After a month off for the Garage Sale, we were back for a New Year. In only a few short months, if you believe the doomsayers, the entire planet will be in shambles because of a few hundred million microchips. Sure, and I’ve got a really nice bridge and some Florida land you might be interested in purchasing. Lawrence Charters’ article in last month’s Journal was one of the best pieces I’ve read on the subject.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, General Meeting report. As usual, the meeting started off with Stump the Guru, starring the aforementioned Lawrence Charters who monthly gets up on stage and fields questions on things Macintosh. Rarely is he stumped but on those rare occasions, someone in the audience usually has some insight into the problem.
Following the Questions and Answers, we had a brief business meeting. The main topic was the changes to the Bylaws of Washington Apple Pi. As with any organization, the bylaws must sometimes be changed to reflect changes in the organization. The main point of the changes was to get rid of the old Vice President positions and replace them with some newly created positions. I currently hold two positions because in the past, the Vice President, Macintosh was also automatically VP of Programs. You can read about all of the changes and the revised by-laws elsewhere in the Journal.
Tom Witte gave us a preview of his MovieWorks creation using video he shot at the November meeting. Due to some problems with hardware, the project has taken more time than Tom estimated (doesn’t everything?) but should be finished by the time you read this.
We were pleased to welcome back Jean-David Mankovsky from Apple Computer. JD was just at MacWorld in San Francisco and brought back all the news from the left coast. And the news was all good! Another profitable quarter, a new G3 Macintosh and iMacs in 5 "flavors" and Mac OS X Server.
Yes, Steve Jobs, Apple’s iCEO had them on their feet again at MacWorld. The state of Apple is financially strong, market share is growing, and new products are rolling out on schedule. He opened his presentation with a special "Internet Only" commercial featuring the HAL 9000 computer from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL apologizes for the "Year 2000 ‘bug’ " and says "you always liked your Macintosh better than me, didn’t you Dave?"
The new G3 Macintosh takes on the sexy new beige-less look in polycarbonate. It is Ice and Bondi like the original iMac with an entirely new mini-tower case design. There is a foot/handle on each corner and a lockable latch that lowers the entire side of the machine. This panel contains the system’s motherboard. There are 4 PCI slots on the board and 3 drive bays in the bottom. There is a big, quiet, cooling fan, a decent size power supply and front bays for a CD/DVD and/or Zip drive. It comes in 300,350 and 400 MHz speeds with 1/2 speed backside cache and a 100MHz System Bus. There are 4 SDRAM slots allowing expansion to 1 Gigabyte of memory.
Also interesting is what is missing: SCSI is gone, replaced by FireWire, a new ultra-fast serial protocol which is hot-pluggable and supports up to 126 devices. Also history is LocalTalk. Like its little brother iMac, USB is the name of the game. There are two USB and two FireWire ports on the back panel. There is, however, an ADB port there, along with a 10/100 base-T Ethernet port. Also inside is a new graphics technology. Apple is now shipping the G3 with the new ATI Rage 128 graphics accelerator. This video card takes up one of the 4 slots (in fact, the 4th slot is specially configured for the card.) Apple also announced the licensing of OpenGL from Silicon Graphics. This means that graphics and game software developers can use standard 3D APIs across platforms. Base prices for these new beauties start at $1599, (less than the original Macintosh) and go up to $2999.
To go along with the sleek new G3, Apple introduced three new Apple Studio Displays. They come in the same Ice and Bondi with curvaceous lines and include a 15-inch flat panel, and 17-inch CRT and 21-inch unit with built-in ColorSync technology and USB hub.
The next surprise, and it was a pretty well-kept secret, was new colors for the iMac. Along with the added colors comes a faster 266MHz processor, 6 Gigabyte hard drive and a $100 price cut to $1199. The new colors are named strawberry, blueberry, grape, lime and tangerine. They were rolled out to a new commercial featuring the Rolling Stones "She’s a Rainbow" with dancing iMacs. Jobs quipped that he hopes folks will "collect all five!"
Still another "surprise", was the formal introduction of Mac OS X Server. Apple will sell the software alone, or a pre-configured server. JD brought along a video clip from MacWorld showing Jobs running an iMac booting from the Mac OS X Server and running streaming video. Then he rolled out an iMac wall of 49 machines connected to a Mac OS X server and showed them all running streaming video from the server.
Well, that is the highlights. I’ve got to get this out to meet the Journal deadline. Next month, Microsoft will be back to introduce Internet Explorer 4.5, Outlook Express 4.5 and to tell us about their new MacTopia Web site, http://www.microsoft.com/mac/. Microsoft has said they will give free CD-ROMS of Explorer 4.5 and Outlook Express to all attendees.
Almost forgot, the usual thanks to Beth Medlin, Lawrence Charters, Lorin Evans, Tom Witte and all of the other individuals who make these meetings happen. Thanks also to the Pi members who signed my birthday card. I can categorically state that it was the largest birthday party I ever had. Sorry there wasn’t enough cake to go around. Last, but not least, thanks to the vendors who donated door prizes. A copy of MacOS 8.5 from Apple Computer to G.A. Rounsevell, Color iMac poster to Ann Lunn, GMAT study software to Paul Balcer, Go West game to Alex Avila, Apple Canvas Tote to Jack McCalman, Coffee mugs to Harold Deeley, Jr. and Charlie Stancil. Tom Witte delighted in throwing T-shirts from Apple, CodeWarrior and other vendors to: Bill Geiger, Patrick Garvey, Charlie Cooke, Stuart Bonwit, Rick Mason and H. Ronald Green. Hope you all had a good time.
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Revised March 7, 1999 Lawrence I. Charters
Washington Apple Pi