Our May 2004 issue made reader Chuck Provancher “want to run out and buy all 450 products you rated. But where can I purchase the refrigerator-size iPod mini depicted on the cover? And will it preserve Meat Loaf songs longer than a normal-size iPod will?” Chuck, the iPod mini remains only 3.6 inches tall, smaller than most refrigerators. As for the other 449 products, there’s always the Apple Store, the mere mention of which in Jason Snell’s column provoked enough mail to fill a refrigerator-size iPod.
I enjoyed ”
Geniuses Behind Bars ” (From the Editor’s Desk, May 2004). I was a lifetime PC user until December 2002. My Toshiba Infinia was on its last legs, and I was looking for a new PC. While shopping at the Kenwood Towne Centre in Cincinnati, I came across the Apple Store. I remembered seeing the ads for the iMac and thought they looked pretty cool. After talking to some Apple employees, I realized that I could make the switch. I bought my 20-inch iMac, got a free Hewlett-Packard printer, and bought an iPod. I use my Mac in ways that I never imagined using my PC. I would not be a Mac user without the Apple Store.
Last fall, I decided that I needed to replace my old, hand-me-down Mac. So I went to the Apple Store at the Grove in Los Angeles. It was a great experience — no hard sell from the sales associates, just lots of information about the computers, their value, their ease of use, and all their capabilities. In December, I once again visited an Apple Store, this time in Santa Monica, California. I was getting desperate, as my hand-me-down was really having problems and making my work from home frustrating. My experience at this second store was again great and insightful. I decided to get the 15-inch iMac; however, I was not quite ready to buy. A friend reminded me that Orange County has a lower sales tax than Los Angeles. So later that month, I went to my third Apple Store, in Costa Mesa, California, and made my purchase. My salesperson was great: knowledgeable, helpful, easy to work with. All in all, it was a great experience.
Maybe it was just bad luck on my part. Or maybe visiting on a weekend (when the store is mobbed) was a mistake. But both of my visits to the SoHo Apple Store left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Don’t get me wrong — the store itself is fantastic. It’s the teenybopper employees clad in black T-shirts that ruined it for me on both trips. Every time I asked for assistance or for a short demo, they acted as if I was inconveniencing them terribly. Questions did get answered, but with just enough information to qualify as an answer. And the whole time they avoided making eye contact. The expression of abject boredom on their faces was really discouraging, especially since both times I was accompanied by potential Wintel converts.
Apple Geniuses, my eye! After finding out that Apple will not sell me replacement feet for my iBook, I took it to the Apple Store in Tyson’s Corner Mall in Virginia. The Apple “Genius” did his best to destroy my iBook in the process of jamming and hammering three replacement feet into the iBook’s case, leaving me with three crooked and misaligned feet. I will never go inside an Apple Store again. I will go back to my favorite mom-and-pop Apple specialist for service and support needs.
I am a Pepsi drinker and an iTunes purchaser, so I rejoiced at the announcement of the iTunes promotion (“A Little Soda-Drinking Music, Please,” Mac Beat, May 2004). Unfortunately, Apple and Pepsi have ignored Philadelphia and the southeast Pennsylvania region entirely. Macworld might want to do some investigative reporting. Which regions received the yellow caps? How many yellow caps were screwed onto Pepsi bottles, and how many were redeemed at iTunes? Is Steve Jobs aware of the lack of availability of the yellow caps? What does Apple have against Pennsylvania? Why was William Hung allowed to make a CD? Why did I pay 99 cents to purchase William Hung’s version of “Hotel California”? There are so many unanswered questions.
Missing the Big Picture
Adam C. Engst’s iPhoto 4 article (”
iLife ’04: How Does It Stack Up ?” May 2004) seemed to acknowledge that iPhoto was more successful as a marketing trinket for Apple than as a serious photo manager. He wrote that it “lacks features you’d expect from a serious photo manager” and “still lacks a quick and easy way to download just one or two photos from a larger set.” In my opinion, a mmmh rating was unnecessarily generous. Apple is not incapable of selling mediocre software from time to time. It’s a shame the rating doesn’t reflect Apple’s many missed opportunities to fully develop this widely disseminated software, since Apple has known what its customers need and how to implement it for years now.
Snapz Pro Not a Snap
I was very surprised by Dan Frakes’s perfect
Snapz Pro X 2.0 (Mac Gems, May 2004). It’s a great utility and I use it often, but it’s awkward, has an obtrusive interface, and limits file-save locations to a predefined list. The interface’s fade-out and fade-in effect can cause you to miss a shot, and you can’t access the desktop or other apps without closing Snapz Pro first, so multiple successive shots may require multiple relaunches.
Christopher Breen’s instructions on how to sync a single iPod with the iTunes libraries on different Macs was a godsend (”
Focus on the iPod,” May 2004). My 17-inch iMac has an irritating habit of hanging during the iPod syncing process. As I’ve concluded that the problem is most likely a temperamental FireWire bus (and thankfully not the iPod itself), I can now use my older iMac DV to sync my iPod and not worry about its smaller 30GB disk space cramping my style. Since my 17-inch iMac has an 80GB drive and a fast SuperDrive, I can continue feeding it my massive CD collection and at a much faster import rate, knowing that the tunes will make it to my iPod easily. I can also use my iMac DV to digitize my large LP collection without having to transfer the imported tracks to the larger, faster iMac. The slower iMac is better situated for directly connecting to my turntable. Triple thanks for an extremely helpful tip. I’m in iTunes heaven.
Missing the Music
I was stunned that “Banding Together” (Mac Beat, May 2004) omitted the best GarageBand support site out there, www.macidol.com. This site has among the highest number of tunes hosted, the nicest music management, and even a store where musicians can sell their work.
All Fixed Up
Mark W. Clark
I have an iBook with a logic board problem that made the LCD panel fail. My iBook was almost a year out of warranty and Apple repaired it and paid the shipping both ways. I didn’t have to pay a cent out of pocket. Apple also upgraded my operating system to Panther at no charge. All this took place in less than two weeks. I want to thank you for “Mac Users in a Fix” (Mac Beat, April 2004), because without it, I would have paid for my iBook repairs. I wouldn’t even have called Apple, with my iBook almost a year out of warranty.
Since our article appeared, Apple has extended the scope of its logic-board repair program to include iBooks made from May 2002 to October 2003 with serial numbers ranging from UV220XXXXXX to UV342XXXXXX. Go to find.macworld.com/0013 for more on Apple’s repair program. — Ed.
In Support of Scripts
While I don’t necessarily refute any of the points made in Franklin N. Tessler’s review of PDFpen (
; April 2004), it didn’t mention what I consider the utility’s indispensable feature — great AppleScriptability. I recently created an entire workflow to extract single or multipage PDF documents from one large scanned-to-PDF file, all based on criteria in an Excel spreadsheet. The PDFpen sample AppleScripts had me up and running in no time.
Defending Dragon Burn
David Yao, (Executive Vice President, NewTech Infosystems)
We take issue with some of the points Christopher Breen made in his
Dragon Burn review (
; May 2004), specifically his statement that multisession burning with Dragon Burn “is not an option for DVD-R discs and doesn’t work properly with DVD-RW media.” We feel that multisession writing to DVD-R is an important feature for Mac users; after all, it’s a feature Windows users already enjoy. To simply say we failed to deliver for Mac users is certainly not the case. Regarding Breen’s statement that his recorder can’t play multisession DVD-RW discs, only Panther has this problem, which both Apple developers and we are aware of, and we are jointly working toward a solution. It’s also only an issue if the files are written in HFS. If the file system is ISO or UDF, the disc can be read perfectly. This problem doesn’t exist for Jaguar users. The multisession DVD-RW disc that cannot be read in a DVD-RW burner can be read in a DVD-ROM or DVD+R/RW burner under Panther and under other Mac OSs.
Breen’s review also noted two issues — noise resulting from conversion of AAC audio tracks, and problems with renaming when converting audio tracks. NTI was aware of both these issues, and Dragon Burn users were able to download and use the fixes even before the review appeared.
We feel the grading of Dragon Burn was totally unwarranted, since the shortcomings were really OS and format limitations, which your reviewer should have understood, and two audio bugs, which received our immediate attention.
Regardless of who gets blamed, Dragon Burn won’t burn DVD-R and -RW media as promised, and won’t burn DVD-RW discs with Panther or with HFS+. Also, the product’s shortcomings were hardly limited to features impacted by the OS and format limitations — for example, the AAC conversion problems and the nonsense characters that replaced song titles. Finally, my review could not cover any changes made after version 3.1.17 — a version I took great care to examine the very day the review went to press. — Christopher Breen
“Out of Frame” (Mac Beat, June 2004) had an incorrect date for when Adobe will stop offering technical support for FrameMaker. Adobe plans to offer technical support through April 2005.
Adobe PageMaker Plug-in Pack review (June 2004), we stated the bullet type cannot be selected. In fact, you can use other symbols as bullets. Hold down the option key and click on the Bullets icon in the PageMaker toolbar.
“USB Joins the Chat” (Mac Beat, May 2004) incorrectly reported that iChatUSBCam would be bundled with Macally’s IceCam. Instead, IceCam buyers will receive a $5 discount on the $10 iChatUSBCam.
Our review of
Peak 4.1 (May 2004) incorrectly reported that the program lacked contextual menus. Peak uses the Apple standard (Command-click) for its own purposes (audio scrubbing). Its contextual-menu command is control-shift-click.
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