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ATPM 4.02
February 1998



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Segments: Slices From the Macintosh Life

by Alvena Hyde,

Get a Mac

A couple of years ago, I decided I needed a computer, for some hairbrained reason (well, my tax man thinks it was for my business, which it was). Picture a middle-aged lady perusing the computer displays, not knowing anything about computers or how to use them. She is staring dumbly at them as a smiling salesman, smelling easy money, comes up to her, and shows her his complete line. He shows her every PC in the joint, and finally shows her the Mac, saying, "And this is an Apple, it is known for being easy-to-use."

Well, as I was totally computer illiterate, the word 'easy' really appealed to me, so I bought it, right on the spot: computer, monitor, printer, and the package included a 2400 baud modem/ fax. I took all the boxes home, opened the book on how to put it together (on a Mac, the cables are all marked with nice little pictures, so you can't possibly screw it up), plugged the whole thing in, turned it on, and started using it.

That's right, I said I started using it. I didn't have to buy a bunch of 'extras' and have them installed to get it to work, either. The initial price didn't look so bad after I found out that PC people have to buy all that stuff and usually end up spending more than I did.

All I had to do was double click on whatever I wanted, the program would open, and it worked. Yup...I said it worked. First time...every time. Now the funny thing is, I didn't realize at that time that not everyone can be totally computer-stupid, buy the computer, take it home, plug it together, turn it on, and use it. But that's exactly what I did.

The system software was already installed, plus a fairly nice assortment of goodies, including ClarisWorks, which is a word/graphics publishing program. I had to install the modem software...a challenge for me, until I realized that all I had to do was stick in the disc, double click on the icon that appeared, then click "install," and bingo! It was done!

Thus began my two-year run with a Macintosh Performa 637CD--a nice little machine. I still have it. It still works fine. I hope my daughter will enjoy using it at college. Stable as a rock, didn't crash until I owned it a year, and then I brought it up myself. Read those words again: I brought it up myself. I didn't have a backup drive (didn't even know how to use one), all I had was some books that I had read and a friend that made some suggestions, which didn't work. (I finally got smart and bought a backup drive, by the way, the best money I ever spent.) The point is, I did it with no help from anyone. I just read the books and did it myself. But this was a year down the road from my buying it. By now I knew that there were two types of computers, and I knew that not many folks could do that with a PC. But, I did it with my Mac.

I wanted a faster modem so I could get on the 'Net. I bought a PowerPort Platinum, plugged it in, double-clicked on the software to install it, and the modem worked. First time. I got the PPP software and Web browser from the Internet provider, installed it with another double click, and after a couple calls to the ISP to get it configured, I was up and running.

I made my own forms for my work...and everyone marvelled that I could fax my memos straight from my computer, and they looked absolutely great! My boss, for some strange reason, thought that because I had a Mac I wouldn't be able to send e-mail to the office, since they were on a PC platform. I proved him wrong. He was amazed! I have the company letterhead, even the envelopes, in my system and use them frequently. I fax straight from the computer, send e-mails, and even do research on the 'Net for my work. Frankly, having the computer has saved me so much time, that I used to panic, worrying that it might crash. I found out that with a Mac, that just doesn't happen very often. With the backup drive, it's really not a valid concern, so I quit worrying about it.

This spring, I finally decided I wanted a faster machine, so I bought a PowerMac 8500. They were retiring that series, so I got a good price. The 8500 has AV capabilities built into it, which is nice, real nice. I was scared at first, wondering if it would be as simple to use; but when I turned it on, up came that nice familiar Mac startup screen. Frankly, the system is even more stable and it works a lot faster.

With the 8500, I can talk to Arnaldo in Macau on CuSeeMe, a little freeware program, by using my videocam and the chat screen. I just plugged my camera into the computer and the picture came up on the screen. That's all there was to it. So we can see each other while we chat. Pretty tough. As soon as Arnaldo gets a faster modem, we're going to try a net phone and see how that works.

I've downloaded scads of shareware programs and use several of them. They're cheap and some are absolutely invaluable--Graphic Converter, Double-Scroll, Sloop, Greg's Buttons, even a new VCD player, which plays videodisc movies on the computer. They all work, just like they're supposed to. I've scanned for viruses regularly, but never had one. Mac's are virus-resistant. That's another thing PCs can't claim.

I wanted a homepage on the web, so I used a free download of Claris HomePage and used it to build my Web page. It's a no-brainer program that any fool, even this middle-aged lady with no computer or HTML experience, can use effectively. I liked the program so much I ended up buying it, by the way, and it has been worth every penny. And now, after I have my page up and running, I am finally starting to learn something about HTML and using my new knowledge to modify my pages.

My kids, by the way, trained on PCs at school, but they love the Mac. They say it works like the PCs should.

I hear people talk about how Macs can't compete with PC software. Well, there is software that will let you run Windows software on a Mac. I've never tried it because frankly, I just don't have the need. But it's there, and people use it all the time. It works fine. You can even install a PC compatibility card if you want to. You can even network a Mac with any PC machine. People do that routinely, also.

I'm excited about the new Mac OS8, and I will probably end up getting it. It has a lot of improvements over this System 7.5.5 I'm using currently, or so they say. Although my system has been nothing but stable for me. That's another beauty of the Mac system--most of the software is backwards compatible for several systems. I don't spend all of my time upgrading in order to run new software. It just runs, period.

I use a Mac basically because it works. I don't spend my time trying to get it to work right. It works right over 99% of the time.

So Here's My Advice
if you want a computer that works,
if you
don't know much about computers (and even if you DO),
if you want to learn to operate a computer
without taking classes,
if you
don't want to worry about viruses,
if you want to buy a complete system and
not something that you will have to add things on to in order to get it to work,
if you want to spend your time
operating your computer instead of fixing it,if you want a computer that will perform well for many years and not be outdated,

Get a Mac.

You won't be sorry!

Alvena Hyde, <>, is both a "computer-stupid middle-aged lady"
Blue Appleand an "avid Mac user." If you have something interesting to say about life with
your Mac, write to us at
<>. We're happy to publish opinions
or stories from our readers in this Segments section.

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