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This week we bring you news of updates to Apple's Japanese and Chinese Language Kits, highlights from the Macworld Tokyo exposition, Adam's comments on the nature of physical resources in the increasingly virtual world of the Internet, follow-ups on cleaning your DeskWriter's paper rollers, a look at a slick Internet LAN solution, and finally the conclusion of Nigel Perry's three part Nisus Writer review.
Copyright 1995 TidBITS Electronic Publishing. All rights reserved.
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Our earthquake coverage wouldn't be complete without sending out a "Bravo!" to Optima Technology, makers of storage peripherals for Macs and other computer systems, for expanding their warranty coverage for victims of the recent Kobe quake. Although the warranty specifically does not cover repairs to equipment that has been physically damaged, Optima has announced that they will offer full warranty repair services for any Optima products that were damaged in the Kobe quake and are still in warranty. Customers in the Kobe area with damaged equipment may contact Optima's distributors MIC at (81) 03-5642-7120 or HSS at (81) 03-3818-7913, or contact Optima in the U.S. at 714/476-0515, fax 714/476-0613. A company spokesperson acknowledged that the "significant business" Optima has enjoyed from the Japanese market was largely behind the decision. [MHA]
Info-Mac Mirror Down -- Due to hard drive problems, the Info-Mac mirror at <mrcnext.cso.uiuc.edu> will down until some time in early March, at which time they'll be upgrading the server and expanding their services. In the meantime, you can use this opportunity to try out AOL's new Info-Mac mirror site at: [GD]
Brent Bossom <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes this week from Macworld Tokyo:
Pioneer displayed two Mac clones with the title "Multimedia Personal Computers," the MPC-GX1 Power PC 601/66 MHz model with built-in stereo speakers, internal CD-ROM drive, and the MPC-LX100 (68LC040/33 MHz) (see TidBITS-264). The Power Mac machine was connected to a Pioneer laserdisc player (CLD-PC10) and displayed some very sharp images.
Apple displayed the recently-announced DTP Power Mac 8115/110 (110 MHz PowerPC 601 chip), featuring an FPU, 32K cache memory, 256K secondary cache memory, and 8 MB RAM (expandable to 264 MB). It comes with a 2 GB hard drive as standard equipment, as well as an AppleCD 300i Plus CD-ROM drive. The Japanese model on display will ship with the KanjiTalk 7.5 operating system.
The Sony MDH-10 portable MiniDisc data drive is smaller than Sony's original MiniDisc player, but it has an RS-232 port for connecting to computers along with a headphone jack for audio. Disks can store up to 140 MB; the list price for the drive is about $640 US, and disks are $25. Also available are SCSI cables for both Macintosh and PCs, as well as a PCMCIA interface kit (type II/III) for DOS/Windows machines. The unit weighs just 340 grams (12 ounces) and will run for two hours on a fully charged ion-lithium rechargeable battery."
Render Unto Thee: QuickDraw 3D -- Apple has been quietly promoting a set of 3D modeling and rendering libraries, code-named Escher, amongst developers for at least the last few months. But the cat finally seems to be out of the bag: the product will be called QuickDraw 3D and be available as a shared library only for the Power Macintosh. Anticipated to be of great benefit to developers of games and consumer-oriented titles as well as high-end applications, QuickDraw 3D makes three-dimensional information an integrated Macintosh data type, doing much the same thing for models and 3D information that QuickTime did for video and images. Using QuickDraw 3D, renderings could be dropped into a "two-dimensional" application - such as a text editor or layout program - and still retain editable three-dimensional data. QuickDraw 3D supports OpenGL (part of SGI's graphics technology) which should make development and integration with high-end rendering programs comparatively straightforward. Apple anticipates QuickDraw 3D to be available in mid-1995 (to coincide with the first PCI Power Macs), with a Windows version to follow in early 1996. [GD]
by Mark H. Anbinder, News Editor <email@example.com>
Director of Technical Services, Baka Industries Inc.
Earlier this month, Apple announced that free updates are available for users of the Japanese Language Kit and Chinese Language Kit who wish to use System 7.5. The updates, which are not useful unless you use System 7.5, also allow users of these language kits to install and use QuickDraw GX.
New system extensions for Japanese Language Kit versions 1.0 or 1.1 will make these versions compatible with System 7.5 and QuickDraw GX. The JLK Updater (available as shown below) should be used until Japanese Language Kit 1.2 is released later this year.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Language Kit Updater will upgrade versions 1.0 or 1.1 to CLK version 1.1.1, which is also available as a retail product. Version 1.1.1 is System 7.5 and GX compatible. Apple recommends that CLK 1.0 owners purchase a $29 upgrade to version 1.1.1 that includes a set of improved fonts. (CLK 1.1 already includes these new fonts.) CLK users in the U.S. may call 800/769-2775 extension 5902 to obtain an upgrade coupon with details of the required proof of purchase. Users outside the U.S. may call Apple's fulfillment center at 716/871-6555. In China, call the Guangzhou office at (86) 20-6661002, or in Hong Kong call 852/851-1750. (Our thanks to Apple; they've gotten much better at making international phone numbers available.)
You can find updaters on AppleLink and eWorld in the Apple Software Updates areas, and on the Internet in:
by Tonya Engst <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Back in TidBITS-261, we ran a short article about Hewlett-Packard's Paper Feed Cleaning Kit, which solves a possible paper-feed problem for DeskWriters and DeskJets in a specific serial number range. Not all TidBITS readers have DeskWriters or DeskJets within that serial number range, and several people wrote in to share tips about cleaning rollers and fixing paper-feed problems. Dirty rollers can cause various problems - including dirty paper and paper not feeding at all.
Clean Your Rollers -- Charlie Mingo <email@example.com> wrote to say that cleaning his rollers made for a "dramatic improvement" in his DeskWriter's functioning. He also wrote, "HP says that regular (non-defective) rollers should be cleaned with a soft cloth and warm water. I managed to use paper towels and Windex quite well. Just remove the paper tray from your DeskWriter, then power-cycle the printer with the cloth or towel held against the rubber roller. Repeat twice for each of the three rollers."
I called HP Technical Support to find out what HP currently suggests, and spoke with Randy, an extremely personable technician. Randy sounded rather down on the paper towel concept; instead, he suggested using a lint-free cloth, moistened with water, or - if you don't have any clean water - moistened with alcohol (of the rubbing persuasion). According to Randy, the lint-free cloth and either water or rubbing alcohol represent the only official "HP-supported" cleaning techniques. Also, water is better than alcohol; if you clean your rollers repeatedly with alcohol (once a month for three years, say), the alcohol eventually deteriorates the roller rubber.
In regard to using water, Milton Diamond <firstname.lastname@example.org> found that using "HOT HOT" water cleaned his rollers so that they could pick up paper again.
Renew Your Rollers -- If cleaning doesn't help your rollers, and you enjoy "do not try this at home" type experiments, (meaning, don't complain to me if you have problems) you might try a product called Rubber Renue. Derek Fong <email@example.com> had great success fixing the paper pickup on his "vanilla DeskWriter (no AppleTalk, vintage 1989-90)" with Rubber Renue. Derek's story begins:
"About a year ago, my DeskWriter began having paper feeding problems. I posted a query about my problem on <comp.sys.mac.hardware>, and Alvin Croll made a helpful suggestion. He told me about a product made by M.G. Chemicals called Rubber Renue. By painting this chemical on the DeskWriter rollers, he found that the hardened and slick rollers regained their ability to grab a sheet of paper.
"Alvin bought his bottle of Rubber Renue from a company in Canada called Active Components. I gave them a call, and found to my dismay that they could not legally ship the chemical across the border to me in the United States. I eventually tracked down one of Active Components' sister stores here in the states to place an order, and - after $20 in phone calls, $6.45 for Rubber Renue, and $5.00 shipping - I received a bottle of Rubber Renue. (Unfortunately, they only sell Rubber Renue in 250 ml bottles, which is enough for a lifetime.)
"I painted some of the chemical onto my DeskWriter rollers using a few cotton swabs and the Prime button (to keep the rollers spinning), let it dry for a minute, and presto, I have not had a mis-fed page in the past four months, and my DeskWriter works as good as new. I, of course, don't guarantee this will solve the problem for all people, but it certainly was a well spent $31.45 for me."
Switch to a New Paper Type -- If a regular cleaning doesn't solve a paper-feed problem and painting chemicals on your rollers isn't quite up your alley, consider changing your paper type. J. Quinn <firstname.lastname@example.org>, who did need the HP Paper Feed Cleaning Kit, suggested, "A hint for DeskWriter users - try duplicator paper (more absorbent), which is better than bond (photocopy or laser) paper for these machines. Even with the acknowledged fault with the rollers, I got fairly consistent feeds with the duplicator paper, but the bond paper fouled up!"
Active Electronics -- 617/932-0050 (U.S.) -- 204/786-3075 (Canada)
Hewlett-Packard Technical Support -- 208/323-2551
by Mark H. Anbinder, News Editor <email@example.com>
While many vendors are scrambling to jump on the Internet bandwagon, Compatible Systems has carefully assembled a bundle of hardware, software, and service that will make it easy for small networks to connect to the Internet. The company's WorldWire package, released for both Macintosh and Windows this month, combines a router, Internet client software, and credit towards UUNET's LAN Plus Internet connection service.
Included with WorldWire is Compatible's MicroRouter 900i, with auto-switching 10Base-T thin, and thick Ethernet ports, plus an RS-232C port used for the WAN (wide area network) connection to route TCP/IP via PPP. The WAN port can handle asynchronous or synchronous connections using anything from an ordinary modem on an ordinary phone line, to leased or switched 56 Kbps line, to ISDN. Connections up to 128 Kbps are supported, and both Mac and Windows management utilities are provided.
WorldWire also includes either a five-user license for InterCon's TCP/Connect II client software for Macintosh, or Spry's Air Series for Windows users. The TCP/Connect II package provides email, Usenet news, FTP, Gopher, Telnet, and Web client functionality, as well as a license for MacTCP. (Apple's MacTCP software is also included with System 7.5.) Naturally, other commercial TCP/IP client software such as Eudora and Netscape, as well as the wide variety of Macintosh freeware and shareware, will work fine on computers connected to a WorldWired LAN.
The bundle, which will ship in March with a suggested list price of $1,995, includes $499 credit towards AlterNet LAN Plus offered by UUNET Technologies, which provides 14.4 Kbps or 28.8 Kbps modem dialup service. The credit can instead be applied towards the cost of higher-bandwidth leased line or frame relay access. (A one year service commitment is required to take advantage of the credit.)
For those who already have all the software they need, or prefer another Internet service provider, the Compatible Systems MicroRouter 900i is available separately for $995. The MicroRouter 1000R, with a retail price of $1,695, routes IPX, AppleTalk, and DECnet protocols as well as TCP/IP.
Companies with in-house TCP/IP experts or wide area networking experts might still be able to find a less expensive "roll-your-own" solution, but Compatible's WorldWire product offers a good starting point for those who prefer a complete package. For about the same amount of money as Global Village's OneWorld Internet router (see TidBITS-258), WorldWire provides a much more flexible approach to Internet connectivity.
Compatible Systems -- 800/356-0283 -- 303/444-9532
303/444-9595 (fax) -- <firstname.lastname@example.org>
by Adam C. Engst <email@example.com>
Bob Jacobsen <firstname.lastname@example.org> made an interesting comment in reference to our pointers in TidBITS-262 to earthquake information servers that combine information from several different sources. Bob wrote, "The combination of different services also points up a weakness of the net - all of these servers rely on the Xerox PARC Map Server. This is particularly interesting with respect to earthquakes, since PARC is very near one of the remaining "dark spots" in the San Andreas fault, in an area with a high probability of a major quake in the next 30 years." Bob went on to wonder how many other "high utility" services live in only a single Internet location, much like the Connection Machine WAIS server that Thinking Machines took down at the end of last year. WAIS, Inc. is working to bring back most of the sources that lived on the Connection Machine; TidBITS is back, but searches currently return an entire issue rather than a specific article.
Bob suggested that perhaps this was an area in which "service oriented" people could work to replicate some of the less glamorous parts of the Internet information infrastructure, and in fact that's exactly how the Info-Mac and Umich FTP mirror networks have sprung up. The mother sites at <sumex-aim.stanford.edu> and <mac.archive.umich.edu> are too busy these days for many individuals to get through, but they serve numerous mirror sites that spread the load, and in some respects, the risk. If the machine at <sumex-aim.stanford.edu> went down, say because of an earthquake or a malevolent hacker (see TidBITS-216), service to that machine would be interrupted but the mirror sites would remain active. In a pinch, one of them might even volunteer to become the host site that the others would connect to each day. Aside from moving administrative tools over, the process of switching to a different host site wouldn't be too bad - certainly easier than setting up a new machine from scratch in a different location.
Unfortunately, not too many other Internet resources follow this philosophy of mirroring resources. Some useful Web pages, such as the CUI page of Web Search Engines at
expressly encourage others to copy the page and support it at their sites. However, although this page is a useful service in its own right, it primarily points at other unique search engines around the Web, and thus is as vulnerable as the earthquake information systems that rely on the Xerox PARC Map Server.
In some cases, I'm sure that the specialized servers require a certain operating system or even certain hardware, which makes creating redundant sites more difficult. This is perhaps the case with Yahoo, the popular and well-organized Web subject catalog, since it requires a custom Unix database that isn't available to the public. In other situations, the question may be a matter of sufficient volunteer labor and an organization willing to host a popular server. Yahoo serves hundreds of thousands (if not millions) files each day to judge from their statistics, and there aren't many sites that wish to handle that network and hardware load.
But the issue may not always be that simple. For instance, many people have talked about the next wave of Internet service being commercial services that collect and organize resources, charging a tiny fee for each search. That's the theory behind the commercial InfoSeek; more on them in a bit. The reason I mention commercial searching is that popular, well-organized, well-run sites might conceivably "go commercial." After all, David Filo and Jerry Yang, the guys who maintain Yahoo, might at some point be lured into the high-stakes and stale-lunch world of big business. If they're even considering such a move in the future, they might not want to let other sites mirror Yahoo so they can retain control.
Commercial sites like InfoSeek and HotWired float in a slightly different boat. They obviously aren't going to let just anyone mirror their sites, especially InfoSeek, which uses authentication heavily and charges for searches in commercial databases. But at the same time, since the companies running these sites have a vested interest in making sure users aren't turned away or left bobbing on the waves, there's less to worry about. If InfoSeek wishes to stay in business, they have to ensure that their customers will be able to get through, perhaps even in the event of a natural disaster. That's the cost of doing business.
O'Reilly's Global Network Navigator site, although very much linked to O'Reilly's books and decidedly commercially oriented, takes a different approach and has signed up 12 mirror sites around the world. Currently, according to John Labovitz, Technical Services Manager at GNN, the mirror sites have all volunteered to carry GNN, mostly to provide content to more local users without requiring users to go out to the Internet. However, John says, "Due to the growth of GNN (not only in popularity, but in content and technology), we're working on more clearly defining our mirroring requirements, and will probably incorporate more specific terms and conditions than we do now." Even still, it sounds like GNN has little worry in terms of redundancy.
To be honest, we've thought about this issue with respect to TidBITS as well, and it's one of the reasons we've agreed to most any nonprofit, non-commercial redistribution that people have proposed (but please ask anyway so we get a sense of where the issues go). By ensuring that TidBITS is mirrored and stored throughout the world, there's little fear that a catastrophe here could wipe out the archives of TidBITS (and believe me, the early issues make for some pretty humorous reading!). Although both we and Geoff live near Seattle, should a natural disaster destroy our machines or connections (or give us more serious problems to worry about), Mark Anbinder, our indefatigable News Editor, might even be able to take over the task of publishing the issues for a few weeks, as he did when we moved out west and were without a net connection for a while. [Hey, Mark: clear off some disk space! Mt. Rainier is looking more ominous all the time. -Geoff]
Perhaps the thought to consider in the end is that although the Internet breaks up geographic barriers and scatters them to the winds, Internet resources are no less vulnerable than any other physical object. Machines can be stolen (a temporary Web page we saw recently bemoaned the theft of the main server), damaged, or otherwise put out of commission. However, even though specific machines are as insecure as anything else, the Internet itself, through mirroring and similar techniques, can serve to raise the data above the vulnerability of a single location. And of course, the underlying sentiment throughout this article is that perhaps you, whoever you are, can help to protect a unique Internet resource from the vagaries of fate. Consider the possibility.
by Nigel Perry <email@example.com>
[This article began in TidBITS-263, continued in TidBITS-264, and finishes here. -Tonya]
Sound and Speech -- Nisus Writer can speak, and not just using Apple's PlainTalk either - it comes with its own English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Nisus does not do translation; but it can use different accents and pronunciation rules. So if you want to hear how your document would sound spoken with a French accent, or if your document is in French, Nisus can oblige. However these voices take up rather a lot of disk space, almost 1.5 MB, so you might want to rely on PlainTalk, which Nisus happily uses.
Nisus Writer also allows you to annotate parts of your document with sounds and to record sounds for your text by word, sentence, and so on. Sound annotations are shown by an icon, but - curiously - if you record a sentence there is no indication that you have done so. Nisus Writer offers a catalog of sounds (which are stored in a folder, not your document), and you can play them all back - so though you can't see which parts of your document might have attached sounds, you can find them.
Looking at the sound features prompts the question "Why?". Having the Mac read back your text using "Good News" (a MacinTalk 3 voice) is great fun for my seven-year-old son - but he uses SimpleText for this, not Nisus Writer. Nisus is not a presentation package and does not come with a "player" application, so it is not the best program to use for a multimedia presentation.
Tonya tells me that people with a variety of disabilities find Text to Speech features enormously helpful. When she took calls at Microsoft, the two most common types of people requesting Text to Speech features were people with vision problems or dyslexia who wanted to "proof read" documents by listening to them. Nisus Software might have had this in mind, but this still leaves me questioning the decision to include comprehensive sound recording abilities.
Movies -- Nisus Writer has jumped on the QuickTime bandwagon. Unfortunately, this part of Nisus Writer is poorly implemented. A movie appears in a document just like any other graphic and can be inserted into a document as a character graphic or on the graphics layer. However, for movies inserted on the graphics layer, there is no indication that the picture is a movie, not even QuickTime's standard film strip icon. To run a movie you must first double-click the picture - if its not a movie, you end up in the graphics editor; if it is a movie, a new window opens over the top of the picture and this one has the file strip icon on it. Click the icon and the movie controller comes up and you're away. Why a new window, why not inline? Nisus Software says it's so you can scroll your document and not lose the movie, but this could be made an option for those who wanted it. And of course the window title can obscure part of your text, so you have to move the thing - assuming you have anywhere to move it.
Don't get me wrong, I like QuickTime, I even write programs which use it, but Nisus Writer isn't for QuickTime aficionados. [And frankly, essentially no one ever uses QuickTime in a serious word processing document - it's a red herring feature flopping around on the word processor beach. -Adam]
So, Nisus Writer leaves me with but one question about multimedia: Why?
Overall Conclusion -- Though Nisus Writer suffers from a number of quirks and annoyances - in particular in the word and document processing areas - its text processing is unparalleled. It does have bugs - some of which are still left over from Nisus - but I can also put Microsoft Word into a tailspin.
An enormous opportunity was lost when Nisus Software chose to add new features, some of questionable value, rather than concentrate on finishing the job they started with Nisus. I don't understand what market they are aiming at with some of the additions. Had Nisus Software chosen to make the styles work more flexibly, Nisus Writer would be hard to beat for many different types of document creation, though for documents requiring high-end layout features, you'd still need to look elsewhere.
Nisus Writer currently runs in 68K mode only and requires System 7 or later. It works on any 68000-based Macintosh or newer, with the exception of the Macintosh Plus. Nisus Software plans to include support for the Plus in the Nisus Writer 4.0.7 update, which should be ready (with a free updater available online) in a few weeks. A Power Mac native version of Nisus Writer is in the works, but the program is relatively speedy even now. To use all of Nisus Writer's features, you'll need to allocate 3 MB to the program, but to do basic word processing in shorter documents without tables, equations, and sounds, you can run reasonably in 1,700K of memory. The full installation, which includes examples and tutorial documents, consumes 7 MB of disk space.
If you have been using Nisus for the last four years and it has met your needs - which it probably has as well as any rival or you would have switched already - then the upgrade is worth it.
Nisus Software -- 800/890-3030 -- 619/481-1477
619/481-6154 (fax) -- <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[For more opinions and resources related to Nisus, check out the Nisus Writer page on World of Words. -Tonya]
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.
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