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We continue with coverage of Macworld Expo, focussing this time on the seamy underside of the show. That’s right, booth bimbos! Madonna’s "Sex" it’s not, but we also look at the rapidly growing crop of adult CD-ROMs. In more mundane Macworld news, we have an article on Apple’s new printers and scanner, a short review of Now Up-to-Date 2.0, and clarifications of earlier articles on the IIvx and A/UX, the Video Toaster, and the FirstClass BBS deals.

Adam Engst No comments

SyQuest 3.5" Units

SyQuest 3.5" Units — Daniel Andresen sent this information about SyQuest drives: "I spoke with a SyQuest rep a Macworld Expo, and she confirmed that the 3.5" 105 MB SyQuest units would be out "within ninety days." She said only the IDE version was finished at this time, with the SCSI version to follow. She also refused to speculate on pricing, and was not even willing to say whether it would be cheaper or more expensive than the 5110c’s (5.25" SyQuests)."

Information from:
Daniel Andresen — westmx![email protected]

Adam Engst No comments

IIvx & A/UX

In an effort to clarify Mark’s article on the incompatibility between the IIvx and Apple’s Unix operating system, A/UX 3.0 (TidBITS-157), Pythaeus writes:

The Mac IIvx does not run A/UX 3.0 for the same reason that System 6 does not run on the Quadra 700: the CPU was released long after the system software shipped, so the operating system (OS) can’t possibly know about the addresses and capabilities of the new hardware. A/UX 3.0 does such a good job of making Unix look like a Macintosh that people forget the operating system is Unix, not MacOS. A/UX does not sit on top of System 7 (a la Tenon), but the other way around. It makes no sense to talk about A/UX being "System 7.1 compatible" once you understand this fact. Unless the hardware designers bend over backwards to maintain compatibility, you will always need a new OS (or new OS components) to support new hardware. The Mac IIvx was released after A/UX 3.0, and contains new ASICs (like its sound chip), so A/UX 3.0 has no clue what to do.

Adam Engst No comments

FirstClass Deal Clarification

Maury Markowitz of SoftArc writes:

I saw the note about the FirstClass upgrade in TidBITS-157. I’d like to clarify my poorly written CompuServe statement.

SoftArc has two pricing schemes for FirstClass. The price list is for our corporate customers, who make up the majority of our business. We also have a series of "BBS Specials" for those people who want to set up a truly public BBS – free access etc. The BBS Specials are less expensive overall, and include the command-line interface for VT100 access. The prices for these systems (all of which include all manuals, a hardware-handshaking cable, two network users and two ports) are:

     250 user system:  $295
     500 user system:  $395
     1000 user system: $495

We offer the upgrade deal for both price lists, with a twist. If you are purchasing a system from our commercial price list, you get $100 off – right off the top. If you are purchasing a BBS Special, you get the "next largest system". In other words, a 500 user system will cost $295 with the trade in, and the 1000 user system is $395.

The upgrade path is available for TeleFinder and Novalink Pro users, and we’ve recently added Second Site. Due to the success of the program, we have considered similar upgrades for TBBS and PCBoard when we release our Windows interface (Real Soon Now). We do not offer such a trade in for Hermes as the licence is not transferable.

I should also take this time to note that we have been able to up the volume on some items, and have therefore lowered prices on these items. Effective for the last two months, the price of the Multiport Upgrade Package (consisting of a four port Hurdler card, four cables and a four port licence upgrade) is now $695, down from $895 for our BBS users. A new supplier of cables has lowered the price of our Carrier Detecting Hardware Handshake cables to $25, down from $35, and we will also sell these in lots of 10 or more for $15 per cable.

Finally, I’d like to mention that with the release of Michael Connick’s FirstClass FidoNet gateway just recently, I have been able to put our support BBS, SoftArc Online, onto the FidoNet. We will now happily accept mail at the following addresses:

     sales, SoftArc Online         OneNet
     Maury [email protected]:250/250     FidoNet
     [email protected]    Internet
     70511,2065                    CompuServe
     SoftArc                       America Online

Information from:
Maury Markowitz — [email protected]

Adam Engst No comments

Darker Video Toaster Reality

Matthew B Cravit writes:

I noticed a comment in TidBITS-158 about the Video Toaster. You commented that it becomes an increasingly sophisticated and cool system. This is true; however, being a broadcasting and computer science major, I thought I’d offer a couple of caveats about the Toaster system:

  • The $5,000 price mentioned on the video tape is very low. To actually utilize the full capabilities of the Toaster requires the following:
     1         Video Toaster System
     4         Time base correctors
     1 or more Single frame controllable VCRs
     1 or more Single frame VCR controller boards
              (These two for doing 3-D animations)

Total cost for a complete system (S-VHS VCRs) is actually closer to $12,000 – $15,000 range.

  • Secondly, for anyone who works with a production studio (i.e. other video production equipment such as character generators, video switchers, etc.), BEWARE! The Video Toaster has major problems synching itself to other pieces of production equipment. Here at Michigan State, we attempted to play a 3-D animation from a Toaster onto a program we are producing. We fed the Toaster’s (supposedly) genlocked, synched output into our Grass Valley Group Inc. video switcher, and even with a professional video engineer attempting to synch the Toaster and the switcher, the color information coming from the Toaster shifted so much that we could not use the resulting tape since it failed the FCC’s requirements for broadcast video.

So, the toaster is a lot more expensive than NewTek claims. It also has trouble interacting properly with other production equipment. So if you are using it on its own and have money to burn, it’s a great system. Otherwise, be prepared to waste a lot of time and money for marginal results.

Information from:
Matthew Cravit — [email protected]

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

New Printers & Scanner

Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers Inc.

Months ago, when Apple announced that the StyleWriter printers would be in short supply, some suspected Apple wouldn’t manufacture more to meet the unexpected demand because it had a replacement waiting in the wings. Among the four printers Apple introduced last week is the sleeker, zippier, sharable StyleWriter II. The others are the LaserWriter Pro 600 and LaserWriter Pro 630, and the succinctly-named Apple Color Printer. At the same time, Apple added a color version of the OneScanner to its imaging products lineup.

StyleWriter II — The StyleWriter II, with its $359 suggested retail price, has a number of advantages over its predecessor besides its way-cool curvy design. The printer is approximately two times faster than its predecessor, eliminating one of the biggest complaints about the StyleWriter. Apple’s new GrayShare technology offers both grayscale printing that the company says is comparable to the quality offered by LaserWriters, and the ability to share the printer over an AppleTalk network with other Macintosh users.

The printer includes the full set of familiar LaserWriter fonts in TrueType format, offers a multipurpose paper tray for up to 100 sheets of paper or fifteen envelopes, and prints up to one page per minute in best mode or up to two pages per minute in normal or draft.

It’s hard to tell whether this is an advantage or disadvantage, but the new StyleWriter II is a single-piece unit, whereas the original StyleWriter is a two-piece printer. The detachable sheet feeder made the printer suitable for portable use. The all-in-one design of the new model may make it less confusing but eliminates the option of taking a streamlined printer along when you travel.

Of course, there are better solutions for portable printing these days, such as the battery-powered WriteMove II from GCC and the Diconix line from Kodak, so portability was probably no longer a big concern for the StyleWriter II’s designers. Still, since the StyleWriter is better suited to desktop printing than these portable printers, it is a drawback.

Apple Color Printer — More of a novelty in Apple’s printer lineup is the Apple Color Printer, a $2,349 printer offering 360 dpi output on up to 11" x 17" paper, thanks to its Canon P691 Color Bubblejet engine. This printer connects to the Mac as a SCSI device but also offers printer sharing capability so other users on the network can use it. It supports Apple’s new ColorSync architecture, which promises a standard way of matching image colors all the way from scanning, through editing, to output.

The Color Printer bears a striking resemblance to the ImageWriter II (this one won’t be called sleek or curvy), though at 20.5 inches wide, it’s a few inches broader than its cousin. Its use of four separate ink cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, and yellow) provides a much better color range, at a much better resolution, than the ImageWriter II with a color ribbon, and the separate cartridges also mean there’s no wasting seldom-used colors.

In our opinion, the Apple Color Printer is too little, too late. It goes up against well-established competitors, such as Hewlett-Packard’s DeskWriter C printers, and, yes, even the more-expensive color printers from HP, Tektronix, QMS, and others. It has the very real disadvantage that, as a SCSI device, it’s likely to have interface problems galore, and we’re just not sure that it offers sufficient print quality to compete with printers half its price, much less printers twice its price.

Answer us one question, Apple. Why is Apple’s first real color printer also its first product in years (if not its first product ever) to sport a simple white-on-black Apple logo where the familiar rainbow-striped one belongs?

LaserWriter Pro 600 & 630 — The LaserWriter Pro 600 and 630 printers may be most exciting for those interested in small-workgroup computing; they offer 300 to 600 dpi output with their Canon EX laser engines along with feature sets otherwise comparable to those of the LaserWriter IIf and IIg.

Both printers sport a 25 MHz 68030 processor (the same as the one inside the Macintosh IIci) but varying amounts of memory (4 MB standard for the 600 and 8 MB for the 630, both upgradeable to 32 MB). The 600 lacks the 600 dpi capability, which can be added with the optional PhotoGrade upgrade kit (i.e. a memory upgrade to 8 MB of RAM, and Apple’s press release says, "As a special introductory offer, Apple will ship the LaserWriter Pro 600 with 8 MB of RAM, enabling users to take advantage of 600 dpi resolution and the superior grayscale printing capabilities of PhotoGrade."), and the Ethernet and SCSI ports provided by the 630.

It seems a bit odd that a printer called "LaserWriter Pro 600" would offer 600 dpi printing only as an option, but we’ve given up trying to figure out Apple’s product naming strategies. The LaserWriter Pro 600 retails for $2,099 and the 630 for $2,529.

Apple Color OneScanner — The $1,349 Apple Color OneScanner (to ship in Feb-93) can be aptly described as a color version of Apple’s popular OneScanner, including the new Color Ofoto 2.0 scanning software from Light Source. It offers the same ColorSync technology as the Apple Color printer, so matching colors all the way through the image manipulation process will be much easier. A number of third-party vendors, including Aldus and SuperMac, have committed to supporting ColorSync, as well.

Lower Prices — At the same time, Apple has reduced the retail prices of several of its previous imaging products, as follows:

     LaserWriter IIf w/Toner & Cassette                $1,869
     LaserWriter IIg w/Toner & Cassette                $2,309
     LaserWriter IIf Controller Board                  $1,015
     LaserWriter IIg Controller Board                  $1,455
     Personal LaserWriter NTR w/Toner & Accessory Kit  $1,649
     Apple OneScanner w/Accessory Kit                    $949
     Apple OneScanner w/Accessory Kit for Windows      $1,059

So, not only has Apple introduced a good crop of imaging products at reasonable prices, but it has also brought some of its existing products closer to the reach of users lacking deep corporate pockets. There are some odd problems with the new products, and it remains to be seen how they’ll do in the marketplace. The best news, we feel, will be the significant price drops on the existing technology. The star? Inexpensive IIf and IIg upgrades for all our old LaserWriter II printers!

Information from:
Apple propaganda

Adam Engst No comments

Booth Bimbos

Those of you who have gone to Macworld have encountered the booth bimbo phenomenon. It’s not a sexist phenomenon as such, applying equally to the pretty young men and women who work as scenery at various booths. Universally, these people have no clue about the products they represent; instead they hand out buttons and propaganda, smile nicely, and act as props for the larger show that goes on around them.

It’s easy to condemn large companies for using booth bimbos instead of bringing some of their overworked and underpaid technical support staff, some of whom even look like normal people and most of whom will answer most any technical question. Small companies that have small staffs should get a little slack, although you wonder how they can afford to spend so much money on a large booth that needs booth bimbos, but can’t afford or don’t need the staff normally. Smaller companies like Aladdin, Dantz, and Nisus manage without booth bimbos, pressing their entire staffs and the occasional friends, relatives, or significant others into service as necessary.

The subject of booth bimbos rises to the surface every Macworld in one way or another, buoyed by hot air, fluff, and hairspray, and this year it was prompted by a real-world description of what a booth bimbo will go through to look "sexy, but not sleazy… or maybe just a little bit sleazy." The booth bimbo in question lacked a certain physical attribute to achieve the required look, but being resourceful (she apparently described herself as a drummer, dancer, and actress – I wonder if she added booth bimbo to her resume?) she enhanced herself with two cleverly placed sweatsocks and about nine feet of duct tape (right, the sticky, strong, grey stuff) to create the illusion of bustiness.

After squirming into the booth’s costume, a petite jumpsuit that zipped up the front, she lowered the zipper to just above the duct tape region and then employed the age-old technique of finding an excuse to constantly bend down for maximum cleavage exposure. And all most people wanted was specs and to find out if the product being hawked was compatible with their existing hardware. Sigh.

Perhaps this story is an extreme look at previously secret booth bimbo techniques, but it comes from a reputable and rather irritated source closely placed to this particular booth bimbo. If you have an especially funny booth bimbo story, send it to us, and perhaps we’ll do a "Best of the Bimbos" article. Eventually companies will realize that showgoers don’t give a damn about a extra skin or sexy hair styles. It’s certainly never entered my product choice process – can you imagine? "Well, WhizzyWriter has all the features I need, but the babes at the WriteStuff booth sure were cute. I’ll buy the WriteStuff instead." Get real, people. It’s not as though there’s even an image involved with most of this stuff. "If I buy the WriteStuff bodacious women will see me as a macho hombre studpuffin and drape themselves over my body whenever I’m writing."

I’d like to suggest to any company that feels it needs booth bimbos at the next show that they instead buy some life-size blow-up party dolls of both sexes, dress them in appropriate costumes, and pose them in anatomically correct booth bimbo positions with some propaganda in their inflatable hands. Think of the money saved and the smiles it will create. Alternately, unchain another tech support person from the phones. They like that sort of thing.

Adam Engst No comments

Booth Bimbos on CD-ROM?

The last Expo in Boston was the first time we saw pornography seriously hit CD-ROM, with BodyCello displaying the first QuickTime adult movies. I wasn’t surprised to see that, but this year a startling number of vendors hawked X-rated wares. I didn’t see the CD-ROM of Macworld Booth Bimbos, but I’m sure, now that I’ve mentioned it, it will appear at the next show. You know, grainy QuickTime movies of naked men and women getting it on with SCSI devices while wrapping each other in DAT tape taken from the latest backup set in the heat of passion. Heady stuff.

I counted at least four, and maybe five vendors selling adult CD-ROMs. Most included pictures or QuickTime movies, although one had gone so far as to build a game into the CD-ROM so you had to win to see skin. The game? Nothing too challenging – scissors, paper, rock against a random computer picker. Reactor advertised Virtual Valerie II, though I didn’t see a demo so it might not be shipping. Based on the handout, Valerie and her environs have been rendered in 3-D this time, but game play remains similar.

I commented on the increase to a man working at one of these booths, and he said that they market what sells, and sex sells. I guess he’s right, although I wonder why people put up with low-resolution photos and terrible QuickTime movies (using a slower machine with less RAM to watch these movies results in lousy performance, in all senses of the word) when they can visit a video store and choose from lots of titles or buy a Playboy with high-quality, full-color photos and those gripping interviews that everyone pretends to read instead of ogling the models. Then again, as Gerard van der Leun said in the premiere issue of Wired magazine, "Sex is a virus that infects new technology first." That explains the initial popularity of VCRs, and it looks as though a number of vendors believe the same thing will happen with CD-ROM drives. In the same "This is a Naked Lady" article, Gerard also said, "Sex, as we know, is a heat-seeking missile that forever seeks out the newest medium for its transmission." Seems apt.

Of course, if I truly objected I would not provide all the phone numbers. But then again, if I were offended by this stuff, I wouldn’t have written this article. I think the movement is interesting, though I would far rather play The Journeyman Project on CD-ROM once Apple ships the AppleCD 300; although the latest rumors we’ve heard on that front say not to hold your breath, as you will turn blue and die well before the external CD-ROM drives appear at your dealer. It seems that Apple doesn’t have enough of them, and those that it does have go into the IIvx and Performa 600.

BodyCello — 800/922-3556 — 619/536-2397 (fax)
Bonobo Productions — 310/452-5613
Laser Concepts — 800/882-6959 — 818/884-9437
818/884-6959 (fax) — [email protected]
Pixis — 800/697-4947 — 714/753-9709 — 714/753-9255 (fax)
Reactor — 312/573-0800

Adam Engst No comments

Now Up-to-Date 2.0

I’m particular about calendar applications. I want complete power over repeating events, the ability to create to do items with varying levels of priority, non-modal reminders that won’t interrupt my automated email procedures, and the ability to easily see what’s coming up in the next week or so. For a year or so I used and liked the shareware Remember? from Dave Warker, and then Now Software sent me Now Up-to-Date 1.0 (NUD) to evaluate. I liked version 1.0, but I had some serious reservations, and as is my wont, I made my opinions known to Now. This put me on the beta list for version 2.0, and I’m pleased to report that Now implemented almost all my suggestions and fixed all my complaints in the latest version of NUD, which shipped at Macworld SF.

NUD attempts to serve as a complete calendar and To Do program for individuals and as a network-based scheduling system for groups. It offers public events, so that in an office situation individuals can keep their own personal events and also tap into various group events for tracking meetings, vacation days, birthdays, and the like. In either case, the calendar system updates well across multiple machines, so you can have your calendar on a desktop computer and take it home with you on a PowerBook too. This article focuses more on NUD’s capabilities for a single person, because that’s how I use it.

Views — NUD excels in the number of views to your schedule that it provides. You can view events in Year, Month, Week, Multi-Day, Day, and List views, and you have a fair amount of control over how each view looks. One thing I appreciate is that you can edit events easily in any view other than Year, and to make basic changes to an event like the time or its title, you don’t have to enter the Event Info windoid that holds all the event’s data.

I don’t need to specifically schedule events throughout the day since I work at home and have few meetings. As such, I leave the Month view open on my main 13" screen so I can glance at it to see what’s happened and what’s coming up. I like Month view best for viewing floating Post-It notes and floating banners (good for showing how long guests will stay, etc.). In Month view you can paste graphics into days (such as a Mac icon on October 19th every year for Apple’s product introductions :-)), or you can have them free-floating like a banner or Post-It note.

Now added prioritized To Do items to NUD 2.0, and realizing that none of the temporal views (Month, Week, Day, etc.) made sense for viewing To Do items, they also added a customizable List view where you specify what parts of an event (Title, Priority, Start and Stop Time, Done status, and so on) show up in the list, and you define up to four ordered keys for sorting. You can create multiple list views (and different layouts for the Month view) showing different information, and you can keep multiple windows open at once.

I’m pleased to report that NUD understands about multiple screens, so I can zoom my List view on my SE/30’s smaller screen and it zooms to fill only the SE/30 screen rather than the main 13" monitor. Out of the many calendar applications on the market that I’ve seen, NUD 2.0 offers the greatest flexibility for viewing your schedule.

Networking — Now fixed NUD in 2.0 so that single users like myself can assign colors and styles to different categories of events without turning on NUD’s powerful network capabilities, which allow multiple people to share a calendar over a network and keep their personal events private. NUD works nicely on a PowerBook, since when you disconnect from the network to leave, you have the latest version of the calendar, and when you return, NUD automatically updates the network calendar to account for events created or modified while you were away. I’ve only used this updating ability a few times, but it strikes me as easier to use and more powerful than the previous version.

Reminder — Now enhanced reminders significantly in NUD 2.0. Version 1.0 used a modal dialog reminder that interrupted automated email, much to my irritation, but 2.0 uses the technology from the AlarmsClock extension (now called Reminder), which previously shipped with the Now Utilities. In 2.0 you can choose whether reminders will be in a modal dialog or be non-modal, flashing reminders that replace the included menu bar clock and optionally make a sound. You can snooze or dismiss events from a menu that drops down from the menu bar clock, and if a To Do item is ringing, you can mark it as Done from the menu.

Reminder’s menu can display the rest of the day’s events and To Do items, and it allows you to create new items and edit existing items even when the NUD application is not running. I have enough RAM to leave NUD running all the time, but many people will appreciate the ability to create and edit events without running the main application.

Printing — I seldom travel, and especially since I can keep NUD running all the time, I have little interest in printing my calendar. However, NUD provides flexibility in printing as well, allowing you to choose the dates to print, the page style (NUD supports numerous organizer sizes and styles and prints guides for punching the pages), and the view you want to print. The only time I’ve printed pages is when I went to Macworld and wished to have a paper schedule to carry around with me. NUD has a graphical Day view that shows how conflicting events overlap in time, making it as easy as possible to determine which Macworld parties to attend and which to skip because of time conflicts. Those who use a Sharp Wizard to track appointments while away from the desk will appreciate NUD’s improved import and export routines that are not only more flexible but also speak directly with a Sharp Wizard.

Overall, I’m pleased with NUD because Now addressed almost every one of my concerns about the first version and the subsequent betas. I still have a few quibbles, such as the inability to attach banners to a range of dates, and the strange interface for assigning a color to a category (for some reason you do that in the Define Sets dialog, rather than in the Define Categories dialog) but these are thoroughly trivial quibbles, and I recommend NUD highly. $65 discounted (for a single user, multi-user packs are available).

Now Software — 800/237-3611 — 503/274-2800
503/274-0670 (fax) — [email protected]