Macintosh buying advice

What’s up with someone asking me for Mac advice? Yeah, Dan Bowman is in the process of selling his soul to (or at least buying a computer from) some egotist in Cupertino.

From: “Bowman, Dan”
Subject: Macs
To: Dave Farquhar
Dead serious request:

We keep getting hammered by graphic artists and printers; the Mac is ubiquitous in this arena locally. I’ve proposed we purchase a Mac for the GM to use (he’s a passable artist and knows what he wants and is not afraid to do it his way).

What configuration (for that matter, what machine) should I look to price this. We’re bidding another contract and the cost of the machine would likely be saved twice over by the artist fees and the GM’s time (time he could spend just doing it).

Any bets on programs?

Networking issues?

Thanks. Not my idea of fun; but in this case the right tool for the job if he can make it work.

Dan

I can’t recommend packages, they’ve gotta be what he’s comfortable working with. Rent some time at Kinko’s if need be to determine that. I definitely suggest avoiding Adobe PageMaker, because they’re abandoning the thing. Let me take back what I just said. If you can avoid using Adobe products, do it, because the company’s policies… Umm, just take every bad thing I’ve ever said about Microsoft, multiply it by about 10, and you’ve got Adobe. You may not be able to avoid Photoshop, but avoid the rest of it if you can. Macromedia and Quark, between the two of them, make just about everything you need.

If he wants to use a jillion fonts, you need a font management program, because the self-styled King of Desktop Publishing can’t juggle more than 254 fonts, I believe. I’m not certain on the number. Extensis Suitcase will do the job.

Get AlSoft Disk Warrior, Micromat Tech Tool Pro, and Symantec Norton Utilities. Once a month (or whenever you have problems), run Apple’s Disk First Aid (comes with the system), then Disk Warrior, Tech Tool Pro, and Norton Disk Doctor, in that order. Fix all problems. They’ll find a bunch. Also get Font Agent, from Insider Software, and run it once a month. It’ll want to delete any bitmapped fonts over 12 point. Don’t do that, but let it do everything else it wants. That helps a ton.

You’ll spend $500 on utilities software, but if you want your bases covered, you need them. Get them, use them, and you won’t have problems. Neglect to get them, and there’ll be no end to your problems, unless he never uses it.

Hardware: Get a 400-MHz G4, 256 MB RAM, IDE disk (poorly threaded, cooperative multitasking OSs don’t know what to do with SCSI). Frequently you can get a better price by getting the smallest disk possible, then buying a Maxtor drive at your local reseller. I know they were charging $150 a month ago to upgrade a 10-gig disk to a 20-gig disk, and you can buy a 20-gig disk for $150. Video, sound, etc aren’t options. If 450 is the slowest you can get, get that. MacOS doesn’t do a good enough job of keeping the CPU busy to warrant the extra bucks for a higher-end CPU. You’ll want the memory because you have to assign each app’s memory usage (it’s not dynamic like Windows), and it’s not a bad idea to assign 64 MB to a killer app. I also hear that G4s are totally unstable with less than 256 megs. I can’t confirm that. We’ve got G4s with more and we’ve got G4s with less, but I haven’t seen both in the hands of a power user yet.

Networking: NT’s Services for Macintosh are worthless. Don’t use NT for a print server for a Mac (it’ll ruin the prints), and don’t use it as a file server if you can help it (it’ll crash all the time). Linux isn’t much better, but it’s better. (It’ll just crash some of the time, but at least you can restart the daemons without rebooting.) I don’t know if MacOS 9 can talk to printers through TCP/IP or if they still have to use AppleTalk. AppleTalk is an ugly, nasty, very chatty protocol–it makes ugly, nasty NetBEUI look beautiful–but it’s what you get. Turn on AppleTalk on one of your network printers and print to it that way. One Mac and one printer won’t kill a small network, though a big enough network of Macs can keep a 10-megabit network totally overwhelmed with worthless chatter. Killer DTP apps don’t like their PostScript to be reinterpreted, and that’s one of the things NT Server does to mung up the jobs. So that’s the only workaround.

Multitasking: Don’t do it. When I use a Mac like an NT box, keeping several apps and several documents open at once, it’ll crash once a day, almost guaranteed. Don’t push your luck. It’s an Amiga wannabe, not a real Amiga. (Boy, I hope I’ve got my asbestos underwear handy.)

One thought on “Macintosh buying advice

  • June 8, 2002 at 1:54 pm
    Permalink

    Of course an awful lot’s changed in two years but hopefully this is still somewhat useful information for someone. If only for historical research.

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