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Mac Notes

By Jeffrey Allen

 

OK, Mac lovers, last year I told you to wait for a bit to get your New iMac G5. Now is the time. Apple built it. Apple built it right. They made it hot, fast, powerful, sleek, and offered it at a reasonable price. They call it the iMac G5. They styled it like the computer that evolved from the iPod.

 It comes in three versions, two of which Apple built into a 17" (diagonal) monitor and the third of which Apple built into a 20" (diagonal) monitor. All three versions come with a barely adequate 256 MB of RAM. All three accept a maximum of 2 GB of RAM, and you should upgrade to at least 1 GB of RAM. The basic specifications for each of the three versions appear below. For full specifications, go to the Apple website and check out the new iMac G5s: http://www.apple.com/imac/specs.html. All three versions include a variety of optional upgraded configurations, including the addition of internal Bluetooth, 802.11g wireless, additional RAM, and a larger hard drive. The base prices for each of the three models (prior to any upgrading) are $1,299 for the slower 17" unit, $1,499 for the 1.8 GHz 17" unit and $1, 899 for the 20" unit. Consider the one in the middle the sweet spot. Upgrade to the 20" version if you want or need the additional monitor space.

The new iMacs are among the most powerful computers Apple has ever offered. Certainly, they have less power and muscle than the dual processor G5 towers that Apple sells. You will pay a healthy premium for that increased muscle. The simple fact of the matter is that for the kind of work that lawyers do, they don’t need the dual processor muscle and won’t likely realize any advantage from having it if they get it. Apple has just released a PowerPC tower G5 with a single processor. It costs $1,500 without a monitor. The smallest monitor Apple offers now is the 20" flat panel monitor that costs $1,300, bringing the cost of the computer to $2,800 prior to any upgrades. The only advantage the tower has is its expandability. Bottom line: go with the iMac G5.

If you want to save a few dollars and don’t really need to get a new computer right now, consider waiting for Apple to release OS X 10.4. The new iMacs will likely ship with the new operating system by mid-2005. If you are otherwise ready for a new computer, go ahead and get it. The upgrade cost should not be more than $95–$129. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to get mine.

Virtual PC 7 Released

Microsoft has (finally) released Virtual PC 7. I had the opportunity to work with the almost final beta version of the software prior to its release and was quite pleased with the improvements I saw over Version 6. I have worked with the final release version for the last week or so and have not seen any indication of any change from the beta to the release version. Simply put, it works competently and it runs noticeably faster than its predecessor. I had it running with Windows XP Professional on a 15" PowerBook Al running at 1.25 GHz. The computer had 1 GB of RAM, and I allocated 512k to the virtual windows computer.

While the Virtual PC boot up from a cold start was somewhat slower than I would have liked (especially when compared to the boot up of a current PC running the same software, the use of Virtual PC’s “save state” command erased much of the difference. With that command, shutting down the Virtual PC does not require the equivalent of a cold start boot up when you next want to use the program/machine. Instead, the program opens and restores the computer to its state on shutdown. I tried a number of programs with it and had no problem getting them to run. Certain actions, however, still take longer than on a real Windows computer. The place you will most likely see extra time is the processing of large amounts of information. Due to the nature of the activity, you will not notice much difference in data entry or in composition in word processing software.

Bottom line: if you have need to occasionally run a Windows-based program or, in some cases, a program that you run regularly, Virtual PC will suffice. If you do a lot of work in Windows-based programs, you will likely find that you will want to have two computers, one of which runs on the Windows OS. Even so, you may find that you want to have Virtual PC on your Mac laptop so that you can travel with just one computer and still have access to the Windows-based program.

NOTE: If you have Microsoft Office 2004 and have not yet downloaded and installed Service Pack 1, you probably should. You can get it at no charge from the Mac OS X Download site at: http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/.

Wireless Card Runs on Mac

One of the most significant frustrations I have had as Mac attorney has been the inability to get a wireless card for the Mac so that I could connect to the Internet from almost anywhere. I had the ability to use the Bluetooth connection to a cell phone and reach the Internet, but that worked far too slowly for anything but emergency use. The wireless cards worked faster and better, but not with Macs. Recently Apple released the necessary software to allow one wireless card to work on the Mac laptop computers. If you go to the Apple download site ( http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/apple/), you can find and download the software (it costs nothing). The site stores releases chronologically. Look at June 2004 and find the Verizon Broadband Access Support 1.0 program. Download it and install it, and you can use The Express Network PC Card (PC5220) on the Verizon Wireless network.

The software works only with the PC 5220 and only on the Verizon Wireless network. The PC5220 uses Verizon’s newest technology. In certain parts of the country Verizon has already introduced essentially DSL speeds for wireless users. Eventually, we should all have it. Right now, most of the country gets substantially slower than DSL rates, but still better than on a 56k baud modem. The card will use both technologies: it will pick up the new technology when it can and use the older technology the rest of the time. Note that the card operates as a cell phone for data only. It has its own number and requires a separate subscription. I pay $69 per month for unlimited use. The subscription generally pays for itself when I travel as I no longer need to connect to hotel systems for $14.95 or so a day. Additionally, I can now connect from almost anywhere I go, including other attorneys’ offices, the courthouse, hotels, my car, and so forth.


Jeffrey Allen (jallenlawtek@aol.com) has a general practice in Oakland, California. His firm, Graves & Allen, emphasizes real estate and business transactions and litigation. He is a frequent speaker and author on technology topics and the Editor-in-Chief of the GPSolo Technology & Practice Guide and the Technology eReport.