The Low End Mac Mailbag

Problem Banking with Older Macs, Winning the Education Market, Compact Flash for Vintage Macs, and More

Dan Knight - 2006.06.13

Thanks for Help with StyleWriter 2400 Software

After receiving all the emails I forwarded about StyleWriter 2400 drivers, Clarisse Leite Motter writes:

Dear Dan,

I've been quite touched by the abundance of helpful links emailed to me over the past 2-plus weeks relating to the Color SW 2400/2500, and I wish to thank all who took the time to do so.

Thank you.

Both, my 13-yr-old B&W StyleWriter II, and the "new" (i.e., donated to me) Color SW 2400 are now running beautifully in their respective Macs, (I currently have five Macs, ranging from my Centris 610 through the Beige G3 All-in-One, plus a non-working Gateway Intel II Laptop . . . that's another story). I collect Macs to cannibalize them for parts and accessories, not to mention cool software, to keep the 2 or 3 I have set up running.

Since I'm not well, healthwise, going through the small mountain of emails I got through LEM is no longer necessary, so with my gratefulness and thanks, I'd like to ask that the emails stop.

I've downloaded the software I needed, and my printers are working quite nicely.

In addition to this email, I'm sending a separate email concerning a warning I've ran into with (older?) Macs and banks/credit unions. But that's another story; another email.

Again, in humble gratefulness, for all who cared to send me links for the printer drivers.

Most sincerely,
Clarisse Leite Motter

- "Dare to Dream. It happens" Unknown

Thanks for Low End Mac

David Evans writes:

Thanks so much for you website. It's helping me make the partial transition into the Apple world &endash; since my wife and I run a small magazine we see the need to at least have a Mac. I bought a Pismo, followed your site's recommendation to load OS X 10.3.9 (love it!) and am in the process of upgrading it.

Thanks so much!

David Evans

Problem with Older Macs and Credit Unions/Banks

Dear LEM,

I wish to find out from the older Mac-using community whether they've ran into a serious problem I've recently seen when trying to access my Credit Union's online site.

Here's the problem: Around 1 or 2 months ago, I began running into insurmountable software blocks, from my (until then very, very Mac-friendly) credit union. No matter what I did, once I placed my Logon Information, the browser would go through the stuff one sees going on in the browser's status line at the bottom, so I knew something WAS going on . . . and then BAM! I'd get knocked on to a page I'd never seen before, asking me to reenter my login information.

I did that numberless times, in futile attempts at accessing my checking and savings accounts. Since I have severe-enough ADD. to be on disability because of it, I am absolutely unable to keep track of a checkbook (even Quicken didn't work for me), and I relied completely on my ability to easily reach that information each and every morning, to monitor my accounts' balances (otherwise I'm totally blind of my accounts).

I contacted my CU, and they told me they were "changing their systems, and I wasn't the only Mac user having problems. She did not specify whether that included Mac OS X and G5s (I use a G3 running OS 9.2.2). She said the problem should subside, once the changes were completed.

It didn't!

Three years ago, I had already switched banks due to a similar problem with Sovereign Bank's system (then called Waypoint Bank).

Now I'm also running into problems with PayPal. The last time I had to sign a policy agreement (for which there are strict deadlines, which they follow to a fault). When I got through the entire User Agreement (I've been their Member for years, and this is the first time I've had problems with their website), and clicked "I Agree." My iCab 2.9.9a ran through a bunch of things, then simply briefly flashed ???"Query" in the status line, and went dead.

I tried this over six times, but none registered with PayPal. As a result, I was put on "Restricted Access."

I commenced a frustrating communication with them via emails, received reassuring notices my account was just fine now, only to find it wasn't so.

Finally, after 2 or 3 weeks of that, I called their toll-customer service (it is not a toll-free call), and finally I was granted Full access once again.

But this isn't the end!

I keep Eudora running in the background, and whenever I get email, I get notified, and wouldn't you know: A new email, just seconds old, came in, notifying me of new changes, and that I had 9,999 days to agree to it (I'm serious!).

I schlepped over to their site, and went through the agreement, agreeing to it, etc. Then nothing happened! Guess I'll have to wait 9998 days to contact them by phone that I did accept their new policies.

I'm wondering if this Mac-unfriendly online environment is going to spread, forcing us all to be "assimilated" into the Borg, err, I mean Windows. I hope to God I'm wrong and this is just a glitch in the system.

Well, I'm tired of sitting here. Guess I'll go immerse myself into the Future, when all computers work seamlessly, and O.D. on Star Trek: TNG Episodes (This is a shameless plug, for their marvelous Season One DVDs).

Cordially,
Clarisse Leite Motter

There's one huge problem on the Internet - website developers who believe making things work for 80-90% of their visitors (Internet Explorer on Windows) is good enough. Almost every month you'll see an article on the Web about yet another bank that has updated its online access and locked out Mac users.

The problem is compounded by a multitude of platforms: Windows 98, Linux, the classic Mac OS, different versions of Netscape and IE, alternative browsers (FireFox, Opera, iCab, OmniWeb, etc.), and so forth. Site such as PayPal, banks, and credit unions need to be very secure, and no all platforms are secure enough.

In the end, we can't expect the Net to stand still and continue to support outdated, less secure browsers forever. While old Macs may last and last, security is a far greater concern today than it was 5 or 10 years ago, and most old software will never be updated to meet today's security needs.

I don't know exactly what's going on with PayPal and your credit union. Odds are they don't have a classic Mac OS computer and iCab for testing purposes; they may not even test on a modern OS X Mac for that matter. If they follow industry standards, it should be possible to create a website that works with virtually any platform, but too often they just want to make it work for most users and don't have the resources to support older platforms like iCab on the classic Mac OS.

To Win Education, Apple Must Win Business

In response to Apple Needs to Offer Less Mac for Less Money, Steve Sweet writes:

Mr. Knight,

I agree that Apple needs to offer more low-end Macs for education and the general public. I also see your MacBook suggestion as being practical and feasible.

However, many schools now do not purchase computers. I graduated a few years ago and my school district had not purchased computers in the 12 years that I was there. All of our computers were donated from businesses that were upgrading their computer systems.

To regain the education market, Apple may just have to claim the business market as well.

-Steve Sweet

Ah, the weird world of educational computing. Even today it's not unusual to see photos of classrooms with Apple II computers or LC-era Macs. Those old computers last forever.

At the same time, school districts tend to be more concerned with the initial purchase price than total cost of ownership, so a whole industry has sprung up selling cheapo Windows PCs to school districts. That means lots of hardware problems, which makes for a larger IT department, which is always Windows-centric, since that's the only thing they know how to fix (or have to fix, since Macs tend to be much more reliable).

If Apple were to win business, schools would receive truckloads of donated Windows PCs until those Macs are ready for retirement. That wouldn't help Apple in the education market. Then again, many oppose Macs in education because business use Windows, so that's what they want to train our children to use.

Apple can't sell to the secondhand market, but they could create a more compelling, more competitive product for the education market. And the low-end home market. And the office.

Apple Is a Prosumer Company, Not Low End

After reading Apple Needs to Offer Less Mac for Less Money, Alvin writes:

Hi, that's a good point on the Mac mini [for] education. Apple's been serving the emerging market, the prosumer which is equivalent to digicam's DSLR line. Schools and businesses will always look for initial costs from the view of their producer - the boss. But the boss will listen to their IT head, who mostly use Windows Office.

When I interned and worked for a while in an international school here, I tried to convince them to upgrade to Macs or have new Macs alongside the PC.

To identify the problem, I think it's not the cost that is the major cause. It's not really that Macintels now can also do Windows that will convince the IT head (then their bosses), it's really in a way a hopeless case. IT heads and the IT staff just really wants to simplify things into just one format, less headache (compatibility with Office docs, PC programs, cost of training to the Mac OS, etc.) they said. Windows can do what Macs can do nowadays, and, of course, cost less initially when built DIY by the PC staff. There's Windows in the Macintels, but for the IT head, it's just not peace of mind - nothing beats a pure PC to run PC apps.

The only way for Macs is, I guess, if the IT head or the boss is a Mac lover from the start. Even more so, if the company has been using Macs already.

When it comes to Macs, Apple serves the prosumer today, coz people like to do pro jobs nowadays, and Apple is helping them (I'm on a PC for now, trying to swap it with a Mac mini, lol) make that easier, as we've seen. I think they've figured out and asked themselves the philosophical question: "What's in a name?". School or office, "Shouldn't it really end with the user?", they must have asked. The students after 8 hours leave those computers in their schools. It's their school's computers and their parents (includes teachers), they leave the computers in the office, it's the company's computers.

Students and parents, they are both people, they have one thing in common. They both do what they have to do in school and in the office. They both go home, but this time to do not what they need to do, but what they want to do (more work or just play). They share their computers, which would mean this emerging or emerged market of prosumers is a smaller market place than the combined school and office markets, but still it is a significant market.

It may be that Apple's strategy is to create Macs for your home that you can share (with the remote and iSight, two or more people can be seen or see what's going on), create professional looking documents (letters, movies, sounds, etc.) with the greatest of ease to again share it with others. Those with whom you share it with may be your dad (assuming he lets his spouse or kids choose their gifts) or your uncle, who may just be the boss of a company or the IT head. It's probably safer to convince a boss, since IT heads are almost immovable with sticking with the PC.

Perhaps this sharing phenomenon is another emerging market. There's sharing when you play online games on the iMac in OS X or Windows via Boot Camp. There's sharing when you watch a movie using your remote. You share when you use the iSight, take pictures from that to share. The only problem with this market is it's more for entertainment, they are wants/luxury, not the needs, aside from the previously mentioned smaller size of this market which we can call: Share-it,-after-sort of-professionall-doing-it market. Sharing is the key word (illegal sharing not included).

But I think Apple's has delegated the office and school to Dell and really is avoiding those markets. But Apple's a happier company, because it's having fun with its products though it earns less (but not that much less, it's still millions).

I would suggest if the goal is to increase market share (Apple's doing it already I think) they should convince those parents (again includes teachers) and working students to buy each and everyone of their kids and one for their partner- Macintosh. This is done when doing professional jobs on OS X has become easier that each member of the family must have their own time to do their work, to later share. I think that'll be a good strategy - not that Apple needs it, because it's debt free company that is also profitable.

God bless,
Alvin

Yes, Apple is and always has been a "prosumer" company. They build to a level of quality, a set of features, not to a price point. As in any industry, that means a smaller market but a more profitable product. That's a good thing for Apple and its shareholders.

Where it hurts Apple is among Mac evangelists who would love to see their Windows-using friends give the Mac a try - but Apple's prices scare them off. While many have often argued that Apple gives you more value for your money (FireWire ports standard, iLife software, built-in iSight, etc.), the company seems intent on avoiding less feature-laden Macs outside of the education market, where CD-ROM, no modem Macs have been a choice for years.

I think Apple could build to their quality and to a better price point by strategically reducing the feature set on entry-level models, which is what my article proposes. Once people can justify the expense of a Mac, they'll discover how much they offer in reduced stress, simple sharing, and the like.

You're right about one thing: If Apple wants to grow in the office and education, it has to get bosses and IT heads using Macs. And with the ability of Macintel models to boot Windows, Apple has the perfect hardware, a platform that can run their familiar OS and the one Mac users see as so much better.

Compact Flash for Vintage Macs

Dan,

I enjoyed your many postings on the souped up SE/30s. I especially like the part about the 32-bit clean ROMs pulled from IIfx machines. I have been looking for one of these on and off for this very purpose for a number of years. I have an SE/30 with 80 MB of RAM in it, thanks to some 16 MB SIMMs, and would love to be able to address it without Mode 32. What a great machine the SE/30 is. It is right up there with the IIci as one of the best.

Mark Gadzikowski had a posting that mentioned that he had some spares. You can definitely forward my address to him, because I would definitely like to experiment some more.

Now if someone could just figure out a way to adapt Compact Flash drives to SCSI so we could replace our antiques SCSI mechanisms with something that will be long term reliable.

BTW, I have a couple of spare PDS ethernet boards (Asante I think) that will fit SE/30s or IIsi available if anybody needs one.

thanks,
plaz

Thanks for writing, plaz. I've forwarded your email to Mark.

I love the old Macs, and I would love to see someone come up with an easy way to use Compact Flash to replace a hard drive - whether on my accelerated Mac Plus or PowerBook 100. It's not only reliable, but also quiet, lightweight, and rugged.

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Dan Knight has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. Mailbag columns come from email responses to his Mac Musings, Mac Daniel, Online Tech Journal, and other columns on the site.

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