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

TidBITS Logo

TidBITS#124/18-May-92

And now, for something completely sticky, read about the forthcoming GUM. Then we move into slimy with some more legal and virus news. Symantec's upgrade policies for Norton Utilities are all wet, but Dantz will clean up after itself with a free upgrade to DiskFit Pro. Of course, Apple has some solid new products, as does CE with QuickMessenger for developers, and finally, stop needlessly harassing the FCC about that old modem surcharge proposal.

Topics:

Copyright 1992 TidBITS Electronic Publishing. All rights reserved.
Information: <info@tidbits.com> Comments: <editors@tidbits.com>


MailBITS/18-May-92

Mark H. Anbinder writes to tell us the latest in the court case concerning Mark Pilgrim and David Blumenthal, authors of the MBDF virus discovered this spring. "I just found out today that Pilgrim and Blumenthal were arraigned in Tompkins County court last Friday. They each entered Not Guilty pleas, and the matter is being held for forty-five days by Judge Betty Friedlander to allow the defense counsels to file any motions. Nothing is likely to happen until that time... but assuming things go forward as they are, it seems likely that there will be a trial."

In other, stranger legal news, Judge Vaughn Walker agreed to reconsider his April decision throwing out a number of the issues in Apple's suit against Microsoft and HP. Apparently this doesn't mean that he will necessarily change his mind, but he certainly couldn't change his mind without reconsidering. Hmm. More news when it's news. Perhaps even stranger yet was the announcement that Quorum, makers of Mac emulation software, is suing Apple in a pre-emptive legal strike. It seems that Quorum wants the court to rule that Quorum's software does not infringe on Apple's copyrights or patents, and that some of those patents may in fact be invalid. I hope Quorum has a lot of legal firepower or it won't even be a fair fight. Tune in next week when Apple lawyers declare that Apple actually own rights to the concept of the personal computer and sues IBM over the original PC - the entire case has already been picked up by several major cable TV networks as a spectator sport. :-)

AutoDoubler Support from Fifth -- Robert Hess passes on this note. "FileDirector 3.1 from Fifth Generation Systems includes a brand new version of DiskTools which, among other enhancements, includes additional support for DiskDoubler and AutoDoubler from Salient Software. DiskTools has a new checkbox in the Preferences dialog called Show Indicator on Compressed Files. If this checkbox is turned on, DiskTools will:

  1. Stamp the "DD" on the icon for compressed files in the main DiskTools File/Folder list and in the File/Folder Info dialog.

  2. Show the actual disk space occupied by compressed AutoDoubler or DiskDoubler files in the main DiskTools File/Folder list NOT their uncompressed sizes (like you see when you Get Info in the Finder).

    These two are useful for determining from within DiskTools which files are compressed (and by how much) and which are not, information that can be extremely useful to know at times.

  3. Copy compressed DiskDoubler files in their compressed state.

Why is this pretty cool? Because those of you who use AutoDoubler & AppleTalk Remote Access can use DiskTools to perform faster copies by using DiskTools instead of the Finder. Then again, the "hacked" Finder that increases throughput/cache-size, or 7th Heaven, will still do better." [It's nice to see some third parties supporting each other in their products directly because it makes customized Mac environments more seamless. -Adam]

Information from:
Robert Hess -- ENDPOINT@applelink.apple.com


NUM Upgrade Costs Updated

Sendhil Revuluri recently pointed out that we published an incomplete set of upgrade prices for Norton Utilities for Macintosh (NUM) 2.0. Symantec is offering a lower price to registered users of Norton Utilities 1.1 (as opposed to users of SUM II or NUM 1.0), so if you purchased that package, you can upgrade for only $20. I've read reports of Symantec denying the existence of this offer, so I confirmed this information with a Symantec customer service representative.

If you own SUM II or NUM 1.0, the upgrade cost is $39 plus $8 for shipping and handing. If you own NUM 1.1, the cost is $20, (plus $8, I presume, for shipping and handling). On the form I received in the mail, Symantec also offered a competitive upgrade of $59 for MacTools Deluxe owners, but the customer service person at Symantec denied that there were any competitive upgrades. Go figure. I also presume (based on the information TidBITS used to publish its original article) that if you purchased SUM II or NUM 1.1 after 20-Jan-92 (and can prove it), that you only pay the $8 shipping charge.

But wait, there's more. The guy at Symantec confirmed that users who paid the $39 fee when they were entitled to the $20 price can get a $19 refund from Symantec. All I can think is that someone at Symantec completely forgot about users of NUM 1.1 having already paid for one upgrade since there was no mention of the $20 upgrade in any of the user or press information I've received from Symantec. Call Symantec for details on the refund, and if they balk, tell them that one of their reps told a member of the press about it. It would be nice in the future if Symantec could make upgrading less confusing by figuring out upgrade policies in advance.

Symantec -- 800/343-4714 -- 408/252-3570 (outside U.S.)

Information from:
Sendhil Revuluri -- s-revuluri@uchicago.edu
Symantec propaganda


More Utilities, By GUM

"What does the world need," you may ask if you're one of those who is always asking essentially rhetorical questions. If you're Guy Kawasaki and After Hours Software, the answer is another collection of useful utilities, seemingly along the lines of the popular Now Utilities from Now Software. The collection will be assembled by and named after the ever-present Guy, so along with the strangely-acronymed Symantec Utilities for Macintosh (SUM) and Norton Utilities for Macintosh (NUM), we'll have the tongue-in-cheek Guy's Utilities for Macintosh, or GUM.

I can't tell you a lot about GUM, since I don't know very much myself. I do know that it's in the final stages of assembly, but Guy and After Hours Software are still looking for truly snazzy utilities that could not survive in the commercial market alone. Guy claims that he's looking for utilities that do things like improve the Finder, menuing, System 7, and the use of the PowerBooks. Feel free to send your utilities to Guy at any of the addresses below, but keep in mind that I've already suggested Sticky Menus, Bubble Help, and DiskDoubleMint, along with a little utility that keeps the monitor from moving when you chew.

I'm also agitating strongly for some Bazooka Joe comics in each package, or at least a few baseball cards. I certainly hope that Guy has the gumption to consider my requests seriously. Of course, there's no telling when GUM will be out, but if it doesn't get stuck under the table, it is likely to be more well-received in higher education than its physical manifestation. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to GUM, especially if it doesn't try to overlap with the other utilities packages already on the market. If so, I'd probably have to eschew GUM in favor of Now Utilities, which has had more time to mature into a killer collection and comes out of one's hair more easily.

Tooth decay notwithstanding, these sort of collections are becoming more popular. Atticus Software just announced that it is putting together a less sugary package called Super 7 Utilities, which includes seven utilities primarily based on previous freeware or shareware programs. You may recognize some of the names, including Speed Beep Pro, Helium Pro, Desktop Extras, Trash Alias, and Mighty Menus. Also included are Printer Picker and Super Comments, neither of which I recognize from the freeware or shareware world. Super 7 Utilities will supposedly be available in July for about $100 list. In addition, users of the shareware BeHierarchic, which gives you a hierarchical Apple menu, may have noticed that version 2.0 is supposedly now part of the Kiwi PowerWindows package from Kiwi Software. So if you've got an illegal copy of BeHierarchic 2.0, spit it out or swallow it.

Atticus Software -- 203/324-1142
Kiwi Software -- 805/685-4031

Information from:
Guy Kawasaki -- Kawasaki2@applelink.apple.com -- MacWay on AOL
76703.3031@compuserve.com


DiskFit News

Dantz Development's popular backup program, DiskFit Pro, has been in the net conversations recently, though mostly on CompuServe. It appears that DiskFit Pro has a few bugs and confusing changes from previous versions, and those bugs have convinced Dantz to send a free upgrade to 1.1 to all registered users when 1.1 is done (soon is all I can say about the timing).

The first complaints about DiskFit Pro stemmed from Dantz's decision to change the Only Applications and Only Documents selections so that items in the System Folder were not included. This comes up primarily for people who upgraded from the previous version but did not create a new SmartSet, because they will expect their documents and applications in the System Folder to be backed up. The design implementation is not so much in question as Dantz's failure to clearly document the change as a change. The manual and the program say that Only Documents will exclude documents in the System Folder. They do not, however, say that applications in the System Folder will be excluded if Only Applications is checked. Larry Zulch of Dantz has acknowledged the problem on CIS, and said that they were looking into providing the same functionality in a manner that would allow the user to more precisely select what will and will not be backed up.

More serious from the bug standpoint is a pesky varmint that will on occasion make the Exact Duplicates function, which preserves a volume's special identification data to retain privilege information, work like Less Copying, which only copies files if the file size has changed. The workaround is to avoid using Exact Duplicates, which would entail fixing some privileges in the event of a restore, but would not lose any data. Needless to say, this is a bug that could result in some data not being backed up. Dantz takes their responsibility as a provider of what is in essence security software seriously, and this bug compromises DiskFit Pro 1.0's efficacy. Hence the free upgrade that will arrive at your door soon if you're registered. We're pleased to see this sort of public response because it instills confidence in a company, and if a company making backup software needs anything, it's consumer confidence. No one's perfect, but the best we can all do when we make mistakes is try and fix them quickly and accurately.

Information from:
Larry Zulch, Dantz Development -- 72477.1322@compuserve.com
Bill Weylock -- 76012.3026@compuserve.com


CE Ships QuickMessenger

by Mark H. Anbinder -- TidBITS Contributing Editor

Fulfilling an old promise to allow integration between QuickMail and non-mail applications, CE Software recently announced QuickMessenger, an API (or application programming interface) that will allow developers to enable their applications to send QuickMail messages.

QuickMessenger includes eleven routines that may be called by any application to perform such operations as sending messages or files, searching for user addresses via the NameServer, looking up the contents of QuickMail address books or groups, and obtaining lists of MailCenters and zones. According to QuickMessenger engineer Van Kichline, the API "is designed to be a simple but very robust step toward providing complete QuickMail access to third party applications." QuickMessenger does not yet allow applications to receive messages, but the Inside QuickMail API, which allows developers to create gateways, bridges, or other utilities that run within QuickMail itself, does allow third-party software to receive and process messages.

One third-party product that will take advantage of QuickMessenger is QM Log Translator, from MDG Computer Services. This is a customized 4th Dimension database that summarizes the mail activity logs typically sent to the QuickMail custodian. The database can generate reports and can send notices to users who are taking up more than their share of space on the server's hard disk.

Another utility that QuickMessenger will enhance is DiskTwin, an expansion card (in NuBus and PDS configurations) from Golden Triangle Computers, Inc., that allows a Macintosh to write all data to two hard disks simultaneously. With this product, QuickMessenger will allow a network manager or system administrator to receive instant notification in the event of a disk failure.

The QuickMessenger software developer kit, including documentation, source code examples, and the QuickMessenger Tool Kit, is available from CE for $125. The Inside QuickMail API is still available for $100. Purchasers of either package must sign a trade-secret agreement with CE Software because of the nature of the information that is included in the documentation.

CE Software, Inc. - 515/224-1995
MDG Computer Services -- 708/818-9991
Golden Triangle Computers, Inc. -- 619/279-2100

Information from:
Sue Nail -- CE Software


Warnings and Upgrades

by Mark H. Anbinder -- TidBITS Contributing Editor

LC II Ethernet Card -- Users who have an old Macintosh LC Ethernet Card and need to use it with a Mac LC II (if, for example, they have upgraded their LCs to LC IIs) will need to upgrade the card to a Macintosh LC II Ethernet Card. This requires a simple, and free, ROM swap. This can be arranged through any Apple authorized service center, who will be able to order the ROM upgrade for you. Users who are still using the card in an LC do not need to upgrade the card, but since the free upgrade will only be available until 30-Jun-93, it might be a good idea to take care of it just in case.

Unplug that Quadra! -- A recent Apple technical memo noted that, because of a +5 volt trickle charge that the Quadra 900 provides to one pin on each NuBus card, it is important to unplug the Quadra 900 before installing or removing any NuBus card. (The manual states this fact when describing the card installation procedure, but Apple has received reports that some users have missed this warning.) The trickle charge is provided so that a NuBus card can be designed to allow for remote booting.

Personal LaserWriter LS Driver 7.2 -- Apple has released a new version, 7.2, of the Personal LaserWriter LS driver. The new driver allows the printer to print closer to the edge of the page on legal-sized pages. The previous driver imposed one-inch margins on legal-sized pages, to provide for backward compatibility with the Personal LaserWriter SC, but in response to numerous customer complaints, the company produced a new version that allows the printer to come within a quarter inch of each side. The new driver will be available from dealers, user groups, and licensed online services.

Don't Plug that PowerBook! -- Kim Cary writes to say that a user plugged their StyleWriter power connector into a PowerBook 140, zapping the charging circuit and requiring a $650 repair to let the unit work on battery power again. Kim guessed that the StyleWriter power connector has a reverse polarity from the PowerBook's own power connector. So if you have a PowerBook and a StyleWriter around, be careful when you plug it in.

Information from:
Kim Cary -- kcary@pepvax.pepperdine.edu


New Products from Apple

by Mark H. Anbinder -- TidBITS Contributing Editor

Once again Apple has shown they mean business with their plans to offer a steady stream of new products. Just today, the company introduced its new series of commercial system enhancement software, and replaced the Quadra 900, only seven months old, with the new Quadra 950.

A few months ago, Apple revealed its plan to offer certain kinds of system software, such as enhancements that only some users will need, as separate commercial products. The first two offerings in this series are Macintosh PC Exchange and the QuickTime Starter Kit, each of which, like the $99 System 7 Personal Upgrade Kit, comes with a few months of free telephone tech support via Apple's 800 support line.

Macintosh PC Exchange is a $79 package that, like Insignia's AccessPC and Dayna's DOS Mounter, allows users to mount DOS-formatted diskettes on the desktop of Macs equipped with Apple's SuperDrive or compatible high-density floppy drives. In addition, the utility will automatically launch appropriate applications from a user-configurable list when the user double-clicks on a DOS file in the Finder. For example, double-clicking on a Lotus 1-2-3 DOS file will automatically open either Excel or Lotus 1-2-3 for Mac, whichever you specify. The utility also allows users to format diskettes for use in DOS machines later on.

The new QuickTime Starter Kit, selling for $169, allows users with 68020, '030, or '040 Macs to take full advantage of Apple's video, sound, and animation system software. In addition to the extension itself, this starter kit includes several utilities (MoviePlayer, Movie Recorder, Movie Converter, and Picture Compressor), and a CD-ROM containing a wealth of video clips, animation, and still images.

Last, but certainly not least, of Apple's new offerings, the Quadra 950 replaces the 900. The 950 has a faster processor (a 33 MHz 68040 instead of the 900's 25 MHz CPU), and provides faster video, Ethernet, and I/O bus performance as well, thanks to faster VRAM SIMMs and a new, faster 25 MHz I/O bus. The new Quadra joins the Macintosh lineup at the same price as the 900, so power-hungry Mac users can now get more bang for the buck.

For a short time, Apple will even offer a very low price for Quadra 900 owners who want to upgrade. The $1,499 price lasts until 27-Dec-92, after which the upgrade price will be $3,000. This upgrade should actually be available in June or July.

Apple's new software products will be included in the company's new software distribution plans. They have signed a contract with Ingram Micro, a large distributor of computer-related products, to make Apple's software products available to software resellers as well as Apple's existing dealer base. This should dramatically improve software availability from a wide variety of vendors and dealers. Macintosh PC Exchange and the QuickTime Starter Kit join the System 7 Personal and Group Upgrade Kits, AppleTalk Remote Access, and AppleShare 3.0 in this new program. Interestingly, the deal with Ingram Micro also means that some mail order vendors, including MacWarehouse, will now be able to sell Apple software products. In fact, MacWarehouse has wasted no time in advertising this fact in the latest MacWEEK.

While some users might prefer that Apple include Macintosh PC Exchange in the system software itself, and provide it free of charge to end users, the commercial distribution is actually consistent with past policies. Such things as the AppleShare server software, which only some users will actually need, have always been sold as separate products. This allows Apple to recover the costs of developing such software without forcing Apple's entire user base to pay for it through increased system software prices. Apple has long considered changing its policy of offering free system software upgrades to users who don't require the manuals that come with the purchasable upgrade packages. We feel that given the choice between forcing all Macintosh users to pay for system software upgrades, and asking users who need specialized extensions to pay for those separately, Apple has done the right thing.

In the meantime, the QuickTime software that was released a few months ago is still being distributed free of charge by user groups, dealers, and some online services, as well as by some software companies whose software takes advantage of QuickTime. In effect, the "run-time" software for viewing QuickTime movies is free, and users who want more power for themselves may purchase either the (admittedly limited) QuickTime Starter Kit or go for one of the commercial animation packages. This is similar to the current Claris approach with HyperCard. All users receive HyperCard free when they purchase a new Mac, but the Developer's Kit, which contains lots of sample stacks and HyperTalk code, as well as developer's utilities, is a commercial product.

Information from:
Apple propaganda


FCC Flap

Those of you on the nets may have noticed a flurry of postings about a proposed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) surcharge on modem users. Just to get this out in the open right away, this rumor is FALSE! Phew, now that we've cleared the air and everyone can stop being irate at the FCC, let's look at this in a little more detail.

I can't say that this posting is specifically a hoax, because that implies willful maliciousness on the part of an individual. That very well may not be true. It is true that such a proposal came before the FCC a number of years (ten or so?) ago and was defeated, in part due to the outpouring of sentiment from modem users. The problem is that such information on the nets never disappears, it just gets hidden for a while. Eventually someone who is new to the nets finds the information, say the posting on the original case, and assumes that it's true, failing to check the dates involved and the current FCC docket. At that point, our well-meaning neophyte immediately forwards the seemingly urgent posting to everyone he or she knows, some of whom may know that this is a moot-point; others of whom will react with equal horror. This continues ad netfinitum until there are enough postings saying "Stop! It's a hoax!" that everyone cools down for a year or two. Then some well-meaning net neophyte finds an archived posting and...

On the face of it, this problem only applies to people in the U.S. I don't know much about modem surcharges in other countries, although I gather they are not unheard of. Nonetheless, this incident does have several lessons for users of the global networks no matter where you may be located - after all, you never know which warning will apply to you and which won't.

The FCC surcharge posting appeared first (to my eyes) on a local user group BBS, forwarded by a well-meaning someone with net access at Microsoft. The user group members were horrified, and several of them immediately whipped off letters of complaint to the FCC, and even posted form letters people could print out to send to the FCC. This happened within only a few days, and by the time I saw these messages and posted a note of caution, expressing my doubt that the proposal was real, a bunch of people had already complained to the FCC. Luckily, several people acted equally as quickly on my note, and after checking with FCC, posted retractions and asked others to refrain from bothering the FCC further. At first, I thought this reaction might be limited to the BBS world, but then I received several copies of the posting from friends who haven't been on the nets long enough to have seen it the first few times around.

There are a number of risks here. First, it's trivial to spread a false warning around the globe in a matter of days so it's likely that this sort of thing will happen again. In this situation, the thing to do is to check the source as carefully as you can before basing any serious action on that warning. Second is the case of The Net That Cried Wolf. Distributing warnings via the nets is an extremely powerful and useful method of informing lots of people quickly, but we cannot abuse that power or else everyone will ignore net warnings because they're so common. Third, although this particular proposal is false, you may remember an editorial I wrote some time ago about how the Department of Justice wanted to require telephone companies to make it easy to tap phone systems. That incident proves that we cannot necessarily trust the government to leave us alone, happily telecommunicating away. This is an issue because if modem users periodically bombard the FCC with complaints about this non-existent surcharge proposal, the FCC is less likely to take us seriously as a group in the future when our combined clout might become necessary.

So the moral of the story is not so much "Look before you leap," but "Think before you post." We'll all be better off for it.

Unlike the false posting that merely gives some general addresses to write to but no specific information about the fictitious proposal, the memo from the FCC we've seen does have specific information. If you wish to verify for yourself that this surcharge proposal is indeed a hoax, call the number below.

Federal Communications Commission
Common Carrier Bureau
Enforcement Division
Informal Complaints and Public Inquiries Branch Suite 6202
Washington, D.C. 20554
202/632-7553

Reviews/18-May-92

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