In Japan, they have a state of mind called Wah, or Wa. From all I can gather about this, it is almost a national obsession. Wah is the perfect balance and fitness of everything in your life at a certain point. Perhaps it is a meal, or a hot tub session, or perhaps a place where you work and think. It requires that each article in your room, and even in the furnishings be a perfect and fitting thing to be in your presence at that moment. This is also a minimalist ideal. There is no clutter, no sense of being rushed, and absolutely no distractions to disturb this rare moment of equilibrium and peace. I am told that as a people, the Japanese seek Wah above all else. Maybe they are on to something here! If you have more info on this phenomenom, let me know!

Interestingly, I believe I have found this state of mind, or peace of purpose and creativity with my old set of Macintoshes. I did not set out to do this. I am too busy getting out all my assignments and projects. I am a Minimalist, yeah, but I really am not being a Luddite here. How did I achieve Wah on the Mac?

First of all, I confess to owning and using an ancient Mac 7100/80!
[Ancient?! What’s he talking about? Now if he was still getting by with a 512Ke…]
It is not my only Macintosh. It runnings System 8.5 and it has 72 MB of RAM. This is my principle Mac where I do almost all of my creative work. I also have a minimal set of INITs (extensions, etc.), no screen savers, bells or whistles, and I use a small set of useful and productive applications, including an older version of Movie Player 2.1 which runs my flicks on QT 4.0. ( I hate the new QT player!) I also run much older versions of Photoshop 3.0, PageMaker 4.0, FreeHand 5.0, and Infini-D 3.0.

I did not consciously plan it this way, I just never got around to upgrading the darn thing! I was just too busy working. However, all of the things on this particular Mac work particularly well. That’s the point to having it, isn’t it?

I do use the new iCab for my browser, and loved it so much I promptly trashed both Netscape and Explorer. I have an old and vernable version of Word 5.1 that is always in use. I never upgraded the Word app on this Mac, although I own, and briefly used, the newest version of MS Office. I went back to the old verison of Word because I do not care for bloatware! To me, 95 MB of app is not an improvement! My only other consession to a really new app is Outlook Express 4.01 (which is NOT intuitive or particularly useful). However I am trying to find a replacement for that Microsoft app, but I have not found one that is acceptable yet.

Lessee. My fonts are the standard set from OS 8.5, with Stone, Dingbats and Reporter thrown in. (I do sound like a minimalist don’t I?) Not much else is on this machine, I guess. I also would like to be like Rodney Lain here and replace all the rest of my MS apps with anything that would work. Outlook Express is stable, and so is my old Word, but they are sometimes so quirky in their menus and features. They are not at all as intuitive when compared to some app like FreeHand or PageMaker, which follow the Apple Protocol faithfully. Any suggestions about what could work in their place? Let me know.

Why am I saying all this? I believe of all my Macs, this one is perfect! I have arrived at the Macintosh state of Wah! As a creative appliance this Mac does everything I throw at it. It never crashes. It is always on, (for about 4 months now). The only time I might turn it off is when I install some new little thingy, and it needs to reboot. I am as happy as a clam with it!

I didn’t plan it that way, it just got overlooked for all the upgrades and such for the last five years. I think I even bought it used for $300. I have upgraded its HD and CD to something much bigger and faster about a year ago. You might think of me as a little “off” but as a Mac, this thing ROCKS!

Lately I have been using my Power Mac 8500 mainly for video production and for rendering Lightwave animation files. But the majority of my work is done on this 7100, which I am using right now. I am typing in SimpleText, BTW, which is what I also use when I write my HTML code. (I don’t use a web editor because I think my own code is much leaner, cleaner and more “elegant.”)

I never have to wait on this Mac to process any files, surprisingly, including Photoshop. Text files are zippy because they are so small, and the processing of them is minimal for almost any computer. Photoshop files are fast too, but this is because almost everything I do in Photoshop now is in the small 72 dpi GIF files which I create for use on the web.

Print-quality art that I create for my customers goes on my relatively more crashable 8500, as does my NewTek Lightwave renderings and animations. When I doubled the RAM on the 8500, it got to be a lot more stable. I guess all that rendering sometimes locked it up when it used all its onboard memory. I also recently rebuilt my HD and System on the 8500 and I thought to make it a retro setup like my super stable 7100, so I took it back to OS 8.5 with the exact same set of INITs from the 7100. It is much more stable now, and also a little faster. I just used a System CD which I cut with my CD Recorder off my 7100. CDR is also a great backup tool!

I also have some SCSI devices on my 8500. I have a very cheap Adara color scanner which is very easy to use in Photoshop. I have an old Mac Personal LaserWriter Printer, and I use an old Zip 100 Mb portable drive so I can share files with customers. Lately though, it has been gathering dust. I don’t use it for backups any more since I have the CDR. I don’t use it for sharing files either, since I do that now through email and FTP on the web.

The point to all of this is that I believe I have found a perfect balance in Macdom by going minimal here, and by not caring about all the latest and greatest there is in all the fine upgrades Apple still sends me. I am being excessively dumb, I know, for doing this Luddite thing, but I cannot help it! Everything works here, and I am very productive at all my creative processes. These Macs tend to disappear into the background while I work and they never impose themselves on my creative bent. This is exactly why Macs were created isn’t it? Isn’t this what you want your Macintosh to do for you?

Have I found Wah? Have I found Mac heaven? I think so. Perhaps my Mac experiences are nowhere near the joy people experience with the new and very colorful iMacs and iBooks, but I am very content with what I have, and I do not foresee a need to ever modify what I have luckly stumbled upon, or to even upgrade any of it. Dumb stuff, huh? Lucky dumb. Lucky dumb Wah!

Anyway, I wanted to share this with you. I hope that OS X will be a great thing for you and everyone else. I know it will be more stable than OS 9. This year I will be adding an iMac and an iBook to my humble stable of Macs. They will be running the new OS X, so I can have the experience of using it, and so can write coherently about the new Macs, if that is still what they are. I am not looking to write bad things about them or the new OS, but I want these new tools to use as a point of reference to compare it to my “antique” (and nearly perfect) set of Macs, in a very fair and objective way. Who knows, perhaps these brave new Macs will become my primary productive tools. I will let you know!

This should be a very interesting comparison, to say the least!

I am very interested in hearing what each of you use, in some detail, along with what you use your Macs for in your own creative way. I think it would be very interesting to hear from you as to what sort of Mac you use, your apps and their versions, and your INITs and SCSI devices. Is your system stable? Are you happy with your productivity on your Mac? Have you achieved Wah on your Mac?

Thanks for your time, and for taking the time to read this!

Roger Born

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