Welcome to the March issue of About This Particular Macintosh! We call it ATPM for short. New readers often wonder how we selected our e-zine’s rather peculiar name. Well, our founder, RD Novo, came up with it. Danny had a long-standing ambition to create an Internet magazine that talked about the “personal computing experience.” We believe that means something different to everyone who owns a Mac. ATPM is about your particular Macintosh and our particular Macintoshes.
Through the long years of ATPM’s short history, our e-zine has undergone many changes. Now published by Michael Tsai, ATPM is one of the longest-running Macintosh Internet magazines available today. We pride ourselves on providing our readers with informative and entertaining insights into the world of Macintosh computing. This issue we welcome Adam Zaner and Johann Campbell, our newest copy editors, to the ATPM staff. Although the names and faces of the people who contribute to ATPM may change, our commitment to producing a quality freeware product remains the same. We’re grateful to the hundreds of thousands of Mac users who frequent our electronic pages each month.
A 21 Mac Salute
The staff of ATPM was saddened to hear of the untimely passing of Don Crabb and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. Don was an extraordinarily gifted man who successfully combined an intellectual mastery of modern technology with an old fashioned American work ethic. He authored many books on Macintosh computing and worked tirelessly to evangelize the platform at colleges and universities. He will be missed.
Caution: Speed Bump Ahead
Most often this sign is a bummer for people who “feel a need for speed” For Mac users it’s a welcome sign that products are getting faster...and better. Attendees at Macworld Tokyo witnessed the introduction of new iBooks and PowerBooks, including a speed-bumped iBook in a graphite-colored shell. PowerBook G3 users welcomed the release of new G3 PowerBooks with FireWire ports and clock speeds up to 500 MHz.
One of the more interesting aspects of Apple’s new portable products is the unchanged form factor. With the exception of the graphite-colored iBook, a casual observer wouldn’t be able to distinguish the new products from their predecessors. This not only reduces Apple’s manufacturing costs, it also alleviates concerns among buyers that the product they buy today will be noticeably outdated tomorrow.
Rumors Versus Reality
Chris Turner’s column in last month’s issue of ATPM ignited a fire storm of responses. Some readers were angered at what they considered to be a swipe at some very popular Mac-related sites, while others congratulated Chris for his courage and candor.
The updated portable products Apple unveiled in Tokyo are evidence that rumors often differ greatly from reality. We all enjoy reading rumors about new products to come. But people need to base their purchasing decisions on the products that are available today, not on speculation of what might be available tomorrow. This is especially important for Windows users who are considering migrating to the Macintosh platform. In that case, waiting one more day is one more wasted day.
Owners of pre-G3 Macs who continue to postpone upgrading their hardware because of rumors that the next product to be released will be twice as fast or three times as colorful as the one that they can purchase today are doing themselves a disservice. Postponing the purchase of a much-needed hardware upgrade can cost users time and money. One must factor into a purchase decision lost productivity as well as the lost opportunity to enjoy the benefits of today’s technology while waiting on the announcement of a rumored product that may never be released. The updated iBooks and PowerBooks announced in Tokyo are the same size and weight of the products that they replaced. While they offer users a few improvements, it would have been silly for someone who really needed a new portable computer to have delayed purchasing one.
Very few car buyers would wait an extra year to replace an outdated jalopy because the following year’s new models were rumored to come with slightly larger engines, a bigger gas tank, or a greater selection of exterior paint colors. The truth is no one really knows what next year will bring until next year. If you hear a rumor that next year’s Macs will be so revolutionary that you will regret the purchase of any new computer today, please use a little common sense.
If you need a new Mac today, buy it today. That’s using uncommon sense. There will always be tomorrow. But what you can’t buy tomorrow is the increased productivity and enhanced ease-of-use that a new Mac may provide you today.
If you hear another rumor that the next generation of Macs will feature Batmobile-style tail fins, contain a processor that’s a year away from production, or have a sticker price lower than a packet of gum, we know a bunch of sites that might post your musings. But don’t call us, we’ll call you.
How Much Is Too Much
The editors of ATPM have been engaged in an ongoing debate about the financial rewards granted Steve Jobs by Apple’s board of directors. Is the gift of a personal jet and options on 10 million shares too much for a job well done?
Some of our editors believe much of Mr. Jobs’ compensation would have been better spent on research and development and beefing up the company’s developer program. Other editors believe it was money well spent in light of Apple’s stunning turnaround. What’s your view? How do you think Apple should spend or invest its resources? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Representative samples of responses may be included in our April issue.
How Many MHz Does It Take to Sell a Wintel PC
The truth is no one knows for sure. The proliferation of processors for Wintel PCs is causing confusion in the minds of buyers. At least one Intel executive has finally admitted that processor MHz is not an accurate way to determine a computer’s performance. No kidding. Mac users have been heralding this truth since the introduction of the PowerPC.
Comparing the performance of a G4 Mac to a Pentium III based on processor MHz alone is akin to comparing the performance of an 8-cylinder car to a 4-cylinder car based on engine RPMs. A 4-cylinder engine has to work much harder and generate many more RPMs to produce the same amount of power as an 8-cylinder engine. Furthermore, the variety of chips designed for different purposes (especially lower cost, lower performance chips) for the Wintel market only adds to consumer confusion. For Wintel buyers all MHz are not created equal. Buyers beware.
Windows 2000: Too Much, Too Late
The Windows operating system has millions and millions of lines of code. Much of this code is of little use to home or small business computer users. The complexity of Windows has opened the door for the ascent of Linux and the rebirth of the Mac OS. Mac OS X will revolutionize the desktop computer market similar to the way the original Mac OS transformed the way people used computers. Mac OS X is guaranteed to run on any Mac that originally shipped with a G3 chip. That’s good news for Mac users and for those non-Mac users who are desperately searching for a better way to get things done. Computer buyers were hoodwinked by the release of Windows 95. Unsuspecting consumers lavishly spent hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade their Wintel PCs to accommodate the requirements of Windows 95. Consumers will not be fooled again.
It’s not the U.S. Justice Department and its anti-trust suit against Microsoft that will bring an abrupt end to the dominance of the Windows operating system. It will be free market innovation and the collective decision of millions of people around the world who are tired of having their intelligence insulted and their wallets raided.
Two members (Mike Boich and Andy Hertzfeld) of Apple’s original Macintosh development are among the founders of a new company that is aggressively working to create a friendly graphical user interface for Linux. An easy-to-use interface is one of the biggest obstacles to the broad acceptance of Linux in the business and home markets.
The editors of ATPM will be closely following the Mac OS X and Linux stories in the months to come. Stay tuned!
Often overlooked in the hoopla over Apple’s continuing success is the performance of Adobe Systems. At press time Adobe’s stock is trading at a price roughly five times higher than its 52-week low. Several months ago the common stock underwent a two-for-one split, and the price has continued to rise.
Adobe’s decision to support the Linux operating system is a good one and has won the company favor on Wall Street. FrameMaker is being ported to Linux and it’s Adobe’s hope that the application will become the standard authoring tool for Linux Web developers. A Linux version of Acrobat Distiller Server should be available by the end of this month. If Adobe is successful in positioning FrameMaker as the application of choice among Linux Web developers, Acrobat will gain greater acceptance as the format of choice for cross-platform, Web-based communication.
Also helping to spur the rise in Adobe’s stock price is the apparent success of the company’s InDesign layout and design software. It has been well received by professional users and has won the company many critical awards. The birth of Adobe Systems was funded in part by an investment from Apple, and the companies have shared a sometimes rocky, but usually affectionate, symbiotic relationship. Adobe’s PostScript technology helped launch the Macintosh and aided Apple’s efforts to transform desktop publishing. Adobe’s continuing support of the Mac OS has helped Apple maintain its strong position in the pre-press and content creation markets.
Adobe Systems will be a major player in the eBook industry. Apple’s leadership position in the education market will benefit from Adobe’s leadership in this emerging industry. To save dollars and increase productivity, public schools and other educational institutions will be moving to replace paper books with electronic alternatives. Watch for interesting news from Apple and Adobe as we get closer to the release date of Mac OS X.
ATPM Wants You
The good news for Mac users is that the list of available software programs continues to grow. It seems that everyday another software company announces its support for the Macintosh platform. All these new products are beginning to overwhelm our dedicated staff of reviewers (good news can have its problems too!). If you believe you have the knowledge and skill to join our product review team, please send a sample of your written work (or the URL of a Web page that contains your work) to email@example.com.
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