Mac Musings

Low End Mac Gets iReviewed

Daniel Knight - 24 May 2000 -

Well, look at that. Apple "iReviewed" Low End Mac on Monday, May 22, 2000, noting it fills a unique niche and is easy to search. On the down side, they note uneven quality of content and vague, confusing department names.

I've already taken the last to heart and updated the links to the various departments to include the name of the columnist, since the whole idea behind creating various sections of the site was to help create a "brand" identity for writers including Charles W. Moore, Rodney O. Lain, Steve Wood, and others.

Good news first: Low End Mac has almost everything needed for the care and repair of every permutation of Apple computer and peripheral, from a 20-year-old Apple I to the recent Power Macs - not to mention all the Apple models, clones and clandestine machines that proliferated in between.

Thanks. My original goal in creating Low End Mac was to provide a single place for all the information and links I need in my job as a Macintosh information systems manager. Putting it on the web was my way of giving my research back to the Mac community.

However, we don't cover the Apple I, II, or III, or the Newtons, or most Macintosh peripherals such as printers, scanners, and monitors. Our primary focus is the computers themselves. Our primary goal is helping you understand the options and limitations of each model so you can decide on the value of upgrading your Mac.

Here's the downside: Like many sites that rely heavily on part-time staff, volunteers and reader contributions, Low End Mac is frustratingly uneven. It's understandable that a site dealing in historic Web information suffers broken links to external pages. But other problems are site-specific: Content - ranging from incisive to irrelevant - is stored in oddly named departments, making exploration about as appealing as cleaning a dirt-clogged mouse. The department for upgrade advice is disguised under the name Mac Daniel. Instead of a coherent department for columns, readers are confronted with three indistinguishable archives of columns with cute but meaningless names like Mac Musings, Things Macintosh and Miscellaneous Ramblings. With all the Mac news on the Web, who has to time plow through these? Fortunately, the site has an efficient search engine.

I'm guessing the iReview staff is not composed of regular visitors to Low End Mac (LEM). They may find Mac Daniel cryptic, but then foreigners might say the same about Ann Landers. Visitors to LEM certainly understand - it's the second most popular part of the site, right behind the Power Mac profiles. It got its name back when I had the time to handle dozens and dozens of emails per day asking for advice. I eventually gave it up, and I clearly note this on the Mac Daniel home page.

As for the other departments, I've worked with those columnists to try to create a site identity for their content instead of lumping it all together under one heading. A lot of sites do this. In fact, off the top of my head I can't think of any that don't. And nobody has to go searching for new content - it's all featured on the home page.

I'll drop a note to PicoSearch thanking them for a great search engine. In recent weeks, I've moved it to a more prominent place on the site.

As for frustratingly uneven, life's like that. Our collection of writers includes full time freelancers who make a living writing on their Macs to philosophers to programmers to college, high school, and middle school students. Besides, even the irrelevant can be fun once in a while. ;-)

Missing - or perhaps buried - on the site is an explanation of who runs it, who uses it and why it exists. That's too bad, because these folks are uniquely qualified to comment on one of the cultural phenomena of our times: Why so many people stand by their Macs.

Oops, they're right. I've got a great "about" page, Getting the Most Value from Your Mac, explaining the history and mission of LEM. Unfortunately, somewhere over the past three years I removed the link. It's back now.

As for who is responsible for LEM, that's me - the guy with an email link and copyright notice on every page of the site. As for being uniquely qualified to comment on the dedication of Mac users, that's a combination of my being a DOS convert, having sold computers retail, having supported Macs in the workplace, owning a nice collection at home, and spending three years interacting with the Mac using public through Low End Mac and our family of email lists.

Thanks to the Apple iReview, I've already made a couple small changes to the site: one in the department links, the other in restoring the link to our "about" page.

Considering the hard time I've given Apple about iReview, I'm pleased they were willing to give LEM a fair shake. I and many other Mac webmasters were pretty merciless back in January when it appeared iReview was ignoring the bulk of the Mac-centric web.

I hope Apple will follow through and soon review the other popular Mac sites.

We're flattered by the recognition (Apple only lists twelve "Macs News & Info" sites) and will continue to provide the "treasure trove" of information you've come to expect from Low End Mac, uneven or not

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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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