Readers shared some strong opinions about September's Macworld, which was packed with controversial content. They had complaints about QuarkXPress 6.0 (and the way Quark does business). They shared their disappointment with OS X's Panther update. They professed love for the new G5s (and disdain for our preview of the new machines), though they lamented love's high price. And they even had a few harsh words for a longtime Macworld advertiser. But we welcome debate. Mac users are an opinionated bunch, and frankly, that's exactly how we like it.
Little Things Mean a Lot
I've read nothing about Panther (" Take a Peek at Panther," September 2003) that indicates whether Apple will bring back the Print Window option. Can someone please tell Apple that graphic designers (at least) need this feature so they can send a disc directory along with discs to a service bureau? I know there's an independent app out there, but unfortunately, it isn't as quick and easy to use as the old Print Window feature was. Please?
The Action button in the Panther Finder window is an example of fixing something that wasn't broken. I fail to see how my efficiency will be improved by having to select an object (which could be located at the bottom right corner of my screen), position the cursor over the Action button, and then click on it to see a contextual menu. I can control-click on a selected object and achieve the same end.
I've never seen anything written about this, and I'm astounded that such a flaw made it into OS X 10.0, let alone version 10.2: when I'm saving a file and I try to name it with too many characters, OS X accepts the name and then tells me there are too many. However, it doesn't tell me how many letters too long the name is, so I have to figure that out through trial and error. I guess Apple expects me to count the characters in each name I try to use. OS 9 didn't let you type too many letters. And why are we still limited to, what, 31 characters? Will this be corrected in Panther?
G5: Gee Whiz!
Apple has done it again. With the Power Mac G5, it has created another of the "insanely great" machines that only Apple has been known for (" The Next Generation," September 2003). Yet even with this powerhouse on the market, the company has one flaw: price. For the average family, the G5's great power is out of reach. Apple needs to offer the G5 the same way it offered the G4. Soon after the Power Mac G4's release, Apple offered the G4 Cube, which provided the power of the G4 processor in an affordable package. This strategy would now give Apple a way to combat lower-priced Intel- and AMD-powered computers.
While the G5 article was an interesting read, it was essentially flawed, due to its quoting of Apple's corporate propaganda and the author's lack of research.
Jason Snell states that Apple is trumpeting the G5 as the first 64-bit desktop computer. Unfortunately, Apple marketing has decided to ignore AMD's Hammer processors (also known as Opteron). While they aren't being sold by Dell or HP for consumers, there are a number of smaller vendors that make and sell Opteron-based machines. The AMD Opteron is targeted at both the server level and the desktop (and even the supercomputer) level.
Snell also claims that the Wintel world has had trouble making the transition to 64-bit processing. But the AMD Opteron can run 32-bit code natively -- just like the PowerPC 970. Not every PC user uses an Intel processor, as Intel isn't the only game in town.
Yes, our preview of the new machines mentioned Apple's claims that the G5 was the first desktop PC with a 64-bit CPU -- but it specifically noted that these were Apple's claims (which are based on the idea that 64-bit PC chips appear only in servers and workstations, while the G5 is classified as a desktop system). Macworld's first review of the Power Mac G5s appeared in our November issue; this month, look for more lab tests, as we compare Power Mac G5s with high-performance PCs, including an Opteron-based machine (page 60). As for 64-bit chips running 32-bit applications, we reported that the Wintel side has generally "had trouble moving to 64-bit chips" -- not that 64-bit chips were incapable of running 32-bit code, either natively or in emulation. -- Jason Snell
After reading Jim Felici's Adobe Acrobat 6.0 Standard review ( ; September 2003), I simply had to write. He comments only on what he considers to be good features and overlooks glaringly bad aspects.
First, the program is incredibly slow to load. I usually start it and go get a cup of coffee while I wait on it. Second, the search function is no longer clear and available in the menu. It's hidden away at the bottom of the Find window, which no longer floats -- instead, it intrudes on valuable desktop space, forcing your document to be smaller. Even worse, indexes created in Acrobat 5.0 are not compatible with Acrobat 6.0, and vice versa. For developers, this is a critical flaw.
For those reasons alone, our company has decided not to upgrade to 6.0. I hope Adobe corrects these flaws, and soon.
Lies, Damn Lies, and Chart Art
Dr. James Casebolt
As a professor of statistics, I must disagree with Helen Bradley's recommendations for making "chart art" with Microsoft Excel X (Secrets, September 2003). A chart, or a graph, is not art -- it's a means of communication. Its purpose is to help a viewer understand complex numerical information. Her suggestions will make a graph more attractive but harder to understand: 3-D charts are difficult enough to interpret correctly, given the lack of a consistent origin for bars or pictograms. Deleting the axes, as she suggests, will make understanding the graph even more difficult. The creator of a graph needs to keep the image's purpose in mind. Just because Excel's bells and whistles allow you to do something pretty doesn't mean it's a good idea. Many of these features will result in graphs that are confusing at best and purposefully misleading at worst. I may use this article in my classes as an illustration of how not to create a graph.
Many people reproduce Excel charts in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to get the visual effects they want; however, I acknowledge that many of those effects would not meet a statistician's requirements. I wanted to show that Excel was capable of many of these techniques, thus saving time and effort. I encourage debate on the best way to format a chart to communicate its point. -- Helen Bradley
Fond o' Fonts
I just read "A Font-Management Free-for-All?" (Mac Beat, October 2003), and I have to say that I can see this ultimately being a good thing for Mac users and for third-party font-manager developers. Right now Font Book is a separate application, but Apple should consider making it part of the core OS and offering APIs so developers can access the features. This would be similar to what I remember from Mac apps, most notably MacDraw, in the late 1980s.
One of the features built into MacDraw was the ability to add and remove fonts on-the-fly, from within the application. When MacDraw was launched, only a core set of fonts was available unless launching was done via opening a drawing that contained additional fonts that were then made accessible. If Font Book becomes an OS feature, this would give all Mac apps this functionality without the user having to go to another app to activate and deactivate fonts.
Dedicated utilities from Extensis, DiamondSoft, Insider Software, and Alsoft would still be needed for creating font sets (which Font Book would be able to activate and deactivate just like individual fonts), checking for corrupted fonts, previewing a font's character sets and sizes, and providing any number of other features that Font Book does not.
Apple provides basic font management for the average user. The third-party companies provide advanced features for those with more-demanding font-management needs. I see a win-win situation brewing.
Judged by Our Cover
September's cover is very nicely designed -- I love the art. It's a beauty, even down to the spot metallics. Macworld's art department is cookin'! As a student of design, I can rest assured that you're in good hands.
Macworld! How about showing some professionalism and decency, and pulling Kensington's back-cover ad (September 2003)? I'm ashamed of you for allowing such advertising tactics. What is our world coming to when strong companies such as Macworld allow advertisers to use sex to sell computer products? Sad. If this practice continues, I will be finding other ways to get my Mac news.
OK, what was on the back cover of September's issue that inspired the local censors to rip that page off of every Macworld in Saudi Arabia?
Get the Balance Right
I read your review of the Canon EOS 10D ( ; September 2003) with genuine interest since one of the cons you cited was one of my primary reasons for purchasing this camera. No white-balance fine-tuning? You'd better have another look at the manual. In addition to the standard white-balance modes found on many digital cameras (including Nikons), the 10D lets you fine-tune the white balance in increments of 100 degrees Kelvin -- a feature that was previously available only on the much more expensive Canon EOS-1D and is still unavailable on Nikon's flagship D1X and the D100. While using the 10D in a professional environment, I've found that its ability to render accurate color in its automatic white-balance mode is superior to that of any other digital camera I've used.
There is no "white-balance fine-tuning" of the type found on other cameras -- most notably Nikons -- that offer a "fine-tuning" feature. While there are many different white-balance modes, there's no way to tune the preset cloudy or daylight functions, for example. Since most users aren't accustomed to thinking in degrees Kelvin, and since white balancing manually isn't always practical, a fine-tuning feature would be very handy. -- Ben Long
I'd hoped that the emergence of Adobe InDesign might knock the folks at Quark off their pedestal of arrogance. While I've been using InDesign as much as possible, it still has some production-based limitations that force me to resort to QuarkXPress. I'd hoped version 6.0 (Reviews, September 2003) would have enough new features for me to abandon InDesign. But with a retail price hundreds of dollars higher than InDesign's, and with virtually no benefits beyond not having to run Classic, XPress has proved to me that Quark is a doddering behemoth, incapable of listening to its customers or the marketplace. Quark is in business in spite of itself. The end users don't like the company; the service bureaus don't like the company. I'm certain that as soon as a product such as InDesign matures enough to be a viable alternative for most users and service bureaus, Quark will disappear faster than you can say "Aldus."
If you're thinking about upgrading to QuarkXPress 6.0, think again.
It makes huge PDF files. A document that used to produce 448K PDF files now produces 8.9MB files. Quark's tech-support solution? Save the document as an EPS file, open it in Adobe Photoshop, and then make a PDF file.
If you work on a desktop and a laptop, you now have to buy two copies of XPress. Quark says it's working on an alternative plan. I imagine that it will cost less than another program, but I also imagine that it won't be cheap. No other software company I deal with does this to customers.
If you want to save down to version 5.0, look out -- XPress may suddenly quit, or it may produce a file that inexplicably cannot be opened by your coworkers who were wise enough not to upgrade. This is especially problematic if you're saving over a network. Quark's solution? First save the new document to your desktop, and then drag it to the shared volume. Your workflow just got more difficult.
Continuing the tradition of not caring about its customers' convenience or productivity, Quark's tech support closes at 5 p.m. MST. Sometimes there's no answer. And when I called customer support and finally got a live person, he put me back in the same circuitous queue that got me to him in the first place. I think Quark is overwhelmed with upset 6.0 users.
Just Drop It
In September's Mac Gems, Rob Griffiths laments that Mac OS doesn't offer a way to interrupt a drag-and-drop operation. This surprised me a bit since the mechanism for aborting a drag and drop is the same as it's always been: simply drop whatever you're dragging onto the menu bar.
Normally, I'm a big fan of Apple software, but I just have to say that Apple's Mail isn't very good. And " Take a Peek at Panther " (September 2003) didn't encourage me to hope for better. Far easier to use is the beautifully integrated Microsoft Entourage. I'm not sure what Apple is trying to achieve with its package, but the company ought to look at the competition. I've used a broad range of e-mail programs over the years, and Entourage beats the pants off everything else.
In our review of iListen 1.6.1 (Reviews, October 2003), we implied that previous versions of iListen included a select-by-saying capability. In fact, 1.6.1 is the first version of iListen to include this feature.