I was very interested in your comparison of the iMac and a PC (”
The iMac Challenge,” July 1999). I am certified on various Microsoft products, including Windows 95, and I have been considering purchasing a Mac. I am well aware of the strengths of the Macintosh in graphic design and audio editing. By adding a Mac to my collection, I think I would have the best of both worlds?familiarity with the PC along with the usability of the Mac.
Your comparison, although geared more toward the first-time user, was quite informative and honest, and I was more interested than ever in purchasing a Macintosh after reading it. The 266MHz iMac’s performance versus that of the 366MHz PC impressed me the most. I don’t know if a G3 is comparable to a Celeron as opposed to a Pentium II, but nevertheless, the numbers are impressive.
Although I am really not the iMac’s target buyer, I was very interested in
iMac-versus-Gateway-PC tests. There was a great deal of valuable information in the article, and I hope both Apple and the PC manufacturers pay attention to it. Although the tests were well organized and thoughtful, there was one crucial element missing: finding out what happens to these users after they spend a month using each computer.
Consider a few more tests that would really point out the Mac’s superiority, which is in consistency. For example, have users install a new software application and then launch and use that application. Or add a peripheral device to the computer, configure it, and use it. Now add another peripheral of a different kind, configure it, and use it.
In these more everyday tests, the Mac is far superior to the PC because everything behaves pretty much the same. Menus (such as File and Edit) are always there and always contain certain items. Peripherals are generally straightforward and have similar installation processes, and most programs work basically the same way?even very different programs such as graphics and word-processing applications.
Due to time constraints, we were unable to document the users’ long-term experiences. We hope in the future to chronicle iMac and PC users’ experiences over a longer period of time.?Ed.
The iMac Challenge,” you forgot one important test?the Mom test. Which kind of computer would you rather have your mother buy, given that you will act as the technical-support person for the life of the machine?
Up in Arms over OS X Server
has really lost its way! You conduct a review of Mac OS X Server (
Reviews, July 1999), including a graph with the dooming headline “As a Web Server, OS X Lags,” and give OS X Server a low mark for “mediocre performance for file and Web serving.” Then at the end you mention that the comparison was to a large-scale, multiprocessor NT server and that a smaller NT-server configuration comparable to the Mac tested wasn’t available at press time. That’s not exactly comparing Apples to apples, is it?
This first-generation Mac OS X Server may not be the server of choice for huge transaction-intensive sites yet. However, those sites are not the majority on the Web. For the more common small-to-medium-size sites and intranets for labs, classrooms, and small graphics shops where networked media is important?the traditional core of the Macintosh user base?OS X Server is a superior product. And OS X Server is not built on a house of cards, as is Windows NT, with its bloated code that dooms it to technological extinction. Clearly this clean offering created on a solid code foundation from a proven technology leader has a much brighter future than NT, and a publication that cared about its readers’ pocketbooks would recommend it.
To clarify our test configuration for the Mac OS X Server review: both the NT server and the Solaris server were dual-processor systems. We feel comparing Mac OS X Server to these configurations is reasonable, because dual processors are considered standard for businesses concerned with Web-server performance.
For more opinions on OS X Server’s suitability in offices and labs, see our continuing coverage at
Yes, Palm’s organizers are nice machines (”
You Can Take It with You,” July 1999), but getting them to work with non-infrared-equipped Macs is a huge and costly pain. I’m surprised David Pogue didn’t directly mention this.
ought to let people know that the cost of attaching a Palm to a new G3 is not just $6 for a serial cable but more like $76, because a $70 USB-to-serial adapter is required to connect the cable to the machine.
We already know that Apple has no interest in providing support for so-called outdated connectors. Apple’s decision to decommission serial ports, SCSI ports, and floppy drives is a special kind of tyranny, one so poorly conceived that the folks in Redmond wouldn’t even try it.
According to recent reports, 3Com/Palm Computing will release a USB cradle at some point, although no date has been set. In the meantime, we agree with David’s point and advise you to factor in the extra cost if you’re considering getting a Palm.?Ed.
Worth the Cost
Dori Smith’s article ”
” (Create, July 1999) sure hit the spot! I’ve never needed, nor had any interest in getting into, any programming language, but I did want to get more interactivity in my Web pages. Tweaking Smith’s script to work on my page gave me flashbacks of those old thrills I used to get from working on a HyperCard stack on my Mac. As part of the tweaking, I added 0.2 inch to the bottom of each image. I placed the title of the image in this space. This way you get the title of each image in the slide show. Now I have a whole new world to explore. Thanks.
A Write-Protect Conspiracy
Finding out that Microsoft has its own unique value system is a rite of passage for most computer professionals, not unlike your first, er, kiss (”
The Desktop Critic: The Dark Side of the Dark Side
“, July 1999). In my own case, I recall a client a few years back who called about installing Microsoft Word on a Macintosh with a suspect floppy drive. The drive could read just fine but was known to destroy data when used for writing. “No problem,” I said, “simply set the write-protect tab on the installation disk, and you should be OK.” Nope?Mr. Gates and Microsoft obviously didn’t see it that way. During installation the software wrote registration information to the disk anyway, bypassing the tab and ultimately ruining the data. Silly me?after all, the tab was really only an industry convention. If you are bound and determined to ignore it, of course you can. That was some years ago. These days, it seems, Microsoft is ignoring a lot more than the write-protect tab on a floppy.
Keys to the Game
After reading Christopher Breen’s column on Virtual Game Station (”
The Game Room
“, July 1999), I felt inferior because I am a keyboard junkie. As a die-hard gamer, I play every game I can get my hands on, and after using a game pad I borrowed from a friend, I vowed never to use one again. With a computer, you get more-advanced games with more-advanced controls. Trying to break today’s game controls down to eight buttons is impossible. If you don’t believe me, try playing Starsiege: Tribes, where only a keyboard in combination with a mouse can lead to victory.
Stretching the Metaphor
If Bill Gates is Darth Sidiousand Microsoft is the evil empire, then we Mac users must be the Rebel Alliance. And that makes Steve Jobs, who? Obi-Wan?
Flash back to October 1997, when Steve Jobs said, “We have to let go of the notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose. The competition between Apple and Microsoft is over as far as I’m concerned.” Microsoft then bought $150 million in Apple stock. So maybe Steve Jobs is really Anakin Skywalker, and if you know your
episodes, you know who he becomes.
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