Tales of Web Travelers
In her recent article “Web Traveler’s Companion” (April 1999), Shelly Brisbin recommended a workday-diversion Web site called the Onion. In viewing this Web site, I was shocked to find that it contained adult-oriented material unsuitable for children. I would appreciate it if in the future
would do a better job in reviewing its recommendations and not include material that most people would find offensive and inappropriate.
I enjoyed visiting the sites described in the “Web Traveler’s Companion”. You emphasized that the Web is worldwide, but unfortunately you provided only American sites. Arguably the best news site in the world is maintained by the British Broadcasting Corporation, at
http://news.bbc.co.uk, and contains the same quality of coverage as the BBC’s radio and television services. The site provides news, history, analysis, reader feedback, and relevant links and breaks coverage down by continent so that readers may explore their region in depth.
I usually agree with most ofthe reviews and awards in your magazine, but sorry,
, I’m not agreeing this time! In the “Web Traveler’s Companion,” Shelly Brisbin picked MIT’s Info-Mac HyperArchive for best shareware site. I didn’t even have it in my bookmarks, so I thought I would check it out. I searched for Flash-It, the screen-capturing software. The MIT site had no clue. I went back to my favorite, ZDNet Macintosh Software Library (
), and I found the application on the first try.
New Life with Linux
Stephan Somogyi’s excellent article about Unix on Macs (“”The Beauty of the Beast”” April 1999) mentioned that LinuxPPC can make an old Power Mac a great Web server. Older Macs with 68030 and 68040 processors also can take advantage of the OpenBSD operating system. In the small company I recently worked for, we set up a Centris 650 with OpenBSD and Apache and found it very adequate for our Web-service needs. This is not something for the fainthearted, but it’s a great way to recycle pre-PowerPC Macs. I have even seen a Mac SE/30 running as a decent FTP server with OpenBSD.
Thanks for a terrific intro-ductory article about Unix options on the Macintosh. I use LinuxPPC R4 on my Motorola StarMax 3000 and can attest to the extraordinary speedup?booting, starting Netscape Communicator, and doing page layout in Communicator are all at least three times faster than with Mac OS 7.6.1.
But I agree that it is not for everyone. I cannot count the times I was thankful for my ten years of Unix experience. Getting the X Windows graphics system running optimally is tricky, and not all video cards are fully supported by the kernel or X Windows. My MacPicasso 540 video card, for example, does not yet have a valid color map, so applications are quite ugly?although in the spirit of Linux, I am testing and debugging kernel patches to correct this, and the patches will be incorporated into a future Linux release.
The next version of LinuxPPC, called R5, reportedly has significant improvements in installation, as well as the very nice GNOME desktop, which I’ve used on Linux/Alpha. When it becomes available, please review the upgrade so readers can better evaluate the Linux option.
Adam Clayton Powell IV
The Good, the Bad, and the NT
seems to believe that Windows NT is superior to the Mac OS (”
Put Your Files in the Fast Lane,” April 1999).
Time after time the magazine downplays the Mac OS and implies that NT is where we’re headed, or where we should be headed. NT is headed downhill.
The inclusion of a Windows NT 5 beta?which probably won’t be released for another year, if ever?and exclusion of Mac OS X Server was just the latest example of
‘s obvious bias. The tests showed the current Mac OS superior in file-serving performance, but you almost seemed disappointed that NT didn’t win.
Be proud of the Macintosh. Things are only going to get better on the side of the good guys and worse on the side of the “evil empire.”
Ken C. Sherman
We did not include Mac OS X Server in the story because it was not shipping at the time, and a public beta was unavailable for our tests. For our assessment of Mac OS X Server, please see this month’s Reviews.?Ed.
PDF for Presentations
Jim Heid’s article ”
Presenting with HTML
, April 1999) presents good arguments for using a universal format as a presentation medium, but he promotes the wrong one. Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) features all of the same benefits plus some not inherent in HTML?scalability, built-in navigation tools, text search, output to film, and embedded fonts. Plus, any printable file can be converted to PDF with Acrobat PDFWriter or Distiller, and most Adobe products save directly to PDF.
C. Scott Miller
Studio City, California
Surfing with Efficiency
As I read Joseph Schorr’s ”
URL Magic Tricks
, April 1999), I looked for him to talk about a timesaving trick I use: in addition to my browser’s bookmarks, I have hundreds of URLs saved in different ClarisWorks spreadsheets for different topics.
You can collect URLs in spreadsheet files that you might name “www (Some Topic).” For example, in my folder on recreation, I have three spreadsheets: “www Sports&Recreation&Games,” “www Travel&Attractions,” and “www Tourist Offices.” I now have 53 such files organized into a hierarchy of folders related to topics that interest me.
Each spreadsheet has many URLs that I can select, copy, and paste into a browser window. I organize my URLs into convenient subtopics within each spreadsheet and hot-link those that I use often.
Richard L. Goodbody
San Diego, California
I could not believe what poor performance David Pogue got from his cable modem (”
Desktop Critic: Differently Cabled,” April 1999). Twenty-four seconds to download
.com? Golly, my cable modem is several times faster than his.
Pogue downplays the advantages of a cable modem. It is about the same price as an Internet service provider and less expensive than having a second phone line and an ISP. Pages that used to take minutes to download now take seconds. On poorly handled sites, there is only a little difference in download speed, but
.com is not one of them. I’m used to downloads of at least 80 Kbps, and similar uploads. Pogue’s conclusion that the only real advantage is not having to spend time connecting via phone line is a gross disservice to a wonderful new technology.
James E. Gramze
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Weirdly enough, my cable modem continued to slow down after I wrote the column. I called Microsoft tech support and learned about a conflict between RAM Doubler and Internet Explorer 4.5. Without RAM Doubler, Web pages appear on my screen in two or three seconds, which is much more representative of a cable modem’s actual performance. I’m happier with that cable modem with every passing day.?David Pogue
Disproving an Adage
Andy Gore stated in “”Bargain Hunters, Beware”” (
The Vision Thing
, April 1999) that “if a deal seems too good to be true . . . it is.” That is not always the case. One day I was procrastinating and came across 800.com. It was selling three CDs, DVDs, or VHS tapes for $1. My first thought was the same as Gore’s: this was too good to be true. After further examination I found there were no catches to the deal, and it even included shipping and handling. They even offered the more popular films and recordings. So I ordered three movies, and in about four weeks I received my three movies. My credit card was billed only $1. So if a deal seems too good . . . it might actually be true.
Faster Than a Speeding Pentium
I’m a recent Macintosh con-vert and was a little skeptical about Apple’s claims that the G3 processor is faster than a Pentium II and that Mac OS 8.5 is better than Windows 98. I’d like to apologize to all Mac users and to Apple for any misconceptions I may have had.
I bought a lime iMac after looking at them countless times in the stores and reading about them in
and at the Apple Store. I was very impressed with the speed of the G3 processor. I decided to test it out against my Pentium II 350MHz computer, so I placed both computers side by side and turned them on. By the time the Pentium II computer finished booting up, my iMac was already surfing the Net. Kudos to Apple for designing a fantastic computer and OS, and thanks to
for the informative articles. Without all that information I might never have bought an iMac?I shudder to think.
Michael Jack Hooper
Twentynine Palms, California
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