Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life
Recollections of ATPM by the Plucky Comic Relief
Back in the summer of 1997, I was browsing through my latest copy of The Info-Mac CD when I stumbled upon an e-zine, About This Particular Macintosh (ATPM). Dial-up download speeds were so slow at the time that the best way to get the latest copy of most shareware applications was to subscribe to some form of distributed media. My favorite was Info-Mac, a CD of the latest and greatest freeware and shareware distributed by Info-Mac and Pacific HiTech. They were attached to some of the Mac print magazines of the day, or you could buy them at your local Mac User Group meeting.
As I read through the ATPM articles, I thought I would like to print them, but when I tried, the pages didn’t format properly. ATPM was published in a format developed by Green Mountain Software called DOCMaker. Written by Mark Wall, DOCMaker was a stand-alone document creator that was the perfect way to publish ATPM at the time and, along with Thorsten Lemke’s GraphicConverter, is one of the most useful Mac programs ever written. Curious about how it worked, I bought a copy and attempted to learn its ins and outs. I e-mailed Michael Tsai, the publisher of ATPM, to see about a printer-friendly version of ATPM. It turns out that we were both learning DOCMaker at the same time and offered each other tips on getting the most out of it. That meeting prompted me to ask Michael if I might contribute somehow, and I ended up on the staff of ATPM for five years.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with people scattered all over the world who would come together virtually in the last week of every month to compile, edit, and publish ATPM, and many of the staff members became my friends. Mac OS 8 had just been released in the summer of 1997, and I was with ATPM through all the versions of Mac OS 8 and 9. There was much to discuss back then—from extension conflicts (remember those?) to the latest troubles of Apple Computer as it attempted to stave off bankruptcy. I published a number of reviews and opinion pieces for ATPM but was probably best known for my monthly ATPM Trivia Challenges where I tested readers’ wits in a variety of subjects, both computer and real world. I also used the DOCMaker program to publish my own book, The On-Line Joke Book, from 1998 to 2001. I learned what Rob Mugele meant when he said, “Writing is nature’s way of letting you know how sloppy your thinking is.” I also found out that Michael knew his business, and he guided all of us to be better writers. Thanks, Michael.
But two things happened to shorten my time with ATPM. Mac OS X was released in the fall of 2000, my former Mac knowledge became less important to the news of the day, and I developed the feeling that technology was leaving me behind. Then, when September 11th occurred, I simply went into a funk for about six months. Realizing that the world would never be the same for myself, my daughter, and her three children had a profound effect on me, and I couldn’t justify writing a “fun” column any longer. So I resigned from ATPM. Of course, I eventually came to accept that we all must go on with our lives, and I decided to pursue other fields to satisfy my need to contribute and hopefully make the world a little better place.
And now we have the company Apple. No longer Apple Computer, it has gone on to be one of the richest companies in the world on the backs of trendsetting portable devices. I own none of them, since I only use a phone as, well, a phone. With the release of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and the demise of Rosetta for using PowerPC applications, I am finished upgrading my Mac at OS X 10.6.8—and will stay there until I can no longer function, at which time I may have to convert to a Windows PC. The iOS-based Apple no longer fills my need as a platform, and I see no further reason to support it. Fortunately, I purchased a wonderful i7 iMac that runs Snow Leopard and Windows 7 with equal ease, so migrating won’t be difficult.
I was saddened to hear of the end of ATPM. I have continued to download and peruse each issue since I left and can understand how hard it must be to remain relevant in today’s microsecond attention-span world. I know how hard it was to put together and publish ATPM and am amazed that it lasted as long as it has at such a high standard of quality.
I would like to thank the tireless Michael for giving me the opportunity to discover that I could write a reasoned piece every once in awhile. And thanks as well to my good friends Evan, Daniel, Jamal, Robert Paul, Belinda, and others who helped me along the way. I miss all of you. And to the readers who took the time to read my articles, thanks for allowing me a chance to enter your life and for your e-mails of encouragement and offers to help.
Also in This Series
- About My Particular Macintoshes · May 2012
- From the Darkest Hour · May 2012
- Shrinking Into an Expanding World · May 2012
- Growing Up With Apple · May 2012
- Recollections of ATPM by the Plucky Comic Relief · May 2012
- Making the Leap · March 2012
- Digital > Analog > Digital · February 2012
- An Achievable Dream · February 2012
- Smart Move? · February 2012
- Complete Archive