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In the fast moving world of Apple, you can never tell when Apple will fix an evil bug, offer something for free to owners of PowerBook 140s and 170s (new battery cases to prevent the batteries from catching fire), or even start a new promotion. All of those things happened this week, along with the late-breaking buyout of DataClub-maker IBS by network kingpin Novell. We also have an editorial on electronic privacy and a review preview of Nisus.

Adam Engst No comments


To quote from the excellent movie "Spinal Tap," "it’s a fine line between clever and stupid." I may have fallen off that fine line in writing TidBITS-114, because despite a few clues and hints, the fact that it was indeed our annual April Fools issue appears to have gone generally unnoticed. Almost everything in that issue was false – though often entirely possible and even intensely desirable – with the exception of the IBM marketing move (which was strange enough to be an April Fools joke), and the Dolch projection panel (which I used to make the last article more believable). Sorry folks, if I threw you for a loop.

Adam Engst No comments


Oops — [Open cultural mouth, insert foot. R.P. Aditya writes to set me straight on my analogies in TidBITS-113. Thanks for the correction, I really do appreciate it. -Adam]

You talk about not using baseball analogies for fear of confusing your readers in the latest TidBITS, but you do use another analogy that seems appropriate but is in fact erroneous:

You wrote:

"And lest I confuse my imagery even more, a third hand of Apple Shiva (the many-handed Hindi god of reproduction and destruction, not the people who make the NetModem :-))"

First, it is "Hindu" god not "Hindi" god; Hindi is the language and Hinduism is the religion. Second, Siva is not the many-handed god, but rather the many-handed god is Siva. To put that more correctly, the many-handed god is an incarnation of Siva most commonly called Nataraja. I think the spirit of your analogy is respectable, but your explanatory note is confused. Sorry for being so picky, but when you come across so many people making the Hindi/Hindu mistake, one starts to get pedantic.

This certainly does not detract from your admirable and commendable newsletter. Thank you for this wonderful service.

Information from:
R.P. Aditya — [email protected]

Adam Engst No comments

DiskExpress II/SuperLaserSpool Conflict

DiskExpress II/SuperLaserSpool Conflict — Jonathan Feinstein of Shrink2Fit Software has contacted us again to report an oddity that users of DiskExpress II and SuperLaserSpool 3.0 may face.

DiskExpress II, a disk optimization system extension (actually, it’s a control panel) from ALSoft puts up a dialog box the first time it runs on your computer during the startup process. Basically, the dialog says, "Please read the manual! Have you read it yet?" and asks the user to acknowledge before it continues. When SuperLaserSpool 3.0, the newly-updated print spooler from Fifth Generation Systems, is loaded, though, DiskExpress II flashes this dialog on the screen and makes it go away unanswered. As a result, DiskExpress II does not load.

Since this dialog box only comes up the first time you start up your Mac after installing DiskExpress II, you can avoid the problem entirely by removing SuperLaserSpool temporarily, restarting the computer, acknowledging DiskExpress II’s dialog box, then reinstalling SuperLaserSpool and restarting again. It’s likely that this problem won’t occur if you’ve rearranged your extension loading sequence so SuperLaserSpool loads after DiskExpress II, but since it will be an issue only once, temporarily removing SuperLaserSpool is a simpler approach.

Adam Engst No comments

Tune-Up 1.1, Just Get It

Apple released version 1.1 of the System 7 Tune-Up extension last week, and they strongly recommend that everyone using System 7.0 or 7.0.1 use it. Tune-Up 1.1 replaces version 1.0, and you do not have to install 1.0 before 1.1 or anything strange like that. Simply get a copy of Tune-Up 1.1 from your dealer, an online service, or a user group that distributes Apple software, and run the installer.

Tune-Up 1.1 includes a new preventative fix for the extremely unpleasant disappearing files bug that has apparently lurked in the System for many years but only appeared under System 7. Unfortunately, it will NOT fix the disappearing files bug if your hard disk is already affected, but Apple is working on a new version of Disk First Aid to detect and solve this problem. Read the installation instructions on the Tune-Up 1.1 disk for more detailed information on how to determine if your disk has been affected by the bug (missing files and folders are also a good clue :-)).

The entire Tune-Up package includes a new System 7.0 Tuner 1.1 extension and a new version of the LaserWriter driver, version 7.1.1. It also comes with two files that have not changed from Tune-Up 1.0 – the StyleWriter driver 7.2.2 and Chooser 7.1.

The LaserWriter driver 7.1.1 has three significant changes. First, it includes support for the new Personal LaserWriter NTR. Second, it fixes a compatibility problem between the previous version of the driver and the LaserWriter Plus. This problem manifested itself by forcing users to reinitialize the printer after every eighth print job. Third, the new driver fixes a problem that caused PostScript errors to occur under certain conditions when printing TrueType fonts. (It was probably a practical joke from Adobe. :-)) Apparently some third party printers using PostScript-clone interpreters have also had problems with the previous LaserWriter driver, but that’s the fault of the PostScript clones and Apple is working with those companies to fix the problem separately.

You can tell if you are working on a Tuned System by looking for a bullet after the System Software version number in the About This Macintosh dialog box. To find out the Tune-Up version you must do a Get Info on the Tuner extension itself. One other note about the Tuner extension – as long as the Tuner extension is in the Extensions folder, booting with the Shift key held down does not disable the fix for the disappearing files. So make sure you leave that extension where the installer puts it, but don’t worry if you have to boot without extensions for testing purposes.

Information from:
Mark B. Johnson — [email protected]
System 7 Tune-Up 1.1 documentation

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

Novell Buys IBS

Novell, long a leader in the DOS networking software market, announced today that they have purchased International Business Software, a Macintosh software company that publishes DataClub, a popular package that allows Macs to share portions of their hard drives as a single, network-wide "virtual server."

IBS and Novell have been negotiating for the last few weeks and finalized the deal late last week. Once the dust has settled, IBS’s products will be known as "Novell DataClub Classic" and "Novell DataClub Elite." The Classic version offers peer-to-peer file sharing, and DataClub Elite adds the ability to link a dedicated server computer into the "club," plus remote administration software.

Novell’s move should give them a strong entry to the Macintosh market, one they’ve no doubt coveted. To date, Novell’s only real offering for the Mac networking community has been add-on software for Netware file servers that allows networked Macs to take advantage of network services. The acquisition of IBS and DataClub will give Novell a significant presence in Macintosh-only networks, and will help with future networking plans between mixed Mac, Windows (we’ve heard that IBS is also thinking about a Windows version of DataClub), and Unix platforms. Competition with Apple’s AppleShare server software will become more intense, and Sitka will have to enhance and differentiate its TOPS software to survive the 2000-pound Novell gorilla.

Still in progress by IBS’s developers is a utility that will allow DataClub Elite users to convert a stand-alone AppleShare file server into a dedicated member of a DataClub virtual server. The current version of the software allows such users to make only the free space on the AppleShare server part of the DataClub, or reconfigure everything manually (while losing any existing access privilege information), but this upcoming utility will allow network managers to automate the conversion process, and will give AppleShare servers easier access to the club.

IBS — 408/522-8000
Novell — 800/453-1267 — 801/429-7000

Adam Engst No comments

Personal, Not Private

I’d call it chilling, but others may have even stronger words for a recent proposal which could reduce the moderate level of privacy currently enjoyed by American computer users (along with American phone users). The Department of Justice has proposed legislation that would require telephone companies to engineer their equipment in a way that would facilitate wiretaps. This proposal apparently comes in response to the increasing difficulty of tapping phones that use digital networks over fiber optic lines.

MacWEEK quoted Scott Charney, a computer crime specialist at the Department of Justice, as saying that the wiretapping proposal wasn’t as dramatic as one might think because the nation was faced with requiring phones to allow taps or with condoning the use of phone by criminals. My incredulity upon reading that statement cannot be expressed in print and certainly not in 7-bit ASCII text.

What do you mean we have to condone the use of phones by criminals?!?! We most certainly do have to condone the use of phones by criminals or anyone else who wants to use them. What we do not have to condone is crime. That’s like saying we cannot condone the transmission of sound waves through the earth’s atmosphere by criminals. The government could stop or eavesdrop on normal conversation too, but somehow I doubt the general public would be terribly pleased about having every moment of conversation monitored for signs of criminal activity. And here we thought that George Orwell’s vision of eight years ago was fading with the demolition of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Of course, one future concern with such a technology requirement placed on the telephone companies is that everything passing in and out of a computer modem could be easily and automatically monitored for signs of criminal activity. And heck, once the government is monitoring for criminal activity, why not start scanning for other immoral bits of information like dirty pictures (after all, many of them are in violation of copyright law, which would be an excellent excuse for the government to monitor them) or discussions of the legalization of marijuana (I saw a post on that today in Usenet, so any monitoring of my phone line would have lumped me with drug dealers, another excellent excuse to keep monitoring my phone. Guess I’d better not run for political office.).

One side effect of building such features into phone systems is that technologically-advanced criminals could in all likelihood circumvent safeguards placed on the phone systems and utilize phone taps for criminal or at least unethical purposes. Confidential business data would be no safer than personal conversations or even official government communications. Somehow I doubt the government as a whole wishes to open itself up to such abuses merely so the Department of Justice can more easily eavesdrop on potentially criminal conversations.

Despite my position as a publisher of free information, I understand the needs for certain limitations on free speech. Oliver Wendell Holmes’s quote in Schenk vs. United States in 1919 still applies today. "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in [knowingly] falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic." However, I think many abuses of free speech should be self-policing, so normal people with great ideas in the field of new computer viruses should realize the potential detrimental impact on society if they exercise their right to free speech. Free speech is not and should not be absolute, but any limitations on it should be very carefully considered, both in terms of practical application and future precedent.

The government has yet to show that it understands the current electronic world and its culture enough to police that world in an informed manner. Until the government acquires that knowledge, it will continue to act and sound like Big Brother to people who wish that they had no siblings. In addition, the law enforcement community must recognize that fighting crime, though an extremely important governmental function, cannot and should not rise above societal concerns with privacy, just as it cannot and should not rise above societal concerns with basic human rights. We cannot afford to allow easily-tappable phone systems just as we cannot afford to allow unauthorized search and seizures or the use of torture to extract confessions.

Information from:
MacWEEK — 23-Mar-92, Vol. 6, #12, pg. 4

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

PowerBook Freebie

Late last week, Apple announced to its dealers that it will be offering a free protective battery case to all existing PowerBook 140 and 170 customers, as well as including one of these cases with each PowerBook 140/170 and 140/170 battery sold in the future. Apparently the non-conductive case is designed to prevent the battery from short-circuiting.

The notice sent to dealers warned that batteries stored outside the PowerBook without any protective wrapping could short-circuit if metal came into contact with both battery terminals. This could result in burn injuries or fires. In the future, PowerBook 140/170 batteries will bear a warning label explaining the danger and stating that the batteries must be stored in the protective case when not installed in a PowerBook.

Apple is mailing letters to all registered PowerBook 140/170 owners this week, explaining the situation and providing instructions on how the owners can obtain the free protective case. PowerBook owners may visit their Apple dealer to get the case or call Apple at 800/377-4127. Note that since dealers have just been informed of this, most won’t have the cases on hand right away. If your dealer is not aware of the situation, please refer them to part number 076-0590.

PowerBook 100 owners apparently don’t need to worry about this issue. The design of the PowerBook 100’s battery, which is different from the battery for the 140 and 170, may not be as susceptible to short-circuiting. The contacts on the 100 battery are recessed and not right next to each other; the 140/170 battery’s contacts are only a millimeter apart and thus may be more easily short circuited by a paper clip or some such object. However, PowerBook 100 owners still need to be cautious, and should avoid setting a battery down on a conductive surface or object.

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

Apple Announces New Promotion

Special promotions seem to be all the rage at Apple these days, and Spring ’92 will be no exception. Apple has just announced the new "Easy to Buy, Easy to Use" promotion, which will run from 15-Apr-92 until 5-Jul-92. Customers who purchase certain Macintosh products will be eligible for a special financing deal and free software.

Customers purchasing any configuration of the Macintosh Classic II, LC, LC II, or any PowerBook with an Apple Consumer Credit Card need not make payments for three months and will not be assessed any finance charges on the purchase for three months. Also, purchasers of the Classic II, PowerBook 100, or PowerBook 140 (though NOT the 170 or either LC model) will receive their choice of Microsoft Works, ClarisWorks, or Symantec GreatWorks, free of charge.

The customer must get a special coupon from their dealer, fill it out, and send it to Apple along with their invoice in order to participate in this special offer. Apple will be checking that the invoices are from authorized resellers, so people who purchase from "grey-marketers," or non-authorized companies, will be out of luck.

Matt Neuburg No comments

Nisus Review Preview

(with comments by Adam C. Engst, [email protected])

We’re experimenting with a new distribution method with this review of Nisus. Quite frankly, it’s not a program that can be trifled with in a review, and the TidBITS review will be rather long. Our reviewer, Matt Neuburg, didn’t help matters by including extremely useful information that belongs not so much in a review, but in a third party book about the program. As a result, we’re distributing this issue in three different forms. First comes this preview for people who don’t know if they will be interested in reading the full review. Second will come the review, broken up into several issues to fit through gateways. Third and finally, the extended review, which includes the detailed nuts and bolts information that doesn’t really fit in a review, will be submitted as a separate file to archive sites and file sections without a TidBITS issue number. Our apologies if this seems confusing, but it seemed to be the best compromise.

Nisus Introduction — Nisus 3.06, the dark horse of the Mac word-processing world, is a paradox. Devoted users world-wide swear by it; yet it remains relatively unknown, and in a comparative evaluation of word processors in the Sep-91 Macworld it was not ranked top in any of seven document categories. Nisus provides tremendous flexibility, and incorporates features borrowed from far pricier page-layout programs; yet it lacks some basic functions necessary to produce acceptable formal copy. It comes with a powerful macro/programming language; yet that language is nearly devoid of fundamental page-description capacities. Nisus is a pure original, a rethinking of the philosophy of word processing on the Mac from the ground up; yet its creators often seem not to have considered the most elementary needs of word processor users. It is the best of word processors; it is the worst of word processors.

Nisus is cobbled together from so many elements, and its look and feel is so different from other word processors, that only a large description can give a fair sense of it. Imagine Nisus as three worlds piled upon one another, of which we will explore each in turn. The bottom is the hugely powerful search-and-replace and macro/programming capabilities from which Nisus derived its earliest incarnation (QUED/M). The top is a suite of page-layout-like capabilities such as page placing, graphic characters, updatable cross-references, footnotes, indexing, and so on. The middle is the word processor itself, where you see, navigate, edit, and format your document. The search-and-replace and macros are solid and worth buying the whole program for, and the word processor milieu is a brilliant tool for entering and editing text, but the page-layout features are, on the whole, badly enough constructed that you could not use Nisus as your chief word processor for generation of large formal documents. Nisus styles itself "The Amazing Word Processor," but I view it more as "The Amazing Text Processor;" creating and editing text is a blast and a half, but building certain types of complex printable documents may prove almost impossible.

[See the next few issues of TidBITS for the full review.]

Nisus Conclusions — For large documents with layout needs such as tables, Nisus cannot compete with Microsoft Word. But it is perfect for what I bought it for: conversion of documents from other formats into Mac format. I would rather compose the basic text of a document in Nisus than in any other word processor I know. In fact, Nisus’s search-and-replace and macro facilities are so handy and powerful, and its Rulers and Styles so convenient, that one is actually tempted to use it also as a sort of front end for Word.

But although I love Nisus’s look-and-feel, and give its creators an A for effort in their rethinking of how a word processor can operate on the Mac, the point I keep returning to is that despite my genuine longing to use Nisus as my sole word processor of choice, I cannot. Things that I find constantly necessary that are easy in Word – the writing and appearance of footnotes, placing paragraphs in complex ways, tables and side-by-side paragraphs – are clumsy, difficult, or downright impossible in Nisus. These things won’t change until Paragon recognizes the problems and makes time to fix them, something which can be difficult for a small company that provides at least seven different language versions of its software. Those of us who want a word processor with the features needed to write a book without the expense of a full page-layout program are going to have to go on, for better or for worse, riding a different train. But don’t forget: I wouldn’t be writing these words if I didn’t love so much about Nisus as to wish fervently that it would fix its tables and footnotes and beat the pants off the Microsoft juggernaut.

[Adam] I agree the footnote facilities could be better, and there are some quirks with the way styles and rulers interact at times, but when it comes right down to it those are document processing and page layout features. I feel that Paragon added those features to compete in the advertising check box wars with Word, not because they wanted to make Nisus into a serious page layout tool. Nisus is and always has been a text processor, not an document processing tool.

I applaud Paragon’s unique approach in writing a program that is not just another word processor because a large portion of the time spent creating any document must perforce be spent writing it. We need better writing tools and Paragon has provided that. I’m even willing to jump to the other side of the fence and suggest that they should strip out all those things that are merely lip service to the great god of desktop publishing. (Matt: And in a way I agree; my whole point is that Paragon should either make its bells and whistles fully useful or eliminate them altogether.) I’m sure that Paragon is considering these comments and those from other users seriously and will deal with many of them in future versions of Nisus, although I have no idea when we might see that next version.

Nisus’s true calling will come when Nisus XS, the module for 3.06 that will enable full AppleEvents and interapplication communication, ships sometime this spring. What I’d like to see is all those programs that require sometime significant amounts of text editing, QuickMail, uAccess, FileMaker, PageMaker, etc., all link to Nisus’s text editing and manipulation tools so we can have an advanced writing environment no matter what we’re writing. Too many programs use Apple’s limited TextEdit routines. Let’s face it, Nisus stands no chance of taking over the word processing market from Word, but it would be an incredible coup if suddenly all the major programs could link to Nisus and use its full power in whatever context made sense. I congratulate Paragon on providing a program that stands out, a program with a difference, and I encourage them to continue on their unique and often misunderstood path.