Washington Apple Pi

A Community of Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac Users

April General Meeting

by Lawrence I. Charters, Vice President, Macintosh

April was an interesting month. The Pi made repeated requests, starting late last year, for Apple to stop by and demonstrate the new Power Macintosh computers, and didn't get a response. Then, in March, Apple (Cupertino) said it would have a presentation in April at NASA, in downtown Washington, and invited all DC-area user groups to attend. Nearly 30 people showed up, half of them Pi members -- and Apple didn't even have a Power Mac to show off (the airline lost it). Most of the audience left.
That same night a local Apple representative, working out of the Reston, Virginia, office, demonstrated a Power Macintosh 7100 to seventy Pi members at the Columbia Slice meeting. Needless to say, the meeting was a resounding success.
In other words, for those of you wondering why Apple hasn't shown the Power Macintosh machines at a General Meeting yet, we've tried. Apparently someone at Apple thinks it isn't productive to demonstrate new technology to large regional user groups, deciding instead to de-emphasize user groups in favor of less focused presentations to "major markets." Needless to say, I've been highly impressed with their efforts so far...
Burning Issues
With the Pi holding elections in May, the start of the April General Meeting was taken over with election information and statements by officer candidates. Over half the candidates were either busy with the weekly TCS maintenance or were attending the Apple II meeting, held back at the Pi office. This is, believe it or not, a Good Sign: it is always nice to know that those who would lead are also those who would work.
Problems with last month's projection equipment were solved in splendid fashion through the loan of a wonderful new Proxima projector. This compact unit combines the functions of an overhead projector and a color active-matrix LCD panel in one piece, and is exceptionally bright. It is also a snap to set up; we switched between a Mac IIci, a PowerBook 140 (with external video adapter) and a Compaq portable with only the briefest of pauses.
And why, exactly, did we have a Compaq computer at the April meeting? Andrew Coupe, a database systems engineer with Microsoft, used the Compaq to project Windows-based PowerPoint slides explaining the Microsoft FoxPro database technology. Since the Pi's copy of PowerPoint for the Macintosh (donated by Microsoft) can easily read PowerPoint slides prepared under Windows, Andrew got two points for the slide show but lost about 97 for "inappropriate use of technology."
He redeemed himself once he started showing FoxPro 2.5 in action. FoxPro is an immensely powerful multi-user relational database, capable of reading databases created with the MS-DOS and Windows versions of dBASE and FoxPro without change. Additionally, it can run virtually all MS-DOS and Windows dBASE and FoxPro programs with little or no editing, making it a powerful cross-platform development tool.
While it has many powerful tools for developers, FoxPro's reputation in the Macintosh world is based on something more basic: speed. No other Macintosh database, relational or non-relational, even approaches FoxPro in terms of sheer speed. To illustrate this point, Andrew loaded a database (in FoxPro terminology, a "table") containing all the street names for the entire mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., with over 100,000 individual records. He then typed in a query for the street outside the meeting site and got an answer back "instantly." He looked up my home street, and again got an "instant" answer. He then looked up all the streets named "Main" in the area, and got a listing of over 2,000 records -- "instantly."
What, exactly, does "instant" mean? In this case, it means as soon as Andrew pressed the Return key to enter his query, the Mac started displaying the answer. If you need speed, FoxPro has it.
To demonstrate the cross-platform nature of FoxPro, Andrew switched to his Compaq and showed a sample video store application, complete with a custom entry screen with nice buttons, scroll bars and other user-friendly touches. He then opened the same database on his PowerBook and, except for the screen colors, the database, and the program, looked identical.
FoxPro will be discussed in more detail in a forthcoming review in the Journal but, on the whole, FoxPro looks good. While Andrew offered no special deals to those in attendance, the "introductory" price of $99 for FoxPro 2.5 might still be in effect by the time you read this. In mid-summer, the price will rise to $495.
May 1994
In an attempt to avoid conflicts with Memorial Day, the May General Meeting is being moved up a week to May 21. This means you will probably read this after the meeting is over, in which case you missed a splendid presentation by Ares Software on their outstanding font technology. Proxima Corporation also had a representative on hand to talk about the wonderful portable projection equipment we've been borrowing over the past year. We probably did something else, too, but the crystal ball is getting a bit murky.
June 1994
Probably the most popular Pi events are the two semi-annual Computer Garage Sales, and the summer Garage Sale is scheduled for June 11, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will be held at the Hampton Mall in an old Rite Aid store, 9185B Central Avenue, Capital Heights, Maryland. There should be a map somewhere in the June issue, but it is easy to find: take I-495 to Exit 15 (between Landover and Andrews Air Force Base). Exit inside the Beltway onto Central Avenue (MD 214). Hampton Mall is immediately off Central Avenue on the left.
July 1994
Global Village is scheduled for the July 23 General Meeting, showing off their new telecommunications products. Joining them will be Microsoft's Home division, demonstrating their latest consumer offerings (CD-ROMs, games and applications).
MacWorld Boston will be held August 2 to 5. This gigantic trade show has a number of attractions: great bargains, the chance to see new products, and the chance to sample Boston's history and restaurants. If you volunteer to work at the Washington Apple Pi booth, you'll also get an opportunity to sit down -- a treat after walking miles and miles through two exhibition halls.
September 1994
Washington Apple Pi will be moving in September. If you have a big truck, a strong back, and some packing boxes, or any combination of these, we can save Big Bucks by moving ourselves. We are moving to save money on rent, and every dime we spend on renovating our new quarters and moving the office will help save even more money. Since no computer expertise is required, it would be Real Nice if we saw something other than the usual band of volunteers.
Drawing Winners
Faux Cowhide Mousepad (Gateway): Brian P.S. Nielsen
PC Week Inside ballcap: Glenn Paterson
Intel Inside ballcap (for use with SoftPC?): Jay H. Feinstein
T-shirt (Cheyenne): Dave Weikert
Canvas bag (Best Power Systems): Mark L. Scire
Zap! How your computer can hurt you -- and what you can do about it (Peachpit Press): John Rosenberg
Reader Rabbit:Erik Dunham
Supermines (Calisto): Brooke S. Webster
Microsoft FoxPro: Caroline Quant
Apple Macintosh IIci: donated by Falcon Microsystems
Microsoft PowerPoint 3.0: donated by Microsoft Corporation
Bernoulli 150 drive: loan courtesy Iomega Corporation
Proxima Ovation projection system: loan courtesy Proxima Corporation
Lounging TCS penguin: artwork by Nancy Seferian
Silver Spring Metro penguins: photography by Dennis Dimick
Dr. Fun cartoons: from the Internet via Jon Hardis and the TCS
Setup and worrying: Tom Witte, Lorin Evans, Beth Medlin, Bill Wydro

Send meeting comments to: lcharters@tcs.wap.org.

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