Mac Musings

Notes from the Publisher

Dan Knight - 2002.11.25 - Tip Jar

Here in the United States, this coming Thursday is Thanksgiving, a day to look back at the blessings of the past year, eat a huge meal, watch football (the American version, of course), and officially launch the Christmas shopping season.

For many Americans, that means a four day holiday weekend, although for those in retail and restaurants, it may mean being busier than ever and working much harder than usual this coming Thursday afternoon and through the rest of the weekend.

For me, this is a perfect opportunity to take a break from the regular work at Low End Mac and take most of the week off. We will be publishing some new articles, and I will be updating the "week's best ____ prices" each day, but we're taking a much needed break otherwise.

And today we're also taking a look back at some issues:

Apologies to Kim Kommando

In last week's Komando Strikes Again, Stephen Van Esch took Kim Kommando to task for an inaccuracy in a recent column. After we published the article, Kommando contacted Van Esch to set the record straight - it was a Gannett newspaper editor who was responsible for the erroneous information, not Kommando. We have added a paragraph at the beginning of Van Esch's article explaining this.

Apple Lets Email Go Through

You have to hand it to Apple - they are very responsive when dozens (and possibly hundreds) of .mac users complain that they are no longer getting email lists they've subscribed to. We posted Apple, Let My Email Go on November 14, and our subscribers were getting messages from the Low End Mac email lists by Saturday.

That said, I received three spams at my mac.com email address last week. I reported the first to Apple customer service, along with my disappointment that they don't seem to have a "report spam" email address. Over the weekend I used Apple's webmail service to check my account, found yet another spam, and was once again unable to find a way to report it.

So I registered my mac.com email address with SpamCop and sent it to them.

Apple, your Mail application seems to be the best anti-spam email client in the business. It learns. It would be very nice if the mac.com mail server could also learn what we consider spam. At the very least, please give us an easy way to report spam to your email administrators.

Hatemail and Advertising

I am very happy to report that the advertiser who was considering dropping Low End Mac due to one reader's Hatemail campaign has decided to stick with us. We also received a lot more supportive email after we published The Hatemail Letters - thank you all for your ongoing support.

Financially, this has been a rough year for us. Last year I trimmed expenses several times, including compensation for our writers as well as reducing my own salary twice. In September 2001, I took a part-time job to supplement falling site income.

I began 2002 eight weeks behind on payroll; as November draws to a close, that has increased to 12 weeks. The writers are paid. The taxes are paid. Most of the bills are paid. But I'm only paid as funds permit. Over the first 10 months of the year, I had three or less "weekly" paychecks in seven months. In the other three, I had five.

The PayPal Fiasco

In the end, it was my bank that got my money back from PayPal (see Hijacked on PayPal and PayPal insecurity). PayPal has done nothing to help us out. In the end, the only thing I could do to stop them from taking money from my business account was to close it and start a new checking account.

Kudos to Fifth Third Bank. A big raspberry to PayPal.

Site Income

Low End Mac survives thanks to the valiant efforts of BackBeat Media in selling ads and managing subscriptions, a handful of affiliate programs, sponsors on many of our email lists, and a small but steady flow of donations. And we're ready to expand that.

We added an ad-free subscription option to Low End Mac in February. It hasn't been a huge success, but it does provide a much needed supplement to ad income. For $24/year, you can support Low End Mac and not see all the ads that we post to generate income.

Over the summer we set up the lemlists.com domain to handle our mailing lists and began to offer low-cost email addresses to list subscribers. This has helped cover hosting costs for lemlists and all of our sites other than Low End Mac.

Beginning this week, we are expanding this and will be offering Low End Mac email addresses, server space, and more at the lowendmac.net domain. Details are almost finalized; we should have a subscription form up soon.

Unlike Apple's dot-mac, which offers a fixed package for $99 per year, we offer a lot of choices:

  • An email address with 15 of space for $10/year. This includes spam filtering. Larger mailboxes available at extra cost.
  • Server space that can be used to serve Web pages, for ftp storage, or like Apple's iDisk. We will be offering 25 MB of space for $20/year. Those who need more space will have that option.
  • Access to PHP, MySQL, and PHP MyAdmin on our server for $20/year. This is a service that Apple does not offer to .mac subscribers.

You can have an email address and storage space for just $30/year, much less than Apple charges. We may also be setting up WebDAV so we can host iCal calendars. Full details will be published on the lowendmac.net site this week.

The Low End Mac Network

No, we're not launching yet another network of Mac related sites. In addition to personal accounts, we want to create a repository for abandoned Mac sites, a place where important content can be stored before it disappears into the ether.

I don't know how this will work out, but I know a lot of good Mac content is already gone - most of the editorial content published on MacTimes, much of the editorial content from MacSimple, and so on. There's good stuff that deserves a future; we're offering space for that.

And we're offering it for free. The first catch is that these must be defunct sites, ones we can archive and not worry about updating. The second is that we will be running ads on these pages, so we may have to make some adjustments to their design to accommodate them. Contact low_end_mac@yahoo.com if you've got a candidate site.

I also want to offer another option for archiving old content. For a fee, Cobweb Publishing (the publisher of Low End Mac) is willing to take over the domains of defunct sites and host them at that domain for a number of years. Details depend on the number of years. Again, we will run ads on these pages, and we will only do this for sites that are no longer publishing new content. Email low_end_mac@yahoo.com if you have a site like this.

We also want to offer space at lowendmac.net to the freeware and shareware authors unable or unwilling to pay $99 per year to maintain their .mac accounts. This will be a separate service from personal accounts and archival site storage. We'll tailor the number and cost of email accounts, storage space, and bandwidth to meet your needs. You can reach me at low_end_mac@yahoo.com if you're interested.

We are hoping that the Low End Mac Network will provide Mac users with a useful lower cost alternative to dot-mac, give freeware and shareware authors a good option for hosting their Mac-related wares, and create a home for old websites that don't deserve to disappear forever.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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