Starting Line – My Mac Magazine #45, Jan. ’99

Well, I have to brag a little bit… okay, a lot! ComputerTown had an offer I could not refuse so I bought an iMac! As you can see, I’m a tad bit excited. The speed alone makes the purchase worthwhile. The software bundle just adds to it. AppleWorks, the upgrade to the old ClarisWorks program, along with Quicken, FastFax, and several others were already installed.

Of course, the first thing I did was get on the Internet using the new AOL 4.0 (yes, I still use AOL!). Email names for everyone and the kids have pretty much monopolized the system ever since. 😉

Along with the computer, I purchased the Imation SuperDisk and an Epson Stylus Color 740 printer. Set up for all was extremely easy, even for a Mac. I’ll admit I took longer than the 10 year old I heard Apple used for its demo video. With my computer curse, I wanted to take no chances. However, it went extremely smoothly. I had just enough connections for everything. If I later buy a scanner, second printer, whatever, I’ll have to also buy a USB hub but that doesn’t look to be a problem. In fact, a hub is easier than the usual SCSI hook ups we’re used to. SCSI limits the amount of peripherals you can hook up to your system and each device must have a unique number. SCSI also tends to be extremely temperamental. It’s not unheard of to go through various hook up configurations until you find that one that works. With a hub, you just plug everything in. The only limit are the number of connectors on your hub. And, you can connect hubs to increase the connectors!

I spent the second day with my new system loading up software. It went beautifully! Then, my curse kicked in. I noticed the CD-ROM was not loading. When I put in a CD, there was nothing… no sound, no icon on the desktop. I used the Help Center, found under Help on the desktop. I followed instructions, made sure the appropriate software was where it was supposed to be, and still nothing. Now, I’ve had this computer for 24 hours. Needless to say, I was a little upset. Plus, it was late Saturday night so there was no help to be found from the vendor.

I tried forcing the CD to load by using the program already on my hard drive. Nothing! So, the next day, I called ComputerTown. They told me to load it up,bring it down to them and let them have a look at it. I did and they quickly AND very nicely swapped out my iMac for a new one. I asked if the CD-ROM drives in the iMacs were temperamental. ComputerTown said no. The only problems they had seen up to that time were software issues. I was the first hardware problem. Figures! My computer curse strikes again!

In my opinion, there are a couple of things Apple could have done to make the move to iMacs a bit smoother. There is no emergency restart button. If your System freezes, the old Command-Control-Power combination doesn’t work. There is a little hole on the side of the iMac that you insert a paperclip into that restarts the machine. I’ve had to do it a couple of times. I find it to be a hassle. For someone not comfortable with sticking paperclips into their Mac, it may be an issue.

I’m also not comfortable with the CD-ROM drive. And not because of my curse! You can’t just slide in your CD and off you go. It must snap in and out. And the CD-ROM drive must be pushed all the way in, not just a little nudge and it then goes it on its own.

But, are these enough to not buy an iMac? NOT! These are minor irritations, not even inconveniences. Not worth basing a purchase decision on.

All in all, I had a great experience with both ComputerTown and the iMac. I’ve had no problems with the swapped-out system. I feel for the money involved (around $1800), the value is superb. The support from ComputerTown and the Help Center was great. Documentation is a little light, however, so be sure to print off all those read me files that accompany the software. You’ll find extremely useful information hidden in those documents.

Peripherals are a washout. I am very interested to see how many manufacturers make peripherals for the iMac. Right now, there are a couple of mice, a scanner, hubs, and a smattering of other devices. I predict, with the huge sales the iMac has had, there will be many more peripherals by the end of 1999.

Helpful Hints

Closing versus Quitting–By clicking on the upper left hand box you see in every document window, you close that particular document. But how many of you know that the progam is still active? Let’s see a show of hands. Okay, I see most of you know what I am talking about. But for those few who don’t, let me elaborate.

Closing a document is just that… closing. It’s like taking taking a file and putting in a file folder. You’re done with it for the time being. But, the application is still open. That means should you want to open another document created by the same application (say, AppleWorks) you are not relaunching the program all over again. You’re just opening a document.

But quitting means you are putting the application away, not just a document. That file folder mentioned in the previous paragraph is now being put in a file cabinet until you need the information it contains. You can quit in a couple of ways. Either hit Command-Q or go into the File drop down menu and Quit will be at the bottom.

Extensions–Extensions are neat little items that expand the functionality of your Mac. You see their icons at the bottom of your screen whenever you start up. For those of you with experience using extensions, this tip should help a lot.

To open the Extensions Manager while your system is booting, hold down the spacebar. The Extensions Manager will appear. Set up your extensions, then close the Extensions Manager. Start up will continue. If you have selected extensions that load before the Extensions Manager appears (you’ll see their icons at the bottom of your screen before the E.M. opens), hit Command-Option-Click and the E.M. close box. This restarts your system “midstream” and handles your extensions accordingly.

If you’d like to figure out what extensions match what icons, open your Extensions folder in the System Folder. Most of the icons show themselves.

Changing Desktop Pattern–In O.S. 8.x, this is easy and fast! You can use the old way, but clicking on your Apple in the upper left hand corner, clicking on Control Panels and then Appearance. But, you power users will simply control-click on the desktop. This opens up a small menu with Change Desktop Background at the bottom. Select that and you’re ready to pick a new image.

Don’t forget, once you’ve chosen your background, make sure you hit the Set Desktop button in the bottom right hand corner of the dialogue box. This applies the background to your desktop.

The MacBug Tale: So no one has a software bug they want to tell the world about? Come on, I know someone out there has a MacBug story! Email them in!

Internet Site of the Month:

The Vanguard Group is an investment company. I first heard of them when my company decided to use them to administer our 401k program. I then read an article that gave the group high ratings. When I’ve dealt with them, I’ve been very happy.

I was particularly interested in their Women and Investing section. However, this site contains information all investors, especially beginners, will find useful. Good luck and good investing!

Happy New Year!

Barbara Bell

Websites mentioned:

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