David Pogue’s March 1999 column, ”
Desktop Critic: CompUSA: Apple’s Not-So-Superstore,” was right on target.
I was recruited from our local Macintosh user group as an official Apple representative for the iMac introduction and the OS 8.5 rollout at a CompUSA in Colorado. When I arrived at the store, I introduced myself to the manager. He said that he didn’t care about Macs, didn’t know anything about Macs, and as far as he was concerned I was wasting his time.
Several Mac customers indicated that the Apple Store-Within-a-Store at this CompUSA was usually used for storage of overflow PC merchandise, and they were left to find what they needed on their own.
For a program of this type to be successful, there must be a positive attitude on the part of store management. Hype at the corporate level means nothing if the store managers have a negative attitude and short-circuit corporate policy with their condescension.
My experiences with CompUSA have been almost identical to David Pogue’s. At the store in San Marcos, California, I asked several questions about the iMac and received less-than-stellar answers. Finally, I started asking the young salesperson questions that he could have answered if he had just turned around and read the advertisement behind him. He failed miserably. I tried again at the new store in Encinitas and received the same results. Whatever Apple is paying this company to sell its products is too much by a factor of ten.
At least Mr. Pogue was able to talk with a salesperson. When I went to buy Apple’s LaserWriter 8500, I couldn’t get anyone to wait on me. CompUSA’s treatment of Mac customers is abhorrent. As an Apple Computer shareholder, I find this situation intolerable.
Blues for the G3
The new G3 is cute, isn’t it (”
iMac Envy,” March 1999)? And those handles?if it only had a set of wheels on one end, we could tote it around like luggage! Is there some future integration yet to be announced for these impressive yet mysterious design additions? Do they imply that I need to carry this machine often? Do I need to lift it every day? Maybe it’s an attempt to start some new exercise trend?Macxersize!
The new G3 case is a bad design. My desktop is packed with hardware. I can’t spread out anymore, so I rely on stacking components to save space. I put peripherals on top of my PowerPC Mac, which allows me to use short SCSI cables. I wish these designers would look more closely at the environmental needs of Mac users and design hardware that doesn’t incorporate useless obtrusive elements. Work with a Mac every day for a living, and then tell me you still have enough room on your desk to accommodate retrograde ergonomic design?like handles.
It seems Apple has gone and done it again: they took two steps forward and three steps back.
When it came time to look seriously at purchasing a machine for digital-audio applications, I decided that the Mac was for me. A salesperson recommended two options: look for a used 9500 or 9600 or wait and see what the new G3s come with. The new G3s appear to have so much going for them (improved bus speed, FireWire and USB ports, ATI Rage 128-bit graphics, great price point) that stepping up to one seems like an easy decision.
Easy, that is, until you start to dig deeper, and discover that Apple decided to drop many of the features that made the original G3s attractive in the first place: the new G3s have no serial ports, no built-in video, no floppy-disk drive, a lack of expansion slots, and no SCSI!
Every time Apple gets a good thing going, they get clumsy. And they certainly did it again this time. A great new machine, hobbled by a lack of expansion and the connections people use every day.
Ben Long missed the two most important features of Deneba Canvas 6 in his recent review (
, March 1999). First, with Canvas I can create high-end output in one program?instead of using Adobe Photoshop, PageMaker, and Illustrator?and without all the hassle. Second, I have been released from the “Adobe extortion program”?each year I fork out about $169 to $189 for upgrades to each program! Canvas gives me the output that I need, I save a bundle, and I get the same results, if not better.
Slower Than the IRS
Did John Rizzo review a different version of MacInTax Deluxe ’98 from the one those of us who bought the product in the open market have (
, March 1999)? When using the Interview mode, the program slows to an unacceptable level?easily two minutes or longer to launch or close the application, plus additional minutes to switch to each subsequent interview entry box?on both G3s and 68040s. Read the comments on Intuit’s own Web site. This is either an example of Intuit’s complete lack of quality assurance or their utter disdain for the Mac market.
In his review of virus-protection software, Stephan Somogyi mentioned that Norton AntiVirus has a straightforward interface (
, March 1999). I disagree. I tried a demo version of Symantec AntiVirus (now NAV), and I feel that Virex is a much better choice. NAV did the job, but it was very intrusive, and I did not like the interface as much as Virex’s. Virex’s interface is not perfect, but it’s easy to use and understand.
I used Virex 5.8.1 for several months, and it did a great job. After two months or so of my using version 5.8.1, Virex revved to version 5.9. I contacted Network Associates and they sent it to me free!
Somogyi complained that Virex did not offer an automatic upgrade feature, but he also noted that this feature for NAV is flawed. Anyone who knows how to use a Web browser can get the free upgrades for Virex via the Web. It sounds like Somogyi’s a NAV fan. I bet he also prefers PCs.
Go beyond the Root
Stephan Somogyi’s review of the OrangePC 627 overlooks a major software limitation (
, March 1999). You can share a folder from your Mac so that it appears on the PC as a network volume (allowing you to work on the file on both platforms), but you are limited to the outdated DOS “8.3” file-name convention. Worse, you can use only files located in the root directory of the shared volume! I tried many fixes, including adding a second Ethernet card and mounting a trial version of Dave.
Fortunately, a workaround exists. The PC will recognize all files and subdirectories on a floppy or an external SCSI device, such as a Zip drive?even files with long names. The only apparent limitation is that sometimes you have to eject and reinsert the disk when switching OSs so that the new OS can recognize changes made to files. Since discovering this, I’ve been quite pleased with my Orange. Of course, it’s still no Mac, but that’s comparing Apples and Oranges.
Orange Micro says it is aware of the file-name and shared-volumes problems. It is planning a 32-bit version of the shared-volumes software, which should fix the problem. In the meantime, Scott’s workaround will do the trick.?Ed.
Microsoft Makes Good
Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 4.5 is amazing (”
Internet Explorer Gets Back to Basics,” News, March 1999). Fast, compact, and reliable, it’s such a huge leap over what browsers used to be just a year ago, and a fine piece of software to boot. IE plain cooks on my old Power Mac 7600/132 here at home; at work we run IE 4 on Windows NT and it is terrible, an utterly lifeless piece of software. What’s going on? Face the facts. Microsoft the Great is starting to consider the Mac more seriously. Office? Better on the Mac. IE? Better on the Mac. Now all we need is Flight Simulator 5.
How about Banana?
After reading the article "
Flavorful iMacs Debut
" (News, March 1999), I realized where Apple got the five new iMac flavors. If you look at the classic Apple logo, starting at the bottom of the apple the stripes are blue, purple, red, orange, yellow, and green. These correspond to the flavors blueberry, grape, strawberry, tangerine, and skipping yellow, lime. The only flavor I can think of for yellow is lemon, and there is no way that Apple is going to call their product a “lemon”!
If you’re craving a splash of yellow with your iMac, check out Contour Design’s (800/462-6678,
) banana UniMouse.?Ed
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