You Call That Portable?
You and Apple are completely out of touch with reality. I don’t think the PowerBook G3/300 deserves a five-mouse rating, because the philosophy behind this and similar machines is sheer lunacy (
, December 1998). Most of the stuff on these heavy, cumbersome, and short-lived units is never used in transit. Apple should push in the other direction: offer a low-end portable (2 pounds or less with 24-hour battery life) and put on only e-mail, calendar, spreadsheet, and word processing apps. That’s what we professionals on the move could use. No more of these $5K toys you throw out after a year.
Andrew Gore writes, “Nothing could be sweeter than popping a favorite movie in your PowerBook the next time you have to suffer a cross-country flight in coach class.” I hate to be critical, and I really love my PowerBook, but I can’t even get the beast open in coach class. It will just fit if I push myself back into my seat, place the computer in my lap, and sit as still and straight as possible. Moments of sheer panic ensue when the guy in front leans back in his seat.
In theory, private movies are a cool idea, but have you actually tried it? If it works for you, I want to switch airlines.
We Got Game
I enjoyed “20 Unforgettable Games” (December 1998), but I have an important thing to say about Escape Velocity: Override. It is an excellent game, but I would also like to mention the original Escape Velocity. Although the galaxy is smaller and has fewer fancy features and strange aliens, I believe that the game is far better and deserves at least some recognition. All of Override’s planet graphics were simply pasted into Override from Escape Velocity, as were many weapon and outfit graphics. Most of Escape Velocity’s starship graphics are much more complex than Override’s, which look like a small child’s drawings.
The most important thing that the author failed to mention was the expandability of both games. Developers can create plug-ins for either one to expand, alter, and enhance game play. Escape Velocity, although less advanced, has had two years for developers to expand on the galaxy, and somewhere between 200 and 500 plug-ins have been created. In fact, some developers are creating a new, hybrid game that extends beyond all limitations of Escape Velocity and Override. Its galaxy is double the size of Override’s. Keep your eyes open for this upcoming game!
T he author of “20 Unforget-table Games” was extremely generous with his scoring. I thought Tomb Raider II had some of the worst game play I’ve ever experienced. The graphics were its only redeeming quality. I felt similarly about the other games in the feature that I’d heard of. Somebody (namely MacSoft) needs to get on the ball. The Mac gaming situation is improving, but it’s sure not there yet. How compatible will OS X be with new/old/any PC games? I hope it will help significantly, since the current situation is pathetic. Being a loyal Mac user, I just want the best for the far superior Macintosh machinesI don’t want to have to give them up for Microsoft-dependent crap.
Forsaken by 8.5
I have been a Macintosh loyalist since my first 128K Macintosh, in my freshman year at Dartmouth College. In 1992 I bought an Apple LaserWriter Select 310 while in business school. At the time, $1,200 seemed like a lot for a laser printer, but it was an Apple, and I was loyal, so I bought it.
Fast-forward to 1998. Apple releases OS 8.5, which is supposed to be the be-all, end-all software for Macintosh. Nowhere in the Read Me documentation was there any clue my current printer was not going to be supported. Imagine my surprise when, after installation, I could not print anything. Nada. Not even a SimpleText message or some Stickies.
It looks like anyone who has a LaserWriter Select 310 printer and wants to upgrade to 8.5 is out of luck. I find it interesting that 8.5 installs a printer driver for the Apple ImageWriter, yet doesn’t support this newer laser printer. It’s especially ironic that Apple decided to save a few dollars by not rewriting a printer driver, while Microsoft did the right thing and updated its LaserWriter Select 310 driver to work with Windows 98. Somehow, Apple’s long-standing claim of superior ease of use seems a little disingenuous.
The War Rages On
I just read David Pogue’s December column on Macworld Online (“Nuclear Browser Wars,” The Desktop Critic). While I have a fear and loathing of Microsoft, I too am a fan of Internet Explorer. I play around with a coworker’s Wintel machine and Explorer at night, and I have found that the Mac Explorer is better than Explorer in its own native soil! I agree with all of Pogue’s comments about Explorer’s features, and there are some he didn’t mention (such as autofill and the pull-down menu for going to recently accessed URLs). I used to complain about Explorer’s slowness, but either 4.01 is faster, as Microsoft claims, or I’m used to the slowness now.
My biggest complaint about Netscape Navigator is that it lacks the user-friendliness Explorer offers. I don’t want to have to work hard to use the Internet, and Navigator makes it too difficult.
I respect your honesty in pointing out when a company as (dis)respected as Microsoft actually makes a good product.
I read “Nuclear Browser Wars” and have a few things for you to ponder. I use Netscape Communicator 4.5, and I am really happy with it. Microsoft is using incompatibility to make people think pages created for Navigator are buggy. HTML has a lot of tags, and many duplicate each others’ functions. When you’ve created a page with Communicator, the page looks great in Netscape Navigator but horrible in Internet Explorer. Why? Because IE doesn’t accept sloppy HTML. You would be surprised at what Navigator accepts as HTML and makes it look good. IE demands perfect HTML for the page to look good. Why didn’t Microsoft make a browser that accepts even bad HTML? Isn’t the idea to be able to see a page the way it was meant to be seen? I think it was meant to make Communicator-created pages look bad.
A Call for Détente
A fter reading David Pogue’s “Nuclear Browser Wars” and an interview with Steve Jobs in Fortune, something became clear to me. The age-old war between Microsoft and Apple is no longer something on which Mac users need to focus. We are in a war of ideals. Sending hate mail to anyone who says anything good about a Microsoft product is not going to show people that the Mac is a far better machine than any Wintel one. On the other hand, we cannot simply go around beating people over the head with PowerBooks and believe that they are suddenly going to convert from PC to Mac.
It is time to truly think differently about the way we spread the Apple word. Let our attitudes, work quality, and G3’s do the talking, and stop shouting so loud that nobody wants to listen. I admire Pogue because he realizes that no matter what you run on your Mac, Microsoft or otherwise, it is simply going to be a better experience.
All Hail FileMaker
Just a quick thanks to Con-tributing Editor Henry Bortman for his informative piece on how to develop a valuable postproduction tool using FileMaker’s powerful database environment. Our office operations are supported by a custom database designed in FileMaker and distributed via a 10BaseT Mac network. If more people were acquainted with this application and the advantages of implementing it on the Mac, we’d see a major global increase of corporate environments using the Mac.
Apple’s Last, Best Hope
I just finished reading the Dec-ember issue of Macworld, noting in particular the Mac-related list of gifts. The mention of painting one’s G3 tower to resemble something from Babylon 5 set off a vague theory. When it comes to computers and science fiction, I’ve noticed that PC people tend to enjoy the lowest-common-denominator Star Wars and Star Trek franchises, whereas Mac fans tend to prefer the much more literary Babylon 5 and The Prisoner. We’ve all seen the T-shirts featuring Bill Gates as a Borg, with the caption “We are Microsoft. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.” When are we Mac junkies going to see a T-shirt with Steve Jobs as a Vorlon and a caption reading, “If you go to Windows NT, you will die”?