By Lionel Mussell


Let me say right at the outset that I'm no computer whiz - I've been using the blessed things for a long, long time but that doesn't mean I'm an expert.  It does mean that I've encountered many problems along the way and by bumbling through these with the help of people more cluey than me, I've picked up quite a lot of fairly useless information together with a few tidbits of very helpful stuff.

My journey started way back when I saw a second-hand 'big box' Amiga in a magazine and rushed out and bought it.  Knowing little, I fell into the trap of buying a very second hand unit with many and varied bugs.


When I took it to the nearest Amiga dealer - about 85km away - I was told the bitter truth.  It wasn't worth repairing!

Gritting my teeth I ordered a brand new one and thought all my troubles were over.  How naive can you be?

Then started a series of treks back and forth to the dealer with my wonderful new computer.  Each time they found something different wrong with it and declared they had now fixed it!

They hadn't!  It still ate the data on every floppy disc you put into it.  Eventually, having replaced just about everything else, they discovered a fault in the motherboard that had been there ever since being assembled in the Phillipines as one of the last made there before Amiga went stomach-up the first time!


It then behaved quite well and I was happy using it for word-processing and video titling.  I had all sorts of peripheral black boxes like a genlock and a wonderful titling programme called 'Scala' to help me make semi-professional videos.  The early experience with it still had me a bit doubtful of its reliability and when the Germans started producing the Amiga 1200, I jumped in and bought one of the first imported into Australia.  The dealer didn't want to trade the old one but I was fairly persuasive and he relented.

The 1200 was great although the genlock had to be modified before it would work.  That computer with its 'huge' 150M of memory is still sitting on the bench alongside the Mac although it seldom gets booted.  Nowadays 30 gigs is often considered too little memory!

My first book:  'The ABC of Caravanning' was put together on a friend's Mac from copy I wrote on the Amiga and then transferred to his machine using floppies.  Alan had Quark Express and being an expert on publishing was a huge help.  We were able to deliver the book to the printer ready for printing with the layout and pictures all in place.

Since then I've published another three books  (including 'Living with Murphy' - currently being reproduced each month on 'The Crypt')  using my own Quark and it has made things so much easier.

Alan's Mac really impressed me as it was so like the Amigas in operation and was a native windows machine just like Amiga.  When I saw the cover of a video magazine with the words 'The Mac is Back', I was intrigued and bought the book to see what it was about.

It was a Mac with a bundled video editing package and the reviewer was ecstatic about its capabilities.  I was hooked!  At that time all form of support for the Amiga had ceased in Australia and it was no longer a viable platform here.

Another year passed before I visited the local Apple dealer with cash in hand and emerged the proud owner of a Power Mac complete with video card and editing software.

This Mac did everything I asked of it and I obtained a copy of Quark for my book publishing work.  I still used the expert help of my friend Alan for the next book but for the two that followed I used the services of Mark who is the Art Director of 'Caravan World'.  I write a monthly column,  'On the Wallaby' for the magazine and over the past 17 years have contributed many articles as well.

By then I was connected to the internet and able to transfer copy to and from Mark by email - a much less time-consuming method than having to physically take it or mail it.


It is only since graduating to Macs that I've developed my own website at  (  and that keeps me busy using Adobe PageMill for authoring and Web Site Maestro for file transfer.  I used Symantec 'Visual Page ' until they stopped supporting it and I had all the trouble in the world with pictures when I started using OSX.


We travel extensively and the Big Box Amiga was too big and clumsy to take on caravanning trips but I still wanted to write.  What to do?   A second-hand Amiga 500 was the answer before I bought the 1200.

I used to set the type size to 24 point and hook the machine up to the TV in the van.  I then wrote my stories using the telly as the monitor and then reset it to 12 point before printing on a little Canon printer or sending a floppy to the editor.

Nowadays I no longer have the Power Mac but use a lovely little iBook Mac for all my computing both at home and while travelling.

I'll tell you more about it and using the latest Mac OS in another article.



RIYAN Productions