Hellooo . . . Is there anybody out there?

This month I would like to forgo my usual fictional meanderings with some hard facts and information and hopefully some interesting tidbits as well. My Mac Magazine has been growing steadily since it first appeared on the Internet in 1995. In fact the number of visitors in the past year has increased dramatically. It’s gratifying to all the staff that the public has accepted us so overwhelmingly and with such loyalty. It doesn’t just happen by itself. It is a team effort and I believe that we have assembled a superb and still growing team to address the issues that most interest our readers.

The team effort here at the magazine is exceptional. It starts with a publisher and owner who has the vision to create an environment that is fun and informative. In the early years, he did not allow limited funding to interfere with his vision. What he did do was to give unlimited time, effort, and commitment to make it a success. It continues with the webmaster, editors, artist designers, reviewers, and columnists. We are all, in our own unique ways, building blocks that make up the foundation of this organization. We are each independent, yet fiercely supportive of the whole.

An important part of the magazine is our commercial sponsors, who give us latitude to grow. Please visit and support their links and take advantage of their services and/or products. When you patronize them, you indirectly help this magazine. It is another positive collaboration that is beneficial to all. Not only that, but as a reader/subscriber of My Mac Magazine, you may also find special discounts, bonus items, and fabulous one of a kind deals. Check out our sponsors’ pages and check in the savings. If you are like me, though, the only stumbling block may be your pocket book.

The Mac family has always been a tightly knit group. It is no coincidence that the terms Mac and family seem mystically bound in an umbilical cord-like bond. Mac people have a deep commitment to their Operating System as well as to one another. Many non-Mac people marvel at, and find this passion remarkable. Mac folk are believers, evangelists, dogmatics; some are even radicals. The so called religious war between platforms is very real to many, on both sides. Extremes however, tend to blur reality and are for the most part, counterproductive.

This mystical union, referred to above, is reinforced by the many Mac websites that have sprung up over the years. Some prosper and grow; some wither and fade away. But there is always a fresh supply to whet your appetite. Just look at the iMac sites that exploded initially and continue to appear since the introduction of the first Bondi Blue beauty. Now that the next generation of iMac “lifesavers” have appeared, I wonder if iMac sites will quintuplicate?

The original iMac, in fact, is the primary reason that I am now a part of My Mac Magazine. I was blown away by the sleek and curvy industrial design when it was first introduced. Apparently, I was not alone. It all started when Tim Robertson, our publisher, wrote an article last June titled “iMac Talk,” about the all-in-one Internet marvel and asked for reader’s opinions on the daringly new computer. I jotted down a few words alluding to the parallel sexiness between the iMac and the first time I saw my wife, and sent off the email to Tim. I predicted the rejuvenated and updated Mac Classic would be a major success. The rest is history.

If the iMac fosters such a passionate emotion between the user and computer, the relationship between My Mac Magazine and our readers is also rewarding. To keep the reader momentum and to encourage return visits, we are planning some major changes to enhance the look and feel of our site. For the last several months, we have been heavily involved in a redesign and overhaul of our website. We hope to have this revamped site design ready for you to view next month. Many, many hours of creative and technical talent have gone into this new creation. It is a work of art as well as love and dedication. We hope you will find it easier and clearer to navigate and to find what you want. Let us know what you think.

Updating and maintaining the site so it is readily available, and avoiding any down times, is the function of the webmaster. This is a task many of us think little about as we cruise from site to site, but, it is critically important to any site that they have a knowledgeable and dedicated person in charge. We have one of the best. The editors check and improve the writers’ work so they look good, sound intelligent and get our message out. The artists contribute to our cover designs, general art work, graphics and cartoons. What would life be without artists, God bless them? We have a fine group of reviewers who test a wide range of software that includes anything from the latest and greatest shoot-em-up games to the more conventional and, dare I say, more productive software? They give us a real world look at how the products perform (and they get such a bang out of those games). Our writers are talented and diverse in their articles and presentations. Read any of them and lose yourself in a different world, or get a new perspective on the technology news or, perhaps, just an off-the-wall view.

Of special note is the large volume of Windows users who visit us regularly and also appear to enjoy our magazine. In a recent month, the number of Windows visitors was almost half of the Macintosh visitors! Of course, some may simply be curious and will visit just to see what all the fuss is about. After all Mac users are a touch different, wouldn’t you say? Still, the large numbers of non-Mac visitors, which includes not only Windows but many other platforms, indicates both curiosity and interest. These are intelligent people who are open enough to visit a site that is clearly Mac-centric and to check it out for themselves. We say welcome, enjoy yourself, and come visit us again.

How can we serve these other platform visitors? What can we offer? Personally it is of immense interest to me why a Windows user would visit us. What do they expect to find, and more importantly, what did they think of what they found?

I propose that we include a short questionnaire addressing this large group to try to find out, in more detail, what we can offer them. Perhaps a Mac/Windows column that might show our differences as well as similarities. After all, despite my attempts in various articles at digs and put downs of Windows, we are far more alike than not. We Mac people, of necessity, know how to live in a multi-platform world. For many Windows people My Mac Magazine may be their first encounter with grassroots Macintosh folk. It may be a revelation that we are not all rabid, glassy-eyed automatons, who blindly follow a small segment of the computer industry and are holding on to a sinking ship. We may, in fact, be the life preserver that will help them save themselves from the morass of a Windows whirlpool to oblivion. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself-guess I need more self discipline.)

In the business world, customer feedback is one of the most important ways companies learn about the people they serve. It is no different for an Internet magazine such as ours. The columnists, reviewers, commentators, and the back room boys, who put it all together, thrive on feedback. It is the catalyst that may alter our views, revise our understanding or cause us to rethink a comment. In many ways, it legitimizes our work because someone has cared enough to spend a few moments to put down in writing something they feel is important or relevant. We want to know what you think about us, what you like most and what you like least (except, of course, if it is the “me and my Mac” column). What topic or issue would you like to see us include? In other words, we want and need feedback from you to improve and make this not only the best Macintosh magazine, but best electronic magazine possible.

One of the easiest things to do on the Internet is to send email. I would ask that you click on any of the contributors names at the end of each article and send us your suggestions, recommendations, ideas, dislikes-even flames if you will. In reference to this article’s title, we know you’re out there, now we’d like you to have your say.

Ralph J. Luciani

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