Mini maximus

Our inboxes continue to overflow with letters about the Mac mini. Of course, that may be because we keep writing about it. Our April cover line—“Mac Mini: The Complete Guide”—was no lie. We had a full review, lab test results, a deep-inside dissection, and answers to FAQs, and we compared the mini with a similarly priced Windows PC from Dell. But not to worry: we hear that Apple has recently come out with another noteworthy new product (see “Tiger Arrives,” page 50), so we’ll be on a mini hiatus for now.

Mac Mini versus Dell

Timothy Walker - I would like to thank Dan Frakes for his fair and balanced comparison of the Mac mini to competing Dell offerings (“Apples and Oranges,” Mac Beat, April 2005). Healthy competition is good for consumers, and as my Mac-loving fiancée can attest, there’s room in the marketplace (and in our home) for both Apple and Dell. Biased punditry serves no one’s interests.

Bill Hodena - Though I’ve loved Apple hardware ever since I touched my first Apple II, I’ve spent the past five years firmly entrenched in the Wintel world. As a professional software developer, I felt that Windows PCs simply offered me more for my money. But Ibought a Mac mini a few days after its release, and I was immediately floored. I loaded up CVS and rdesktop, and picked up BBEdit and a couple of shareware database-development packages; within a week, Iwas performing half of my development tasks on it. I can now develop, test, and manage applications faster than I ever could on my Windows PCs. I’ve moved those PCs into the closet. Any technophile worth his or her weight in silicon needs to try a mini.

Dim Mini?

Peter Pauly - I’m surprised that your review of the Mac minis ( April 2005 ) made no mention of the mini’s video problems. Apple’s own discussion groups are full of angry early adopters who’ve had problems connecting the mini’s DVI-VGA adapter to many CRT monitors. The resulting video output is dim and blurry. This flies in the face of Steve Jobs’s keynote statement that the mini will work with any industry-standard monitor.

We’ve seen those reports, too—but not in time to mention them in our review. We’ll continue to look into the issue, but for now check out “Many Answers to Mini Problems” in this month’s Mac 911 column (page 90).—Ed.

Panoramic Views

James Rea, ProVue Development - Macworld’ s recent review of Panorama (   ; April 2005 ) failed to mention the most important difference between Panorama and all other database programs: Panorama is RAM based, not disk based. This means it is thousands of times faster at most operations, offering tremendous productivity gains for tasks as simple as organizing a small office or as complex as analyzing DNA research. This omission is like comparing a 747 with a train but failing to mention that the 747 can fly.

Jim Crandall - Thank you for your review of Panorama V. As a fan of Panorama and a user of FileMaker Pro, I choose Panorama for most of my data analysis. Ease of data entry—using Clairvoyance, autodating, Word Caps, and other shortcut tools—is one of the main reasons. Also, for raw analysis, Panorama enables quick and easy mathematical manipulation of data, while FileMaker requires more laborious keystrokes and offers fewer options. Not all databases need to be complex or relational. Panorama excels over FileMaker and Excel for most of my data needs.

James Cook - Let me start by saying that I am a Panorama developer. That disclosure is important because it tells you that I have a vested interest. Macworld did not disclose that William Porter, the writer of your review, is a FileMaker developer with a vested interest in FileMaker. That’s unfair to your readers and to Panorama. I make my living building database applications. FileMaker certainly has advantages in some respects, but overall I have repeatedly concluded that Panorama is the more powerful of the two for my uses. Because Iknow Panorama as I do, Mr. Porter’s review did not strike me as being written by someone who had really explored its capabilities. If he was seeking FileMaker’s way of doing things within Panorama, he wouldn’t have found it. They are different products and neither is suitable for every database use.

We received a flood of mail from Panorama users about our review. Even though we gave the program relatively high marks, many of those Panorama fans considered the review unfair. In particular, many of them questioned our choice of William Porter, an independent FileMaker developer, as a reviewer. They felt that his affiliation with a rival program—which we did not disclose—made it impossible for him to be fair to Panorama. While we stand behind Mr. Porter’s review and its conclusions, we regret the lack of transparency. It invited some readers to think we had something to hide. To prevent that from happening again, we’ve added biographies of our reviewers to all major reviews. That way, you’ll know exactly whose opinions you’re reading.—Ed.

Who Came First?

Seungoh Ryu, Math Game House - We read your article “Instant Collaboration” ( Geek Factor, April 2005 ) with keen interest. But we’d like to note one inaccuracy: you imply that SubEthaEdit is the first of its kind. However, we released version 1.0 of iStorm and iChalk in October 2002, significantly ahead of Hydra (which, after a name change, became SubEthaEdit). At the time, ours was the first software of its kind utilizing Rendezvous.

You are correct, and we apologize for implying otherwise.—Ed.

Help-Desk Humor

Sean Hayes - Was that an April Fools’ sidebar in your April 2005 Mac OS X Hints column? Use Terminal and a series of arcane commands to find the time in distant parts of the world? When I could just go to Worldtimezones.com in my browser? Still, it was a jolly good laugh.

Win Some, Lose Some

Darren Draper - I’ve been a faithful subscriber to Macworld for over three years now and have to tell you that the April 2005 issue tops the list. I normally dog-ear the helpful pages to refer to later, but the dog-earing went out of control this month. Thank you for your helpful advice and excellent reviews. Keep up the good work.

Ney Fonseca - Correct me if I’m wrong, folks, but I understand that your new venture, Playlist, came about partially because many readers were frustrated that iPod coverage was crowding out the Mac in Macworld. So it’s hard to explain the advertising supplement masked as a guide to froufrou accessories for the iPod (“iPod Gear Guide,” April 2005 ). Don’t get me wrong—I’m as happy as any long-term Mac person for the success and visibility the little gizmos have given Apple. But enough is enough.

Playlist magazine is available only on newsstands, and it has a fraction of Macworld’s readers. The iPod is hugely popular among Mac users, and, more to the point, we actually added editorial pages to the April issue: there wasn’t less Mac content, there was just additional iPod content. Still, it’s called Macworld, not iPodworld, and always will be.—Ed.

Better Than Salami

William Partridge - Thanks very much for the magazines you sent. Since I originally posted my request for Apple-related magazines online a year ago, many people have helped out; thanks to Macworld for being one of them. I work in a U.S. military camp in Kuwait about 20 miles from the Iraqi border. Supplies are sparse, and it can be difficult to get some things shipped here. But the magazines you and others have sent have gone over very well. A coworker brought a PowerBook back from his last vacation, and I am the proud owner of a new 12-inch iBook; I’m also planning to buy an iMac when I return from Kuwait for good. Thanks again for the magazines. You’re awesome!

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