good for the Gander is good for the Goose and the Goslings as well. Check it out Pa. Those little goslings will think you’re Top Duck.
Note: I know a lot more about kids and computers than about cables and computers, so I checked it out myself with Dan Knight at MTN’s Low End Mac. I needed advice on using a Classic or other low end Mac as a floppy/SCSI connection to a the iMac.
Dan, I wrote:
Can a Classic be networked to an iMac to serve as a floppy input and for limited SCSI? If not, what Mac would be the earliest one practical for such a situation?
You’d need an ethernet-to-LocalTalk adapter between the two computers, but with System 7.x file sharing turned on, you could give the iMac access to the floppy and hard drives. It would be very slow.
Another alternative, about $100, is a SCSI-to-ethernet adapter on the Mac Plus/SE/Classic/etc. I don’t know how fast this would be, but probably 4 to 8 times faster than LocalTalk.
– Dan Knight, Mac Advocate, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor in Chief, MacTimes http://www.mactimes.com/
Webmaster, Low End Mac http://www.mactimes.com/lowend/
Thanks for the input, Dan. You’re Top Duck with us.