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ATPM 7.12
December 2001



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My Apple Wedge

by Dierk Seeburg,

Interview With a New User

I’ve wanted to include an interview in my column for a while now, but not the typical Mac celebrity interview with a famed programmer or software chieftain. Rather, I wanted to interview a user— a beginner at that. I thought it important to make sure Mac users, Mac professionals, and executives realize that not everyone has an innate understanding of how computers in general (and Macs in particular) work. There are a number of people who would greatly benefit from a tool that sports as good a user interface as the Apple Macintosh. This is the group of users Apple needs to tap into in order to turn one of its latest marketing concepts into reality: 5 down, 95 to go, referring to the current percentage of marketshare for personal computers.

By asking beginners about their interactive experience we can all learn a great deal about how people interact with their computers. (Incidentally, that used to be one of Apple’s strengths.) In recent years, that pursuit of excellence in improving the user interface and experience has fallen somewhat by the wayside. The addition of the NeXT computing paradigm into the Apple fold after Apple’s acquisition of NeXT, the computer company headed by Steve Jobs after being ousted from Apple, has not helped to improve this situation as it brought about the greatest change in operating system architecture in Apple’s history, and with it a new user experience. Let’s hope that Apple keeps improving on what appears to be evolving as the stable underpinnings that is the Unix kernel, together with the most advanced operating system ever designed, OS X.

Now, off from my little soap box and on to the interview with a new user.

How Do You Like Them Apples? “Oh, It’s an Apple?”

D.S. Welcome to My Apple Wedge! Today we’re taking a look at the beginner user experience. With us is A.H. who recently purchased a Macintosh computer. How did you come to buy a Mac? What kind of Mac is it?

A.H. Well, you could almost call it an accident! A neighbor offered his old machine to me when he upgraded to a new one. He works for a software company that produces software titles for Macintosh. The machine is a Performa 5200 [with a PowerPC 603 CPU running at 75 Mhz].

Unpacking and Setup

D.S. Many people saw how easy it is to set up a new iMac when they watched Jeff Goldblum in the Apple commercials they used to play on US TV—how easy was it for you to set up an older Power Mac?

A.H. If my neighbor hadn’t helped me, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. He was instrumental in setting up everything.

Getting to Know You: The Moment of Truth—Turning It On

D.S. After you had everything in place you turned it on—what was your first impression? Did it boot up as expected?

A.H. My first impression was very positive. It was more clear to me how each building block depends on one another and what level I’m at. It booted as expected the first time around, but using the Internet is a little slow [the 5200 has a memory limit of 64 MB which limits multi-tasking, and her connection is via a 56K modem].

To Boldly Go Where You Have Not Gone Before: The Mac OS

D.S. How do you like working with the system? Have you installed or uninstalled applications, and what did you experience?

A.H. I like it! I’m running Mac OS 8.6, and it’s very clear and organized, and the menus are easier to use than on PCs. Whenever I need to do something, but I’m unclear how to do it, I look for assistance in the menus and I usually find what I’m looking for. I have not found the Help system very useful. It’s too complicated for me as my computer knowledge is only rudimentary. Previously, I’ve only done word processing and nothing else. And I don’t play computer games either—only my kids do that. I wish there were some kind of introduction for the computer literacy-challenged so I could install programs myself without having to consult my neighbor. I have installed a couple of games for my kids using the installation CDs, that was easy enough, but nothing else. The icons used in the process were quite helpful.

Mastering the Mac OS GUI

D.S. As a user who had only used PCs in the past, how do you like the graphical user interface?

A.H. I like that, too! Again, I find working with CDs very easy. I find it very useful how CDs or diskettes are ejected from my machine upon restart. Sometimes I forget to take it out before shutdown, but the machine remembers it for me so I can take care of it. Also, I like how interactivity with the trash can is handled: you can trash something by just dragging it to the trash can, but it is still retrievable very easily. On PCs, I have always had trouble because the way PC programs require you to delete something is very cumbersome. Also, I can proudly report I found out how to listen to an audio CD all by myself, whereas I had to be shown how to do it on a PC I used some other time.

Day-to-Day Applications

D.S. What applications do you use from day to day? Did you find that there are some applications you need or used to use that are not available for the Mac?

A.H. So far, I’ve only been using Netscape for surfing the Internet and doing my e-mail. For writing letters I use Microsoft Word 98, and my kids have a bunch of games loaded on the computer.


D.S. How do you like customizing your Mac?

A.H. Well, I haven’t done any yet, I just haven’t had a good chunk of time to really explore the operating system. I’m planning on doing that eventually, though. I’m going to have to do that as soon as my job transfer comes through in a few months, though. The only thing I have done so far is a little bit of customizing the Apple Launcher. Rather, my kids did that.


D.S. Have you been using the Internet? How easy was it to set up?

A.H. Yes, like I said, I’m using Netscape for the Internet, i.e. e-mail and surfing. For example, I have used it to look up train connections and more. My neighbor set it up for me, so that part was easy. :-> Still, I wish I had a better connection than via my Acer 56K modem. Friends of mine have ISDN and I know that’s faster. But since I’m not spending that much time on the computer yet, it’s not worthwhile for me to get ISDN or something like that at this point. That’s the reason I do most of my Internet browsing at my parents’ house when I visit them. They have ISDN, as well, and surfing is much faster, of course :-> Nevertheless, the problem remains that I don’t have much experience surfing the Web, so a lot of time is spent on searching for stuff which I have not found a shortcut for just yet.

Maintenance: Virus Protection, Backup, etc.

D.S. What have you done for regular maintenance? How do you back up? How do you protect your computer from viruses?

A.H. Well, nothing actually. I wouldn’t know how to. I’ll ask my neighbor when I talk to him next. I haven’t done any backups, either, but I don’t have anything crucial on my computer, so it wouldn’t be tragic, if I couldn’t use it for some reason. My neighbor did install an anti-virus program, and I’m grateful he did, although I have not had any virus problems that I know of.

General Impressions

D.S. What parts of the Mac are easy or hard to learn? How did you find answers to your questions?

A.H. If you have many different programs open you don’t lose track of what is open like you do on a PC, so that’s easier to work with. As I mentioned before, I find how the trash works very convenient. It’s a real time saver. I had very little difficulty switching from PCs to Macs since I understood pretty well how their building blocks depend on one another and on which level I am. It helps me to think of my computer as a tree to understand its structure [it shows that her husband is a tree doctor]. I had some difficulty learning some of the Finder terminology, in particular aliases for which I couldn’t find an equivalent real-world concept. I only gathered that it simplified the number of clicks I had to go through before being able to start a particular application, sort of like a shortcut.

D.S. Exactly (only better)!

Macintosh Community

D.S. Have you had the chance to check out a Macintosh user group near you? What is your overall impression of the Mac community?

A.H. I have not checked out a user group. My neighbor is my support for now, and I make frequent use of that offer, but yes, he mentioned that there are user groups in the area. Maybe I’ll join one at some later point. As far as the community is concerned I know that it’s smaller than the PC community. Maybe I’ll learn more as I surf the Internet more which my colleagues at work say I will once I sit down and really start, but for now I have little time and it takes a long time to load pages with my modem connection.

The Next Few Weeks

D.S. What applications, either those you are using now or some you would like to use, do you see yourself acquiring in the next few weeks and months?

A.H. On my machine I have several applications loaded: Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Casady & Greene’s SoundJam, and Netscape Communicator. In our neighborhood we have the Mediathek; that’s where my kids rent their games. Maybe I will buy a few more after my job transfer when I may need other applications to exchange work-related documents. We’ll see.

Final Comments

D.S. Can you describe your overall impression of being a Mac user?

A.H. Well, the average user is even dumber than Apple thought! :-> I have found the learning programs that I used on the PCs I worked with very useful, so I wish that was available to me somehow.

D.S. Thanks for this interview. It has been a pleasure talking with you! We hope you thoroughly enjoy your Mac and come back to read ATPM for this and other columns in the future. Maybe we’ll even do a follow-up interview to see how you’re doing in a few months after you’ve had some time to get used to your Mac.

A.H. Thanks for having me, and greetings to your readers!

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (10)

Bob Brennan · December 4, 2001 - 14:44 EST #1
This is a new user? I've used a Mac since 1985 and still don't know what ISDN is.
Dierk Seeburg (ATPM Staff) · December 4, 2001 - 23:04 EST #2
Hi Bob. As you may or may not be aware, ISDN is far more popular and widespread in Europe (where our new user is from) than in North America (where I'm assuming you're e-mailing from) and has been around and available to everyone for about a decade and a half. Hope that explains that! As for ISDN, have a look at this page to find out more about it! Cheerio. Dierk
James · December 5, 2001 - 02:41 EST #3
If you are going to ask a question about Jeff Goldblum setting up an iMac, then you should be interviewing somebody who is setting up an iMac. I don't really think there is a huge difference between MacOS 8.6 and a modern Windows GUI (as long as you don't get into system configuration stuff). But for everyday use, a Windows person should be able to work with OS 8 or 9 without much of a problem. OS X is a little different, but the basic stuff is still familiar enough.
Dierk Seeburg (ATPM Staff) · December 6, 2001 - 04:10 EST #4
Hi James. Thanks for your comments. Maybe it was not as obvious as I had hoped, but my intention was not to see how easy it is to set up an iMac, because Jeff Goldblum already showed that on TV. No, it was to compare the easy setup of an iMac with that of one of the many used PowerMacs still out there providing valuable services to their owners. As for your comparison of the old MacOS 8.6 with a modern Windows OS, well, that just goes to show again that the Mac OS was and still is ahead of the other OS. Thanks for reading ATPM! Cheerio, Dierk
Chad · December 10, 2001 - 18:39 EST #5
I am about to become a new iMac owner, once the new models come out at MacExpo (heard some interesting rumours!). I am salivating at all of the multi-media apps but also very intimidated. I worked at an Apple lab in college but my knowledge is very rudimentary. After reading magazines and checking out web sites, it seems there is so much to know. Where do I start?? I can't stop having dreams of my new machine!!
Dierk Seeburg (ATPM Staff) · December 19, 2001 - 04:37 EST #6
Chad, Sorry for the delay. Meanwhile, I've collected a few tips that may work for you:
  1. Pick up a MacWorld/MacAddict or similar magazine at your local newsstand and check their Apple hardware reviews or buying guides.
  2. Go to Apple's web site at and check out the hardware sections.
  3. Go to Apple's gift guide at
  4. Go to Apple's product guide at
  5. Go to ATPM sponsor web sites at and check out what they have to offer, including reviews.
  6. Go to Smalldog at and check out their CPU buying guide in the PowerMacs section.
Hope this helps! Let me know how things are going! Cheerio, Dierk
Christine · February 27, 2006 - 19:25 EST #7
I have 2 Macs(Bondi Blue and a new G5). I have would like to upgrade the "Bondi Blue" to OS X 10.3. It already has OS 9.2.2, so I know it can handle it. The thing is that I would like to link the two together, via the startup disk in G5. I've heard it can be done but don't know exactly how. Cross over cabel doesn't seem to work(fine for just files) and connecting through a router doesn't seem to work either.

What am I missing??????
ATPM Staff · February 27, 2006 - 20:10 EST #8
Christine - please elaborate by what you mean by linking the two together via the startup disk. What is it you wish to accomplish?
Christine · February 27, 2006 - 22:51 EST #9

I apologize for not making my self clearer.(I have a tendancy to do that
sometimes, thinking to far ahead).
Anyway, what I want to do is "install" OS X 10.3 on my old G3, using my G5, via
firewire. That method worked when I installed "Tiger" on my ibook.
I'd use the slot drive on the G3, but it's started to get a taste for my cds,
also the G3 doesn't have a firewire port. I've tried using a crossover cable but
that's just good for file swapping. I tried using a router but that looks no
different that using a crossover cable.
Any thoughts, suggestions would be better than nothing at all!!!
ATPM Staff · February 27, 2006 - 23:33 EST #10
Christine - so you want to use firewire, though your G3 does not have firewire. That's going to be pretty difficult.

If you put the install DVD into the G5 and rebooted it into Target Disk Mode, I believe the host computer (which must be connected by firewire) would see the DVD mounted through the G5 and allow you to install. But with no firewire on the G3, that won't work. And if it's CDs and not one DVD you're talking about, it may still not work because, in target disk mode, you might not be able to eject the disk on the G5.

You've again not been completely clear on one point. You say your slot drive on the G3 has started to get a taste for your CDs. If the drive is not working properly, you'd do well to say so. I'm having to assume that fact. Or possibly it's only a CD drive and will not accept the DVDs that I think Panther shipped with.

Truthfully, a G3 with a failing optical drive and no firewire isn't worth, in my opinion, trying to hang on to. Even maxed with RAM, it will be pretty sluggish running OS X 10.3 beyond just the base installation.

You could either try repairing/replacing the optical drive, or you could get an external drive, but with no firewire and the USB port only at version 1.1 instead of the faster 2.0, an installation from an external USB drive will take a very long time.

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