iMac on the Ramp

FTLComm - Tisdale - August 14, 1998

This is the third article to appear in Ensign this week about this new computer and though that may seem excessive, the fact is, that the computer is a new departure in the technological development we have seen progress since the first personal computers appeared eighteen years ago. In our family we bought our first computer, a Apple ][+ clone in the early winter of 1981. At the time we were pretty puzzled with just what we intended to do with it, we played games naturally, we bought a printer and were able to use it for word processing and the boys got pretty involved in writing software. But, the computer as a thing, was pretty much up in the air as to what exactly it was designed to do. Though the power of the computer has steadily increased from that pretty feeble little old Apple][+ clone we had, computers have continued to be sold with the idea that the user would determine what it was intended to do.

The iMac scheduled for release and sales tomorrow (Saturday, August 15) is the first computer that leaves nothing to chance, it is dedicated and specifically designed to introduce the user to the Internet, straightforward easy to use desk top publishing and any kind of game you want to throw at it. Though it is function oriented, that doesn't mean that it can't do everything, because it pretty well can and it does it better then anything else yet developed. When ever computer manufacturers have produced, what they refer to as "entry level" computers, they have sold older design, low priced and slightly older technology equipment. Apple has taken a big chance, producing a top of the line computer and releasing it as the low priced machine. The speed and power of this new computer is twice that of the very best and most expensive Pentium II available and because of its open architecture software it can pretend to be a Pentium or pretty much anything you want it to be. One of these new iMacs is more compatible then any other computer being able to do tasks as a Mac, a Windows 95 machine, Windows 3.1, Windows NT or even run old PC DOS applications.

But when a person sits down to one of these computers they will discover that it is so quick and responsive that you will simply do things, rather then think about what you can do. With this in mind the software that is packaged with the computer is astonishing in its variety and power:

* AppleWorks 5.0v1 (formerly ClarisWorks 5.0 v1)
* Quicken Deluxe 98 for Macintosh
* Total Access 2.01 (from EarthLink)
* FAXstf 5.0
* Internet Explorer 4.01
* Netscape Navigator 4.0.5
* Outlook Express 4.01
* America Online 4.0
* Nanosaur
* Kai's Photo Soap SE 1.0
* Williams-Sonoma Guide to Good Cooking

You may not be familiar with some of these titles but with this suite of software there is far to much to learn and there is nothing you will need to buy.

AppleWorks is the most integrated flexible desk top software ever made, able to do word processing, drawing, painting, spread sheets and databases with an almost flat learning curve. Simple drag and drop operation that will let you create sophisticated documents the first time you use it.

Quicken Deluxe is the most widely used accounting software on the planet, able to run a home or business and make everyone an accountant.

The Earthlink software is a come-on to use Earthlink as your Internet provider and is pretty enticing for people in major cities.

STF fax is simply great software, it turns the iMac into a fully functioning office fax machine able to send and receive faxes, we use this software in our office every day.

Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator are web browsers. Though there are people who really think Explorer is great (Andrew being one) I am not one of its fans, because I write web pages and know that Microsoft breaks the HTML rules and their browser is not exactly compatible. This is of course deliberate on Microsoft's part, as they want to dominate the computing world and their software is designed to position them as the only source.

Outlook Express is an e-mail software package and since it is from Microsoft this writer does not recommend it. Pretty closed minded on my part, but its the way things are, I don't like Microsoft and would be dishonest if I didn't tell people that it is my personal bias. It may be fine software, though I really doubt that, because the best e-mail software for the Macintosh is ClarisEmailer, it is so much better then anything else no serious user would consider anything else. The listed features for Outlook Express are the sort of thing Claris Emailer had years ago as did Eudora which is an equally fine e-mail application. Though Outlook Express comes with the iMac, ClarisEmailer lite can be downloaded free from Claris' web site and so can Eudora and both are better designed.

MDK is a "3D action game combines the elements of stealth, ambush, program intelligence, stunning futuristic graphics and a wide-open
playing environment." So-says the promo but it is a shoot-em-up noisy action game. Some folks love this sort of thing, there have been times I have been known to engage in such behaviour, but most of the time I deny it.

The last three software titles on the list are the most impressive other then AppleWorks.

Nanosaur is a shot-em-up video game with incredible live rendered images and deafening sound that pours from the little iMacs stereo surround sound speakers. There will be those who love this noisy thing.

Kai's Photo Soap is just a fabulous solid and powerful friendly piece of software that allows you to touch up and process pictures with your iMac. Fix that zit on a portrait, change the contrast, enrich the colour, introduce a special effect, Soap is really something and you can produce professional results first try. If you buy an digital camera this application is absolutely indispensable

The last one on the list is what it says a guide to good cooking. Highly acclaimed for its thorough approach and definitely dealing with an important subject. Here is what Apple says about the software:

A entertaining and informative title from BroderBund Software, the
Williams-Sonoma Guide to Good Cooking is a "culinary reference" that
provides iMac users with access to over "1,000 kitchen-tested
recipes . . . created by world renowned chefs," "video clips on
cooking techniques and an illustrated glossary of ingredients and
cooking terms." So you may want to make some counter space available
for iMac in the kitchen.

The comment in the promo on the kitchen installation of the iMac is actually not meant in jest. The designers of the computer actually intend users to put it anywhere they might want to use a computer and the kitchen might be one of those places. The appliance nature of this computer is certainly what they had in mind when they were thinking through what people would do with it.

Besides the software mentioned, there are special time limited bonus offers with the computer, a person can get the Windows emulation software SoftWindows or an extra 32MB of RAM if you buy one before August 16. So if you buy one tomorrow you get either the $300 SoftWindows or the $85 worth of extra memory.