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Apple aiming new iMac at consumer market


With two straight profitable quarters under its belt, Apple is taking aim (again) at the consumer market.

Described as "Jetson-like," the new sleek iMac was unveiled last week by Apple Computer Inc.

The new iMac is priced at $1,299 -- which places it in the middle of the new home computer pack.

Co-founder and Interim CEO Steve Jobs said during unveiling ceremonies that the new Mac is aimed at a much broader market; Macs are the dominant platform in several niche markets, including publishing and graphic design. To bolster sales and marketshare, Apple is making the iMac a Mac for the masses.

As introduced, the new Apple iMac is unique in features and design.

It features a 233 MHz G3 processor (that outperforms comparable Pentium II chips in their tests), a 4 Gigabyte hard drive, 32 Megabytes of memory, a built-in modem and a 15-inch monitor. The iMac comes Ethernet-ready, so you can plug it as-is into a network connection.

But industry analysts are mulling over what the low-priced computer doesn't have.

First, it doesn't have a floppy drive; in fact, without a parallel port or SCSI port, the iMac lacks a way to add any external floppy or Zip-type of removable media drive.

The only removable media the computer uses is a CD-ROM, which isn't much help when you're ready to copy that report or term paper to a disk to take with you to work or school.

The only external port on the computer is a USB port; there's no modem port or SCSI port or -- more importantly for home users -- a printer port.

This makes any existing user's Apple-compatible printer unuseable with the iMac. If you're going to print from the iMac, you'll have to wait for a USB-compatible printer -- or for some manufacturer comes up with an appropriate adapter.

Of course, since the new iMac won't be shipping for another 90 days, Apple may well have new products and additions to announce in support of it's new home computer.

For more information, visit Apple's Web site at www.apple.com.

STRESS RELIEF. Like most workers in today's world, I spend a lot of time at a desk staring at a computer screen.

If you've been there, done that, you're well acquainted with the physical manifestations of a day at your desk: the stiff neck, the eye strain, the headaches and other maladies that result from doing what we're being paid to do -- not to mention the normal on-the-job daily stress factor.

Well now there's a Web site called Keyboard Yoga aimed at easing your mind (and body) with some simple at-your-desk yoga exercises. They won't cure a cold or flu, but if you follow the step-by-step instructions, you'll certainly be less stressed and feel better while doing your job.

Keyboard Yoga combines yoga breathing techniques and some simple exercises, and I found them quite effective in reducing stress -- and it's unlikely anyone in the office will notice what you're doing.

It's good information to have the next time your stress levels are reaching critical mass -- and it'll cut down that dosage of heartburn medicine to boot.

Visit Keyboard Yoga online at www.ivillage.com/fitness/yoga/.

VIRTUAL RELIEF. If you're a parent, you've undoubtedly been pressured by your kids in the past year or so to buy one of the many different virtual pets out on the market.

The little beeping nuisances have parents carrying them to work (real-world babysitting for virtual pets), and schools and day cares have banned them in some communities.

The original Tamagotchi "hatched" in 1996, and has been driving parents, school teachers and others crazy ever since. But its popularity (and hefty price) has inspired a plethora of imitators. You can even get them in breakfast cereal!

The World Wide Web is full of diversions, that's a fact. But if you've got a few minutes to kill you can relieve your virtual-pet frustrations by playing Godzilla vs. Tomagotchi, found online at www.jitterbug.com/gvt/gvt.shtml.

The page is a Shockwave-powered virtual Tomagothci-like game. The goal is to click a button to stomp Gozilla's foot down on one of the little Tomagotchi icons that cheerfully passes by on the screen.

The site is part of the Jitterbug Studios Web site, and part of Jitterbug Fantasia, a humor magazine.

Godzilla vs. Tamagotchi won't increase your productivity in the office or at home, but you'll get the satisfaction of a little virtual pay-back.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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