Starting Line – My Mac Magazine #46, Feb. ’99


It’s February, Spring is a promise and we’re still paying those holiday bills! One of mine was an iMac purchase. In my last column, I gave you a quick run down of my initial thoughts of this great little computer Apple came out with. This month, I thought I would add to that a bit and give everyone some things to think about if they are considering purchasing an iMac.

I do get a fair amount of crashes and as I mentioned last month, the little pinhole on the side is a pain to deal with. On the plus side, I believe the crashes are related to my early version of AOL 4.0, which came already installed. Why do I think that, you ask? The crashes are more frequent when using AOL. I’ve had them when I quit out of AOL rather than signing off first, when I try using FastFax after using AOL (but not when using FastFax first), and sometimes the system freezes while AOL is in use. Fortunately, I’ve lost no data and the system checks itself when it restarts.

I plan on purchasing Norton Utilities soon to help manage this problem. I will also upgrade to the final version of AOL 4.0 when it’s released. Between the two, the crashes should decrease, and if I’m really lucky, go away completely!

I finally received my free version of Retrospect–a fine backup utility. (Apple had a great coupon book that offered all types of freebies depending on your purchases. Retrospect was one of the offerings.) I tried doing a backup of my entire hard drive and ran into some problems. I was attempting to backup my external drive. As you know, iMacs do not come with floppy drives, so I purchased a SuperDisk drive from Imation. This external drive not only allows me to use my floppies, but also use 120mb disks that are the same size as floppies. These will provide a nice medium for backing up. (I just don’t have the courage to try backing up to the internet yet so if someone has tried it, let me know how it works!)

Back to the problems–first, my disks would not mount. I had a horrible fear that my computer curse had come back and I would have to swap out the drive! But I did a quick rebuild of my drive’s desktop file and removed the small speaker I had placed on top of it. Fortunately, that took care of the problem. (For those of you not familiar with rebuilding your hard drive’s desktop file, see below!) I then starting backing up and my system froze. Bummer! But, no problem. I got out my trusty paperclip, gently inserted it into the pinhole on the right hand side of the iMac and restarted my system. I started to backup again. This time I ran into a Error #3. So, I stopped the whole process. I emailed Dantz to make sure Retrospect is compatible with O.S. 8.5. I received an email back saying it was and a polite request to call customer service–which I will do this week.

Hopefully, I’ll get this resolved quickly and backup my iMac. Better safe than sorry is my motto!

My only other real difficulty (if any of these are “real!”) is with the keyboard. I am accustomed to an extended keyboard… until the iMac, I don’t believe I have used anything else! So, it is a challenge to use the regular keyboard that comes with the computer. I make more spelling errors just trying to find the correct placement for my fingers. Granted, it’s something that a little practice takes care of, however, if Apple ever decides to put extended keyboards in with new Macs, I would be extremely happy.

My feelings are these minor irritations are just that; minor. I thoroughly enjoy the speed of the machine, the great monitor, and huge hard drive. I may get a trackball just because I prefer them and a scanner to use with Kai’s PowerGoo, but these are only wants, not necessary items. Over all, this little computer has everything necessary to use at home.

Helpful Hints

Rebuilding the Desktop–Rebuilding your desktop is the easiest thing in the world you can do to help keep your system running smooth. There’s a couple of different ways you can do it. First, there’s the old-fashioned way. When starting your Mac, hold down the Command and Option keys until you see a dialog box. This box will ask you if you really want to rebuild your desktop. Hit Yes, and let your Mac do its thing.

The second way is just as easy. Download MicroMat’s free version of TechTools, or purchase the full-fledged version, TechTool Pro (only $99.00). This automates the process and offers a few other options as well, such as zapping your PRAM.

Keeping your Desktop Clean–O.S. 8.x offers nifty features to keep your desktop from becoming cluttered. One is by using the WindowShade option. This closes the window with one click, but keeps the document open. To reopen the window, click on the icon again and your window pops open.

The icon you’ll use is a square with a double line running through the middle of it. It is located in the upper right hand corner of your open window.

Another option is just moving your windows around. In System 7 and below, you could only click and hold on the top bar of the open window to move it. In OS 8.x, you can click and hold any of the window borders to accomplish the move. Easy!

Aliases–There’s a few of ways to create an alias. The first is using your Apple menu. Click once on the item you wish to make an alias of, go to File and scroll down until you see Make Alias. You’re done! Or, again after clicking once on the icon, you can use the key command, Command-M, to make your alias. The drawback to each approach is you have to click and drag the alias to where you wish it to be.

To streamline a little, click, hold, then press the Option and Command keys, and drag the original icon to where you want the alias to be. Once there, release all the buttons and you’re done! Okay, you need coordination between all your fingers, but it is easier.

Internet Site of the Month:

Mark Kantrowitz’s financial aid site, For folks looking for financial aid for college, this offers a ton of information!! It’s almost overwhelming but if you need financial help, this is a great place to start.

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

Barbara Bell

Websites mentioned:

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