Miner Thoughts – My Mac Magazine #51, July ’99

Help me! Help me! I’ve fallen behind and I can’t catch up! That’s how I feel now that I have this new iMac.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the iMac itself that has me in the slow lane of the learning curve. Heck, your everyday tree stump could easily set up the machine and be surfin’ the Net in a matter of minutes, just like Apple advertises. Not sure why a tree stump would want to do this, but it certainly could if it so desired.

Neither did I have insurmountable problems connecting a new Epson printer and a new Epson scanner to the iMac. Connecting was a breeze. USB is a breeze. Tree stump simple, in fact. Learning how to configure and use the printer and scanner will, of course, take some time and self-education on my part, especially if I can’t find the time to read the manuals.

I did, however, let my ignorance show through when I purchased these two peripheral devices at the CompUSA store in Portland, Oregon. I told the salesman that I would also need to purchase a USB hub to connect these two devices to my iMac. The salesman asked me what else I had connected to the machine.

“Just the keyboard,” I told him.

“Then you don’t need a hub,” he informed me.

At this point I assumed my salesman had undoubtedly flunked his arithmetic classes because even I knew the iMac only came with two USB receptacles in the side of its belly. And if one was being used for the keyboard, that only left one available for the two devices I was purchasing. When I pointed this out to him, he just smiled and asked, “How many mice are you running?”

“Huh? Just the one,” I answered, perplexed.

“So use the empty USB port on the keyboard for one of the devices,” he told me.

Boy did I feel stupid! I didn’t know I could do that. I thought that extra port on the keyboard was only good for switching between left-handed and right-handed mouse users. I didn’t reveal my stupidity to the salesman, though. What I said to him was, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that one.”

I’ll still need a USB hub at some point in the future should I decide to go on another shopping spree for my iMac. But for now I have more than I can handle trying to educate myself and get up to speed with all the new gadgetry and software staring me in the face since this iMac showed up on my doorstep.

For example, this is the first extended keyboard I’ve ever had. It took me five years to get comfortable with my old keyboard, and now I think my fingers are getting worried wondering what all those F-keys are about stretched across the top of my number keys. I’m told that I can now take full advantage of my QuicKeys™ software because of those F-keys up there, but in order to do that I would have to think up things for those F-keys to do and then figure out how to get ’em to do it. Too much to learn, so little time.

Also, jumping from 7.5.5 to 8.5.1 (which as of last week became 8.6) has got me playing catch up to you already familiar 8 point X’ers.

Sherlock this, Sherlock that, Sherlock Holmes! A cool thing this Sherlock, with all of its plug-ins and added Find capabilities. But I know if I don’t study up on it and learn all of these added Find capabilities I won’t be able to take full advantage of this investigator. And where am I gonna find the time to do that? I was hoping 8.6 would come with an ExtraTime folder that I could go to whenever I wanted to self-teach myself on the new inner workings of this system without spending any of my own actual real time. But no such luck. I couldn’t even find a FewSpareMinutes folder. And don’t think Apple’s QuickTime inventions will save you any time. No sir, you get caught up watching those QuickTime movies and before you know it, you’re out of time and haven’t learned a darn thing.

Desktop Patterns has become the Appearance Manager and has given us a multitude of ways we can personalize our Macs. My problem is that I spend way so much time creating my own Desktop pictures to display up on my screen that by the time I’m satisfied with the way my Desktop looks, I’ve run out of time to do the important stuff that I sat down at the computer to do in the first place, like recording all my business expenses for the month or writing an article for this magazine so I can get it in on time, or answering my email. Too much to learn, so little time.

Just when I started getting comfortable with the iMac and the newness began wearing off, I realized that now with 8.6 I could take advantage of Apple’s Speech Recognition because they finally upgraded the software to make it compatible with the iMac. How much time will I waste playing with this little novelty item? A bunch, I’m afraid, as the lure of sending vocal commands to an inanimate object and having it respond to my every whim is overwhelming. I’m already deep into it and am contemplating using ResEdit to tweak the program beyond novelty status. After all, how difficult could it be to change the Speakable Item, “Clean up Desktop” to let’s say, “Clean up kitchen,” or better yet, “Clean up garage.” Instead of “Change View to List,” why not “Change the oil in the car” or “Change the baby’s diaper.” “Open SimpleText” could become, “Open a can of tuna fish,” or maybe even “Open and bring me a beer.”

I see limitless possibilities where Apple fell short with this Speech Recognition of theirs. I figure by changing a few lines of code with ResEdit I can have this iMac cooking my meals, washing and waxing the car, doing the laundry, taking out the trash (my real trash, not just its own binary trash), washing the dishes, vacuuming the floors, making the beds, etc. My wife will love me! It’ll be like having her own maid, butler, and valet rolled into one handsome looking blueberry iMac. This, of course will allow her more time to drag me to the mall, to an opera, to a symphony, to… hey, wait a minute! Maybe I’d better rethink this. I could end up ResEditing myself right into a corner I don’t want to be in!

What else can I tell you about my new iMac? Oh yeah, removing the guts from my iMac in order to install more RAM was a bit more difficult than I remember it being on my old Performa 550. Especially for someone like me who is more comfortable working with large pipe wrenches, pry bars, and sledge hammers. But by carefully following the step-by-step instructions I was able to get it all apart, install a 128MB memory chip and put it all back together without having a single part left over. Steve Jobs, the father of the iMac, would be proud of me! [Note: I would not advise the average tree stump or fence post to attempt this procedure.]

I was a tad disappointed with the chintzy CD-ROM tray that comes with the iMac, mainly because it sometimes wouldn’t latch properly when closing. I’d heard others complain about this same thing and figured it was just an inherent bug in the design of the box. But as so often is the case I was wrong and found out there is a simple quick fix for this problem. A mere resetting of the tray locking mechanism is all that’s needed to insure that your CD-ROM tray door closes and latches each and every time you push it shut. The only tool required for this procedure is none other than the ever versatile, Apple certified and approved, paper clip.

Normally I don’t write anything on this page of mine that can be of any use to anyone, but I was so glad to get my iMac CD tray to close properly that I thought maybe some of you iMac owners having this same annoying problem might like to know how to fix it. So I took a picture of the bottom of my iMac’s CD-ROM tray door while the iMac was laying on its side. Now I’m gonna tell you how to fix it.


Thoughts PictureWhat you first need to do is get your iMac to roll over on its side. If verbal commands fail to get the iMac moving you may have to do it manually. Oh yeah, you might want to shut the computer off and maybe even pull the plug on the little bugger. This done, locate the little white plastic nipple, or Locking Mechanism, that I have so artistically pointed out for you on my photo above. Yeah, yeah, I know I misspelled Mechanism in the photo but you’ll just have to live with it cause I ain’t goin’ back to redo it.

If your CD-ROM tray door isn’t locking properly, then your nipple may be positioned more forward than the one shown here; that is, further to the right. (You see I already fixed my nipple and I wasn’t gonna unfix it just to show you how to fix yours.) Next, you simply take that paper clip of yours and position it like the one above. Carefully push the nipple (aka Locking Mechanism) with the paper clip towards the front of the CD-ROM tray door, applying no more than .025 foot pounds of lateral torque. Maintain this pressure until you hear the Locking Mechanism (aka little white nipple) click. If this is getting too technical for you then forget what I said about that torque pressure cause I just made that part up anyway. All you need to do is reset that lock mechanism back a notch and your CD-ROM tray door will close and stay closed each and every time from now on.

Okay, now. “Get up iMac. Come on, boy! Get up!” If this don’t work you may have to do it manually.

That’s about it for now. I’m still learning all the neat stuff this iMac can do and how much faster than my old whatchamacallit it can do it. (How quickly we forget our old friends, huh?) The main thing is that I’m having a blast learning about this new machine and putting it through its paces.

There is one major problem I’m having with the iMac. At least I think it’s a major problem, but maybe I’m just looking in the wrong place for it. I’m almost embarrassed to mention it, but I’ve taken this machine apart three times and can’t seem to find the floppy disk drive. I know it’s in here someplace and I’m sure I’ll kick myself when I find it, but you’d think Apple would put it in a more obvious spot. Now all you iMac users don’t bother emailing me to tell me where it is, that would just make me feel dumber than I already do. Give me another month and I’m sure I’ll find it. I know I will!

Pete Miner

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