At first I thought of titling this "Info-Mac CD-ROM II: Economy Size," or even "Family Size" but I realized that those terms don't mean anything, and you only know that "Economy Size" is bigger if the bottle of ketchup so labeled is bigger than the one labeled merely "Super Big Bottle O' Ketchup." One way or another, the latest issue of the Info-Mac CD-ROM from Pacific HiTech is big, really big, and a lot bigger than the previous edition. This is good, of course, and it was helped by the fact that during the interim between the two issues, sumex-aim acquired (and immediately started to fill) a much larger disk drive to replace its old economy-sized 200 MB drive. This CD holds 576 MB of data, uncompressed and nicely named, whereas the first issue held a mere 112 MB.
So what's on volume two? All sorts of good stuff that lives on sumex normally, as of May of 1993, and for those of you who have access to sumex via FTP or mirror mailserver, the file
contains a list of the files on the disk with one-line descriptions. (See TidBITS #130 for mailserver instructions for sumex, but the basic idea is to send email to LISTSERV@RICEVM1.RICE.EDU with one or more lines like this in the body of the message: $MAC GET info-mac-cdrom-2.txt)
Unfortunately, the starving graduate students who started Pacific HiTech as a way to reduce their dependence on taxpayer dollars were unable to put every item from sumex on the CD-ROM because not all authors wished to have their programs distributed in such a way. That's the authors' right, and I respect Pacific HiTech for abiding by those wishes. Pacific HiTech gives free copies to authors of new programs or major upgrades on the CD-ROM, but since it would be too much work for them to determine who gets a copy, if you feel you deserve one for your shareware contribution to the disk, drop them a line.
What's not on volume II? Some of the early copies of the CD-ROM were accidentally mastered without a System 6 desktop file, so if you use System 6, make sure to ask so that they can definitely send you a disk from the second mastering run. Ah, how soon we forget. I certainly would have.
Volume II adds a number of nice touches that didn't exist in volume I. Pacific HiTech created an On Location index for the entire disk, so those of you with On Location should like that. Everything is uncompressed, so accessing files is easy and hassle-free, and more importantly you can easily search the text of files on the CD-ROM even if you don't have On Location. Tonya and I came up with an interesting use that we haven't quite implemented yet. Everyone always complains about how Microsoft Word conflicts with many third-party utilities because Microsoft ignores Apple's programming guidelines. However, since Microsoft isn't aware of many conflicts, Tonya wondered if this might be a computer legend. I, of course, thought not and suggested we search the Info-Mac CD for instances of "Microsoft Word" to see how often shareware authors mentioned it in documentation as causing problems. I tried this first with Super Boomerang, which worked fine, except that Super Boomerang doesn't show much of the surrounding text and doesn't let you work with the group of found files in any way. Then a friend lent me On Location, but I couldn't figure out how to make it search for the phrase "Microsoft Word" instead of the words "Microsoft" and "Word" in the same document, which is a different and less useful search. An interesting experiment, nonetheless, and one which I'll also try with Mark Zimmerman's Free Text Browser, for which there is also an index.
In addition to the On Location index, Pacific HiTech created views of many of the collections of text files in Akif Eyler's excellent Easy View, which lets you browse through old issues of TidBITS, Info-Mac Digest, and Murph Sewall's recently deceased Vaporware. Easy View may not be as fast as the WAIS, and it may not provide weighted searching, but for a quick scan through a bunch of TidBITS issues, it's unparalleled. And besides, the more people who scan back issues on their own, the fewer people who send me mail asking if we ever did an article on using Macs in weasel research.
Yesterday I had my annual hour-long argument with a friend about whether or not CD-ROMs are evil. He feels that the technology is too slow and limited, being read-only, and that Apple should put 256 MB magneto-optical (MO) drives in every Mac this fall instead of a CD-ROM drive, as they supposedly plan to do. CD-ROM technology doesn't impress me, but I do feel that its pricing makes up for a lot (especially in comparison to $2,000 to $3,000 MO drives and media ranging from $50 to $150), considering that the AppleCD 300 drive should now be available for under $400 street price and that vendors can cheaply master CD-ROMs in quantity. The current price structure surrounding CD-ROM disks and drives makes them attractive, especially when they provide data like the Info-Mac CD-ROM, which reduces unnecessary network use and makes it easier for people to connect to sumex for the latest and greatest software.
The Info-Mac CD-ROM II costs $49.95, and upgrades for owners of volume I are $29.95. U.S. users should add $5 for shipping and handling, whereas international users should add $9. Pacific HiTech can handle checks, money orders, or credit cards.
Pacific HiTech -- 800/765-8369 -- 801/278-2042
801/278-2666 (fax) -- firstname.lastname@example.org