This month we were pleased to welcome back two old friends, David Loomstein, Product Manager from Symantec, and J.D. Mankovsky of Apple Computer. David is the kind of presenter I like to deal with. He committed to this date 6 months ago! Of course I'm sure it was so that his appearance would coincide with the release of the newest versions of Norton Anti-Virus for Macintosh (formerly Symantec Anti-Virus for Macintosh) and Norton Utilities 4.0. We all know J.D. from his previous visits. He always has a lot to share with us about Apple and its products.
The meeting began as usual with the Question and Answer session, ably handled by Pi Secretary and Webmaster Lawrence Charters. As usual, there were questions on many and varied topics. Oh, I almost forgot! We also had special guests in the lobby. Ed Sutter and Lou Dunham of MacUpgrades were in the lobby selling copies of MacOS 8.5 and the also had a couple of iMacs on hand, at least one of which was adopted at the meeting. We would like to thank MacUpgrades for their continuing support of the Pi as a Journal advertiser and vendor.
Also announced at this meeting was the availability of Pi Fillings Goes to School, our latest CD-ROM offering, this time of educational and education-related software and other goodies. The CD Gremlins at the office spent many weeks collecting, assembling, evaluating, categorizing, criticizing and otherwise massaging this fine collection of goodies for students and teachers. Worth a look at only $10 at the meeting, $12.50 by mail.
Now on to the meeting. David Loomstein and Scott Newland of Symantec made the long trip out from the Left Coast to be with us again. Many of us have been long time Norton Utilities and SAM users. David was unlucky enough to have a cantankerous PowerBook (actually, I think it crashed while launching Microsoft PowerPoint) which necessitated giving us a live demonstration of the new Norton Utilities 4.0. The new version is more than just a face-lift. The program is now Power PC native (more on which later) and sports an updated interface and multi-threaded performance. It now does all of its functions at once, instead of serially.
Dispensing with his prepared presentation, David gave us a quick overview of the product line from memory and then opened up the floor to questions. A hot topic was the fact that the program is now PowerPC native. There ensued a long discussion on the pros and cons of maintaining the old version in some form for use by those of us who still run 68xxx machines. The issues included support costs, legal issues, liability, etc. I think David and Scott took home a wealth of knowledge on where his customers stood on the issue. Unfortunately, little was said about Norton Anti-Virus for Macintosh, an excellent program that stops those pesky viruses, which seem to crop up occasionally in the Macintosh world and almost hourly in the Windoze space. That hour went by much too fast.
With thanks to David Loomstein, J.D. Mankovsky took the stage to give us his quarterly Apple Update. Of course the big news was the introduction of MacOS 8.5, coincidentally on the date of the meeting, October 17th. Once again this quarter, there was lots of good news. Apple once again made a nice profit, in fact it made 28% more profit than the Wall Street analysts predicted! Apple earned $106 million in the last quarter of its fiscal year capping its first profitable year in three years.
One of the engines fueling these great results was, of course, the iMac. According to Apple's official press release: "Apple shipped 278,000 iMacs in the product's first six weeks, making iMac the fastest selling Macintosh ever. Over 40 percent of iMac buyers are new customers for Apple, according to a survey of almost 2,000 iMac buyers conducted by Audits & Surveys." The better news is that many of these customers are "virgins." The findings showed that 29 percent of iMac buyers were first-time computer buyers, and an additional 12.5 percent of iMac buyers are "converts" who own Windoze PCs. The remaining 58 percent of iMac buyers were current Mac owners. Folks, over 40% of the iMac purchaser were new to Apple! Let's hope they want to join a user group!
Apple also announced an additional retail channel partner. Your local Best Buy store will soon offer iMacs for sale along with its scads of Windoze machines. Let's hope they do a better job than they did before Apple pulled the plug on them last year.
On to MacOS 8.5. The advertising trumpets "Get a new Mac for $99." A bit of an exaggeration, of course, but what advertising isn't? In fact there are a lot of nice goodies in there, the flashiest of which is Sherlock. Sherlock is a new search technology which replaces the old "Find" Apple menu command. Sherlock still provides all of the functionality of Find, but it can also go much, much farther. If you take the time to enable the indexing of your hard disk (and it took 6 hours to do my 4GB hard disk) you can find any word in a document very quickly. This indexing is done automatically, on a schedule, if you wish, and runs much quicker on subsequent updates as it only examines changed files. If you still don't find what you want on your own computer, you can go to that worldwide compendium of knowledge and dross, the Internet. Sherlock allows you to search all of the popular and many obscure search engines for your topic of choice. It even notices when improvements have been made to the search engines and asks you if you would like to update your plug-in. There are already scores of search plug-ins at Apple's Sherlock web page and many more on other Macintosh sites. Unlike the live intro demo at the Flint Center on Wednesday, J.D. didn't manage to come up with any obviously embarrassing entries in his demonstration searches. Wednesday's demo featured a rather salacious answer to a very innocent question.
Actually, the appearance of MacOS 8.5 may, in fact, be the impetus to get a new Macintosh. MacOS 8.5 requires a PowerPC. It is noticeably faster now that it is all PowerPC native and is paving the way for MacOS X and beyond in the next century.
The Applearance control panel has undergone a major revision and update. Now all appearance items are in the same place and have "themes" which change background, colors and even sounds all at once. The package only comes with one set of sounds called "Platinum Sounds" which make cute little noises when you click sliders, empty trash, eject a disk, etc. Cute at first, but quickly annoying and disabled by most people over the age of 8.
The biggest improvement and launching pad for lots of new and exciting things is that AppleScript is now PowerPC Native and all of the Finder is now scriptable and there are many nice new scripts included to enhance the operation of your machine. J.D. gave a demonstration of the "add copy to folder" script which automatically copies an item dropped into a folder into a different folder. If the second folder happens to be on a network or backup drive, viola, you've just implemented automatic backup for your documents folder.
There are, of course, lots more improvements, large and small, but an hour was sadly not enough time to show everything. Best bet is to go out and get your own copy and try it out. It's fun!
Prize Winners at this meeting were:
Mac OS 8.5 -- Needham Langston and Don Eckstein
Norton Anti-Virus for Macintosh -- Ray L. Ihndris and Richard & Sheila Allen
Norton Utilities for Macintosh -- William Russell, Jr. and David Harris
BBEdit T-shirt -- Robert S. Harris
Apple T-shirts -- Andy Werthmann, Daniel Klothe, Douglas McNeill, Arthur Hoiland and Gregory Bartolett
Non-Designer's Web Book -- Jay Darmstadter
Claris Draw -- H. Bresler and Ray Cook
Congratulations to all of our winners and thanks to Symantec, Apple and the other vendors who supplied the door prizes. Special thanks to David Loomstein and Scott Newland for flying all the way from the Left Coast to be with us. It isn't cheap for these vendors to come to our meetings and we really do appreciate it that they take the time and spend the money to support user groups such as ours. Thanks as usual to Beth for keeping me on the right track and to Lorin Evans for fetching the Pi Fillings Goes to School CDs so that we would have them for the meeting. Thanks also to Lawrence Charters and Tom Witte for hosting the Question and Answer session before the meeting.
Next month: MovieWorks and Corel Draw 8 as well as the Washington Apple Pi Twentieth Anniversary Celebration with refreshments, prizes and surprises. Be there. December is the Garage Sale. Don't miss it!
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Revised December 6, 1998 Lawrence I. Charters
Washington Apple Pi