Three reviews this week, one of an upgrade to the excellent Easy View browser for TidBITS and other text files, one of Aldus’s powerful new IntelliDraw package, and one of Craig O’Donnell’s bodacious book, Cool Mac Sounds. Short notes on Apple’s massive order backlog, the missing Omega SANE, QuickTime 1.5, a potential problem with the Duos, and a conflict between XPress 3.0 and the HP DeskWriter 550C round out the issue. Look for game reviews next week!
Please note that this is the last week Nisus Software is sponsoring TidBITS. If you want Nisus’s files from our fileserver, snag them before 14-Dec-92. Once again, to get an index of individual files, send email to <[email protected]> and to receive all the files in one chunk, send email to <[email protected]>. I hope you find the information useful – I certainly did.
Duo Warning — Murph Sewall passes on a tale of caution. "I recently heard of a Duo user whose daughter threw "something" (apparently the System Enabler extension) away. Oops! The Duo no longer will start up. Since there are no Duo Docks and no floppy adapters available, the only way to fix it at the moment is to mail the Duo back to Apple." [The moral of the story is to make frequent backups via File Sharing and be careful with things that might corrupt the System file until you have a Duo Dock, MiniDock, or floppy adapter. -Adam]
Murph Sewall — [email protected]
QuarkXPress and DeskWriter 550C — Mark H Anbinder writes. "Those of you who are thinking about buying yourselves a gift of a Hewlett-Packard DeskWriter 550C this holiday season should first check your software arsenal. HP has recently discovered, with our help, an incompatibility between the DeskWriter 550C driver and QuarkXPress 3.0. Quark confirmed the problem and said testing showed the current version, XPress 3.1, is fully compatible."
Mark H. Anbinder, Contributing Editor
People drooling over new Macintosh models, or even some of the older Macs, may be frothing with frustration right now. Apple has massive backorders on a large number of models. The lack of supply has a number of reasons, including unexpected demand and downright poor planning on Apple’s part. In Apple’s defense, some backlog stems from inability to get parts, such as those low-yield, active-matrix screens.
Luckily for Apple, they have no competition – if you want a Mac you’ll wait. You’re unlikely to buy a Windows machine, whereas PC-clone buyers would quickly jump ship to a competitor. If Apple plans to pump new models out every six months, they have to make the machines available. Otherwise customers see another form of vaporware, call it trickleware, because only a few lucky (or unlucky, depending on early quirks) souls manage to buy these machines.
We’ve received a list of Macintoshes that Apple expects to be in good supply through the end of the year. If something is NOT on this list, then figure that your chances of buying one within the next month are slim. The PowerBooks and Duos in particular will be in limited supply. The optimism in providing a list of available products is interesting (or perhaps merely desperation mixed with frustration, since Apple loses big bucks by not having products available during December). More interesting for those who want a machine in stock is that you may get a special deal on these models since Apple wants to sell in-stock machines rather than take orders for trickleware.
Macintosh LC II 4/floppy w/256K VRAM Macintosh LC II 4/40 w/keyboard Macintosh LC II 4/40 w/keyboard (System 6) Macintosh LC II 4/80 w/VRAM but no keyboard Macintosh LC II 4/160 w/VRAM but no keyboard Macintosh IIsi 3/40 Macintosh IIsi 5/80 Macintosh IIsi 5/160 Macintosh IIci 5/SuperDrive (w/cache) Macintosh IIci 5/80 (w/cache) Macintosh IIci 5/230 (w/cache) Macintosh IIvx 4/230 Macintosh Quadra 700 4/SuperDrive Macintosh Quadra 700 4/80 Macintosh Quadra 700 4/230 Macintosh Quadra 700 4/400 LaserWriter NTR LaserWriter IIf LaserWriter IIg
MacWEEK — 07-Dec-92, Vol. 6, #43, pg. 1
According to Gary Woodcock and Casey King writing in "develop" issue 12, the Component Manager has migrated from QuickTime to System 7.1, although it’s still present in QuickTime 1.5 so that QuickTime can use it on older Systems. Components can be used independently of QuickTime starting with System 7.1. This provides a new way to do plug-in code and will be faster than Apple events.
The QuickTime-aware scrapbook which comes with QuickTime 1.5 still leaves stranded ‘alis’ (alias) records in the Scrapbook file when you paste a movie (or movie segment) into the scrapbook and later delete it. The buggy QuickTime-aware beta Scrapbook which came with QuickTime 1.0 did the same thing. I’m surprised it wasn’t fixed. This isn’t a major problem, since ‘alis’ objects are fairly small, and you only notice them in ResEdit, but it’s annoying.
Users should also avoid copying a piece of a movie from a movie file on a removable volume and pasting it into the QuickTime-aware Scrapbook. If you do this, and the Scrapbook wishes to display the "frame" containing the movie, it will harass you to mount the needed volume. That’s particularly annoying if you close the scrapbook with a movie as the current scrapbook frame, dismount the movie’s volume, then later reopen the Scrapbook. That sequence led to the first time I’ve had my Mac eject a CD-ROM and ask for a different one. If you must copy movie snippets into the scrapbook from removable volumes, I suggest that you put them towards the end of the scrapbook and remember to select some other scrapbook frame before closing the scrapbook. The movies then won’t trip you up as often. However, it is good, not bad, that the Scrapbook pastes movies by reference rather than by copying the whole thing… a few movies would quickly eat up the whole startup disk.
Apple says that movie playback performance from CD-ROM is much better in QuickTime 1.5 than in 1.0. They are NOT kidding… the difference is dramatic. On my IIci, I no longer feel the need to copy the movie from CD to hard disk before playing it. And that’s with old movies, not ones compressed with QuickTime 1.5 ‘s better compressor. Admittedly, some movies from the QuickTime 1.0 CD that recommend playing from a hard disk don’t play correctly under QuickTime 1.5, although that may also be related to my old Apple CD drive.
Those of you who want every last drop of performance may be interested to know that System 7.1 may run slower than 7.0.1 on certain Macs – notably the IIci and later machines that have an FPU (floating point unit, also known as a math coprocessor). This stems from the removal in System 7.1 of the Omega SANE (Standard Apple Numeric Environment), a "scary hack" included only in System 7.0.1 that increases speed by bypassing certain routines. Apparently, Apple removed the Omega SANE routines from System 7.1 to improve future compatibility with the RISC-based PowerPC platform that will differ significantly from the 680×0-based Macintosh platform.
BYTE results — by Tom Thompson, BYTE Senior Tech Editor at Large
To confirm rumors that Apple removed Omega SANE from System 7.1, the BYTE Lab ran its low-level benchmark tests on a Mac IIci configured to run either version of the Mac OS. You’ll recall that Omega SANE does some scary patching that lets Mac applications bypass most of the Trap Dispatcher when making calls to the SANE library. By eliminating the Trap Dispatcher’s overhead, floating-point performance improves dramatically on Macs equipped with FPUs. With Omega SANE removed, expect the floating-point performance on these Macs to drop.
The IIci had System 7.0.1 with Tune-Up 1.1.1 loaded on an internal drive, and System 7.1 from the October Developer’s CD loaded on an external drive. Either OS could be run by changing the Startup Disk Control Panel setting. The Shift key was held down at boot time to prevent Extension and Control Panel INIT code from loading. These results come from a beta version of a new set of Mac low-level benchmarks being written at BYTE. The FPU tests use SANE calls exclusively to do computations.
The CPU benchmark times are included as a "sanity check" on the computer and the OS. The Matrix and Sort times are higher, because they also use math functions. Interestingly, the Move Byte test posts a slower time, even though the test simply moves data strings about in memory. (No, I don’t have an explanation for that.)
As you can see from the results in the table, floating-point performance is definitely lower under System 7.1. We can conclude that Omega SANE is absent.
System 7.0.1* System 7.1 CPU tests Matrix 11.15 11.86 Move Byte 51.57 52.55 Move Word 26.94 26.93 Move Longword 14.65 14.65 Sieve 5.16 5.17 Sort 6.17 6.25 FPU tests Math 32.39 81.78 Sin(x) 9.68 40.54 e^x 9.95 54.48
System: Mac IIci with 8 MB RAM, 80 MB hard disk, and equipped with SuperMac Thunder/24 display board and monitor. Times are in seconds. AppleTalk was off, and Extensions/Control Panels were not loaded.
Tom Thompson — [email protected]
Other machines — [back to me again… -Adam]
In an independent look into the performance differences between System 7.0.1 and System 7.1, Mel Martinez collected Speedometer reports from various Mac models – the LC, the IIci, the PowerBook 170, and the Quadra 700. Here are Math results from Mel’s report, which he posted in full on <sumex-aim.stanford.edu> as:
System 7.0.1* System 7.1 Machine Macintosh LC 4.115 4.125 Macintosh IIci 19.848 10.153 PowerBook 170 22.456 22.162 Quadra 700 100.918 102.203
A Macintosh Classic is 1.0, so each number shows how that machine compares to a Classic. Note that the LC has no FPU at all.
Interestingly, although the IIci’s numbers bear out Tom’s results, neither the Quadra 700 nor the PowerBook 170 were affected. Tom confirmed that the Quadra line has Omega SANE in its ROMs, but we hadn’t previously heard about the 170. I wonder if the IIfx falls in the same category as the IIci?
Although the IIci benchmarks seem alarming, keep in mind that in normal use you probably won’t notice much difference. The FPU comes into play only with math-intensive applications such as spreadsheet work, math packages like Mathematica and DataDesk, and engineering applications such as simulations and CAD. Adobe Photoshop also uses the FPU, at least when you start manipulating images, especially with filters. Most common applications probably won’t use the sort of mathematical functions internally that hit the FPU.
Akif Eyler recently released Easy View 2.22, a nice upgrade from version 2.1. Easy View 2.22 is a free program that indexes text files located in the same folder as the index document, and then allows you to browse and search through the set of files. Since Easy View supports the setext format we use for TidBITS, it is ideal for browsing through back issues. Easy View’s unusual method of indexing the files (rather than creating its own data file containing all the text) means you get quick access to the files, a small index document, and no chance of being able to damage or modify one of the original files.
Foremost among Easy View’s new features is the ability to deal with more types of structured text files, most notably CompuServe Navigator archives, basic Internet email (Easy View works well with mailboxes created by ICE Engineering’s uAccess UUCP mail program), and even RICEMAIL NOTEBOOKs for those of you still using CMS machines.
If you want to index a file type not included with Easy View, you can define your own, although it’s not a trivial process, and you may have to ask Akif for help. Still, the capability is there.
Another functional addition to the program is simple printing, although I must admit to not having used this yet. I seldom print and prefer to keep things online – that’s why I like Easy View in the first place! Akif also added a "Set Bookmark" command to the Navigation menu to make it easy to flip to another place.
Although Easy View hasn’t changed its look much, Akif improved its interface and appearance. First, you can now resize the panes that hold the issue names, article names, and article text fields with the mouse, as you would expect in a Macintosh application. Second, you can modify the font and size of the text via new Font and Size menus.
Easy View 2.22 may not appear to be a tremendous upgrade, but the ability to deal with more file formats makes it a must-have upgrade for everyone who used Easy View 2.1. And, at $0.00, the price is right. Once again, thanks to Akif for a job well done!
Last week, I distributed the file to the Internet (at sumex in the /apps directory), CompuServe (in MACAPP) ZiffNet/Mac (in ZMC:DOWNTECH), and America Online (in the Macintosh Hardware Forum file libraries [MHW]). Please feel free to redistribute to other sites so everyone can upgrade.
Akif Eyler — [email protected]
The world is full of symmetry, so all students of elementary mathematics are rightly told. It is also full of connections, as anyone can discover (if they didn’t know already) by doing a few perspective drawings and changing the viewing point – connected objects clearly must remain so .
The folks at Silicon "SuperPaint" Beach Software took these two facts to heart in designing the centerpiece tools of Aldus’s much-touted new drawing package, IntelliDraw ($200 discounted). It’s an indication of Aldus’s esteem for the Symmetrigon and Connectigon tools that they’ve gone to the trouble of trademarking them. The Symmetrigon allows fast creation of objects with specified mirror or radial symmetries – it easily draws seven-pointed stars or fancy pinwheels and lets you spin them around! The Connectigon, used in conjunction with a variety of line connector elements, enables you to draw one face of a three-dimensional object and attach the other faces to the edges of the first. You can stretch or slant the resulting drawing to your heart’s content – what started out as a cube might become the Empire State Building, but all faces remain correctly connected.
IntelliDraw would be worth it for these ground-breaking tools alone; in fact I reckon it will soon be hard to imagine how older drawing packages felt complete without them. Not content with this achievement, Silicon Beach threw in not only the standard plethora of full-featured drawing tools but also a great deal of convenience and intuition as well. For instance, arcs created with the arc tool flip between detached curves and pie wedges at a double-click. A double-click on most other objects toggles between the so-called reshape and resize modes, so you can adjust the contours of an object one minute and rescale it the next. Keyboard modifiers also enable you to switch actions effortlessly. Holding Command down when clicking with one of the polygon tools produces a curve rather than a corner, while holding Shift down in the Object menu allows you to move objects by one layer rather than right to the front or back.
The program looks and feels like a typical Aldus product, much like PageMaker or FreeHand – it initially presents you with a scalable page view and a set of floating palettes. If you like 3-D buttons, look elsewhere, but IntelliDraw’s tool palette has at least been colored, making the tools look more inviting than the weedy ones in Canvas 3. Silicon Beach, conscious of the fact that IntelliDraw’s new tools and features require some explanation, thoughtfully provided an Info palette, a movable window that automatically displays the excellent and comprehensive balloon help messages provided. The Fills palette is impressively easy to edit – if you liked the rainbow gradients in MacDraw Pro, rest assured you can do all those things here. The Lines palette allows the creation of lines with varying thicknesses, continuities (unbroken, dotted, dotted and dashed, you name it) and endpoints (arrows and assorted lumpy terminations are child’s play).
While these and other palettes make life considerably easier for the budding and experienced artist alike, one of IntelliDraw’s most convenient features has to be its automatic alignment capabilities. With Auto Align on, guidelines magically pop into view when the centers or edges of objects are properly lined up, so you can plop everything neatly into place alongside or centered on one another. Having achieved the arrangement you want, you can keep everything that way using another feature called, unsurprisingly, Keep Aligned. It all works very well, and the manual provides well-thought-out exercises designed to help you master the basics of the program quickly.
IntelliDraw’s talent for symmetry, connectivity, and alignment means it will be especially useful to technical or scientific illustrators. To underline this point, Silicon Beach included a feature with which you create libraries of frequently-used symbols and objects – electronic circuitry quickly springs to mind as a potential application.
If this gives the impression that IntelliDraw is the easiest and most powerful drawing package ever, well, it isn’t quite that. While anyone with basic Macintosh competence will be up and running with IntelliDraw in no time, its sheer wealth of features (I haven’t even touched on slide shows, charting, and simple animation) mean that you often have more than one way of doing things, and it’s not always clear which is the most efficient. To put it another way, power and complexity often go hand-in-hand, and mastering as opposed to just coping with IntelliDraw requires effort. Neither are IntelliDraw’s capabilities limitless. For example, I found it impossible to do a convincing solid cylinder using the Connectigon. It was the curved surface of the cylinder that caused me grief – if the cylinder is upright then this surface takes the form of two vertical lines for the sides and two half-oval curves at the top and bottom. Since the Connectigon is essentially a connected polygon tool (hence the name), and since ovals are effectively infinitely-many-sided polygons, you have no choice but to approximate the curved top and bottom edges of the cylinder using bezier curves. While you can make a reasonable stab at this, the result will not stretch accurately.
This isn’t to gainsay IntelliDraw’s power. It’s sufficiently capable that although IntelliDraw does not attempt to supplant FreeHand’s PostScript capabilities, it will prove to be more than just a smart sidekick.
IntelliDraw requires at least a 68020 processor and 2.3 MB of memory. It imports and exports PICT and EPS files and imports TIFF and text files. However the current version of IntelliDraw behaves in an unorthodox way when saving PICT files. If you import a PICT that contains a bitmapped image as opposed to objects, and save this as another PICT, you will most likely see a huge increase in file size. For example, a 100K screen dump turned into a 1 MB PICT file when saved from IntelliDraw, with no changes made! A source who has had contact with Aldus says this behavior arises because IntelliDraw also saves its own representation of the bitmap. This "feature" will become an option in a future upgrade. Polyglot artists (there must be some!) should also be warned that IntelliDraw does not appear to fully support the System 7.0 Script Manager; I have no idea how it would cope with WorldScript. While we’re on the subject, IntelliDraw does not support QuickTime.
IntelliDraw does support 24-bit color in RGB, CMYK, and HSB color systems and offers complete file interchange with its Windows counterpart, for whatever that’s worth. It ships with a whopping 5.7 MB worth of well-constructed sample art and templates. Initial copies also include an instructional video and a colorful but fragile reference card.
Others have expressed concern with IntelliDraw’s speed, but it runs fine on my humble LC. Overall it seems somewhat faster than the more-expensive MacDraw Slow, sorry, Pro and offers much more functionality. Part of the concern may stem from the fact that IntelliDraw does things that no other graphics programs attempt, such as Auto Align, and indiscriminate use of certain features can significantly degrade performance, which is true in many powerful programs.
Whether you’re trying to discover latent artistic talent, or you’re a professional who needs to refine and streamline drawing tasks, IntelliDraw is for you. Perhaps the best endorsement that I can make is that if you can only have one draw package on your Mac, IntelliDraw is a serious contender.
[Richard Lim welcomes comments on this review, as well as on any Mac-related matters, at <[email protected]>.]
Aldus Consumer Division
9770 Carroll Center Rd., Suite J
San Diego, CA 92126-4551
619/695-6956 ext. 5302
It’s too bad more Macintosh users don’t know how to play with sounds, because manipulating sounds using the Macintosh, while it may not help your company rake in the profits, can provide hours of entertainment, not to mention the occasional practical joke. Back in the old days I shared a student office with five other Cornellians and one Mac Plus. Two colleagues were named Dave, so we had fun rigging the Mac to beep, "I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that." Later we set up the Mac to say, "Stop smoking, Patti," but that’s a different story. At any rate, Craig O’Donnell’s Cool Mac Sounds ($19.95, Hayden Books, ISBN 0-672-48253-0) offers a welcome introduction to Macintosh sounds.
Craig lives in the world of sounds, and his book has an informal yet knowledgeable tone to it, as though he sat down one rainy Sunday afternoon and knocked off most of the rough draft. He has a fun way of succinctly expressing complicated topics: "In Resource City, resources are urbanites. Sound resources congregate inside structures – applications, stacks, and files. They’re a busy bunch: When the System calls, resources respond, shoveling data bytes to the speaker to create a… sound."
Cool Mac Sounds comes with a high-density floppy disk that contains sounds and software to get you started. Some of the software lets you work directly with the sounds; other programs use the sounds in various ways (like an alarm program). Craig explains how to use all of the software on the disk and how to use some software not included on the disk.
The book starts with the basics: installing Arrgh – which makes random screaming noises, and MacPuke – the Mac makes retching noises when ejecting disks, though this didn’t work with my PowerBook 100 floppy drive. Once you pass this juvenile stuff (a necessary phase, perhaps) Craig moves on to extensions that use sounds in some way, and continues on until he fulfils the early promise that the reader will "know enough to work creatively with sounds in HyperCard and to prepare sound clips to use in Apple’s new QuickTime." (If you were wondering, Craig assumes you use System 6.0.7, 6.0.8, 7.0, or 7.0.1.)
Craig explains the basic technical details about sound – wave forms, the difference between digital and analog, what you need to know about sampling, voltage, kilohertz, and the like. Craig tells it like it is with easily understood explanations and advice like, "Only dweebs call it digitized sound. Graphics are digitized – sounds are sampled. Got it? Good."
Cool Mac Sounds has a chapter packed with information about what kinds of sounds the different Macintosh models put out, whether their internal speakers do mono or stereo sound, and how to attach each and every Macintosh (before Oct-92 Macs) to an external speaker and to headphones, complete with Radio Shack part numbers. Craig also briefly reviews several speakers that might be useful with the Macintosh. This information is hard to find, so those who need it will be glad for it.
After providing sound tips and talking about more sophisticated software, Cool Mac Sounds winds down with "Cool Solutions to Uncool Problems." This chapter offers solutions to problems such as being unable to play System 7 sounds when double-clicking them; getting error -230 when opening the Sound CDEV; the Plus, SE, and Classic buzzing "like a bandsaw" when playing long sounds; and why the PowerBook makes a snapping sound. If you want to know the answers, you’ll have to buy the book.
Cool Mac Sounds is mandatory reading for any Macintosh user who always knew the Mac was supposed to be more fun than "other" computers, but never quite figured out why. It’s also mandatory reading for anyone working the floor of an Apple dealership since sounds are one of the coolest parts of the Mac. For those of us who have figured out why the Macintosh is fun but never figured out the basic subtleties of using sounds, the book is definitely recommended. Cool Mac Sounds could also be used as a terrific textbook. Although some chapters aren’t appropriate, I see a class of sixth graders having a blast with much of the software and ideas in the book.
Hayden Books — 800/428-5331 (orders) — 317/573-2500
Craig O’Donnell — [email protected]