Making It Work

FTLComm - Tisdale - April 23, 1999  
The pressures of computer technological marketing are producing some unusual affects. At the end of February the G3 Pro (aka: Yosemite, Blue and White) was put to work here in the FTLComm office but in the article I wrote about it at the time it was fairly limited in what it could do because Apple had released it before the necessary parts were available for the machine. This is a demonstrator machine and I waited until the very last day in the demo programme to order it, but that was still not long enough. At the end of March I was able to get the internal 56K V90 modem for it and yesterday I was able to finally get all of the parts necessary to make it functional.

The little adapter on the right converts one the machine's USB ports into a conventional serial ports that will let me
use my Epson PhotoPC 500 Digital camera. This KeySpan device retails for $129 and works on this machine and the iMac. Of all the various additions to this computer this one device is the only one that did not need updating or additional downloaded software to make it function.
To get our convention SCSI scanner, additional hard drives, and CD burner to work we needed a SCSI card and the one on the left is the one I selected fromOrangeMicro. This Grappler 930U provides internal and external SCSI connectivity but I had to go to their web site this morning and download the "beta" version of their "flash ROM" software to make this card capable of booting from a hard drive or using my UMAX Vista 8 scanner. It took me a couple of tries to get that to work properly but after a struggle last night it now works.

While I was on line I also downloaded from Apple a very impressive thing (don't really know what to call it though it is software it is a firmware upgrade) this download, which took me two tries to get it installed right improves the computer's already formidable performance and is suppose to upgrade the way it uses the PCI cards in the machine. My difficulty with the install was because I am using an ADB keyboard and had to reconnect the USB keyboard to get the
tricky installation process to be installed into the computers chips. There hasn't been time to see if the performance of the machine is improved because the nature of it is that a little improvement would not be noticed since it already scrolls so fast it sometimes is hard to find a passage in a document or title of a file as you run down a list. Much of the G3 Pro's speed comes from the power of the ATI 128 video board.

This however brings up the only function I used on my G3 266 desktop machine that still doesn't work. In order to get two screens I have for the past two years used an ATI Xclaim VR card to power the second monitor but I also used that same card to capture video clips and still images from my camcorder. When I first installed the Xclaim VR card it did not work at all and a call to ATI resulted in them replacing my card, only costing me the shipping. This made it work for the monitor but video capture does not work as the image is scrambled somewhat on the screen. There is some conflict with API's 128 card but the new card I received had resolved that problem. I discussed this with them, they were aware of the difficulty but do not have a solution. If I get time tomorrow I will plug in the camera and see if the new firmware upgrade has had any effect on this function.

The rush to get products to market is vital with the cost of research and development so high companies have to see immediate returns on their work and a few days can make the difference in the marketplace or on the stock market that can spell dizzying success or abysmal failure. Apple brought the new "Blue and White" out onto the market place before it was really ready to be introduced but we can see that the makers of peripheries are doing the same thing with their products. The modem, a product made by Apple did not work when installed as it required an upgrade to make it function and that has been the pattern for over a year now for almost all computer products.

Theb is perhaps the best example but also points to the success of the procedure. The first iMacs, the "b" version and the "B" versions as well had to be connected to the Internet and downloads of various software were necessary the day they were delivered. The only Macintosh USB printer for some time was the Epson 740 and out of the box it did not work with the iMac without a software download. That was the easiest installation on this machine yesterday. I had already used the machine on another 740 so all I had to do was plug it in and it came to life immediately. Apple has just released the "D" version of the iMac with a higher clock speed up from 233 to 333 and a larger 6GB hard drive.

This dramatic, perhaps even frantic movement of new technology is leaving everyone a bit haggard and it is happening at the same time both Apple and other computer manufacturers are abandoning their small outlets in favour of direct sales or discount selling through the massive chains. Never before has the user required more support ( I am not referring specifically to the Mac because this seems to be the case across the industry in general) while at the same time the manufacturers are offering less and less help as they pare down their marketing channels and those of us who attempt to perform the function of providing our expertise with the products we sell are seeing our sales decline to almost unsurvivable levels. When you look at the volatility in the stock market and the terror that seems to drive that part of the world it seems that there has been a migration of desperation into all levels of commerce but most visible in computer technology.