The Nemo Memo – The $3,000 iMac: Nightmare or Reality?

The $3,000 iMac: Nightmare or Reality?

Let’s go shopping. I have in front of me two print magazines and one online article.

The June, 1999 issue of Macworld has as its cover story “The USB Universe, Your Ultimate Guide–Over 200 Products!” The Spring, 1999 issue of iMac Buyer’s Guide: The iMac Authority (published by MacHome mentions “80 USB Products” on its cover.

In “Miner Thoughts,” from the May issue of My Mac Magazine, Pete proclaims: “now that I have this screaming iMac, who cares about that old bag of bones relic of a Performa! Not I. No sir, that thing can sit in a corner and collect dust for all I care! I’m in ‘speed heaven’ and ain’t never looking back!” Hey, Pete, are there perhaps some more goodies you will be obtaining to enhance your new iMac?


At some point in the next year or two, I will need to replace my reliable, slow old Performa. My current thinking is that an iMac will satisfy the modest requirements of my small household. Let’s pretend that today is the day for our shopping spree, and see how much I must spend. We’ll round-out all retail U.S. dollar amounts.

  • COMPUTER: This one is easy, because the price is $1,200 (forget tax or shipping for the moment).
  • MEMORY: An extra 64MB of RAM will be another $100.
  • FLOPPY DRIVE: I’ll get the Imation SuperDrive, which is a bit more than $100.
  • HUB: A good-quality powered hub also will cost around $100.
  • ZIP ADAPTER: I’ll need an adapter to run my old Zip drive, or else purchase a new USB Zip, costing roughly $100 again in either case.
  • PRINTER: This is a bit tricky, because in theory I can continue to use my old HP inkjet, or buy a USB inkjet, but I’m tired of inkjets in general. I only print in greyscale, and am ready to upgrade to a good HP Laser printer, costing in the neighborhood of $800. I may need some sort of cable or adapter for the printer, but we can leave that out for now.
  • WARRANTY: When I buy all this stuff on my Platinum Visa card, I get an automatic one-year additional warranty from Visa, and can extend it on all the equipment for two more years for $200.Let’s add it all up now: $1,200 + 100 + 100 + 100 + 100 + 800 + 200 comes to $2,600 so far, and I know some of these figures are approximate. What next?
  • KEYBOARD and MOUSE: I’ll get a full-size extended keyboard and a “real” mouse, at $100 for both of them.
  • ZIP DISKS and/or SUPERDISKS: With that big new hard drive, I’ll have to buy a couple GB of blank disks, adding $200 more.That’s three grand, correct? Probably more, with assorted taxes, shipping fees, plus miscellaneous cables and adapters.

    It appears just about anything else will take me way over the $3,000 range, and I’m not thinking scanner, I’m thinking serious storage: read/write CD unit or VST FireWire Hard Drive. Will they both work with an iMac? Will my old beige Labtec speakers plug into the iMac, if I want to save another $100? I’ll need to find out.

    Now it’s your turn to take apart my shopping list and tell me where I am totally out to lunch. How on target am I, and where am I all wrong?

    My alternatives are all more expensive: a fully-loaded beige G3, new monitor, printer, and some odds and ends; or a new blue-and-white G3 and monitor plus most of the USB extras. Even if all the costs are the same, which system is best for Barbara and me? The iMac remains tremendous value for money, considering it is a fully-functional out-of-box experience, and I CAN take it with me. What would you do?

    When my Performa hard disk died three years ago (leading to a tremendously expensive authorized Apple replacement), I started saving for my eventual new computer. I’m off to a decent start, but the sticker-shock of the “$3,000 iMac” is making me uncomfortable. I welcome your opinions and experiences.


    Eight Days A Week

    I am a fairly practical, no-nonsense guy when I sit down at my Mac: no games, no multimedia, no imaging; mostly it’s email, web, ClarisWorks, and lots of end product.

    Yet I am always scrambling to catch-up, as I expect many of you are. Therefore, I grant you the gift of a complete extra day every week, in which you can do whatever you need to be 100% proficient on your computer. After an eight-hour sleep, and allowing four hours for meals, exercise, and personal hygiene, here’s my recipe for efficiency during the remaining twelve hours:


    WatchHOUR ONE = EMAIL ARCHIVE: Go through all your saved email, and archive the important messages into categorized folders. Throw out all the unwanted messages and spam, then backup or copy the archive onto a separate disk, for insurance.

    HOUR TWO = EMAIL RESPONSE: Answer all the outstanding messages requiring a reply, and spend a bit of extra time on the more important letters.

    HOUR THREE = HARD DISK CLEAROUT AND ARCHIVE: Go through all your folders and pull out everything you don’t plan to use in the next year, archiving it onto a separate disk just in case. Trash whatever you know you won’t be needing in the next two years.

    HOUR FOUR = DISK REPAIR AND BACKUP PLUS OPTIMIZATION. Now that you are rid of all the garbage, run your favorite disk maintenance software as many times as necessary until no problems remain. Make a complete backup of your entire hard drive, using your preferred backup software and disk media. Then run your disk optimizer, to consolidate your scattered files into compact chunks of disk space.

    HOUR FIVE = SERIOUS WEB BROWSING. Gather all those print and desktop clippings of URLs to visit when you get a bit extra time (which is now). Spend a solid hour visiting those websites.

    HOUR SIX = FUN TIME ON THE WEB: Continue the process, letting your mouse click wherever and whenever you get a feeling of curiosity or recreational interest.

    HOUR SEVEN = BOOKMARKS OR FAVORITES: Open your browser Bookmarks or Favorites folder, throw out all the links you won’t visit again during the next year, then organize the remaining sites into logical, alphabetized folders.

    Please remember to take a five-minute break every 25 minutes. Get some fresh air, move your body parts, have a drink of water, and briefly rejoin civilization twice each hour.

    HOUR EIGHT = PERSONAL EMAIL. Write long, thoughtful, personal letters to two or three very dear friends or family members.

    HOUR NINE = READ AN EZINE. Whether it’s My Mac Magazine, TidBITS, Macworld online, MacCentral, MacFixIt, or MacWhateverYouWant, enjoy the luxury of reading an entire issue on the web or from a download, to increase your knowledge and feeling of being part of the Macintosh continuum.

    HOUR TEN = DOWNLOAD UPDATERS. Go the websites of the hardware and software companies you use most often, and download and install the latest updaters and drivers onto your faithful computer. Make archive copies of the updated software on a supplemental disk.

    HOUR ELEVEN = BE CREATIVE. Do something new and a bit adventurous. If you are a writer, write some prose or poetry. If you are a visual artist, work on some new art. If you are a musician, let’s hear some wild new sounds. Web heads can spice up their pages and sites.

    HOUR TWELVE = MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE. Find paper and writing implement, and write down everything you did during the day, then create a word, spreadsheet, or database document for future reference. Make an archive copy on another disk.

    Hey, that was a really interesting day. Let’s do it again next week. Send me a copy of your best stuff from HOUR ELEVEN.


    Two Secret Codes: SF/QX and GoFAW&T!

    The first one doesn’t have anything to do either with San Francisco or with QuarkXPress. It means: STRAIGHTFORWARD QUALITY EXPERIENCE. When you find yourself wasting time and money at the computer (or in real life), ask yourself if what you are pursuing is a straightforward, quality experience. If the answer is yes, then stick with it and enjoy the process. If the answer is no, move on with a sense of accomplishment.

    The second code is not a weird new modem string. It stands for: GO FOR A WALK AND THINK! I used to walk to and from work, and let my thoughts process themselves. Now that I spend so much time at home, or have to drive to work, my walking and thinking time is reduced to almost zero. You and I both need to put one foot in front of the other on a regular basis, to sweep away the cobwebs and let some fresh new thoughts circulate. Try it, and observe your mental juices start to flow again.


    AOL Netmail: Good News for A Change

    My friend Martha called the other night. She is a Windows member of America Online.

    Martha: Hey, John, I checked my AOL email from work today, and they don’t have America Online on the computers there.

    John: I don’t get it. Say that again, please.

    Martha: It’s called Netmail, and uses the web for access to your AOL email.

    John: I don’t believe you, Martha. AOL has always kept their email within their server system. No auto-forwarding, no outside access.

    Martha: I know, but this really works. Go to, accept a few cookies if necessary, then enter your screen name and password, wait a few seconds, and the entire contents of your AOL incoming email message list is displayed.

    John: Sounds too good to be true.

    Martha: It’s true, John. You can read, reply, and forward any message there, and it’s all independent of your normal AOL email software. Web email can be a bit slow, you know, so be patient, but you now can get into your AOL mail from anywhere in the world, via the web. Surprisingly, you can even be logged into AOL and use its Netmail on the web simultaneously.

    She was right. It works. Until now, America Online kept all email exclusively on their proprietary server. This new feature is great for people who travel, or anyone who wants to check AOL email from an ISP or public terminal.


    50 x 50 = 1 + 1

    This month My Mac Magazine celebrates its 50th issue. I congratulate Tim Robertson and everyone who has been associated with our fine publication. I’ve been on the staff for half the issues, and each month I enjoy the experience more and more. Being 50 years old feels good for this writer. We have a mixture of “kids” and “geezers” on the staff, and we all dedicate ourselves to you, our loyal readers.

    Soon I’ll be 51, and My Mac will be on its way toward issue 100. Stick around, and keep in touch.

    John Nemerovski

    Websites mentioned:

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