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ATPM 3.01
January 1997




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MacMan to the Rescue

by Mike Shields,

January 4th, 1997.

I turned 37 today.

Someone chose to jump off of a building where I work this morning.

Life ends. Life goes on.

This would be a really great intro for a "Why the Mac isn't dead" column, but I haven't got one in me.

And I'll tell you why.

Everyone's already written about it. You know the reasons, so I don't have to rehash familiar territory. I even alluded to it a couple of months or so ago. Gareth Chang, VP in charge of alot of things here at Huge, is on the Apple Board of Directors. Furthermore, Ziff-Davis wouldn't be spending thousands of dollars on focus group studies.

If It's Not Scottish, It's Crap!

MacUser magazine is published by the fine people at Ziff-Davis. I have nothing but the highest praise for these people. After all, they brought me together with seven others to talk about the wonders of their fine publication. I guess being Macman has it's advantages. It does, however, confuse the people that know I'm really Batman.

We compared it to MacWorld on various issues such as readability, value, style, and if the amount of help is really helpful (my personal favorite).

MacUser won hands down. MacWorld is a good magazine, and personally, I subscribe to both (as well as MacAddict, but that's another column). We all decided that while MacWorld is good, it's for the high-end or technically elite user. MacUser, on the other hand, is for everyone.

We didn't know that hidden behind the two-way mirror was Pamela Pfiffner, MacUser's editor in chief (her picture in the mag doesn't do her justice, btw). After we extolled the virtues of MacUser, she came out from behind the mirror and pointed out things the magazine is trying to improve. She also mentioned things that she felt weren't working well, as well as some features they had recently introduced. For instance, have any of you noticed the Bookmark feature? Well, I hadn't until she told me about it. Now, three issues later, it's a valuable research tool. Check it out for yourself in every issue of MacUser, on sale now at a newsstand near you. If there aren't any near you, move.

Colonial Movers - We Move Anywhere

How many of you have a DirecTV satellite dish? One, Two, Three? Ok, Ten. Did you know that DirecTV is a subsidiary of Huge Aircrash? Well, it's true, take my word for it, and it's not pretty. Apparently, DirecTV can dictate where entire divisions of Huge employees may keep their offices. The DirecTV building was, until recently, shared with Huge. Then, DirecTV decided they needed the entire thing. They couldn't lease the building across the street that is almost entirely vacant. That would be too easy. Instead, four entire floors of Huge employees had to move their offices to other buildings. So, for me, Christmas Break (which I didn't get, btw) was spent moving three hundred Macs and PC's to another building.

To do this, you must, of course, move people out of the building that you're moving into. This concept gives new meaning to the phrase "dense pack." Anyway, the division we were moving had wised up, so they were mostly using MacIntoshes. Which means that I, your friendly neighborhood Mac Tech, was on the case. While you were having Christmas Eve dinner with your families, I was making sure that various Macs, in all their myriad configurations, had been reconnected properly and had their correct IP address.

This went relatively smoothly, with only a few minor glitches. You see, some people aren't as 'gung-ho' as I am about IP addresses, and they were busy thinking about what they'd be getting for Christmas. Therefore, I had the 'opportunity' to check everyone else's work. A certain tech, who shall remain nameless, apparently decided to walk around to all the machines to which he was assigned and say, "They're done!" without actually doing anything. Needless to say, this guy didn't come back after the lunch break we were so graciously given. The break for lunch was, of course, meaningless. All the businesses around Huge were closed, because Huge was observing it's annual Christmas shutdown. But I digress. So, instead of playing Marathon 2 with all the other techs, I availed myself of an opportunity of a lifetime—to double-check this technician's 'work'. Which I did. Now, this guy still works here, which proves the theory that even the worst of us can still contribute. Actually, everyone is clamoring to have him fired.

Colonial Movers - We Move Anywhere

This Is Project Houston. You Will Be Assimilated. Resistance Is Futile.

Now, regular readers of Macman will recall that I've spoken of this Black Monolith previously. It turns out to be worse than I expected.

First, I was told I won't be going to Tucson for training. Instead, Houston training will be done in Long Beach. Which raises the question, "Just how long is that beach?" Actually, it's ok, because it means I won't have to be away from my family for a week.

However, at this same time, I was noticing the Houston installs going on around me.

Let me back up. For those readers who have just joined us, Project Houston involves removing all the commercial applications from local desktop machines, and putting them on a server for everyone to use. Supposedly this will save the company millions of dollars in license fees, and the headache of having to do software updates on every single desktop.

Destroying the reason for going to distributed desktop applications in the first place.

Project Houston is not to be confused with WorldFest Houston, where I'll be entering my screenplay into in a couple of months (not that you would, mind you, but mentioning it serves as a reminder that I still need $600K to underwrite production costs).

Anyway, here in 'the bullpen,' we've had a PowerMac 6100 'Houstonized,' apparently for our protection. They even put a nifty blue star on the machine so that we know it's been Houstonized. What they didn't tell us is that now, it takes six minutes to fire up Excel. There are, of course, ways around this tiny restriction, but you get the idea.

Also, we've found that the lowly LC III (upon which I'm currently typing my column) isn't good enough for Project Houston. It's too slow. When I was informed that Huge wanted to move my mailbox to the Houston server, I replied, "How long will it take you to archive 6000 messages?" To which they said, "Let me get back to you." They never have. So, maybe resistance isn't futile (and can be fun).

It is possible that, one day, my mailbox will go away. Then, I can make a phone call and state, "Houston, we have a problem..."

Friendly Advice, From Your Friendly Neighborhood Macman.

Ok, just a couple this month. Here's the first:

Problem With Diskdoubler

I am Juan Rodriguez and live in Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Ihave the disk doubler, but I have a problem. I has compress with Diskdoubler a lot of programs but has try to open but issue a window: "... D.D. repair...." how resolve I this problem?

Thank you

Juan Rodriguez

Ok, this deserves a serious answer; but without more info, I can't really proceed. I haven't played with DiskDoubler recently, as I prefer the Stuffit line of compression utilities. What I can tell you is that having everything compressed is not always a good thing. The last time I checked, you need enough space for both the compressed and de-compressed app files before it can open and do what you want. You might want to check and see if your disk is too full. This is what I did when I first discovered file compression.

Another possibility is that your installation of DiskDoubler has been corrupted, in which case a complete reinstallation should fix your problem. Maybe one of our other readers has a different take on this.

Now, I received the following at my aol address:

I am Richard Lang and I need help!

So I figured, MacMan to the Rescue! And opened it up, only to be assaulted with this:

I am a real human being on the other end of this E-mail and my message is accomplishment, happiness and enhancing your income. If you are not interested simply point and click delete.

We have developed the most incredible marketing system of the age, I will send it to you absolutely free of charge and with no obligation.

With our system we are on the verge of breaking every record in the industry. This business is your Touchdown!

Over the years I have been approached with many "so called business opportunities" and I have an idea of what you are thinking now. Understand this, if you give me the opportunity I will help you succeed.

I have achieved financial independence and will teach you the simple process that may change your future. It is as simple as that, you have nothing to lose, start now.

Reply with you name, address and telephone number, better yet just call me at home in Woodland Hills, California if you like and let's get started now, I need your help. [Number deleted to protect the guilty. Although, I'm sure you could look it up.]


Richard Lang

PS Why not you, why not Now?

First, stealing from Reagan is a cardinal sin. Second, this is what I and almost everyone else on the 'Net calls 'Spam,' (referring to, of course, the Monty Python sketch—you know the one). Now, spam artists are here to stay. However, you can make their lives miserable. If you receive something like this, you can try forwarding it to their postmaster and getting their account revoked. Problem is, they are aware of this tactic, and usually put a phoney e-mail address in the header. However, we are using the most sophisticated tool around. The Mac and its attendant software is on the case. You see, even though they use a phoney e-mail address, they usually don't take the time to 'phoney up' the header info that is sent along with the message body (because most people don't know about it). So, if you use either Claris Emailer or Eudora to read your e-mail, you can usually access this info with a simple command character. Now you can e-mail their postmaster. Or, you could send them a mail bomb (now, I would never really advocate this). However (and I am speaking purely hypothetically), it could be alot of fun. So, go forth, and sin no more. Or, you can go fifth.

That's it for this month. As you know, I can always be reached at Also, for you perspiring screenwriters out there, check out my review of Final Draft 4.1 elsewhere in this issue. I'm sure some of you have gotten some new software or hardware for Christmas, so I'll expect a boatload of questions for next month. I'll also be talking about why working for a big company isn't necessarily a good thing.

[apple graphic] Mike Shields is a perspiring Screen Writer who needs $600,000 to produce his recently finished screenplay. He can be reached at or Or, if you just have a Mac question, that's ok, too.

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