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Students Fight Back for Mac; Apple Funds New Users Group

By Dudley Lamming
Staff reporter

What Apple Computer Corp.'s Macintosh platform lacks in market share, it seems to make up for in enthusiastic users. Last week, posters went up around the Institute announcing the formation of a new MIT/Apple Student Advocate Group.

Founded by Eric J. Plosky '99, with the aid of Dana S. Spiegel '99 and Kevin S. Doyle '99, the group is charged with publicizing the advantages of the Macintosh over other platforms. The group has received a grant of equipment from Apple.

"One of the main things we're trying to do to to keep people informed about the Mac, about it's capabilities, and to evangelize the Mac," Plosky said.

The group is also trying to spread information about the use of Macintoshes on campus. It also plans to run a technology demonstration over the summer. "We plan to have an expo on Mac labs, and the features of the Mac, as well as how they fit into the curriculum," Plotsky said.

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences was leading MIT in deploying Macintoshes as educational aids, Plotsky said. "At the current time, the HASS department is the largest user of Macs on campus, especially the foreign language departments, and we want to help them get the new software and stuff that they need developed," Doyle said.

"We plan to be a clearinghouse for all Mac information on campus. That and software updates is the main focus of our [World Wide] Web site," Plosky said.

According to information provided by the group, they plan to work with third-party software developers like Adobe, Quark, and Corel to continue developing new software for the Mac, as well as working with Apple directly to develop new software for both general and MIT specific uses.

Apple provides support for group

In January, Apple held a meeting at its Boston-area offices for institutions of higher learning throughout the Boston area. Representatives from MIT, Harvard University, Boston University, and many other schools attended.

"The main purpose of the meeting was to get feedback on how to improve coverage throughout the area, and to let Apple know what's going on. The idea of this advocacy group grew out of this meeting," Plosky said. "Due to their financial problems, they were not able to actually provide any funding, but they have helped us in other ways."

Apple's Boston Director for Higher Education Mary Ann Jackson is working closely with the group. Apple has donated a high-end computer to the group to serve as a Web server and a mail server. The Web site will hold software updates, frequently asked questions for products, a user forum where people can post info, and other Mac information.

Group has specific campus goals

In addition to their new Web site, the group plans to get in contact with current Mac users and register their software/hardware setup. As specific fixes or upgrades become available from Apple and other Macintosh vendors, custom e-mail will be sent to registered users.

"We'd like to keep track of all the Mac users on campus on help them this way," Doyle said.

Moreover, the group will try to work with Information Systems to possibly establish a new Macintosh Athena cluster. "A lot of people think that Macs don't interface with Athena," Doyle said. "There are a lot of myths that you can't print from a Mac or you can't access other things from a Mac, and we're out to dispel those myths."

The group plans to be an active force on campus, members said, and it plans to run advertisements at Lecture Series Committee movies and poster vigorously. The group intends to spotlight local Mac events and keep in touch with other Mac users on campus.

The Apple Student Advocacy Group is not yet an official student group. They have been granted provisional status by the Association of Student Activities but will not be granted full status until changes are made in their constitution.

The MIT/Student Advocacy group's Web site can be reached at http://apple-adv.mit.edu.