Welcome to Macintosh

Low End Mac Readers Weigh in With Suggestions to Improve the Site

- 2007.05.15

Bong! . . . :-) . . . Welcome to Macintosh!

In keeping with the spirit my previous Welcome to Macintosh article, where I asked for ideas to make Low End Mac better from our readers, I'm sharing the emails I've received. (If you have more ideas on how to make LEM better, drop me an email at thomas (at) lowendmac (dot) com.)

Our first email comes from Eric, who told of his memories of Low End Mac in the most recent Welcome to Macintosh article:

"Hey Tom, how are you? Thanks for printing my memory on your site. :)

"I saw the writing for idea submissions and I had a few right off of the bat. Why not split the site into two; one being Low End Mac while the other being Mid-End Mac? I'd hate to think of a Mac mini (pre-Intel) as being considered as low-end. It shouldn't be that the latest and greatest machines that come out of Cupertino render all models before it as obsolete, or 'low end'. The low-end site could focus on models up to a certain type of chip, chip speed, or those supported (with or without XPostFacto) under a certain OS; while the Mid End site could focus on the same or models that were released X number of years or so ago. This would benefit the low-end users (myself included) who don't want to have to drudge through articles and reviews related to higher-end machines - and the same goes for the mid-end users who have no need for info on older Macs. Not only that, but it might entice the low-end users to switch or upgrade to a higher model than what they already have.

"The Mid End Mac site could also have reviews of possibly newer gear and software that the machine can support (or vice versa). In addition, there can be lists of add-on hardware, both external and internal, that the machine could still use. Even if a machine is listed as being mid-end, there could be sections relating to audio and video showing the more expensive hardware that can be run on those machines. Basically this would save the user from having to go out and get a better Mac simply for one or two main applications. For example, there are older version of Pro Tools professional audio recording software out there. One could purchase this along with an older Mac and still have strength and stability without having to suffers from LAGS (Latest-and-greatest syndrome)."

Editor's reply: One of the mottos we used to help people understand why we have profiles of the latest Macs on Low End Mac was "...because sooner or later every Mac becomes low end". And over the 10 years we've published LEM, the low end has moved from things like the Mac IIci and Quadras to anything that isn't Intel-based. "Low end" is a moving target, so dividing content between two sites doesn't make sense.

There are a lot of different ways of dividing Macs. At LEM, we call any Mac with a Motorola 680x0 processor a "vintage" Mac, but some of them are architecturally almost identical to PowerPC models and run the same OS versions and software. We could arbitrarily divide based on SCSI vs. IDE vs. SATA, 680x0 vs. PowerPC vs. Intel, NuBus vs. PCI vs. PCI Express, supported vs. not officially supported to run OS X, bootable or not bootable into the classic Mac OS, etc.

The problem is, all of these are arbitrary divisions, and in reality there is a continuum of Macintosh models stretching from 1984 to the present. There are plenty of websites that concentrate on current hardware; our focus is on the value found in Macintosh computing, and that's generally greater on the low end than the high end. dk

The next email comes from Steven:

"I switched to Mac on July 8, 2004, after being an Apple fan since the iMac came out, although back then I didn't know it was a different operating system. That being said, the thing that drew me to Mac in the first place was their simplistic yet beautiful design. Although now my favorite thing about Apple computers is the way they actually work and get the job done right, the design factor is still very high on the list.

"I'm probably one of the only people who thinks this is a good idea, but I would like to see a photo gallery section under the computer specs, rather than just a small thumbnail. Maybe users could send pictures of their computers to Low End Mac to post. Whenever I want to admire a computer that I don't yet have, I find it is very hard to find good pictures of older Macs.

"Also, although I have never seen a Mac design that I didn't agree with, I think some people who want to buy an older Mac that still looks nice would benefit. Just an example: When the original iBook switched from blueberry to indigo, they switched from the Power Mac G3-style plastic, which was somewhat translucent in places, to the Power Mac G4-style plastic, which was solid shiny white, dubbed 'snow' by Apple. I personally like the look of the later design, although I didn't even know there was a difference until about 2 weeks ago, after some random web browsing. If Low End Mac had a photos section, if nothing else, it would help some people decide which variation of a certain model to get. Just a thought."

Editor's reply: We have the same problem. There aren't a lot of good photos of older Macs available to us; most of what we have were scrounged where we could find them. The drawback to soliciting reader photos is image quality: A lot of people just don't know how to get good product shots, and it would be a disservice to publish low quality images.

If you have good photos of older Macs available and would like to see them used on LEM, please email them to low_end_mac(at)yahoo.com along with written permission to post them. dk

Here's an email from Normann:

"Hello there,

"I'm a professional sound engineer and I often visit your site. I really like it, and I often find useful information there.

"Having read your invitation to send in ideas for LEM, the following came to my mind: It would be nice to have lists of Mac models sortable by features or benchmark tests. For example, sort by:

  • 3D benchmark
  • other useful benchmarks
  • or even other tests like: most silent Mac ever (being a sound engineer, this would be my favourite)

or sort by features like:

  • graphic card model
  • graphic card RAM / highest monitor resolution
  • number of monitor ports (DVI, VGA, etc.) 2 screens (expanded or mirrored desktop possible)
  • number of FireWire 400/800 or USB ports (or even the old serial ports)
  • hard disk controllers onboard (SCSI, IDE, how many of them?)
  • many other features possible...

"Of course all this information except my favourite 'most silent Mac list' is already on the site in the Mac specs, but it would be more convenient to be able to search for specific parameters. (Means a lot of work of course to put all this info in a searchable database)."

Editor's reply: A good suggestion, and something I've wanted to implement for years. Problem is, I'm not much of a programmer. I barely know enough about PHP and MySQL to get by, and that's with a lot of reference works handy. If someone would like to help us implement this, I'd love to do it. Please email low_end_mac(at)yahoo.com.

I also know of no resource on how loud or quiet various Macs are. dk

Our last email comes from Joseph:

"How about allowing readers to comment on the articles on Low End Mac? I have frequently had questions that I would have liked to ask of the writer of the article or have found conflicting information on other sites and wanted to find out if the article here was correct or the article elsewhere by putting it to the writer that his information is in dispute."

Editor's reply: We already do our best to include an email link so you can contact the writer, and we'd like nothing more than to add the ability to comment on our articles online. This is another instance of wanting to add a feature to LEM but not having the technical know-how to do it. And then there's the problem of moderating content to keep spammers and troublemakers out....

Still, it's something I'd like to do, as I believe it would increase the sense of community among our readers. If you know of a good comment system that can be implemented with PHP and MySQL without endangering our server, email me at low_end_mac(at)yahoo.com. dk

These are great ideas. Very well thought out. Let's see what happens.

If you have an idea to make Low End Mac even better, send your ideas to me at thomas (at) lowendmac (dot) com. Be sure to let me know if I have your permission to publish your idea in a future Welcome to Macintosh article. LEM

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