This issue overflows with a review of WriteNow 3.0, the syllabus for a free online course, "Navigating the Internet," and an alternative view of the Duo. We also crammed in some short announcements, including news of Disk First Aid 7.1, which fixes the disappearing files and folders bug, a letter about font clone piracy, and a warning for CPU users who have a just-released PowerBook. Tune in next week for all the great stuff that wouldn’t fit!
Font Clone Pirates — Carter Scholz writes, "I’d like to add something to Mark Nutter’s review of SoftKey’s KeyFonts package in TidBITS-146. Mark writes, "…the fonts aren’t the genuine fonts from the original designer. Rather, each font is a clone of the original." This means, of course, that SoftKey is not paying royalties to the designer of the font. Although this practice is technically legal in the USA (one of the few countries in which type fonts are not protected by copyright law), it is ethically bankrupt. A well-designed font can take man-years of effort. Hermann Zapf, the designer of Palatino, Optima, and many other beautiful fonts, from whom SoftKey has stolen their "Palamino," "Optim," and "Chancery" has long attempted to educate type users on this point. From the designer’s viewpoint, a "clone" is even worse than outright theft, because the clone is usually a poor copy that corrupts the designer’s work while depriving him of compensation."
Carter Scholz — [email protected]
atob/btoa Translator — Numerous people informed us that StuffIt Deluxe and StuffIt Lite 3.0 come with a defunker for the atob/btoa format (along with many others) that we mentioned last week. I’ll have to check my copy of StuffIt Deluxe to figure out what my problem is.
CPU and the new PowerBooks — Conrad Halling wrote to tell us of problems with Connectix’s CPU utility and the new PowerBooks. If you have one of those machines and CPU, send in your registration card, because Connectix has a free upgrade for registered users of those machines. In the meantime, Conrad reports that CPU’s LCD Saver doesn’t work if you switch screen depths, and there appears to be a problem with the backlight coming back on after it has dimmed.
Connectix — 800/950-5880 — 415/571-5100
[We think so highly of the idea of a free, electronic, workshop given over the Internet that we couldn’t resist including this announcement. We’ll be curious to see how well it works, being one of the first courses provided worldwide over the Internet, breaking down numerous physical, geographic, temporal, and financial barriers. Kudos to the brave souls running the course!]
16-Nov-92 through 11-Dec-92 — "Navigating the Internet: An Interactive Workshop" is intended for new or infrequent users of the network of networks called the Internet. It is designed to give an overview of several operating systems used on the Internet and to give examples of the resources available over the Internet.
The only requirements are that the user have access to the Internet and can read basic email. Unix, VMS, and VM will be the primary operating systems covered in the workshop.
Participants will be sent instructions by email.
A BITNET LISTSERV provided by the University at Buffalo will be used for interactive answering of questions and solving problems with additional help by email.
Instructor Richard J. Smith
Assistant Director of Technical Services
University of Southwestern Louisiana
VMS & VM adaptation by Jim Gerland
University at Buffalo
Guest lecturer Dr. Chris Tomer
University of Pittsburgh
Contributions by Peter Scott, Charles W. Bailey Jr.,
and others will be included.
- Internet Mail — Instructions on how to use basic email
- Unix, VMS, VM basics — How to create, read, edit, copy, and move files in Unix, VMS, VM.
- User information — How to find addresses with WHOIS, how to finger users, finding files with Archie, and printing basics.
Thanksgiving Break (USA) November 25-29, 1992
- FTP — File Transfer Protocol will be explained with instructions on how to FTP a document.
- FTP — Explanation and instructions on how to FTP pertinent Requests for Comments (RFC). Reading a file in FTP.
- FTP — Instructions on how and where to get Internet reference guides, an electronic book, a Supreme Court decision, and several PC games.
- Instructions on how to subscribe to electronic journals. Instructions on FTPing a directory of electronic journals. Reading news.
- Telnet — Telnet will be explained with instructions on how to get to several OPACs. Capturing a file.
- Telnet — Explanation and instructions on getting to and exploring CARL.
- Telnet — Explanation and instructions on getting to and exploring Freenet.
- Telnet — Using the ERIC database.
Registration Fee: free
AUTOMATED REGISTRATION (preferred) — To register for "Navigating the Internet: An Interactive Workshop" send the following email message (no subject heading) to:
In the body of the email message write:
sub navigate yourfirstname yourlastname
(If the above instructions are unfamiliar to you, ask for assistance from your computer center.)
Send email requesting registration to:
U.S. POST REGISTRATION
Richard J. Smith
302 St. Mary Blvd.
University of Southwestern Louisiana
Lafayette, LA 70503
Include your name and email address
Richard J. Smith — 318/231-6399
Looking for a useful word processor weighing in at 287K on the hard disk and consuming 490K of RAM? Take a hard look at WriteNow 3.0 from T/Maker. Looking for a word processor that sorts, computes, charts, slices and dices? Look elsewhere. WriteNow’s features fall short in a few important areas, but what it does do, it does with a rare attention to detail.
First, a little background. I know Word cold. I use Nisus casually, and frequently listen to Adam’s opinions about it. I used WriteNow 2.0 several years ago as my primary word processor. So if I don’t mention MacWrite or WordPerfect, it’s due to lack of information. In addition, another WriteNow user, Tad Davis, contributed some information. Let’s look at WriteNow’s especially good features first.
A manual to die for — The manual’s authors avoided corporate-speak and used a clear, conversational tone. The manual includes word processing basics that most TidBITS readers can skip and an excellent conceptual discussion of how WriteNow ticks. Details show up in a reference guide to the menu commands, an extensive trouble-shooting chapter, and a useful appendix. The appendix offers specific information about file conversion, label templates, and a bundled Date Control Panel that allows you to change the Macintosh system date to virtually any format.
Stylish styles — It’s becoming fashionable for word processors to offer character styles, and T/Maker has implemented character styling wonderfully. T/Maker’s programmers carefully considered the interaction between character and paragraph formatting, and paid attention to creating an easy interface. For example, assigning keyboard shortcuts to a style is trivial – in the Style dialog box, you simply pick from a pop-down menu of the available keyboard shortcuts. WriteNow indicates current style usage via unobtrusive pop-up menus in the bar at the bottom of the document window.
WriteNow’s styles outclass those in Word (which lacks character styles) and Nisus (which does have them, although without such a nice interface). WriteNow’s implementation is the easiest to figure out without looking at the manual, its manual explains the details, and it has many nice touches with only a few odd quirks.
I’d like to see an Apply button for viewing a changed style while still in WriteNow’s Style dialog box. Tad Davis objected to WriteNow’s lack of Space Before and Space After options for styling paragraphs, which let you define consistent amounts of white space between styled paragraphs, without typing additional hard returns.
Peter Shank of T/Maker responded to Tad’s objection, saying he hopes Space Before and Space After styling show up in future versions, but for now, users can work around this difficulty by, for example, setting up a BodyText style always followed by a SpaceBetween style with the SpaceBetween style always followed by BodyText.
Functional print merge — The print merge works much like it does in Word, sans the Word 5.0 print merge helper, OR and AND conditionals, and tables. Without tables, WriteNow compares poorly to Word since tables simplify creating, error-checking, and sorting a data document (and WriteNow has no Sort function). Also, tables simplify designing custom labels.
WriteNow has two print merge features that I’d like to see in Word. First, an OMIT command, which allows you to specify a condition for a record to be omitted from a merge (i.e. omit people under age 25). Second, in WriteNow, you need not specify the data file. You simply type <<DATA ?Human, what data file shall I use today?>>. When you merge, WriteNow prompts for a file with that question.
Miscellaneous Nice Touches — WriteNow abounds with unexpected features. To create a horizontal line, simply choose Insert Horizontal Line from the Format menu and select from the many variations.
The Clean Up Windows command offers five different multiple-window displays. Nisus has similar features, but Word offers almost nothing here. Nisus can split a window horizontally or vertically and scroll the two halves independently, a feature that WriteNow lacks and that Word offers only on the horizontal.
Print Preview, though slow to redraw, provides a one-, two-, or many-page view; a magnifying glass; a scrolling hand; and the ability to click anywhere and flip back to that spot in regular view. I especially like the icons in the Preview since they look like the tasks they represent.
If you change printers and then try to print, many programs remind you to choose Page Setup before printing. WriteNow reminds you and then pops you into Page Setup automatically. In the Print dialog box, WriteNow offers the ability to print only odd or only even pages, something that Nisus does and Microsoft has finally added to Word 5.1. On to the good-and-bad features.
Ruler details — The ruler, which gives audible feedback when you move the tab and margin markers, would be great, except that it has its own window. You have to first click in the ruler, then do your formatting, and then click out of it.
Conveniently, WriteNow’s side margins go by paragraph. In Word, the margin applies to the entire document, and the ruler triangles adjust the indents for individual paragraphs. WriteNow’s ruler shows literally how far from the edge things will print, unlike in Word where you must calculate to figure out what’s going on.
WriteNow has no specific top or bottom margin. These margins are just the amount of space that the headers, footers, and footnotes take up. This method works nicely, but I find it a bit convoluted without the manual’s explanation.
Although you can set up multiple headers and footers, and even vary them on even and odd pages, you can’t automatically suppress them on a given page. If you want your footer to start on Page 2, you have to wait until you know where Page 2 starts, and then insert the footer there.
The Spell Checker — WriteNow’s button-happy spell checker window consists of rows of buttons. The top row has the usual commands, and the remaining buttons offer suggested spellings for incorrect words, so you can’t use keyboard shortcuts to select suggestions.
The spell checker has an Ignore option, which ignores a particular word for the life of its existence in that document. WriteNow will still flag the word in other documents. This is better than Word’s ignoring a word for only that Word session. I’m not sure if I like it as much as Nisus’s more-flexible ignoring, which provides a character style for ignoring text.
In an approach that others would do well to emulate, you can add many words to a user dictionary simply by selecting them in a WriteNow document, opening the dictionary, and clicking the Learn button.
Grammar Checking — WriteNow doesn’t have a grammar checker built in, but ships with Grammatik Mac. It’s good that WriteNow comes with Grammatik Mac, but grammar checkers in general aren’t so hot. They need to come a long way before they will be useful tools for most people.
Not so good and downright missing: — In my experience, if you give users an inch, they’ll want a mile. Give them underlining, and they will want overline too. Give them colors and they will want to print color separations. Give them search and replace and they will want to search for every paragraph having the style USER and add the word "goat," in bold italic, to the start of the second line in those paragraphs. Users will insist that this feature is vital and that they cannot imagine what possessed the propeller-head programmers to fail to put in this option. Anyhow, here’s a laundry list of some features you won’t find in WriteNow.
WriteNow does columns, but cannot vary the number of columns in a document; you can start a document’s page numbers at any number, but that’s all you can do; no indexing or table of contents, no text wrap around graphics, multiple undos, non-contiguous selection, mathematical equations, glossary, customizable menus, GREP-style search and replace, or tables.
A printing problem found in most, if not all, printer drivers relates to the suggestion in the WriteNow manual for "title pages" – it suggests that you start with a "zero" page number or "negative" page number, depending on how many unnumbered pages of front matter you have. The problem comes when you try to print those pages. The Print dialog does not recognize negative page numbers. You have to Print All and cancel after printing the pages you want.
Conclusion — If you believe that the word processor that dies with the most features wins, then you won’t see WriteNow as a winner. If you believe that the word processor that dies with the most grace wins then you’ll view WriteNow as a champion. As Tad Davis said, "I have more powerful programs, but I keep coming back to this one. It’s the best electronic pencil going."
How about a WriteNow Deluxe? WriteNow 3.0 is great for new users, people needing a PowerBook word processor, and users with simple to medium needs. These people will enjoy the elegant working environment that WriteNow provides. But for people who must do indexes or slightly fancier page layout or slightly more sophisticated search and replace, WriteNow is so disappointing. But, if you don’t need the high-end stuff, you might well dub it the word processor for the rest of us.
T/Maker — 415/962-0195 — 415/962-0201 (fax)
Peter Shank, T/Maker Tech Support — [email protected]
Thanks to wonders of that modern monstrosity known as "global marketing" we can easily second-guess Apple’s intentions and judge its image solely by creative reading between the lines. Take the new European PowerBook Duo brochure (the doubly-folded 8-page job, with a dock swallowing a Duo on the cover). I have it in Swedish in front of me and am sure that other versions could be found in many other countries. Not surprisingly, if subjected to analysis according to principles of investigative logic learned from a Mr. Sherlock Holmes, that brochure yields a lot of inside information about Apple itself, and of the perception that Apple holds of the world at large.
OK, let’s start with the cover: obviously we’re in a home office, not in some glass Ivory Tower setting. Female hands with oh-so-long fingers (nails too long for a concert pianist) fondle a Duo. Dark wood, moody lighting, the works. What’s that thing, right next to the dock? Aha, that’s a crystal ball! One with etched outlines of the continents, a crystal-ball globe! Hmm… Apple has designs on the world.
Conclusions of the cover: Apple can afford to hire a first-hand (sic!) hand model for its Duo-posing. Obviously, the company feels that a Duo is NOT the solution all by itself. You need a dock. And there’s still a place for a crystal ball.
We now switch to the inside. The headline proclaims, in Apple’s 80%-squeezed, global-image-standardized Garamond type, "the best of two worlds." A different woman’s hand hovers over a stationary dock’s keyboard, frozen for all eternity in the process of extracting a closed Duo from the slot. And you can see right through her hand so no detail of the keyboard beneath is obscured. Clearly, this woman is no concert pianist either, but one afflicted by the Common Advertising See-Thru (CAST) syndrome, that’s so prevalent among people appearing in computer ads of recent years.
Unfolded twice over we see two headlines, "Best among portable," and "Best among stationary," accompanied by pictures showing a Duo 230 alone and inserted into a dock. Once again, the hands shown typing are of models with that CAST syndrome. Come to think of, they could be hands of the invisible Chevy Chase, doing a bit of commercial work between real acting jobs.
More conclusions: Apple can afford to hire plenty of models. Also they’re not afraid to be represented in print by individuals stricken by modern four-letter maladies.
Here comes the coup-de-grace: along the bottom edge of the spread there are 10 small pictures of a woman shown in what Apple clearly considers to be Recommended Poses To Assume With a Macintosh Duo. Starting on the left, that woman, let’s call her Ann, is seated at a table that has "Designer Desk" written all over it. She is so totally engrossed in what’s happening on the docked Duo’s 14 inch/ 256 color screen (32,000 with 512K of VRAM) that she has to support her chin with one hand while womanhandling, one assumes, the tiny trackball with the other.
Next, Ann has turned towards us to show off her shapely legs. She has finished work for the day and is now in the process of withdrawing what looks like a greyish pizza carton from the dock. Soon Ann has succeeded with the task. Standing with a great mane of Rula-Lenska-like auburn hair, she puts the Duo into an attache case. Caution, Ann, you’re doing it all wrong! You’re supposed to turn the Duo on its axis so it won’t occupy more than at most half the space inside! How else are you gonna fit the WSJ, the WWD, and your career woman’s papers there as well?
Image four: Ann has turned around and is now heading away from her previous position, an occasion also to show her dynamic profile. Thus we arrive at the center of the brochure. Surprise! Ann has veered off home for a change of clothes, then headed for the park to resume, one assumes, working for the same company that keeps her in designer desks, dual-modality computers, and more than one change of clothes. She now sports a yellow polo sweater, faded jeans, and Easy Rider-model leather shoes. A scarf around her hair, she has "casual" and "at ease with my Duo" written all over her body. She is writing a memo to her boss, or maybe she’s the boss who’s writing a memo to her underlings – it’s hard to tell. In any event she’s clearly enjoying the wrought-iron park bench, harder though it may be than her padded Designer Chair.
Never mind, we’re now at picture six of ten. Ann has risen and is once again headed somewhere. She has her Duo in a shoulder bag, not in a briefcase. Judging by the next picture, she was heading home where she keeps her Duo next to a monitor next to a picture of someone obviously worth remembering and an empty(?) milk(?) bottle.
Once again she is shown engrossed in her little new computer. Doesn’t Ann ever rest? Is she under such pressure that she has to keep working all the time just to pay the basic bills? The brochure doesn’t tell. As in the office, she has assumed that one-hand-under-chin-the-other-on-trackball intense position. She’s had time enough to change clothes once more, that much we can see, and also for some remodelling of her hair so now she’s not at all unlike, say, Diane Keaton impersonating a young Katherine Hepburn.
In either case, she has clearly finished whatever she was working on since, in the next picture, she is once again moving, same clothes, Duo gripped tightly in her bare hand, all smile.
Next pic, we know why she was smiling. Ann is seated on an airplane; she must’ve been sent off on a junket to some faraway balmy place, all expenses paid, no excuses! As befitting someone entitled to travel in Designer Armchair Class she is now wearing the standard Travelling Businesswomen garb: white silk shirt, bluish jacket, hair gathered in a bun, grey slacks, earclips, pumps. After all, she has an image to project and maintain, her company’s as much as her own, has she not?
So where is Ann headed and for what purpose? We are let onto the secret in the concluding picture. Ann is standing next to her Duo that’s connected to a largish monitor, obviously looked at by some important clients. She must have brought a change of clothes with her because the earclips are the only element that I recognize from the previous setup. Uniform this time is standard Modern Female Pink issue, no extras. She reminds me of someone whom I cannot yet place. One hand on the Duo, she is pointing with the other at the monitor with a very low-tech, wooden pointer. What a letdown… couldn’t she at least have used one made out of laser?
And what, exactly, is it that has thus far been the objective of Ann’s work activities? What is she pointing at on that 40-inch monitor? The answer, extracted with the help of a 15x magnifying lens and a lot of logick[tm], is a QuickTime movie of a vestibule of the Kendall Tower building (Greenwich Square, London, England), that this Havisham & Wemmick company is trying to palm off on some investors in today’s tight money markets. This gives her away… our Ann is, obviously, Ann Angell, the real estate agent in charge of that object whose datafiles are portrayed on all the screenshots in the brochure.
Still, this brings us to the more serious matter of all that free publicity extended to Superior Products, Havisham & Wemmick and Nakamura and Associates, the three real-estate companies whose names appear in Ann’s onscreen data. Simple analyst though I may be I just know that there’s no such thing as free publicity in today’s complex business world. Everything is deeply intertwingled. Is Apple already owned, or about to be taken over, by a group of real-estate companies, perhaps with plans to use the California manufacturing facilities to write off profits of future shady deals? That Nakamura name is a dead giveaway. Clearly, this is no laughing matter but one that warrants further investigation by more competent Apple-watcher-cum-conspiracy-theorists than myself.
Well, that’s about it, folks. Now we know who Apple had in mind when they made the Duo… real-estate agents. Oh, yes! The woman Ann reminded me of: Molly Dodd, of the Days and Nights of fame. Pure coincidence? You may care to remember that Molly was a real estate agent herself before giving up her job to concentrate on the search for Mr. Right, before she met the Indian Brahmin, the neighborhood garbage collector, the All-American pilot (the one she left in disgust because he was too perfect for love), rejected once again the alto-saxophonist, her divorced first husband, until finally meeting Him in the guise of a Hassidic all-thumbs-pianist from Williamsburg, N.Y. That’s the kind of adventurous person whom Apple obviously considers worthy of a Duo.
Thus we arrive at following Authoritative Conclusions From The Thought Server: Apple may or may not already be secretly owned by some Japanese real-estate conglomerate. While they’re still based in Cupertino, CA, it is nice to know that they selected Molly Dodd to be their role model for a Macintosh Duo user. They could have picked up Margaret Thatcher and then where would we be?