September 2001

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Fujitsu DynaMO 1300FE 1.3GB FireWire Magneto-Optical Drive, Fujitsu Computer Products of America, Drive List: $299, 5 Pack of 1.3GB disks - List: $100.00,

• System Requirements - Macintosh: Power Mac G3, Mac OS 8.51, FireWire 2.0, Mac OS X native compatibility; PC: IBM PC/AT with Pentium 200MHz, 32MB memory, CD-ROM drive, IEEE1394 OHCI card, MS Window 98 2nd Ed. or above.

For those of you not familiar with MO, here is some background. MO is short for Magneto-Optical – this is a technology for storing data on removable media. MO technology melds the properties of magnetism (magneto) and light (optical) to create a stable long term data storage medium. It has all of the advantages of a CD-R – large, stable storage capacity plus it also has the flexibility, quick rewritability, and fast readability of a magnetic hard disk. Data can be over-written safely and quickly countless times, yet anything stored on a disk will be safe for a long time. MO disks are extremely rugged and highly tolerant of the problems that normally plague removable hard disk technology. MO disks last for more than 30 years. They can be rewritten more than 10 million times. They are virtually indestructible and completely immune to shock, dust, liquid, and magnetic fields without loss of data. You can even run a magnet by a MO disk with out losing data.

It takes a combination of magnetization and a laser to write/erase a disk. Disks are read using a laser beam. MO disks are block formatted just like Hard Disk Drives. The MO drive uses random access technology to read/write data, so MO drives are faster than CD-RW and DVD-R when formatting.

The Fujitsu MO 1.3GB drive can read and write 1.3 GB, 640MB, 540MB, 230MB and 128MB disks. It works with other manufacturers ISO or GIGAMO standard media. Multiple worldwide media suppliers including Fujitsu, Maxell, Sony, Teijin, Verbatim, and PDO Media insure availability and competitive pricing. Additional drive configurations are available, they include 640MB drives and USB and SCSI interfaces. Please visit the web site for details.

Now for the real story about this drive. Installation was very simple - just plug it in and install one extension and an application (the application is necessary to format new disks). You will need to restart after installing the extension before you can access the drive. The drive can sit either sideways or flat. Its size is: 4.75"W x 8.75"D x 1.25"H, and its weight is: 31.7oz. The a/c adapter is included – although you only need to use it if you have multiple IEEE1394 devices on at the same time. The a/c adapter is very compact and lightweight – a welcome change from most power bricks. The drive has a LED to let you know that disk has power and is running. A good thing since it is very quite, only 23dBA – you virtually won't hear the drive while it is idle.

The drive comes with a 1 year warranty. Additional software is included: Macintosh: Great Photo! (digital image editing), DOS Mounter (opens Windows and DOS files on the Mac), PC: Mac Mounter (opens Mac files on a PC), Mac and PC: DataSaver (backup utility).

The first time you use a disk, it must be formatted with the included application. One minor annoyance is that inserting an unformatted disk does not result in a "do you want to format" message you expect with your mac. There is no feedback to alert you that the disk needs formatting. You can format the disks as Mac OS standard (HFS) or extended (HFS+) formats. It is recommended that you eject disks before you power down the drive. Formatting a 1.3GB disk is a quick process - about 10 seconds or so. This is very fast considering that it takes much longer to format a 1.4MB floppy (and a 1.3GB MO disk has 850 times greater capacity than a floppy disk).

MO disks offer greater capacity than ZIP disks, and are slightly smaller than a ZIP disk. The MO drive is very (unbelievably so) quiet especially compared to a ZIP drive. The disks are more rugged, more reliable, and offer faster access. While MO technology has been popular overseas for some time, the drive cost had been higher in the past. Now the drive retails for under $300. The MO 1.3 GB disks are roughly the same cost as a 250MB ZIP disk (around $20) and offers 5 times the storage capacity. Between the cost and inherent MO reliability, this makes the Fijitsu MO drive a very good deal.

A. Larson - iPresident, MacWaves MUG

Dreamweaver UltraDev 4 by Nolan Hester, Dreamweaver 4 Fireworks 4 Studio by Patti Schulcz, and Flash 5 by Chrissy Rey, Mac OS and Windows, Macromedia Press for Peachpit Press, $44.95 with CD/ROM.

All of these books provide exceptional training in these high-end applications as they take you step-by-step through projects using the files on the CD. You'll find yourself getting comfortable with the program very quickly as the exercises are well organized with enough explanations and helpful screen shots to provide even novice users with information on creating and editing dynamic graphics.

Adobe Acrobat 5.0 Classroom in a Book, Mac OS and Windows, Adobe Press for Peachpit Press, $45 with CD-ROM.

If you're working with Acrobat 5 (and you should be), this book is a good introduction to the program. Like all the other books in this series, it takes you through different projects to acclimate the user to the commands and functions in the application. Once you've completed the exercises, you'll have a better understanding of how this powerful and universal application works. Comprehensive in its coverage of Acrobat 5, the book is a compilation of fourteen lessons, tips and techniques that will make you comfortable enough with Acrobat to work with it on your own.

Adobe Photoshop 6.0, Adobe Systems, Retail: $609, Upgrade: $199,

• System Requirements -- Macintosh: PowerPC processor, Mac OS software version 8.5, 8.6, or 9.0; Windows: MS Windows 98 or above, Both OSs: 64 MB RAM (128 MB of RAM required to run Photoshop and ImageReady concurrently), 125 MB of available hard-disk space, Color monitor with 256-color (8-bit) or greater video card, Monitor resolution of 800x600 or greater, CD-ROM drive

What can you say about Adobe Photoshop 6? It's still the most popular image-editing software on either the Mac or Windows platforms, especially among professional graphic artists. Unlike Adobe Illustrator, it has no serious rivals. Corel Corp.'s Painter is a better painting program and PhotoPaint does many of the same tasks, but neither has the impact of Photoshop. So, without serious competition, how does Adobe make Photoshop worth the $199 upgrade price?

This upgrade may not quite as spectacular as the upgrade from versions 3 to 4, which introduced features like adjustment layers and a cleaner interface, or versions 4 to 5 to 5.5, which introduced multiple undoes in the History palette, quick-and-easy shadow and lighting effects in the layer effects and the brilliant companion program ImageReady, arguably the best program available for making web graphics. However, once again Adobe has improved the product to make it worth the price of upgrade.

One of the new features Adobe hypes is a new ability to create vector objects in Photoshop files, and a new set of tools for drawing vector objects. In previous versions, only the Pen tool and its companions could create vectors, and vectors were useful only to make selection or create clipping paths. In version 6 Adobe gives users new rectangle, rounded rectangle, ellipse, polygon, custom shape and line tools, as well as commands allowing you to combine or slice vector objects with others and the ability to store vector objects in a library for future use. Also, vector shapes can be used to create masks, and Photoshop's traditional masks can be combined with these new, sharp, vector-based masks to either mask out or clip pixels on a layer, allowing pixels in underlying layers to show through.

This attempt to encroach on Illustrator's territory sparks speculation (at least in me) that Adobe may be nudging Photoshop and Illustrator even closer together toward a new, Canvas-like super program, yet I can't ignore the fact that Adobe makes more money by selling two popular programs than one. But the new vector support in Photoshop looks pretty good, and I can't help wonder if Illustrator's days are numbered. If it doesn't get absorbed into Photoshop, it might become part of InDesign.

The really important news is the vast improvement in the way Photoshop manages typographic text. Gone is the annoying dialog box created when using the Type tool in earlier versions. Now, just like in Illustrator, you select the Type tool, click anywhere in your image, and just start typing.

Adobe has included the same Character and Paragraph palettes as you find in Illustrator, so editing text is a breeze, and can be done on the fly. You can also contain text in a text box, allowing reshaping of text blocks, although you can't put text in a vector box. The text remains text, in its own text layer, as long as you save the file in the Photoshop format. It will rasterize if you save it as a JPEG, TIFF or other nonnative format. And the new Type Warping feature lets you create the kind of special effects found in Microsoft Word or TypeTwister.

The already impressive Layer Effects features have been beefed up, with new overlay, satin and stroke effects and advanced blending and transparency options. Layer effects now can be stored as Layer Styles which can be easily reapplied to other layers from the new Layer Styles palette.

For Web designers, Photoshop 6 has new Slice tool and Slice-select tools, once found only in ImageReady, and options to format and optimize individual slices. You can even isolate slices to individual layers, making it easier to generate precise slices for rollovers.

The most notable change in Photoshop is in the graphic user interface, or the appearance of its tools and other palettes. The Options palette is history, replaced by the multipurpose Options Bar, which anchors to the upper leftward corner of your screen but is movable and can greatly improve screen clutter. The Options Bar shows all the controls relating to a particular tool, making it much easier to control a particular tool's behavior

But there's more. Other palettes can be anchored on the right, unused portion of the Options Bar, and pop down for use when you click on one. The space for anchoring palettes is partially limited by your screen resolution (the higher the screen resolution, the more space for palettes) but the palette tabs do scrunch over each other a little as you add more and more palettes to the list. It's not a perfect solution, but it does really help remove the clutter of palettes that has plagued the GUI.

Other much-needed improvements include better support for manipulating images in high (36- or 48-bit ) color depth, although Adobe needs to do much more to keep up with new scanner capabilities; the ability to annotate files with non-printing notes and control how non-printing elements like guides and grids are viewed, and the ability to save layers and transparency effects in TIFF images, as well as better TIFF compression options.

One GUI improvement I'd like to see in Photoshop is tear-off tool palettes, a favorite from Illustrator. Also long overdue is an overhaul of Photoshop's filters, many of which only work with images in RGB color format. I hope to see these changes in a Carbonized (or, I hope, Mac OS X - native) Photoshop 7.

While the improvements in Photoshop are less spectacular than the last two major upgrades, Photoshop has earned its upgrade price, and its still THE essential tool for working with raster images.

Tracey "Lee" Maxwell - Dr. Gladmax Macintosh Services - Macintosh Consulting, Teaching and Tutoring, Graphic and Web Design or