Washington Apple Pi

A Community of Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac Users

General Meeting Summary: Macintosh
December, January and February

by Lawrence I. Charters, Vice President, Macintosh

December 1994 General Meeting
There was no General Meeting in December. Instead, roughly a thousand people showed up at the December Garage Sale to try and sell their old Mac computers in preparation for the introduction of the PowerPC-based Macs in March 1994. Or they showed up to purchase used Macs that were more powerful than whatever machine they currently had. Or they showed up to ask questions during the all-day Question and Answer session.
One big surprise: over half the questions concerned QuickTime movies, Microsoft PowerPoint, or MOD music files. As a guess, this may be due to the QuickTime, PowerPoint and MOD music files on the Mac IIci used for demonstrating answers to people's questions.
January 1994 General Meeting
There was no General Meeting in January. Northern Virginia Community College, scheduled site of the meeting, was closed down due to severe winter weather. Snow and ice-bound parents were busy trying to figure out if their kids would finish snow-makeup days before the Fourth of July. At least a couple Pi leaders thought about making a ski trip to Capitol Hill, but bagged the idea: there are no ski lifts.
February 1994 General Meeting
In a break from recent precedent, the February meeting was held as scheduled. Mike Tippets came out from Utah to demonstrate WordPerfect 3.0 for the Macintosh, and Ben Calica flew in from Tokyo to demonstrate Lunicus and Jump Raven. No one bothered to count the crowd, but Mike gave away 350 "User Group Special Offer" coupons -- all he had.
Mike gave a superb demonstration of WordPerfect. He started by admitting Version 1.0 was terrible, and Version 2.0 was good but not, perhaps, great. Then he put WordPerfect 3.0 for the Macintosh through its paces, and it did, indeed, look great. It has a great table tool; better than Microsoft Word's. It has a great macro language; as good as Nisus. It has an incredible "watermark" feature (nobody else has one at all). It has a great built-in drawing package; better than Microsoft Word's.
Plus, it looks neat, with customizable button bars and a unique, unobtrusive but helpful help bar. Things he didn't have time to show: an integrated grammar checker, and the best, most flexible spell checker available on any word processor.
Mike's presentation had one tiny flaw: the audience. He bravely offered to answer any question, so naturally a physicist asked him to demonstrate WordPerfect's new equation editor. Mike knew which button activated the equation editor, knew which file had a sample equation, and also knew he didn't know anything about equations.
The crowd, obviously, forgave him: Mike was mobbed in the lobby when he gave out special coupons offering the $495 package for $49. When he left for the airport, he looked both elated and somewhat shell-shocked.
In contrast, Ben Calica looked amazingly awake. As Director of Production for Knoxville-based Cyberflix, it would seem a trip to the DC area would be unremarkable -- except that he made a detour through MacWorld Japan. After admitting he was suffering from jet-lag, he plunged into an enthusiastic demonstration of two astounding CD-ROM-based games, and didn't look in the least fatigued.
Jump Raven, an award-winning "shoot everything that moves" style game featuring a heavily armed police vehicle, is fast-paced, beautiful, and funny. The game has astonishing detail, beautifully designed and rendered graphics, and a clever interface. It doesn't really look like a computer-based game but, rather, more like an interactive movie, which is precisely what Cyberflix intended. (The company name reflects careful thought.)
The audience was clearly impressed with the rich color, remarkable three-dimensional feel, and speed of the game. But Ben spent at least half the time on the characters, "interviewing" potential co-pilots for the Jump Raven craft, purchasing weapons from the arms mistress (a hilarious spoof of TV shopping channels), and getting instructions from the boss. Ben's favorite feature, the wickedly funny Perotbot help system ("I'm glad you asked for help, not a handout") didn't survive the corporate lawyers into the shipping version, so Ben showed a pre-production copy -- and gave it away in the drawing.
While Jump Raven takes place on a near-future Earth, Lunicus is a space-based adventure. As the name suggests, most of the action takes place in and around the moon, with a daring band of U.N. personnel racing to keep an evil alien artifact from destroying humanity. It has the same rich sound and graphics, and superb speed. The characters in the game are surprisingly well detailed, with some hilarious touches.
Future Events
The March 26 General Meeting will be at Burning Tree Elementary School in Bethesda, Maryland, and feature Timeworks and GeoPoint. April 23rd will see us back at Burning Tree for a presentation by Microsoft on their hot new FoxPro database. The Pi will be at MacWorld Summit on May 10-12, at the Washington Convention Center. The General Meeting will return to Northern Virginia Community College on May 21 for a presentation by Ares Software -- a record third attempt to make a presentation. There will be no meeting in June (but there will be a Garage Sale). Northern Virginia Community College will host the July 23rd meeting featuring Global Village and Microsoft Home. MacWorld Boston will be held Aug. 2-5.
Meeting Credits
Macintosh IIci: donated by Falcon Microsystems
Bernoulli 150 drive: on loan from Iomega Corporation.
Proxima Ovation LCD panel: loaned by Proxima Corporation.
PowerPoint presentation package: donated by Microsoft Corporation. (I forgot to install the Pi's copy prior to the meeting and used a privately owned copy of PowerPoint. But Microsoft still deserves credit for the donation.)
Silver Spring Metro Station penguins: photography by Dennis Dimick
TCS Penguin: Freehand illustration by Nancy Seferian
Setup and General Worrying: Tom Witte, Lorin Evans, Beth Medlin and Bill Wydro.
Communications Support and Publicity: Washington Apple Pi TCS
Drawing Winners:
Digital Nation bulletin board: Digital Nation T-shirt -- Frank Potter
Imspace Systems: Kudo Image Browser -- Michele van Horn
Apple: Software Dispatch CD-ROM -- Frank Bingman
Apple: Software Dispatch CD-ROM -- Gregory Stanton
Ventana Press: The System 7 Book -- Joe Swick
Que: Using the Macintosh With System 7 -- Chris Nottingham
Hayden: Macintosh Revealed, Vol. 1 and 2 -- Thomas Culbert
Cyberflix: Lunicus -- Walter Forlini
Cyberflix: Jump Raven -- Gary Smith
Cyberflix: Jump Raven, Limited Edition -- Chris Kolb
WordPerfect: WordPerfect 3.0 -- Pat Garvey
WordPerfect: WordPerfect 3.0 -- Mitchel Coak

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