Feuding over the Finder
Stephan Somogyi tells us in " The Millennium Mac " (August 1999) that Mac OS X will have a new Finder. If this new list-oriented Finder is an addition to the traditional Finder, that's fine; if it replaces it, that would be disastrous.
From the beginning, the Mac used a graphical interface, treating the user as a human being. Instead of making you input command lines, the Mac OS allowed objects to be picked up and dropped wherever you wanted to have them. As in a real office environment, you could leave items on the desktop if they were of immediate importance or stow them away in folders for later use. Whenever you needed to retrieve a document, it could be found in the very same spot.
Imagine that your office cleaning staff rearranged all your documents. The next day, you would have a hard time finding them. That's exactly what happens when the desktop or folder contents are sorted according to some other rule. Gone is the bird's-eye view; say hello to the frog's-eye view among listed files in a folder.
If Apple wants to add a new menu item to the Finder, that's OK. However, if it wants to drop the traditional Finder, it will kill one of the unique features that make the Mac the Mac: a computer so easy to work with that you forget it's a computer.
Nearly everyone has been critical, or at best unenthusiastic, about Apple's decision to do away with the current Finder and replace it with a more advanced and powerful, Next OS-like Finder. To be honest, I was shocked at first. But a complete consideration of the situation makes it clear that Apple is right.
The new file-management interface, if anything like the one pictured in " The Millennium Mac," is clearly more efficient than the one in previous Mac operating systems. Although the new Finder has been condemned for making browsing more complicated, including two versions of the Finder won't solve that problem. Including the old and new versions would eliminate the Mac OS's simplicity and kill the incentive for new users to choose Macintosh instead of Windows. It would also make the Mac OS a nuisance for die-hard users who would either have to ignore the new Finder or cope with having to switch between two different file-management interfaces for different tasks.
It's the ability to use the best technology instead of many lesser technologies that has separated the Mac OS from Microsoft's blunt Windows. Apple should continue to do what it has always done by blending the best of what the old Finder has to offer with the best features of the new Finder in order to come up with one perfect file-management interface.
Mount Vernon, New York
The Joy of 8.6
Mac OS 8.6 is terrific! I have a Performa 6400/180 with 80MB of RAM and have had performance troubles since I installed 8.0, then upgraded to 8.1, 8.5, and finally 8.5.1. I was nervous about upgrading to 8.6 but figured my Mac was so slow that it couldn't get worse. And it didn't! Microsoft Office apps open as fast as when I had OS 7.6. The Finder doesn't pause for minutes at a time like it used to. From what I understand, this will be one of the last Mac OSs that will work on my PowerPC 601e processor, and that's fine by me. My Performa is back to its old self and matching the performance of the Pentium II Windows NT machine I use at work.
Thanks to Apple for giving me back my old Performa!
Tools of the Trade
Thank you for the informa-tive and timely " Essential Mac Tools " (August 1999). As a new Mac user, I found Franklin Tessler's descriptions of quintessential Mac utilities to be important to my understanding of how to keep Mac OS 8.6 running in tip-top condition. I hope that other articles or a special column for new Mac users will follow on such topics as essential software applications and hardware.
Simpsonville, South Carolina
I disagree with the ratings given to Alsoft's Disk Express Pro 3.0.1 and Connectix's RAM Doubler 8.0.1 in " Essential Mac Tools." Franklin Tessler awarded Disk Express Pro four and a half mice even though it is still completely incompatible with HFS+-formatted hard disks. Apple released the HFS+format more than a year ago. Ironically, Alsoft, the company that developed Plus Maker and Plus Maximizer, can't seem to update its own utility.
On the other hand, RAM Doubler received only four mice. I think it deserves five. The brief review failed to mention an important feature of RAM Doubler that's useful even if you have lots of physical RAM. When you run multiple applications simultaneously, RAM Doubler taps into the unused memory of the applications running in the background. This allows you to set large preferred-memory sizes for RAM-hungry applications such as Web browsers and graphics programs. RAM Doubler handles memory better than the Mac OS, and most power users experience fewer crashes when it is enabled.
Searching for the Mezzanine
In " Generation Gap " (August 1999), Kristina De Nike and Jonathan Seff state that the iProRaid SCSI card works only in the original Bondi blue iMacs, which were built with a mezzanine slot hidden beneath the plastic case. How do I know if I have that iMac?
I bought mine in November 1998, before Apple introduced all the flavors, so I had no choice but to get the Bondi blue one. I would like to use the card to increase my all-too-small hard-disk space by adding an external SCSI 9GB hard drive. What do you recommend?
Milburn, New Jersey
All the 233MHz Bondi blue iMacs, both rev. A and rev. B, have the hidden mezzanine slot. It is difficult, although not impossible, to install a SCSI card in this slot. A simpler solution, which works for all iMacs, is to invest in a USB CD-RW drive (see Reviews, September 1999) and move nonessential files off the hard disk.?Kristina De Nike
Many Arms of netOctopus
Shelly Brisbin's review of Netopia's netOctopus ( Reviews , August 1999) was mostly on the mark, but I believe she missed an important feature included with netOctopus: File Scripter.
File Scripter is not an AppleScript tool but rather a program that lets you build install packages, which can include extensions, applications, and preferences. File Scripter allows you to do this in two ways: by telling it where the files need to go when installed and where the files currently are on your Mac, or by taking a snapshot of your current state, doing the installation, and taking a postinstall snapshot. File Scripter then takes the difference to build your install. You can use the install package to create an Apple Installer script that netOctopus can employ to run the install. netOctopus can also use Apple Installer scripts for any package, not just the ones you create in File Scripter. It's very handy for such things as ColorSync updates and MRJ (Mac OS Runtime for Java) updates.
John C. Welch
I just had to thanK LYNDA Weinman for her article about Macromedia Dreamweaver 2 layers (" Elegant Web Pages with Dreamweaver 2," Create , August 1999). I'm a graphic designer, and I receive more and more calls every week asking me to design Web sites. I've been a loyal fan of Dreamweaver for some time now (especially after pulling all my hair out trying to use Microsoft FrontPage). And yes, I'm also one of those people who learned HTML code in all its glory before the days of slick Web-page-design applications. Weinman's tips for converting layers to tables forever changed the way I design Web sites. A page that normally took me a full day and plenty of sweat was reduced to a mere five minutes of work. Incredible.
Charleston, South Carolina
No HP MFP for Me
I n Stephen Beale's story on multifunction peripherals (MFPs) for the Mac, Beale states that Hewlett-Packard has closely allied itself with Apple (" Multifunction Peripherals Arrive for Mac," News , August 1999). This is the same HP, I presume, that used to charge $50 more for a Mac-compatible DeskWriter than for a PC-compatible DeskJet; the same HP that markets its PhotoSmart products for PC only; the same HP that was completely AWOL during Apple's dark days. There's apparently no technical reason that a printer can't be both PC- and Mac-compatible?just look at the Epson color ink-jet products. We can only hope that Epson decides to market an MFP so we can reward it for being there while HP either gouged us or completely ignored us. As far as I'm concerned, Epson has earned the loyalty of every Mac user and HP has not.
As a matter of fact, Epson recently unveiled two new MFPs: the Epson Stylus Scan 2000 and Stylus Scan 2500. For more details, check out ""Epson Joins MFP Fray with Stylus Scan"," News, September 1999.?Ed.
Baby, You're a Star
H ave you ever noticeD how many commercials and advertisements feature Macs? The reason is obvious?the Mac OS is more pleasant to look at than Windows. Its handsome silver title bar is certainly more appealing than Window's ugly blue title bar. The Mac OS is like a beautiful garden, whereas Windows resembles a lawn overgrown with crabgrass. Perhaps there's a concept advertising companies have grasped that Microsoft has not: elegance sells.
November 1999 page: 19