Wall Writings – My Mac Magazine #54, Oct. ’99

Alta Vista Makes Good
Call it a case of bad timing. In the time between I wrote last month’s column (about Alta Vista’s FreeAccess ISP and the lack of a Mac version) and the time it was actually published, Alta Vista had revised their plans. The FAQ on their web page now admits that a Mac version of the free software is being developed, but doesn’t give a timetable on how soon we can expect it. Oh, well, at least it’s a start.

(You can be sure I’ll follow developments in this story fairly closely, and provide a download link as soon as one become available!)

AllAdvantage Promises Mac Users an Advantage, too
Another company that has been promising to provide Mac users with their software but has yet to do so is AllAdvantage.com. The folks at AllAdvantage pay you to surf the web, as long as their advertisement-laden task bar sits at the bottom of your screen every second that your web browser is open. But hey, that isn’t so bad–especially when there’s money involved! Up until now, the only stipulation has been that you’ve also needed a Windows9x system to use their software. The Mac version is due by the end of the month; let’s see if they deliver.

Trexar is Awesome!
It’s not everyday I use a superlative in reference to a software company, but these guys (located at http://www.macalive.com) are doing a lot of things right. Their three products–MacTuner, WeatherTracker, and MacHeadlines–do an excellent job of filling niche roles that are both enjoyable and practical for the user. I’ve been especially impressed with WeatherTracker–it’s great to be able to take a quick glance at my PowerBook’s screen and know whether or not I should grab my jacket before I head across campus to class. WeatherTracker, and the headline-scrolling MacTicker (formerly the shareware program NewsTicker), beg to constantly be open, sending me constant streams of important information. Trouble is, my 11.3″ laptop screen just isn’t big enough for that! Man, that monitor-spanning option on the new PowerBook G3s is looking might good right now…

What’s Up, Dock?
My summer job left a little too much cash burning a hole in my pocket (this was BEFORE I made a trip to the campus bookstore and bought my textbooks, mind you), so I spent a little dough on some goodies for my PowerBook 1400. The most invaluable has been a BookEndz docking station from Newer Technology. I have a lot of stuff plugged into my ‘Book when it’s sitting on my desk: the power adapter, a pair of external speakers, a gamepad, a mouse, an Ethernet cable, a SCSI cable for an external hard drive, and a printer cable. The BookEndz does its job of cleaning up the cable clutter and allowing me to go from desktop to portable mode quickly and easily. Sliding my ‘Book in and out of the dock is a snap, and is much easier than manually disconnecting over a half-dozen cables and making sure that they don’t all fall behind my desk while they’re not connected! The dock does have some inconveniences: I can’t change expansion bay modules while the ‘Book is docked, and I need to shut down the computer every time I want to dock or undock it (due to the SCSI and ADB connections, of course, which are not hot-pluggable). Overall, though, the dock is a blessing when I want to grab my trusty 1400 in a hurry and take it to the library, and an even bigger blessing when I come back and don’t have to worry about re-connecting all of those cables! I do think that Newer’s price tag on their docks (they also have models for the various G3 series PowerBooks) are overpriced, usually in the $200 ballpark. Longtime My Mac sponsor Small Dog Electronics has a limited supply of BookEndz for the 1400 for only $39, though–a price which is much easier to swallow.

Au Revoir
That’s going to do it this month for this paper-and-test swamped college student. More next month, I promise! Until then, happy Mac-ing!

Mike Wallinga

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