Mac Musings

Macworld Expo Report #3

Reflections on the Expo

2000.07.21 - Daniel Knight - Tip Jar

It's been a long time since I've been to a trade show - almost 20 years since attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago - but some things never change.

Macworld Expo was as busy, cluttered, colorful, packed, chaotic, and interesting as I remember CES being.

Hot Technology: AirPort

I spent a lot of show time with the Mac Observer gang, most of whom are using PowerBooks (and mostly Pismos at that) with AirPort. Thanks to dozens of AirPort base stations around the Expo that didn't have passwords enabled, they were able to access the Internet from many parts of the Javitts Center without wires. (Even power outlets for recharging batteries were in short supply at the Expo.)

Until now, AirPort had seemed pretty cool technology, but actually using it in this setting convinced them what a great breakthrough AirPort really is.

It made me wish somewas was selling Farallon SkyLine or Lucent AirWave cards for my wife's WallStreet PowerBook. The only drawback to AirPort seems to be about a one-third reduction in battery life.

Low End Find: Tekserve

Tekserve was giving out booklets with 25 pages of Mac tips, everything from colmmand key combination to hints on reseting PowerBooks, when to replace your PRAM battery, and why some printers don't seem to stay set in the Chooser.

But what really got my attention was the sheer number of old compact Macs on display in their booth and the way they displayed them: they had a chair, a love seat, and a fireplace built out of working Pluses, SEs, Classics, and other old compacts. They obviously love the old workhorses as much as Low End Mac does.

Tekserve bills itself as "the old reliable Mac service shop" and even does repairs on Macs that Apple no longer provides parts for. Most dealers repair computers (Macs or PCs) by replacing entire boards; Tekserve is one of the few with the expertise, patience, and know how to do component level repairs when necessary.

If you've got an old Mac that needs service, but nobody local will touch it, you may want to give Tekserve a shot. Be sure to get an estimate and calculate shipping, because even though they can fix vintage Macs, it may not make economic sense to do so. Still, it's refreshing to find someone so expert in the repair of older Macs.

Low End Mac Deal: IPNetRouter 68k, US$49

Want to share your Intenet connections - whether dial up modem, ISDN, cable modem, DSL connection, or fractional T-1 service - with other computers? IPNetRouter from Sustainable Softworks is a great way to do it, one I've used on Quadras with great success.

IPNetRouter not only works with any kind of Internet connection your Mac supports, but can also share that connection over either a LocalTalk or ethernet network.

IPNetRouter has been selling for $89 for years, but now they've dropped the price of the 68k version to $49. This makes it even more practical to set up an old Mac IIci, Quadra 650, or almost any older Mac to share your Net connection. IPNR is very efficient and can run in the background, although that means that if you manage to crash your Mac, it will take down the shared connection until IPNR is up and running again.

One suggestion is to dedicate a machine as a Net and file server, running IPNetRouter to share your Internet connection and using File Sharing to let everyone on the network access the server's hard drive.

Word of warning: IPNetRouter works very well, but be sure to follow the instructions to the letter when setting it up. If you try to wing it, you can expect to spend a fair bit of time troubleshooting your setup until it works.

Enough to Make You Drool

The Silicon Graphics 1600SW flat panel display has the same 1600x1024 resolution as Apple's Cinema Display, but the 17.3" SGI display is far less expensive than Apple's 22" offering. In fact, at the Expo they announced clearance pricing of $1,799 on the current model.

Too see it is to love it, but that's way out of my Low End Mac budget. :-(

Neat Little Things

My wife's PowerBook doesn't have USB, so I thought I'd have to have one of the Mac Observer staff install the SanDisk drivers and USB device, copy the files from my PowerShot's CompactFlash card, set up a network, and then let me copy the files via File Sharing. Instead, John Braun showed me a cool little device: a PC Card adapter that accepts CompactFlash. I picked on up from DataVision at the show for $12 and easily copied my files right to the PowerBook's hard drive. I've also set up my old 8 MB CompactFlash card as a very small (7.3 MB) drive.

I didn't put Photoshop on the PowerBook before leaving home, so I had to come up with something. I downloaded and installed GraphicConverter 3.9.1 this morning and have used it to straighten, crop, sharpen, and otherwise prepare photos for use with my earlier Expo articles. I'm not as familiar with GraphicConverter, but have been able to make it do what was necessary. As always, it's a great piece of shareware. I registered my copy months ago and urge you to do the same with any shareware you use.


I'm sure there was more worth writing about, but thanks to either getting on the wrong subway train or the right line going in the wrong direction, Kyle and Michael of the Mac Observer and I spent much of last night discovering Brooklyn. Oops.

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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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