Frankly I was surprised to read the comment about Best Buy. I don’t ever recall seeing Macs in our metro area ads. I confess to being a shopping channel fan. Dell and almost all the major computer manufacturers sell on these programs, which can be like a 30 to 60 minute promotion showcasing what the computer can do. I find these programs extremely informative and often base my purchases on what I’ve seen demonstrated on these shows. People need to see it in action and not in some cutesy commercial, and this would be a wonderful showcase for Macs.
I recently attended a school technology committee meeting and the school district representative said the Apple representative told him Apple was pulling out of making computers, focusing on software, and would be putting iMovie out for Windows. Our district is sadly phasing out Macs in favor of Dells which schools are now forced to purchase because of supposed compatibility problems with our district management software, as well as network issues. If a representative truly did say that Apple definitely needs to review the management of its sales force.
I think these columns are the best software reviews I have read.
I would love to see an interview conducted by you with this level of seriousness and understanding with, say, the Omni or Eastgate guys.
ATPO will be back next month; there is no column this month due to e-mail trouble and a hard disk crash. —Michael Tsai
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These articles on outlining are superb! I’ve been a big advocate of these products and, as a recent switcher, have been spending a lot of time with the Mac products. Something you haven’t gone into yet, but I hope you do, is the ability for these products to self-impose organization or bring out emergent qualities such as DEVONthink’s auto-categorization and associative capabilities.
Something that would be awesome to see one day is some sort of ability to bring in concepts from Hofstadter’s Copycat model or other forms of contextualization.
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Thanks so much for writing this series! I am a Windows user, but am very interested in moving to the Mac for at least my personal computing.
One thing that comes to mind is that outlining in the traditional sense (hierarchies, trees, etc.) is really just the beginning—one particular view or way of organizing your information. Linking, tagging, scripts, etc.—each represent additional (often more dynamic) ways of viewing and sorting your information. Having a powerful outliner alone is great, but that only gives me back the information as I entered it. Great for reference, but it’s sort of already ‘dead’ to me.
Three notes from Windows programs:
1. InfoSelect has a great search feature that I’ve seen nowhere else. As you type in search text, you get real-time feedback on the number of hits. If you type a keyword and get way too many results, just add another keyword (or change the keyword if you get none). You don’t have to wait for a static search results page. However, I still haven’t decided how useful/important this is in actual use. I no longer use InfoSelect.
2. There are some nice Palm and PocketPC outliners. Integration with a desktop program is a great feature if you own a PDA. You can capture thoughts and bits of info while away from your desktop (or notebook). I use Shadow Outliner for the Palm OS. I believe they have a Mac desktop program in beta right now. It’s not as dynamic as these other programs, but someone has written a conduit to export to OmniOutliner.
3. There is another Windows application called The Brain. It seems more flash than substance, but it looks like at least a decent basic mind mapper with an automatic “hoist” feature.
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What about the category of users for whom outlining is a pure thinking tool? These users would seem to be most like the long document writers, without the concern for integration with word processing.
You are right in pointing out the omission. It would have been useful to have noted that, for some, a coherent, structured assembly is not intended for publication or export. That might have provided an opportunity to mention the relationship between outlining and graphical organization as you noted in your private message to me.
Outlining is a graphical way of ordering text. There are other, more chart-oriented methods that de-emphasize the text in favor of the underlying concept and structure. Often, outlining provides a bridge between these graphical concept models and a narrative-in-text.
Graphical concept models are a special interest of mine—a rich topic that goes far beyond “mind-mapping.” But an exploration of this would quickly become esoteric, I think, and probably not much of a general interest. —Ted Goranson
What about quality? You didn’t mention a single thing about how it affects the sound quality.
You know, I planned to mention sound quality. I thought I mentioned sound quality. It would appear I was wrong.
In general, the sound quality was fine. Due to the fact that there’s something unique about everybody’s setup (geography, FM coverage, antenna strength, etc.), I can’t make a blanket statement about how it’ll sound. I guess the best thing I can say is “it sounds like FM radio.”
From my personal experience, I had the best sound quality when I used the iTrip in my apartment and placed it directly on top of the radio. The performance in the car wasn’t quite as good, likely because the iTrip was further away from the antenna. At times, I could hear static in the songs. Usually, this meant it was time to search for a new channel.
According to the iTrip FAQ, some cars have a metallic film on the windshields that can impair the iTrip’s FM signal, so the sound quality is significantly degraded.
Sadly, the ATPM review budget didn’t allow me to rent a variety of automobiles, so, for the most part, I cannot say how the iTrip will work with a specific model. However, I will say it worked fine with my 2003 Honda Accord. —Eric Blair
Many of the changes you mention sound like good ideas, and Apple does need to get more recognition for selling real computers and not “toys.”
The .Mac transition was especially bad, and I’m one of those who refuse to have anything to do with it, but I disagree that my reasons are misguided.
At the time of the transition, I had six Macs (and a Unix server) supporting my company. One of the things I believed when Apple initially said it was that a mac.com e-mail address came just as part of the good deal of buying a Mac.
When they transitioned, the only part of what is now .Mac that I was using were the mac.com e-mail addresses. $100 a year was too much to pay for the privilege of having an e-mail address that offered Apple free advertising.
I’ve used Macs since 1986 and I’ve lived without .Mac all that time. For me, there is nothing I need that only .Mac offers.
If there were something that .Mac offered me that was worth $100/year, I would get it, but I have not seen it. Sorry!
—Tom (Unix user since 1982, Mac user since 1986)
It’s hard to argue with anything you say—.Mac is great for some people and of no real use to others. But I still think that a lot of Mac users were unrealistic when they figured that iTools was forever free. I would like to see Apple offer an e-mail only account for a reasonable price and also bundled into the purchase of a Mac. I also don’t get your point that a mac.com address is free advertising for Apple. Unless you own your domain, all e-mail is an ad for the provider. But, in any case, to each his own. I certainly don’t think that anyone who doesn’t want .Mac should pay for it. I’m just calling for a little realism in expectations. —Matt Coates