Welcome to the January issue of ATPM, the first of the new millennium. Issue 7.01 contains the following articles, reviews and features. Before we introduce them though, here’s a short look at what happened in December. We hope that you’ll have a wonderful year 2001!
This December was again relatively quiet in terms of major Mac news.
- Bungie released the hotly anticipated demo of Oni. Also, find out how to play Level 2 from the PC demo on your Mac.
- Mac OS X topped Wired’s list of Vaporware for 2000.
- Steve Jobs was CBS MarketWatch Loser for 2000.
- Connectix released Virtual PC 4, which is up to twice as fast as version 3 when used on G4s and can run multiple PC operating systems.
Last month’s reader poll asked how important you thought a printed manual was. 61 percent of you thought that every product should have one, while 30 percent said that a complete electronic manual was enough. 2 percent said that online help was enough, and 4 percent don’t read manuals. This month we want to know which MP3 player you use. Go cast your vote!
Apple Cider: This New Year’s R-Word
Tom Iovino explores resolutions, rocky road ice cream, Apple stock, and the other economical R-word in this month’s Apple Cider.
“Well, Apple’s been there and done that. It’s not going away anytime soon because the company has proven itself time and again. Just when you think the company’s going down for the count, it finds a way to bounce back. How is that so? Well, Apple has three important intangible assets that some other market survivors have.”
On a Clear Day: Did You Get What You Wanted?
Mike Shields has a pretty full wish list for Santa. Will some of his wishes be granted?
Most of the things I want can’t be given as gifts. I want faster PowerPC chips. I want Apple’s stock price higher. I want OS X announced at Macworld. I want to go to Macworld.
Beyond the Barline: In Defense of Napster
David Ozab answers reader e-mails about his December Barline column.
“By providing the means to make unauthorized copies without due compensation, Napster has facilitated the theft of both intellectual property (the song) and physical property (the recording, compressed but still high quality). At what point the Napster user crosses the line is hard to determine. Intent is a part of the question, though. Do you download a handful of songs to help decide whether or not to buy CDs, or do you fill a multi-gig hard drive with music you never intend to pay for?”
Paul Fatula introduces the following sites: Peter’s Evil Overlord List (how to dominate the world), SpaceViews (news and reports about space events), IBVA Technologies (brain control on your computer), Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie Homepage (how to protect your brain and pets from mind control), eSmurfs (smurfs are back!), and Computer Stupidities (unbelievable stories from clueless users).
Profiles in Networking: Power Macintosh 8500
Matthew Glidden looks at the Power Macintosh 8500 as a Mac networking mainstay.
“From a networking perspective, the 8500 is ready out of the box with built-in AAUI (transceiver) and RJ-45 (twisted-pair) Ethernet ports. Faster network speeds come via PCI cards, but the regular Ethernet’s 10 megabits per second (about 1 megabyte) capacity is a heady improvement over LocalTalk’s 230 kilobits (which the 8500 still supports through its serial ports). Twisted-pair Ethernet (10BaseT) is a snap with the RJ-45 port and you gain thinnet Ethernet (10Base2) by connecting the proper transceiver to the AAUI port. You can’t use both ports at once, though, as it’s the same internal hardware; it’d be like plugging two mice into one ADB port.”
Segments: Got Blog?
Reader James McNally explores the online phenomenon of Web logs, or “blogs” for short, in this slice of the Macintosh life.
“One of the site’s mottos is “Get a site. Keep it interesting.” Bloggers tend to link to each other quite a bit, and there is a fair amount of blog gossip, which seems to remain mostly good-natured. One of the best things about blogs is that they help their readers discover quirky links. They also serve as a sort of geek chorus for any world event; just go to the Blogger site and try searching for the word “election” over the last week. You’ll experience the full range of political opinions in no time at all.”
Mike Shields covers the newest version of the Backyard Kids’s soccer game.
“I really enjoyed this game, even though it was made for my daughter Amanda, who’s six, and for my son Scott, who just turned four. OK, Scott does tend to kick the ball into his own goal a lot, but he has fun, and that’s all that matters. He was even able to choose his favorite color—green—as his team color.”
David Ozab evaluates the new version of the venerable notation program. It appears that with version “c,” Finale 2001 has finally achieved the same stability as its predecessor.
“All in all, it’s a good upgrade, but I’m not sure it’s worth $99 for Finale 2000 owners like myself. The one major addition is the Fretboard Editor, so you should upgrade if you can’t live without that. I also recommend it for users of Finale ’98 and earlier, due as much to the features introduced in Finale 2000 (which was a substantial improvement) as to the features added to this version. Though the program is still Excellent in general, my doubts about Coda’s choice of Internet publishing options, along with my reluctance to pay $99 for a minor upgrade, lowers my final rating just a little.”
Gregory Tetrault talks about the newest version of Microsoft’s wide-spread office application, and why it doesn’t live up to its promise.
“Microsoft could have created a sensational product with Office 2001. The plethora of known bugs from Office 98 could have been fixed, and Office 2001 could have sported a logical, consistent, pure Macintosh user interface. […] Microsoft could have made Office 2001 fully compliant with OS X. Instead, Microsoft served us a mediocre upgrade to Office 98. Numerous bugs were left unfixed, and the interface is more confusing than before. The lack of compatibility with Outlook shows that Microsoft does not want to give Macintosh users the ability to work seamlessly in a mixed platform environment. And, the lack of manuals makes it harder to deal with the flaws in Office 2001.”
Jens Grabenstein explains the advantages and drawbacks of Kodak’s photographic solutions.
“All three of Kodak’s options have their drawbacks. If you don’t expect high quality scans, but you’re looking for an intuitive and easy-to-use solution to manipulate your pictures or share them over the Internet, Kodak Picture CD is the best solution for a good value. The image quality of Photo CD may be much better, but it comes at a price and it lacks the ease of use of Picture CD.”
Michael Tsai explains why StuffIt Deluxe 6.0 is the best StuffIt yet.
“Everyone needs StuffIt Expander, which is free. The latest version includes all of Deluxe’s expansion and decoding features, which were previously only available to StuffIt Expander through the Drop Stuff with Expander Enhancer package (or the full StuffIt Deluxe). For $30, DropStuff or DropZip will respectively add StuffIt compression and BinHexing or Zip compression, UUEncoding, and MacBinary. For the occasional user, these are reasonable alternatives to buying the full StuffIt Deluxe package or using Apple’s free Disk Copy. For those who frequently work with archives and strange Internet file formats, StuffIt Deluxe 6 is the way to go. It has its flaws, but it’s getting better and it’s easily the best StuffIt yet.”
Eric Blair introduces the versatile peer-to-peer transfer program.
“Peer-to-peer file transfer is relatively new to the average user. Programs like Timbuktu are overkill for simple file transfer tasks. Similarly, running a full-time FTP server isn’t really practical for most people. Operating systems typically include some file sharing capabilities, but they usually cannot communicate with other operating systems without some sort of add-on. SockeToome is plagued by none of these shortcomings—it is extremely focused, easy to use, has cross-platform compatibility, and is inexpensive when compared to many of the more complex options. SockeToome does contain a few shortcomings, but they are far outweighed by the benefits.”
Erik Barzeski looks at first version of Norton’s SystemWorks. Is it worth its price?
“All told, SystemWorks is something that all Mac users should have, unless they’ve got an older working copy of Norton Disk Doctor. This version does little more than bundle the applications together. Symantec long ago realized that there’s an “art” to upgrading; perhaps they took a page from the Good Book of Microsoft and are milking their customers a bit too much.”
Ellyn Ritterskamp discovers that Freeverse’s new bridge game cannot match any but the most inexperienced players, despite its very nice packaging.
“3D Bridge isn’t designed to mimic actual tournament play—there’s no substitute for that actual rush—but we could certainly figure out a way to move the players up the evolutionary scale a bit. With the skill level these characters have right now, we might as well be playing against that burning monkey.”
Desktop Pictures: New York & Washington
Jens Grabenstein and ATPM staff member Lee Bennett present their wonderful pictures from New York City and Washington, D.C..
Trivia Challenge: Fun With Numbers
Edward Goss tests your wit about a number of things in this month’s Trivia Challenge.