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Copyright 1990 TidBITS Electronic Publishing. All rights reserved.
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Scuzzy SCSI

When it first arrived, everyone liked the Apple standard SCSI because it was relatively fast and easy to use. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that SCSI was not the answer to the Mac's problems and might even cause some of them. With Apple's implementation of SCSI, termination and SCSI ids are often difficult to troubleshoot. In addition, newer Macs accept information faster than the 1.5 megs per second that the SCSI port transfers it, and vendors are coming up with products that easily outrun Apple's SCSI as well.

Some problems may disappear in the foreseeable future, though, if SCSI-2 (this is the week of the sequel) is accepted as the standard and implemented by developers. SCSI-2 is a much more detailed standard, and includes features that increase speeds up to 40 meg per second, allow the computer to send the SCSI device a bunch of commands to be executed as a batch, and definitions for types of devices that cannot now be hooked to SCSI ports.

SCSI-2 will certainly please vendors such as FWB and MicroNet, who recently announced hard drives with impressive sizes, speeds, and prices. FWB introduced the hammer155FMFim, a 155 meg Wren mechanism that transfers data at up to 2.2 meg per second (for $4095), the SledgehammerFMF, a storage system that accepts different types of high performance storage devices, and the hammerDisk 1000, a 1000 meg erasable optical drive (for $8995). MicroNet's drives are similar in price and storage capabilities, but use a NuBus SCSI card designed to take advantage of faster storage devices. The Micro/NuPORT card will be sold only with certain drives that have high enough performance to use the NuPORT's power.

A third company, Jets Cybernetics, will soon release a board similar to the MicroNet board in that it is a NuBus replacement for the Mac's onboard SCSI, but different in that it will include a RISC-based processor to control the I/O and an instruction cache to store the full SCSI-2 instruction set.

FWB -- 415/474-8055
MicroNet Technology -- 714/837-6033
Jets Cybernetics -- 800/369-5387 -- 415/322-5387
Related articles:
MacWEEK -- 08-May-90, Vol. 4 #18, pgs. 1, 6, 7

Stealth Mac

It may not be able to avoid airport metal detectors, but Colby Systems hopes that its new Mac portable will be less obtrusive than other entries in the portable market. The new portable from Colby is based on a motherboard from one of the compact Macs, the Mac Plus, SE, and SE/30. Standard on the Stealth (a tentative name still), will be a keyboard with function keys, trackball, battery, and double-supertwist LCD display with fluorescent backlighting (the screen alone sounds like a gymnastics routine). The weight depends on various options, of course, but a user can separate the 3.5 lb screen, keyboard, and trackball unit from the main CPU unit for lap usage, although it won't help in carrying.

Options include a 20 meg 'floptical' drive from Insite Peripherals, 20 or 40 meg 2.5" hard drives, and a 2400/9600 modem/send-fax modem card. Stranger and more intriguing options for the Stealth include an internal voice recognition system from Articulate Systems for $799. An extra $200 will add fax-modem capabilities to the voice recognition board. The final option is the Private Eye virtual-display, which is a head-mounted screen that produces an image of the screen floating in space before the user's eyes. For more information on the Private Eye, search for "Private Eye" or look through the articles in the 23-Apr-90 section of the TidBITS Archive.

Colby Systems -- 415/941-9090
Related articles:
MacWEEK -- 08-May-90, Vol. 4 #18, pg. 4

OS/2 & Windows

Last week Microsoft said that version 2.0 of its OS/2 operating system would be binary compatible with future versions of Windows. Theoretically, applications designed for Windows would run transparently under Presentation Manager, though the reverse is unlikely. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's senior vice president for systems software, was quoted in InfoWorld as saying that binary compatibility might not be included in the initial version of OS/2 2.0, but it would appear eventually.

Such a migration path from Windows to OS/2 would almost certainly smooth the transition from DOS to OS/2, one that few have made due in part to OS/2's limited software. In addition, it might help to blur the line between the Mac and PC as more Macintosh developers, such as Farallon, move toward Windows applications. With similar applications on both computers, differentiation would be related to price, support, and true ease of use. PC-clones win on the first two items and would hopefully push Apple to lower prices and increase support, but as anyone who has ever used Windows will attest, it simply isn't as easy, consistent, or complete as the Finder and MacOS. Windows 3.0 will undoubtedly narrow the gap, but competition in user interface can only help force Apple to continue to improve.

Related articles:
InfoWorld -- 07-May-90, Vol. 12, #19, pg. 1
PC WEEK -- 07-May-90, Vol. 7, #18, pg. 1

Topic Real-Time

Verity, Inc. has announced a product that will scan an incoming news feed such as Dow Jones's Dow Vision information service and filter the information according to a weighted keyword system (no mention was made of Usenet). The system supposedly is more accurate at finding relevant articles than a standard keyword system that treats all keywords the same. The idea behind Topic Real Time is that it will reduce the information flow to a manageable stream for professionals with too little time to review the relevant publications. Unfortunately, Topic Real Time is quite pricey, with costs of $695 for a DOS client or $1000 for a Unix or OS/2 client while the Topic Real Time server starts at $15,600 and goes up. At those prices, we at TidBITS are not worried about becoming useless in the near future.

The theory of automatically culling information for dissemination to a single reader is a good one, though, and tools to provide such a service should be popular soon. The volume of information on several Usenet groups alone can take more processing time than most people have in a day, so any automated method of cutting down on the amount to process would be welcome. One product which is designed to do this is ClariNet's NewsClip language. We know very little about it other than it is designed to work with Usenet and ClariNet format messages, and it is now available as Evalu-Ware. It was posted to comp.sources.misc, and can be 'ftp'd from uunet's ~ftp directory in the file ClariNet/nc.tar.Z

Verity, Inc. -- 415/960-7600
ClariNet --
Related articles:
InfoWorld -- 07-May-90, Vol. 12, #19, pg. 5
PC WEEK -- 07-May-90, Vol. 7, #18, pg. 63
InfoWorld -- 09-Jul-90, Vol. 12 #28, pg. 36

68040 Macintosh?

The latest rumors on Usenet concerning the next generation Macintosh CPU have been leaning toward the 68040. Some time ago, MacWEEK reported that Apple was looking to the Motorola 88000 series of RISC chips to power the next Macintoshes. However, such a machine would not be Macintosh-compatible without emulation software that would waste the power of the 88000 chip. Such a machine might be in the works, but won't be coming within the next year.

The 68040 does seem more likely considering that it would provide compatibility with current Mac software. In fact, some people said that Apple has a 68040 machine designed and is only waiting for Motorola to step up production of the 68040 chip to make the manufacturing process economically feasible. We hope Apple is using the time to reduce any problems with software incompatibility.

Information from:
Ralph Seguin --
David Williams -- dlw@hpccc.HP.COM
Edward Joseph Bennett --


Almost everyone who owns a DeskWriter (or DeskJet) printer from Hewlett Packard has complained about the ink, which is soluble in water. Although few people have specifically had problems with dunking their printouts, most people worry about the possibility. A number of solutions appeared in Usenet this week.

The most common solution mentioned is to photocopy the page in question, although this is not always convenient. Another solution is to use a fixative spray that can be found at art supply stores. The most ironic feature of the DeskWriter/DeskJet is the excellent envelope handling capabilities, because an envelope is likely to be exposed to water. We have found that a strip of clear Scotch tape protects the address and makes the envelope look slightly classier. Of course, the ideal solution would be for HP to come up with non-water soluble ink, and the latest rumors say it might do so by July.

Information from:
Adam C. Engst -- TidBITS editor
Steve Hix -- fiddler@concertina.Sun.COM
Chet Wood -- chet@Advansoft.COM
George J. Jefferson --
Saiid Paryavi --

Not So Special fx

Someone on Usenet with a penchant for the bleeding edge of technology had a number of problems with a IIfx and a Radius Pivot Monitor recently. Among them were incompatibilities with MacsBug 6.1, SuperPaint 2.0, Syserr DA, Cricket Graph 1.3, and MacPaint 2.0. All INITs had been removed, both Finder and MultiFinder had been tried, and the Pivot was set to both grey scale and monochrome with no success. This person originally thought that the Pivot monitor was to blame (not having had a chance to test the software with another monitor), since the Pivot's manual mentioned that there might be problems with the above applications when changing the orientation. The Radius technical support was of little help, but numerous people responded with help and comments about incompatibilities on the IIfx.

Like the IIci, the IIfx has 32-bit QuickDraw built into its ROMs. Previous versions of the Mac required a special INIT for 32-bit QuickDraw. Unfortunately, some older programs do not work with 32-bit QuickDraw and can cause spectacular crashes. The presence of 32-bit QuickDraw, then, should explain the problems with Cricket Graph since 1.3 is an old version. Evidently, SuperPaint 2.0 should be compatible if an option called "Use only QuickDraw for screen rendering" is checked. That option resides on the third screen of Preferences (under the Options menu) and is specifically designed for incompatible hardware. If it is impossible to even run SuperPaint 2.0, running it on another machine, setting the preference, and then copying the SuperPaint Prefs file from the other machine should do the trick. The Syserr DA can also be made to work by changing the WDEF that comes with it to one that works on a color system. Unfortunately, no instructions for doing so were posted. MacsBug 6.1, however, is simply the wrong version. The IIfx requires MacsBug version 6.2the latest update in 6.2 is 6.2d5 and is available on AppleLink (and possibly through APDA).

It seems that the moral of the story is to wait a while before purchasing the just-released machines so your favorite products can be upgraded to work if necessary. Alternately, be prepared to have strange incompatibilities show up at a moment's notice.

Information from:
Timothy Dierks --
Mark Dawson -- marc@Apple.COM
Jon Watte --
Ken Hancock --
Michael J Kobb -- mjkobb@media-lab.MEDIA.MIT.EDU

Ashton-Tate Tottering?

Ashton-Tate has never won the hearts of Macintosh users despite the elegant interface of FullWrite Professional. dBASE Mac was a flop because it wasn't compatible with dBASE III for the PC, and Full Impact, despite some good reviews has never seriously competed with Wingz and Excel. Interesting information about Ashton-Tate came from several sources this week. In Usenet, several people noted the bargain prices on Ashton-Tate products from some mail order houses (including $49 for FullWrite Professional or $99 for FullWrite Professional, Full Impact, and dBASE Mac together). Charitable sorts say that Ashton-Tate is merely trying to unload extra copies of older program versions.

From the trade magazines came news of the ousting of Ashton-Tate Chairman and CEO Ed Esber in favor of ex-IBM executive William Lyons. Ashton-Tate has posted losses each of the last four quarters, although the last two quarters have been better than the previous two, in which Ashton-Tate lost close to forty million dollars total. Add the financial problems to dBASE's declining market share and the shipping problems plaguing dBASE IV 1.1, and you get a company desperately trying to recover its standing.

Although no details were mentioned in the Usenet posting, according to someone at Ashton-Tate, rumors of the company's demise are greatly exaggerated, and several programmers from Ashton-Tate spent time at the recent developer's conference. In addition, Wayne Ratliff, the creator of dBASE, might return to Ashton-Tate in a deal whereby Ashton-Tate would purchase Ratliff's current company, Ratliff Software Productions.

Information from:
Mark Turner -- mark@hpcilzb.HP.COM
Karen J. Norteman --
Chuq Von Rospach --

Related articles:
PC WEEK -- 07-May-90, Vol. 7, #18, pg. 1, 6, 137
InfoWorld -- 07-May-90, Vol. 12, #19, pg. 1

PostScript, The Sequel

Adobe Systems Inc. announced its plans to announce PostScript Level 2 on June 5 of this year. Level 2 will incorporate all 52 of Level 1's extensions and will include new operators designed for Display PostScript. Level 2 will make PostScript more efficient and more powerful, and should increase processing speed significantly as well. Jill Kyte, manager of Adobe's product marketing group was quoted in InfoWorld as saying, "our number one issue with this revision is improved performance."

Adobe's announcement comes just days after its introduction of the Emerald, a raster image processor (RIP) controller that uses a RISC processor. The Emerald runs three to seven times faster than Adobe's older 68020-based Atlas controller. The Emerald controller and faster PostScript Level 2 can only improve Adobe's position in the competition with Microsoft and Apple's TrueImage (and HP's PCL-5).

Related articles:
MacWEEK -- 01-May-90, Vol. 4 #17, pg. 3
MacWEEK -- 08-May-90, Vol. 4 #18, pg. 1
InfoWorld -- 07-May-90, Vol. 12, #19, pg. 6



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