Low End Mac in 1999

Launched in April 1997 as part of my personal website, The New Low End Mac User has evolved and grown. At this point, we’ve served up somewhere around 6.5 million web pages. Wow! This article looks at some important site developments in 1999.

The ‘Book Page

iBook and PowerBook PageFor a while, I had a page for PowerBook links, and then I launched a new section just for the iBook. I eventually decided it just didn’t make sense to keep them separate, so I combined them in November. The iBook & PowerBook “home page” has the same kind of links you’ll find on the Low End Mac or the iMac Channel home pages, but these are specifically related to portable Mac computing. The ‘Book home page alone has been served up over 25,000 times since I launched it on July 22nd.

This is also an area where I think different about site design. Instead of a banner across the top, I put the Low End Mac and iBook & PowerBook Page graphics in the navigation bar on the right, something I’ve been doing more and more of over the year.

iBook and PowerBook Page

Not one of our prettier designs…

Increased Editorial Content

A year ago, you’d probably find 90% of the site content was written by me, about 9% from Scott L. Barber from our Quadlist email list, and a few random articles by others.

That began to change in January when Evan Kleiman started writing a regular iMac Musings column on The iMac Channel. His first article appeared on January 18; his most recent (#33) on December 22.

In February, we posted the first article by Paulo Rodrigues, Guide to P1 Features. Paulo has written nine article on various areas over the year, recently adding one about his decision to get an iMac instead of an iBook.

Charles W. Moore, a former co-conspirator from my MacTimes days, brought his Miscellaneous Ramblings to Low End Mac in September. We publish his column several times each month.

Weeks later, Steve Wood joined as a regular writer on our MacInSchool subsite. His View From the Classroom covers a wide range of subjects (mostly school related) and appears like clockwork almost every Monday.

Also in September, Rodney O. Lain wrote his debut article on Low End Mac, PowerBooks For All. It was well received, so we set up the Things Macintosh section for his writing in early October.

Mac Metamorphosis by Eric DeStefano also debuted in September, chronicling one user’s move from the Wintel world to the Mac.

Between all that and my own output, you’ll find new editorial content on Low End Mac almost every day of the week – and often two or three new articles.

The Return of Mac Daniel

Last year I launched Mac Daniel, an advice column. It grew from once a week to three times a week, and the email load soon became more than I could handle. I wrote fewer and fewer articles, got months behind on email, and canceled Mac Daniel in June.

But it was too good an idea to abandon. I contacted the volunteers on the Low End Mac help desk and got some help. Julie Fuggett, Manuel Mejia Jr, and Charlie Ruggiero are each contributing Mac Daniel columns about twice a month. They are a godsend.

Individual Articles

Some articles have taken on a life of their own, getting a lot of traffic weeks, months, and even years after they were first posted. Here are some of the top traffic generators for 1999:

  1. Performa and Power Mac x200 Issues by Scott Barber, a comprehensive article explaining the design deficiencies of Apple’s 603-based designs before the 6360. With nearly 15,000 hits, Scott and I consider this a public service that warns against buying these compromised models, explains to owners why the are troublesome in certain areas, and offers advice on working with them. This article is based on a Quadlist posting from two years ago.
  2. Faster Browsing on Older Macs by Steve Strahm, a “top ten” list of ways to improve browser performance on older Macs. At over 12,500 hits, this helps hundreds and hundreds of Mac users every month. This article was adapted from a posting to the Vintage Macs list.
  3. The Price Is Right by Dan Knight, a comparison of iBook price and features to what was available in the Wintel world in July. This page was served up nearly 12,000 times in 1999.
  4. G4 vs. Pentium III by Dan Knight, a comparison of the PowerPC 7400 (a.k.a. G4) and Intel’s Pentium III processor. Analyzed Apple’s claims, likely real-world performance, and long-term cost benefits of the G4 vs. the P III. Read over 9,000 times.
  5. Best Used PowerBook, PB Upgrade Options by Dan Knight, a Mac Daniel column from 12/30/98. This covered some pretty broad PowerBook territory, including my advice on the best used PowerBooks. Over 8,800 hits total, and still clipping along at over 800 per month, this is the most popular Mac Daniel to date.
  6. Backup Basics by Charles Moore on Miscellaneous Ramblings has had nearly 7,500 hits so far, showing Mac users really are interested in backup (even if most of us still don’t do it as often as we should). Just over six weeks old, this may also be drawing traffic for months to come.
  7. The Zip Disk Click of Death on the Online Tech Journal compiles a lot of research on the Zip drive’s “click of death” problem from mostly PC-oriented sites and distills it for the Mac user. This article was posted in November 1998 and saw over 7,200 hits in 1999.
  8. Kihei Pictures Pulled by Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 9/30/99. It was quite the firestorm – MacNews.de had somehow obtained and posted a picture of the iMac DV Special Edition. The picture ended up on scores of Mac-centric sites as the possible look of a new iMac. The quick and cruel response from Apple legal not only verified that the photos were indeed legitimate, but also that Apple took no prisoners. Their most common strategy was to contact a site’s host, asking them to pull the photos – and maybe later contact the webmaster.
  9. In Mac User For a Month #1, Eric DeStefano pledged to use nothing but Macs for a month. Over 6,000 people read it.
  10. Macs vs. Y2K by Scott Barber presented the story of a Detroit area steel rolling firm converting from a network of 26 Windows NT machines to a handful of Quadra 650s – gaining Y2K compliance, more speed, and improved reliability, all at one-tenth the cost of new NT hardware. This article had nearly 5,700 hits here, was forwarded as email, and was even reproduced on at least two other sites in violation of our copyright. (We support Open Link; we do not support piracy.)
  11. Windows on Your Mac was Evan’s top article for the year, generating over 5,500 hits.
  12. Rodney O. Lain floated the idea of marketing The 1.7 GHz G4 in Things Macintosh, suggesting Apple follow the lead of Intel’s competitors and market the processor in “Pentium equivalent” megahertz. 5,000 readers loved the idea.
  13. New PowerBook in January, the debut Rumor Mill column by Anne Onymus, was another hit with readers, explaining that the “Pismo” was really going to be a cobranded PowerBook Pepto-Bismol in Barbie-pink.

The Email Lists

We started 1999 with seven email lists: Quadlist, Mac Webmasters, The iMac List, Vintage Macs, PowerBooks, PowerMacs, and SuperMacs. The oldest, most popular, and busiest list, Quadlist, had 432 subscribers. Ignoring overlap, the lists had a combined circulation of 2,285.

Over the course of 1999 we launched Compact Macs, MaX, Mac Canada, Outback Mac, and, just a week ago, G-List. Ignoring overlap, there are 5,375 subscribers between the lists. The largest number (738) receive the PowerBooks list, while most traffic (over 1,400 messages) is generated on the PowerMacs list. (That’s part of the reason we’re separating G3 and G4 machines on the G-List – 1,400 messages are a lot to read in one month!)

These lists have grown into very helpful communities of Mac users. Flame wars are very rare, although they do sometimes get into some interesting off-topic tangents. Despite that, they are an excellent source of information for Mac users.


Low End Mac had quite a year in 1999. Despite the increased number of Mac-related websites, we’ve actually grown the site to it’s busiest level ever – and Macworld is just about to start.