M a c G u i d e

The SuperSource

March 2000

Angels for Apple TM have been rewarded with triple blessings: good Macintosh computers and software, renewed market and mindshare for the Macintosh, and Apple stock profits.

In the darker days, when Apple naysayers prophesied computer users abandon the Macintosh and join the majority Wintel platforms, MacGuide launched its Angels for Apple program, suggesting Macintosh computer supporters buy at least one share of Apple stock and publicly support Apple. MacGuide's proposal was moral rather than profit-oriented. A strong democratic tradition suggests supporting your local neighborhood and friends. Moreover, stockholders have a formal vote in Apple policy and management; consumers simply spend money.

Apple's iMac and iBook computers are selling well. Productively, Apple is supplying the increasing demand for each line of its computers. Financially, Apple is profitable. More fundamentally, Apple's multi-colored design is setting a broad fashion trend for contemporary consumer electronics. The Wall Street Journal reported the "rousing success of Apple Computer Inc.'s iMac also has convinced computer makers that they neglected design-conscious buyers." Hewlett-Packard concludes, "More and more, what consumers really care about is does their PC work well on the Internet, and does it look good?" Michael Koss, CEO of Koss Corporation, which introduced five new colors for portable stereo headphones, concurs, "Now everyone's trying to be like iMac." But the Macintosh difference is more than skin deep: human interface guidelines, user-centered design, and an enjoyable computing experience are part of what makes a Mac a Mac, not just another pretty face.

Apple unveiled its MacOS 9 Internet Web site, with free mac.com email, free iDisk storage, and a few initial iTools. Personal computers are complex machines; Apple simplified the machine and the interface and launched a turning tide of potentially humane technology. Internet communications are complex; Apple is simplifying getting on the Internet.

The Internet and its World Wide Web have become household words. Most schools, families, and businesses are Internet aware; many are Internet connected. The currently relatively open Internet is transforming nations and cultures around the globe. Whether these technological changes benefit or harm is again a choice citizens and leaders are making.

How we use the Internet, whether the Internet erodes fundamental Constitutional values or reinforces them is a decision still in process. For a voter's guide to the Internet, see Lawrence Lessig's Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Basic Books, 1999. If you use the Internet, if you care what laws are enacted, if you want an appropriate balance between technology and humane values, or if you wish to avoid the harsher aspects of Big Brother's 1984 of George Orwell, read Lessig's book.

Person-centered versus monopoly-profit-centered technology is still much an issue in the anti-trust trial of Microsoft. The court's initial factual conclusions support what the Macintosh and computer communities have long known: Microsoft has abused its monopoly power, disadvantaging potential competition and reducing consumer choice.

Microsoft may be bad, it may be big, but it is also the base from which most Americans judge personal computing. As the Internet becomes a standard interface, computer platform differences may be less important to consumers and developers. Perhaps computerdom may soon accept some interface standards, as telephone and automobile and industries have. While there are many choices in automobiles, most have common steering wheels, accelerators, and brake pedals.

Nex Guide ®

Mac OS 9 has been released; developers have received parts of Mac OS X. Each of Apple's Macintosh operating systems has brought stylish productivity improvements. For the occasional rough edges, Macintouch provides resources, rumor, and reflection.

Compatibility. If one's computer desires remain in the eighties, an eighties Macintosh can still productively serve word processing, spreadsheet, email, education, and entertainment needs. If one wants one of the most powerful desktop personal computers, Apple's G4 machines were classified as security risks if exported.

While a personal computer may work for a decade, most businesses, governments, and families materially change over a few years. MacGuide still recommends generally planning for a three-year computer life, and recognizing sometimes four or five years may be obtained. Today's entry level computers, at $800-$1500, are more powerful than five and ten thousand dollar machines of a few years ago.

Many older computers still have useful lives: as email servers, backup machines for part-time staff, staff home machines, younger sibling educators. If you still have more older Macintosh computers than friends and colleagues, consider donations to local schools and nonprofit groups. Many Macintosh user groups have established donation programs, mixing and matching older machines and parts, to provide good Macintosh computers to poorer families and organizations.


Users of one primary computer platform sometimes need access to data or programs available only on other platforms. For years the Macintosh has made interconnectivity relatively easy. With DataViz's MacLink, a Macintosh can read the data file created by scores of Dos and Windows machines. Connectix Virtual PC will run Windows applications. While few general Windows applications are superior to Macintosh counterparts, some data providers do not yet recognize the Macintosh marketWindows emulation can handily read CD-ROM and other restrictive data sources. Should you have the need, Connectix's Virtual Game Station permits and iMac or other G3 Macintosh (not G3 upgrade, bus speed mismatch) to run PlayStation games.

"On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog." There are some platform differences on the Internet, but fewer than between Wintel (Windows software and Intel microprocessors) and Macintosh (Apple software and Motorola microprocessors). In 1999 the US stock market embraced Internet companies with abandon, perhaps wild abandon for some. Rarely are all competitors above average winners. Some Internet-oriented companies and stocks are guaranteed to fail. But the move toward greater and global Internet access is likely to persist and permeate most cultures.

Few technologies remain stable for decades. The computer-communication devices used in the next century are unlikely be fully downward compatible with today. Planning for 2999 may not be a top priority today, yet lessons are to be learned from the Wintel need to fix its Y2k programming problemsinvalid dates after 1999. The Macintosh was designed in 1984 recognizing that the new century was only 16 years away; properly written Macintosh software had no Y2k problem. Apple continues to design and market improved computers, but they are not designed with intentional obsolescence. If you want to do no more than you did when you first acquired your Macintosh, it's useful life may span a decade. The dominant platform, whose major functionality is that it is majority adopted, appears to require more frequent upgrades and bug fixes.

The Macintosh platform is unlikely to continue to the next millennium. Few institutions will, if our backward glance is a reliable guide. Between now and 1000 the Black Plague decimated Europe, Columbus visited the Americas, the Renaissance flowered, the Colonies seceded from Great Britain, the US Constitution was crafted, railroads spanned the continent, the telephone and airplane were invented, and the Internet created sovereignty parallel to that of kings.

The Macintosh may not endure another thousand years, but for contemporary personal and business computing, it remains a compelling choice to fairly evaluate. For many, the Macintosh computer remains the computer of choice.


Much of the power of the Macintosh is built into its user-friendly design. For a person who just wants to get the work, or play, done, a Macintosh can make it easier. Amazingly, the Macintosh has enabled people to use much of the power of the personal computer while remaining naive, unknowing how the computer works or how to fix even the minor slings and arrows of unexpected problems.

Just as knowing how to monitor a car's gas gague, add oil when needed, and inflate tires when the weather cools lets a driver transcend minor maintenance tasks and continue driving, so some basic knowledge of computer maintenance increases the self-reliance of a computer user. This is true independent of the computer platform. Routine use of a computer utility (Apple's Disk First Aid, Norton Utilities, Tech Tools Pro) monthly or so tidies up the flotsom and jetsom of software use. Understanding the basics of disk and file management help overcome minor obstacles. Peachpit Press , 800=283-9444, has several good basics, by Robin Williams: The Little Mac Book ; The Mac Is Not A Typewritter for wordprocessing tips; Home Sweet Home Page for introductory Web design; The Non-Designer's Design Book for design basics.

The Ten Commandants are old, well known to many; yet Sabbath sermon reminders are still useful. Proper backup proceduresfrequently and redundantlyare needed. Media data loses are infrequent but expected at some time, usually inconvenient. Human error is more likely the cause of common data loss. For any data you'd be upset at losing, backup. If retyping 15 minutes of text would frustrate you, save every ten minutes. For important data, back up on multiple, separate media.

With the Internet providing data and noise, many use search engines. To extract information from data, browsing users seek high relevance hits and few distractions. Search engines evolve. Some major search engines include altavista , excite , google , infoseek , lycos , metacrawler , netscape , northernlight , dmoz (open directory), webcrawler , and yahoo. The URL, or Web address, for each begins with www. and ends with .com, as in < www.yahoo.com >.

The major browsers now have popular search engines and other Web site addresses built-in. A few seconds of attention to a logical search request (Apple NOT Fruit) can often dramatically increase the relevance of your search results. If you collect your personal Web addresses of interest ("bookmark" them), remember to backup your bookmark list too.

What makes a power computer-user these days? Knowing your own computer, learning a little more about its abilities and idiosyncrasies, resisting mass propaganda, and helping a few others increase their computer skills and judgment.

Élan Associates, The SuperSource®, 79 West Monroe St #1320, Chicago IL 60603-4969, < macguide@mac.com >, publishes Mac Guide® and the Mac Guide family, including Hyper Guide®, Nex Guide®, Open Guide®, PC Guide, Win Guide®, and Power Guide®, registered trademarks of Élan Associates.

All information subject to change; check out your own needs; no warranty from Élan. For comments to Mac Guide ® contact Élan Associates.

Copyright © Élan Associates 2000. All rights reserved.