Previous Issue | Search TidBITS | TidBITS Home Page | Next Issue

TidBITS Logo

TidBITS#01/16-Apr-90

Topics:

Copyright 1990 TidBITS Electronic Publishing. All rights reserved.
Information: <info@tidbits.com> Comments: <editors@tidbits.com>


What's News in Netnews

For anyone working on a IIci with After Dark, the screensaver from Berkeley Systems, you should upgrade to version 1.1c. The new version fixes a bug that causes crashes when the screensaver kicks in while DAs are open. It also includes a Randomizer INIT, which allows the screensaver to automatically switch modules after a specified time interval, and several new modules, including Spheres (which draws 3-D spheres on the screen, Draino (which swirls your Mac screen down a drain in the middle of the screen), and TacTiles (which fills the screen with a tile pattern). Also included are several previously released modules, Shredded Crystals and Starry Skyline. The upgrade is available from on-line services.

Information from:
Bruce Burkhalter of Berkeley Systems -- bruce@cory.berkeley.edu

Another option when Outbound -- The Outbound portable Macintosh has received attention because of its method of avoiding Apple's copyrights. The purchased must own a Mac Plus or SE, and the Plus or SE ROMs are used in the Outbound. However, it is possible to purchase ROMs legally through certain dealers. Such ROMs have been used legally for several years by owners of the Spectre 128 and GCR, Macintosh emulators for the Atari ST from Gadgets By Small, Inc. In addition, Outbound will be offering replacement ROMs for the Outbound's host that will allow it to be a dedicated AppleShare server when the Outbound is not connected.

Information from:
Alex Pournelle -- alex@grian.cps.altadena.ca.us

Refilling DeskWriter Cartridges -- Some users have complained about the relatively high price of the ink cartridges for HP's popular DeskJet, DeskJet+, and DeskWriter printers. Judging from numerous discussions on Usenet, it is possible to use a syringe to refill the cartridges with good quality fountain pen ink (which is also water-soluble, sorry). Be warned that HP does not condone such measures and you may clog or otherwise damage the ink jets on your printer.


Lotus, Novell merge

In an blow to industry leader Microsoft, Lotus and Novell merged last week to form a corporation worth about $1.5 billion dollars. The merger does not affect the Macintosh market as directly as the PC market, because neither Lotus nor Novell has been a major player in the Macintosh market despite several abortive attempts by Lotus. Novell's networking software has yet to win a major following in the Macintosh market as well, due to the preeminence of Apple's own AppleShare software. However, the fate of Microsoft is almost as tightly interwoven with the Macintosh as it is with the PC world and the Lotus/Novell alliance will undoubtedly affect Microsoft's ability to dictate the course of personal computing.

Related articles:
MacWEEK -- 10-Apr-90, Vol. 4, #14, pg. 1
InfoWorld -- 09-Apr-90, Vol. 12, #15, pg. 1
PC WEEK -- 09-Apr-90, Vol. 7, #14, pg. 1

New Programs from ACIUS

ACIUS, the developer of 4th Dimension, announced a host of new programs in many sectors of the market. Included in the product announcement are 4D Write, 4D Calc, Graph 3D, 4D Draw, 4D Compiler Kit, 4D External Kit, 4D SQL Server, and 4D Connectivity Kit.

All of the new products can be integrated tightly with 4D, and include the same sort of inter-application communication that Apple promises will be in System 7.0. It is unlikely that each application on its own will be able to compete with the popular and powerful programs in that field, such as MacDraw, Nisus, Word, Excel, and Wingz, but the links with each other and 4D will give a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. An especially exciting feature of the newly announced packages is that each module will automatically install a set of commands in the 4D language, allowing programmers to control the modules in their applications.

ACIUS -- 408/252-4444
Related articles:
MacWEEK -- 10-Apr-90, Vol. 4, #14,pg. 1
InfoWorld -- 09-Apr-90, Vol. 12, #15, pg. 40

SE Monitor & Accelerator

Mobius Technologies has another option for SE owners who are running low on screen real estate and speed at the same time. The 15" full-page monitor is only 1-bit monochrome, but has a 78-Hz refresh rate and includes a 16 MHz 68000 accelerator card to double the speed of the SE. The best news is the price, only $695.

The new Mobius monitor competes directly with the Radius Full Page Display and the Sigma Designs SilverView for the SE, neither of which come with acceleration.

The trick when buying a monitor is to use it for a while first (or be able to return it within a month or some such deal) because large monitor quality is very subjective. Also, be aware that large monitors require more processing from the CPU, and will thus slow down the Mac. So even if Mobius's accelerator board doubles the Mac's speed, updating the larger screen will cut into that speed increase somewhat.

Related articles:
InfoWorld -- 09-Apr-90, Vol. 12, #15, pg. 40

QMS's Font Freedom

QMS announced a $49.95 ATM-like INIT called Font Freedom that provides smooth fonts on the screen and on QuickDraw printers. No benchmarks regarding speed were mentioned, but Font Freedom will ship with 24 typefaces in comparison to ATM's 13. Note that there are between 1 and 4 typefaces in each font, which is why ATM really only has 4 fonts included. Font Freedom's will include the basic fonts in the LaserWriter+, fonts which must be purchased separately from Adobe in their Plus Pack. Type 1 PostScript fonts (fonts with Adobe hints) are supported, with Type 3 fonts (non-hinted fonts created with a program such as Fontographer) supported eventually.

The introduction of Font Freedom adds another level of complexity to the font war between the PostScript camp (Adobe/IBM/NeXT) and the TrueType camp (Apple/Microsoft). Font Freedom will compete mostly on its display speed, print quality, and memory requirements, all of which are still unknown.

QMS -- 800/635-3997 -- 205/633-4300
Related articles:
MacWEEK -- 10-Apr-90, Vol. 4, #14 pg. 14
InfoWorld -- 09-Apr-90, Vol. 12, #15, pg. 40

Keyboard Construction Kit

Datadesk introduced the Switchboard, a new extended keyboard with a twistit has several modules which can be moved around and swapped in and out of the basic keyboard case. So far Datadesk has a trackball module, a function key module that fits on either side of the main keys, and a macro key module that goes above the fifteen horizontal function keys. In addition from the Switchboard's chameleon abilities, it can hook to every Macintosh, including the Plus as well as all IBM-clones. That's flexible!

Information from:
Usenet, comp.sys.mac

Related articles:
MacWEEK -- 17-Apr-90, Vol. 4, #15, pg. 53
Macworld -- Jul-90, pg. 109

Electrical Networking

Carrier Current Technologies recently said that it would increase the speed of Carrier-Net, a network adapter for PC-compatibles that runs at 38,400 bits per second (bps) over standard electrical wiring. Users attach a Carrier-Net adapter box to the serial port of the computer and plug it in to the electrical outlet, which carries the network signal. Carrier Current plans to be able to reach 115,000 bps this fall and up to 4 megabits per second sometime later by using multiple channel technology. The company has announced no plans for AppleTalk support, but with the maximum speed of AppleTalk at 234,000 bps, such a product might be possible. Carrier -Net is currently limited to in-building wiring because the network signals cannot pass through a transformer, but Carrier Current is working on a gateway solution.

A major cost of networking is laying and maintaining the network wiring, so a technology such as Carrier-Net would be much easier to work with than conventional wiring techniques. Another solution to the wiring problem is radio frequency transmission, but that too is limited to the PC world. A company called OCI markets a product called LAWN (Local Area Wireless Network), which, like Carrier-Net, is currently limited to 38,400 bps and has a limited range but requires no additional wiring. Should either technology attain a speed quick enough to run AppleTalk, it would undoubtedly become popular with Macintosh users, considering the ease of networking the Mac and the introduction of FileShare in Apple's System 7.0.

Carrier Current Technologies -- 800/222-0377
OCI -- 800/OCI-LAWN
Related articles:
InfoWorld -- 16-Apr-90, Vol. 12, #16, pg. 24
InfoWorld -- 11-Jun-90, Vol. 12, #24, pg. 33

3.5" Erasable Optical Due

The first 3.5" erasable optical drive was announced recently by Pinnacle Micro Inc., which claims that the drive's average seek time is a mere 28 milliseconds, far below that offered by the 5.25" standard erasable optical disks. Each $129 disk will store 128 megabytes of information, less than the 650 megabytes that the 5.25" drives will hold. However, the list price on the drive is $2995, so street prices should be less than the $3500 or so that the 5.25" drives cost. Compared to a 105 megabyte Quantum hard disk, the Pinnacle erasable optical is still expensive at about $24 per megabyte, but adding additional disks lowers the price per megabyte significantly. For graphic designers who wish to store large 24-bit images or anyone who needs a large amount of storage, the Pinnacle 3.5" drive will provide it at a reasonable speed, unlike its 5.25" brethren.

Pinnacle Micro, Inc. -- 800/553-7070 -- 714/727-3300
Related articles:
MacWEEK -- 17-Apr-90, Vol. 4, #15, pg. 4
InfoWorld -- 23-Apr-90, Vol. 12, #17, pg. 6

HyperCard, meet dBASE

At Macworld Expo, Symmetry Software demonstrated Dashboard DB, a HyperCard toolkit that will allow developers to create front-ends to large, pre-existing database in dBASE format. The toolkit, which is schedule to ship in June, will cost $129 and will give HyperCard the ability to modify and search for records in dBASE format databases. Hopefully, the availability of Dashboard DB will help the Macintosh gain a foothold in companies locked into PC platforms due to the format of their databases. Similar products are available to allow HyperCard to interact with Oracle databases, Omnis 5 databases, and databases created with ACIUS's 4th Dimension.

Symmetry Software Corp. -- 602/998-9106
Related articles:
MacWEEK -- 17-Apr-90, Vol. 4, #15, pg. 15

Reviews/09-Apr-90

References:


Reviews/16-Apr-90

References:


Non-profit, non-commercial publications and Web sites may reprint or link to articles if full credit is given. Others please contact us. We do not guarantee accuracy of articles. Caveat lector. Publication, product, and company names may be registered trademarks of their companies. TidBITS ISSN 1090-7017.

Previous Issue | Search TidBITS | TidBITS Home Page | Next Issue