Several recent articles in the Nemo Memo have led to fascinating email responses by our loyal readers. This month I dedicate the entire column to seven correspondents whose letters are worth reading by the entire My Mac community. Here goes!

THE $3,000 iMAC


My good friend Stuart was the first to offer his thoughts on the column:

Hi, John.

Your article is good as always but I have a few comments on the iMac portion. Instead of the SuperDrive go for the new 2 gig Iomega Jaz, or an external hard drive. That way you don’t need all of the disks you mentioned or the drive.

You can network your old computer to transfer files. Why do you need a hub? We don’t have or need one for our iMac. On the hardware issue, my wife is happy with the keyboard and mouse that come with the machine. It is not that hard to get used to.

I know how thrifty you are and I would be shocked if you really spent $3,000 for an iMac. Go for the blue box instead if you need to spend that much to make yourself satisfied with your setup, or better yet wait for the G4 which should be out by the end of this year.


Jeffrey, a power user’s power user, is an outstanding writer and thinker, and serves as a valuable “conscience” to me on many computer-related issues:

Hi John,

Issue 50 is a winner! Now, about your $3,000 iMac! You have probably already thought of these ideas and for various reasons they may not be ideal for your situation, but a few things come to mind based on similar experiences I’ve had helping home computer users “move up” to newer machines.

1) Watch for package deals that include memory, scanner, hub, zip/floppy, or whatever. Some deals include inkjet printers and if that’s not your need, then those deals don’t help, but as the iMac continues to gain in popularity and marketing outlets, there will be more varieties of offers.

2) Do you have to buy the ‘latest’ version of the iMac? You could save anywhere from $100-$300 by buying the ‘just replaced’ version. If you’re happy with a “Performa” than even a 233MHz iMac will seem orders of magnitude faster. I’ve seen Rev. B’s selling for under $800 already!

3) Keyboard and Mouse: Until Apple starts supplying 2 button mice, I consider a mouse purchase standard when I budget. I like one-button mice for my 3 year old, but the adults in my family all like the Kensington mice much better. Keyboard problem may be solved by fall, but it’s only a rumor as far as I know. Guess I can’t save money for you here!

4) Why let the Performa sit idle? Does it have a comm slot for Ethernet? Get a used/refurbished DAT drive, add Retrospect and Timbuktu, keep the Zip drive there for special low-volume backups or archives, and have a real backup system that takes little or no time? I get used DAT drives from APS Technology from time to time when they have closeout sales in the $100-$300 range for 4-8 GB! Peace of mind.

5) Some of the latest reviews of hubs suggest the $40 4-port hubs work as reliably and trouble-free as the more expensive $70-80 ones.

6) Warranty: I’m not a fan of extended warranties in most cases. They’re pricey, really. Most electronic devices will malfunction under normal use within the first 30 days if there IS a problem. However, devices that get handled a lot, like a digital camera or a laptop might benefit from this.

In that case, check with your homeowners insurance company and see what they offer. You might be surprised! Some have policies to cover things like accidental breakage, not just fire or theft. You won’t need it until after the standard warranty is over, so why pay for the “extended coverage” a year in advance?

I think you should be able to get a complete setup like you want and utilize your old Performa adequately, for well under $2000 including something like an HP2000 printer for around $750 with Ethernet.

Finally, in your area, you have cable modem access now, correct? Do they give you a fixed IP? If so, you can do some interesting things with the “extra” Performa that would be great for your home/office uses.

We used to get 4 IP’s with each cable modem here until they upgraded to fiber optics and 1.5mb/s throughput. Now they use DHCP so it’s not ideal for doing any serving tasks. I went ahead and upgraded to a business account so I could get a bigger bandwidth than the regular LAN as well as 4 assigned IP’s. (It’s not exactly correct that I get more bandwidth than other users. I get better load balancing for my systems, but the bandwidth is the same.)


The next writer, Teemu, has the voice of experience:

Dear Mr. Nemerovski,

I read your column about the iMac on My Mac Magazine. I myself bought an iMac last fall when it came to Finland and I really love it! It is really a good computer, powerful and simple and very stylish. I understand your fears that it might cost you quite a lot more than $1,200. However I have some suggestions to cut down the price.

First of all shop around to find the best price and you might even get the extra RAM for free. Secondly, you can use your existing speakers because of iMac’s sound in-port. I myself use a few years old Apple’s Design speakers which sound great.

For printers there is USB port or the Ethernet connection. I would recommend Epson’s SC 740 for ink-jet printer or Brother’s new USB-based laser printer for text printing. I don’t remember the exact price on that so check out their website for more information. I have the Epson 740 and it has been a good buy so far.

And when it comes to the keyboard and mouse, they are not that bad. Actually I think iMac’s keyboard is the best I’ve ever used! It has excellent touch and I enjoy typing with it. And the mouse is quite good when you get used to it. I would recommend that you try them out for a week or so before replacing them, and you might actually grow to like them just like me!

And then there was this floppy thing. My suggestion is: Buy a USB Zip drive for iMac and if you need floppies just copy them to Zip disks on your Performa! Keep the good old Performa as a second machine that you could even network with the iMac by using Ethernet if needed.

So how much is this all: about $1,200 for iMac with extra RAM + $250 – $350 for printer and $300 for the Zip drive and disks. That’s $1,750 – $1,850 and you get an absolutely great computer with new printer and you can keep your old Mac, too.

And if you want to save some more money go for the original 233 MHz iMac, because they are selling as low as $800! It is a bit slower than a 266 or 333 model and has smaller hard disk (4 GB), but it has infrared port that may be useful with PowerBooks and Palm organizers, plus the undocumented “mezzanine” port, and is quite a bit cheaper. If you like bondi blue you should hurry because they are selling out fast!

I hope this helps you on deciding whether to buy an iMac now or later. It is quite hard to decide if it is good time to buy one now or wait a little longer. The one thing that is sure is that you’ll going to love your new iMac when you get one. In my opinion now is the best time to act, especially if you want the original iMac. All and all, I wish you good luck on your voyage!


The final $3,000 iMac comments, come from Big Jim, a reader who gets right to the point:

Well, I would suggest you go with either a Beige or Blue and White G3. The iMac is intended for low-end users, and newbies. Your description of yourself and all the peripherals you need make you sound like more of a power user. Thus, you need more power and expandability, which you will get with a Beige or B&W G3.

It really bothers me that people expect the iMac to be the beginning and the end of everything they want in a computer. Of course, that’s partly due to the success of the iMac and of Apple’s Ad Campaigns.



My question to readers concerning lack of forward-compatibility between StuffIt 4.x and 5.x compressed files yielded fascinating responses, beginning with Aram, in France:


Firstly I enjoyed reading your article. It was fun to know that I was not the only one who had to reformat drives 🙂

About StuffIt, the one major problem I did not like about it is the switch to the new format. It saves space and all but trying to be compatible with friends is hard if they do not have StuffIt Expander 5.x. Second, its interface looks medieval within StuffIt Deluxe. But, on the other hand, it’s fast, easy to use, and has great ‘True Finder Integration’ which is easy as you can just rename files to get them stuffed/unstuffed.

I hate the program that came bundled with it though: Space Saver. It saved 25% more space on my Hard disk but it made life a mess. Things took a long time to work, files could not be saved on in certain programs and trying to de-install it is out of question; if it is not installed, you can not use files saved with it. A quick reformat and a long process of installing programs fixed everything though.

Hope this gives you an idea. It’s sort of a way to payback you and My Mac’s whole organization for their great contribution to the Mac market and society. My philosophy is that whatever I say or write becomes “public domain.”

Next comes Jerry, who can barely contain himself in his thoughts and words:

Dear Captain Nemo:

Sorry but it’s probably the most used Quip from the masses. My name is Jerry, (for your info) I’m a Desktop frijoles with Passion for anything Mac. I’m sitting here with a wall covered with Software Boxes from Myst, Riven, Norton, OS 8.1 and 8.5, Tech Tool Pro, and Real PC, SoftWindows 95, and Conflict Catcher 4 and etc., etc.

I am accompanied by droves of CD’s including Virex and Color Quick cam, etc. and finally Stuffit Deluxe & space saver. Two really Good Products, but the reasons for upgrading to it was a bit offensive and a typical hook to Internet commerce these days.

First of all I’m not the well off person you might think. I’m Just lucky to get enough in my Social Security check to invest in some of the Cool titles once in a while. I really got some use from earlier versions of StuffIt because of a LC II that my Sis had and allowed me to cut my teeth on for several months.

But where it came in the most useful was when after buying my own computer I started using it for decompressing web downloads and this was really great. And then there was a change in some of the web titles of software compression and it became necessary to proceed to StuffIt Headquarters ala Digital river for their new decompression utility.

Well free is what the heck right? Not! While the Decompression utility is free it happens to replace your paid for already StuffIt Engine with a new one. So though you are now tied to their hurry up and Buy-me Kibitz.

Well ,after finding it wouldn’t allow me to decompress my own StuffIt files without addressing the Q&A about every time you went to unstuff anything it became quite a fiasco and even if you download your own StuffIt again the System somehow understood that nope, sorry, no way was your prior StuffIt allowed to work seamlessly any longer and for the most part your upgrading is halted and it will cost you $85 Bucks to get the newer version so come on now come and get it.

What “I Really would like to know is” Who do they get to to hit all the servers at the same time to get your Deluxe Version to take a crap? I mean it seemed almost overnight any files you tried to download would require the newer version. Logic says it was most likely a web master’s upgrade freebie. But did they really benefit from it? I really doubt it.

Also another thing is the guy who wrote StuffIt is really quite a radical in his own right. If I had his web site address you would understand where these tactics come from. Sigh But I guess he ain’t got enough or he would own Apple. (Really!) He apparently was an employee and at some passed impasse he moved on to Aladdin. He was wooed out of there as well and he is really a story. Wish I could go fetch it all for you now, but it’s good reading not good hunting.

Oh um StuffIt is a good product but I “Hated” the way I was forced into it.


In fairness, I’ll let our helpful contact at Aladdin, Nicole Rowland, speak on behalf of the improved StuffIt 5.x:

Aladdin’s most current incarnation of StuffIt is backwards compatible with all previous StuffIt versions. However, Aladdin currently has no plans to make the older versions “forward” compatible. Since the StuffIt 5.X format is a better compression format, we are encouraging customers to move forward with the best technology, not backward.

Users should transition to StuffIt 5.X in order to take advantage of the latest advances in compression. If users wish to remain with the older technology, they should at least download the free Expander to open the new format’s compressed archives.

StuffIt Expander 5.X (5.0 and higher) opens the new and older versions of StuffIt archives (for free) so that users can easily send StuffIt 5 archives to anyone who has StuffIt Expander 5.X. The latest version of Expander, StuffIt Expander 5.1.2, now opens PC files for free as well, which makes it even easier for users to open all of the most common compressed and encoded files.

There is always a transition period whenever the StuffIt compression format is updated. There hasn’t been a new format change since version 3.0. But we are really excited with the adoption rate of this new release. It’s been our most successful product to date. Now that DropStuff 5.1 is also available (and is a FREE upgrade for all registered DropStuff 4.5 users) We expect this will help users with the transition to the new StuffIt 5 format.



A reader from Wisconsin, John, has a helpful idea in response to my article on printing web pages:

Yes, John, I can recommend a superior method. Get yourself a copy of John Holder’s EZNote at:

Like you, I have modest text-only needs, and EZNote fits the bill perfectly. While I guess this would fall under the category of special software (it’s a control panel that’s really an application), you would no longer have to use other special software such as ClarisWorks or Tex-Edit Plus to accomplish the same task. You can do everything you do now easier and faster using just EZNote.

To copy something off the web or anywhere, just highlight whatever you want and hit the hot key you’ve set. An EZNote window immediately springs to life containing your already saved and named text. Click OK if you want to print or edit later and you’re back to your original application.

Then, at your convenience, you can hit another hot key you’ve set to edit and print directly from EZNote. This baby makes a lot of things easy. For example, to prepare this email, I highlighted the above passage from the April “My Mac,” hit my hot key, had EZNote add the quote marks, typed the rest of this, and then double clicked the title I’d given this piece which made EZNote automatically copy and paste it into my waiting open email message. Try doing that with anything else out there.

It took me about 20 seconds to decide to spend the 20 bucks once I saw this thing. Also, in the spirit of the original shareware concept, this is a fully enabled product with close to zero harping about the shareware fee. Check it out. I can’t live without it.

Here are a some of the other enhancements/programs I would want others to know about.

  • HourWorld 2.3.3
  • FinderPop (Can there be anyone without this contextual menu super star?)
  • Square One
  • Golfmeister: This allows one to keep track of one’s golf course misery.
  • Prestissimo
  • ScrollabilityOn the hardware side, I’d love to rave about Kensington’s Turbo Mouse. I will never be without one.



    Finally, Rett wrote to say he’s glad he’s not alone:

    Thanks for mentioning your age in your column.

    At 46, I felt that at times I may have fallen into the wrong sandbox when I browse some ‘zines. I don’t know why I get sensitive when I feel certain age groups getting territorial about certain activities.

    What the hell: some of these computer babies wouldn’t know how to act at a Dead concert.


    I truly appreciate the contributions and comments of our readers, and encourage everyone to keep in touch!

    John Nemerovski

    Websites mentioned:

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