Washington Apple Pi

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March General Meeting

by Lawrence I. Charters, Vice President, Macintosh

Putting on a public event, be it a neighborhood soccer game or a Washington Apple Pi General Meeting, has something in common with a military operation. There are logistical problems and disasters you must anticipate and overcome, plus the usual problems with coordinating people, all while attempting to carry out a sequence of events according to a schedule. They say no plan ever survives contact with the enemy, which is a good summary of the March meeting.
Of course, there was no "enemy," just a number of small problems designed to drive the meeting organizers out of their minds. This was the first time the Pi had met at Burning Tree Elementary School, and some people had trouble finding it. (Plus a few people didn't read either the Journal or the message on the bulletin board, and didn't call the office, and ended up not only at the wrong location, but even in the wrong state.) The meeting space, which seemed to be a combination cafeteria-gymnasium-auditorium-whatever room, was comfortable, with adult-size chairs, but the lighting was too bright for the projection equipment. And, after staying up until the wee hours of the morning preparing a computer-based slide show, the Vice President for Macintosh programs managed to bring a Bernoulli disk drive to the meeting -- but forgot to bring the right cartridge.
These little problems delayed the start of the presentations, so both of this month's vendors, Timeworks and GeoPoint, were forced to speed things up a bit. Which they did -- and still managed to put on a good show.
Terry Fleming, R&D Director for Timeworks, promised to put on the best presentation we'd ever seen. No vote was taken, but he did his best to keep his promise; he has a keen wit, a minimum of canned jokes, and a mastery of his company's flagship product, Publish It! Easy. Admitting that the name and the low price cause some to dismiss the program as a toy, at least compared to industry leaders Aldus PageMaker and Quark XPress, he went out of his way to make head to head comparisons between the three programs. To the surprise of may, if not most, Publish It! Easy appeared up to the task, displaying outstanding speed, great flexibility and genuine innovation.
Terry did manage to crash the program, but that may be due more to the hardware (the Pi's Mac IIci is a case study in how to clutter a computer) than Timework's software. The combination of traditional page layout features, plus surprisingly complete graphics tools, plus an innovative 10-level undo, plus an incredible mail-merge utility, all combined to support Terry's contention that Publish It! Easy is a worthy competitor to PageMaker and Quark. Retailing for $149.95, Terry brought coupons offering the program for $79.95 through April 15.
John Garner, Vice President of GeoPoint, followed with what he described as the "shortest demo of BaseMap he'd ever given." According to their literature, BaseMap is "the world's easiest personal mapmaking tool," and John left little doubt that this was true. Rather than traditional clip art, BaseMap creates custom maps on demand using a database of world political boundaries and coastlines, plus databases of cities, plus user-defined databases. It can even import information from the Macintosh Map Control Panel, which John dryly noted might be one of the few good uses for that Control Panel.
Most map-plotting programs are both expensive and cryptic. BaseMap is inexpensive (list price is under $200; coupons at the meeting offered it for $129), and the interface is so clear that any Mac user -- grade school student, business user, or computer professional -- will have no problem using the program. Select an area of the world of interest, zoom to the desired level of detail, import selected information (city coordinates, airline routes, international borders, or something bizarre, like locations where Apple has held product introductions), and either print the custom map direct from BaseMap or copy it and paste it into your word processing or page layout program.
John passed out demo copies of BaseMap at the meeting, plus a copy was uploaded to the TCS. Indicative of GeoPoint's attention to detail was something else he passed out, but didn't mention: a three-page errata of the locations in Apple's Map Control Panel. I'd always thought it funny that Seattle, home of Microsoft, wasn't listed in the Map; now I also know that Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is mislocated on the wrong Caribbean island, 349 miles its actual location.
GeoPoint is serious about maps.
Upcoming events:
April 1994
Microsoft will present FoxPro 2.5 for Macintosh at the April 23, 1994, General Meeting. Since you will probably read this notice ex post facto, we'll skimp on the details.
May 1994
MacWorld Summit will be held at the Washington Convention Center on May 10-12. Everyone should attend, and drag all your coworkers, friends, enemies, spouses, children and parents. This will be the first MacWorld since the introduction of the Power Macintosh machines, and there should be hundreds, if not thousands, of things of interest. Rest during the show by volunteering to help at the Washington Apple Pi booth; you won't believe the people you'll meet.
Ares Software will demonstrate their outstanding font technology at the May 21 General Meeting. Note that this is on the third Saturday, not the usual fourth, to avoid a conflict with the holiday weekend.
June 1994
Washington Apple Pi will host its semi-annual Computer Garage Sale at a date to be determined in June, at a place to be determined. Already confirmed is a record crowd; between the bargain hunters, and people looking for cash to buy a new Power Macintosh, there will be a bumper crop of used Macs for sale, plus the usual electronic miscellany.
July 1994
Global Village will be at the July 23 General Meeting to show off their telecommunications products. Joining them will be Microsoft's Home division, showing off their latest consumer software offerings (games, CD-ROMs and applications).
August 1994
For those not totally exhausted by the blizzard of Mac events this year, MacWorld Boston will tax even those with extreme stamina. Do yourself a favor: get a place to sit at the show by helping out part-time at the Washington Apple Pi booth. Volunteer now. Your feet, and your user group, will thank you.
Drawing Winners
Mouse Tamer (American Business Systems): Erik Dunham
Ren & Stimpy Screenie (Screenies): Gary Nooger
Quicken T-shirt (Intuit): Attila Horvath
System 7 Revealed (Addison-Wesley): Bill Wydro
Fully Powered PowerBook (Brady): Elizabeth H. Null
Spin Doctor (Calisto): Martin Brock
Publish-It! Easy (Timeworks): Beth Medlin
BaseMap (GeoPoint): Dave Weikert
Macintosh IIci: donated by Falcon Microsystems
Proxima Ovation: loaned by Proxima Corp.
Setup and re-setup: Bill Wydro, Terry Fleming

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