Washington Apple Pi

A Community of Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac Users

February 1997 General Meeting Report

by Don Essick, VP Macintosh

The February General Meeting of Washington Apple Pi, Ltd. was held on February 22, 1997 at the Ernst Center, Northern Virginia Community College at 9:00 AM. As usual, we opened with the ever popular Questions and Answers session, ably hosted by our Secretary and all around guru Lawrence Charters. A hot topic was the newly released System 7.6. Many of us were "early adopters" and have had varying amounts of success. This article, in fact is being written in WordPerfect 3.5.3 on a Performa 6116CD running MacOS 7.6. It took a while to get everything stabilized, especially OpenTransport. I had a difficult time getting connected to the Explorer Service, but only because I mixed and matched the stuff on the included Internet Connection Kit with MacOS 7.6. When I threw away the Apple Internet Dialer and went back and followed the instructions from the TCS on installing OpenTransport, everything worked just fine!

We also note with deep sorrow the passing of long time Pi member, friend and colleague Bill Baldrige. Bill (or "Baldy" as he was often called) had been active in the Pi for many years and will be greatly missed. Our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

This meeting was also the last chance for members to submit nominations for the upcoming elections. A total of 5 officers and 10 board member positions need to be filled. Hopefully, Lawrence received enough nominations before the end of the meeting to fill the slate. If the past few elections are any measure, all you need to do to get elected is to run. We've barely had enough nominees to fill the slate. Yes, I am running for re-election. What with the downturn in Apple's fortunes, it's getting harder and harder to find vendors, but we always manage to come up with something interesting. Apple seems to have gotten the word that we are interested and willing to listen to what they have to say. Major Mac players like Adobe and of course Claris are aggressively developing for the MacOS, but the recent waffling on the direction of the MacOS left many developers confused and wary.

Fortunately, our two presenters this week took the opposite approach. Randy Zeitman of Mariner Software and Tess Elkins of Charles Schwab came to demonstrate that the Mac is alive and well. Randy took the stage first to demonstrate the current release of MarinerWrite (1.4.5). Randy is definitely an enthusiast for his product. He took a new box from the case he brought, ripped off the shrinkwrap and proceeded to install the product from the two installation disks. (I'd like to see Microsoft come to a meeting and do the same with Word!) In about 2 minutes he restarted and brought up the application. The entire program takes up about 2 megabytes on your hard disk.

MarinerWrite is unusually feature rich for a product which runs in only 2 megabytes. It has such nice features as 10 levels of undo, split window editing, styles and almost all of the goodies you normally find in any modern word processor. Randy admitted that there are a few features like mail merge and tables that are coming in a future release. One feature I especially liked was the ability to set up a stationery document as the "default document." For example, if you set up some stationery with a logo and heading, date, etc., you could then set this as the default document. Then, every time you select new from the file menu, you get a blank piece of stationery. I know, you can do this by selecting a template in WordPerfect or opening a stationery document in ClarisWorks, but this appeals to me for some reason.

Randy then proceeded to demonstrate right across the menu bar all of the features and tchachkes in MarinerWrite. Apparently he was very successful. He brought two cases of product with him to sell at the meeting and sold them all! Oh, I forgot to mention, MarinerWrite is also AppleScript aware. If there's something special you want to do, you can write an AppleScript to handle it.

Tess Elkins of Charles Schwab was up next demonstrating E-Schwab and Street Smart, software which allows you to track and trade your investments on-line with the Charles Schwab, Inc. Brokerage firm. Tess explained that E-Schwab and Street Smart are actually mostly the same product. The difference is that with E-Schwab, you are a self-directed, do-it-yourself investor. The Street Smart software is supplied to brokerage clients when they open an account. (If you mention that you saw the demo at the Washington Apple Pi meeting, you get it for free!) This software is brand new. The Mac version has only been out since January, although it has been available to the dark side of the force for quite some time.

You can access Schwab's server through a dial-up connection or the internet. Internet connections require a browser which supports SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption, such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer. The software and service from Schwab pretty much covers the gamut of investing. You can get quotes on a pay as-you-go basis for immediate quotes or 15-minute delayed for free.

The software allows you to input your portfolio of stocks, bonds and mutual funds and track their performance over time, buy or sell, do research on stocks, bonds or funds, download statements and transaction histories and access most of the popular investment services both free and fee. It also keeps track of the important information necessary to give Uncle Sam his pound of flesh on April 15 by tracking and exporting the information necessary to file Schedule D.

In addition to tracking your Schwab investments, you can also track other investments such as your 401K plan at work by entering them into the program. You just won't be able to do as much with them as with a Schwab account.

The meeting concluded with the drawings for goodies supplied by our guests and other vendors: Dennis Kruse was the winner of a free copy of MarinerWrite. Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 CD-ROMs went to Georgia Sadler, William Pate, Ed Kelty, Atilla Horvath, Rich Braq and Margaret Davison. John McDonnell received Magic Cap Complete and Bill Wydro took home a copy of Symantec Anti-Virus for Macintosh.

In-Control was won by Gary Nooger and Country Style Living Windows CD-ROM went to Lewis Norman. Country Style Gardening CD-ROM for Windows went home with Regina Taft. The DUST Game CD-ROM was won by Richard Payne and the MacFair T-Shirt went to Susan Kaysoo. Last but not least, the book On the Road went to John DiBella. Congratulations to all of this month's winners.

Next month we will have presentations by Aladdin Systems, makers of Stuffit Deluxe and Spring Cleaning and by Metricom, makers of Ricochet, a product which offers wireless access to the World Wide Web. We hope to see you there. I will be out of the country and Tom Witte has graciously offered to run things while I'm away. Of course I need to thank all of those who help make these meetings possible: my right-hand man and son, David, our office manager, Beth Medlin, Bill Wydro and the other volunteers who lug the equipment from the Pi Office and to the staff of the Ernst center and everyone else who supplies their energies and talents, thanks.

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