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

TidBITS Logo

TidBITS#94/18-Nov-91

Topics:

Copyright 1991 TidBITS Electronic Publishing. All rights reserved.
Information: <info@tidbits.com> Comments: <editors@tidbits.com>


MailBITS/18-Nov-91

We had a bad week. Someone (and I use the term loosely) broke into our old car and stole a small piece of the ignition, rendering poor Watson the Datsun undrivable. The perpetrator didn't take anything else, but did break some plastic and mess up the passenger door outside lock. Needless to say, we weren't pleased, and I spent most of two days dealing with it, having Watson towed to a shop, finding and installing a new ignition, and putting him back together. Then on Saturday I made the mistake of playing basketball with a group of people who dwarfed my 6'0" height and 150 lb. weight. It was, and still is, a painful experience. We also forgot to include the phone number for Amaze in last week's issue, so it's at the end of this article. Not all is gloomy though, and we did hear some good information at the latest dBUG meeting, at which Aldus honcho Paul Brainerd gave yet another "future of computing" talk but with a semi-working version of something he loosely called Multimedia PageMaker. This issue's date, Monday, November 18th, is officially my 24th birthday, which will be fun, although not as much fun as if we were back in Ithaca, an option we seriously considered as Watson sat glumly sans ignition. As some unemployed friends say, the worst that can happen is that we'll die and crows will peck out our eyeballs. :-) Anyway, on to the issue.

One quick piece of administrivia: the caretakers of the FTP site at sumex-aim.stanford.edu have decided to reorganize the site slightly. TidBITS issues will be located in the /info-mac/digest/tb/*.* directory from now on. So if you get your fix from sumex, make a note of the new spot.

There's been some confusion over results from Speedometer 3.0 (an excellent shareware utility for rating the speeds of Macs) especially in the case of the Quadras. Apparently, if you turn off the caches on a Quadra, it runs at about the speed of an SE/30 or a IIci running a color monitor in 256 colors from internal video. This has bothered a lot of people, but Mike O'Dell offers this technical explanation. "A bit of Computer Architecture 101: Without the caches running, the 68040 is limited to the speed of memory, so expecting it to go noticeably faster than a cache-less 68020 on the same memory system is pretty unreasonable. Yes, the 68040 shortened the cycle counts for some instructions, but all that means is that it gets to wait on memory more often. The limit is the memory bandwidth. Keep in mind that the access time of memory chips is only a fraction of the full cycle time of the memory system, which is usually two to three times the access time (i.e., 70 ns access yields about 200 ns write cycles, about 150 ns read cycles), and the memory system is busy for the full cycle time, unless it is bank-interleaved. Bank interleaving allows each bank to be doing a cycle simultaneously, assuming the reference stride hits the banks right. So, when you disable the primary mechanism used to reduce memory latency, you shouldn't be surprised the chip runs as slow as a chip without those features."

Jay Lieske writes with a useful tip for Nisus users: "Nisus 3.05 and later uses a file called "Nisus Text Stationery" for 'TEXT' files that lack Nisus formatting - i.e. files from the net, C source code, etc. Set up a file with that name in your Nisus folder to have the default layout and font you want." [Thanks, Jay. Speaking of Nisus and Paragon Concepts, Paragon is working on a new program to radically simplify organizing and managing files in the disk hierarchy. We haven't heard any details yet, but they posted to the Nisus list asking for name suggestions.]

Murph Sewall writes about AppleScript, the scripting module that Apple originally promised for System 7, "Apple may still envision AppleScript in a "future system" upgrade, but it hasn't received any mention among the features expected in System 7.1, including QuickTime, ATM, MODE32, and <thank goodness> a fix for that non-relocatable code that makes System 7's System memory use appear to grow without bound, plus of course, the improved SANE <math> that's already in 7.0.1. Latest word is that 7.1 will not be announced at January's Macworld (would you believe March?)."

Amaze -- 206/820-7007

Information from:
Mike O'Dell, whose email address we lost, sorry.
Jay Lieske -- jay@wanda.princeton.edu
Murph Sewall -- SEWALL@UCONNVM.BITNET


NewsBITS/18-Nov-91

Of course by now you've all heard that Microsoft officially announced Word 5 last week after over two and half years, but that doesn't mean that you'll see it before January. We'll probably be doing an article about what is good, bad, and ugly in the new version sometime in the future, so keep an eye out.

I haven't heard too much about this subject recently, having moved away from Cornell and its public computer rooms, but at one point I was very interested in getting a Mac to boot to a network. Actually, my low tech solution was a cheap SCSI device that held a small storage device, perhaps EPROMs. That would then work with any Mac, rather than requiring a network. (And anyone who wants to use my idea can pay me royalties and I'll tell them the rest of the details :-)). However, a more logical situation for public rooms with Ethernet installed is to use something like Sonic Systems's recently-announced The Diskless Mac (TDM). TDM is a ROM chip that replaces ROM chips on popular Ethernet cards and includes software that loads an image of the System Software into a RAM disk on the client Mac. One of TDM's claims to fame is that it will work with a Unix server as well as with an AppleShare server, which increases its flexibility. I don't know if BootToob, the other remote booting package, supports this (see TidBITS-073 for more information on BootToob). The advantage of remote booting should be obvious - client Macs don't need hard disks, easier network administration, viruses having a harder time spreading, and simpler software protection. The only drawbacks to this sort of thing are that it requires an Ethernet network, which isn't as cheap or as common as LocalTalk networks, it requires extra RAM (my guess is that 4 MB would be the minimum after you devote 1 MB to the RAM disk and 1.5 MB for the System to use for normal operation; check your About this Macintosh... to see how much your System is using), and it costs an extra $149 per Mac. Still, for the protection and convenience it offers (I wrote the moron-proof instructions for rebuilding a public hard disk from backups at Cornell, and it would have been wonderful if those Macs hadn't required rebuilding all the time), TDM could easily pay for itself in no time.

Sonic Systems -- 408/736-1900

Connectix tells me that they've shipped version 2.2.1 of HAND-Off II, which adds compatibility for System 7.0.1, the PowerBooks, Quadras, and other 68040 accelerators. The upgrade is free to registered users, just call Connectix and ask. If you already own On Cue or the Now Utilities, you can get HAND-Off II for $35 directly from Connectix through December 31st, 1991. In addition to the added compatibility, Connectix's Roy MacDonald said that he felt the main benefits of the upgrade over Now Software's MultiMaster are application substitution, greater reliability, and a stronger Launch menu (it now includes a better interface, color and sound switching), and the ability to pop up the menu anywhere on the screen. HAND-Off II also includes the SuperMenu feature that makes the Apple menu hierarchical, a feat matched by Now's NowMenus, HAM from Microseeds, and the $10 shareware BeHiearchic. In this version of HAND-Off II, Connectix has optimized the SuperMenu feature for speed and memory usage, but having only used NowMenus, I can't comment on the difference. One final addition to HAND-Off II is the ability to have your menu drop automatically when you move the mouse over it, called "auto-drop," or to have the menu stay down once you click once on it, called "click-to-drop." I've found similar features irritating on 13" monitors, but Roy said that despite misgivings, he found it quite useful on a 25" monitor. Time will tell.

Connectix -- 800/950-5880 -- 415/571-5100

At the last dBUG meeting, Aldus president Paul Brainerd said that he wouldn't buy a PowerBook right away because he couldn't live in 40 MB. Luckily for him, CMS has announced 40 MB and 80 MB upgrade drives specifically for the PowerBooks, and has a 100 MB drive in the works for early 1992. These LDPB drives sport 15 ms average access time and a somewhat better throughput than Apple's models. I mistakenly said in our "Quadra Quirks" article that the hard drive in the PowerBook 100 was soldered on, which would have made upgrading the 100 quite difficult. Soldering the hard drive on to the motherboard was proposed as a way the next PowerBooks could get still smaller but got mixed up in my scribbled notes (I forgot the MiniBAT that night.). Thanks to Karl Seppala of CMS for setting me straight on that. So if you have any PowerBook and need a larger internal hard drive, these drives from CMS should now be shipping. They don't come cheap, with the LDPB 80 drive listing for $999 and the LDPB 40 for $699, but size is inversely proportional to cost these days. Needless to say, a dealer should install this sort of thing, especially considering how easy it is to mess up a PowerBook and its equally fragile warranty if you don't know what you're doing inside.

CMS -- 714/222-6000

Here's an interesting new CD. Raynbow Software has searched far and wide for GIF (I believe it stands for Graphic Interchange Format and was developed by CompuServe) images and put them on a CD-ROM. They have about 5000 images of the G and PG variety, to use the Motion Pictures Association of America ratings. So those of you looking for the NC-17 GIF images should look elsewhere (X and XXX actually aren't MPAA ratings). The only catch is that GIFdb, the database software for searching among these 5000 images only runs under DOS. Ick. However, Raynbow has included GIF viewers, convertors, and manipulators for the Mac as well as the Amiga, Atari ST, and Sun, and when I asked, Louis Goldstein said that the disk was pressed in ISO 9660 format, which means that you can use it with a Mac. Without the search engine it might be a tad difficult to find any given image, but all the images will be accessible. Louis did say that they plan to create search engines for other platforms if this disc succeeds, so hope remains. The disc is being pressed as I write and should ship soon. Interestingly enough, since Raynbow has merely collected the GIF files and the utilities, those are included for free. The $50 cost covers only the media and Raynbow's DOS search engine. A penny per image isn't bad in comparison to the connect fees you would rack up downloading them, plus they're all on a single CD, a good place for space-hungry graphic files.

Raynbow Software -- 408/425-1154

Information from:
Connectix propaganda
Roy MacDonald, Connectix -- connectix@applelink.apple.com
CMS propaganda
Karl Seppala, CMS -- seppala@applelink.apple.com
Louis Goldstein, Raynbow Software -- louis@terra.ucsc.edu


Aldus Delivers

Well, at least that's what they claim and it sounds better than "Aldus Promises." Aldus showed up to show off at the last dBUG meeting in downtown Seattle. Aldus president Paul Brainerd started the evening with a version of his keynote address to the Seybold Conference earlier this fall, and unlike most of those "I have a dream about computers..." talks, Paul actually had an application. I liked that because I'm becoming bored with canned demos and videotape productions showing off what well-paid executives think will happen in the future. Not surprisingly, Aldus's current vision of the future is based on PageMaker, and Paul jokingly called the program "Multimedia PageMaker." The basics of the program look a lot like what I would expect PageMaker to look like once it supports QuickTime, with the ability to import and play sound, animation, and video. That was cute, but not terribly interesting. However, Paul's main point, I think, was that people receiving the information ought to be able to receive it in whatever form they wish, putting the burden on the author to make that possible and on the program to make the forms obvious. Multimedia PageMaker approached this by optionally displaying the multimedia document with sound and video as a three dimensional picture that let you look behind the virtual page. Each medium was represented by a 3-D bar whose length corresponded to the time of the sound bite or video clip, and the reader could pick and choose between them, jumping in anywhere at will, much as people browse through books or radio stations or TV channels. It was a good idea, though not exactly revolutionary. Paul did mention the serious problems of copyright and distribution but didn't offer any solutions. I'm waiting for the solutions.

Back in the real world, several product managers introduced the latest versions of their programs, PageMaker 4.2 and FreeHand 3.1. PageMaker 4.2 sounds like a solid, if not impressive, upgrade. First and foremost, it includes full System 7 support with Publish & Subscribe, which will allow PageMaker and FreeHand to be even more tightly integrated. Double-clicking on a placed FreeHand document in PageMaker will run FreeHand and open that document for editing. Changes in the FreeHand document are then reflected immediately (if you wish) in PageMaker. An enhancement that is not physically included in PageMaker's code is Aldus PrePrint, which now comes bundled in PageMaker's box for free. People who do color separations will appreciate that. Everyone will appreciate the speed increases in PageMaker 4.2, including the ability to interrupt the screen redraw. I'm not enough of a type-head to understand the use of this, but Aldus added baseline to baseline leading, and apparently that's a big deal. To compete with QuarkXPress, Aldus included a control palette (it allows users to enter precise numerical values for various actions) and the ability to load discrete modules, called Aldus Additions. Aldus showed several examples of Additions, including one that allowed repetitive actions to be scripted with a simple scripting language and another that allowed the user to arrange thumbnails of pages to quickly modify the overall arrangement of the document.

FreeHand 3.1 has a couple nice new features, including support for pressure-sensitive tablets such as those from Wacom. No other PostScript drawing program supports these pressure-sensitive tablets, so FreeHand will probably pick up some supporters on that basis alone. Other enhancements include the ability to import and export color libraries, new style and layer palettes, and of course the hot links with PageMaker, which do require System 7.

Some highly-awaited features that should appear in the next version of PageMaker include multiple documents on screen at the same time (finally!), an ink-based color model, the ability to rotate graphics (and presumably text) in small increments, and the ability to group objects, which would be excruciatingly helpful.

Information from:
Aldus representatives
Aldus propaganda


TidBITS Fileserver

The review of uAccess is still in the works but I am making progress. In the meantime, I've thought of a good way to introduce you to one of uAccess's more impressive features while at the same time providing a useful service that can save us all time.

I've just finished setting up a fileserver in uAccess, which is a piece of cake to do with ICE Engineering's custom address command. Other custom address commands can autoReply to mail or autoForward mail to another electronic address. The fileserver address command is the most powerful one so far though. It's not up to the level of the LISTSERV software or even a Unix-based mailing list program, but it appears to work fine and is a breeze to configure and administrate, which I suspect is not true of the Unix systems.

Essentially then, all I had to do was create the files that I wanted to make available, format them for transmission through the Internet, and then make a record of them in the fileserver configuration dialog, adding a keyword and setting some options such as what to do with the request mail, keep it or trash it. There are currently five files available, although I can make more available at any time. These five files are:

help (for using the fileserver)
index (which lists all the available files)
guidelines (for writing articles and reviews for us)
info (general information about TidBITS)
locations (where you can find issues of TidBITS)

You can read the help and index files for more details, but if you wish to request a file from the fileserver, send email to fileserver@tidbits.halcyon.com with the keyword (filename) as the only word in the Subject: line of your message. Other words in the Subject: line and the entire text of the message will be ignored, which means you can only request one file per message. Sorry.

One addition I would like to make to the fileserver soon is a list of bulletin boards and phone numbers where people can find TidBITS. So, if you know of any bulletin boards that carry TidBITS issues, please send me email telling me:

BBS name
BBS location
BBS phone number
BBS modem speeds if you know them

So for instance:

Memory Alpha
Ithaca, NY USA
607/257-5822
12/24 (or if Mark has added a 9600 bps modem, 12/24/96)

I'm sure someone will ask, but I cannot make issues of TidBITS available on the fileserver because of the possible demand from thousands of people on the Internet. My site runs over a 2400 bips UUCP link that only connects three times per night and not at all during the day. There's no way the link could support that level of demand, though a dedicated phone line and a high speed modem might help significantly. In addition, because I don't have a dedicated line, you won't get a return file quite as quickly as you might like, although uAccess will process requests promptly. If you get a request in for the 1:00 am call, that file should go out in the 3:00 am call. If you hit the 7:00 am call, your file will have to wait until 1:00 am the next day to go out. Just so you realize what you're dealing with here... :-)

So if you wish to get any information that is contained in the above files, please use the fileserver rather than asking me personally. It will save us both time and is generally more efficient. However, if you have any suggestions for other files that I should include on the fileserver, please let me know.

Cheers ... -Adam


Reviews/18-Nov-91

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