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In the slime department, watch out for the new CODE 252 virus. The legal news of the week concerns the 36 items thrown out of the Apple/Microsoft suit; a number of people pass on more very important details about Tune-Up 1.1.1; and Jon Pugh reviews the super cool VideoSpigot. To close out the issue, we have articles on Apple putting the IIfx out to pasture and the AppleShare upgrade offer ending soon. Also, Happy 2nd Birthday to TidBITS!

Adam Engst No comments

TidBITS 2.0

Happy Birthday! This issue marks TidBITS’s second anniversary. As you can see, we’ve put out 120 issues, averaging 60 per year or slightly more than one per week. We feel that TidBITS is getting better all the time, to quote the Beatles, and we couldn’t do it without you and the massive levels of enthusiasm we receive. Some of our TidBITS highlights of the last year include moving to Seattle and discovering a large and enthusiastic computer community, gaining access to the great people and resources on ZiffNet/Mac, and especially the creation of our TIDBITS LISTSERV at Rice University thanks to Mark Williamson. Thank you all, and here’s hoping for continued success for us all. Cheers!

Adam Engst No comments

Trash Trick

Trash Trick — Dave Anderson writes with another method of tricking Nisus or similar applications into using the trash as a storage place for secondary backup files. This should work better for people who can’t boot under System 6 and don’t want to mess with ResEdit, although it does require keeping an alias of the trash around.

Regarding the review of TrashMan in TidBITS-119, I modified your method of saving secondary backup files in the trash.

Create a new folder on the desktop and rename it "Trash alias". In the secondary backup Saving Preferences, select the "Trash alias" folder. Switching back to the Finder, throw the "Trash alias" folder out and then create an alias of the trash, which should be automatically called "Trash alias". Now create and save a file in Nisus, and check to make sure the secondary backup is safely stored in the trash.

By the way, I am an unregistered user… and am sending in my registration today. I agree that TrashMan is an excellent extension to System 7.

Information from:
David Anderson — [email protected]

Adam Engst No comments

Code 252 Virus

Sigh. Trouble comes in threes, and this is the third virus in the last few months. Once again, the estimable virus team has done its work well, and most of the anti-virus tools should be up to date by the time you read this. As usual, I recommend that you snag the latest version of Disinfectant, 2.8 this time, from your favorite purveyor of freeware software.

The CODE 252 virus does not appear to damage any files and does not even spread all that quickly, due in part to the fact that it can only spread from one application to another in System 6 Finder (and it can spread to the System and Finder as well). If you use MultiFinder under System 6, applications are safe, but the System file and the MultiFinder file will be infected, and if you use System 7, only the System file can be infected. Unfortunately, an error in the virus can corrupt your System file or cause crashes if it has infected a System 7 System file.

The virus will trigger if an infected application or system starts up between June 6th and December 31st of any year. All it appears to do is display a childish message about how it is erasing all your disks with a lot of juvenile giggling. It does not actually erase any files or folders, although it is possible that it could damage some directory structures if you restarted the system immediately upon seeing the message. Between January 1st and June 5th of any year, the virus simply tries to spread itself, although not terribly successfully given its limitations.

There’s not much more I can say about this or any other virus, except that you should get Disinfectant 2.8 (or another anti-virus utility) and check your disks. Sigh.

Information from:
Gene Spafford — [email protected]

Adam Engst No comments

Tune-Up Notes

Robert Hess writes:

Not that it matters, but System 7 Tune-Up is not just an extension. The first time you run it, it patches the System to fix the "disappearing files bug." Each boot after that, it checks the System to see if the patch needs to be re-applied (which would be the case if you reinstalled the System from scratch, thus losing the original patch); if not, it continues with the other RAM-only (INIT) patches. Therefore, even if you run WITHOUT the System 7 Tune-Up 1.1.1, you’re still protected from the "disappearing files bug" if you have run with Tune Up 1.1.1 installed at least once.

Disclaimer: this info comes from a highly reliable and highly placed individual but, as far as I know, has not been publicly discussed or confirmed by Apple.

Information from:
Robert Hess — [email protected]

More Tune-Up INIT oddities — Bo Holst-Christensen confirms Robert’s notes above and adds some information that might help with some of the random problems that the occasional person has reported with Tune-Up 1.1.1. Bo claims that there are only four bytes different between 1.1 and 1.1.1 (although changing the version number added six bytes to the size of the vers resource). Of these changes one byte was the fixed selection of the right Process Manager globals, one byte was a change of a flag in a call and the last two bytes were a change of ID number for the INIT that is put in the System file to prevent the missing folder problem.

Tune-Up 1.1 installs an INIT ID 11 ("Tuna Helper") in the System file, and 1.1.1 installs an INIT with the same name and size, but with ID 13. The result is that your System file has two INITs that seemingly do the same thing. No one has confirmed any problem with a System file containing these two INITs, but if you have been experiencing any problems with Tune-Up 1.1.1, you might consider removing the first INIT ID 11. Bo notes that it would have been trivial to modify the installer script used by Tune-Up 1.1.1 to remove that INIT, so it’s odd that Apple did not do just that.

If you want to remove this INIT ID 11 from your System file, make a copy of the System and use ResEdit to delete the offending resource. Then drag the old System to the trash, make sure the new one is named "System" and resides in the System Folder, and reboot. As usual, do this at your own risk – we have no confirmation that this will make one whit of difference.

Information from:
Bo Holst-Christensen — [email protected]

NetWare for Macintosh & Tune-Up — Henk Verhaar writes in regard to Geoff Bronner’s warning (from TidBITS-119) about printing with LaserWriter 7.1.1 (included with System 7 Tune-Up 1.1 and 1.1.1). Henk notes that although users of NetWare for Macintosh 3.01 may indeed suffer the printing problem, he has not experienced any problems printing from LaserWriter 7.1.1 to NetWare for Macintosh 2.x. Curious stuff.

Information from:
Henk Verhaar — [email protected]

FolderBolt/Disk First Aid Interaction — Cecil Habermacher of KentMarsh sends along this extremely important technical note for users of KentMarsh’s FolderBolt, Disk First Aid, and System 7 Tune-Up. If you know people who use FolderBolt and System 7, please make sure they know about this since it could save them the effort of backing up and reformatting their hard disks.

The following technical notes cover interactions between FolderBolt, Disk First Aid, and System 7 Tune-Up 1.1 and 1.1.1.

As part of the installation instructions for Apple’s System 7 Tune-Up version 1.1 and later, Apple advises users to examine their hard disks with version 7.0 or newer of Apple’s Disk First Aid utility before proceeding. If Disk First Aid discovers problems or is unable to verify the disk successfully, Apple recommends that users backup and reformat their hard disks before proceeding with the installation. Before performing the Disk First Aid analysis, however, users of FolderBolt should use the FolderBolt Administrator to override their entire hard disk without a snapshot.

As part of its normal operation, FolderBolt slightly modifies the catalog structure of the disk the first time any folder is locked on that particular disk. Due to these modifications, Disk First Aid will not be able to verify the disk. Thus, users of FolderBolt may be needlessly reformatting their disks.

When the user overrides the entire disk without a snapshot, FolderBolt will undo all changes it has made to the disk’s directory structure. Once the disk or disks are overridden, Disk First Aid can be used with confidence that any difficulties it encounters are not a result of FolderBolt’s presence.

If you have any questions, please refer to the FolderBolt User Guide. If the documentation doesn’t answer your questions, please contact Kent*Marsh Customer Support for further assistance.

America Online: KentMarsh
CompuServe: 73730,274
Internet: [email protected]
Phone: 713/522-LOCK — Fax: 713/522-8965
Customer Support: 713/522-8906 — BBS: 713/522-8921

Information from:
Cecil Habermacher — Kent*Marsh

Adam Engst No comments

Another Round to Microsoft

Last week Judge Vaughn Walker threw out a number of the issues in the long-standing suit between Apple and Microsoft. I don’t feel that this is as important a decision as at least one article in the Wall Street Journal implied. That article used misleading and inaccurate phrases like "Windows is obtaining dominance in the computer market at the expense of Apple’s Macintosh" and "the surprise ruling all but dashes Apple’s chances." Let’s look more closely at what really happened.

This case is at its base a contract dispute, but it is important because it may be used as legal precedent in future cases involving look and feel. Apple claims that Microsoft infringed on Apple’s visual interface with all the versions of Windows despite a license Apple granted to Microsoft early on for Windows 1.0. So at issue are 59 visual interface elements in Windows 3.0 (and presumably 3.1, although I haven’t had a good look at it yet). Of those 59 visual elements, Judge Walker ruled that Apple failed to show that 26 had changed from their original use in Windows 1.0, at which point they were covered by that original license agreement. Of the remaining 33 visual elements, 10 were in dispute in Windows 2.03, and the judge ruled that Apple did not have exclusive rights to those 10 visual elements either.

Throwing out those 36 visual elements still leaves 23 items in dispute, 23 items which include primarily visual elements used in the Windows File Manager and Program Manager (an inane separation of functions if I’ve ever seen one – but that’s beside the point). Also still in question are the more sweeping uses of proportional fonts and color, although I’ll be curious to see how Apple claims that they have a sole right to proportional fonts and color in graphical interfaces. Perhaps most important is the overall question of what’s called "substantial similarity," which seems to mean: "Was Microsoft specifically trying to copy the Mac interface for Windows without explicitly licensing from Apple?" Those disputes are still to come and may be addressed in May.

What surprises me primarily is not that this part of the ruling went in favor of Microsoft, but that all the analysts have been saying that they thought Apple would win the suit. I don’t know enough about the issue legally to comment on that, although I did find it interesting that Microsoft’s stock, which had dropped precipitously when Windows 3.1 shipped, rose quickly after this ruling (although I noticed that it dropped precipitously again today – proof that logic plays no part in the stock market). On the one hand, I don’t think that Apple or anyone else should own the rights to basic elements of a graphical interface. On the other hand, if Microsoft is at fault for breaking a contract, they should pay for it and not get off scot free because the judge doesn’t want to set legal precedent for owning visual displays. Actually, my overall reaction to this suit is complete and utter disgust. Both companies are spending millions of dollars (I’ve heard numbers like an estimated $50 million each) to argue about which one is a copycat. Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if both Apple and Microsoft put some of that money where their respective mouths are – namely all that talk about the customer being the first priority? For starters, Microsoft could stop charging the ludicrous $129 for upgrades, or they could even dump a little money into 800 numbers for their tech support.

(Adapted from the Dave Barry Calendar of the Day: If you have any questions whatsoever about Windows 3.1, you should call the special Windows Assistance Hotline Telephone Number and listen to the busy signal until you feel you have a better understanding of the situation.)

Apple could give all the LaserWriter IIf and IIg owners memory upgrades like Apple UK did so that those printers could actually be useful. Or perhaps Apple could stop cutting corners on the low cost Macs. I’m sure there’s lots of things we could think of for Apple to do with the money it would save from eliminating childish lawsuits.

Information from:

Related articles:
Wall Street Journal — 14-Apr-92

Jon Pugh No comments

VideoSpigot Review

I thought QuickTime was obviously cool when it first came out. It’s hard not get all goggle-eyed when you first see movies running on a computer screen without any special hardware. Of course, like the joy of owning your first car, it fades with time and reality sets in. The questions of use and function comes to mind. Just what is QuickTime really good for? The two most obvious choices are entertainment and training. The big question then becomes how to make movies, since that requires additional hardware.

Along came SuperMac with a digitizer board for the home and low-end market. For less than $500 you can get the Video Spigot in either a PDS version for the LC or a NuBus version for the Mac II family. This board is not intended as a board for doing full screen captures or real time video captures, but it does a great job of capturing video and making it into QuickTime movies in the common sizes that run on all the Macs. That means that you can make movies on your Macintosh.

In addition, the VideoSpigot comes with Adobe Premier (for a limited time only). Adobe Premier alone costs as much as the price of the VideoSpigot (somewhere between $350 and $550 depending on the source), so the two together make an irresistible deal if you plan to have anything to do with QuickTime. Premier is the first full featured QuickTime editor to reach the market, and it has the ability to use some of Photoshop’s modules, which makes it an incredibly powerful package. It also has 24 built-in transition effects, such as wipes and fades which make for very professional looking movies. You can even annotate your home movies if you are so inclined.

I purchased the NuBus version of the VideoSpigot for home use in my Quadra 900. The board itself is simple to install with only a simple RCA jack on the back which can be connected to your VCR’s dubbing output through standard cables. If you are going to do audio input you will need a sound digitizer, such as the MacRecorder or the audio input that comes with most new Macs. The VideoSpigot comes with an application called ScreenPlay, which must be used to control the board and capture the video. As of this time, SuperMac is testing their "vdig" QuickTime extension, which will allow any standard QuickTime-compatible application to record video off the VideoSpigot, but that isn’t available yet, so we are stuck with ScreenPlay.

ScreenPlay is a simple program with only a couple of buttons. The Live button allows you to watch whatever comes into the VideoSpigot. Next to that is a Record Button, labeled simply with a red circle. Clicking it causes the program to record video to disk. Clicking it with the option key down causes it to record to memory, which will allow greater speed, but for a limited time. Next is the stop button which is labeled simply with a blue square. Finally there is a cropping tool, which allows you to limit the area recorded or displayed. The only other item on the screen is the grow box which allows you to expand the window to one of three allowed sizes – small, medium, and large – where large is one quarter of Apple’s 13" RGB monitor.

ScreenPlay has a couple of options which you can set. You can adjust the color and hue with a couple of dubiously-labeled sliders. I found them very unclear in function and virtually useless, although I did wiggle them until my picture was sufficiently clear and about the right color. Later I realized that this is about the same thing I used to do with the color and tint dials on my TV before there was Automatic Fine Tuning. The preferences you can set allow you to set the disk for ScreenPlay to record to, turn the audio recording on or off, and modify the number of frames recorded per second.

I have obtained quite decent results with the VideoSpigot. The movies come out quite large from ScreenPlay, but in Premier I significantly dropped their sizes by trimming off the ends and changing the sound quality from 22 KHz to 11 KHz. I can easily record at 15 frames per second on my Quadra, except at the large size I can only record 11 fps (frames per second). Your mileage may vary.

My only complaint is that there appears to be a small black band on the side of my video. It appears on both the live picture and the recordings. I have not attempted to contact SuperMac about this, which shows it’s not a very serious problem. I did get some great service from SuperMac though. When I bought my board it didn’t work properly. I contacted SuperMac and went through a couple of gyrations of software double-checking before they drove someone out to my office with a replacement. Now it all works fine.

The VideoSpigot and ScreenPlay can also make stills from the video source. You simply drag the picture and a still peels off of the screen. You can control the size as a preference. You either drag one the same size as the screen, the large screen size, or a full screen still. In order to capture full screen stills, you need a still video source. I haven’t played with this feature much since you cannot get very good stills from a video source. Video signals are a much lower quality than a full screen computer image. Nevertheless, the ability to record a full screen image appeals to many people, and ScreenPlay provides it. I would personally use a digital still source for my attempts, except that my digital VCR is in another room and not connected to my Mac. Maybe someday.

All in all, the VideoSpigot is the ideal home digitizer. It cheaply provides sufficient quality to enable you to completely fill all of your disk space with pointless QuickTime clips. If you are inclined, you can also use Premier to assemble your clips into an actual QuickTime movie. Go for it. You could be the next Steven Spielberg, assuming you can get Harrison Ford to star in your video.

SuperMac — 408/245-2202

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

Wicked Fast IIfx Retired

Of all the changes to Apple’s product lineup that took place on 15-Apr-92, the quietest was the departure of the Macintosh IIfx. The high-end Macintosh II offering has never quite fit into the product line, thanks to some engineering oddities and, of course, the eventual appearance of the Quadra series.

The IIfx remained on Apple’s rolls this long probably because of its six NuBus slots as much as anything else. The initial ‘040 compatibility problems probably helped, but many users had commented that the Quadra 900’s five slots weren’t up to the heaviest tasks, making the IIfx, the last six-slot Mac, an important member of the Mac team.

When it was first introduced, the Mac IIfx was hailed as the "wicked fast" Macintosh by its fans within Apple. Its 40 MHz 68030 processor was more than twice as fast as the 16 MHz version found in previously "top-of-the-line" IIx and IIcx machines, and Apple’s engineers boosted performance even further through the use of ASIC, or application-specific integrated circuit, technology. This ASIC technology provided coprocessors to handle mundane system tasks such as disk and SCSI activity and serial port communications, freeing the ‘030 to concentrate on computing.

Unfortunately, the IIfx created some compatibility problems with software that, contrary to Apple’s recommendations, accessed hardware (such as serial ports or the disk controller) directly. A "IIfx Serial Switch" Control Panel alleviated the difficulties for applications and utilities that wanted to talk directly to the serial ports instead of working with the drivers, but other incompatibilities had to be ironed out by the application developers. Certainly this wasn’t the fault of the IIfx, but the incompatibilities did leave a sour taste in many mouths, as did the special dual-ported memory and black SCSI terminator that only the IIfx required. It also didn’t help that the IIfx’s much-touted Direct Memory Access (DMA) abilities were never supported by the system software, making them useless except in theory.

The retirement of the IIfx leaves Apple with just two machines left in the five-year-old Macintosh II family: the IIci and IIsi, clocking in at 25 and 20 MHz, respectively. The Quadra 700 and 900, and the expected 950, fill the shoes of the ex-"wicked fast" IIfx.

Customers who still have the IIfx on order as of 15 April will have their orders filled, but Apple doesn’t plan on taking further orders.

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

AppleShare Upgrade Offer Ends

Apple has announced that its AppleShare 3.0 upgrade offer will be ending at the end of April. The offer, introduced last fall with the new version of the file server software, allows owners of previous versions to upgrade free or at a reduced price.

The company plans to honor upgrade requests until 30-Apr-92, even though the offer was originally scheduled to end on 01-Apr-92. Upgrade coupons are available from dealers, or send the required information to:

AppleShare Server 3.0 Upgrade
Apple Computer, Inc.
P.O. Box 59337
Minneapolis, MN 55459-0037

Customers who purchased AppleShare File Server 2.0 between 15-Oct-91 and 31-Dec-91 are entitled to a free upgrade. They should send their original, dated sales invoice, and their original Server Installer diskette, to the above address.

Those who purchased the File Server software before 15-Oct-91 may upgrade by sending $299 for each upgrade, their original Server Installer diskette(s), and $7 for shipping and handling for each upgrade.

Anyone who purchased both File Server and Printer Server software before 15-Oct-91 may upgrade by sending $199 for each upgrade, their original File Server and Printer Server Installer diskettes, and $7 for shipping and handling for each upgrade.