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Computing with Bifocals - Software to Put Under the Tree, Part I
by - November 10th, 2004

Downloading software is all well and good, but sometimes one wants to be able to wrap a physical gift in fancy paper and hand it to someone as a gift. Following are my personal recommendations for software that actually comes in a box that I think my contemporaries might particularly like to receive. If you live in a city with walk-in stores that carry Mac related stuff,; you can probably pick these products up. If you don't have the appropriate stores, or if your idea of a good time does not include shopping, I have also included links for on-line purchases. You are on your own for the gift wrapping.

OS X Panther

Panther sells for US$129.00 ($109 - Amazon) and if the computer in question can handle it, there is probably no nicer gift you can give. Anyone wanting to stay current with what is going on in the Mac world will want to be up to date with Panther. Panther can be ordered from The Apple Store, or through the link above at Amazon. Note, too, that Apple offers a "Family Pack" that allows you to legally install Panther on up to 5 Macs in your household. The Panther Family Pack is priced at $199 ($179 - Amazon).

System requirements are:

  • Macintosh computer with PowerPC G3, G4, or G5 processor
  • built-in USB
  • and 128MB of physical RAM.


iLife sells for US$49.00 ($44.99 - Amazon). Based on the classes that I teach, I think that iPhoto is the most popular application in my age group, closely followed by iMovie and iTunes. All three of these apps have been upgraded since they were originally introduced and to benefit from the upgrades one must have iLife. The most current version of iLife can be ordered from The Apple Store, or through the link above at Amazon.

The system requirements are very specific so I am including all of them as noted on The Apple Store site.

  • Macintosh computer with a PowerPC G3, G4, or G5 processor
  • 600MHz G3 or faster required for GarageBand; G4 or G5 required for GarageBand software instruments
  • 256MB of physical RAM
  • Display with at least 1024-by-768-pixel resolution
  • Mac OS X v10.2.6 or later (v10.2.8 or later recommended)
  • QuickTime 6.4 or later (QuickTime 6.5 included)
  • 4.3GB of disk space required to install GarageBand, iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, and iDVD; or 250MB to install iTunes, iPhoto, and iMovie only

Important Notes:

  • DVD drive required to install GarageBand and iDVD
  • iDVD requires a 733MHz PowerPC G4 or faster.
  • Burning DVDs using iDVD requires an Apple SuperDrive.
  • Burning iPhoto archives to CD or DVD requires Mac OS X v10.2.8 or later.
  • iPhoto book and print ordering services are available only in the U.S., Canada, Japan, and select territories; fees apply.

Special Deal: The Apple Store has a special deal running through January 10, 2005. If you purchase both OS X Panther and iLife you get a $50 rebate. Further information is available on The Apple Store site.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0

This "light" version of Photoshop sells for US$89.95 ($49.99 - Amazon, after rebate). I have not personally used this application, but know several people who are really into digital photography, genealogy, and/or scrapbooks who rave about it. Its primary use appears to me to be working strictly with photos as opposed to the creative elements available to designers and developers offered by the full Photoshop application. It is available for Mac OS X.

System requirements are:

  • PowerPC G3, G4, or G5 processor
  • Mac OS X v.10.2.8 or v.10.3
  • 256MB of RAM
  • 200MB of available hard-disk space
  • Color monitor with 16-bit color or greater video card
  • 1,024x768 or greater monitor resolution
  • CD-ROM drive

Photoshop Elements is available from The Apple Store, or through the link above at Amazon.

The Recipe Manager

The Recipe Manager sells for US$39.95. This application offers the ability to create a multi-course meal from several recipes and save it, print out a shopping list, individual recipes and even a menu for guests. It comes programmed with about 700 recipes as well.

It's not everyone's cup of tea (get that subtle humor?), but for those who enjoy cooking and fine dining, it would be a marvelous gift. TMO's Brad Gibson rated it one of his Best in Show Picks from this year's Macworld Expo.

System requirements:

  • Macintosh computer running OS X, 10.2 or higher
  • 64 MB RAM
  • 30 MB Hard Drive Space.

It is available from The Apple Store (Software > Creative Home) and from; ExtremeMac.

My next column will contain the rest of my software holiday gift recommendations. Now if I can just get the TMO Editor-in-Chief to post it as soon as I submit it...

On Another Note

My last column prompted a number of Observer Comments related to the letter I received from someone whom they have dubbed as Mr. Arrogant. My favorite is from someone who signed in as "Guest". Here is what she wrote:

When I retired, I asked my husband and three sons to recommend a computer. They all suggested it would be too hard. I went out one day, saw an Apple store and my iMac running 9.0.4 was delivered before I got back home.

That was in 2000, I now have a G4 running 10.3.5 and teach retirees new to computers, mentor nursing students via e-mail, run a small home business from my computer and refuse to help my husband or three adult sons with their computer problems.

Children should be very careful when they insult and patronize their computer illiterate mothers - what comes around, goes around.

If you are curious about the other comments you can check them out at the end of the November 3rd column.

Check out our other 2004 Gift Guide's, too!

Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions  for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping.   To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.

Post your comments below.

Check out Nancy's complete index of all her columns for the most complete list of tips anywhere. The list is categorized and is a great reference when you are looking for help!

A Capacious Catalog Of Computer Tips

Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color, covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.

Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.

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