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This issue is on the small side and I would like to point the finger of blame directly at the folks at Delta Tao Software. They asked if I would like to take a look at their games, Spaceward Ho! and Strategic Conquest, and of course I agreed, not being stupid. Unfortunately, Spaceward Ho! is highly addictive, and I can't wait until a friend comes to stay for a few days so we can play it over the network. I didn't spend too much time playing, really, I think. Oh, that's right, I spent all that time last week finishing off our comparison of DiskDoubler and SuperDisk. Now I remember. :-) Anyway, if you want to read more about Spaceward Ho!, Ken Hancock wrote an excellent review of it in TidBITS-056. I'd encourage you to check out the review and then the game if you're the megalomaniacal sort who likes conquering the universe. One note, since Delta Tao is a small company many dealers and distributors overlook its products, which can make them rather hard to find. If you can't find Spaceward Ho! or Strategic Conquest at your favorite purveyor of software, hassle them about it. Delta Tao does good work and the user community shouldn't be prevented from seeing such good software just because the big businesses out there can't be bothered to recognize little businesses. Remember, a big business without customers is, well, like Ashton-Tate. :-)
Apparently Apple did well in a recent J.D. Power & Associates survey of 2000 customers recently. Apple took the top honors in best personal computer and best printer, although the blurb I got didn't specify which computer and printer that might be. Somehow I doubt it's the Mac LC with an ImageWriter LQ. Borland won the best software in the large-business segment, but again, it's unlikely that Borland's long-dead Mac products figured in that prize. Rating categories included performance, ease of use, capability, and support, prompting Mark Anbinder to comment, "What do they think it is, a car?" I think Mark's on to something there. We should do a survey rating computers on steering, acceleration, aesthetic design, interior comfort, ventilation, emergency handling, and rust proofing. I'd also like to see a 5 year, 50,000 mouse mile warranty with a guaranteed loaner if it breaks down during the warranty period. Actually, given how much I hate shopping for cars and bargaining on price, forget it. (Which brings up the old joke - what's the difference between a used car salesman and a computer salesman? Used car salesmen know that they're lying to you.)
Mark H. Anbinder -- email@example.com
I suppose it's official by now. Apple has released the new Quadras and the PowerBooks at COMDEX. Quite frankly, I'm not there and I haven't seen them yet, so I can't say anything new about them other than a rumor I heard that they have a different startup chord. I'm sure there will be quirks, as with the IIsi and the way you get a math coprocessor by adding an expansion slot card, and we'll note that sort of thing when we find out. If you attended COMDEX and wants to write an article about it, I'd be happy to hear from you.
Last week Apple announced AppleShare 3.0, which will be available at the end of the year, and AppleTalk Remote Access, which is available now from Apple dealers, at least in the US. From what we've heard, AppleShare 3.0 is a solid upgrade and provides some nice features for larger networks, but isn't precisely stunning. It will retail for $1199, but upgrades will be $299 for AppleShare 2.0 owners, and people who have both AppleShare 2.0 and a print server can upgrade for $199. AppleTalk Remote Access has had better press from our sources, and despite its $199 price tag, I expect that it will become extremely popular with consultants and product reps and other people who often work in several locations. If Apple was smart, it would create some special bundles for remote workers containing a PowerBook, an internal modem, and AppleTalk Remote Access software. I suspect that the enterprising modem companies will come out with high speed internal modems for the PowerBooks to take advantage of AppleTalk Remote Access (I certainly hope that the product gets a shorter nickname - AppleTalk Remote Access is a pain to type and I rather liked the first name I heard for it, 976. Short, easy to type, easy to say, and an even number to boot. :-))
Slightly more interesting was the announcement that IBM, Microsoft, and Banyan (they make VINES, a PC networking package), will support AppleTalk along with companies like Go, Adobe, Novell, DEC, Farallon, Miramar, Asante, Pacer and Tandem. This partly reflects the first part of the deal with IBM to increase the level of connectivity between the Mac and other platforms. Overall, it's encouraging to see the large networking players support AppleTalk because although LocalTalk may be slow, and I'm sure networking people complain about parts of AppleTalk (nothing is perfect and networking people love to complain), it's a very quick and easy networking scheme that works with lots of different types of networks, Token Ring and Ethernet included. Now I'd better shut up before I start making my ignorance of high-end networking painfully obvious.
HP just doesn't give up. The DeskWriter was a pretty cool printer when it first appeared, but HP added AppleTalk support, increased the amount of ink in a cartridge (but made it impossible to refill them in the process) and later came out with the DeskWriter C, dropping the prices all the time. The latest price reduction puts the standard DeskWriter at the same price as Apple's StyleWriter, $599. With the normal discounts that could bring the real-person price of a DeskWriter down into the $325 range or so, an extremely respectable price for an extremely respectable printer. I probably wouldn't buy one even at that price, if only because the DeskWriter C is even more attractive for the occasional times I want to print in color - birthday cards and the like.
HP makes good printers in all parts of the market, though, and it has some deals that go with its PostScript printers (do keep in mind that HP's PostScript cartridge is generally considered to be one of the slowest implementations of Adobe PostScript) and with its PaintWriter series for the Mac. If you buy any PostScript printer from HP, HP will include ATM 2.0 for free, a whopping $7.50 deal! :-) OK, so that's not so impressive given that Apple and Adobe will be distributing ATM for almost-free soon. It's still a nice thought on HP's part. However, while supplies last you can get a free Ronco[tm] Address Program Thingy for a mere $19.95 if you call now (it slices, dices, and tries to print envelopes), or if you prefer, the program that Guy Kawasaki is pushing these days, TouchBASE, for free. Oh, you've got to buy a LaserJet IIP or IIIP PostScript printer, so it's not a great price for TouchBASE either. Not a bad deal though. I'd settle for TouchBASE personally, although I'm currently more fond of the database I was able to set up in ProVUE's excellent Panorama II. I still can't for the life of me figure out how they made it that fast.
For those of you who want brighter color than the DeskWriter C can provide, the HP PaintWriter might be the printer you're looking for. I still like the concept of the DeskWriter C better, especially since it's 300 dpi in comparison to the 180 dpi of the PaintWriters, but HP claims that the PaintWriter is better if all you're doing is printing in color. Whatever. In any case, if you buy a PaintWriter before December 31st (that's the expiration date for the other software deals too), HP will include Freedom Of Press Light (less filling, but still makes you burp) for free. I've heard some criticisms of Freedom Of Press Light, but it will provide a certain level of PostScript compatibility for a non-PostScript printer.
Oh yes, operators are standing by... :-)
HP -- 800/752-0900 ext. 2700
I tell you, our timing is just wonderful! ;-). As I'm sure most of you know, we just released an overdue comparison of two of the coolest utilities on the market today, SuperDisk and DiskDoubler (and a comparison of two more great ones will be coming soon - Super Boomerang vs. ShortCut). I hinted at the fact that Aladdin is working on a competitor called SpaceMaker, which will work much like SuperDisk in that it will compress files with certain names, although SpaceMaker will also boast a number of useful abilities in relation to creating and extracting true StuffIt Deluxe archives.
But that's not the problem. The problem is that Salient, the wizards of DiskDoubler, have announced a new product, tentatively named AutoDoubler, that may just make all the other transparent utilities a lot more opaque. The basic premise behind AutoDoubler is that you just want to save space on your hard disk and not sweat the details. This could be the utility of the year. Previously Salient had avoided this philosophy because earlier software technology wasn't fast enough be even pretend to transparency. That's why DiskDoubler has always been easy to use but has always required the user to invoke the compression.
Now however, Salient says that they have come up with a way to compress files up to twice as fast as SuperDisk, the current speed champ, and compress files tighter than SuperDisk does as well. Add to that the ability to have a DiskDoubler App-like program expand compressed files even if the AutoDoubler extension isn't loaded and the reliability techniques built into DiskDoubler and you have a winning concept. Essentially then, you get more disk space without ever having to worry about it, since AutoDoubler will work when you're not, and once it's gone through and compressed most of the files on your disk, the idea is that you'll barely notice that it's there. AutoDoubler will only step in to recompress files you've expanded in the process of opening and check to see if other files have aged sufficiently to require compression when you've stopped using the computer for a set period of time. AutoDoubler will work with the Sigma Designs DoubleUp board if you have the board installed (but AutoDoubler's magic requires no special hardware) and will be 100% transparent to all applications, include the Finder and text searching programs like ON Location. We'll probably do an article or review AutoDoubler after it's been out for a bit, but benchmarks don't really make sense for a program of this sort, assuming it is as fast as Salient claims.
We don't know precisely when Salient will release AutoDoubler, and the pricing details and all that are equally up in the air, but Salient is hard at work as we write this. We're sure that there will be some sort of sidegrade program for existing DiskDoubler users, and sidegrades from competing products may appear as well, though that's up to Salient's marketing folks. Keep an eye out though - if you're the sort who is always low on hard disk space AutoDoubler might be just what you need.
Salient -- 415/321-5375
Salient propaganda -- firstname.lastname@example.org
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