I've not been able to use this ware until now due to the CD required
classic Mac .
Many Stars. A CD for $10 will be available for about another week that
works with PC folks.
"If Monks Had Macs" Available for Free
article link: <http://db.tidbits.com/article/10896
It's always sad when something comes to an end, but thanks to its
creator, Brian Thomas, the groundbreaking multimedia project "If
Monks Had Macs" that started 21 years ago will live on as a free
We've written about "If Monks Had Macs" in several of our gift
issues in the past; rather than attempt yet another explanation of
something that seemingly tries to defy all description, I'll bring
forward what we wrote in the past.
In 2003, Matt Neuburg described "If Monks Had Macs" like this: "I'm
not sure whether this counts as software, a game, a multimedia
experience, a book, or nostalgia. It's 'If Monks Had Macs,' which
started life as a HyperCard stack before I even knew HyperCard
existed, turned into a Voyager multimedia CD, and is now available
cross-platform, thanks to Runtime Revolution. If Monks (as we like
to call it) is impossible to describe. It's a truly visionary
hyperlinked collection of books, music, art, games, and activities,
plus several applications you can use separately, such as a
hyperlinked journal-writer and an ebook text reader that works with
Project Gutenberg files and other free online books. It's genuine
New Media - a multi-dimensional, quirky vision from the mind of an
eclectic thinker. If you've been wondering (and who hasn't?) what
Chesterton's Father Brown, Heart of Darkness, Schubert, Thoreau, and
the Kennedy assassination have to do with one another, this is your
chance to find out. I remember the earliest If Monks incarnations
with fondness, so this new version is on my wish list."
And I wrote in 2004: "A word you seldom see applied to software is
'thoughtful,' and in this case, I mean it literally, as in 'full of
thought.' But I can think of no better label for Brian Thomas's 'If
Monks Had Macs,' an interactive multimedia CD-ROM title that defies
prosaic description. It's packed with original texts from the like
of Henry David Thoreau and G.K. Chesterton, highly readable essays
and critical analyses, a visual exploration of Pieter Bruegel the
Elder's Tower of Babel painting, a telling of the story behind an
underground newsletter called The White Rose from a student
resistance group in Nazi Germany, and far more. A playful
sub-current swirls through everything - there's an illustrated
medieval text adventure game (you're a monk, needless to say) in
which you find cards for a solitaire game. A journaling application
helps you record your impressions and musings as you meander through
the application's many byways. 'If Monks Had Macs' started out life
years ago as a HyperCard stack (now converted to Runtime Revolution,
supported by a separate ebook reader), and that retro aesthetic now
merely adds to the whimsy."
Brian Thomas isn't just shoveling old software onto the Internet; he
has worked to remake the Killing Time game (also available as a free
download, and it's only about 10 MB), and has added more recent
photos and essays to the main project. But as he told me, he's
returning to his roots as a photographer, and is leaving shortly for
Cambodia. Before he left, he wanted to make "If Monks Had Macs"
available for free download.
But it's not quite as easy as it seems to distribute a 130 MB disk
image, and after some discussion on TidBITS Talk, Brian opted for
three disparate methods, all of which are free (to him and to
downloaders, which was important), but which all have their
limitations. They're outlined below for anyone else who is thinking
about distributing a very large file to the public. All three
download methods are linked from Brian's Web site.
* The first method uses a free Dropbox account, which will likely work
well over time, but Dropbox temporarily suspends downloads from
accounts that use unusual amounts of bandwidth, and for the moment,
the Dropbox links just won't work.
* The second method uses the file distribution service RapidShare,
which offers free downloads, but only when their servers are
sufficiently available. When I tried to download via RapidShare, I
was told their servers were overloaded and was encouraged to pay for
a premium account.
* The third method relies on the most obvious approach - shared
bandwidth via BitTorrent - and it worked well for downloading the
130 MB disk image. The problem with BitTorrent in the long term is
that someone has to continue to seed (make the file available for
retrieval) forever. Plus, downloading via BitTorrent requires a
BitTorrent client like Transmission, so it's a bit more of a fuss
for users. But if BitTorrent absorbs the bandwidth spike in the next
few days and weeks, the other methods should work from then on.
* There is one other approach, which is that if you can get your order
in by 18 January 2010, Brian will ship you an "If Monks Had Macs" CD
for only $10. He really is leaving the country, so he'll shut down
the online ordering once he (or his friends) can no longer fulfill
I would strongly encourage people to download a copy of "If Monks
Had Macs" via BitTorrent soon, purely to make sure you have a copy
while it's definitely still available. And, if you have plenty of
bandwidth, leave your BitTorrent client running to seed the file to
other people, which will lighten the load for everyone.
Kudos to Brian Thomas for refusing to let "If Monks Had Macs" simply
fade away, and we wish him the best of luck.
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