When did Macworld become a mind reader (”
Your Perfect Mac,” May 1999)? Recently I, an avid Mac enthusiast, was looking to buy a new system. Then you come out with an article describing the ideal system for an enthusiast, and the specs were almost identical to the one I bought. At a total cost of just over $3,000 for the entire system, I think I got a good deal despite not making price my primary reason for selecting a model. The new Power Macintosh G3 is a great deal, no matter which configuration you buy.
continue to push Microsoft Office? The reviews Office 98 has received since its introduction puzzle me. True, it’s better than its immediate predecessor?but that’s like saying a rotting pile of garbage smells better than an open septic tank. ”
Your Perfect Mac
” continues this trend, recommending Office for three of five otherwise excellent Macs. There’s nary a mention of the competition, not even AppleWorks.
Many features in Office are still too hard to get to or, like the auto-underlining for misspelled words, too hard to get rid of. As a professional Web designer, I really hate cleaning up the lousy HTML created by the Save As HTML feature. The interface is still cluttered, and that stupid dancing Mac is an insult.
Christopher Breen even claims, “Everyone who’s anyone in business uses Word and Excel.” Well, I like to think I’m someone, and I get most of my business done using a program that beats Word for functionality, ease of use, security, and stability, despite its not having had a major upgrade in four years: WordPerfect. I hope your other readers also have the brains to think for themselves when it comes to choosing productivity software.
Your Perfect Mac,” Christopher Breen suggests that enthusiasts purchase a Micro Conversions’ GameWizard 12MB Voodoo 2 card. From what I’ve heard, the ATI Rage 128 card included with the Power Macintosh G3/350 is faster than the Voodoo 2. Why would you want to buy a slower card?
The Rage 128 will be a tremendous card for gamers as soon as games supporting the OpenGL 3-D hardware acceleration standard are released. Until then, we’ll continue to use the Voodoo 2-based Micro Conversions card with Unreal, Quake, and Myth I and II.?Ed.
I read David Blatner’s article ”
Adobe Answers XPress
” (May 1999) with glee. I have long told my colleagues and clients that QuarkXPress, the application, is the best page-layout program available, but Quark, the company, is a different story.
Quark’s business practices have caused me to yearn for a competitive publishing program to unseat its dominance and the stingy attitude that comes along with it. Upgrades are expensive. Support packages are typically less generous than those of other companies.
Adobe’s InDesign sounds like it might give Quark a run for its money. I took delight in Macworld’s report that Quark was rushing to offer a sneak preview of QuarkXPress 5?the company must be a little nervous, as it should be. I doubt I’m the only one who hopes Adobe can deliver a page-layout program that plays Iomega to Quark’s SyQuest!
preview of Adobe’s InDesign did not say anything about the future of that
Adobe page-layout program: Adobe FrameMaker. I find this omission strange, though not entirely surprising. FrameMaker isn’t mentioned much
even though many people use it. Are FrameMaker users expected to upgrade to InDesign, or will there be yet another upgrade of FrameMaker itself? As far as I’m concerned, FrameMaker still leaves QuarkXPress (and PageMaker) in the dust for preparing long, standardized-format documents.
Adobe FrameMaker will not be phased out, according to Adobe. The company says it will support FrameMaker for the technical publisher, InDesign for the professional publisher, and PageMaker for the business user.?Ed.
Much Ado about Modems
The article about alterna-tives to traditional dial-up Internet access, “”Modems’ Last Stand”” (May 1999), provided a comprehensive overview of newer, faster connection technology. However, a significant fact about Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology bears further comment.
Readers should be aware that there are significant differences between DSL intended for business-class use and versions intended for residential use. Providers that have chosen to focus on the small-to-medium and large enterprise business markets offer DSL access with symmetric, reliable upload and download rates?an important factor for businesses that are heavy users and that handle very large files.
While residential-quality service may offer lower price points in some markets, the bandwidth available frequently depends on the number of subscribers utilizing the service at any given moment. Therefore, business users would be well advised to sign on with a provider focused on dedicated business-class DSL Internet access.
I’d like to point out a very important factor in online performance that Mel Beckman overlooked in
“”Modems’ Last Stand”."e; The only number that usually gets talked about is bandwidth, but latency (the amount of time it takes for a single bit to travel from one end of the connection to the other) is very important as well. Modems typically have a one-way latency of 100ms or more. When you consider that up to half the time you spend waiting for a Web page with moderate graphics to download is actually latency, you realize how important it really is.
Latency has the largest effect on highly interactive applications, such as videoconferencing, Internet telephony, and video games, and on multiple transactions of small amounts of data, such as loading Web pages. As these are widely used services on the Internet, latency is an issue people should be aware of.
Thankfully, all the new technologies mentioned in the article have much better latency than modems, usually 25ms or less. But unless magazines such as
report these numbers and discuss their significance, manufacturers won’t have the incentive to keep latency low.
Andrew Shalat’s review of QuarkXTensions (
Reviews, May 1999) completely misses the point of XTensions. In a professional studio, time is money. Shalat complains because Markzware Software’s Markztools III costs $199. Recently I used that XTension to recover a complex QuarkXPress document that would have taken hours to rebuild. With that first job Markztools III paid for itself.
Many XTensions, including the others Shalat reviewed, are intended to assist the designer by performing a repetitive, time-consuming task. If Shalat’s job required him to perform these repetitive tasks, he would be wasting his time (and his employer’s money) by not buying these XTensions.
Not all QuarkXTensions are intended for everyone to own. If you can justify the cost, buy the XTension. If not, don’t buy it. But don’t complain that an XTension costs too much for a task you don’t need to perform regularly. Instead, ask an XTension user how it saves time and money.
I read David Pogue’s review of Digital Origin’s EditDV 1.5 with great interest (
Reviews, May 1999), but found the review sadly lacking praise for what I consider an excellent product.
When I first became involved with digital video, I had to choose between Adobe Premiere and EditDV. At the time, Premiere cost $600 without a FireWire card, and the EditDV system cost $700 including software and a PCI DV FireWire capture card. I chose EditDV.
Setup was a snap, and the product worked perfectly with my Canon XL-1 camera right off the bat. I found EditDV 1.5 easy to learn, robust, and an excellent product overall. It does lack many features that the newest version of Premiere offers, such as support for third-party filters. Still, I created my first professional video project in about a week working with a brand-new product. I would highly recommend EditDV 1.5 to anyone who wishes to dive into the world of nonlinear digital-video editing.
The Right to Choose
If one were to identify the flaw that has caused Apple more problems than any other, it would have to be stubbornness. Apple’s inflexibility is particularly frustrating when it comes to trying to assemble a computer I want to use rather than a computer Apple wants to sell me.
When I bought my Power Mac G3 last fall, I opted to pick up an inexpensive two-button mouse, which I have found very nice to work with. Just why Apple refuses to let go of the inefficient one-button mouse is beyond me. I wouldn’t mind nearly so much if I could buy a new Mac without having to buy two mice, one of which sits in a desk drawer unused.
What’s wrong with offering the option to buy another kind of keyboard and mouse, along with letting the user decide how much RAM to install or whether to get a built-in Zip drive?