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PowerPC information galore this week, including specs on all the new machines due out on March 14th, and current Quadra prices for those who don't want take the PowerPC plunge. We cover the fuss concerning the Clipper chip and provide pointers to all sorts of information about it; Dave Thompson of ARPA warns about Meeting Maker and On Technology; and we provide a brief look at our upcoming books about the Internet and (from Tonya Microsoft Word.
Copyright 1994 TidBITS Electronic Publishing. All rights reserved.
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As the ides of March approach, so does the deadline for my next book. It's unlike any other Internet book that I've seen in that it's non-technical and provides a look at Internet life in order to show and not tell what the Internet is all about. The entire book is written in dialogue form with my good friend Bill Dickson, and doesn't attempt to tell you how to do much of anything.
Bill: Hi folks! But if you pay attention, you might pick up a surprising amount of information.
Adam: We want to convey the concept, the Zeitgeist if you will, of the Internet, without bogging the book down with technical jargon. I enjoy reading James Herriot's books about being a veterinarian in Great Britain, but I have no desire to be a vet - I just want to vicariously live the conceit of Herriot's world.
Bill: The Internet is our world, and we come at it from different viewpoints. I like to wander aimlessly in the World-Wide Web, whereas Adam searches WAIS and Veronica. I've spent plenty of time in IRC and various MUDs -
Adam: And I have a life.
Adam: The point is that we want the book to be enjoyable, personable, and the answer to the question we hear so frequently, "So what do you really do on the Internet anyway?"
Bill: In any event, since our deadline draws near, if you can avoid sending unnecessary email to Adam, that would be great. He spends a lot of time replying to email these days.
Adam: Yes, thanks, and just so you know the kind of hours we're putting in at the moment, Tonya is also finishing a book for the end of February. The book is the ultimate guide to Microsoft Word (it explains how to actually make Word do something for you rather than cheerfully documenting each and every menu item in gory detail). Busy is not the word for it, but we don't foresee any problems putting out TidBITS thanks to people like Mark Anbinder and our other contributors. So please bear with us until the middle of March (the books should be out a month or two later), and then all should return to normal.
Bill: I'm not even going to touch that one.
A new radio talk show about computers called "OnLine Tonight with David Lawrence" debuts this Sunday, 27-Feb-94 "via the ABC Satellite System." I know zilch about radio, so I'm not sure how that will help you find it in your area, but the time will be 8:00 PM Eastern time and 5:00 PM Pacific time, so I'll just go low-tech and dial through all the local stations. The demo tape I heard indicates that OnLine Tonight may not quite compete with NPR's Car Talk (David's going to hate me for saying that), but will certainly be far more fun and interesting than any of the boring suit-filled computer radio shows I've heard in the past. Although David is a self-described Mac fanatic, the show is cross-platform and co-host Rita Daniels covers PC questions from callers. Most interestingly, if you don't want to use the telephone, you can ask questions online as well via America Online or CompuServe. No word if they've got an IRC channel set up yet for Internet folks.
David Lawrence -- email@example.com -- firstname.lastname@example.org
CD Updates -- Two popular CDs packed with thousands of files have recently been updated. AMUG (the Arizona Macintosh Users' Group) shipped BBS in a Box X for $119 ($45 upgrade), and Pacific Hi Tech just released the third edition of the Info-Mac CD-ROM for $49.95 (previous owners get a $20 discount), which holds many of the files stored on <sumex-aim.stanford.edu>. If you've had trouble accessing FTP sites due to the load, or if you're setting up a BBS and want a ready-made file library, check out these CDs. Both CDs reportedly have a conflict between the Dataware software used to create the CDs and the drivers for NEC CD-ROM drives. The workaround for the moment is to use a third-party generic driver, such as Charismac or FWB's CD-ROM Toolkit.
AMUG -- 602/553-8966 -- 602/553-8771 (fax) -- email@example.com
Pacific Hi-Tech -- 801/278-2042 -- 801/278-2666 (fax) -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Duo Battery Patch -- Apple has released a patch for the Duo 210, 230, and 250 (the 270c is not affected) that reportedly solves problems with the Duo not charging its internal battery. The problem apparently cropped up with the release of the PowerBook Duo Enabler, the version that Apple currently recommends for all Duos. According to Apple, we can look forward to the next PowerBook Duo Enabler release incorporating the patch. You can find the patch on AppleLink or on the Internet at:
Mark Anbinder reported on the Quadra price drops two issues ago, but we've had requests for the actual pricing, and some additional information appeared too late for Mark's article. Pricing on the current Quadra models now looks like this:
Previous New Percent Apple Apple Change price price Quadra 650 8/230 w/512K VRAM/ $2,399 $2,129 11% Ethernet & FPU Quadra 650 8/230CD w/1 MB VRAM/ $2,739 $2,479 9% Ethernet & FPU Quadra 650 8/500CD w/1 MB VRAM/ $3,339 $3,069 8% Ethernet & FPU Quadra 660AV 8/230 w/1 MB VRAM $2,289 $1,879 18% Quadra 660AV 8/230CD w/1 MB VRAM $2,579 $2,159 16% Quadra 660AV 8/500CD w/1 MB VRAM $3,169 $2,759 13% Quadra 800 8/230 512K VRAM/ $2,739 $2,439 11% Ethernet & FPU Quadra 800 8/500 w/1 MB VRAM/ $3,379 $3,079 9% Ethernet & FPU Quadra 800 8/500CD w/1 MB VRAM/ $3,649 $3,349 8% Ethernet & FPU Quadra 800 8/1000 w/1 MB VRAM/ $4,089 $3,789 7% Ethernet & FPU Quadra 840AV 8/230/1 MB VRAM/ $3,619 $3,199 12% Ethernet Quadra 840AV 8/230CD/1 MB VRAM/ $3,909 $3,489 11% Ethernet Quadra 840AV 16/500CD/1 MB VRAM/ $4,849 $4,419 9% Ethernet Quadra 840AV 16/1000CD/1 MB VRAM/ $5,559 $5,119 8% Ethernet Quadra 950 8/SD w/1 MB VRAM $3,559 $3,149 12% Quadra 950 33 MHz 8/230/1 MB VRAM $4,089 $3,679 10% Quadra 950 33 MHz 8/500 w/1 MB VRAM $4,659 $4,249 9% Quadra 950 33 MHz 16/1000 w/1 MB VRAM $5,729 $5,309 7% Quadra 950 33 MHz 0/1000 w/1 MB VRAM $7,999 $7,329 8%
by Dave Thompson, Manager, ARPA Networking Services
The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) has been using Meeting Maker from On Technology <email@example.com> for the last three years as its agency-wide scheduling system. Although we have a love/hate relationship with this product, it has clearly changed the way ARPA does business. These days, if a meeting doesn't exist on Meeting Maker, the meeting doesn't exist.
Unfortunately, Meeting Maker has a small problem with its database. The product was designed using a fairly unreliable database technology, which tends to occasionally "lose" the database links between elements. When this happens, the only action that the customer can take is to delete the account that owns the bad information.
At the beginning of January, we attempted to do our quarterly purge of the database and discovered we had several accounts that contained bad records. One of these accounts is the Director of ARPA, and we really wanted to avoid deleting his account.
Now we would have gone ahead and deleted his account, getting a lot of egg on our faces, except that On Technology knows how to "reattach" the data record. Kelly Martin, their lead technical person, knows how to go into the database and remove the offending record, without requiring the deletion of the entire account. We found it interesting that she is the only person at On Technology who knows how to perform this delicate task (she didn't respond to our inquiry of what happens to On Technology if she gets hit by a bus).
You would think, "Aha! There is a solution! We get the database fixed, and life goes on." No such luck. Since ARPA is a Department of Defense agency, and this service is used by everyone in the agency, the data in the database is sensitive information, and there are federal regulations governing it. The bottom line is that it can't leave the building. However, On Technology "provides phone and electronic support for their package only." They offered to fix the error if we would send the database to them electronically.
This put us in a real dilemma. We don't want to delete the Director's account, but the only way to avoid it is to send the database to the vendor, which we are not allowed to do, due to federal regulations. We spent all of January trying to find a way to resolve this situation. We offered to pay to fly Kelly Martin down and fix the database. We offered to fly one of our people up to learn how to fix it. We even considered hiring her. After a month of telephone tag, requests, cajoling, and pleading, On Technology gave us their official position, that they "provide phone and electronic support for their package only." We continued to try and get them to stand behind their product. In the latest attempt, our Director of MIS tried to contact the President of On Technology, Chris Risley. He refused to take the call, or to return the call.
Finally, on February 13th (poetic, eh?), our Meeting Maker servers themselves resolved the situation for us. They crashed and refused to come back up. Our only option was to delete the accounts, and restart the system. Meeting Maker did come back online, and we have had the distinct pleasure of explaining to the ARPA front office why the Director's account had to be deleted when it wasn't necessary. Needless to say, the search has begun for a replacement for Meeting Maker, and products from On Technology will not be considered.
For those of you considering Meeting Maker XP, it is our understanding that this problem has not been fixed in the new release, and unfortunately, On Technology's support policies have remained equally unchanged.
You may have heard mutterings in the media about the Clipper chip, a computer chip that provides encryption services for both data and voice transmissions (that's right, telephones). The concept is good - if you're sending sensitive information about your love life to a friend, you may want to make sure that no one can pry through your email. However, the Clipper chip has a catch, a back door, if you will. The U.S. government, in the form of the FBI and the NSA, wants to have "keys" to the Clipper chip that enable them to decode anything encrypted with the Clipper chip. The government argues that they need this capability to be able to learn about terrorist and criminal plans, particularly those that threaten national security.
However, there are several good reasons to oppose the adoption of the Clipper chip. First, the government has never proven itself entirely trustworthy in terms of protecting the privacy of its citizens, and frankly, there is no "government" that holds these "keys" - government employees do, and people cannot be completely trustworthy. Just think of the scandal if the Clipper chip were adopted and some government employee sold the secret back door to another country. Second, even if you aren't concerned with the government possibly poking through your personal information, isn't it a bit arrogant to assume that the U.S. is the only country that could come up with a decent encryption technology? Smart criminals and terrorists would simply pay a hotshot programmer from some other country to create an unbreakable encryption technology, and use that one to avoid having their communications fall into the hands of the FBI and NSA. Clipper is an act of electronic hubris.
CPSR, the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, has organized a petition drive to oppose the Clipper chip proposal. If you wish to sign on to this petition, all you have to do is send email to <firstname.lastname@example.org> with the message "I oppose Clipper" (sans quotes) in the body of the letter. CPSR has also made information about the Clipper chip available on the Internet via FTP, WAIS, and Gopher as:
There's another way you can work against the Clipper chip proposal and the U.S. restriction on export of powerful encryption software. Currently, encryption software that the NSA cannot decrypt may not be exported from the U.S. (again assuming that other countries couldn't come up with their own unbreakable schemes). U.S. Representative Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) has introduced a bill into the House of Representatives that would move authority of the export of encryption software from the Secretary of State to the Secretary of Commerce, and would also invalidate license requirements for non-military software containing encryption capabilities unless there is substantial evidence that the software will be specifically used or modified for military or terrorist use.
To get more information about the Cantwell bill, send email to <email@example.com>, and to add your voice to those supporting Cantwell's bill, send email to <firstname.lastname@example.org> with "I support HR 3627" in the Subject line of your message. In the body of the message, outline reasons why you support Cantwell's bill. If you wish to read the full text of the bill, it's available on the Internet at the following URLs and soon on AOL (keyword EFF) and CompuServe (GO EFFSIG).
For yet more information about the Clipper chip situation, you can retrieve two essays written by John Perry Barlow and Brock N. Meeks for WIRED. To receive these essays, send email to <email@example.com> with these three lines in the body of the message:
Barlow's essay raises the same arguments I've raised above, but also relates the White House staff's responses. Depressing stuff. WIRED also sports some Gopher- and World-Wide Web-based sources of information on this topic at:
I recommend reading some of the information to see what the hullabaloo is about. For those not in the U.S., consider if the same argument might not arise in your country (one report mentioned that the NSA is shopping the technology around to other countries), and even if not, how the Clipper chip and related legislation could affect communications with the U.S. and the U.S. computer industry. We live in a global economy, and those of us on the nets interact daily on a global basis. That's important, and must not be compromised.
March may bode well for Macintosh users if the PowerPC versions of the Macintosh appear on schedule and live up to reports I've heard. You can find some of this sort of information (but not the juicy stuff) via Gopher at the URL below. There's also a possibility of native PowerPC demo applications appearing there.
Compatibility -- Sure, the big name developers will support the PowerPC - they'd be stupid not to. But what about some of our favorite freeware and shareware authors? There's no telling, although individual developers often support new technologies well in advance of the commercial outfits. News from Pythaeus indicates that university developers haven't been left out of the fun. A four-month loan of a PowerPC has allowed various developers to ensure their applications work with the PowerPC. Among the programs tested are the Gopher server from the University of Minnesota, Mosaic from NCSA, CU-SeeMe and Mandarin from Cornell University, the World-Wide Web server (they probably mean Chuck Shotton's MacHTTP), and MacSLIP from the University of Texas.
Compatibility reports I've heard about commercial applications are surprisingly good - apparently most everything runs well in emulation. The major exception is any application that requires a hardware FPU, since the emulation only emulates the FPU-less 68LC040 chip that has been used in a few Macs. I doubt this limitation will be serious since any application that relies heavily on the FPU has no business not going native. Reports from test sites indicate that the transition to the PowerPC Macs may be even less stressful than the transition from the 68030 to 68040 or from System 6 to System 7. Some people even claimed the PowerPC Macs were more compatible than the AV Macs (which must be pretty good, since I've seen relatively few incompatibilities with the 660AV).
Upgrades -- Apple has announced that they intend to offer PowerPC motherboard upgrades for even more current Macs, bringing the list to the following:
LC 475, 520, 550, 575
Performa 475/476, 550, 600
Macintosh IIvx, IIvi
Centris 610, 650, 660AV
Quadra 605, 610, 650, 660AV, 800, 840AV
Apple Workgroup Server 60, 80, 95 (but only with System 7)
Of these, the only one that surprises me is the AWS 95, which is essentially a Quadra 950. It's rumored that the upgrade will only come in the form of the PDS card rather than the full logic board upgrade, and at that point, it would seem that the Quadra 700 would be a candidate for the same upgrade. Upgrades will be available at the March 14th introduction and should start at less than $1,000.
DayStar has announced that they intend to provide upgrades for other Macs currently left out (the SE/30 rides again!). The details of how the DayStar and Apple PDS upgrade boards will handle RAM are still fuzzy, but the companies may come up with cards that use memory in different ways, resulting in different prices and different overall speeds.
One advantage of the Apple PDS card upgrade is that you can choose between PowerPC 601 or 68040 mode merely by rebooting, so if your software wasn't compatible with the PowerPC chip, you could easily switch back to normal 68040 mode. The big question that remains is if the PDS card upgrades might not be even faster than the low-end PowerPC logic board upgrades since Apple's PDS cards come with a large RAM cache.
Names & Prices -- The naming scheme that Apple has adopted makes a certain sort of twisted sense, but requires the ability to perform complicated internal arithmetical linkages. When will these people learn that a word is worth a thousand numbers?. And of course, keep in mind that this information still fits in the rumor category. I suspect Apple sometimes changes squiggly details at the last minute to discredit those of us who disseminate them.
We should see at least six PowerPC Macs (three of which will sport AV technologies), all named PowerMac (or perhaps Power Macintosh). Each will sport 8 MB of RAM and the price includes built-in Ethernet, a keyboard, and monitor, presumably a basic 14" model.
The low-end PowerMac 6100/60 uses a 60 MHz PowerPC 601 chip and costs $2,099 with a 160 MB hard drive and room for a maximum of 72 MB of RAM. The next model up, the PowerMac 7100/66, is $2,999 for a 66 MHz chip, a 250 MB hard drive, and space for 136 MB of RAM. The fastest model, which will be the one to buy for adequate SoftWindows speed, is the PowerMac 8100/80 and costs $4,499 with a 250 MB hard drive and room for 264 MB of RAM, although I don't even want to think about how much that RAM would cost. There will undoubtedly be various options in terms of hard drives and whatnot.
Reports indicate that the lowest end model is way too slow for SoftWindows (which will be included with some models), but the demo I saw at Macworld indicated that the high-end PowerPC Mac could do a good job of PC emulation.
I believe that some of the pricing difference between the various models is related to the secondary cache memory, which is fast and expensive, but which significantly improves performance.
Each of the above machines also comes as an AV model, with the AV technologies provided on a PDS card. Otherwise the specs are pretty much the same.
I'm sure you can figure out the naming scheme - the first number indicates the case type, with the 6 being the Quadra 610 case, the 7 being the Quadra 650 case, and the 8 being the Quadra 800 case. The 100 tacked on the end is there to make the number look impressive. The number after the slash is of course the chip speed. I have no clue what they plan to call an LC 550, for instance, that you upgrade to a PowerPC chip.
Performance -- Reports from test sites still indicate that the speed of current Macintosh applications running in emulation mode feels like the speed of a Quadra 700. Apple disclaims emulation speed widely, saying that it varies dramatically from application to application and that it should range from IIci to Quadra 700 speed. It's unclear how the recent InfoWorld article that claimed 68000 and 68020 performance was done - I have yet to hear from anyone who thinks that, and these are people who have used PowerPC Macs for some time.
Native mode software runs anywhere from twice as fast as existing high-end Macs to as much as eight times as fast in specific areas. I could quote benchmarks at you, but frankly, I think they're relatively meaningless. No one is going to buy a PowerPC Mac solely because it's a few SPECmarks faster than a Pentium-based Windows box. Instead, people will buy PowerPC Macs because they are Macs and they are damn fast, especially for the prices involved. End of story.
-- Information from:
The following specs were posted to the nets, and certainly aren't officially from Apple. Still, they jibe pretty much with what I've heard.
Model 6100/60 7100/66 8100/80 Processor PPC601 PPC601 PPC601 Speed 60 MHz 66 MHz 80 MHz Cache Optional Optional 256K standard Performance 25% faster 200% faster Native 2-4x 68040/33 than 6100/60 than 6100/60 Emulated fast 030-040 RAM 8 MB standard 8 MB standard 8 MB standard DRAM exp. 72 MB 136 MB 264 MB SIMM Slots 2 4 8 Expansion Slots One 7" NuBus 3 full size 3 full size NuBus NuBus Storage Standard 160 to 250 MB 250 to 500 MB 250 MB to 1 GB Floppy 1.4 MB w/DMA 1.4 MB w/DMA 1.4 MB w/DMA CD-ROM Optional Optional Optional Video DRAM video Standard Standard Standard VRAM 1 MB standard 2 MB standard VRAM exp. 2 MB 4 MB Standard Support 1 monitor 2 monitors 2 monitors SCSI High-speed High-speed High-speed asynch asynch asynch Dual SCSI channels Networking Ethernet on-board w/DMA channel, AAUI connector Other Built-ins 16-bit audio stereo in/out with DMA 2 serial ports-LocalTalk and GeoPort compatible, with DMA Channel Apple Desktop Bus (ADB for input devices) AV Models 6100/66AV, 7100/66AV, 8100/80AV Video-in NTSC, PAL, SECAM Video in resizable window Frame and video capture Video-out NTSC, PAL VRAM 2 MB standard, not expandable Interface S-video for video in/out Composite (RCA) adapters included Software System 7.1.2 Macintosh OS with AppleScript PC Exchange & QuickTime. PlainTalk text-to-speech and speech recognition software MS-DOS/Windows 3.1 with Insignia Solutions SoftWindows software with some models Other SIMMs 72-pin, 80 ns or faster, installed in pairs CD-ROM AppleCD 300i Power 100-240 volts, 50-60 Hz EnergyStar-compliant (7100/66, 8100/80) Logic Board Upgrades Models 6100/60 7100/66 8100/80 Includes 8 MB DRAM, same interface, audio, and video Expansion Same as applicable model Hard Drive 160 MB minimum recommended DRAM DRAM from upgraded system must be 72-pin, 80 ns or faster, installed in pairs Software System 7.1.2, AppleScript, PC Exchange, QuickTime AV Logic Board Upgrades Models 6100/60AV 7100/66AV 8100/80AV Includes Upgrade included 8 MB DRAM & same interfaces as applicable model Other Same expansion, HD, DRAM, and software specs as non-AV logic board upgrades Video-in NTSC, PAL, SECAM Video in resizable window Frame and video capture Video-out NTSC, PAL Interface S-video for video in/out Composite (RCA) adapters included Power Macintosh Upgrade Card Upgrade Card Processor PPC601 Speed Twice the clock speed of host motherboard Slot Motorola 68040 PDS Cache 1 MB AV technologies not supported. Host Macintosh Resources DRAM 8 MB min., uses DRAM on motherboard Interfaces None on card, uses host interfaces Expansion Requires NuBus slot in line with 040 PDS empty to install card Software System 7.1.2 with AppleScript, PC Exchange and QuickTime Supports booting Mac with host 040 or PPC601 Availability Concurrent with introduction of PowerMac
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