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Big news from Apple this week, including a peek at the company's direction for 1992, a fix for System 7 bugs, new Classics, and free TrueType fonts online. For the BBS crowd, check out BBS In A Box IV along with a free utility that significantly aids the Apple Modem Tool. Last, but not least, the second part of our article on Word 5. Next week, news from Macworld SF!
Copyright 1992 TidBITS Electronic Publishing. All rights reserved.
Information: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Comments: <email@example.com>
I received a couple of complaints from people who don't like the short line length (around 68 characters) in the setext format. We used that line to ensure that lines pass through any strange mainframes on the network that may not appreciate longer lines. For instance, I hear that Groupe Bull minicomputers hate lines over 72 characters.
There are two basic solutions to the problem. One is simple and will probably be the solution of choice for many of you. If the line doesn't reach the edge of your screen, increase the font size! It will be more readable and will fill your screen. You might want to stick with monospaced fonts like Monaco and Courier, since proportionally spaced fonts might look a little strange when the spaces don't end up being the same size.
However, I do realize that what you really want is a way to re-wrap the lines that are broken at 68 characters. A graphic designer friend told me that the best line lengths for reading are between 40 and 68 characters, so the lines as you see them are already on the long end of the spectrum from a design perspective. After some thought, I'm hesitant to provide a Nisus macro or find and replace steps for other word processors to re-wrap the lines because once you do that, the file will no longer be in correct setext format. That's a major problem if you ever want to import the file into one of our forthcoming browsers. So all I'll say for now is that you can replace a return and two spaces with a single space to wrap most of the lines. More sophisticated steps would include replacing a return and four spaces with a special character, replacing a return and three spaces with a different special character, and then reversing the process after replacing a return and two space with a single space. I'm sure many of you have already figured this out, but please, keep a pristine copy of the file or you'll have to get a clean one to import into a browser because the files you modify are no longer correct. I personally think increasing the font size is the easiest solution.
I'm pushing hard to get this in before the issue goes out, so I won't say much now, but at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, John Sculley outlined Apple's plans for the consumer electronics field in his keynote address. From the sounds of it, Apple considers the consumer electronics market the third phase in Apple's overall plan, the first two being to increase the number of Macs out there (with the low cost Macs) and to increase enterprise presence, which means dealing with IBM. The products that will start appearing in the second half (read: Christmas) of 1992 include a new line of CD-ROM-based desktop Macs, one for us normal technoweenies and one for the consumer market. I wonder how a CD/Mac will compare to Commodore's CDTV, which is really an Amiga in video game clothing. The more interesting products will be a bit further on, but are what Apple calls "Personal Digital Assistants" (PDAs). PDAs are specific beasts, and will have specific tasks, like electronic note-taking, videophones, and personal communicators. I suspect that Apple's been paying attention to what Xerox 's "ubiquitous computing" theories, and General Magic and Sony will be involved as well. I'll try to find more information about this at Macworld.
Mark H. Anbinder -- firstname.lastname@example.org
I've been a slug about checking this CD out personally because I don't have access to a CD-ROM drive, but I hear from Michael Bean of the Arizona Macintosh Users Group (AMUG) that they have a new version of the BBS In A Box CD-ROM. It's up to volume IV, and has the latest (as of December 1991) and greatest public domain and shareware stuff, all 1.1 gigabytes of it (after decompression). Some of the highlights include TidBITS issues (OK, so I'm biased), screen fonts for the entire Adobe font library, a special version of the DiskDoubler INIT that allows you to expand files from the Finder, a free membership in AMUG (although I don't think you have to go to all the meetings :-)), System 7.0.1, and lots of tools for searching the contents of the CD-ROM from with numerous databases, including On Location, Panorama, Microsoft Works, and HyperCard. BBS In A Box works directly with most of the popular software for running a BBS, including Second Sight, Telefinder, Mansion, and FirstClass BBS. Normal retail is $119, but AMUG is running a special deal until the end of February in which you can get the CD for $75. Updates every six months are priced at $50, so you can easily keep the files up to date. Sounds pretty useful to me - if only I had a CD drive I'd probably be able to throw out a lot of the PD and shareware stuff that I keep on my overloaded hard drive "just in case."
718 E. Campbell Ave.
Gilbert, AZ 85234 USA
AMUG on America Online
Apple is a little late with presents this year, but I suppose in the Macintosh world many presents must wait until Macworld San Francisco. I know Tonya's 2 MB upgrade for her Classic will wait until then, at which point she'll actually be able to run, no that's a bad word - let's say push, Word 5 along on the little Classic. Apple has three gifts that you might not have heard about: an extension that fixes some bugs and minor problems in System 7, some new Classic models with more memory, and some new printer drivers. On to the unwrapping!
I personally liked the other names I've heard for this, 7-Up and ElectroGlide, though I suppose the first is taken and the second sounds like aftershave lotion. The main use of the Tune-Up extension, introduced today, is to fix problems you may have experienced in low memory situations. The "Application prefers more memory" dialog box has gone to the great bit bucket in the sky, which will come as a relief to anyone who's replied, "Of course it prefers more memory - we all do!" If there's not enough memory to launch an application, Tune-Up will supposedly quit other applications that aren't in use, though I'm curious as to how it will work. I run about ten programs at once, and I want to specify which one quits when I need more memory. If you run out of memory using background printing, Tune-Up will automatically switch to foreground printing so you don't have to swear at the Mac and quit your application to free up memory. Finally with memory, if you're not using AppleTalk (and the information we have does not specify using it in what way), you'll free up between 125K and 200K of additional system memory.
Tune-Up speeds up lots of things related to System 7, including Chooser operation on large networks and printing on the LaserWriter and StyleWriter (I suspect that fixes to the TrueType imaging code is partly responsible for this, so it may not help much with complex PostScript documents). In addition, Finder file copying is up to 20% faster for large files if you use Tune-Up. Finally, Tune-Up fixes a couple of known bugs with File Sharing and PrintMonitor becoming corrupted. I've run into strange crashes when files are saved to my hard drive over the network, and I've seen cases where the PrintMonitor file grows to the same size as the LaserWriter driver, so I'm hoping that these are the weirdnesses Tune-Up fixes.
Everyone using System 7.0 and 7.0.1 should get the System 7 Tune-Up and install it immediately, if not sooner. Apple will ship it with all new Macs as of the new year, and it will be available free from dealers and user groups, although I think that resellers are not required to give it to you. Licensed electronic services and bulletin boards will have it, which I assume means that ftp.apple.com should get it soon. If you're the sort who wants everything yesterday, you can call Apple after January 13th and order it for $10. I'd wait for the free version.
One thing to keep in mind is that Tune-Up is not a new set of system software. It took Apple so long to get System 7 out the door that they've decided to add functionality through system extensions like Tune-Up and QuickTime. It's easier for everyone involved
Apple -- 800/947-5176
Mark H. Anbinder -- email@example.com
An Apple spokeswoman was quoted in MacWEEK as saying, "We found that people running System 7 [with 2 MB of RAM] were restricted to one application and a modest-size file." I'm nominating this for the understatement of the month, if not the year. It was obvious to absolutely everyone almost immediately that a 2 MB Classic was only going to run a single program with a small file and no background printing or cool extensions. I think some Apple honchos should be forced to use PageMaker 4.0 on a 2 MB Classic, and then we'll see some faster Macs with more memory on the low end.
As it stands, Apple now admits that most people would really prefer more memory in a Classic, so Apple has introduced some new configurations of the Classic and LC with 4 MB of RAM and 40 MB hard drives. I'm not sure how happy dealers are going to be about the new configurations, since the new machines will be $150 more than the old 2 MB configurations. With RAM selling for about $36 per MB these days, a dealer would do better to pop in some cheap RAM rather than stock Apple's pre-configured machines. Then again, I don't know how Apple charges the dealers, so it might not be a big deal.
The funny part is that the 2 MB configurations will still be sold, although they will be "repositioned" in comparison to the machines with more than 2 MB. As my friend Charles Wheeler commented when I mentioned this to him, the 2 MB Classics should be repositioned at Toys 'R Us. RAM is cheap, Apple.
Mark H. Anbinder -- firstname.lastname@example.org
There's been quite some complaining on the nets about the new drivers for the StyleWriter and the Personal LaserWriter LS, not so much because of the drivers themselves, but because the driver kits now include TrueType versions of the LaserWriter Plus fonts (earlier they shipped with only Times, Helvetica, Courier, and Symbol). Lots of people want to use these TrueType fonts, and Apple has alternately claimed that they are available to everyone and made it difficult for anyone but owners of those printers to order the fonts.
Now those two printers are shipping with accessory kits that include the new drivers and all the fonts, and Apple is making the fonts and drivers available on electronic services as well. I may be a bit behind the times on this because it's not easy for me to use FTP, but there is a massive file called something like truetype-fonts.hqx on ftp.apple.com in the /dts/mac/sys.soft/imaging directory. Be warned that the file is about 900K. Your dealer is allowed to give you the drivers, and those who want to pay $18 can order them from Apple after today.
Apple -- 800/947-5176
Mark H. Anbinder -- email@example.com
Mark Vita -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to part two of our commentary on Word 5. Word 5 comes as an 825K application which forms the core of the word processor. A number of its features are actually add-in modules which sit in the "Word Commands" folder. The idea here is that third parties could write additional commands for specialized tasks and users can decide which commands to install, thus minimizing the amount of space disk space that Word consumes. This ability to ad functionality via modules is one of the main features of System 7 so it is nice to see developers using this technique.
OLE -- However, some of these commands take advantage of Microsoft's own Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technology, which is kind of like System 7's AppleEvents and Publish & Subscribe, but not quite. Microsoft is implementing OLE (pronounced o-lay ) right and left in its applications, particularly on the Windows side. We are still trying to fully understand OLE, but we do know that Word 5 users having the necessary applications and memory may have some fun with it. Word 5's OLE features only work with System 7, Word, and Excel (Microsoft hasn't released the specs, though it may soon).
Publish & Subscribe requires three files: publisher, edition, and subscriber. Two particular advantages of Publish & Subscribe are that it allows multiple subscribers and works with any System 7-savvy application. A potential disadvantage is that edition files may start cluttering your hard drive. Microsoft's Linking creates a direct link between two files or two parts of one file, with no intermediary edition file. Embedding works like this: say you do a report in Word and include some totals from Excel. In the old days you would cut and paste them in, and today you might do a Publish & Subscribe (or a Link) so that you could change the spreadsheet and conveniently update your Word report. But, if you take the report home to work on it, you need to remember the Word file, possibly the Edition file, and the Excel worksheet (starts to sound luggable, not portable). If you instead embed the totals from Excel into Word, you actually embed the entire Excel worksheet, not just the totals. If you take the Word file home and then need to change some numbers, you can access them through your Word file. (Both these scenarios assume you have Word and Excel at home). In addition, if you submit the report electronically, someone wondering about your totals could access the entire worksheet. Embedding won't be right every time, but it does have appropriate uses.
Equation Editor -- Word 5 uses OLE to link with its new Equation Editor, which is actually a modified and stripped-down version of Design Science's MathType. Some of the bigger items that were removed include: the TeX interface, macros, and the ability to save as EPS or PICT. The Equation Editor represents a significant improvement over Word 4's equation abilities. For example, Word 4 allows you to make a fraction by typing \f(42,100). This isn't bad for simple stuff, but when you consider that the innocuous-looking backslash comes from typing command-option-backslash, it grows more complicated. I'm not particularly qualified to evaluate an equation editor, but it looks like a serious and useful program, and it has many more options than Word 4's formulas ever dreamed of offering.
The Equation Editor does not save. If you use System 6, you must copy equations to the Scrapbook or another file before quitting. If you use System 7, OLE-style links automatically incorporate the equation in your file. To edit an existing equation with OLE, you just double-click it to jump to the Equation Editor. Although this is intuitive if you have a strong understanding of OLE, the common System 7 user may be somewhat mystified by having to create a new equation by selecting Object from the Insert menu. So it's not perfect.
Graphics -- Word 5 also uses OLE to link graphics to Word's drawing window. Unlike Nisus and possibly other word processors with graphics capabilities, Word 5 forces you to create and edit graphics in a separate window from your text. Poor design, in my opinion. To create a graphic you click a button on the Ribbon, and if the graphic already exists you double-click the graphic in order to edit it. The draw window acts the way I remember MacDraw from about 1987 when I had my first taste of Macintosh graphics. It has the usual drawing tools: text, line, polygon, square, rounded square, circle, and arc. You can apply a variety of patterns and any of eight colors to the outlines and the interiors of the shapes. Text can be aligned left, right, and center. You can choose from four different arrow-line types and several line thicknesses. You can flip objects and send them to the front and back. It's awkward to move into a different window to edit the graphic, but, on the other hand, you can rotate text to any angle that you like. It's not fancy, but for basic stuff, it gets the job done.
Those of you who have used Word 4 may have encountered its Position command, which you use to "position" graphics or paragraphs of text on the page. It's nice that you can position graphics, but if you plan to do it often, you really should use a desktop publishing program. Complex positioning in Word represents a form of computer torture. Word 5 takes the Word 4 positioning logic and tries to make it a little bit easier via the Frame command, but still has a way to go before this function becomes even moderately user friendly.
Find File -- A command that I rather like is the Find File command. I'm not as organized as I'd like to be, and my Macintosh reflects this. Also, my Mac is a little slow, so I tend to throw files on the desktop or in a random folder when saving, promising myself that I'll file them away neatly when I have time. This works great except that I sometimes lose files. I keep Word's Find File command installed so that I can access it from the File menu or from Word's Open dialog box. It allows me to search for a file based on a number of attributes including the file's text, title, creation date, or some other stuff too. I can even preview the file before I open it to make sure I have the right one (including graphics files). Even on this pokey Mac, the preview is almost instant.
Import & Export -- Word 5's translators are all considered commands and can be installed as needed. Nothing is particularly ground breaking or unexpected, except that it can now open PICT, PICT2, TIFF, or EPS files through the Standard File Dialog box (you can also insert these files into a Word document). Microsoft added the ability to open and save files in formats including: DOS WordPerfect 5.0 and 5.1, MacWrite 4.5, 5, and II, Word for Windows (WinWord to its friends), and all versions of Word for DOS. One important point is that Word 5 uses the same file format as Word 4, unlike Word 4 and Word 3, so there shouldn't be any major problems switching between them.
Writing Tools -- Another pair of installable commands are the spell checker and dictionary. The dictionary is based on the American Heritage Dictionary and has 88,000 root words (Word 4 had only 56,000 root words). Word 5's speller guesses at spellings automatically, but is rather slow. Luckily, you can turn the guess option off if you use a slower Macintosh. Unlike Word 4, Word 5 lets you ignore words. You open and close dictionaries through Preferences instead of using Word 4's method of opening the spell check window and then going directly to the File menu, choosing open, and opening the dictionary. That's a relief, but you're still beeped to save the User Dictionary when you quit, something you're often not expecting, especially if Word has been running all day without quitting.
I haven't had a chance to work with the Thesaurus, but here's some administrivia about it. Word 4 used a version of Microlytics's WordFinder DA thesaurus program. The WordFinder that shipped with Word 4 only works with Word 4 and System 7 if you use the Font/DA Mover to install WordFinder into Word. The WordFinder that shipped with Word 4 should not be used with Word 5. Microlytics and Microsoft are going their separate ways. Microlytics will soon release a System 7-compatible thesaurus, and Word 5 now uses a completely different thesaurus.
I haven't worked much with the Grammar Checker, because my Mac has a measly 2.5 megabytes of memory. The Grammar Checker comes with a bunch of rules which it uses to look at text. Like all grammar checkers, it sometimes gets things out of context, because all it can do is mechanically apply its rules. If it flags a rule violation, it shows you the rule and explains it. You can turn rules off if you don't like them.
In The End -- [This wasn't mentioned above, but we at TidBITS recently attended Microsoft's Word 5 demo at the local user group's monthly meeting. We saw a video clip of the Kennedy assassination in a QuickTime movie within a Word 5 document. Snazzy, but expected in a supposedly System 7-savvy application.]
Word has more commands than I have time to write about tonight, so instead of trying to make time for another command, I'd like to mention the manual. Microsoft received a lot of feedback about the Word 4 manual, and no wonder. The manual includes most of commands, but in alphabetical order, and good luck figuring out the positioning command even with the manual. The Word 5 manual abandons the alphabetical approach, includes tips and tricks, and in the parts I have read, provides extremely clear explanations. Early on in the manual there is a section on how the Macintosh organizes files and folders. [Based on personal experience, many Word users need some help in this department -Tonya] The manual grows progressively more complex with sections on printing envelopes and page numbering and continuing to an entire chapter devoted to Publish & Subscribe and Linking and Embedding. This chapter exemplifies the new manual's approachit explains how each option works using text and diagrams and gives examples of when each one might be most appropriate. I give the manual a big thumbs up.
In part I of this article, I incorrectly stated that Word 5 could not search for all bold and replace with, say, italic. This was incorrect. Word 5 can search for a set of formatting and replace with a different set. Sorry about that, but I hope these two articles will help you figure out whether or not Word 5 is worthwhile for you. One thing that's unfortunate is that in many ways, Microsoft has become the IBM of the phrase "No one was ever fired for buying IBM." Do look at Word 5 carefully on your own as well, because many people will be far better served by something fast and simple like WriteNow. Others will prefer the macros and searching capabilities of Nisus, and lots of people like the ease of working with the Mac and PC versions of WordPerfect. Word 5 is big, powerful, and often a tad clumsy, but if you need its features, it won't disappoint.
Design Science -- 800/827-0685 -- 213/433-0685
Microsoft Customer Service -- 800/426-9400
Microsoft Mac Word Technical Support -- 206/635-7200
Word 5 manual
by Mark H. Anbinder
Apple's Communications Toolbox (CTB) promises a utopia of consistent and powerful communications software capabilities, which would be a boon to developers and users alike. While the current version of the CTB fulfills much of this promise, it still has a number of shortcomings in terms of functionality and reliability. An example of such a shortcoming is the Apple Modem Tool, the basic connection tool that most CTB users will use when setting up a modem connection. Its fixed set of supported modems and non-configurable modem initialization routines provide a real roadblock to users who have an unsupported modem or want to change their modems' settings.
The solution to this problem has arrived, in the form of a new, free utility from Information Electronics, called AMT Configure. This small, easy-to-use application allows users to customize the initialization strings in the Apple Modem Tool's built-in modem definitions, as well as add, customize, or remove definitions for new modems that the tool doesn't already know about. AMT Configure supports versions 1.0.x of the Apple Modem Tool, and a future version of AMT Configure will support an upcoming new AMT version.
Information Electronics is a small but prolific software company based in Hammondsport, New York. They offer a wide range of add-on products for CE Software's QuickMail electronic mail package, including mail forwarding, UUCP and SMTP gateways, and a Second Sight BBS gateway, as well as a growing collection of attractive TrueType and PostScript fonts.
AMT Configure is well designed, and offers a clear user interface. The user must open the Apple Modem Tool file, which is within the Extensions folder (or the Communications folder in System 6 installations of the CTB). After that point, customizing a modem definition is a simple matter of double-clicking on the modem's name in a scrolling list, and making any necessary changes in the dialog box that comes up.
Among the configurable elements of the modem definitions are the modem name, the initialization string (a string of commands that will be sent to the modem when it is first accessed by the Apple Modem Tool), the ring response string (the text sent by the modem to the computer when a ring is detected), and a checkbox to determine whether the CTB will close the connection if the modem drops its DSR (data set ready) signal.
Editing a modem configuration string appears to be difficult, but actually is fairly straightforward. Each modem has a set of commands (usually a subset or superset of the "AT" commands defined by Hayes), and you can enable or disable certain features of the modem, or select certain options, by invoking the corresponding commands. If you have trouble deciphering the commands described in your modem manual, you should be able to find a local modem expert who will be able to help, or the modem company's tech support personnel may be able to help you decide which commands are appropriate for what you want to do.
Because it is a free utility, Information Electronics understandably says that they will not provide end-user support for AMT Configure. The utility will be bundled with all of their products, and will also be available from the "usual gang of suspects" (the usual sources of free software), beginning with Memory Alpha BBS at 607/257-5822 and America Online. It should be available by the time you read this.
Mark H. Anbinder -- email@example.com
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