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ATPM 2.07
July 1996




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About This Particular Macintosh

by RD Novo,

All Wonky

I have been busying myself this past month, rediscovering the simple pleasures of a life without deadlines hanging like a suspended piano over my head. I mean, I have some small deadlines (like the one for this column), but I find myself with a relatively large amount of "free" time.

As you may have surmised from last month's column, I have been filling that newfound leisure time playing a game called Escape Velocity, from Ambrosia Software. They've just recently updated it to version 1.0.2, fixing a few inconsistencies and a few bugs. The game runs better than ever now, and I still enjoy the time I spend playing it.

If you have no loved ones, I recommend getting it. If you have loved ones, you may want to buy them something nice and big (after all, Escape Velocity is only $20) so they don't miss you while you're gone.

In retrieving the update from Ambrosia's web page, I also took the opportunity to update my System software, I installed a new copy of Navigator, I updated my copy of Emailer, and just generally made things work better.

But getting there involved a few headaches.

My Internet service provider, Nfinity, has been having some problems with their phone lines. They claim, in several e-mail messages to subscribers, that the problem belongs to US West, the regional Baby Bell telephone company. The problems seem a little more widespread than that, and yet I have no choice but to trust their account of things. In any case, my dial-up connection to their system has been having problems. Most often when I called, their lines either never picked up, or the familiar hiss and beep of their modem came out all wonky (yes, that's the technical term, wonky), my system seemed unable to handle it, and crashed.

By about the sixth or seventh restart (yes, I had to restart the computer), I usually got connected. By then I was so frustrated that I didn't want to surf, or read news, or have fun, so I'd just sit there, unable to disconnect after so much hardship, but unwilling to go on. I'd been using the latest release of FreePPP with my System 7.5.1 installation.

Finally, I remembered Cecilia, my 100 MB Zip disk with System 7.5.3 installed. Maybe, I thought with a glimmer of hope, maybe Open Transport 1.1 will solve my problems. Open Transport is Apple's new system-level software in charge of making network connections, including dial-up phone connections. It's supposed to be wonderful, and I thought that just might be my only problem.

So I booted up with Cecilia, installed FreePPP in her System folder, and tried to connect. Nothing like that ever works the first time, and don't let anyone tell you it does. She wouldn't connect. I fiddled with some numbers, I booted up from my hard disk to look at the FreePPP preferences on that machine, copied some stuff down, rebooted with Cecilia, filled in the blanks, and tried again.

The modem hummed, Nfinity picked up on the other end, and wonkiness ensued. Braced for an all out crash, I was pleasantly surprised when a dialog box came up that said, "A connection was made, but the lines are all wonky, so it was terminated." At least that was the gist of what it said.

But it didn't crash.

I tried again (remember rule #1 for working with computers: if it crashes and you don't know why, try it again) and this time it connected, negotiated a deal, and stayed connected.

Heartened, I decided to go all out on this upgrading thing. I went to Apple's home page and downloaded the *latest* System update, labelled System 7.5.3 Revision 2. An hour later, with the revision installed, I read the new Read Me file which told me not to bother if I didn't own certain machines. It's only for machines built within the last year. Still, even if my trusty IIci doesn't need the newest System software bug fixes, it's nice to have the latest.

(That's what sets computer fanatics aside from people who just want toasters.)

With the latest system software installed, I decided to upgrade some other stuff. So I downloaded the latest beta copy of Netscape's web browsing application, Navigator 3.0b4. I must say this version looks a lot like its Windows counterpart, which I have been using at work for about a month now. Well, except the buttons look cooler. Replacing Navigator 2.0 with this version also took care of the last crashes plaguing my system. I am happy to report that, using Cecilia, I am now 100% crash free in my Internet cruising.

Having licked that particular problem, I decided to work on increasing my efficiency. First, I began Spring Cleaning my hard drive. Essentially, this involves taking all the files that are cluttering up my drive, and using them to clutter up a Zip disk or two. Then, I downloaded the latest version of Claris Emailer, version 1.1v2. The update fixes a few bugs, eliminates eWorld from the options for connection (a moment of silence, please), and adds AppleLink, for those who care.

Emailer 1.1v2 also allows you to have multiple installations. Now don't get all excited. When I read that this had been added, I got all excited, and it turned out I should have contained my euphoria. You see, I thought it meant that we could have one installation of Emailer (i.e. one copy on the hard drive) and several preference files. Thus, I thought, we could have one set of preferences for personal accounts, and another for business accounts, without having to have two copies of Emailer on the drive.

Not so. What it means is this: you can have separate preference files for each copy of Emailer you have on your hard drive, but you still need multiple copies of Emailer. What kind of information is kept in the Preference files that would make this useful? So far all I've found is that the signature files is kept there. So now my two installations of Emailer (Personal and for AppleSauce) have separate and distinct signature files.


I still want Emailer to allow for more than five AOL accounts. And I really want them to add some functionality to the address book. People managing large mailing lists have a very tough time right now. (Sorry, Rob.) But since they just released version 1.1v2, it may be a long time before we see version 2.0.

Ah well.

In the meantime, I'll just keep on enjoying my Mac. The other day I listened to a music CD on my computer for the first time in almost a year. I'd forgotten I could do that. In fact, I popped the Star Wars soundtrack into the machine while playing Escape Velocity. It was a lot of fun, reminded me (again) of playing AutoDuel on my Apple IIe, only the music was Mr. Mister and A-Ha.

(Ooo. That might have been more than you needed to know about me.)

What else happened this month? Oh, right. Some readers will remember my cuddly appraisal of Dogz, the computer pets that hang out on your screen. Well, the company that publishes Dogz has just started selling Catz. Yes, that's right, now you can have a stand-offish, haughty, sulky cat right on your desktop. What's it do, sharpen its claws on your desktop? Sit on the Trashcan and yowl?

(Ahem. You might surmise that I'm allergic to cats. This is true. I'm a dog person, and have just never connected with cats. Which is better than a friend of mine, who has repeatedly been chased down the block by mean neighborhood cats.)

Lastly, Matt Sanders, one of ATPM's readers, delivered to me a wonderful little program called Readtime. All it does is tell you how long your Macintosh has been turned on. Useless, but tiny. Pokegenia, in her various incarnations, has been on for 2,666 hours and 15 minutes. I am unfortunately not sure where you can find this little gem, but look around, it shouldn't be hard to spot.

Apple stock is at a record low today, $19 and change per share. Now would be a good time for all good Apple loyalists to put their money where their hearts are, as one reader put it. Should you want to know beforehand what you're getting into, try the following web site, and order Apple's Annual Report.

Until next month, keep enjoying the *personal* computing experience.

"About This Particular Macintosh" is © 1996 by RD Novo,

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