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TidBITS#175/03-May-93

This week starts with Apple's announcement of the Japanese Language Kit, a programmer's After Dark module contest, PowerBooks on the space shuttle, and a warning about using two TelePort modems at once. Most importantly, we review the excellent Toner Tuner, which saves toner on each printout, look at how to be more environmentally gentle in your computer use, and investigate a strange problem affecting Quadra 800 users with 16 MB SIMMs.

Topics:

Copyright 1993 TidBITS Electronic Publishing. All rights reserved.
Information: <info@tidbits.com> Comments: <editors@tidbits.com>


MailBITS/03-May-93

ClarisWorks for Windows -- This week Claris announced the release of ClarisWorks for Windows, the company's second internally-developed Windows application. ClarisWorks for Windows can transparently share files with the Macintosh version of ClarisWorks, which quickly knocked Microsoft Works out of the lead in the integrated product market.

Claris -- 408/727-8227

FirstClass Client for Windows -- SoftArc announced the Windows client for its graphical BBS FirstClass this week, promising features nearly identical to those in the Macintosh client, including asynchronous multiple file transfers, electronic mail, and conferencing. FirstClass boards will requires a $295 plug-in option for Windows clients, and the Windows client requires a 386 PC with at least 4 MB of RAM under Windows 3.1.

SoftArc -- 416/299-4723 -- 416/754-1856 (fax) -- 416/609-2250 (BBS) -- dallas@softarc.com

E-Machines Bundle Extended

by Mark H. Anbinder, Contributing Editor -- mha@baka.ithaca.ny.us

Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers

Several months ago, Apple introduced a special bundle consisting of its 16" color monitor and an E-Machines DoubleColor SX graphics card. Apple has extended this offer from the original expiration date of 19-Apr-93 to 19-Jul-93.

Apple introduced this bundle partly to offer a less-expensive alternative to their own 8*24 graphics card for Macintosh IIci and IIvx owners who need large-screen color displays. The IIci and IIvx don't support color monitors larger than Apple's 640 x 480 14" Color Display, although price lists released last October incorrectly claimed that the IIvx supported Apple's 16" and 21" color monitors. The built-in video in the Centris 610 and 650 offers eight-bit color on the 16" display, and four-bit color on the 21" display, which is just as well, since the DoubleColor SX is longer than seven inches, the limit for NuBus cards in the Centris 610.

The DoubleColor SX card provides eight-bit color (256 colors or shades of gray) on Apple's 16" display. The bundle, which carries a suggested retail price of $1,799, is available through Apple resellers as item B5102LL/A.

-- Information from:
Apple propaganda

Japanese Language Kit Ships

by Mark H. Anbinder, Contributing Editor -- mha@baka.ithaca.ny.us

Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers

As we reported in TidBITS #173, at last month's Seybold conference Apple introduced the Japanese Language Kit, the first product to take advantage of the company's WorldScript technology. The kit allows Macintosh users to use Japanese characters on non-Japanese systems, and provides all the software components necessary to add Japanese text-handling capability to System 7.1. This means that if your software supports the appropriate WorldScript technology, you can use Japanese characters in your documents.

Rather than force people to use a fully-localized Japanese version of the Macintosh operating system, this new software allows System 7.1 users around the world to input, edit, and display Japanese characters regardless of what language they use to interact with their Macs. The Japanese Language Kit is intended for those who need to create Japanese documents and presentations, including (according to Apple) people in multinational businesses, publishers, government workers, students, teachers, and Japanese-speaking people.

The kit includes the necessary system software extension, the Kotoeri Japanese character input method, two Japanese TrueType fonts (HonMincho and MaruGothic), and the Osaka screen font, as well as documentation on using the Kotoeri input method. The Macintosh involved must have at least 4 MB of RAM, System 7.1, and at least 20 MB of available disk storage space.

The Japanese Language Kit retails for $249 and is available in the United States from Apple resellers and some other software resellers.

-- Information from:
Apple propaganda

VAMP After Dark Contest

VAMP (Vereniging Actieve Mac Programmeurs - Association for Active Mac Programmers), a Dutch non-profit association, is organizing a programming competition for After Dark module programers.

Unlike similar contests sponsored by After Dark developer Berkeley

-- Systems, VAMP will choose a winner based solely on programming creativity and skill, rather than visual aesthetics. Perhaps the best comparison would be with the annual MacHack contest for best hack.

Entries must consist of a completed After Dark module accompanied with full source code that runs with After Dark 2.0w or later, on a Macintosh using System 6.0.7 or later.

VAMP must receive entries before 31-Dec-93, and judging should be complete by April of 1994. Prizes consist of $500 for the overall winner and $250 for the runner-up, along with the "Symantec Special Prize" (the winner's choice of a Symantec Macintosh Development Environment). Entries will also be submitted to Berkeley Systems for publication, which may result in additional prize money.

For more information via automatic reply, please send email to:

info@fourc.nl
-- Information from:
John W. Sinteur -- sinteur@fourc.nl

TelePort Caveat

by Mark H. Anbinder, Contributing Editor -- mha@baka.ithaca.ny.us

Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers

Readers who have an ADB model of the TelePort modem from Global Village Communication and are about to install one of Global Village's newer serial modems (the TelePort/Silver or TelePort/Gold) should be aware of problems with using both modems with one Macintosh.

The first problem occurs when you install the TelePort serial software - the installer erases the TelePort ADB software during installation. (This caused extra confusion because I had received my latest software update electronically and didn't have a copy on disk!) The second problem appears when you boot the Macintosh and find that the ADB and Serial Control Panels each refuse to load if the other is present.

A Global Village representative quickly responded to an email query about the issue (a good indication of their highly-responsive level of support), and said a fix is being prepared for a future software release. In the meantime, if you need to use both modems from the same Mac, you should use the ADB TelePort's software normally, and use the serial TelePort as a standard modem with no software. This means you'll be able to send and receive faxes only from the ADB modem.

Global Village Communication -- 800/736-4821 -- 415/390-8300
globalvill@aol.com
globalvillag@applelink.apple.com
75300.3473@compuserve.com

PowerBooks In Space

by Mark Gavini -- gavini@apple.com

I recently attended an interesting talk about PowerBooks in space. It was given by Bill Shepard, a NASA astronaut and shuttle crew member, who took a PowerBook 170 up with him on his flight last year. The PowerBook ran a custom position tracking program called MacSPOC that pinpointed the shuttle's location on a map and showed both the flight path and which window gave the best view for that particular moment. It also ran a custom Aperture database that provided graphical information on the shuttle's storage locations and the contents of each area - this program was painfully slow on the screen redraw.

Bill's 170 was modified slightly with a positive connect power coupling for the AC adapter, a thermal cutout (?) for the battery system to prevent it from going into thermal overload, and a modified trackball retainer ring that kept the trackball firmly seated against the rollers in zero-g. Bill also designed the mission patch in FreeHand on the PowerBook.

Someone asked when the next PowerBook was scheduled to go up and Bill replied that he wasn't sure when the next PowerBook would go, but a Macintosh Portable will go up [when it's weightless, who cares? -Adam] sometime this summer with a European Space Agency mission designated D-2. He also stated that although he was sold on the Macintosh interface, NASA already has Grid PC-compatible laptops for use aboard the shuttle and that it's difficult to get Macs included due to budget constraints and testing requirements.

Bill showed a video of the mission that included footage of the 170 firing a floppy disk across the crew compartment and hitting another crew member in the head - some eject mechanism, eh? The rest of the video included Earth shots and the standard "let's play with food in zero-g" antics. All in all, an interesting talk.


Toner Tuna

OK, so I'm being facetious. The real name of Working Software's new extension is Toner Tuner, and there is nothing fishy about it. In fact, it's one of the easiest-to-understand utilities I've seen in a long time. Toner Tuner puts a slider bar in your Print dialog box that lets you set the darkness of your printouts, so you don't have to waste toner printing drafts. How's that for simple?

Toner Tuner provides two controls (along with an About button) in your standard Print dialog box. The first control, the slider bar, goes from 0% to 100% in slightly odd increments. The second control is a checkbox that determines if that particular print job will use Toner Tuner or not. The checkbox defaults off each time you print, so you have to manually tell Toner Tuner you want to print a draft each time, although if you click the Print button with the option key held down, Toner Tuner turns the checkbox on for you. Toner Tuner also automatically checks the box for you if you change the slider setting. Toner Tuner remembers the darkness setting of the slider bar between prints.

Toner Tuner allows me to reduce the amount of needless waste from my printer when I print drafts that don't have to look good. You wouldn't use Toner Tuner when doing those last layout drafts where every hairline counts; you would use it when printing the 30 page draft of your scintillating memo collection. Toner Tuner's settings correspond to the amount of toner used, so if you print all your drafts at 50%, you'll save a good deal of toner over the life of your cartridge.

Toner Tuner seems to be utterly moron-proof. I can't imagine how anyone who could figure out how to buy Toner Tuner could screw up using it. [Adam often installs new software on "our" Mac, and sometimes it throws me for a loop; other times I can figure it out fairly quickly. Toner Tuner didn't slow me down for a second. -Tonya] Even the 16-page manual (only 13 pages are used) can only find enough material to talk about using Toner Tuner for three pages. The rest of the pages cover installation, table of contents, glossary, index, "please don't pirate" statement, and other filler.

The only thing I don't like about Toner Tuner is that its slider bar isn't proportional. 25% sits smack dab in the middle because percentages below 10% have another decimal place. Whee, I can print at 3.8% darkness! The reason for this is that high-resolution printers can print reasonable graphics at those low darkness settings. Text at 10% looks like a dot matrix printout that used an old ribbon and then sat in the sun for several weeks - barely readable. 25% and 33% darkness are both ugly for text, but readable in good light. 50% is still pretty ugly, and 67% still looks like dot matrix printing, but I can handle 67% perfectly well, and 75% and 90% are lovely, so to speak. Graphics are probably better at lower percentages if you're testing for position since you don't have to read them.

Working Software can give you ResEdit instructions on how to make a Toner Tuner setting the rule rather than the exception. I asked about this initially because there are plenty of sites that print almost nothing for real, and there's no reason to waste toner unnecessarily. Tech support therapists often do a lot of test printouts, and university public computer rooms often have a specific draft printer. In both of those cases, the organization could save a fair amount of money by forcing most everything to print at even 50% darkness. Figure out how much you spend on new toner cartridges or refills, halve that number, and then decide if Toner Tuner can save you money after taking its cost into consideration.

Toner Tuner theoretically works with all printers, although the ReadMe said that Working Software was working (well, I would hope so!) on making it compatible with the HP LaserJet 4M. I imagine there are other printers that Toner Tuner doesn't work with, but Working Software says that if Toner Tuner doesn't work as advertised in the manual, they will either fix the problem or return your money. Can't beat that, and besides Working Software does tech support online, something we at TidBITS approve of highly. On CompuServe they are in MACBVEN, and on America Online use the keyword "Working" to find their support forum. Toner Tuner retails for $49.95 (it's also available via mail order); Working Software also has six- and twelve-copy packages available at reduced prices for small offices, and big sites can spring for the 100-copy pack for $1,000. If you go through toner cartridges like chocolate chip cookies, you need Toner Tuner.

Working Watermarker -- My conversation with Working Software also revealed that they have a somewhat similar product in the works. Called Working Watermarker, the $49.95 extension will appear in your Print dialog just like Toner Tuner, but will let you print a EPS or PICT graphic over each page in the print job, even in applications that don't support graphics. The obvious use is printing "TOP SECRET" in light gray letters across the text of every page you print, especially your love letters, but you could also use it to print a fancy letterhead in a word processor that doesn't support fancy graphics, or perhaps a company logo on invoices from an accounting program that doesn't let you customize your forms. The first page can have different graphics at different intensities than other pages, which is ideal for the uses I just mentioned. Working Watermarker should be available by June, so contact Working Software in a bit for more information.

Working Software
408/423-5696
76004.2072@compuserve.com
workingsw@aol.com
d0140@applelink.apple.com
-- Information from:
Working Software propaganda
Toner Tuner manual

Are You Computer "Green?"

by Don Rittner -- afldonr@aol.com

Copyright 1992 Don Rittner, MUG NEWS SERVICE

More than 75 million Americans own a personal computer, and this number is rapidly climbing as computers become more affordable. Many more use computers in their workplace (more than 40 million Intel-based PCs and seven million laser printers use 18.2 billion kilowatt/hours of electricity per year).

Most people think of computers as relatively pollution-free, but the act of computing is not. Here are a few tips to help make your computing a bit more environmentally gentle.

The Computer -- If you work in an office where there are many terminals with monitors turned on, turn down (or even off) your heat in the room during winter months. Enough heat comes from the monitors to keep the room warm. If you work at home or with one computer at a time, turn off the monitor if you can when not using it, which will save a fair amount of power. This is also a good idea for servers and other machines which stay on all the time.

Electronic Mail -- If your office does not have your computers networked together, do it! The use of electronic mail for inter-office correspondence can save a tremendous amount of paper. American offices last year generated more than 775 billion pages of paper - that equals 14 million tons of paper a year, or 238 million trees.

Computer Magazines -- Don't throw away old computer magazines. You can recycle them by donating them to your local public library, user groups, doctor's office, health clubs, or even laundromats. Think of it as educating the masses.

Floppy disks -- Do you have 3.5" floppies that just don't hold data any more? Well, don't throw them away. They make great coasters for your morning coffee! [Several years ago the staff at American Demographics Magazine in Ithaca, New York had a permanent exhibit of fancifully decorated floppy disks whose days as data carriers were long over. -Adam]

Disk Storage -- Don't buy disk storage boxes. If you or a friend has a newborn child (or know someone who has), the rectangular "baby wipes" boxes make great disk storage containers. You can fit about 50 disks in a box. Soak off the labels, and you can write on the box using a magic marker.

Printers -- If you use a dot matrix or laser printer there are a few things you can do. Be sure to use recycled paper (and envelopes and labels) in both types of printers, and remember to use the blank back side of sheets that you print as drafts. There is nothing wrong with using the second side of the sheet, and this can cut your consumption of paper by as much as half. Proofread your work before you print! Most wasted paper is from stupid typographical errors.

If you use cloth ribbons in your dot matrix printer, you can usually re-ink those ribbons. In fact, you can get up to 15-20 re-inks per ribbon and the quality of the print is usually darker than newer ribbons. This also reduces the cost per ribbon. Many computer user groups have re-inkers and charge about $1 to re-ink (versus $5-$15 per new ribbon). Many people have had luck refilling ink cartridges for ink-jet printers, but the manufacturers of those printers don't generally recommend that you do that.

For laser printer users, many toner cartridge manufacturers now recycle used cartridges and donate money to environmental organizations. Some even pay you, and most pay for the UPS shipping as well. Also, there are companies that will recharge your toner cartridge for considerably less than the cost of a new one ($40 compared to $90). Considering that more than 98% of the 15 million cartridges sold in 1991 ended up in landfills, and only a fraction recycled, you can see how important it is to recycle those toner cartridges. [Also consider using Toner Tuner, discussed above, to extend the life of your toner cartridges. -Adam]

Toner Cartridge Recycling

[This is probably not an exhaustive list, but it's a good start.]

Apple Clean Earth Campaign -- 800/776-2333 -- Donates $0.50 to National Wildlife Federation and Nature Conservancy per cartridge. Call them and they send you a prepaid UPS shipping label.

Canon Clean Earth Campaign -- 800/962-2708 -- Canon has the same deal as Apple.

Dataproducts Imaging Supplies Division -- 800/423-5095 -- Dataproducts will pay you $10 for each Canon SX cartridge plus the shipping if you send 28 or more cartridges at a time.

Lexmark Operation Resource -- 800/848-9894 -- Recycles cartridges for the six IBM Laser Printer models in its 4019 and 4029 series. Lexmark will send you a postage paid container. They give the returned cartridges to a workshop for the handicapped which makes money by selling the parts to recycling companies.

Qume Corp. -- 800/421-4326 -- Large organizations can designate an employee fund or charity to receive the money from their recycling effort.

Recycleneur Institute -- 305/539-0701 -- For every used cartridge collected from local organization, they donate $2 to a scholarship fund to help entrepreneurs break into the recycling business. The institute will mail you a list of cartridge recycling companies in your area.

Don Rittner is the author of "EcoLinking - Everyone's Guide to Online Environmental Information," published by Peachpit Press.


Quadra 800 RAM Quirk

Some early adopters of Apple's most powerful Macintosh, the Quadra 800, have run into a bit of a problem with RAM. The 800 can address up 136 MB of RAM if you pop four 32 MB SIMMs in alongside the 8 MB soldered on, although 16 MB SIMMs are a bit more common. The Quadra 800 is optimized for speed, and thus cares a great deal about what type of SIMMs it uses, but it's unclear quite where the problems lie. First, some background.

Since it's still prohibitively expensive to produce the 16 megabit DRAM chips needed for non-composite 16 MB SIMMs, most 16 MB SIMMs use 32 of the more common 4 megabit chips along with additional circuitry to fool the Mac appropriately. This method of using multiple smaller DRAM chips to create a large SIMM results in composite SIMMs, in contrast to non-composite SIMMs that use the same size DRAM chips (4 megabit DRAM chips making up a 4 MB SIMM gives you a non-composite SIMM; 4 megabit DRAM chips making up a 16 MB SIMM gives you a composite SIMM). Interestingly, the new 72-pin 8 MB SIMMs are non-composite - the 72-pin SIMMs have two banks, so the 8 MB SIMM is essentially two non-composite 4 MB SIMMs. So what's the problem? We're getting there.

The Quadra 800 requires 60 nanosecond RAM, and the composite SIMMs are indeed clocked at 60 nanoseconds, but remember that additional circuitry I mentioned? It appears to add a slight amount of overhead, which has the effect of slowing the SIMMs slightly, which is not good, since that means in essence that the Quadra 800 expects information from RAM at a certain speed, but receives it slower. That's when all hell breaks loose.

In addition, and sources at RAM vendor Technology Works wouldn't discuss this further other than to say they were working on it with Apple, there is a power problem. I don't understand this fully, not being a hardware guru, but I gather the Quadra 800 isn't designed to power 32 chips per SIMM, so there's some sort of power problem that occurs when you put two or more 16 MB composite SIMMs in the Quadra 800. Other vendors claim to be working on a solution as well, so I don't expect this to last for too long, but beware if you're buying these 16 MB SIMMs right now.

Errors range from an immediate sad Mac on startup to weird system enabler errors during startup to bus errors when launching or using applications. Sources have said that the errors vary with different SIMMs, different arrangements of SIMMs, and different SIMM vendors. Needless to say, this sort of problem makes the Quadra 800 owner unhappy. Sometimes the errors even go away entirely for a session, only to return after a cold boot.

Dale Adams, one of the designers of the Quadra 800 at Apple, has said that Apple has never claimed that the Quadra 800, or any Mac, would work with composite SIMMs. David Limp, Apple's Quadra Product Manager said that Apple has a tech note about not using composite SIMMs on Quadras, although I was unable to find it on the March Developer's CD or ftp.apple.com. David did say that Apple would reissue that note again soon, presumably with updated information. The matter is exacerbated by the fact that most, if not all, memory vendors sell only composite 16 MB SIMMs; non-composite 16 MB SIMMs with 16 megabit chips are uncommon, and when you can find them, expensive. Try $1,200 for a true 16 MB SIMM, versus $680 for a composite 16 MB SIMM. A true 32 MB SIMM is proportionally cheaper, at $2,000 per SIMM, not that it's much comfort. I've heard of even higher prices, and since few vendors have the 32 MB SIMMs yet, non-composite SIMMs are not financially feasible at this time.

So buying new SIMMs isn't really a reasonable financial solution. The 4 MB SIMMs all work fine, but if you need to use 16 MB SIMMs, what are you to do? We've heard of a strange solution that is by no means guaranteed to work (but tell us if it does). There's this desk accessory from 1987 called RAM-Zero, and when you run it, it clears memory and restarts the Mac. We have no idea why it was originally developed, but it appears to be freely distributable, and one person said that after he ran RAM-Zero, his Quadra 800 with 16 MB composite SIMMs worked fine until the next cold boot. Who am I to argue with success? RAM-Zero is available at <sumex-aim.stanford.edu> for anonymous FTP as:

/info-mac/da/ram-zero-20.hqx

Despite RAM-Zero, I can't currently recommend that you buy a Quadra 800 with the intention of immediately filling it with RAM. The price will come down on the true 16 MB SIMMs eventually; it always does, and as David Limp said, "Composite SIMMs (of any density) are not supported on ANY Macintosh computer." It's not a popular statement, and it's one you might want to keep in mind if memory vendors talk about their composite SIMMs being approved by Apple. There's no telling what's what in this case.

We haven't had any reports of problems with the Centris 650, which uses the same interleaved memory scheme as the Quadra 800 (the 610 doesn't do interleaved memory, according to Apple's Developer's Notes). Nor have we heard of the problem cropping up on the Quadra 700, 900, and 950, despite David Limp's warning. However, the Centris 650 can take 80 nanosecond SIMMs, so that might reduce any timing problems, and the earlier Quadras don't use the 72-pin SIMMs, which might make a difference. There's just something about the Quadra 800 and 16 MB composite SIMMs, and I suspect the same thing will apply to the Apple Workgroup Server 80, which is essentially the same machine.

As an aside, David Limp also mentioned that many of the composite SIMMs are made in form factors that are too tall to fit properly into the Quadras. This affects all Quadras, and judging from several reports from users, installing these tall SIMMs can be a major pain, if possible at all. Check that before buying.

-- Information from:
Pythaeus
Dale Adams -- adams9@applelink.apple.com
David Limp -- limp@applelink.apple.com

Reviews/03-May-93


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