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Washington Apple Pi


July 1999 General Meeting Report

by Steven Kiepe, Vice President for Programs

Hello and welcome to my first column for the Journal of Washington Apple Pi. I'm the new face on your board of directors, elected by quite a number of you (most of whom have never met me) and shanghaied into the VP for programs job through the misfortune of leaving the room at the wrong time during the June board of directors meeting. Let that be a lesson to you all! With a wave of his hand and a smile on his face, Don Essick passed the torch during the July meeting and then beat a hasty retreat enroute to a well-deserved wedding anniversary vacation.

Our July meeting was a bit smaller than usual, with many folks still recovering from their recent trip to MacWorld in New York. After Lawrence Charters fielded the prerequisite number of questions from the floor to once again establish his reputation as reigning Macintosh guru, we moved to Tom Witte's photos of MacWorld, brought to us through the miracle of his digital camera. Considerably more entertaining than my memories of my parents' family slide shows several decades past, Tom captured a bit of the flavor and the chaos of what we hope will continue to be the showcase for good news from Sunnyvale. Now if they would only move it to Washington (the bus ride was very, very long!)

Our presenter for the July meeting was Peter Thomas of Aladdin Systems. Aladdin is the company that created the defacto standard for file compression on the Macintosh, Stuffit, as well as a wide range of other helpful utilities. Fresh from MacWorld and armed with his boss's PowerBook G3 (bronze edition), Peter gave a brief demonstration of leading Aladdin software including entries just introduced at MacWorld. Peter began with a demonstration of Stuffit Deluxe, fielding many questions from the floor about the reasons behind the change in compression file format from version 4.0 to version 5. With the crowd apparently satisfied, he moved on to Spring Cleaning v3.0, the general purpose drive clean-up utility that identifies orphaned or obsolete files and coding, and removes them from your hard drive thereby freeing disk space. After clearing up a number of misconceptions about this powerful utility, he took note of the group's suggestions for functional changes for possible incorporated into a future version.

Peter demonstrated another established but less well-known Aladdin staple, DragStrip. This helpful utility is a configurable replacement for the Mac OS's Launcher but is vastly more customizable. DragStrip creates tabbed windows of icons for easy switching between programs, and can act as a shortcut to drive volumes and folders, enabling quick access to your important information. Finally, Peter demonstrated a program newly released at MacWorld, MacTicker. This very affordable application puts a stock market ticker on the desktop, allowing the financial wizards (or wannabes) among us to track their individualized stock and mutual fund watch list either intermittently or continuously in the background, programmable to provide alerts at user set changes in stocks of interest.

Aladdin came through for the crowd not only with some of the best user group prices ever seen on their software, but also with a big bundle of software to give out to the crowd, not the least of which was a highly prized T-shirt with the caption ".sit happens" which fell into Mary Jordan's hands. R. Birdsong, Ellen Grachow and Bob O'Brien all walked away with complementary copies of Stuffit Deluxe; Mike Myslinski and Ralph Lingeman were happy recipients of Spring Cleaning. Catherine Raveia picked up MacTicker and Henry Ware won a copy of DragStrip. Ed Kelty won a copy of Sundial, Aladdin's desktop background picture which shows a simulated East or West Coast sunrise/sunset. Also passed out were some prizes scrounged from the Pi office including a Corel beachball which went to Pat Garvey; a MacUser book on 1001 Hints and Tips which went to Betsy Lynch; an Apple shopping bag to Karen Evry, and a Java ballcap to Karen Overton. Lots of loot for the crowd!

One of the biggest challenges I foresee in the next few months is the arduous task of corralling the kind of developers for the monthly user group meetings that you'd like to attend. During MacWorld, a few of us were out pressing the flesh, trying to fill our future meeting calendar with the best and brightest of the Macintosh world. Several developers expressed tentative support, most aimed toward later this year when their recently announced products hit the streets: Corel, Casady & Greene, Emulators Inc and DiamondSoft (to name a few) all expressed strong interest in attending. Additionally, if there is interest, we might look at adding specialized meetings such as how to upgrade your Macintosh, demonstrating (video simulcast on the big screen) the installation of components such as RAM, replacement hard drives, expansion cards and batteries. We also have had a suggestion to demonstrate on stage how to set up several kinds of Macintosh networks, both LocalTalk and Ethernet based, on a wide range of Macintosh computers. If you are interested in these or any other topics, drop me a line &emdash; this is your user group after all. See you in August!

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Revised August 7, 1999 Lawrence I. Charters
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