Charles Moore's Mailbag

Macs, Myths, Mozilla, Silent Computing, and ViaVoice

Charles Moore - 2002.02.15 - Tip Jar

RE: Macs, Myths, and Conformity

From: Andrew

Charles,

Actually I have avoided XP for precisely the reason of the activation, which I think was really a bad move on Microsoft's part. However, not being Unix isn't a big deal. Unix isn't the best OS out there. It is one very good OS, better than NT in some areas, worse in others. XP (activation not withstanding) and [Windows] 2000 Pro (my OS of choice) are every bit as stable as OS X, at least in my real world environment of laptops crashing in law school classrooms. I know five users of OS X (10.1) on Apple laptops (one TiBook, three iceBooks and one Pismo), and none of those users has ever had their machine crash. Apps have crashed (Internet Explorer and Netscape seem to enjoy the process), but the machines never do.

Likewise, I know perhaps twelve people using 2000 Pro or XP, and only one of them had a crash. Even that one was not a fault of the OS at all, but of the user installing unsupported RAM in her Toshiba (Toshiba only supports Kingston). Since she pulled our the offending SODIMM and replaced it with the specified part, her system has been perfect. Just like on OS X, apps do crash, and also like OS X, browsers seem the most common perpetrators.

As for user interface, I really do think it is a matter of personal preference. I personally like the look and feel of System 7.1 better than just about anything else out there (I am a believer in "Less is More"), but the interface of Windows 2000, the new Luna interface of Windows XP, or the Aqua interface of OS X are all good. The Windows 2000 UI would be uncomfortable, and, yes, angular, to a longtime Mac user, just as the 9.x UI would look perhaps cartoonish to a longtime Windows user. The reality is that the UI of each system is a bit different in details, but the same in the basics, meaning the folder and icon metaphors and use of the mouse, all of which were popularized by the Mac.

As for applications, I don't even think one should have to pay a fee, but rather go to the model in use by most children's edutainment titles and either put the installers for both platforms (and how about Linux, too, while we're at it) on either the same CD or enclose a second disk(s) for larger suites. The apps tend to be identical in interface across platforms anyway, which is a necessity of economics and a measure how very similar the interfaces have become. How much extra would a second set of disks cost? MS Office Premium 2000 came on three CDs. With CD media costing a large corporation like MS well under $1, it would only add $3 to a $400 product - insignificant.

Of course, what reason does Microsoft or Adobe or anyone else have to do that? Profit wise, it would be foolish, because some people will buy replacement software. I am still using Office 4.2.1 on the Power Mac 7200 I set up in my daughter's room, and as an owner of Office 2000 Pro for Windows, I am not about to spend the money to buy the exact same functionality for the Mac that I already own.

For me it's a non-issue, though, as Apple just doesn't have the hardware I want.

Still, though, thanks for the thoughtful reply, which is refreshing as most Mac-only people prefer blind evangelism rather than logical comparison.

Andrew

Thanks for the discussion Andrew.

Charles

Mozilla 0.9.8 installer crashes!

From Dan Finegan

Hi Charles,

I enjoyed your article on Mozilla, but I've been frustrated in my attempts to install it on my 7100/G3/266 with System 9.0.4. The installer crashes with a Type 12 error every time. I've asked for help on some of the Mozilla newsgroups and also posted a bug report with Bugzilla, but no-one has been able to help me out. If you hear of any solutions for this, I'd appreciate you passing the info my way.

Many Thanks!
Dan Finegan

Hi Dan,

Wish I could help. I've installed nearly every milestone version of Mozilla for the past year on my WallStreet, Cube, and Pismo, and I've had no installer problems.

I suspect that there is something in your configuration that is conflicting with the installer. Have you tried installing with extensions off?

Charles

Mozilla 0.9.8 speed

Hello Charles,

Have just read the article about Mozilla 0.9.8 on Low End Mac. When I read the discussion about the time to bring up Mozilla from the computers you listed, I was shocked.

I am using iCab [iCab_Pre2.71_English_68k] on a Centris 650 with Mac OS 7.6.1 and the original 230 MB hard drive (it is not fast by today's standards). To time the loading up, I use the clock in the menu bar with seconds on to time loading. With iCab, it sometimes takes only 7 seconds to load. On the average it takes 9, and when it's running slow, it takes 12 seconds. Keep in mind that the Centris 650 (all original) runs with a 68040 at 25 MHz. What is happening on your 233-G3 that it takes so much longer to load than on my Centris 650? I am really curious.

As for bringing up Web pages, I only tried Applelinks and watching the menu bar clock, it took about 55 seconds before the stop button dimmed. I use an external US Robotics Sportster 33.6 Faxmodem. The phone lines in our area, Palisade. Colorado (a rural area in west-central Colorado) are not what I'd call "hot."

Just curious to know why the 68040/25 Centris seems to be relatively faster than a G3/233? What are other's experiences?

Maurice Schumann

Hi Maurice,

It's no mystery, and it doesn't reflect on my poor old WallStreet. My G4 Cube and 500 MHz Pismo were/are just as slow here.

The problem is that there are 50 miles of phone lines between me and my ISP (I live waaaaaaaaaaaay out in the boonies), the first 12 miles being indifferently maintained ancient copper. Another problem is line congestion (although I did the browser test late at night). Between 3:00 p.m. (when kids start getting home from school and go online) and about 10.00 p.m. it is often difficult to get a connection at all.

There is a closer ISP (also unfortunately with the 12 miles of copper between us), but I've dialed into their modems using a friend's account, and there is no dramatic difference in speed. I get 26,400 bps connection speeds on good days.

Charles

Real ear problems

From Linnea Maravell

I have real ear problems, and noise bothers me so badly that my workspace is torture. I have two noisy Compaqs that near put me thru the ceiling. I need to find the most quiet PC that can run a business. Any ideas?

Thanks,
Lyn

Hi Lyn,

To the best of my knowledge, the only quiet Windows PCs are laptops. You might consider moving to one of them.

If you want a quiet desktop computer, you need to go Mac. There's plenty of business software available for Macs, although there would be a bit of a learning curve to climb if you're a PC user.

A few years ago, when I was selling Macs, I convinced a local businesswoman to switch from a PC desktop, which she had been using for more than ten years, to a Mac PowerBook laptop. She was cautiously skeptical at first, but after a month or two she was quite at home and wouldn't go back to PCs now.

Your choices in quiet desktop Macs are:

  • G3 iMac
  • G4 Cube (discontinued)

The new G4 iMac does have a thermostatically controlled cooling fan (as do PowerBook laptops). As AnchorDesk's David Coursey noted yesterday:

"The [G4] iMac has no fan - actually it has a fan, but I've never heard it - meaning my office is quieter than it used to be. The fan is thermally controlled, so it turns on only if the machine heats up. The iMac also has a very small footprint, leaving me with a lot of unused desk space."

Good luck in your quest for quiet computing.

Charles

ViaVoice?

From Randy Maynard

Charles,

I read your article on LEM. You mentioned that you use ViaVoice X. I am considering purchasing this also because I suffer from chronic tendonitis in both arms/wrists (this started while stationed on a ship for two years and my work station was very unergonomical. I had to stretch my arm to reach the mouse because on a ship there is no room for normal desks... Long story. Anyhow, it has spread to both arms and is very aggravating) I am a computer tech by trade (in the Marine Corps, and as a Staff NCO I spend hours typing reports, instruction material, etc.) and a Mac enthusiast by night... So I have been wanting a good dictation program. Bottom line, does it work well? I need it for email (Entourage) and MS Word mostly. It would be nice if IE and the Finder were supported as well. OS X is my OS.

Randy

Hi Randy,

Short answer: ViaVoice for OS X is the best dictation program for the Mac I've used, and I've used 'em all - PowerSecretary; VoicePower Pro; ViaVoice Millennium Edition; iListen.

For a longer answer, (yes, I think you would find VVX a big help) see my recent reviews of ViaVoice X and iListen 1.2 on Applelinks:

Charles

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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