"My iMac landing."
Landing - August 15, 1998
I just got my new iMac. I pre-ordered the unit through a local
dealer - Computer System's Centre in Toronto - for $1899 Canadian.
I put it through its paces for several hours. Here's how it went:
3:30 - Arrive at dealer. There are iMacs everywhere, and
lineups behind the demo units. I can't help but check through
the excellent software selection, and talk with a couple customers.
They've also got the new Studio display out - does it ever look
sharp; however the base doesn't seem as solid as it could be.
All the iMac T-shirts were already given away by noon. The very
helpful salespeople have my pre-ordered iMac waiting for me,
and I'm in a cab back to the office.
5:12 - Arrive to office, setup is a breeze (less than
- The packaging, like the iMac itself is gorgeous, iMacs on
two sides, and happy people faces on the other two. You open
it open it up, and there's a large colour sealed box with a sticker
across it saying, "Security Seal - To be opened by purchaser
only". This is probably where five lucky people will find
the golden tickets to receive free full system upgrades for five
years [not any more - Ed].
Setup in less than 10 minutes: plug in one power cord, ethernet,
keyboard and mouse. There's holographic stickers on the ports
and on the bottom of the keyboard and mouse. Press the power
button on the keyboard, and boots up in under 40 seconds. Looking
at the included software on CD - most of it is already installed.
Claris Works 5 is a good all round office package that will fully
serve the needs of most SOHO business, and home users. Optionally,
you can get $100 back if you purchase Office 98, as there's a
coupon inside for it.
The display is incredibly sharp, with a refresh rate of 117Mhz
at the lowest resolution, and 95 MHz at the 800x600 resolution.
It handles 16 bit colour at the 1024x768 resolution. Switching
resolutions on the fly worked flawlessly, and the applications
reconfigured their window sizes appropriately after the switches.
In the Desktop Pictures Control Panel, I've selected the "Golden
Poppy" screen, and it's colour coordinated with the Bondi
Blue of the case.
Within the ten minutes setup I didn't yet opt to setup an Internet
connection, as I've got an Ethernet crossover cable running to
an old 90Mhz 7200 which has got a ZIP drive connected to the
SCSI port. I'll be using it to transfer over all my files, but
I don't expect that'll go too quickly, as data reads from ZIP
disks are notoriously slow. I can't help wishing it were next
month so I could be using the USB ZIP Disk from Iomega, but the
salesman told me they'd be in "by the time school starts".
- Inserted first ZIP disk into the 7200, selected the volume
from the iMac's Chooser, and there it is on my desktop. I created
a temporary folder on the massive hard disk (4Gb), and began
the process of transferring over all my existing data that I
previously backed up from my PowerBook 520c.
When Apple said that the 233Mhz G3 chip was faster than a 400Mhz
PII, I had my doubts, but decided to defer judgment until I actually
tried the machine. I must say this is one fast puppy. It keeps
astounding me by completing tasks hardly an instant after I've
clicked an icon.
I'm typing this up in the new Claris Works, while the background
network copy reports that there are 6 minutes left to transfer
62.8 of 77.9 MB done onto my hard disk "Tinkadel" --
I brought the machine to test on the company network for the
weekend, and there's nobody else here loading the net.
3 minutes left, with 115 files left, 69.5 of 77.9 MB...
- Now, here comes a test. I've always been impressed by the
fact that the Macintosh is the only computer I can operate usefully
for a length of time without a keyboard and only a mouse connected.
Now I've got the CD player going, and am in the middle of a file
transfer over ethernet. I have run out of desk space with both
an SGI R5000, the iMac, a cup of earl grey, two mouse pads, and
two keyboards. USB is supposed to be hot-swappable, so let's
go - unplug mouse, then keyboard - transfers still running -
okay, is the mouse acceleration going to slow down when I jack
back in? - working the same speed. Good job Apple.
Unmount server (ZIP disk volume on remote machine) -> 1 click
(drag to trash); doc-martin net over to the 7200, unmount ZIP
server volume (1 more drag to trash). The other machine - which
is running 7.5.2 and Japanese Language Kit 1.2 for our Japanese
translator had shut down the monitor to save power, but had maintained
Inserted another ZIP disk - it mounted automatically and showed
up as a server volume on the desktop. I didn't have to click
the mouse or anything for it to mount the disk and make it appear
on the desktop, it knew automatically from the disk insertion
what to do.
Back on the iMac, I need to mount ZIP disk as server, so APPLE
> CHOOSER > APPLESHARE icon > list of servers shows
up, click "Guelph", click OK (or hit ENTER), asks me
my name and password, I have to type in a name. Normally, I'd
use the shareware utility POPCHAR to type in keyboard characters
from a pop-up menu keyboard in the top corner of the screen,
but I'd have to drag the file out of the folder into the Extensions
folder and restart, but now I've got to plug the USB keyboard
back into Port 2 on the computer - and the cables are neatly
tucked away behind a small door. Continue by typing in my name,
hit Return, and there it is in a list of drives attached to the
machine. Click twice on the name, and it's on my desktop (there
was an option beside the name in case I wanted to remount automatically
each time on booted up). Command-W to close the Server List window
(always works with any window in every application). I drag the
icon that appeared on my desktop to the file window and we're
copying over another ZIP volume:
6:14 pm -
- preparing to copy 1325 files, estimated time remaining is
"About an hour". Pop down the disclosure triangle,
and it says 4.2 MB of 89.9 MB. While this is going on, I've inserted
an audio CD, and it started playing automatically. There was
no need to install or configure the CD drive - it just worked.
The second volume of ZIP disk is loading up in less than an hour
and 18 minutes. Mind you I've made a cup of tea, ate something,
took an IndyCam photo, and typed up this report in Claris Works
during this time as well.
The new Claris Works 5 integrates all the functions you could
ever need in a nice simple format, yet still provides all the
tools and integrated drag & drop support with the rest of
the Macintosh environment -- one reminiscent of a planet with
better designers. It is Steve's planet. We've had visitors from
there before, starting with the original 128k Mac which had a
full windows interface with no command line running off a single
800k floppy disk 11 years before Windows 95 took 16Mb to do the
About the mouse - it is small, but not extraordinarily so. It
doesn't light up. I must applaud Apple for having the courage
to maintain a one button mouse. It falls into line with the design
principle of "make everything as simple as possible but
still capable of performing every function". This is the
difference between a feature oriented OS like Windows, and a
well designed and thought out interface like the MacOS. Simply
adding an extra mouse button every time a new feature is required
is somewhat shortsighted, and adds another layer of complexity
for the user by multiplying the number of combinations by an
order of magnitude for each extra button added. Eventually, you
get all sorts of extra buttons which can't be eliminated because
they have become enshrined, and you become unable to simplify
your interface without sacrificing backwards compatibility. The
Wintel platform is similarly crippled with having to maintain
all sorts of legacy instructions in the PII processor, whereas
the streamlined design of the PowerPC has given it the ability
to do more with less transistors. The MacOS is more elegant in
its implementation, for example, in something as basic as how
Menus are handled. The entire user experience is simplified by
providing one menu bar, and not ten (!).
6:48 - 65 files remaining to be copied, 88.3Mb copied,
"About a minute" 6:49 - done. on to the third and final
7:00 - The transfers are still going, and the Beatles
Anthology Disc is done, so drag the CD to the trash, and it ejects
- well kind of, there's no more power eject like in the former
Macintoshes on the CD Drive, but it looks like its modeled after
the PowerBook CD Drives, which makes me wonder if they're going
to make this hot-swappable like the PowerBook - maybe that's
the reason for the last minute design change? If Apple replaced
the CD with a DVD drive, this would become one hot little DVD
TV with a mouse. Add fast ethernet instead of cable and QuickTime
streaming technology - hmmm... Anyhow, in with a new CD - it
automatically starts playing, as if the unit were a dedicated
AV stereo. I've got my TV, VCR, CD Stereo all plugged into a
central Power Amplifier, so why not the new AV unit? The built
in surround speakers on the iMac finally bring a standard feature
into the box, but they're still no match for a pair of LINN Keilidhs,
so in it goes - iMac, my next AV appliance, right next to VCR1.
ALL IS AS IT WAS AND SHALL BE...
- So, with a slow transfer off a ZIP over 10Base Ethernet,
I've managed to completely customize my installation (including
the same Kaleidoscope colour scheme which controls the appearance
of all windows, buttons, and menus in use throughout the system
- this is something Windows isn't standardized to do to the extent
as the Mac can). I've been listening to CDs through the built
in stereo sound card, mounting servers and transferring over
Ethernet while running a full Office Suite (Claris Works), and
although it did give me a warning that the Desktop file couldn't
be copied from the ZIP disk because it was in use, but other
than that, not one crash or error message. My entire operating
environment - windows, colours, fonts, desk accessories, legacy
files, window positions and icons of every window on my hard
disk all carry over. All is as it was, and that is a testament
to Apple's foresight in creating their technologies.
There is a good feeling in this transfer, because I have Journal
files, Illustrator Logos, Audio samples, Photoshop Images, a
few Databases and several thousand file downloads going back
to 1985 - the year I first got my own modem. Most of these files
have spaces and both upper and lowercase in their filenames,
and every single one of them has retained their custom colour
icon and Type/Creator data since they were made. Endless amounts
of legacy Windows files however are still rendered cryptic by
the historical 8.3 file system limitations of DOS. The Mac stores
the creator and type in the directory structure, making it unnecessary
to have a work-around mechanism like the Windows Registry - which
is sure to be lost at some point, and all your files lose important
pieces of info that need to be associated with them. Why didn't
Microsoft put this into their new file system when they put long
names into the operating system. Probably for the same reason
their Windows 95 operating system needed an upgrade in '98 to
be ready for the year 2000, while my original 1984 Macintosh
can handle dates till the year 29940. At least Apple file system
designers knew the century was going to end. :-\
7:45 - Having purchased an extra 32Mb of RAM, I wondered
how difficult it would be to install. It turned out to be relatively
painless. Remove one screw, pop down the back hatch, remove two
more retaining screw, and the entire logic board assembly just
slides out. There's a small daughter card with the CPU and RAM,
you ground yourself, and snap in the memory SIMM (which is very
small, being SDRAM - the same type as used in the notebooks).
Put it all back together, power up the
machine, and the "About this Computer..." shows the
full 64Mb are there.
I couldn't help noticing several things while the machine was
- There's a small place left on the logic board for a 20pin
connector beside the sound chip - it would be the right size
for an internal floppy disk connector. [we reported success with
this on our iMac Special Report
this past week]
- There's an empty expansion connector labeled "Mezzanine"
that looks very similar to the one on the new PowerBooks - could
this be to add a DVD MPEG decoder in the future? They've already
announced a kit for the PowerBooks, and it would fit in with
the DVD/appliance nature of the product. [also covered by our
iMac Special Report]
- The video connects to the logic assembly via a standard D-connector.
I'd imagine that if you wanted to bypass the built-in display,
you just could plug in any other monitor and just run the cable
out the back port.
8:12 - I wanted to test how easy it was to hook into our
company's intranet with the iMac. I unplugged the Ethernet crossover
cable from the 7200, plugged in a regular RJ-45 connection to
our net, opened the TCP/IP control panel (Apple Menu > Control
Panels > TCP/IP), entered the IP, Router, Subnet Mask, and
Name server address, closed window, and click "Save"
in response to the dialogue. Launched Fetch 3.0 (my former preferences
came over from the notebook), and was accessing my SGI hard disk
in under 40 seconds. Not a single hiccup - it just worked. Another
15 seconds confirmed connection to the two Postscript laser printers,
and had made desktop printer icons for them. Test printout of
an old file from Quark worked flawlessly. Launching Netscape
Navigator 4.0 in less than 2 seconds, asks me for my company
e-mail address, and I'm browsing the web. It defaults to display
an Apple search page on the Excite search engine. Over to www.apple.com, and I listened
to the iMac radio commercials. QuickTime 3 was already installed,
so I didn't need to do anything but click on the little sound
icon on the web page. Used Fetch to drag and drop over my Netscape
Bookmarks from the SGI, quit Netscape, dropped new bookmarks
into Preferences folder, relaunched Netscape, and bookmarks were
there. Went to a site, clicked on a pdf file, it opened automatically
in the preinstalled Acrobat 3. A 387k file downloaded in 25 seconds,
including opening Acrobat Reader - not bad.
A FEW FURTHER STATS:
- Total Bootup time with lots of Extensions and Startup Screen
loaded: 53 seconds.
- MacOS Memory Size (from "About this Computer"):
14.1Mb. I had no problem running out of memory, but I've also
purchased an additional 32Mb of RAM which I'm going to install
later, bringing the total up to a comfortable 64Mb.
- Total time to extract 3Mb .cpt file into 8.5Mb folder with
Expander: 14 seconds. To stuff using dropstuff: 18 seconds.
- FrameMaker 5.1 loaded up in less then 5 seconds when I double-clicked
one of my original documents that I transferred The window position
I had left it on the Notebook was still in effect, so I resized
- A 200k BBEdit file launched the app and opened the document
faster than I could finish double-clicking.
- Photoshop 2.5 - which I still use on the 68040 Notebook,
transferred over fine without having to reinstall any other files.
It opened up a 700x640 image in less than six seconds - Still
unsure if I really need to upgrade to the PowerPC version 5 with
speeds like this. My Photoshop preferences file came over fine
too, the Toolbox is in the right place - where I left it.
- Interestingly, Photoshop 3.0ppc took longer than the old
040 version 2.5. Photoshop 3 took 8 seconds to launch as opposed
to 6 seconds for 2.5, even though 2.5 had Kai's Power Tools installed,
and 3.0 did not.
- An old copy of Excel 4.0 (the only piece of Microsoft Software
I have anywhere in my system - as unbelievable that may sound
to those who have opted to make them their only manufacturer)
launched in less than a two seconds with a 145x145 cell spreadsheet.
- My copy of AquaZone - an old 68040 application that uses
up about 6Mb to create 3D virtual fish is notoriously slow -
taking over three minutes to load on the 040 but on the iMac
it still runs, and loaded up in seven seconds. My old TRS-80
emulator running Seadragon was too fast to play, I had to make
it run slower in order to play it.
- In my testing, other applications: Illustrator 5.5, Quark
XPress 3.31, MacWrite II, SoundEdit 16, FileMaker Pro 2.0, Netscape
4, FutureBasic 1.02, Player Pro, OPcode's Vision 2.08, Finale
3.2.1 all worked fine and none of them took longer than 2-3 seconds
to fully load.
- All my legacy data: A font designed in Fontographer 4, FileMaker
Pro databases, email, Illustrator and Photoshop EPS files, Poetry
Book in Quark XPress, a few odd shareware programs I've written,
Sounds, and data still load up and work when I double-click them
as they always have without having to reestablish which Apps
to open them - that info is retained in the directory info.
- The audio from the built-in CD, modem, and a QuickTime movie
mixed correctly through the system's sound controller, even though
they were playing at different sample rates.
- My existing Fonts (all 83 of them) were transferred and work
without incident. All applications I tested list them and use
them correctly. The supplied ATM still works with all the TrueType
and Postscript Type 1 fonts. I noticed there's a new couple extra
Fonts Apple seems to have added, including: Bodoni, Georgia,
Impact, Minion, and Trebuchet.
- My System Sound files and Dvorak keyboard layouts transferred
into the new System with one click, and switching keyboards worked
- Although the transfer times were severely constrained by
the slow ZIP drive, I have reports that the beta version of System
8.5 is incredibly fast for network file transfers, and at the
WWDC it was able to nearly saturate a 100base-T connection -
which of course, is built into the iMac. Looking forward to this
- All this is quite amazing considering that I've just upgraded
my processor from a 68040 to a G3, upgraded my operating system
from version 7.6 to 8.1, and migrated to a new system architecture
with a PCI bus. ["Perch" slot reference] I can't imagine
a Windows user having nearly the same experience upgrading from
a 486 with Windows 3.1 (the fastest comparable CPU at the time
I got my 040 notebook) to a Pentium II with Windows 98. I didn't
need to use a single installer app either, as Mac apps can simply
be dragged over to a new folder and continue to work.
- I'm going to copy another few ZIP volumes to the iMac. This
time I'm first going to transfer to the 7200's internal drive
so I can test
out the disk-to-disk transfer speeds. The copied folder is 84.6Mb
723 items. Start time: 9:44 - Finish time: 9:57 - 13 minutes.
That's 6.5Mb per minute. I'm going to try a few more of my transferred
apps, and download some files off the web using the fast T1 connection.
- Time to conclude the testing for today. During my time breaking
in this new machine today, I've also used ResEdit to customize
the keyboard menu shortcuts in Photoshop, played the new MAME
0.33 arcade emulator, installed custom System Sounds, added my
old Dvorak keyboard layout file and switched over the layout,
used my old Photoshop to customize the Startup Screen for the
800x600 monitor resolution's size.
The machine crashed twice with a Type 10 error when I tried to
copy over a corrupted sound file from the old System 7.6 into
the new System file, but upon restart, both files were okay,
and trying the copy a second time (minus the offending file)
worked fine. I only restarted the machine one other time, and
that was to reload all the Control Panels and Extensions I put
in from my old System Folder.
My one loss - Now Menus. I dearly hope they can revive this one,
I loved the ability to dynamically assign menu function keys
on the fly to any application's menus. I hear that Power On software
preparing a new version, so this should be fixed soon.
A few comments on the lack of a floppy drive: By eliminating
the unreliable old floppy technology, Apple is once again showing
their foresight like they did when they were the first company
to use 3.5" floppy disks on the original Mac back in '84.
By eliminating the floppy drive, they're the first to move from
Disk-centric paradigm to a Net-centric paradigm - they are recognizing
the reality of the future in this first disk-less consumer model.
If a file is small enough to fit on a floppy, then it is small
enough to email.
I can't describe how pleased I am with the performance and finesse
of this unit. Apple has done a first class job in truly delivering
the Lite consumer machine. I'm off to finish some work on my
new iMac, and I couldn't be happier. :-)
Best Regards, John Penner (firstname.lastname@example.org).