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MaxAppleZoom Dies?

A large number of people on the nets have reported that the shareware utility MaxAppleZoom has died, although others have yet to notice any ill effects. Unwilling to let it rest in peace, those who have lost it have been trying to figure out what went wrong and why. No one has yet discovered if MaxAppleZoom had a time bomb (it didn’t hurt anything, but just stopped working) or if it’s a strange bug in the program. For those of you who haven’t heard about MaxAppleZoom, it was (I think the past tense is appropriate for the moment) a masterful hack that provided more screen space for the Apple 13" color monitor using certain older Apple video cards. I saw it when it first came out, but at the time I only had an SE/30 internal monitor, and even when I added a color monitor, I doubted that MaxAppleZoom would help my Micron Xceed card. Extra screen real estate was a great attraction for many though, and the program had a devoted following.

MaxAppleZoom was shareware by Naoto Horii of Belgium, and for a while he was on the nets apparently, since Steve Swinnea mentioned having trouble with version 1.1 and after sending in his shareware fee, complaining to Naoto via email and receiving version 1.2 from him. Many people have reported that shareware checks have not been cashed in some months though, so Naoto may have moved on.

The bug, if that’s what it is, is a strange one. Depending on which version of MaxAppleZoom you have, it may cease working in May (1.2) or December (1.31) or just last week (1.3, which is the most common). Even stranger is that the destruct date corresponds with the slot that holds the video card, and you can weasel a few more days from the program by moving your card to a higher slot. Of course, you can set the clock back while MaxAppleZoom loads, and then set it forward again (and supposedly someone even wrote an INIT to do this), but such a solution borders on the definition of "kludge." I’m surprised, partly because no one has found any traces of a time bomb, and partly because it seems strange that a video hack would pay any attention to the date and time. Odd stuff, and I hope we hear from Naoto to clear up the issue.

Perhaps the most disheartening part of this whole deal is that many people who failed to pay the shareware fee are complaining, and those who did pay up like good citizens are suffering the same problems. I suspect that this is a classic shareware failure – even though the program was useful to many, not enough people paid to keep the author interested in supporting it, which leaves the honest folk out in the cold with shrunken screens (better than shrunken heads, I suppose). Interestingly enough, one person reported that Naoto sent him a two-page reply to some video questions on 20-Mar-91 with the return address of Naoto Horii, B.P. 1415, B-1000 Brussels, Belgium, which is the same address listed in the 1.3 readme. This person went on to say that Naoto has always expressed disappointment at the number of people who have registered, giving this quote as literary evidence: "To conclude I wish to thank my less-than-a-handful registered users (I would be quite ashamed to cite their exact number) for their kind and encouraging words." Of course, I may be wrong about MaxAppleZoom being a shareware failure – it’s always possible that poor Naoto was merely savaged by a rogue wombat and didn’t pull through.

Luckily for those who have fallen prey to this bug, Roger L. Mathews of L Products has come up with a hack called MAZ Recharger to get MaxAppleZoom working again. MAZ Recharger is a free extension and supposedly works with all Macs and all versions of MaxAppleZoom, although some people have reported that it may not work on all Macs and it has only been tested with MaxAppleZoom 1.3. MAZ Recharger is available on America Online, and I suspect it will appear on the other online services quickly as well.

Information from:
Nick Wilde — [email protected]
Jim Mueller — JMUELLER%[email protected]
John Nixon — [email protected]
Steve Swinnea — [email protected]
Robert L Mathews — L Products on AOL
Roger L. Long — [email protected]

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