Richard Hunt, Low End Designer and Mac Lover

Richard Hunt is a London-based freelance graphic designer. He’s been working freelance for five years and has refused to upgrade to a new Mac since then, when he bought a secondhand Mac. Jason Walsh investigates.

How did you get into the design business?

I studied art and design at polytechnic and then went to art college in London. I studied for a Master of Fine Art. Initially I wanted to be a comic-book artist, but I needed to work and got a job as a lowly Mac-operator. From here I worked my way up. Five years ago I went freelance.

What is your current setup?

Well, my main machine is a Power Mac G3 Blue and White. It’s a 350 MHz model, but I’ve chipped it to run at 400. It has 1 GB of RAM and three hard-drives totaling about 38 GB, I think.

It’s an old-ish machine, but I have no intention of upgrading it.

I am considering a PowerBook G4, but only because I want a laptop and am reticent to buy a secondhand model, as a lot can go wrong with them.

Macintosh LCMy other machines are a Mac LC III, which I use for text-handling, and an iMac Rev. B for Internet use. I keep them all networked together.

Software-wise, what are you using?

For image-editing, I use Photoshop 7 – I can see no advantage in upgrading to Photoshop CS.

For layout, I never got past Quark 3.3 – again, there was no real advantage in upgrading. Text-wise I do have Microsoft Office X on the G3, but only in case someone sends me a Word file. As I said, I do most of my text processing on an LC III. I use ClarisWorks on that.

I’m toying with a demo of InDesign CS and, thanks to Low End Mac, MLayout, as I want to move layout over to Mac OS X. I’m interested in the PDF capabilities. I haven’t decided which to go with – MLayout is a better price, but the entire Adobe Creative Suite is compelling.

I use Freehand for vector illustration – to be honest, I can’t remember which version right now, but it’s an old one. Maybe 5.5.

It sounds like you froze your hardware and software a while back. Is this true?

It’s a fair assumption. It’s certainly what I was attempting to do. Mac OS kind of threw a spanner in the works, necessitating upgrades in RAM and software. I try to keep it basic.

Why do you do this?

Why not? I’m sick of, as you yourself put it, “the upgrade treadmill”. Not only is it expensive to keep upgrading – and the margins in the business are thin enough as it stands – but it makes no sense. Look at Quark’s transition from version 4 to 5: All of those Web design features were of no interest to me. I don’t need them and don’t want them, and even if I did want Web design features, I’d look elsewhere for them.

Why stick with Macs?

They do everything I want, so why would I change? A PC would only frustrate me. Besides, with my mend-and-make-do attitude, I could have survived Apple going under in the 1990s. Not that that’s likely anyway.

What’s your favorite Mac?

Mac Color ClassicThe Color Classic – isn’t that everyone’s favorite? I’ve never even seen one, but I do covet one. My favorite of my own Macs is the iMac. It’s not as flexible as the Power Mac G3, but it’s the perfect balance.

Besides, I like old and odd technology. My latest investment is a Holga toy camera. Who needs a Canon 1D? Not me anyway.

Low End Designer Mailbag

From Kady Mae:

Dear Jason,

I’ve been reading and enjoying your Low End Designer series. I gave ThinkFree Office a try and encountered some serious problems:

  1. It’s S-L-O-W. It was easy for me to outpace its ability to move the cursor in typing or backspacing.
  2. It doesn’t handle text copied and pasted into it very well at all. (This was the killer for me.) I work for a webzine, and often things would be sent to me via email, or I’d email myself. I’d cut and paste into ThinkFree and discovered that anything cut and pasted in is not editable. It cannot be highlighted, it cannot be dragged, it cannot be cut or pasted, and if you want to remove it, you have to back space it out of existence one letter at a time.
  3. The spell checker sucked rocks. It doesn’t understand contractions. If you wrote “don’t” it views it as don and then ‘t.

Eventually I broke down and bought Office X for students and educators.

If only Sun would pull its head out of its butt and do Star Office for OS X. Star/Open Office may be ugly working, but it works well.


Thanks Kady,

That’s some tale of woe, and I’m happy to bring it to readers’ attention. Has anyone else had a go with ThinkFree Office?


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