The Big, Three-Day Blow
A sober, if hung over, review of Apple's Macworld revelries

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

We all remember the feeling we'd get when we were younger after a night or two (or three) of binge drinking—foggy, nauseous, nostrils clogged with tobacco soot and the leakage of busted capillaries, head spinning, layers of dried-reliquified-dried-reliquified sweat sticking to your Motorhead muscle shirt, your back hair matted into dreadlocks, your eyes barely able to focus on the longshoreman you woke up next to, etc. Of course, most of these symptoms declined in severity by age 14. But those memories will never go away.

Last week's Macworld expo left me feeling like a preadolescent again. I was drunk on all the announcements coming out of New York, reveling in the fog of plastic composites and dazzled by the swirling colors clouding my vision. When I woke up Saturday (after very little sleep to bring you, precious reader, the best Mac coverage anywhere), I was hung over and feeling stupefied. A near blackout over what had happened for the previous three days. As in youth, I once again felt that so many wrong things had transpired, though, at the time, they felt so right.

The bad
I begin with the iMac.

Let me state up front that I'm not going to challenge Apple's consumer strategy. It obviously works, and we're not consumers. We're creative Mac pros, so announcements for the consumer market really don't impact us. What boggles me about the announcement of the new iMacs, though, was the enthusiasm expressed by keynote attendees as Steve Jobs presented the differently colored lineup. $1,500 for technology a generation old? And that's the high end. On the low end, Apple's offering a 350 MHz G3 for $800. Hey, I'll sell you my Power Mac 7300 for $49.95—the first sub-$50 PowerPC on the market—but that doesn't make the technology current. My theory about these new low-end iMacs is that Motorola's cell phone orders fell short, so they had a bunch of extra G3s lying around for Apple to scoop up and package as new. And 64 MB of RAM? With OS 9, that leaves about 2 K for applications.

And then there was the mouse

Now, don't get me wrong. Anything's better than the Mac hockey puck. Literally. And, yes, the new mouse is very nice. It has a high resolution and really does work smoothly on just about any surface, including my head, which I did test just to make sure. No, it is not without moving parts. The whole thing is one big clicker. Comfy, yes, but not what I wanted. The way Jobs described it, the mouse's "surface" was the clicker. It's not. It's just a clear casing. And it still has only one button. I like the thing, but I've gotten too used to my MacAlly three-button scrolling mouse to go back to a single button. With every application for the Mac now supporting some degree of Control-clicking, it's just easier to have the Control-click set as the right button. And, if I were really desperate for something optical, I'd absolutely prefer Microsoft's optical mouse over Apple's. Yes, Microsoft. Still, though, the Apple "pro" mouse is a really pretty piece of industrial design and a very fine trophy from the show.

The good
But not everything needs to be criticized (in the pejorative sense). I move now to the keyboard.

Apple answered my prayers with the new keyboard. The old one is garbage, and there are no good third-party alternatives. While I'd prefer to receive the new keyboard for free as part of an overall reparations program, I'm just happy to know that my suffering will soon be over when I upgrade to the new one. And you'll be happy to see fewer typogphcl errors in my columns owing to skipped keystrokes and me not being able to see the letters on my keyboard in suboptimal light.


Dave tests the new Apple mouse's optical capabilities for scalp-friendliness. It passes with flying colors, maintaining x,y accuracy on dense and not so dense areas of Dave's (outer) head.

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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of Creative Mac, DCC Designer, DCC Workstation, Digital DTP, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Hollywood Industry, Presentation Master, and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.

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