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TidBITS turns 20 years old today! We’re celebrating with a double elephant folio issue containing Adam’s thoughts about what makes TidBITS special, stories about how our staff members got started with TidBITS, and an extensive collection of memories from numerous Macintosh-industry friends. Oh, and don’t miss our drawing for $200 worth of an iPhone, iPod touch, or iTunes Gift Card! But rest assured that this issue isn’t all navel gazing, as Adam explains the iPad’s DHCP-related problems on large networks, Doug McLean summarizes what’s new in Adobe Creative Suite 5, and we cover last week’s solid update to the MacBook Pro line. All our notable software releases this week are from Apple, including Mac OS X 10.6.3 Combo Update 1.1, Mac OS X Server 10.6.3 Combo Update 1.1, Security Update 2010-003 (Snow Leopard), Security Update 2010-003 (Leopard), Server Admin Tools 10.6.3, 27-inch iMac EFI FW Update 1.0, MacBook Pro Software Update 1.3, and MobileMe Backup 3.2.

Adam Engst 12 comments

TidBITS Celebrates 20 Years of Internet Publication

This is it – TidBITS has turned 20 years old! In what is a bit of happy coincidence, the email issue containing this article is #1,024. That’s right, we’ve officially published 2^10 issues of TidBITS, or, roughly speaking, 1 kiloTidBITS. Geeky, eh?

To share our excitement, we considered giving away a staff-signed Twentieth Anniversary Mac, but they turn out both to be difficult to find and, given that they’re powered by a PowerPC 603e, not particularly useful.

Besides, in honor of this anniversary and in recognition of how the world has changed, we’re changing our Web logo’s subtitle from “Mac news for the rest of us” to “Apple news for the rest of us.” So instead of giving away a relatively useless old Mac, we’re going to give one lucky TidBITS reader $200 toward an engraved iPhone or iPod touch, or an iTunes Gift Card. (The choice of prize is up to the winner, since many of you probably already have an iPhone or iPod touch, and we’ll have to figure out the logistics with the winner, since they’ll vary by country.) Enter at this tweaked DealBITS page before 26 April 2010. I hope our server holds up! (If you have a problem, just come
back later.)

In thinking about how best to commemorate this milestone, I first considered those talking points we pull out when speaking with those who aren’t familiar with TidBITS – our 20 unbroken years of Internet publication and our 1992 creation of the first Internet advertising program.

While I’m proud of those accomplishments, they aren’t my favorite aspects of TidBITS. When I trained for and raced 26.2 miles in the New York City Marathon in November 2008, that required setting a goal and working hard to accomplish it. Publishing TidBITS for 20 consecutive years has never been a goal, it’s simply become a way of life.

And while I’d like some credit for starting Internet advertising (using an understated NPR/PBS sponsorship model), I’m uncomfortable with many of the ways Internet advertising has evolved, what with pop-up ads, interstitials, and disgustingly illustrated ads from modern-day snake-oil salespeople. On the upside, maybe I can take an infinitesimal bit of credit for Google, which would never have become what it is today without Internet advertising.

No, the aspects of publishing TidBITS that get me out of bed every morning are quite different. For one, I love being able to write, edit, and publish articles that both explain complex topics and actually make a difference in the lives of our readers. There’s no better feeling than reading an email message or article comment telling you how an article saved hours of troubleshooting, brought some device back to life, or helped eliminate time-wasting tedium.

I’m proud of the elegant technologies that we’ve designed and implemented: the TidBITS Publishing System, the TidBITS Commenting System, the TidBITS News iPhone app, the custom ExpressionEngine back-end for the Take Control site, our still-in-beta account management system, and more. These systems make life easier for us and improve TidBITS and Take Control for you, and while we lack the budget to develop everything we want as quickly as we want, I think we do extremely well, and it’s amazingly fun to work on these projects.

More generally, it’s wonderful to work with the other members of the TidBITS staff. They’re top-notch, so much so that they’re also in great demand by other publishers. And yet, Tonya and I must have done something right, since these talented writers and technologists have stuck with us for years, some of them from nearly the beginning. You can read more about how each of them got started with TidBITS in “TidBITS Staffers Recall How They Got Their Starts” (19 April 2010). I’ve also hugely enjoyed working with the volunteers who have generously translated TidBITS into various languages, expanding the reach of TidBITS and teaching me about the difficulties of translating English

But the most compelling part of my daily swim in the sea of TidBITS email, article comments, tweets, chats, and phone calls is the ineffable excitement of sharing discoveries, thoughts, opinions, jokes, tips, and advice with friends, colleagues, and TidBITS readers. Through TidBITS I’ve met some of the nicest, smartest, funniest, most interesting people I know. I’ve managed to convince a few of them to work with us on TidBITS and Take Control, and I’ve watched with enthusiasm as many others have gone on to do great things in the technology world. And rather than tell you more about them here, I want to introduce you to a number of them in “Twenty Years of Memories from Friends of
” (19 April 2010). It’s a hefty article, with each sharing thoughts and memories about TidBITS in his or her own words. Set aside some time when you want to think back over the last 20 years, and I think you’ll find it a tremendously enjoyable read.

If you’d like to extend that walk down memory lane, check out our “TidBITS History” series, in which we’ve covered all the bases – looking backward, forward, and inward, and sharing experiences, lessons learned, and much more. In re-reading these articles, I was struck by how relevant some of them, like “Lessons from Ten Years of TidBITS” (17 April 2000), remain years later.

I won’t pretend that another 20 years and 1,024 issues of TidBITS is a goal, because it’s not. TidBITS is what we do, and we’ll keep going as long as events conspire to allow us to continue.

Thanks to one and all for enabling us to come this far!

TidBITS Staff 19 comments

Apple Brings Intel Core i5/i7 to MacBook Pro

Showing that it still pays attention to the Macintosh side of its business, Apple has updated the entire MacBook Pro line at once, a welcome change from previous updates that have focused on a particular model to the exclusion of the others. Significant changes include new CPU options, better battery life, seamless integration of dual graphics processors, optional high-resolution displays, inertial scrolling on the Multi-Touch trackpad, and the option of higher-capacity solid-state drives. The changes aren’t evenly distributed across the line though.

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro continues to rely on the Intel Core 2 Duo processor, speed-bumped to either 2.4 GHz or 2.66 GHz. However, Apple claims that the 13-inch MacBook Pro’s new 48-core Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics processor will provide up to 80 percent faster graphics performance. The new graphics processor should be especially welcome for graphics-intensive applications and high-performance games. The other notable change that will be welcome across the board is the new model’s purported 10-hour battery life. The battery is built-in and cannot be swapped by the user, but it can be replaced by Apple.

While the 13-inch MacBook Pro is relatively unchanged, the 15-inch and 17-inch models see more significant improvements. They rely on either the Intel Core i5 (at 2.4 or 2.53 GHz for the 15-inch and 2.53 GHz for the 17-inch) or the Intel Core i7 (at 2.66 GHz) processor, for what Apple claims is up to 50 percent faster performance than previous models. Some improvements stem from how the Intel Core i5 and i7 processors integrate the memory controller and Level 3 cache to speed access to system memory. Apple says that additional performance improvements come from Hyper-Threading technology that improves data throughput
by creating virtual processing cores. Then there’s Turbo Boost, which optimizes performance between the two processor cores, essentially accelerating the system from 2.66 GHz to 3.06 GHz for intensive dual-core tasks and up to 3.33 GHz for single-core tasks. How all this will play out in real-world usage remains to be seen.

Also improved in the 15- and 17-inch models is the graphics subsystem, which features a pair of graphics processors, the Nvidia GeForce GT 330M for top performance and the Intel HD Graphics for reduced energy usage. A welcome change from the performance split in previous generations is that the new MacBook Pro models switch between them automatically; you don’t need to choose a specific graphics mode, log out, and then log back in to apply the change. (Apple has already released MacBook Pro Software Update 1.3 to improve graphics stability for high-performance video and gaming applications. It’s a 258.32 MB update and is presumably available via Software Update to purchasers of these new

Apple is also claiming better battery life on the new 15- and 17-inch models, with 8 to 9 hours per charge (up from the previous claim of 7 to 8 hours), thanks to tightly integrated hardware and software. The fact that the 15-inch model’s battery went from 73 watt-hours to 77.5 watt-hours probably helps, too (the 17-inch model’s battery remains at 95 watt-hours).

During a briefing with Apple, we learned more about how Apple calculates battery life numbers. The top end of Apple’s claims is rooted more in real-world usage than the “ideal circumstances” estimates of years past. On a device with the screen brightness set at 50 percent, Apple runs a battery test called Wireless Web. A script loads Web pages via Wi-Fi, creates and saves text documents, and otherwise emulates “light duty” usage.

Another test is designed to put the ultimate strain on the battery: screen brightness is set to 100 percent, the volume is cranked up to maximum, and a DVD is played (introducing the physical drive-spinning mechanism as well as on-the-fly MPEG decoding and playback). In this test, the 15-inch MacBook Pro averaged about 4.5 hours of battery life – a span that not too long ago represented good longevity in light usage conditions.

Something we’re looking forward to experiencing in person is the new “inertial scrolling” feature of the Multi-Touch trackpad. Apple mentions it only briefly, but we’re guessing the trackpad – and software that recognizes it – can scroll items with the same simulated physics found in the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. We have to admit there are times when we switch between using an Apple touch device and a Mac and expect the same behavior in both environments. (Adobe Photoshop CS4 implemented this type of scrolling, making it easier to “throw” a zoomed-in image around its window and reduce the amount of scrolling required.)

Base Features and Options — The standard features should sound familiar. All models come with a MagSafe power port, Gigabit Ethernet port, Mini DisplayPort for video out, one FireWire 800 port, and two USB 2.0 ports (three on the 17-inch model). The 13-inch model offers a single audio in/out port, whereas the 15- and 17-inch models have separate audio line in and audio line out ports. The 13-inch and 15-inch models feature an SD card slot, and the 17-inch model replaces it with an ExpressCard/34 slot. In terms of wireless networking, all of them have AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi wireless networking based on 802.11n, along with Bluetooth 2.1+EDR. And all models have a built-in iSight video camera.

4 GB of RAM is standard on each model, but each can be upgraded to 8 GB. Hard drive options are available up to 500 GB, and solid-state drives are available in 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB sizes for a $200, $650, or $1,300 premium over the 500 GB hard drive.

More Screen Resolution — All MacBook Pro models include glossy LED-backlit screens, but some custom configurations are available. The 13-inch model’s screen is glossy with a resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels, with no option for an antiglare screen. The standard configuration for the 15-inch model is glossy with a resolution of 1440 by 900 pixels. For an extra fee, you can order a higher-resolution 1680-by-1050-pixel display with either a glossy ($100 more) or antiglare ($150 more) surface. The antiglare option is available only at the higher resolution, not the default resolution. The screen on the 17-inch model is 1920 by 1200 pixels, and an antiglare version is available for an extra $50.

Greener MacBooks — With the latest batch of MacBook Pros, Apple continues to demonstrate a commitment to producing environmentally friendly products. Each MacBook Pro in the new lineup has been awarded EPEAT Gold status (meaning it meets all of EPEAT’s required criteria and at least 75 percent of the optional criteria), and each one satisfies the requirements for the Energy Star 5.0 rating.

Features contributing to those achievements include the highly recyclable aluminum unibody enclosure, a mercury- and arsenic-free LED-backlit display, and the lack of any components containing brominated flame retardants (BFRs) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Additionally, the new graphics switching technology that enables the MacBook Pro to switch automatically between the powerful Nvidia GeForce GT 330M for heavy workloads and the energy efficient Intel HD Graphics processor for less intense operations increases battery life. Coupling that with a lifetime expectancy of 1,000 charges (roughly 5 years by Apple’s estimation) should result in less battery waste. When a battery is finally used up, Apple also provides an environmentally
responsible program to deal with its removal and disposal, and the installation of a new battery – priced at either $129 or $179, depending on your model.

Pricing and Availability — All models of the new MacBook Pro are available now, in the following base configurations (the final 17-inch configuration isn’t actually a base configuration, but it seemed odd to leave it out of a list that was otherwise differentiated largely by CPU type):

  • 13-inch ($1,199): 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 250 GB hard drive
  • 13-inch ($1,499): 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 320 GB hard drive
  • 15-inch ($1,799): 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 320 GB hard drive
  • 15-inch ($1,999): 2.53 GHz Intel Core i5, 500 GB hard drive
  • 15-inch ($2,299): 2.66 GHz Intel Core i7, 500 GB hard drive
  • 17-inch ($2,299): 2.53 GHz Intel Core i5, 500 GB hard drive
  • 17-inch ($2,499): 2.66 GHz Intel Core i7, 500 GB hard drive

Of Timing and Performance — It’s easy to see these new configurations as a specifications speed bump, but we think a larger leap has occurred, and at a fortuitous time. Reports from owners of the latest iMac models with Core i5 or i7 processors indicate a dramatic performance boost over the Intel Core 2 Duo. Given that Apple’s notebooks significantly outsell the company’s desktop models, the MacBook Pro needs the highest performance it can get. The fact that Apple has improved battery life, instead of sacrificing it for speed, and has eliminated the awkward method of switching between graphics modes indicates that the company is still expending the resources needed to improve its Mac products, and
isn’t just tossing in slightly better components. We’re fans of the MacBook Pro, and these new models just improve our already positive feelings.

Adam Engst 21 comments

Princeton University Identifies iPad DHCP Flaw

Princeton University’s Office of Information Technology has posted a document describing networking problems suffered by roughly half of the 40 iPads on campus. The problem isn’t so much experienced by the iPad as caused by it – here’s what’s happening. (Since I initially wrote this article, I’ve heard of other sites experiencing the problem, including the University of Washington and George Washington University.)

The iPad uses DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) client software (in the iPhone OS) to request network configuration information – most notably an IP address – from a DHCP server. That IP address is typically “leased” to the DHCP client for a period of time; once that lease expires, if the DHCP client is still online, it asks to renew the lease and retain its IP address. If the client is not online when the lease expires, the DHCP server is free to assign that IP address to another device. When the DHCP client returns to the network, it requests and receives a new IP address.

The problem seems to be that the iPad, in some situations, is failing to renew its DHCP lease but continuing to use the previously assigned IP address. Because the lease wasn’t renewed, the DHCP server believes it is free to reassign the IP address. If that IP address is reassigned to another device while the iPad continues to use it, both devices end up using the same IP address, which can cause loss of network connectivity, confusing dialogs as operating systems attempt to handle the error condition, and more.

Princeton is working with Apple to resolve the problem, which is believed to lie with the DHCP client in iPhone OS 3.2, and which should be easy to fix with an update to that version of the iPhone OS. In the meantime, Princeton recommends that iPad users not connect to the campus network because if an iPad malfunctions, it may need to be blocked to prevent it from causing problems for other network users.

Who’s likely to experience this problem? Primarily institutions with large networks that rely on DHCP for a constantly changing collection of network devices. Home users and those with small networks aren’t nearly as likely to experience IP address collisions due to this problem.

If you do run into this problem on a small network you control, there are a variety of possible solutions:

  • Assign a static IP address to your iPad and configure your DHCP server to avoid handing out that address to other devices. This fix isn’t feasible on a large network with a lot of devices because it requires too much manual intervention.
  • Configure your DHCP server to reserve a particular IP address for your iPad. I tried this in AirPort Utility using the client ID approach to identifying the iPad, but it didn’t work; it’s possible the MAC address approach would work better. This approach also requires too much manual intervention to be useful on a larger network.
  • Set a very long DHCP lease time so the DHCP server is much less likely to reassign the iPad’s IP address to another device. Trying this on a large network would likely tie up too many IP addresses that weren’t actually in use or require the use of NAT.

It is worth noting that, despite a quote in The Daily Princetonian article linked above, this DHCP problem is almost certainly unrelated to the Wi-Fi problems that have plagued some iPad users (see “Some iPad Users Suffer Wi-Fi Woes,” 6 April 2010).

Nevertheless, here’s hoping that Apple fixes this problem soon, not because it’s necessarily causing all that much trouble even for large networks, but because it would be a shame if the iPad garnered a bad reputation among network managers based on what should be an easily fixed bug, given that DHCP is a long-established standard.

Doug McLean 1 comment

Adobe Unveils Creative Suite 5

With over two years having passed since its last major update, Adobe’s Creative Suite 5 faces high expectations – users want to see dazzling new features introduced alongside refined basics and enhanced performance. From the looks of it, the hulking software behemoth that is CS5 has met that challenge.

When reporting on something as large as CS5 it’s difficult even to summarize the most significant changes – it’s no longer a bundle of a few major programs, but instead a conglomeration of software (between 6 and 18 programs depending on which edition you buy). Still, one must try, so here is a summary of the most interesting changes throughout the suite. If you’re hungering for more details, Adobe’s Web site is teeming with them.

Photoshop — Many of the new image and photo tools present in Photoshop CS5 Extended also exist elsewhere in the Creative Suite. One of these tools is the new Mixer Brush that holds multiple colors on a single tip, blending with the paint already laid out in your image. You can even define how “wet” the existing paint is, creating effects ranging from wet-on-wet to dry-brushing. Bristle Tips is another neat painting tool that mimics real-world brush media with startlingly accurate and detailed effects.

Perhaps one of the most amazing features added to CS5 is Content Aware Fill, which enables you to erase something completely from a photo, instantly replacing the erasure with convincing fabricated imagery based on the surrounding area. You really have to see this in action to believe it. Similarly impressive, Puppet Warp, enables you to distort and warp images with extreme accuracy, and the new Refine Edge feature is much better at detecting edges than its predecessor. Many of the new Photoshop tools, also present in InDesign and Illustrator, are more easily understood through observation than description –
which makes Adobe’s feature video tours especially useful.

For photographers, Photoshop CS5 brings enhanced High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging, enabling users to combine nearly identical pictures with various exposures to create images with light levels balanced throughout the picture (and also create surreal and hyper-realistic images). Although Photoshop has included an HDR module for a while, this version adds a Remove Ghosts option that eliminates semi-transparent areas that differ between source images. This problem crops up often with HDR images because elements within the frame, like trees or grass, move slightly between exposures and appear ghosted when the images are merged.

A new version of Adobe’s raw image converter, Camera Raw 6, supports over 275 camera models and improves the overall image quality of imported photos. More specifically, the converter offers enhanced sharpening, noise removal, and the capability to edit TIFF and JPEG files as well as those in raw image formats.

Adobe incorporated several long-awaited, low-level improvements. The Mac version is finally 64-bit native, which eases working with large files on 64-bit-capable systems with sufficient RAM. Enhancements to the OpenGL engine improve the handling of 3D graphics, and users can now drag and drop files onto a document to create a new layer. The latest version also brings panel-customization capabilities, new workspace management options, and a mini Bridge that enables users to access Photoshop’s file manager from within the program.

IllustratorIllustrator CS 5 features a new perspective drawing tool that draws images with convincing depth in 1-, 2-, and 3-point perspective; a Beautiful Strokes tool which provides precise control over the variable width of any brush stroke; a new Shape Builder tool for creating anything from a simple speech bubble to an amorphous blob; the capability to create and warp 3D images, logos, or buttons on any layer easily; and enhanced capabilities for designing graphics for the Web and mobile devices.

InDesignInDesign CS5 most notably enables users to add interactivity, navigation, motion, sound, and video to documents and presentations by exporting projects to Flash Professional. In the latest version, text changes can be tracked, multiple page sizes can coexist within single documents, paragraphs can span multiple columns, ebooks can be more easily produced in the EPUB format, and the Layers panel functions more like the Photoshop and Illustrator versions, giving users more direct control over items in pages. Also, giving and receiving feedback has been made easier with added support for Adobe CS Review, a component of the CS Live online

Dreamweaver and FlashDreamweaver CS5 includes integrated support for content management systems, CSS inspection, integration with Adobe BrowserLab, support for Subversion, and PHP custom class and site-specific code hinting. Flash Professional CS5 includes a new code snippets panel, an ActionScript editor, XML-based FLA source files, wide content distribution, and improvements to working with video.

Purchasing Options — Adobe provides a smorgasbord of purchase and upgrade options, with the entire suite available in five configurations (upgrade pricing varies with each bundle):

  • Design Standard includes InDesign CS5, Photoshop CS5, Illustrator CS5, and Acrobat 9 Pro for $1,299.
  • Design Premium includes InDesign CS5, Photoshop CS5 Extended, Illustrator CS5, Flash CS5 Professional, Flash Catalyst CS5, Dreamweaver CS5, Fireworks CS5, and Acrobat 9 Pro for $1,899.
  • Web Premium includes Dreamweaver CS5, Flash CS5 Professional, Flash Catalyst CS5, Flash Builder 4 Standard, Photoshop CS5 Extended, Illustrator CS5, Fireworks CS5, Acrobat 9 Pro, and Contribute CS5 for $1,799.
  • Production Premium includes Photoshop CS5 Extended, Illustrator CS5, Flash CS5 Professional, Flash Catalyst CS5, After Effects CS5, Premiere Pro CS5, Soundbooth CS5, OnLocation CS5, and Encore CS5 for $1,699.
  • Master Collection includes everything (except Photoshop CS5, since Photoshop CS5 Extended is part of the lineup) for $2,599.

Each suite also includes Bridge CS5 and Device Central CS5; the Production Premium and Master Collection bundles also include Dynamic Link. Also, all of the major programs remain available for individual purchase (prices are listed on the same configurations and upgrades page linked above).

According to Adobe, the software is scheduled to ship in the middle of May 2010.

TidBITS Staff 6 comments

TidBITS Staffers Recall How They Got Their Starts

TidBITS is a joint effort, and always has been. While Adam Engst sits atop our virtual masthead, we collaborate on nearly everything in groups ranging anywhere from two to ten – such as this article’s introduction. (No, we didn’t! Yes, we did!)

A few of us date back to the pre-history of TidBITS, meeting Adam before the publication came into being. Others were long-time readers and contributors, while fresh faces – Rich Mogull and Doug McLean being the most pink-cheeked – have joined us to beef up coverage and add their own particular voices and specialties.

Herewith, then, are recollections of how and why we’ve arrived here, in order of how long we’ve been associated with TidBITS.

Tonya Engst — When TidBITS began, Adam and I weren’t married. We shared a cat and a Macintosh SE. Adam was working as a computer consultant, helping clients set up backup systems and create databases. I was working for Cornell University’s computer store, helping staff and students choose among Macs, PCs, and NeXTs. Adam and I had recently graduated from Cornell University with a motley collection of majors and minors: Communications (me), the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (me), Classics (Adam), and Hypertextual Fiction (Adam).

One night, we had a long, intertwingled conversation about PageMaker and HyperCard, helping individuals keep up with the tech industry, academic versus commercial writing, and much more. Before we began talking, we were having an entirely unremarkable evening; once we had finished, we had set ourselves on a path that we had not previously anticipated and could not have predicted.

The result of that conversation was TidBITS. Call it a HyperCard stack, call it an email newsletter, call it the inevitable result of a mix of our college majors, call it the first Internet publication ever to accept advertising, call it a community, call it a database-driven and comment-receptive Web site, call it a collaboration between many writers and readers, call it what you will, TidBITS became the focus of our lives.

So, while Adam has been the frontman – writing and editing many of the articles, attending conferences, answering the constant deluge of email, inspiring and collaborating on ever-newer and whizzier ways to publish TidBITS, what exactly have I been doing?

I’ve been writing articles, editing articles, learning and teaching every last thing to know about early versions of Microsoft Word and early versions of HTML, pushing for change, being a passionate advocate for less-experienced readers, acting as a sounding board, inspiring articles, bookkeeping, budgeting, serving as CFO, serving as an ad hoc “human resources” department, being the iron hand of project management and scheduling, getting a “real” job during certain lean years, learning how to be a sane working mother, not minding the many days when working hours are odd, and – since 2003 – devoting the majority of my time to the Take Control ebook series which partly funds TidBITS.

Were working for TidBITS Publishing Inc. a normal job, there’s no way I would have continued. The hours are murderous, the demands are many, and the to-do list endless. Fortunately, the enjoyment of interacting with so many interesting people and participating meaningfully in the technology world balances the downsides. Running TidBITS with Adam and everyone else has become a lifestyle that continues to surprise and delight, and to remind me that we are all connected.

Matt Neuburg — Back in 1980, while completing my PhD studies in Classics at Cornell University, I startled my supervisors by writing, editing, and outputting my PhD thesis on the university’s mainframe computer. This was a natural approach for me (I’d started programming a dozen years before), and it enabled me to complete my thesis efficiently; but personal computers were not yet widespread, and a Humanities scholar with a computing background was a rarity.

Fast-forward to 1987, when I returned to Cornell for a couple of years to teach Classics. By then I was using an Apple II to output complex documents that mixed English, Latin, and Greek, and to store lecture notes in outline form. One of my brighter students noticed this, and I told him about my use of computers, past and present; he, too, was a Humanities scholar with a strong interest in computers, and we struck up a friendship outside the classroom. That was Adam Engst.

In 1989, Adam told me about Storyspace, a pre-release application for making and reading hypertextual documents, which he was using to write his senior honors thesis. He also showed me the Macs in Cornell’s computer labs, but failed to persuade me that the Mac was much more than a toy at that stage.

A few years later, though, I was teaching at Swarthmore College (my undergraduate alma mater), and they gave me a Mac as part of my office furniture. I became a Mac person, and I started creating classware in HyperCard, scholarly documents in Nisus, and educational documents in Storyspace.

In the early 1990s, as an academic, I had desktop access to the Internet, and kept up with Info-Mac, where programmers posted applications for download and users posted Mac questions and answers (for a brief history of Info-Mac, see Adam’s “The Info-Mac Network Retires,” 19 December 2005). Adam was an Info-Mac denizen, and he started posting TidBITS to it. So we remained in touch, and we still had many specific Mac interests in common: HyperCard, Nisus, Storyspace.

I naturally proposed to write about these applications for TidBITS, and Adam was very helpful, letting me write super-detailed reviews spread over many issues, and even volunteering to share authorship with me. Thus he appears as co-author in my review of Storyspace (my first TidBITS article, “Storyspace Introduction,” 18 November 1991), and as guest commentator in my review of Nisus (“Nisus Review Preview,” 6 April 1992).

By now I was emulating Adam’s style of working and writing (the TidBITS ethos, you might say), and the rest, to coin a phrase, is history. I’ll skip other ways in which Adam has affected my subsequent career and conclude by saying that the great thing about writing for TidBITS is trust. I try to adhere to the TidBITS philosophy and live up to its literary and intellectual standards, and in return Adam gives me freedom to write what I want, when I want, to whatever length I think appropriate. What could be better?

Mark H. Anbinder — Adam, Tonya (who then went by her maiden name of Byard), and I were all students at Cornell University in the late 1980s. In addition to enjoying a college campus with a higher-than-most penetration of early Macintosh computers, we were also graced by Steve Jobs himself arriving on campus one winter to show off the NeXT Cube. (This was before his jeans and black turtleneck look, though Tonya did say she was wildly impressed with his shoes.) We had long known some of the same people, but that NeXT presentation was the first time I can remember meeting Adam and Tonya.

We all stayed around Ithaca after graduating, and our paths crossed more and more until the three of us became active participants in and organizers of MUGWUMP, the local Mac user group, whose name was an acronym for “Macintosh User Group for Writers and Users of Macintosh Programs.” MUGWUMP never had a huge membership, but it was a committed group with a software lending library, a well-designed print newsletter in an era of desktop-publishing atrocities, monthly meetings and presentations on the latest software and hardware for Mac users, and regular gatherings of the steering committee. We found ourselves to be three of the most active members in that crew.

When Adam and Tonya decided to combine their affection for HyperCard and hypertext with the joy of sharing knowledge about Macintosh computing, I was there; before long I was involved helping set up their first (UUCP-based) TidBITS email system, occasionally helping publish an issue, and doing an increasing amount of writing. When they moved to Seattle in 1991, I kept TidBITS running for the month of August while Adam looked for a new Internet connection.

As a News Editor, and then a somewhat less-active Contributing Editor, I’ve been on hand for many of TidBITS’s biggest collaborative coverage efforts – helping write about new computers, new operating systems, and the like, hardly ever face-to-face but often feeling as though we’re huddled together around a big table. (There are still a couple of TidBITS regulars I’ve never met in person, though that number continues to shrink.)

Over the course of 20 years we’ve gotten to meet or otherwise interact with so many of our readers, and I think that interaction is a big part of what keeps TidBITS going for all of us. My TidBITS connections have also led to other writing opportunities, for which I consider myself very lucky. As I write these thoughts in a hotel in the Artists’ Quarter of Safed, Israel, I’ll wish a hearty “Mazel Tov!” to the rest of the TidBITS crew.

Geoff Duncan — I first encountered TidBITS in the summer of 1990 (issue #10 caught my eye: HyperCard 2.0 and rumors of a color Mac SE – excitement!) but it was just a curiosity until maybe a year later when the smart lady in the next office idly asked “Hey, do you get TidBITS? You should. Adam and Tonya are great people.” Turned out I was sharing a poorly lit computing center hallway with Linda Iroff, who knew Adam and Tonya from Cornell. When I packed up and headed for Seattle shortly afterwards, Linda said Adam and Tonya had moved there recently too and we should meet. I made a mental note (in my jumble of mental notes), but was surprised a few months later when I answered a knock on the apartment door.
“Hi!” There stood Adam and Tonya, who had stopped by on their way to grocery shopping. I had long nurtured an interest in online publishing, and I eventually wound up signing on as TidBITS’s first kinda-sorta-formal staff member.

I believed then – and believe today – that TidBITS occupies a unique and important position in the Macintosh community, not only because it publishes top-quality information and analysis (for free!) but because TidBITS connects so many dots. TidBITS isn’t just about the when-where-and-how-much of a topic, but has the freedom to delve deeply into the why – and after 20 years in the biz, TidBITS has the knowledge, contacts, and connections to get those answers. It’s a testimony to Adam and Tonya that they have pulled it all off not by sinking into the manipulation, posturing, politicking, and shady deals so common in the industry but by being their genuine, upfront, and warm-hearted selves. TidBITS’s success really is that
simple, and I’m proud to have been associated with it in some small way.

Glenn Fleishman — I remember reading TidBITS in its early days, although I can’t recollect where I first found it – probably in the comp.sys.mac.digest Usenet newsgroup that mirrored Info-Mac.

It wasn’t long after reading TidBITS that I started writing to the Engsts about various things, including this 1991 complaint about an error in describing Multiple Master fonts. My first article (“Apple’s 16-bit Solution,” 19 April 1993) appeared several years later, just before I moved to Seattle. I had a lot of time on my hands after a job ended in Maine and before I drove west.

I corresponded a bit with the Engsts before I arrived in Seattle, and soon received invitations to attend the monthly soirees at their near-lakeside home in Renton. (Okay, it was a tiny bungalow a few blocks from a less-popular portion of Lake Washington – near a Boeing plant – within commuting distance of Tonya’s Microsoft job.)

My first significant article for TidBITS was likely “The Experiment is Over” (1 May 1995), which explained how the Internet’s then-backbone, run by the National Science Foundation as NSFNet, was in its final days of a transition to commercially operated backbone service. The article got a lot of traction in 1995 and was picked up and distributed all over.

Writing for TidBITS seemed like a big deal then, and it still does today. TidBITS was the voice of the user, in contrast to the huge trade journals of the day, which focused more on companies with lots of money to spend, partly because the publications were pumped full of advertising dollars as the information technology and personal technology markets were exploding.

I can draw a direct line from the confidence I got from writing for TidBITS to my later freelance career. While I started writing for money in 1995, it wasn’t until 1998 that I began working with national publications like the New York Times, and later Wired, Business 2.0, Fortune, and others during the dot-com bubble.

I’ve been working hard for and with TidBITS (including a short stint trying to launch an Internet-focused offshoot called NetBITS in 1997-1998) for over 12 years.

The Engsts and I became friends after being colleagues, and I recall a lot of laughs in Renton, and then in their mountaintop mad scientist lair at the end of a road in Issaquah, WA. When they moved back to Ithaca, I shed a few tears, but our virtual contact became even stronger.

Jeff Carlson — In 1994, inspired by the possibilities dangled in front of us by Wired magazine, I bought a modem for my Mac Classic II. To be honest, I didn’t quite know what to do with it at first, but I could tell that “getting online” was going to be a big deal. I located a couple of local bulletin board systems, including one for writers. It was there I met Geoff Duncan, the TidBITS Managing Editor at the time, who pointed out that if I liked using BBSes, I really needed to get on the Internet. (Geoff was the virtual dealer tantalizing me with a gateway drug.)

Of course, the way to gain access to the Internet at the time was Adam’s book “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh,” which gave me not only the knowledge but also the software needed to get connected (MacTCP on a floppy disk attached to the inside back cover.) In addition to getting me on the Internet, “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” was instrumental because it taught me that a “computer book” could be entertaining as well as informative – I read it cover to cover.

By 1996 (thanks to a referral from Geoff), I was working as Managing Editor for Open House Books, an imprint in Seattle that wrote and packaged titles such as “Real World FreeHand” by Olav Martin Kvern and “Real World Adobe Photoshop” by David Blatner, Bruce Fraser, and the owner of the company, Steve Roth. Steve also co-ran Thunder Lizard Productions, a technology conference business that was taking off. In the nicest possible way, Steve told me that he was going to dissolve Open House Books and let me go.

Fortunately, I had started writing articles for publications like Adobe Magazine and still had a few books in the editing pipeline, so I was ready to test the freelance waters. My first appearance in TidBITS, appropriately enough, was a short April Fools article, “Netscape Sleep Plug-In” (1 April 1996).

Later that year, while attending a lunch with several Seattle technology writers (at the original café), I finally met Adam and Tonya in person. After lunch, Tonya came up to me and said, “So, tell me more about being a managing editor!” (That exclamation point is deliberate: for as long as I’ve known her, Tonya is unfailingly chipper, especially when meeting someone new.) I didn’t realize right away that I was in the middle of a job interview, but I must have answered well enough. They soon offered me the part-time position and I accepted, thereby monopolizing almost every Monday (when we build the email issue) for the next 15 years.

Joe Kissell — I started using Macs in 1991 while in graduate school studying linguistics at the University of Texas at Arlington. Within a couple of years I had read Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” and started subscribing to TidBITS – I can’t recall which happened first. But by the time I began working for Nisus Software in 1994, I had read quite a bit of Adam’s stuff and regarded him as nothing short of a celebrity.

The following January I attended Macworld Expo in San Francisco for the first time, and when a colleague offered to introduce me to Adam, who was a Nisus Writer fan, I was star-struck. He was a famous author who seemed to know everything about my favorite computer, and relatively speaking I was a newbie.

A year later, I’d written my own first book, “The Nisus Way,” and that was what I talked about with Tonya when I met her at the next Macworld Expo. She blew my mind by telling me about this new Web site called where, if I referred people to buy my book, I would somehow mysteriously get extra money for it. A couple of months later, Tonya reviewed my book in TidBITS (“I Am Joe’s Book,” 18 March 1996). I made a point of telling her that my own mother couldn’t have written a more complimentary review, and that I would be happy to buy her a milkshake to say thanks. (Tonya, I believe I still owe you that milkshake!)

A few years later, while on our first vacation to Paris, I told my then-girlfriend Morgen about my goal to one day write an article for TidBITS – and maybe even, eventually, if I was lucky, one for Macworld. Even though I’d had a couple of books published by then, writing for TidBITS seemed like a stretch, something I wasn’t sure I was qualified to do. After a five-year stint at Kensington, I wrote my third book, which was published in early 2003 and for which Adam generously contributed a foreword. That interaction finally led to my first TidBITS article (“Salling Clicker in Action,” 25 August 2003), and then, a few months later, to the beginning of my involvement with Take Control
Books. That, in turn, prompted an invitation to write an article for Macworld. In the years since, both publishers have kept asking me to write things and have given me titles with the word “senior” in them, so I’ve kept writing – still a bit mystified at my good fortune at being sucked into the TidBITS vortex, merely (so it seems) by standing too close.

Rich Mogull — I may be one of the most recent additions to the TidBITS staff, but I believe I’m the only member whose association started with a secret identity.

I’m a bit of a geek. My tech and programming days started in the early 1980s with the Commodore PET in our elementary school. I was also lucky to have a friend with somewhat wealthy parents who owned an Apple II (I can’t remember which model) upon which we spent countless hours playing Wizardry, Olympic Decathlon, and occasionally programming.

Flash forward to 2005. I was working as an analyst on the security team at Gartner and still didn’t own a Mac, despite years of drooling over everything from the first PowerBooks to the first iMac. Chris Pepper, a childhood friend and long-time Apple user, constantly pushed me to take the plunge and switch, which I finally did with the release of the Mac mini since the price made it a low-risk investment. On Chris’s suggestion I subscribed to TidBITS and bought a few Take Control books to learn Mac OS X.

Within a matter of weeks I realized that Mac mini had become my primary computer. I even started programming in AppleScript, relying on a rapidly dog-eared copy of Matt Neuburg’s AppleScript: The Definitive Guide. When Apple announced the transition to CPUs from Intel, I was able to virtualize Windows on a Mac and continue my conversion.

As an industry analyst I did a fair bit of writing on technology, but it was all impersonal. By this point Chris had contributed some articles to TidBITS, and I asked if he could quietly approach Adam with a story idea about my “switcher’s tale.” The only problem was that, due to my day job, I would have to write under a pseudonym and my real identity would need to be kept secret.

Adam liked the idea, and thus I wrote my first ever TidBITS article (“From iPod to MacBook Pro: A Switcher’s Tale,” 13 March 2006). Over the course of the next year I wrote three more TidBITS articles under the name “Robert Movin.” In August of 2007 I left my job, founded my own firm, and started writing the occasional TidBITS article under my real name.

As Macworld Expo approached I asked Adam in email if it would be okay if I used TidBITS as a reference to apply for a press pass. I didn’t hear back right away – which is unlike Adam – leading me to assume I had offended him. When I gently inquired again, I was shocked when he offered me a staff position. I hadn’t offended him; he was just bouncing the idea off the rest of the team.

It’s been almost three years now, and I am still completely humbled and honored to be a part of this group.

Doug McLean — My first knowledge of TidBITS came in an unexpected way for one of the world’s longest-running electronic publications: by shuffling through the Jobs section in an actual newspaper! I had just returned to Ithaca with my girlfriend, who was beginning her master’s degree at Cornell. The ad said something about a part-time opportunity for writing and editing about computers with a focus on Apple. Having just left a job managing a Mac-based network for a small art college near Boston, the job sounded perfect.

After a cheery phone interview with Tonya and a writing sample submitted, I found myself face-to-face with Tonya and Adam at a local coffee shop. It was one of the best job interviews I’ve had – not because I thought I nailed it, but because we actually had a fun and engaging conversation. An hour flew by talking about Facebook versus Twitter, Steve Jobs’s performance and personality, and even a little about art (Adam and Tonya both have a keen interest, and I studied art in college and continue to maintain a studio).

Well, I lucked out, and got the job. Joining the TidBITS staff has been an enormously enjoyable learning experience. I can remember early on asking Adam if he could suggest some general reading on the history of the Apple, being invited over to the Engsts’ home, and coming away with a heavy stack of books including everything from Guy Kawasaki’s seminal “The Macintosh Way” to David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (a helpful book for those learning to work from home!) – as well as some of the many peaches produced by their overzealous fruit trees. I was also astonished by my first time collaborating in real time on coverage of a big Apple event. It was amazing to see the characters in the article appear, disappear, and change before my
eyes as five other editors worked on it – like some kind of digital ant hill.

While I’ve been a part of TidBITS for only a tiny fraction of its existence, working alongside the rest of the TidBITS crew is a daily pleasure, and one for which I’m enormously grateful.

Adam Engst 26 comments

Twenty Years of Memories from Friends of TidBITS

When I think back on what I’ve enjoyed the most about TidBITS over the last 20 years, it’s not the technology. Instead, the way TidBITS has enriched my life the most is through the people it has enabled me to meet and work with, at all levels of the Macintosh industry, ranging from independent Mac developers to Mac user group members to Apple executives.

So I want to share something special with you today – my friends and colleagues. I’ve asked a random set of people I’ve known in the industry for a long time to write a few words about how they first encountered TidBITS, what they remember from meeting me and Tonya, how TidBITS has influenced their lives, and so on.

My only regret is not having time to include even more people, but if you have a fun story about finding TidBITS for the first time, about meeting anyone on the staff, or how TidBITS has changed your life, please share it in the comments!

Andy Affleck — All I really need to say is, “Once again I recommend Solitaire Till Dawn.” OK, OK…

When Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” came out, I bought a copy at the Dartmouth Bookstore (I was working at Dartmouth at the time). As I stood in line waiting to pay, I happened to flip around the index and caught my name (at that time, I went by Andy J. Williams). I was shocked! Adam had mentioned my habit-at-that-time of providing LISTSERV access to various email lists and described me as “a sucker for resources in need of a home.” The checkout person at the store was not impressed, but I was thrilled to have achieved some small amount of fame.

The following summer, during my annual pilgrimage to Macworld Expo in Boston, I discovered that Adam was signing books at his publisher’s booth. I flipped my badge backward to hide my name and walked up to him and in my best stern-I-am-trying-not-to-smile-and-give-it-away look said, “You called me a sucker in your book, and I’m really upset!” He looked at me like I was some crazy (okay, to be fair, I was), and then I flipped my badge around and he laughed. And that’s how we met.

I think I wrote my first article for TidBITS a while later, a review of a new LaserWriter (see “LaserWriter 16/600 PS,” 14 November 1994).

TidBITS has been an integral part of my life since its HyperCard days. I hope it’s going strong in 2,048 issues, and I wish everyone involved a happy 20th birthday!

[Andy Affleck is a Take Control author and TidBITS contributor who has become infamous for recommending the Solitaire Till Dawn card game for the annual TidBITS gift guide.]

David Blatner — TidBITS, my old friend. Why, I remember when you were just a little thing, a strangely formatted recurring email in the wee-early 1990s that reminded me that I was far from alone in my odd proclivities toward all things Macintosh. (Yes, you remember that ol’ “Mac” used to go by a longer name!) I don’t recall much from those days, which seem a haze to my addled brain, though the memories are all fond ones. And, of course, it’s hard to discern where my remembrances of TidBITS end and those of Adam and Tonya begin (as though, like Tron, they were early on pulled into the digital reality of their own writings, becoming one with the greater ASCII.) I recall that wonderful party at Adam and
Tonya’s house before they left for New York in 2001 (boo hoo), where we inherited a jade plant (now sprouted into several in our kitchen). I recall far-out conversations with Geoff Duncan and my surprise when my officemates and friends (Glenn Fleishman and Jeff Carlson) were suddenly enlisted into positions of greater editorial responsibility. I remember writing, re-writing, editing, and thinking all the time, “I’m really doing this article for free?” For that’s the magic of TidBITS: it draws us all back to our childhoods, where we communally shared our experiences and got excited with our friends about the tiniest things – the things that were, are, most important in the minutiae of
our lives. Congratulations, Adam and Tonya. I applaud you.

[David Blatner is the co-host of and the Print and ePublishing Conference. He is generally acknowledged to be one of the world’s experts on publishing software, though he has also written on pi, aviation, and Judaism.]

Liz Castro — I started reading TidBITS in the early 1990s when I was still living in Barcelona, translating the third edition of “The Macintosh Bible” into Spanish. It was my lifeline to news about the world of Apple, and I have depended ever since on its timely, accurate, incisive, and relevant stories. I can remember numerous times having read an article and later encountered the problem which it solved.

I love how TidBITS has evolved. In the beginning, it was mostly Mac stuff, but as Apple has added iDevices, TidBITS has stepped up to cover them. TidBITS always makes me feel like I’m up to date, like I have the inside track covered.

And to show how small the world can be, I first met Adam and Tonya at a Macworld Expo in San Francisco and after some conversation, it turned out we had friends in common in Ithaca.

Congratulations, and thanks for 20 years!

[Liz Castro is a computer book author best known for her “HTML, XHTML, and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide,” which has sold more than a million copies across six editions.]

Marshall Clow — I’ve been reading TidBITS since my kids – now 21 and 19 – were very small, but it was sometime after the switch from the HyperCard stack format. Articles have helped me out of jams on several occasions, and just being able to point someone at a TidBITS article and say, “Is this the problem that you are having?” has made my life a lot easier over the years.

I’ve been mentioned a few times in TidBITS articles, which is always a kick because I get comments from other people: “Hey, I saw you in TidBITS!” But the most amusing bit was the year I received what turned out to be a one-off version of the TidBITS April Fools issue wishing me a happy birthday.

[Marshall Clow is a long-time Mac developer who has worked on products from StuffIt Deluxe to Eudora and whose birthday is indeed on April 1st.]

Michael E. Cohen — I can’t even remember the first time I read TidBITS, but it wasn’t on the Web because Tim Berners-Lee hadn’t yet unleashed the World Wide Web on the world. I vaguely recall using a Mac program called Easy View that formatted TidBITS email issues for easy onscreen reading. TidBITS was great for those of us hankering for Mac news back in the last century – it was a great source of, well, really useful and interesting tidbits, sort of a Mac and an Internet jungle drum that beat its way into my mailbox once a week. A year or two after I read my first issue, I picked up a copy of Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” to share with all my friends and colleagues. I probably read about the
book in a TidBITS issue.

The first time I met Adam and Tonya (and, I think, the only time that we’ve met offline) was during Macworld Expo in San Francisco in 2007, a few months after they had published the first edition of my Take Control book on syncing. I remember thinking how much nicer they both were in person than in email and on the phone, and, given that they both are among the nicest people I’ve ever dealt with remotely, that was impressive. Congratulations on 1K of TidBITS!

[Michael E. Cohen has written three Take Control books about syncing, and currently holds the record for most puns per title.]

Colin Crawford — In over three decades the Apple industry has experienced swings of great highs and deep lows. However, despite some turmoil there has been a remarkable camaraderie in the industry – it is bonded by a desire to see Apple and the whole ecosystem not just survive but continue to set high standards for others to emulate. It’s not about unquestioning loyalty or fanboy fanaticism – we’ve all been willing to offer constructive criticism to help improve products from Apple and others in the industry. When subpar products have appeared, we’ve called the companies on them and dealt with some inevitable backlash. The focus has always been to serve Macintosh users, to give them the best advice we

TidBITS over the last 20 years has been a consistent voice of reason. The style is not strident, but it’s authoritative, well reasoned, and always presented with great clarity and total editorial professionalism. In a nutshell, Adam and Tonya have created an indispensable trusted brand that is an integral part of the Mac community.

The contributions to this issue from all across the industry are testament to the tremendous reach and influence of TidBITS. I am looking forward to reading their insights for many more years.

[Colin Crawford was the CEO of Macworld Magazine from 1995 to 2003.]

Nancy Davis — I knew about TidBITS before I knew about the people behind TidBITS.

When I first went to work at Peachpit, I was a Mac user, but I wasn’t immersed in the world of Mac. My colleagues at Peachpit turned me on to TidBITS, and it quickly became a trusted source of news and, more importantly, a beautifully written (and edited) interpretation of that news.

I was introduced to Adam and Tonya a year or so later. By then I had read about them and learned a bit about them, but I can still recall that my very first thought on meeting them was, “This cannot be Adam and Tonya. They are so young!” I realized that because they wrote with such authority, confidence, and understanding of technology that I had unconsciously aged them in my mind. They couldn’t possibly have all that experience and be that young, could they?

Soon thereafter I was assigned to be Adam’s editor on his first Peachpit book. And I’ll admit, I was more than a bit intimidated. Yes, with Adam writing and Tonya editing, I had a book editor’s dream team, but how could I edit their work? How would I work with them?

I quickly discovered that they were indeed a dream team and a delight to work with. I am sure I learned far more from them than they did from me, but they were fantastic partners and consummate professionals, and ultimately, they have become my friends. I feel very fortunate to work with them, and to continue to learn from them. The TidBITS issues that arrive each week are a welcome sight in my overcrowded inbox, and the TidBITS archives are a treasure that I turn to for reminders, information, and sometimes, just fun.

Congratulations on 20 amazing years! Thank you for everything you do to keep this community strong.

[Nancy Davis is Editor-in-Chief of Peachpit Press.]

Sky Dayton — My relationship with TidBITS and Adam goes way back. Seventeen years ago, Adam’s TidBITS advice and his seminal “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” helped me get my Mac on the Internet for the first time. Soon afterward, I decided to start EarthLink, and I ordered “Internet Starter Kits” by the case to give to every EarthLink subscriber as they signed up. Later on, Apple selected EarthLink as their built-in Internet provider because of our long dedication to the Mac, which all started with TidBITS.

Through thick and thin, TidBITS has been the heart and soul of the Mac community for twenty years.

[Sky Dayton founded EarthLink in 1994 and Boingo Wireless in 2001, where he remains chairman of the board.]

Steve Dorner — What I most remember about TidBITS is how tirelessly you helped people with Eudora and evangelized the program, merely since you yourself found it useful.

[Steve Dorner is the original author of Eudora.]

Ole Eichhorn — I first downloaded TidBITS on CompuServe, in the old setext format, starting with issue #7 or so. I remember being notified of new issues via a newfangled thing called Internet email to my account 70740,50. Yes, that’s right, I had a seven-digit CompuServe account number.

Hundreds of articles in TidBITS have helped me with an important tip or pointed me to something interesting. I remember when just figuring out all the Apple models was challenging, and which models supported which features. That has sure changed. I think the software reviews were one of my biggest reasons for reading, since in the old days software companies couldn’t easily offer trial versions, and this was before the Internet; you couldn’t just Google for reviews. TidBITS always did “fair and balanced” views of products.

To me, the most amazing thing about TidBITS is its consistency and longevity. If I were telling a friend about TidBITS now, I’d probably tell the story about how, to celebrate its 20th anniversary and 1,024th issue, Adam contacted some longtime readers and asked them to talk a little about TidBITS, including relating the most amazing story about TidBITS they could think of…

[Ole Eichhorn is Chief Technology Officer at Aperio. His previous positions include Executive Vice President of Engineering at PayPal and General Manager of Online Billpay at Intuit.]

Akif Eyler — One thousand of anything is a very large number in human scale. But 1,024 issues in online publishing may be a unique effort unequaled elsewhere. Congratulations…

Twenty years is quite a long time in human appreciation. But twenty years of steady and robust determination is a wonderful achievement. Thank you…

I was an early Mac user between 1987 and 1997. I have known TidBITS since its second year. The importance of TidBITS in my life, however, is not as a reader or a Mac user. I took part in the development of browsing tools aimed at supporting electronic publishing. Easy View was one of the earlier tools – an academic work at that time – in the field. Our very similar dedication to “easily reachable archives” was the strong link between us.

[Akif Eyler is Professor of Computer Engineering at Marmara University in Istanbul, Turkey. He is best known in the Mac world for developing the Easy View file viewer that was for many years the preferred way to archive and view TidBITS issues.]

Dan Frakes — Honestly, I have no recollection of the first time I met Adam or Tonya – it seems like I’ve known them for ages, although it has probably been only 12 or 13 years. I knew of them long before that: I remember browsing a copy of “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” at the campus computer store back in 1993 or 1994, about the same time I started reading TidBITS regularly.

Back then, the idea of getting weekly Mac news that wasn’t a week (or more) old was still fairly unique – the Web hadn’t yet taken off as a primary source of Mac information. I still have fond memories of using Easy View to read those issues. In a way, Easy View and TidBITS were like an early RSS reader… albeit one that updated its feeds only once per week.

Here we are, nearly two decades later, and TidBITS is still going strong. One of the most amazing things about TidBITS is how long Adam and Tonya have been publishing continuously: the TidBITS Web site provides the oldest unbroken archives of Mac-related news out there.

But that archive has personal meaning, as well. I’ve written articles for TidBITS, but a search of the TidBITS Web site turned up a number of quotes from me as a reader that helps document my own technological history. For example, I discovered that my name first appeared in TidBITS in November 1998 (see “Talkin’ About MP3,” 30 November 1998). The staff had asked readers some questions about the nascent technology of MP3 audio and quoted my response. I didn’t realize I was listening to MP3 files in 1998, but evidently I was, and regularly!

I bring this up not just because I found my 12-year-old quotes interesting, but because it points to a big reason for TidBITS’s success: Adam and Tonya have always considered TidBITS readers to be not just passive consumers, but part of a community of contributors. I look forward to many more years of that community.

[Dan Frakes writes for Macworld and occasionally moonlights as a Take Control editor and TidBITS contributor.]

Greg Friedman — Around the end of 1990, I applied for a job at Aladdin Systems, which had recently introduced the first commercial version of StuffIt. At the time, Aladdin was a company of six employees operating out of a house in Aptos, California. TidBITS was being published as a HyperCard stack at the time (a really cool HyperCard stack which aggregated back issues, if I recall correctly). Like many of us, I downloaded it from the Info-Mac Archives each week over my 2400 baud modem.

Anyway, TidBITS ran a piece on the imminent release of StuffIt Deluxe 2.0, which I read prior to interviewing with Aladdin. One of the guys who interviewed me was Dave Schargel, President of Aladdin and a well-known personality in the industry. Dave asked me what industry magazines I read. I told him I read MacUser, Macworld, and TidBITS. In fact, I told him, I’d recently read the TidBITS coverage of the upcoming StuffIt Deluxe 2.0 release. Dave hadn’t heard of TidBITS before, but he was impressed by how up-to-date I was because of that article and we launched into a memorable first conversation about the evolution of media into the digital space. In short, TidBITS helped me land my first job in the industry.

Twenty years! That’s just incredible. What a ride these past twenty years have been for all of us. Heartfelt congratulations to you and the TidBITS family!

[Greg is currently a Development Manager at Microsoft where, among other things, he worked on the first few releases of Internet Explorer for the Mac. Prior to Microsoft, he worked at Aladdin Systems and spent a few years working on Developer Tools at Apple.]

Lea Galanter — I was a member of the Mac user group in Houston before I moved to Seattle in 1990, where I met Adam and Tonya at Seattle’s dBug. Adam was the person who first showed me “the Web” – via something called Mosaic. I was blown away – one of those moments I remember in detail.

I think I’ve been reading TidBITS since the beginning, and I still read TidBITS regularly; it seems even more important now with multiple Apple products in my life (a laptop, an iPhone, and one day soon an iPad). I can’t think of anywhere else I can get the latest news and information that matters about Apple products all in one place.

[Lea Galanter is a Take Control editor.]

Jeff Ganyard — Let’s see, I would first have encountered TidBITS back in 1992. The Apple Assistance Center was in the process of being created in Austin, TX, out of the “System 7 Answerline.” It was Apple’s further foray into the world of direct end user support. One of the people in that group had been at Cornell just prior to coming to Austin to work for Apple. She introduced me to TidBITS. We all looked forward to each issue, and even as we were getting some excellent training within Apple, TidBITS provided us with the wider view of what was happening in the Mac world.

The things I can share about the early influence of TidBITS in my career…

  • We formatted all the reference docs for the software support group at Apple in setext format and referenced it in Easy View, all based on an article Adam wrote. That was the beginning of several years of me building nimble and quick reference resources for Apple’s support reps.
  • I found out about BBEdit from TidBITS. I’ve spent an awful lot of time with BBEdit, Rich Siegel, and Bare Bones in the last 18 years.
  • I learned about MacHTTP from TidBITS. As Chuck Shotton’s work laid the foundation for Web serving on Macs, so he also helped create my career in Apple, as just a couple years later I became the Server Evangelist and then the Internet Evangelist.
  • I don’t recall when I first met Adam but I do remember helping him stash that splintery stake from MacHack under the sink in my hotel room in 2000. I wonder where in the hotel it is now? [To find out, read the articles in “The Story of the Stake.” -Adam]
  • [Jeff Ganyard is Development Manger for Mac Products at Nuance Communications, which recently purchased MacSpeech, and formerly Internet Evangelist at Apple.]

Jon Gotow — I’ve been reading TidBITS since before there were Web browsers – yeah, that’s old. I first encountered TidBITS on the Info-Mac Digest, where Adam was an active contributor and TidBITS was one of the sources of Mac knowledge. TidBITS has always been one of those rare gems that provides enough technical detail and background for you to really understand topics, and Adam hits the right balance of technical depth and approachability. Plus he’s always straight with his readers – even before meeting him, I felt I knew him and very much trusted his opinions.

After reading TidBITS for so long and emailing Adam on a number of occasions, we finally met at MacHack one year. I think the things that struck me the most were that this busy, incredibly well-known Mac expert sat down and talked to me for a long time and that he was as excited about what was going on in the Mac world as if he’d just discovered it – not as though he’d been writing about these things for years.

Lots of TidBITS articles have been helpful to me over the years, and back in the day, articles tracking virus outbreaks and explaining the workings of clever software like RAM Doubler were invaluable. It made me look smart whenever anyone had a Mac question. But the best part was my 15 minutes of fame in a publication that I really respected when Adam wrote an article about me and my son Ben when we won the hacking contest at MacHack (see “The MacHax Best Hack Contest 2003,” 23 June 2003).

Even now, what sets TidBITS apart is how comprehensive it is. Say there’s a big issue brewing – like the iPad – you can surf all over the place and spend a while collecting information and opinions, or you can just read about it in TidBITS and get a solid, well-researched perspective about what’s up, with reliable links to more information.

[Jon Gotow is the president of St. Clair Software and the developer of Default Folder X and HistoryHound.]

John Gruber — I started reading TidBITS in 1991, during my freshman year of college. I don’t recall how I first came upon it, but I’d wager heavily that it was on one of the comp.sys.mac.* Usenet groups.

As a budding writer and Mac nerd, TidBITS immediately struck a chord. Not just because of what it was about, but because of what it was and how it was delivered. TidBITS has been delivered in a variety of formats over the years – HyperCard stack, plain text email and Usenet postings, and, now, of course, a Web site – but one thing it has never been about is print. And, more importantly, it has always been free of charge to readers.

We take digital distribution and free access for granted today. But TidBITS debuted years before the Web. Think about that. More importantly, TidBITS’s standards for writing, editing, insight, and respect for its readership have been consistently excellent, right from the start. Most of the initial forays into digital publications were clearly from people who saw digital content as inherently inferior to print. Not TidBITS. Their attitude was, “let’s make something great, and let’s do it ourselves.” If anything, TidBITS published higher-quality writing than the print publications covering the Mac market in the early 1990s. And, given the speed of digital distribution, it was more timely and more relevant. In short, TidBITS
wasn’t just “good for something that’s free,” it was good, period. It didn’t try to replicate print. It instead emphasized what digital distribution does best.

Needless to say, I found this incredibly inspiring. TidBITS was the inspiration for the independent Mac publications that followed, including mine. And it’s every bit as relevant today as it was in 1990 (when, I remind you, it was distributed as a HyperCard stack), by remaining focused not on any specific distribution format but on the writing.

Formats come and go. Great writing is forever.

[John Gruber writes Daring Fireball.]

Andy Ihnatko — I think everybody you ask will have a memory of the day they discovered TidBITS. It’s sort of a touchstone for every generation, isn’t it?

My story, for what it’s worth. I was in Zayre’s department store with my Mom and one or two of my sisters. As usual, I was sort of off on my own and I wound up in the record department. I don’t know why I was drawn to TidBITS specifically. I think it was the colorful cover. It was like a picture puzzle, almost. I thought I recognized Mae West and W.C. Fields. Actually, I’ll be honest: there was a sticker on the plastic that promised that there were cutouts inside.

So I bought it with my birthday money. I opened it up when I got home and played with the cutouts. It was probably a couple of days before I got to actually listen to TidBITS. I had a cassette player in my room… Dad’s hand-me-down from work, one of those kinds where it was shaped like a shoebox and the controller buttons were levers on the front. I wasn’t allowed to use the family stereo downstairs.

But my oldest sisters had a record player and I was able to use it when they weren’t home. I just remember putting on the headphones and sitting on the floor in front of the record player, listening to this freaky, freaky music. It was beautiful. But for all of its intensity, it played out like one of my story tapes; it had a beginning and a middle and an end. I wondered whether the TidBITS editors on the back were really “playing” the roles, or if they were just singing about characters they’d made up.

The last track sort of threw me, though. It was in the form of a dream that transitioned into waking and then getting on a bus. It was really familiar territory for a kid who went to public school. The thing was, though, that it appeared to be broken in half. Intellectually, I knew that this was how the song was meant to go, but it seemed like there was more to the story than that. So I was a little pleased with myself when I learned later that Tonya and Adam had each written two separate songs, and then when they were putting TidBITS together they realized that they could glue them together. I keep forgetting who wrote which part.

Anyway. If you’d told me way back then that I would one day count Adam and Tonya as friends, and moreover that I’d be asked to contribute a little piece of my own to commemorate TidBITS’s anniversary, I would have told you that you were nuts. It’s just one of a thousand little miracles that I’ve encountered in my career. Congratulations, you two.

[Andy Ihnatko writes about technology for the Chicago Sun-Times, does a vast number of other things, and long ago moved up from being the Macintosh world’s 42nd most-beloved industry personality.]

Chuck Joiner — TidBITS at twenty? Is that even possible? There are very, very few things in any category that have been part of my life for twenty years. Whether I outgrew them, lost interest, or they closed up or lost their relevance, they just aren’t there any longer. TidBITS is a notable exception. Adam, Tonya and the entire crew have maintained not only relevance, but also a standard of consistent excellence while growing and evolving with the changes in the world of Apple technology and beyond. Their unique blend of tech reporting, insight and personal experiences set TidBITS apart early on, and continue to make it one of the few truly must-read resources for Apple product users of every stripe.
Thanks for a great twenty years – and over one thousand issues – of useful, interesting, and thought-provoking information.

[Chuck Joiner is the indefatigable mastermind behind the MacNotables, MacVoices, and MacJury podcasts.]

Greg Joswiak — Wow! It’s mind-boggling that TidBITS is turning 20. I remember when I first discovered TidBITS in the early 1990s and thinking of it as an unbelievably timely, informative, authoritative, and classy publication. I couldn’t wait to get each issue to stay up on the happenings in our beloved Mac community. Little did I realize that Adam and team were inventing the future with TidBITS long years before any of us would ever use the word “blog.” But more importantly, they were also part of the fabric and soul of our community. We’ve all been through a lot with each other. And like a good friend, through good times and bad, TidBITS was always there for us. Never getting into the muck, always
staying true to the TidBITS mission to keep us up on the latest news and info. Now 20 years later, TidBITS hasn’t skipped a beat and is every bit as timely, informative, authoritative, and classy!

Congrats on your first 20 years. And THANK YOU to the entire team at TidBITS.

[Greg Joswiak is Apple’s Vice President of iPod and iPhone Product Marketing.]

Paul Kafasis — I’ve been reading TidBITS for years and years, and it’s the source of some of the absolutely most thoughtful, in-depth writing on the Mac.

When our products get reviewed in TidBITS, we know someone has spent time and energy to use and understand the product. On the Web, amidst hundreds of sites which offer little new, that sort of effort has grown rare. TidBITS brings depth to everything it covers.

[Paul Kafasis is the CEO and Lackey of Rogue Amoeba Software.]

Jonathan Kahn — I believe I first encountered TidBITS in the early 1990s in the Aladdin Systems days. Leonard Rosenthol introduced us at a Macworld Expo. I also remember that we really felt as a company that we’d made the big time the first time TidBITS wrote about us. It was through TidBITS that I learned about Chad Magendanz’s ShrinkWrap, then a shareware product that we ended up buying, and which I used to make a lot of disk images back then. I also remember how TidBITS helped us out during the years, giving us advice on our products, acting as a sounding board, and providing insight on where the Mac was moving. That was especially helpful during the launch of StuffIt 5.0, where your advice helped us
get though the switch from the .sit format to .sitx format.

[Jonathan Kahn is the Executive Vice President & General Manager Productivity & Graphics Group at Smith Micro; he was formerly the president of Aladdin Systems and Allume.]

Paul Kent — In the same way people have favorite music that serves as the soundtrack of their lives, TidBITS has been a constant, trusted thread that has chronicled the world of Apple technology. The first time Adam spoke for me was at Mactivity ’93, shortly after “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” came out. That seminal work informed the tone of his early presentations and mirrored the tone of TidBITS – always clear, concise, and compassionate, but never condescending. It’s an inclusive tone that fosters community and makes us all feel that we’re exploring the world of technology together. 18 years and several dozen presentations later, TidBITS continues to serve its readership with the spirit of the
original Mac community and the vibrancy of our current world. Onward to 2,048!

[Paul Kent founded the Mactivity series of conferences and is now General Manager of Macworld Expo for IDG World Expo.]

Shawn King — TidBITS this, TidBITS that… blah, blah, blah….

My entire life for the past 17 years is Adam Engst’s fault.

I was a poor starving college student, trying to find a job with my (to this day) meager skills. But I was really good at talking and explaining things to people and someone told me I should be a computer trainer.

“This Internet thing is going to be huge. You should look into that.”

My local bookstore had a copy of Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh.” $50 (Canadian). Gulp. I sadly spent my beer money on it and took it home, devouring it over the weekend. Installed the software and BOOM! A whole new world of information opened up to me.

Thanks to that book and TidBITS, I looked like a genius, and those of you who know me know how hard that is to accomplish. I could get fellow Mac users on the Internet with ease, troubleshoot their problems and tell them about cool software, hardware, tips, tricks and information – all things I gleaned from TidBITS. And better yet, they would pay me to talk to them!

A couple of years go by and I’m starting this little “Internet radio” show. I scraped up enough money to go to a Macworld Expo and got to meet Adam and Tonya. Now, we Canadians are generally a reserved, reticent folk, not given to public displays of fanboyism, but I just had to tell Adam how much I appreciated his work and how much he had (unknowingly and unwittingly) contributed to my career.

I fully expected Adam to dismiss me breezily, but he stood there for 10 minutes as we talked Mac stuff. He introduced me to Tonya (who I still have a little crush on to this day) and wished me well with my new show.

I could not have been more impressed – I’ve always been impressed with the style and quality of the writing in TidBITS – but it was at that moment I realized why. It’s because Adam and Tonya are impressive, and they imbue everything they do with passion, intelligence, and respect, and yet still keep a sense of joy and excitement about their lives, both professionally and personally.

I am very proud to have been, to my knowledge, the only person to get Adam to curse during a live broadcast, but I’m even more proud to call them both my friends.

Here’s to 20 more years of being who you are, Adam and Tonya!

[Shawn King is the host of Your Mac Life and is the original Internet Mac broadcaster.]

Ted Landau — I don’t recall when I first discovered TidBITS – although I am sure it was very early on.

My more distinct memory is when I first became aware of Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh.” At the time, I was using AOL or CompuServe as my main gateway to the Internet. These services seemed so much better than dealing with all the hassles that were inherent with what the Internet Starter Kit described. I just didn’t understand what was getting Adam so excited, or what was making his book so popular. At the time, I would have placed bets that AOL or something like it would keep ascending while the stuff Adam was promoting would fade into oblivion.

It’s a good thing no one was taking my bets or I’d be out a lot of money. Clearly, Adam and Tonya had their fingers on the pulse of where things were headed. They still do. Congratulations on 20 years of leading the way.

[Ted Landau is the king of Macintosh troubleshooting, having founded MacFixIt and written numerous books and articles on the topic. His most recent title for Take Control is “Take Control of iPhone OS 3.”]

Pat Lee — I started reading TidBITS back in 1992. I had just joined Dantz Development, the makers of DiskFit Pro and Retrospect backup software, and like most other small companies at the time we had a single “Internet-accessible” email address to the outside world. Chris Holmes, who also worked in our tech support team at the time, was responsible for distributing TidBITS to the rest of the company.

It’s funny looking back now on those articles that TidBITS wrote about Retrospect and transparent file compression software (see “Retrospect and Compression Software,” 25 May 1992). Does anyone else remember using Salient’s AutoDoubler or Alysis’s More Disk Space to get the most use out of our 40 MB (that’s right, MB not GB) hard drives? Now 2 TB hard disks cost only about $150.

I first met Tonya and Adam at Macworld Expo back in the mid-1990s and looked forward to seeing them every year at Dantz’s Macworld parties at the Thirsty Bear and then keeping in touch with them over email.

At VMware, it has been great collaborating with Adam, Tonya, and Joe Kissell on two “Take Control of VMware Fusion” ebooks. They truly get what Mac users are looking for, and I am glad we can work together to make life even easier for VMware Fusion customers.

I look forward to continued years of reading TidBITS, Take Control ebooks, and whatever great new ideas Adam and Tonya come up with that make life as a Mac user even better!

[Pat Lee is Director of Personal Desktop Products at VMware.]

Peter N Lewis — The first email I can find from Adam was in August 1993, when he asked me, John Norstad and Steve Dorner to tech edit the MacTCP chapter of “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh.” But I’d known of TidBITS since November 1991, when I received a report from one of its readers that my DeHQX 2.0 reported an error decoding issue #95 of TidBITS [which was then a stuffed, binhexed HyperCard stack -Adam].

I’m always pleased to see any mention or review in TidBITS because TidBITS has always been so discerning – anyone can get a mention on any of the various press release republishing sites, but only programs that TidBITS folks actually care about appear in TidBITS, which I think is where it gets a lot of its value. The first time I remember being reviewed in TidBITS was in “Anarchie Rules” (31 January 1994) – an article that has Adam raving about the value of URLs – at that point a new idea!

It also includes the comment, “I’m looking forward to the day when you can select a URL in TidBITS, hit a hot key or select an item from a menu, and have Anarchie snag the file for you instantly.” Later in 1994, Quinn and I answered Adam’s desire with the Internet Config utility, which was later rolled in to Mac OS by Apple (see “Internet Config Ships,” 5 December 1994).

Congrats on 20 magical years! It is fantastic to see TidBITS still going strong, even while many other publishing companies are struggling – a true testament to the value of quality journalism and tenacity – well done!

[Peter N Lewis is the founder of Stairways Software and is well-known in the Macintosh Internet world for programs such as Anarchie (which became Interarchy and was bought by Nolobe), Internet Config, and FTPd. He also played a pivotal role in the founding of Kagi, and now publishes the macro utility Keyboard Maestro.]

[Peter said he couldn’t remember when we first met, but it’s one of our most cherished stories, so I can’t resist sharing. In June 1994, Peter sent me email asking if I was going to Mactivity that year so we could meet up. I had a conflict, but since we had corresponded online a bit by then, I sent what I thought was a throwaway social gesture, and invited Peter to visit if he was going to be up in Seattle (Mactivity was in California). I didn’t understand that young Australians are among the world’s most enthusiastic travelers, so I was somewhat surprised when Peter asked if July 12th through 17th was OK. I’d offered, so I couldn’t say no, and I still remember telling Tonya that I’d accidentally invited someone we’d never met to stay
with us for five days. Ever practical, she asked how old he was (our age) and what he ate (everything). The visit was a smashing success, and subsequent years saw many of Peter’s Mac friends from Australia coming through, and we remain friends with all of them. So much so that we arranged to be in Perth in 1998 for Peter’s 30th birthday party. -Adam]

Jean MacDonald — Two particular articles from last year come to mind whenever I think of TidBITS. Matt Neuburg’s “ClickToFlash Spiffs the Safari Experience” (28 May 2009) changed my computer-using life! I cannot use a browser without ClickToFlash installed anymore. I had no idea how much Flash was embedded in the Web pages I visited. Matt’s article explained how it worked and how to install it so well, I shared that link with everyone I knew. And I got so many thanks for doing so.

And on the lighter side, I was amused when Jeff Carlson and Glenn Fleishman approached me about doing an April Fools Day article about a rift between our company founders, resulting in a spin-off called FrownOnMyMac. We had never done anything like that before. I was a little nervous about proposing it to Philip and Greg since we’re careful not to do anything that might tarnish our reputation. But I trusted Jeff and Glenn to do it well. The resulting piece – “FrownOnMyMac Fills New Mac Niches,” 1 April 2009 – was very amusing and inspired me to create a mock Web page for the fake company. And only one person came up to me at Macworld that year to say he heard that Greg had left the

[Jean MacDonald is a partner at Mac utility developer SmileOnMyMac and a really good sport when it comes to April Fools jokes.]

Jim Matthews — I started reading TidBITS when it was a HyperCard stack, and I think I first heard about it on the Info-Mac mailing list. TidBITS came from Cornell, Info-Mac from Stanford, Eudora from the University of Illinois, and I was working on Fetch at Dartmouth. At that time the Mac Internet community was primarily an academia-based phenomenon, just starting to break out into the wider world.

One of the things that made that breakout possible was Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh.” There had been a couple of other Internet books before, but Adam’s was the first to give you everything you needed: knowledge, hand-holding, and software – including a copy of Apple’s elusive MacTCP! – to get onto the net. Seeing “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” on the shelves at Borders was a revelation, an unmistakable sign that the world was about to change.

One thing that hasn’t changed is TidBITS’s approach to journalism; it has remained remarkably scrupulous, patient, and devoted to clear explanations for a confusing and confused world. TidBITS is an Internet treasure.

[Jim Matthews created Fetch, one of the first file transfer programs for the Mac, while working at Dartmouth College in 1989. In 2000, Jim used some of his winnings from “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” to buy Fetch’s source code from Dartmouth and form Fetch Softworks.]

Kirk McElhearn — I bought my first Mac in 1991; a PowerBook 100. Shortly thereafter, I started buying a French Mac magazine (I live in France) that came with a floppy disk of freeware and shareware. One thing it had, with every issue, was a copy of TidBITS. In part because of TidBITS, I continued to buy that magazine for years, and TidBITS kept me up-to-date on the kind of news that the French magazine didn’t report.

Some years later, I started contributing articles to TidBITS, and one article led to a Macworld editor contacting me, asking me to write about a specific program that I had reviewed in TidBITS for a feature article. Since then, I have become a Senior Contributor for Macworld, and I can only say that TidBITS – and Adam’s personal help in making that Macworld connection – got my writing career going.

I don’t contribute to TidBITS as much as I used to, but I read it every week, and recognize it as one of the essential reads for Mac users.

Congratulations to Adam and Tonya on 20 years!

[Kirk McElhearn has written several Take Control titles, numerous Macworld articles, and a variety of print books.]

Don Mayer — I’ve been reading TidBITS for nearly all of its 20 years and in addition to the incredibly valuable tips, analysis and reviews, TidBITS was directly responsible for the launch of my own electronic newsletter, Kibbles & Bytes. You see, Adam and Tonya had DealBITS going for awhile and as a sponsor we would include some offers for TidBITS readers. When they put that incarnation of DealBITS on hiatus, I decided to launch a weekly e-newsletter. Naturally, Small Dog Electronics called it Kibbles & Bytes and 25,000 subscribers and 12 years later it is an integral part of our business.

Happy Birthday TidBITS, you rock!

[Don Mayer is the CEO of Small Dog Electronics, and he contributed this from his iPad while travelling in Hong Kong.]

Kee Nethery — Back in the old days of Hayes 2400 baud modems, I first ran into TidBITS on a floppy disk from BMUG (Berkeley Macintosh Users Group). Back then floppies were the primary distribution media for bits. It would be extremely difficult to pinpoint the first TidBITS article that saved my butt. Even today in the era of online search, having TidBITS as a source of vetted Macintosh information is valuable. TidBITS was essentially the first Macintosh blog, before the term was invented and before the Internet was accessible to mere mortals.

In the beginning, TidBITS was the first and best source for details on any new Mac-related development. With Twitter and other modern developments, TidBITS might no longer be the first outlet with news, but it certainly has the best set of useful information. TidBITS explains what the situation used to be, what it is now, how that impacts the technology, how the technology impacts the users, and what developers have come up with to address the situation. In a world of Sound Bite News, a TidBITS article contains actionable information.

[Kee Nethery is the CEO of Kagi, the ecommerce company he founded in 1994 after leaving Apple, where he specified and delivered the Apple Internet Server Solution for the Web.]

Alan Oppenheimer — It’s hard to remember back that far, but I think I first learned about TidBITS when I met Adam. I was, in hindsight, somewhat isolated at Apple, and didn’t get out into the general Mac community much, despite, for instance, my running a working group in the IETF and talking at WWDC. So it wasn’t until I left Apple and started Open Door that I began to get a real world perspective. I met Adam and TidBITS in early January 1995, at Macworld Expo, when I launched Open Door to do ARA-based dialup Internet access. Someone at the show, possibly Kee Nethery, with whom I had worked at Apple, mentioned TidBITS, Adam, and the Netter’s Dinner. I believe it was, amazingly, also the first time I heard
about Eudora! Getting out of Apple opened a whole new world for me, quite literally.

Some of TidBITS’s reviews of our products have certainly helped. Not just to let more people know about the products, but also because it feels good to get recognition, both from TidBITS and from your readers.

I’d like to see TidBITS continue to evolve with Apple, and add more coverage, as you’ve been doing, of the iPhone and iPad. It was so great of that reader to sponsor iPads for the entire staff. That must have felt good.

[Alan Oppenheimer is President and founder of Open Door Networks, and one of the creators of AppleTalk.]

Naomi Pearce — Do you remember when the Internet essentially meant text: files, email, and such, rather than “the Web”? TidBITS started as interesting nuggets of text, and became like a bible to me, as a searchable source I go to over and over, and can trust. Being on the flip side of working with the writers can be non-trivial – TidBITS writers ask tough questions – and that’s definitely the right approach.

Take Control has been useful too. I still don’t know how Intel’s employee #4 (Les Vadász) ended up in my mailbox asking Mac switcher questions. But after exhausting what I knew and hitting the wall, the Take Control ebooks came to the rescue, and the price was tailor-made for gifting.

I remember meeting Adam and Tonya way back, before a single gray hair, before any young’uns, before GeekCruises, way, way back when Jerry Garcia was still alive. Heck, it may have been back when Bill Graham was alive, but I can’t remember that far. It was back when the Internet provided fast delivery of chunks of text, before it was about the Web and video on demand. These chunks of text were the little tidbits of info. Then, nobody had to tell you to keep it short, or to define “short” as 140 characters. Now, a bazillion tidbits of helpful TidBITS later, it’s a weekly update and a repository of many thousands of individual articles for that emergency search. It’s only in retrospect that it looks like a long time; and
allofthesudden that Steve Martin line “some of these houses are over Twenty Years Old” is, and isn’t, really funny.

[Naomi Pearce is the owner of Pearce Communications, one of the most highly respected public relations firms in the Macintosh industry.]

Chris Pepper — In my mind, TidBITS is inextricably linked to Usenet, Info-Mac, and Eudora. It’s good that at least one of those four has survived and prospered. I don’t recall when I first encountered TidBITS, but I know I printed TidBITS and the Info-Mac Digest on a high-speed dot-matrix line printer (wide green-and-white striped paper) at Rockefeller University in the 1992-1995 period. It was invaluable there for supporting Macs – my first job.

My most memorable TidBITS moment came when Adam let me post a job listing in TidBITS Talk, and I not only filled the job, but made two good friends in the process. Appearing in articles was also very cool, and I made another friend that way. Being written about (rare) is more fun and surprising than writing for TidBITS, which is more significant but much more work! The most trepidation I’ve felt was in speaking carefully but honestly about relatives for a piece on family tech support (see “InterviewBITS: Family Tech Support,” 23 April 2007).

TidBITS remains the best resource for Mac information that I’m aware of, with a long and illustrious history. It broke new ground in publishing, while many readers have been largely unaware of just how unusual TidBITS has been.

[Chris Pepper is a system administrator in New York City who has contributed a number of articles to TidBITS over the years and whose eagle eyes significantly reduce the number of typos and other errors in TidBITS articles. He has also contributed feedback on numerous Take Control ebooks.]

David Pogue — Congratulations on TidBITS #1024! I’ve always appreciated TidBITS’s insight, technical accuracy, and measured opinions; the only thing I don’t appreciate is how old this anniversary suddenly makes me feel. 🙂

Even so, I’m looking forward to the next 1,024 issues!

[David Pogue is Tech Columnist for The New York Times.]

Jeff Porten — I found TidBITS in a grad school computer lab in late 1990 or early 1991. Early enough that it was still in HyperCard format, and “Hey, let’s sit down and read all the back issues” wasn’t a particularly nutty thing to do. I can’t remember when TidBITS switched to setext, but yeah, I had Easy View to format it all pretty. I also liked the option of reading it in pine on the lab VT100 terminals – for some reason, they had trouble with HyperCard stacks.

I first met Adam and Tonya at my first Macworld Expo, which was the last one in Boston. Everyone was treating it like a wake, but I was psyched to meet people. I sat next to them at lunch, with these first impressions: Tonya is short, and Adam is completely insane. (He was training for some kind of double marathon up every hill in Ithaca, hopping backward in the dark in snowshoes. At least that’s how I remember it.)

More importantly, my other first impression is that they seemed as happy to meet me as vice versa, and immediately made me feel like we’d been friends since I downloaded that first HyperCard stack.

I became a Mac and Internet consultant in 1993, catching the very early wave of clients when online meant either AOL or MacPPP. I think I urged around 1,000 people to subscribe to TidBITS, and told most of them that Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” was the best way to avoid tossing the PowerBook out a window. I value both reading and writing for TidBITS for the same reason I always have: it’s the club with all of the smart, fun kids.

See y’all for issue #2,048. You should release it in HyperCard. Preferably with HyperCard itself.

[Jeff Porten has served as a roving correspondent for TidBITS at a number of trade shows, blogs for MacUser, and may one day finish a Take Control book.]

Quinn — My memory of all things non-technical is, as always, very hazy. However, I dug through my old email archives to look for our earliest communications and I discovered the following letter to the editor I wrote back in 1992. It’s astonishing how closely history has repeated itself with the release of the iPad.

In response to Adam’s line “Despite this move away from numbers, the Mac is a computer, and no one pretends otherwise.” in “Apple Newtons II” (15 June 1992), I commented:

“This may be true now but in 1984 I don’t think that was what Apple intended. Remember the advert. The key speech therein is:

On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh.

And you'll see why 1984 won't be like "1984."

“No mention of the Macintosh being a computer there. There’s also lots of other evidence that the Mac was never intended to be a real computer. ‘Welcome to Macintosh’ proclaims it every time you boot. Macintosh doesn’t just mean the hardware or the software but the entire system. This was Jobs’s vision, the Macintosh as a ‘bicycle for the mind.’ Of course, there’s a fine line between vision and hallucination. 🙂

“With the Newton, Sculley is trying to do in 1992 exactly what Jobs tried to do in 1984. The only question is, will he do a better job?”

Drummond Reed — TidBITS has the distinction of being the entire launch strategy for one of the first pure Internet software products back in 1993. The Internet Adapter (TIA), which solved the problem of how users with a text-only SLIP connection could use the newfangled graphical Mosaic Web browser, was sold exclusively online (digital keys for unlocking the product were delivered in email).

So it made sense to launch it via a review by Adam in TidBITS and let word of mouth spread from there. It was so successful that Adam’s article was cross-posted to two dozen mailing lists within 12 hours, and it generated over $1 million of TIA sales in the next 6 months. I wouldn’t be working in the Internet business today were it not for Adam and Tonya and TidBITS.

[Drummond Reed is Executive Director of the Information Card Foundation and Open Identity Exchange, and he’s a pioneer in digital addressing and linking technologies with an emphasis on online identity.]

Michael T. Rose — In 1990, as a very green intern, I was among the few, slightly nervous Mac-heads in Time Inc.’s manufacturing and distribution group. My boss, the late Dennis A. Chesnel, was encouraging us to explore the brave new world of professional-quality desktop publishing for the magazine business, and I was fortunate enough to have both a Mac IIfx and a NeXT Cube competing for real estate on my desk.

I’m not sure whether it was Dennis who first forwarded me an issue of TidBITS; it might have been Chris Green, the database lead at Fortune Magazine… but I definitely remember trying to figure out what “setext” was. Took a while, too; this was pre-Google, in the days of Gopher and WAIS, when 2400-baud modems roamed the land. I read about PostScript headers, RAM Doubler, and 32-bit compatibility; I read about SCSI termination and ADB, printer fonts and INITs. Good stuff.

My readership has waxed and waned over the years, but it has always been a pleasant moment to see TidBITS land in my inbox, forwarded or printed or subscribed, with savvy tips and solid information. It’s hard to believe it has been 20 years.

Congratulations Tonya and Adam, congratulations extended TidBITS family, and congratulations loyal readers – here’s to the next twenty years!

[Michael T. Rose is an editor at The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW).]

Leonard Rosenthol — Has it really been 20 years?! No wonder I feel old. I don’t recall exactly how I first stumbled across TidBITS, but apparently I sent Adam email about screen savers in July 1990 (see “Save Our Screens,” 30 July 1990), and “Macworld Impressions” (13 August 1990) documents the first time we met in person – in the wonderful heat of Macworld Boston with me doing software demos of MicroPhone II talking to CompuServe! That certainly would have been the first of many (many!) Macworld Expos during which we hung out, not to mention those sleepless days (or were they nights?) at MacHack. Adam and
Tonya were always great sounding boards for the various software projects that I was involved in over the years – MicroPhone, StuffIt, CyberFinder, SITcomm, PDF Enhancer, and many, many more – all of which got fair and impartial reviews (no matter how much we tried to bribe them!) that helped make the software better the next time around. But my favorite article, of course, has always been “SEx and the Single Archive” (18 July 1994).

Watching the Mac industry grow up with you guys was wonderful – it’s one of the things I do miss about my work outside the industry over the last 10 years. I don’t know if you guys really want to do this for another 20 years – but whatever life brings you it should be great!

[Leonard Rosenthol was developing Macintosh software before TidBITS was born, and is now PDF Standards Architect at Adobe Systems.]

Steve Sande — My first Mac was a 512K model purchased in the latter part of 1984. By 1986, I was the sysop of a bulletin board system here in the Denver area called MAGIC. In 1994, after seeing a demonstration of Mosaic at WWDC, I decided I needed to get onto this Internet thingie. A quick jaunt to my local bookstore netted me a book by some guy named Adam Engst. It was called “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” and helped me begin my journey in this strange little cyber world that we all inhabit.

One of the first Web sites I visited was TidBITS, and to this day I still visit the site regularly as a resource that’s chock full of information and great writing. About five years ago, I noticed that Adam and Tonya were starting to publish ebooks, so I submitted a book that I had self-published, and to my amazement they wanted it as part of the Take Control series. Through Tonya’s patient editing, I learned a lot about writing that I never would have picked up elsewhere.

Many congratulations to the entire TidBITS staff on your 2^10th issue!

[Steve Sande is a Take Control author and blogger for The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW).]

Greg Scown — My greatest TidBITS-related delight was to meet Adam, Tonya, and Tristan on the show floor of Macworld 2009 at the SmileOnMyMac booth for Tristan’s 10th birthday. As a long-time TidBITS reader, I’d read lots about Tristan, so it was really fun to meet him along with his parents and in the always interesting environment of the Macworld show floor. I hope he enjoyed our happy birthday wishes.

[Greg Scown is a co-founder and partner at Mac utility developer SmileOnMyMac.]

Sanford Selznick — I first encountered TidBITS in 1875. I was working as a telegraph operator in Missouri. If I remember correctly, Adam’s new printing press with continuous roll paper was giving him fits. But TidBITS’s articles about photography of the day were incredibly instructional. I’ll never forget when Eadweard Muybridge himself came in to send a telegram. While he was writing out his communication, he spotted one of TidBITS’s articles on the counter. Soon afterwards Muybridge proved to the world that when a horse gallops, all four legs are actually off the ground at the same time.

TidBITS is one of the few technology news sources on the wire that maintains its readers’ trust with incredibly well-researched articles, complete with sources. The impact that TidBITS has had on the past is clear. Who would even know about the telegraph without it? But the future… I wonder. What other technology could possibly be invented?

Thank you for TidBITS!

[Sanford Selznick is the founder of Selznick Scientific Software, best known for the PasswordWallet family of programs. He’s also the joker who once sent us a gallon of amazing kosher dill pickles after hearing Adam’s “Hacking the Press” talk at MacHack.]

David Shayer — I’ve been reading TidBITS since it was sent out by carrier pigeon. In those days it arrived once a week, with all the latest Mac news. It was far more timely than the monthly Macworld and MacUser magazines, with their long lead times.

When I finally wrote an article for TidBITS, it was great (see “Shootout at the Disk Repair Corral,” 24 November 2003)! Instant fame and fortune, people stopped me on the street and asked for my autograph. But Adam tricked me. He said writing an article wasn’t much work. Turned out there was a lot of research and fact checking involved. [True, but that was a most amazing article, and one that received a vast number of positive reactions. -Adam]

I value the news and reviews in TidBITS because I know they’re honest and unbiased. Probably the single most useful article I’ve read in TidBITS was Joe Kissell’s explanation of how to make Apple’s Mail program work well with Gmail and IMAP (see “Achieving Email Bliss with IMAP, Gmail, and Apple Mail,” 2 May 2009). It saved me many hours.

[David “if you’re using white earbuds, you’re running my code” Shayer is a long-time Mac developer acclaimed for his knowledge of filesystems thanks to his work on the low-level disk editor Sedit, the disk-repair program Public Utilities, and three versions of Norton Utilities for Macintosh.]

Peter Sichel — I first learned about TidBITS from a colleague at Digital Equipment Corporation around 1993. I used Macs extensively at Digital and became part of a small group of Mac fans at an increasingly PC-dominated company. Talking one day with my fellow Mac-heads, we lamented the lack of a software IP router for the Mac. We all had several machines at home and increasingly needed them to be on the Internet. I knew from Apple that more than half of all Mac users owned more than one Mac, and that TidBITS was being sent weekly to over 50,000 subscribers who must therefore have Internet access. From these numbers I concluded there was a market for at least a few thousand software IP routers, so in 1996 I
set off to write one. In this way, TidBITS helped launch Sustainable Softworks and IPNetRouter.

TidBITS has always been about serving the Mac community by bringing people and information together. Congratulations on reaching 20 years!

[Peter Sichel is the founder of Sustainable Softworks and the developer of IPNetRouterX, IPNetMonitorX, IPNetTunerX, KeyClick and Phone Amego.]

Rich Siegel — The TidBITS email newsletter has been a part of my ongoing computing existence for longer than I can clearly recall. According to Adam, our first in-person meeting was at a party “in a pool hall, at Macworld Boston”. Putting some equally fuzzy memories together suggests that the place was Jillian’s, and the year would have been 1988, and the party was probably a Symantec company function.

A much more memorable occasion was the time that Adam and Tonya drove the hundreds of miles from Ithaca to Boston, to attend a dinner that we were throwing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first commercial release of BBEdit. That was a lot of fun, and it was that much more so because these two wonderful people made the trip to be a part of it.

Before then, since, and in between, I have always enjoyed the news and reviews and analysis that TidBITS deposits in my inbox on a continual basis. My thanks and congratulations to Adam and Tonya and all of the TidBITS staff and contributors, for a great twenty years. Here’s to the next twenty!

[Rich Siegel is the founder of Bare Bones Software and the creator of BBEdit.]

Jason Snell — I honestly can’t remember how I first heard about TidBITS, back in those strange days when the Internet was a big, echoey room largely populated by people on university campuses. I believe I heard about it from Geoff Duncan, a friend of Adam and Tonya’s (for his first article, see “Life in the Fast Lane,” 11 July 1994) and later a TidBITS editor himself (announced in “New TidBITS Managing Editor,” 12 December 1994), who was also the co-editor of InterText, an Internet-based short story magazine I had started in 1991.

In those days there was no Web to publish on, so we distributed InterText via FTP, newsgroup posting, and email, and I soon discovered that one of the only other publications out there back in the early ’90s was a newsletter about the Mac.

A few years later, as an assistant editor at MacUser (I note that Adam first mentioned me in “MacUser arrives on the Internet,” 20 June 1994), I was asked to speak with several of my colleagues at a meeting of a local Seattle-area Mac user group. The company paid to fly a bunch of us up and put us up in a nice hotel (man, those were the days!) and I got a chance to meet Geoff, Adam, and Tonya. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Also, the rental car company had inexplicably given me a Miata, and I remember Tonya being very enthusiastic about getting a ride in that crazy little car through the streets of greater Seattle.

These days I frequently receive email from people who aspire to write about technology in general (and Apple in particular) for a living, asking me how to get started. One of my most common suggestions is to try to break into TidBITS. Back when I was starting at MacUser, we didn’t have a Web site for me to use as an outlet – just a very limited number of pages in print. So I wrote a couple of articles for TidBITS on topics that interested me (and the editors of TidBITS, thankfully). Apparently in 1995 I was interested in Macintosh mailing list programs (“Making a List: Mac List Servers Arrive,” 24 July 1995) and running classic video games on a Mac (“Retro Software: Everything Old Is New Again,” 18 December 1995).

These days, any TidBITS reader who pays close attention to the pages of Macworld and will discover a whole lot of familiar names. TidBITS is a magnet for quality technology writers, and we’ve found numerous key Macworld contributors through their excellent work for TidBITS.

It’s a colossal understatement to say that things have changed a bit since TidBITS and InterText were two of the handful of publications on the Internet. But TidBITS has adapted to the way the world has changed. Today, quite honestly, I don’t find myself reading TidBITS issues much – mostly because I’ve already read most of the articles on! But that’s not a bad thing. Some people want to get their information in a periodical, while others want it right away on the Web. As someone who edits a monthly print magazine and a Web site, I understand the importance of having both.

Here’s to another few decades – or kilo-issues or whatever other format gets invented – of great, balanced, sober, hype-free, and useful TidBITS content.

[Jason Snell is VP/Editorial Director of Macworld.]

Tom Standage — I’ve read TidBITS since the early 1990s, when I started using Macs. It must have been 1994, I suppose, when I first got Internet access… but you guys were on CompuServe before that, right? Those were the days of the Quadra and MacWEEK. Centuries ago.

I got my start in journalism freelancing for MacUser UK, among other publications. 15 years ago, I even wrote a piece for TidBITS about lightweight text editors (see “Word 6.0 – NOT!,” 10 April 1995). Having since moved into mainstream tech journalism at The Economist and then onto business writing more generally, I still enjoy reading TidBITS every Tuesday morning with my coffee. I’m still a Mac user after all these years, and I continue to do tech support for my Mac-using family and friends.

The funny thing is that I still write about Apple from time to time for The Economist – most recently, our cover on the iPad in January (“The Book of Jobs“). And Glenn Fleishman writes for our Technology Quarterly section sometimes. I relish the connection to the Mac community that TidBITS provides. Keep up the good work! Loved the iPad tips last week. You’ve done a good job of broadening your coverage from the Mac to include other Apple products.

[Tom Standage is the business affairs editor for The Economist.]

James Thomson — I first came across TidBITS in the early 1990s, alongside the Info-Mac Digest postings on comp.sys.mac.digest. For our younger readers, that’s a Usenet group – go look it up on your iPads. I was an avid reader, as it was one of the few sources of Mac journalism online.

Tonya reviewed DragThing in “Desktop Launchers, Part IV” (22 May 1995), calling it “a solid, easy, elegant application” – a quote I was so pleased with that it remains on my Web site almost 15 years later. Did I say 15 years? Okay, now I feel old… And PCalc was originally released in 1991, I think, which means I’m only a year behind TidBITS.

I remember meeting both Adam and Tonya at the post-WWDC parties held by Rick Holzgrafe of Solitaire Till Dawn fame. A very young Tristan was eating lemons from the tree, as if they were apples, and we rubbed shoulders and ate pizza with luminaries such as Jason Snell, Peter Lewis, and Quinn. Whatever happened to that Jason guy?

Congratulations on your 20th anniversary, and thank you for all your help and support over the years!

[James Thomson is a long-time Mac developer based in Scotland and founder of TLA Systems, which publishes DragThing and PCalc. In the late 1990s, he was on the Mac OS X Finder team at Apple and was the original engineer for the Dock.]

Neil Ticktin — Wow, 20 years. TidBITS, Adam, and Tonya have been part of the landscape for so long, I don’t even remember when we first met, or when TidBITS first appeared on my radar. One could easily talk about the unbelievably well written content, or the timeliness, reliability, and quality of our weekly glimpse into the Apple community. But what strikes me most about Adam, Tonya, and the rest of the team is how they stand out as people.

Credibility, integrity, and honesty are the first words that come to mind. It’s so often that we see in the media, particularly the general media, content slanted to serve the requests of an advertiser, rather than that of the reader. TidBITS bucks that trend, and I welcome reading the insights each issue.

MacTech may be one of the oldest Web sites and publications in the Mac market, but TidBITS is clearly the original and long-standing trailblazer for Internet publications.

Congratulations Adam, Tonya, and the entire TidBITS team!

[Neil Ticktin is the publisher and editor-in-chief of MacTech Magazine,, and]

Elsa Travisano — How long have I been reading TidBITS? Basically forever. Has it really been twenty years?

Adam and Tonya have been stalwart supporters of the Macintosh user group community for as long as I can remember – as sought-after speakers at User Group University and in the Apple User Group Lounge at more Macworld Expos than I can count, by allowing user groups to reprint TidBITS articles in their print newsletters, and as sponsors of the generous and effective Take Control user group program that provides review and raffle titles for user groups worldwide. How thrilling it was to find out that they live only two hours from my own user group, MUG ONE. To have a speaker of Adam’s caliber in our own upstate New York backyard is priceless, and he now presents to MUG ONE every year.

My favorite moment (of many) was having a quote from one of my Take Control reviews used as a promotional pull-quote on their Web site.

Best wishes for more decades of TidBITS goodness!

[Elsa Travisano is President of MUG ONE and chair of the Apple User Group Advisory Board.]

Khoi Vinh — It’s frightening to realize it’s been so long, but I’ve been reading TidBITS for 16 years now. It’s a tremendous comfort to see it landing in my inbox once a week, harkening back to those dark days when the Macintosh seemed on the edge of death. TidBITS was a great friend during that era, a reassuring reminder that others out there shared my passion for what technology could do if it was done superbly. Over the years I’ve turned to it again and again, and it always rewards me with something new, something unexpected, and, always, something really smart.

Congrats, Adam, and for many more years to come!

[Khoi Vinh is a graphic designer and the Design Director for]

Sharon Zardetto — It was at a Macworld Expo, for sure, but Boston, San Francisco… there were so many that they’ve all run together. I was either signing copies of “The Macintosh Bible” or hanging out at the MacUser booth schmoozing with various writers and editors when Adam and Tonya came up and introduced themselves. They certainly looked like teenagers, though when I do the math, they must have been a little bit older.

I remember a slight stab of jealousy (“Wow, if only the Mac had been invented when I was in college, what I could have done with it!”). And when I saw Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” not long thereafter in a bookstore, I thought, “Hey, I met that guy and his wife!” and of course, I bought it. It’s amazing how seldom, in the small-ish “professional” Macintosh community, that our paths have crossed physically over the years; equally amazing, and so gratifying, is that electronic communications and personalities being what they are, Adam and Tonya feel like friends, not just colleagues.

The early TidBITS publications: I remember thinking how dedicated someone would have to be to do a plain-text, free newsletter on a regular basis, and how odd it was to read large chunks of Mac information on the screen instead of in print. Small chunks? Sure, I was sysoping in the Mac forums on CompuServe. But the equivalent of a newspaper article? TidBITS was my first exposure to that concept!

1,024 issues? You’ve been planning this all along, haven’t you?!

[Sharon Zardetto is best known in the Macintosh world for writing several editions of “The Macintosh Bible,” but she has also authored a number of Take Control titles and innumerable magazine articles about the Mac over the years, including some for TidBITS.]

TidBITS Staff No comments

TidBITS Watchlist: Notable Software Updates for 19 April 2010

Mac OS X 10.6.3 Combo Update 1.1 — Apple has updated the combo updater for Mac OS X 10.6.3 (for details on that update, see “Mac OS X 10.6.3 Update Delivers Range of Fixes,” 29 March 2010). Although Apple provided no details on what was changed, the only users who need to consider installing it are those who updated from Mac OS X 10.6.0 using the 1.0 version of the Mac OS X 10.6.3 Update, build 10D573 (in other words, someone reinstalling Snow Leopard from scratch and then updating to 10.6.3 in one step). Apple has also released the tiny (635 KB) Mac OS X 10.6.3 Supplemental Update 1.0 solely via Software
Update for these users. The combo updater is available via the Apple Support Downloads page, and will be presented by Software Update to those reinstalling Snow Leopard from scratch. (Free, 785.29 MB)

Read/post comments about Mac OS X 10.6.3 Combo Update 1.1.

Mac OS X Server 10.6.3 Combo Update 1.1 — In addition to releasing a new version of the Mac OS X 10.6.3 Update noted above, Apple has updated the combo updater for Mac OS X Server 10.6.3. (Free, 897.32 MB)

Read/post comments about Mac OS X Server 10.6.3 Combo Update 1.1.

Security Update 2010-003 (Snow Leopard) — Apple has released Security Update 2010-003 (Snow Leopard) to address a critical vulnerability in the way Apple Type Services in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard parses embedded fonts. Users who view or download any documents containing maliciously crafted embedded fonts run a risk of arbitrary code execution. The update addresses this issue by improving index checking. This vulnerability was first demonstrated by Charlie Miller at the Pwn2Own conference 20 days earlier, which shows a reasonably quick response on Apple’s part. The update requires Mac OS X 10.6.3 and is
available via Software Update and the Apple Support Downloads page. (Free, 6.5 MB)

Read/post comments about Security Update 2010-003 (Snow Leopard).

Security Update 2010-003 (Leopard) — Addressing the same critical vulnerability noted above, Apple has also released Security Update 2010-003 (Leopard-Client). A nearly identical update – Security Update 2010-003 (Leopard-Server) – is available for Leopard Server. The update requires you to be running Mac OS X 10.5.8 and is available via Software Update and the Apple Support Downloads page. (Free, 218.6/379.5 MB)

Read/post comments about Security Update 2010-003 (Leopard).

Server Admin Tools 10.6.3 — Apple has rolled out its latest collection of remote administration tools, documentation, and utilities for Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server in its Server Admin Tools 10.6.3 update. The update contains the latest versions of iCal Server Utility, Podcast Composer, Server Admin, Server Monitor, Server Preferences, System Image Utility, Workgroup Manager, and Xgrid Admin. Changes include improved Server Admin performance on IPv6 networks, increased support for late-2009 27-inch iMacs, and a fix for an issue in Workgroup Manager that could cause a user’s primary shortname to be changed when adding or editing other shortnames. Full release notes are available on Apple’s Web site. (Free, 236 MB)

Read/post comments about Server Admin Tools 10.6.3.

27-inch iMac EFI FW Update 1.0 — Apple’s recent EFI firmware update targets 27-inch iMacs with quad-core Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors with two bug fixes that address issues with processor loads and the backlit display. The first issue could cause high processor loads when playing audio through the iMac’s headphone jack, while the second could prevent the display backlight from powering on. To install the update, follow the instructions in the updater application that launches automatically after the installer has closed. More information regarding installing a firmware update on an Intel-based Mac is
available on Apple’s Web site. The update is available via Software Update and the Apple Support Downloads page. (Free, 2.1 MB)

Apple has also released a minor SMC firmware update for 27-inch iMacs that addresses unspecified compatibility issues regarding Target Display mode. More information regarding installing SMC firmware updates is available on Apple’s Web site. That update is also available via Software Update and the Apple Support Downloads page. (Free, 397 KB)

Read/post comments about 27-inch iMac EFI FW Update 1.0.

MacBook Pro Software Update 1.3 — Only a few days after the announcement of the new MacBook Pro lineup, Apple released a software update for the laptops. The update improves high-end graphics performance, particularly as it relates to resource-intensive video and gaming. The update also fixes a handful of minor unspecified bugs. The hefty update is recommended for all 15- and 17-inch mid-2010 MacBook Pros, and is available via Software Update or the Apple Support Downloads page. (Free, 258.32 MB)

Read/post comments about MacBook Pro Software Update 1.3.

MobileMe Backup 3.2 — Apple has released a minor update to MobileMe Backup that purportedly improves overall reliability in restoring from backup – though no specifics are provided in the release notes – and introduces a feature that helps the program use disk space more efficiently. That feature is called “recycling” and amounts to the deleting of old backups to recover disk space. Limited scheduling options are available to those backing up to hard disk or optical discs; users backing up to iDisk do not have the option of choosing when backups are recycled. Users may also choose to disable recycling. More
on recycling is available on Apple’s Web site. The update is available via Software Update or the Apple Support Downloads page. (Free, 6.73 MB)

Read/post comments about MobileMe Backup 3.2.

TidBITS Staff No comments

ExtraBITS for 19 April 2010

While we were working on our 20th anniversary coverage all week, we still found a few minutes to keep up on the latest iPad news from Apple, Sprint, and Israel; to chuckle at a trenchant Tom Tomorrow comic and a tongue-in-cheek suggestion for how to print from an iPad; to note the shipment of the amusingly named Doxie scanner; and cheer for our own Glenn Fleishman’s debut in Australian politics (via a quote, anyway).

Strong Demand Causes iPad Shortages, Delays International Release — Apple has released a statement saying that the unexpectedly strong demand for the iPad in the United States (over 500,000 units sold in the first week) and the large number of preorders for the iPad 3G will result in product shortages for a few more weeks. In addition, Apple is delaying the international launch of the iPad one month, to late May; pre-orders will be accepted starting 10 May 2010. It’s a good news/bad news situation: the iPad is wildly popular, but so much so that it will be hard to get in the near term.

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Sprint Offers iPad Case for 3G/4G Portable Hotspot — Sprint is upping its promotion of the combined 3G (EVDO) and 4G (WiMax) Overdrive portable hotspot to iPad owners as an alternative to a 3G-enabled iPad by offering a special case that can hold both an iPad and the Overdrive. The case requires a trip to a Best Buy in a state in which Sprint’s Clearwire division offers WiMax service. The Overdrive costs $100 with a 2-year contract at $50-$60 per month for unlimited WiMax, and up to 5 GB of 3G service each month (300 MB outside Sprint’s 3G/4G territory).

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Tom Tomorrow on “If Real Life Were More Like the Internet” — Tom Tomorrow’s “This Modern World” comic turns its attention to the question of what real life would be like if it were more like the Internet. Scary funny stuff!

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Israel Bans Import of iPads — Never mind that Apple’s new iPad won’t be available outside the United States for a few more weeks. An Associated Press article tells us Israel has banned all imports of the popular tablet device, even going so far as to confiscate them from tourists upon arrival and hold them for a daily fee. Customs officials will return the iPad upon its owner’s departure from the country. The Communication Ministry says the iPad’s wireless frequencies are incompatible with national standards. If you decide to travel light with your iPad, make sure it will be welcome wherever you’re going!

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How to Print from an iPad — Big points to Steve Cencula of the design group FORM for his tongue-in-cheek photo showing the fastest and easiest way to print from an iPad.

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Doxie Cloud-Focused Scanner Now Shipping — Attempting to go paperless in your life or business, but having trouble finding the right scanner? Consider checking out Apparent Corporation’s portable USB-powered document scanner Doxie, which we first saw in pre-release at Macworld Expo. The $129 device, which is now shipping, scans documents at up to 600 dpi and can send them to Google Docs, Flickr, Evernote, Scribd, and many other Web and local applications. Doxie is currently available in the United States, Canada, the E.U., Australia, and Japan, and it requires that you be running Mac OS X 10.5 or later.

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Australian Broadband Minister Quotes TidBITS Staffer in Speech — Our own Glenn Fleishman was quoted by Australia’s Senator Stephen Conroy, the minister for broadband, communications, and the digital economy, in a recent speech. The quote came from an article Glenn wrote for the Northwest news site PubliCola, about electricity being the killer app of 1900, in the way that broadband is the killer app today. Australia plans an ambitious fiber and wireless infrastructure
buildout to ensure near universal high-speed access, with 90 percent of residents having fiber to the home.

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