Dear Rammy

SAN FRANCISCO (08/29/2000) - Parenting magazine has one. Men's Health has one. Almost every newspaper has one. Why shouldn't Macworld, too, have an advice column? It'll be great: Readers write in with their Apple Computer Inc. Mac-related love triangles, points of etiquette, and moral dilemmas. (No technical questions -- too boring.) Everybody wins: the magazine fills a page, the letter writer gets a solution, and you get to read about the misery of others. Shall we begin?

Dear Rammy, I love my iMac. Literally. I've dated hundreds of men but have never met one who's as reliable, friendly, and committed as this machine. He's gorgeous, with a sculpted, hard body, and he's hot -- we're talking body temp of 120, easy. (My iMac has no fan. Except me.) I've rigged him with AppleScripts that make Macintalk tell me what a wonderful woman I am, how brilliant and charming I am, and so on. And the Bruce voice I use even has a cute European accent!

My friends tell me that I should be out there cruising the bars for "real" men instead of having all-night talks with my iMac, playing games with him, and sometimes taking him to a bed-and-breakfast for a weekend. But I say I've got it made. What's your take -- is it somehow unnatural to fall for such a colorful companion?

-- Puppy Love in Petaluma

Dear Puppy, Falling in love with your Mac is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people live completely fulfilled lives alone with their Macs. If friends think you're coming unhinged, get new friends.

Dear Rammy, My buddy Frank gave me a copy of Photoshop. When I had a problem, I called Adobe for tech support, but because it was Frank's copy and I was using Frank's serial number, I had to pretend that I was Frank. I gave them Frank's name but my own phone number and address. Pretty soon, I started getting junk mail and special offers, even from other companies; I couldn't change my story at that point, so I continued to masquerade as Frank. Eventually I was given graphic-design jobs and even a couple of awards, all as "Frank." And then, last week, I won US$200,000 in a MacSuperstore.com sweepstakes -- as Frank. I'm getting nervous about maintaining this dual identity.

-- Imperfectly Frank

Dear Frank, You certainly should be nervous! You can't keep living a lie; you'll go quietly insane. I think that, deep down, we both know exactly what you've got to do to make things right. Head directly to the county department of records and get your name legally changed to Frank.

Dear Rammy, I share a Power Mac with my new wife. To prevent domestic squabbles, we've been using Mac OS 9's Multiple Users feature to keep our environments and files separate.

I gave myself the Owner account, so I'm the only one who can change the settings. But she says if I really loved her, I'd make her the Owner and myself one of the underling accounts. We've been married only six weeks, but this one could be the deal breaker. What to do? -- Unhappy Owner in OmahaDear Unhappy, If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: Don't share a Mac with someone you love without first signing a prenuptial computer agreement. This kind of thing would be a moot issue if you and your wife had known about each other's Macintosh needs going in.

At this point, I advise you to enlist the aid of a certified Apple couples therapist. For a fee, these trained professionals will visit your home, replace any hockey-puck mice with the new Optical Apple model, make themselves your Mac's Owner, and give both of you equivalent underling accounts.

And good luck with the marriage; maybe you two should avoid talking about money, religion, or politics for a year or two.

Dear Rammy, My teenage son has discovered that whenever he prints over his AirPort wireless network, our next-door neighbor's garage door opens and closes. So now he makes printout after printout, all day long, just to drive the neighbors wild. What should I do?

-- Neighbor in Nebraska

Dear Neighbor, Tell your son to print blank pages. That way, he won't use up the ink cartridge and he can use the paper over and over again.

Dear Rammy, I came home early from work one afternoon to find my girlfriend on America Online. There she was, in a private chat room called 25 and Beautiful, seducing some guy with some of the juiciest language you can imagine. I'm crushed and heartbroken! -- BetrayedDear Betrayed, What's her screen name?

David Pogue (http://www.davidpogue.com) is the author of Mac OS 9: The Missing Manual and iMovie: The Missing Manual (both Pogue Press/O'Reilly, 2000).

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