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Struggling to put together the right outfit for holiday festivities? Fear not: TidBITS clothing is here, along with mugs and mousepads! Also this week, we look at ICANN, the just-approved new top-level domains, and how they might impact you. Also, Tom Gewecke examines multilingual support in Mac OS 9 - including the language kits you might not know are included - and we note the release of MacSpeech's iListen 1.0, Graphing Calculator 3.0, and NetCloak 3.1.
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Send Us Your Holiday 2000 Gift Ideas -- We're gearing up for our annual holiday gift issue, where we pass along the best suggestions from you, our readers. These ideas could be either gifts you're planning to present to friends and family or things you're hoping to receive yourself! As in previous years, we'll be collecting ideas in TidBITS Talk, so please send your suggestions to <email@example.com>. We've already started threads for specific categories, and there's a "Respond via email" link for you to use at the bottom of each message in the TidBITS Talk Web archive. And as always, please suggest only one product or idea per message, give the reason why you're recommending it, make sure to include a URL or other necessary contact information, and please recommend only others' products. Thanks in advance for your suggestions, and if you want to check out the last two holiday gift issues to get the creative juices flowing, they're TidBITS-460 and TidBITS-510.
iListen 1.0 Perks Up Its Ears -- MacSpeech has released iListen 1.0, its long-awaited Mac speech recognition program. iListen features continuous speech recognition and dictation, enabling your Mac to recognize and enter into a document words you speak into a microphone. (For an overview of continuous speech recognition, and a review of iListen's main competition, see Matt Neuburg's "Talk Is Cheap - ViaVoice Enhanced Edition" in TidBITS-544.) iListen enables you to create text macros that type long sections of text when triggered by short voice commands, and it can use speech profiles for individual people on the same Mac using Mac OS 9's Multiple Users feature. iListen requires a PowerPC G3- or G4-based computer running Mac OS 9 or later with 128 MB of RAM. The software is available for $99 from the MacSpeech Web site; two recommended microphone/headset combinations are also available for $53 and $57. MacSpeech also offers a $30 rebate for owners of IBM's ViaVoice. [JLC]
Graphing Calculator Draws Itself Up To 3.0 -- Back in 1994, when Apple released the first Power Macs, an elegant little application called Graphing Calculator helped wow the mathematically inclined masses by quickly graphing and smoothly animating graphs of mathematical equations. 10 million copies of Graphing Calculator 1.0 and 1.1 shipped with Macs, but the developers of Graphing Calculator also struck out their own and continued to improve the program and sell it commercially. It's proven popular in education, and even for those who don't need its graphing capabilities, Graphing Calculator remains powerful and helpful for use with normal day-to-day calculations. With version 3.0, Pacific Tech has added significant enhancements, including support for saving and opening Graphing Calculator documents, text comments in documents, multiple document windows, save to HTML (with PNG graphics), and export to RTF for import into word processors. Graphing Calculator costs $60, or $40 for students, and there are a variety of upgrade prices, depending on your situation. If you just want to get your feet wet with Graphing Calculator, the versions Apple shipped are still available for free. Graphing Calculator is definitely worth a look for anyone who works with equations, and even if you don't, Graphing Calculator still makes for a slick demo. [ACE]
Maxum Updates NetCloak to 3.1 -- Maxum Development has released version 3.1 of NetCloak, their flexible Macintosh Web server CGI and plug-in that helps you provide features such as counters, browser-specific pages, intelligent error pages, mailing list subscription forms, and more. NetCloak 3.1 includes Dreamweaver extensions that simplify using NetCloak's custom tags in your HTML documents and features increased support for cookie handling, very large form submissions, Web browser validation, more flexible if-then comparisons, and customizable date and time formatting. Upgrades are free (just download the free demo and validate using your existing code) if you've purchased NetCloak within the last year; otherwise discounts are available. Otherwise, the standard version of NetCloak costs $250, with NetCloak Professional at $295 (it adds forms processing and email integration). [ACE]
Poll Results: Putting the "I" in Internet -- I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, but when we asked in last week's poll to what extent you find the Internet a worthwhile source of information, community, learning, or support in your personal life, I expected more of a bell curve. Instead, just over 50 percent of respondents answered "a great deal," followed by about 35 percent answering "considerably." Less than 15 percent felt that the Internet was only a little important to their personal lives, and a mere handful said that it wasn't at all worthwhile. Related discussions in TidBITS Talk have focused on some of the interesting aspects of integrating the Internet into one's personal life. [ACE]
Quiz Preview: Lord of Your Own Domain? As you'll read below, the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has finally announced some new top-level domains along the lines of the .com and .edu. For this week's quiz, then, we're presenting a few top level domains and it's up to you to say which one of them is neither a current top-level domain nor one of the new domains approved by ICANN. How well do you really know the Internet? [ACE]
by Adam C. Engst <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My closet shelves are full, and I blame Guy Kawasaki. He's the one who declared that t-shirts were part of the development process for any computer product, and people listen to Guy. Of course, the popularity of t-shirts was also helped by the fact that a large collection could help put off the need to do laundry one more day.
There's little not to like about the industry t-shirt. Along with having an actual function, it can also be attractive, amusing, or at least indicative of your opinions or affiliations. Although, as a member of the press, I occasionally worry about what t-shirt to put on, since the products or companies emblazoned on certain t-shirts could prove embarrassing for me in specific situations. At MacHack, for instance, where t-shirts are practically the required uniform, I'm careful to wear only t-shirts from defunct companies and products. Besides, historical t-shirts are far more likely to encourage conversation with interesting people (such as the time I wore a rare InterCon Systems t-shirt made from recycled plastic soda bottles that even an ex-InterCon employee had never seen).
You can have too much of a good thing, and when Tonya was working on TidBITS as well, we'd often come back from Macworld Expo with pairs of matching t-shirts. One year we were panhandled by a homeless guy in San Francisco on our way out of Moscone Center on the last day of the show; he seemed genuinely surprised and pleased at the long-sleeved t-shirts we gave him, and we felt good about reducing the duplicates in our collection in such a fashion. (If you're in a similar situation, or just have some random t-shirts you dislike, I'm sure there's a local clothing bank that could put your extras to good use.)
TidBITS Tchotchkes -- We're pleased to announce that some of our - and hopefully your - wardrobe worries are over, since we finally have TidBITS t-shirts for sale, along with mousepads and mugs. It's been far too long in the coming, but the problem we've always faced is that we don't want to get into the t-shirt business: taking orders, printing t-shirts, storing them in boxes around the house, and shipping them out. We were thus extremely happy to come across CafePress.com, an Internet business that takes care of all those details for us, and for anyone else who wants to sell large or small numbers of shirts, mousepads, or mugs via the Internet. To place an order, visit the page below (unless you've made a contribution to TidBITS, help translate our issues, or write articles for us, at which point we have a special deal for you). If you want to receive your order before Christmas (they make excellent gifts, of course), be sure to place it before 12-Dec-00.
As a way of thanking the more than 500 TidBITS readers who have contributed money via our voluntary contribution program, we've set up a special secret page where you can order the same products at a discount. Current contributors should have received the link to the secret page in email; anyone who wishes to contribute to help keeping TidBITS operational in the future will receive the link as part of the contribution process. These discounted prices are also available for the folks who translate TidBITS each week and for anyone who writes articles for TidBITS.
Here's how CafePress.com works. You set up a store, which entails filling in a form with the appropriate contact information, and then you upload your graphic designs as GIF or JPEG files for the items you wish to sell. Each item has a base price, and you can add a markup on top of that. Whenever anyone orders a product, CafePress.com prints it (these are all one-offs, so there's no minimum order), handles the credit card payment, and ships the product out. They also handle customer service should there be any problems. Then, every month, they add up the amounts you've earned from the price markups and send you a check. And, in the grand Internet affiliate marketing tradition, if someone else sets up a store based on your referral, you get a small credit for each item ordered through that store too. (So if you want to set up your own CafePress.com store - it can be a good way to create custom shirts, mousepads, or mugs for yourself - and give TidBITS the referral credit that CafePress.com would otherwise keep, use the link below to sign up.)
Products & Designs -- The fact that CafePress.com handles all the printing and fulfillment is great, but we also like that they offer a variety of different products. You can order white and ash grey short-sleeved t-shirts, white long-sleeved t-shirts, baby doll-style t-shirts for women, ash grey sweatshirts, mousepads, and mugs in two sizes. Even better, the shirts come in a wide variety of sizes, with the white short-sleeved shirt ranging from a Kids-Small up to an adult 4X-Large.
CafePress.com started out with just the white short-sleeved t-shirts, mousepads, and mugs, so we expect they'll add other types of products like baseball hats as they find suppliers for the blanks and adjust their processes. We'll update you when new items appear - we're especially hoping for different colors of shirts and for baby clothes (since many baby clothes we've found are utterly insipid).
Our current designs were created by Jeff Carlson with input from everyone on the staff and inspiration from numerous suggestions made on TidBITS Talk. The front of the shirt (and the mug design) is a variant of our main logo, and the back (and the mousepad) is the word "TidBITS" made up of the ASCII text of our 500th issue (parts of it are readable). You can see a large preview of both images at our store page.
At the moment, selling multiple designs through CafePress.com is a bit clumsy, but they're working on a more streamlined approach, so we hope to offer different designs in the future, generated from contests of reader-submitted designs.
If you're just dying for other designs or Macintosh-related products to add to your holiday gift list, other groups sell a variety of interesting shirts as well. Both RedLightRunner and Dougintosh offer a variety of unique designs along with collectibles like Apple pens, watches, and the Think Different posters - they're definitely worth checking out.
Signed Copies -- I hope you like our initial designs and enjoy the various products - perhaps one day they too will become collectibles. I'll even aid in that process. If you wear a TidBITS shirt to the upcoming Macworld Expo in San Francisco and find me, I'll sign your shirt then and there. Be warned though, people often jokingly suggest things to me when I'm signing, and I usually write exactly what they say, no matter how silly.
by Geoff Duncan <email@example.com>
Bored with .com? Nagged by .net? The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has finally announced seven new top-level domains, the last part of the domain names we see so often in email addresses and URLs. Depending on how fast new registrars can establish approved registry agreements and get operations underway, we might see some of these new top-level domains operating by the end of the year, though others probably won't be operational until the second quarter of 2001.
How We Got Here -- In the 1980s, the Internet was primarily operated by agencies the U.S. government and commercial activity was strictly forbidden - harking back to the original purposes of the Internet as a U.S. research and military communications network. As a result, the Internet's original top-level domains (TLDs) reflected the sorts of U.S. organizations expected to use such a network: .gov, .mil, .edu, .org, .net, and .com. (Ironically, though "dot-com" has been a buzzword of late, a .com address was often cause for derision in those days of the non-commercial Internet.) By the early 1990s, international TLDs were established, and by mid-1995 the backbone of the original Internet, NSFnet, was turned off for good, making the Internet a privately run, commercial operation independent of the U.S. government.
Well, not quite. The U.S. government had contracted out naming authority and registration services - to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and Network Solutions (NSI), respectively - and those contracts had expiration dates. If you wanted to do business on the Internet, you had little choice but to register a .com domain through Network Solutions, which ran the only registry, regardless of where in the world you did business. Suddenly .com names became valuable, both because .com was the only appropriate TLD for businesses and because short, memorable, and easily typed names were essential for advertising and entering into Web browsers. The name rush was on, along with its associated bickering, trademark disputes, and lawsuits. Network Solutions' role as sole registrar - and the paucity of appropriate TLDs - had created a widely perceived roadblock in the commercial development of the Internet, and the outcry for additional registrars and TLDs became a deafening roar.
Throughout 1997 and 1998, the hubbub increased as various groups attempted to deal with the naming crisis. Some made proposals for expanding the number of TLDs and name registrars, but those proposals were generally heavily criticized (especially by the international community). The U.S. Department of Commerce got into the act and made its own proposal for domain naming changes - and it still held the reins, since its contracts with NSI and the IANA expired in September 1998. As the deadline loomed, competing proposals for creating a "new IANA" as a non-profit organization were floated - despite the best efforts of Network Solutions to let its contract expire, thereby maintaining its monopoly by default. Eventually, the International Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN), a non-profit organization, was created to manage naming and registration issues. ICANN was originally proposed - somewhat arbitrarily - by Jon Postel, one of the Internet's primogenitors, just before his death in October 1998.
I Think ICANN -- ICANN still reports to the U.S. Department of Commerce, but it's not a regulatory authority for the Internet. Rather, ICANN's job is to coordinate allocation of things like IP numbers that must be universally accepted across the whole Internet. ICANN also has to handle all the naming and address issues which birthed it, and it must establish and maintain mechanisms for dispute resolution. ICANN is run by a 19-member volunteer board of directors, which is supposed to represent the Internet's major stakeholders throughout the world's business, technical, academic, and user communities. In essence, ICANN is supposed to facilitate the transition from the ad hoc- and U.S. government-controlled technical operation of the Internet to a privatized, fully international system.
Sounds simple, right? Nothing could be further from the truth. Along with the technical issues, ICANN also faces a myriad of political, economic, and cultural issues, just like other international organizations. Although ICANN is often criticized for being out of touch with the Internet community (show me 19 people who can be in touch with the entire Internet community!), ICANN has been trying to keep its processes and procedures open to the public. Its progress on domain naming has been slow, complicated, and the subject of constant criticism from all sides. It doesn't help that they're dealing with fiscal and technical iniquities which (in Internet terms) have been around forever. Eventually, ICANN invited applications for new TLDs - including a non-refundable $50,000 application fee - which it would evaluate according to number of criteria, including the effect on the overall stability of the Internet, the extent to which a new TLD addressed unmet needs, not creating confusion for Internet users, bringing competition into domain naming, and the applicant's technical and financial ability to operate the new TLD.
Meet the New Kids -- Here then are the seven new top-level domains approved by ICANN:
.aero, to be operated by the Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques (SITA), a Belgian airline telecommunications firm. The .aero domain is intended to be used for the air transport industry; it's unclear why the air transport industry warrants its own top-level domain, but ICANN may see it as a precedent for future industry-specific domains.
.biz, to be operated by JVTeam, a new company formed by Delaware-based NeuStar and the Australian firm Melbourne IT. The .biz TLD was proposed by a number of applicants, but ICANN judged JVTeam's proposal to be the best. The .biz TLD will seemingly be unrestricted for use by businesses - like .com - but it's been criticized for being too English-specific, and ICANN is being sued because .biz is similar to the existing TLD for Belize (.bz).
.coop, to be operated by the Washington, D.C.-based National Cooperative Business Association, which represents over 700,000 cooperative associations around the world. The .coop TLD will be used exclusively by non-profit cooperatives.
.info, to be operated by Afilias, a consortium of nineteen existing registrars ostensibly for organizations primarily providing information services, although its use will apparently be unrestricted. A large consortium like Afilias seems to run counter to one of ICANN's initial goals - to promote competition amongst registrars - but they've been granted the .info TLD anyway.
.museum, to be run by the Museum Domain Management Association, a newly formed non-profit founded in part by the International Counsel of Museums and the J. Paul Getty Trust. The .museum TLD will be used by the worldwide museum community.
.name, to be operated by the Global Name Registry. The .name TLD may prove the most interesting to average Internet users, since it's intended to be used mainly for personal Web sites and email addresses.
.pro, to be operated by RegistryPro, an Irish company owned by Register.com and Virtual Internet. It is intended to be used by doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other providers of "professional" services.
What the Future May Bring -- A number of seemingly decent suggestions didn't make the first cut, and ICANN's analysis of the different suggestions is worth a read.
ICANN's TLD process is ongoing, so more TLDs will likely be added in the future. For instance, the World Health Organization was disturbed not to have been granted the .health TLD and plans to keep pursuing it - a recent study by the Pew Internet Project showed that Internet users frequently turn to the Web for health and medical advice, so a top-level domain which groups together sites that have been certified to provide reliable medical information could be useful. But how such a registry would operate is unclear: what's considered sound medical advice in one nation or culture can be a crime or pure quackery in another. Similarly, a proposed .kids TLD ostensibly for material that's suitable for children raises the issues of who decides what material is kid-friendly (again, with all the cultural and national baggage that entails), and whether material published on .kids sites is monitored after registration has been granted.
Another unanswered question is the extent to which new top-level domains simply make the Internet more confusing for everyday users. Folks involved in the ICANN process are technically savvy, and probably don't have much trouble with the existing system of TLDs. But many Internet users are already flummoxed by .com, .net. org, .gov, and .edu: will creating .biz and .info help them in any way? Or is ICANN merely creating (or being used to create) a gold rush for groups who could assemble technically sound proposals, and who will no doubt encourage trademark holders worldwide to register with them posthaste to avoid having their brands diluted? Only time will tell.
by Tom Gewecke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the best kept secrets about Mac OS 9 is its built-in support for reading and writing languages beyond English, including ones that use non-Latin scripts and characters. Most users never realize that their operating system can handle the following languages out of the box: Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak, Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Hindi, Nepali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. This is extremely useful for anyone teaching or studying one of these languages, or if you just want to see foreign Web sites in their native tongue.
By default, these capabilities are invisible to the Mac OS 9 user. To turn them on, you need to go to the Keyboard control panel and select at least one keyboard layout in addition to the default one. If you've installed non-Roman languages (such as Russian, for example), access them by making a selection from the Script menu. Your menu bar will then include a new flag icon at the far right. Clicking on this menu will show whichever languages you have checked.
If the Keyboard control panel doesn't list the language you want, get out your Mac OS CD-ROM and perform a custom install for the language kits of interest. Afterwards, also look in the CD Extras folder on the installation disc, where the Language Kits CD Extras folder holds some additional fonts and keyboards. One common language not included in Apple's kits is Greek, for which you need to download a Greek font and keyboard layout from the Web.
You don't need a huge, fast system to make use of these resources. It all seems to work fine on my old Power Macintosh 6100, upgraded with a Newer Technologies MAXpower G3 card, including 40 MB of physical RAM. Installing all the language kits takes up an extra 80 MB or so of disk space. Note that some limited multilingual capabilities were available starting with Mac OS 8.5.
Reading Foreign Language Web Pages -- Want to read a foreign newspaper in its original language? A growing number are published on the Web. Doing a search in Yahoo or another search engine under "newspaper" and the name of the country will normally yield several results.
Setting up your browser to read them correctly requires having the proper font installed for the language in question and setting some browser parameters. In particular, you need to go into the Languages or Fonts section of your browser's preferences and make sure the right font is selected under the right language. You may also need to go to the Character Set item under the View menu and set it for the right language. Sometimes experimentation is necessary because there is more than one choice for a language. The "user defined" option can be useful where your language/font does not fit one of the other categories. For a nice explanation, see Alan Wood's page on setting up Macintosh Web browsers for multilingual support.
"Dead" languages are also accessible with the right fonts. Want to read Homer in Ancient Greek or Beowulf in Old English? The Perseus Project and Old English Pages can display them for you.
Typing Foreign Language Texts -- If you want to write in a another language, the procedure is usually simple. You first need to open a Mac text editor or word processor that is able to handle other scripts (known as "WorldScript-savvy"). SimpleText, Nisus Writer, Word Perfect 3.5, and Microsoft Word 2001 are examples. Then go to the Keyboard menu and select the language. To see how the characters are mapped to your keyboard, launch Key Caps from the Apple menu. A small keyboard will appear on the screen with the new language's characters in place of your normal keyboard layout (you may have to adjust the font in the Key Caps Font menu to get this right). You can type directly into the document from the real keyboard or click letters on the screen's keyboard and copy/paste the result. For scripts that run from right to left, like Arabic and Hebrew, you may need to set the direction in the Text control panel.
You might want to print out a copy of Key Caps for the language you are using. You can try using the Mac's built-in screen capture function (Command-Shift-3 or Command-Shift-4), or other third-party screen capture utilities you may have, but sometimes these make the keys go back to normal and won't work. One program I found that seems to do the trick is Gif·gIf·giF.
For the more unusual scripts that use keyboards you can download helpful manuals from the Apple Web site: Cyrillic (Part 030-7977), Indian (U96600-025), Arabic (030-7912), and Hebrew (030-7978).
What about Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, which use hundreds of characters? For these, the Mac language kits include special input methods. For example, with Chinese you can type in a romanized version of a word and you will be presented with a list of characters that correspond to it, from which you select the one that should go in the text.
These input methods can be quite complex, and finding English-language documentation on how they work is unfortunately not easy; for some reason the manuals are not provided on the Mac OS 9 CD. The Chinese manual is now available at the Apple site (Part 034-0602), and a good explanation of how to input Chinese has also been put into the Chinese-Mac FAQ.
For Korean I was unable to find any input manual online, and for Japanese there is only a partial explanation of the Mac's "Kotoeri" input method.
In the end, every language has its own complexities, and only someone with fluency can assess how adequate or functional Mac OS 9's support is in a particular case. Although this article just skims the surface, it should help you get started using the Mac's unusual linguistic capabilities.
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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