Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What a difference 1 character can make

One of the fundamental problems with computing is that it requires us humans to be less than human. 'Course, that true in life as well, oftentimes.

Maybe I should rephrase that - the problem is that too often to go through a day PROBLEM-FREE requires us to be less than human.

Two examples:

I've heard a story about NASA losing a Mars Lander because of a misplaced comma. Now, you would think that something that simple would either have beebn caught before the satellite was a tad out of reach, but it wasn't. (Granted, the story could be apocryphal, but let's assume it's relatively true for the purpose of illustrating my point.)

For the machine to work properly, it required the programmers to work like a machine - something that is impossible for humans to do on an extended period of time. (Humanity has some significant advantages, don't get me wrong!). This causes problems for both the machine and for the humans trying to get work done. Work gets lost, machines lock up because of human error, etc. etc.

Second example:

I sold the 8500 on ebay. The website - the machines - everything required me to work like a machine and not make a mistake for the transaction to go smoothly. Unfortunately, the 8500 was advertised as a PowerMac 8600 - related to the 8500, but different!

....and in all my proofreading I never caught the error.

Unfortunately I shipped the thing off. Fortunately, the recipient let me know about it, and has given me a chance to fix the error.

**sigh** There are days I ***WISH*** I could be a machine!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Studio update - part 3

The mac 8600 died - a moment of silence, please.

Well, it didn't EXACTLY die. I had decided to simplify my setup, so I pulled the external hard drives out of the setup after copying the data and system to one of the internal drives. After getting things settled, naturally, the 700 meg drive died rather catastraophically - and with no warning, of course.

It took every app I had with it. The larger drive I had reserved for data storage (lots of audio files), so I put all the apps on the smaller dirve. Oh, well!

So, again, the setup changes. I'm trying to sell the 8600 on ebay - the machine is still good, there is just no hard drive with it. I now have a mac G3 desktop (233 MHz machine) to go with the mini. The plan is to get my old sequencing software running on it, plus some editor librarian for my synths. This will act as the master clock for Garageband / Soundtrack / Reason.

What is simply wonderful is that the modern-day machine (the Mac mini) will transfer files over to the old-style machine (first the 8600, ow the G3 running either mac OS 8.6 or 9.1).

I could even have the mini dial up the 'net, share the connection, and have the G3 on the 'net through the same connection. Gotta love it! - though that does sound like one of those things you COULD do, but ti doesn't really make sense to actually do it!

When the Human needs the Technology to tickle the funnybone.

A great Flash movie. Prepare to laugh - cartoon humor in the best tradition of bugs bunny!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Cell Phones, Ringtones: Why and how to get new stuff for your cell

The downloadable cellphone ringtone industry has created a huge buzz among a certain segment of the internet industry. Although you don't yet see reports of this stuff on the broadcast network news reports, there is a lot of money changing hands.

One big question: Why?

I asked my teenaged son this question: Why do kids like to customize their phones? After getting the typical "Dad you just don't get it look" that I get quite often (!), the answer boiled down to "It's just cool".

Bottom line, if I may be permitted to extrapolate the rest of the story, ringtones allow you to personalize a gadget that has become a part of your everyday workflow. Ringtones have the advantage of being cheap, and very easy to deal with as well.

So how do you download some new material on your phone? The answer varies a bit with the capabilities of your phone. Some phones can only play one note at a time, some phones can only play modified MIDI files, others can do samples of one format or another. It can be a bit confusing.

Help for the confused

Enter This is a ringtone site that keeps track of what your phone can use. All you ahve to do is select a tune you'd like, and then select your phone model. If you don't see your phone model listed, your phone can't use that type of file!

The site has thousands of ringtones available. It also offers wallpaper (for changing the backgrounds on the cell phone screen), pictures, and even videos (for the latest phone models). The inventory is constantly being updated, and is very easy to use. Downloading is quick, easy, and secure - not to mention cheap!

How to download ringtones to your phone

First, swing over to and select a ringtone, wallpaper, or video. Click on your selection to preview it. This will create a popup window, so if you have popups blocked you may have to CTRL-click the link (command-click for you Mac people).

After you listen to it, select your cell phone service provider (i.e. Verizon, Cingular, AT&T, etc), then your phone manufacturer (Motorola, Samsung, etc.) and then your specific phone model. Only those phones that can use your selection will show up in the list - so you can't buy something you couldn't use!

Simply click the "Buy" button, and the window will be replaced with instructions on how to finsih the download. generally, use your cell phone to send a specific text message to a specific number, and the material you ordered will be automatically downloaded to your cell phone.

Prices are low - somewhere in the $1 to $2 range, and the site is available internationally as well.

It's fast, easy, simple, cheap, and secure. So check it out - it's a lot of fun, actually. They have a wide selection of tunes available, and it's all legal.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Programming ain't what it used to be......neither is music.

A bit o' background:

You might say I'm young old-school. I was first bitten by the technology bug in the 70's, in my teens.The first personal computers came out, and I was fascinated by them. I was never able to actually AFFORD one, but I followed the trends and read articles about everythign computer-related that I could find. I even did a paper on what a system-analyst did!

I took a couple of programming courses in college at UTC (Tennessee-Chattanooga) - PL/1 and Fortran. The Fortran class was done using punched cards - the jobs were sent up to Knoxville and we waited hours for the results of our little programs.

(There was something satisfyingly organic about punching cards. I still remember the feel of the CLUNK when the card was punched as I hit a key on the keyboard.)

Back then, programming was on a much lower level language-wise. Great programmers could do assembler so their stuff would run faster or have additional features not easilyimplemented in the upper-level language they were using. I knew people did that, but I never got into spending hours twiddling bits so a routine would run faster. I had music to make!

Nowadays, things are different. I read a piece a few years back about how programming was becoming just connecting pieces of pre-existing code together, and lamenting the loss of "real" programming". Modular coding is a great thing overall, because it allows many more people (and talent types) to create code. It also allows a developer to easily add features to a project. For example, I don't really care to learn Javascript in-depth - but because of the modularity of the language when used in a webpage, it is easy to grab a script off some website and pop into my html. A few tweaks here and there and poof - added functionality!

There is also a parallel in music production. It used to be normal for composers to write their pieces line by line - making sure one line fit with the previous line, or one part with the other. Now, so much music is created by loops - let's use this loop, mess with it a bit, then add this other loop to it, etc etc.

This has the benefit of allowing mroe people to create music. The downside, just as with programming, is that the music created is often not very good - or at best is merely derivative. This is ok if that's what you WANT, but it isn't a long-term viable thing - people get bored listening to the same mediocre stuff after a while.

Any conclusions to this? Hmmmmmm.........I'm willing to bet this is just a phase we're going through. The techniques - both programming and in music production - being used today will spark yet another way of working - and the creative people (no, the REALLY creative people - the ones willing to work at it) will take what we do now and make up something new.

Some of them might actually do it away from the computer!

Monday, July 18, 2005

What will IT look like in 2010?

From eWeek, July 11 2005 edition, page 42, in an article looking at what IT will be like in 2010:

"Are these people a reinvention of the systems analysts of the 60s and 70s? Or is there something more sophisticated there?

Rosen: I think one of the key things you'll need is people who know how to learn - not so much people who know language X, Y, and Z, but people capable of learning a lot of different kinds of things."

So this member of the eWeek Roundtable thins IT will by 2010 find it more important to have people onboard who know how to learn than to have people who already possess a certain pool of knowledge.

It makes a lot of sense - and always has. Knowledge is relatively easy to gain with some effort (it's called training, people). The ability to learn (and even the desire....) can take years to develop.

Where does this type of person exist?

Liberal Arts programs.

------------------------------------------------ The MaconMacGuy Putting the Pieces Together Mac etc. Tech Support Macon, GA

Basic info | The MacGuy Blog | ------------------------------------------------

Friday, July 08, 2005

Quit wasting time searching the web

Ever been looking for something specific on the web, and just had a frustrating time finding that one fact? Here is a process you can follow to quit wasting time searching the web - developed out of a compuiter training class I taught for several years at mount de Sales Academy and Mercer University:

Step 1. Know EXACTLY what you are looking for.

You can't vaguely look for "something about cars" and expect to get anywhere - unless you are in "just browsing" mode, the on-line version of mall windowshopping. You need to be looking for something - MPG rating of a Toyota Camry, or used car lot in Atlanta, for example.

Step 2. Phrase your search in the form of a question - either on paper or in your head.

I suggest on paper the first dozen times you do this. For eaxmple, "what is a current value of a 1967 Volkswagen squareback?".

Step 3. Underline the important words in that question.

current value 1967 volkswagen squareback

This gives you the keywords you'll use in the search engine entry box.

Step 4: Decide on the search engine and search type you need to use.
Most people, of course, like Google and Yahoo. I prefer Metacrawler, because it searches several engines for you, and returns the top results.

There are 3+1 search types: AND (require the presence of all the keywords on the webpage for it to be counted as a hit), OR (any of 'em will do), and PHRASE (has to have the words in that exact order to be counted). The "plus 1" refers to NOT (don't count a page as a hit if it contains this word).

Example: ford wagon "Oregon Trail" NOT car NOT engine NOT michigan

Step 5: Do the search!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

One little Thing: Computers are like 2 year old children

How often do we use these machines, trying to get some work done (or what passes for work in this information economy of ours) - and are stymied by one little thing......that one little checkbox left unchecked, or one setting left not set, or one button not pushed.....

Case in point: I've been trying to send in some blog entries for three weeks, but nothing was posting. It turns out that there was one checkbox in the blogger settings that needed to be checked - and asn't.

Never mind that there was just one word - "Publish" by the checkbox, and no explanation anywhere on the page. (You had to really dig in the help area - incidentally, one of the bettter written help sections out there - to find out what the checkbox did).

Which brings up the point of this entry: Computers are like 2-year olds, in some respects. No, I'm not going for the obvious "garbage in garbage out" analogy - that would be way too easy....and obvious.

No, somputers are like a two in that they are very literal. I once told by oldest son - who was two at the time - to go ahead and "hop into the tub". Fortunately I managed to catch him before he whanged his shins against the tub trying to jump in.

He took the statement literally - as do computers. There cannot be a situation where there is a diconnect between the commands given and the result. I am, of course, blatantly ignoring the plethora of malfunctions, bugs, and errors of unknown causes by making this statement - but the point remains:

The computer does what is it told to do at some level.

This creates a problem, though - we don¹t work that way....and this permanent disconnect between the human way of expressing ourselves, and the machines need for precision in instructions is what causes all sorts of frustration.

If you think about, the need for higher level programming languages, the graphical user interface, etc etc are all attempts to bridge the gap, so that the human can stop trying so hard to adjust to the machine's world.

Go back to the 70s, when I was a teenager (oops, I just dated myself. Oh, well). At one Boy Scout area-wide event, one Explorer troop had a little microcomputer of sorts running. I remember it had several blinking lights, a keypad, some chips on a breadboard - and the guy was programming it by typing in assembler code. I can't remember what the program was supposed to do, but I remember thinking it didn't look like much fun.

The human had to adjust to working like the machine.

The same is still true, but to a lesser degree. How many times do we modify a preferred workflow because the machine works better if we follow process B instead of the preferred process A?

When will it get better? Only God knows!

In the meantime, keep yourself out of trouble body-wise. Don't adjust your body to fit the machine - adjust the machine to fit your body.

Rephrased: Don't move your arm to grab the mouse. Move the mouse to where you don't have to move your arm!

------------------------------------------------ The MaconMacGuy Putting the Pieces Together Mac etc. Tech Support Macon, GA Basic info | The MacGuy Blog | ------------------------------------------------

Monday, June 13, 2005

Mac OS X Advantage

Don Mayer, from, wrote something incredibly concise and apropos:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------- There are about 20 thousand things that distinguish Apple's OS X Tiger from the "operating" (using that term very loosely) systems found on PCs. Here's an overview of some of the important ones:

Reliability and Stability

1) Beneath the surface of Mac OS X lies an industrial-strength UNIX foundation hard at work to ensure system stability and performance.

2) If an application should ever crash, the Mac OS X memory protection prevents it from taking the rest of the system down, isolating the effect of misbehaving applications (see Tiger Recovery below for even more enhancement to this feature in Tiger).

3) Preemptive multitasking and multithreading lets a system do more tasks at the same time, safely and independently, which minimizes the impact of one application on another, improving system stability and performance.

Ease of Use

1) The Finder, Expose, and Spotlight make it easy to use, navigate, and find files and applications, eliminating frustration and increasing productivity.

2) You can quickly switch between users without quitting running applications by using Fast User Switching ‹ and it has really cool visual effects!

3) Mac OS X goes well beyond the U.S. government's Section 508 Accessibility statute to provide smooth, elegant features to those with difficulties using computers.


1) There are over 10,000 Mac OS X-based applications in areas such as education, digital media, professional design, productivity, web production, video editing, business, scientific research, and others.

2 There are Mac counterparts to popular Windows applications like Microsoft Office, Adobe InDesign CS, Adobe Photoshop, Intuit Quicken, Macromedia Dreamweaver, and Quark Xpress, to name but a few.

3) In addition, there are thousands of games available on the Mac, including titles such as Star Wars Jedi Night, Halo, Doom, Medal of Honor, and Myst.

Cross-Platform Interoperability

1) You can add a Mac to any environment with support for major file formats and network file services, as well as major peripheral and digital devices.

2) Mac OS X is compatible with every major file server protocol on every major server platform on the planet today, including AFP, SMB, WebDAV, NFS, and FTP. Mac OS X works well in Active Directory environments.

3) If you use Microsoft Exchange, you can sync your email and contacts with Mac OS X's Mail and Address Book applications automatically.


1) Mac OS X's reliability, stability, and performance come from its industrial-strength UNIX foundation, which has more than 30 years of time-tested capabilities.

2) Apple's technology and open source business model allow Apple to respond more quickly to security issues when they arise.

3) Apple doesn't like to toot this horn, but there are fewer viruses and spyware for the Mac.

Even Intel recognizes this. During this week's Wall Street Journal "D: All Things Digital" conference, Intel chief executive Paul Otellini was pressed by Walt Mossberg about security on the Wintel platform, to which he offered a startling confession: He spends an hour a weekend removing spyware from his daughter's computer. Asked whether a mainstream computer user in search of immediate safety from security woes ought to buy a Mac instead of a Wintel PC, he said, "If you want to fix it tomorrow, maybe you should buy something else."


1) Mac OS X keeps users connected to their work no matter where they go, allowing them to move effortlessly between networks and keep their communications and documents secure.

2) Business travelers can connect to their office networks using a standards-based VPN client.

3) You can connect to Mac, UNIX, and Windows file and print servers over wired and wireless networks using standard protocols.


Another site to check out, comparing Mac OS X and Windows XP, is:

More reasons why I use and endorse Macs!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Email - 8 ways to keep it from being a complete waste of time

The above is a link to a flash cartoon that everyone who emails should watch - ESPECIALLY those people who insist on forwarding every "funny" or "interesting" thing that crosses their inbox.

It is truly amazing how durable some of the material floating around the 'net is. (This would probably be a good subject for a psychology doctoral dissertation). I have seen some material come in that I saw 10 years ago - in the Web's infancy!

....and then you have all of the urban myths and online hoaxes that are still floating around.

It is amazing that we get ANYTHING done via email.

So, how do we get anything done? Here are some suggestions.

1. Don't forward any funny/thoughtful stuff/rumors, unless it's to your best friend and you have already talked with them about it. We're all busy, and more than half the stuff out there is old anyway.

2. Keep answers short and sweet. Good, concise writing is at a premium online, and will get you noticed. (Yes, your high school English teacher was right all along).

3. Organize your incoming mail. Use the filtering and rules built-in to your email program to file your mail based on source or destination.

4. Don't leave your email program up all the time. Specify a time period every so often (maybe one an hour, maybe once a day, etc.) to deal with the incoming email.

You pay a huge brain-time penalty when switching from task X to checking email, and then switching back again. Leave the email program off until you actually need it.

5. Delete Delete Delete. The electronic equivalent of cleaning out your shelves - get rid of the stuff you don't need. If you are in a regulatory environment where everything needs to be archived (like the financial services or healthcare industries) create a separate mailbox for stuff to be stashed - out of the way of your regular in-box.

Don't keep it if you don't need it!

6. Attachments - don't leave them in your inbox. They bloat your in-box, and can create problems if the box takes too much space on your hard drive. If you don't need them, delete them! If you do, save them in a standard location on your drive (say, inside an "attachments" folder in your standard documents folder.)

7. Be ruthless when it comes to deleting suspicious looking emails. There's no free lunch available when it comes to relationships, cheap commercial software, or Nigerian bank accounts.

8. Do I even need to mention keeping your anti-virus stuff up-to-date, and your spyware database as well? This is ESPECIALLY critical for Windows users.

So there you have it - 8 ways to make your email use more productive. Do you have some more? Add a comment!

------------------------------------------------ The MaconMacGuy Putting the Pieces Together Mac etc. Tech Support

Basic info | The MacGuy Blog | ------------------------------------------------

Monday, June 06, 2005

Macs in the Business world?

Here is a link to an article with some food for thought, for those who say the Macintosh does not belong in business.

...and here is a great blog regarding the Mac's inherent security advantage.

Today's announcement that Apple will transistion to using intel processors should have no affect on Apple's security advantage, because Window's security weaknesses are the result of bad coding and design practices - and have nothing to do with the processors used.

What do YOU think? Add a comment!

------------------------------------------------ The MaconMacGuy Putting the Pieces Together Mac etc. Tech Support

Basic info | The MacGuy Blog |


Friday, June 03, 2005

Studio Setup: The Next Chapter part 2

I am typing this on the Mac Mini now comfortably ensconced in the "outhouse" (the outbuilding where my studio is located). It was a bit of a challenge to get the KVM working with both the Mini and the 8500. It turns out that the 8500 - since it has an added USB/Firewire PCI card, doesn't power up the card until after the OS is loaded - which means that the KVM switch doesn't receive a full-powered monitor signal until that point. So while the machine is booting up, you get a dim, flickery image on the monitor. VERY distressing the first time it happened! The KVM is working nicely, but the Mini keyboard doesn't have a NumLock key, so there is not way to switch between machines. That isn't currently an issue, but it may be at some point in the enar future. I may swap out the keyboard from the iMac up at the house (which has a numlock key) to see if it will work. That would be a shame, though - I really like the feel of the Mini keyboard.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Studio Setup: the next chapter

I am a firm believer in using things - especially technology - as long as it is practical. That's why I have been using a powerMac 8500 for my writing and transcription work for a good long while.

I bought it off of eBay for $150 to replace a Mac clone that got fried by lightning. I use it for digital audio work, sequencing, and Finale stuff.

I purchased my first ever new Mac in February - a Mini. For a long while it has stayed in the living room, perched on top of a 10 year old IBM 17 inch monitor that was absolutely huge - it was quite funny looking, but very functional.

I don¹t' want to lose what I have with the 8500, so today I moved the mini down to the "outhouse" (it's a 12x16 ft little house out back with my studio and workshop). I'm using a KVM switch (the 8500 has a usb/firewire card installed), and the 2 machines are networked together (with a crossover cable, of course. Why spend $ on a switch when I already have the cable?)

So I'm working with one machine running MacOs 8.6 - running Finale, EZ Vision, and assorted audio utilities (like Soundmaker from Micromat) - and the other running MacOs 10.3.

Gotta love it! A Very functional studio using a blend of the old and new.

Is this a good place to mention the Mac Classic running MacOs 7.1 that I use in the piano studio at the store? (I use it for basic sequencing in my piano lessons). It brings new depths of meaning to the word "slow"!


The MaconMacMusicGuy --------------------------------------

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Training: What it can save

So what could training save a person, department, or organization that would make it worth the moeny spent? Time! One of the things I train on is using the Web effectively - especially search techniques. Teaching a handful of people in a department more effective uses of the Web - especially search techniques - can DRAMATICALLY reduce the amount of time wasted looking for some specific piece of information. There is also the matter of the best way to transfer information from one office to another. Developing workflows that fit department member's learning styles can reduce the amount of time spent figuring out how to get file A to person B. Then there's the matter of file formats. Too many people don't really understand them, how they impact their workflow, and how to take advantage of that knowledge to get their work done better. These are several areas in which some basic (i.e. inexpensive) training can make a quick and palpable difference in the bottom line (or at least the frustration level!).

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Training - a little used antidote to problems

I have worked in several organizations now that were heavy computer users, or were trying to be. In every single case there was a dearth of training for the users of the machines. This is (surprisingly, I think) even more true for the educational institutions (both secondary and colleges).

What management - and even the eventual users of the machines often did get, was that comptuers are fundamentally different from anything else we use in business. They are multifunctional things that can perform so many fundamentally different tasks it is mind-boggling if you think on it too long.

Add on the issue that most software has a TON of features, along with the time pressure felt in most businesses ("I don't have time to figure this out, I've got work to do!"), and it is really no surprise that training is a needed item.

Good technology training is the single most advantageous thing an organization can do for it's employees. By "good" I mean training that enables employees to think for themselves, and goes beyond the typical "push this button and the comptuer does that" approach I have seen in way too many textbooks and computer courses.

Good technology training should also take into account the various learning styles that have been delineated by the learning researchers. Some people learn by doing, some by hearing, some by seeing....etc.

A good trainer should also be able to integrate the training into the organization's current workflow - this is something that can produce immediate results.

It's is also amazing that so many organizations purchase equipment, get it installed - and never give a thought as to who will figure out how to work the fool thing. For example - and I realize that this is a minor thing - when a new laser printer shows up at the office, how will anyone figure out how to work it? Especially in terms of what to do when thigns go wrong.

It is critical that there be someone who is [at least partially] technically capable, that has been given the time to figure out the new machine [or has been trained!]. That way the organization loses less time and productivity for small technical glitches.

Obvious statements? Perhaps. But it is interesting how much productiviy and time is wasted becuase people aren't trained and training procedures aren't developed.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Computers: Macintosh - Apple is STILL here?

I've been using Apple computers since around 1990. I remember when I first saw a Mac - it was in the fall of 1984. A buddy who had gone to another college came back home with one, and I was immediately smitten with the idea of graphical computing.

In between then and 1991, when I received my first Mac at work, I did a fair amount of programming and work with DOS and Windows - especially programming Lotus1-2-3 spreadsheet macros, and dealing with data flow between a PC where I was copy-writing, and the compugraphic machine, where the typesetters got teh copy ready for the catalog. (This was at Ellett Brothers in Chapin, SC). I have heard for a long time about how Apple is going to die as a company - and have heard it multiple times. As I write this, the industry pundits are (once again) real high on Apple's prospects, given a leading market share in the digital music player arena. Give the pundits a few weeks - they'll change their tune.....they always do! By all rights the company should have ceased to exist in the mid-90s because of poor marketing, bad pricing policies, and several really bad design decisions (anyone remember the 5200? Boy, I wish I didn't.) So why do I use a Macintosh? Why am I such a fan? (Remember, I use Windows just about every day - I used to manage 2 labs full of Windows machines, plus a whole campus of Macs of various vintages - from LCIIIs to PowerMac G4s, and 3 sets of iBooks). 1. The OS works much better for getting work done. Case in point: When I need to make a graphic web-friendly, on my Mac I can get it done in 2 commands using graphic converter (by LemkeSoft). On the Win2000 box sitting on the same desk, it takes wading around 3 sets of menus plus 2 sets of adjustments just to crop and resize the graphic. Changing the dot resolution down to 72 is an excersize in frustration. There are tons of other examples - why does XP remember so few window settings? Why is there no keyboard shortcut to cloe the currently open window when I double-click a folder? Macs have had that feature since 1986. 2. Macs last longer. I have a vintage 1994 PowerMac that I do digital audio editing with - yes, multiple tracks. There isn't a single Windows machine on the planet from 1994 that can do that. I'm running Pro Tools Free, by the way. 3. Macs come with more features than your standard Windows machine, and the bundled software is better. I would put the iLife suite up against ANYTHING bundled with any Windows machine anywhere. The software is absolutely phenomenal. 4. From 1984 - 2003, there were fewer than 100 Mac viruses developed. None damaged hardware. NONE! Max OS X has been out for a few years now, and there have been ZERO Os X specific incidents of malware developed. Yes, there have been some BSD attacks, but none nearly as serious as you see for Windows, Internet Explorer, et al. (So why does the Mac version of the Symantec Security Suite cost so much more than the Windows version? It should be EASIER to develop it!) There will be more to come........make some comments. What do YOU think?

What, Apple isn’t dead yet?

Part 2 of semi-random thoughts about Apple, the Mac OS, and computing in general. My experience with the Mac dates back to around 1991, when I, as head of a college music department, purchased a Mac Classic. That was the start of a budding music technology center that eventually expanded into the James T Bass, Jr. Center for music Technology - a 12 station netwroked music technology lab complete with digital audio recording, sequencing, music theory software, and the like. It turns out the concept was ahead of its time, and was at an institution not prepared to support it - but it was fun while it lasted. At the same, Windows started making real inroads into what is now called the enterprise market, and i was able to compare the two systems in a networked environment. Granted, much is different nowadays - then it was Windows 95 vs. MacOS 8, now it is Windows XP vs. Mac OS X. It is surprising what is the same, though. For example - I watched a crew of FIVE people take a full week setting up a networked Windows lab - networked printing, networked file storage, access to the internet. Midway into the next semester, fully half the lab didn’t work - there was ALWAYS something going wrong in there. The Mac labs I have worked with (include the above-mentioned music lab, plus 3 sets of iBooks doing the wireless netowrking thing) have all been a dream to setup. No major hassles - real consistent setup, consistent operation - things just worked. It only took me 2 days to get the music tech lab fully up and running - by myself. I have seen it where 2 examples of the SAME MODEL Windows machine running the SAME OS required different settings to get up on the network. It was ridiculous! That’s one reason why the Mac is still around. They are easier to work with. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, does it? A lot of the Macintosh advantages are, at first glance, not a big deal. Fore xample - it has long been a Mac hallmark to remember window settings (position on the screen, sixe and shape, what the view was last set to). The OS has done this for every window opened on the machine - even for removable media like floppies/zip disks/ removable hard drives/etc - since, oh, Mac OS 2.......? Windows XP STILL has a limit on the number of windows settings it remembers. Doesn’t seem like a big deal - UNTIL you begin to track how many times you resize a window, or change the settings, of the various windows you use. That can add up to significant time - and aggravation. It costs you in another way as well. When you are creating something (this could be a graphic, or writing, or aduio or video - anytime your are creating SOMETHING on the computer) - you have activated the right side of your brain - the creative side. Moving a window around is a left-brained activity. Windows requires you to interrupt your creative flow to resize windows and such - this costs you brain processing time (there is a significant processing penalty for “switching mdoes” as it were). I call it “the creative groove” - when creating you get in a groove where things are just flowing and then........interrupt the flow to resize a window or adjust a setting. That’s costly....and may cost you the idea you were working on. It can be difficult getting into that creative groove to begin with (depending on the day!) - and it can be even more difficult getting back into it. This is a small example of why the Mac allows you to get your work done - you spend less time futzing around with the system, and more time on your work. More to come. Leave a comment!