This week brings news of a new, object-oriented database from Mainstay, Connectix’s better implementation of virtual memory, and responses to our booth bimbo and pornography articles. In honor of the issue number we have a PowerBook 160 tip, Chris Johnson releases Gatekeeper 1.2.7, and Craig O’Donnell passes on some cacophonous notes on Macintosh sound. Internet users: check out the searchable TidBITS archive available on the WAIS!
Boy, that rumor about the AppleCD 300 being in short supply was a bum steer (financially disadvantaged, reproductively challenged male bovine?). Numerous people wrote to tell me that they had seen units around, and I have one sitting on my desk right now. Oh well, can’t always trust those Apple rumors.
Chuck Levine wrote an apt response to our comment in TidBITS-157 that Word 5.x-related items flagged by Compatibility Checker 2.0 are compatible with System 7:
"I have found that a few of the Save As translators are NOT 32-bit clean (namely Text with Layout) Using these translators in 32-bit mode will crash systems. I first found this problem with Word 5.0a. Microsoft admitted that the problem wasn’t fixed in 5.1 and wouldn’t tell me when they planned on fixing it."
Chuck’s right about the problem with the Text with Layout converter, and you should also watch out for these 32-bit problems with Word:
- Using the WordPerfect converter in conjunction with AccessPC from Insignia Solutions.
- Using Alki Software’s MasterWord version 1.0 (update to 1.0b for 32-bit cleanliness).
- Using Word 4.0 and earlier (Word 4.0a is fine). If you need 32-bit cleanliness and use Word 4.0, Microsoft will update you to 4.0d for free.
Microsoft Customer Service — 800/426-9400
Microsoft Macintosh Word Technical Support — 206/635-7200
Insignia Solutions — 415/694-7600 — 800/848-7677
Alki Software — 800/669-9673 — 206/286-2600
Chuck Levine — [email protected]
Craig O’Donnell passes on some notes on Macintosh audio as of Macworld Expo in San Francisco:
- I verified that the IIvx, Performa 600, and Duo 210/230 do NOT reproduce the right channel of a stereo sound file, for example, a stereo System Beep or a stereo QuickTime soundtrack. Apple’s engineers did not know why this might be, but promised to track things down.
- I also verified that the AppleCD 300 can send audio tracks (from your favorite Elton John CD, for example) down the SCSI bus as a 16-bit audio data stream. However, Apple engineers had no idea of applications for the firmware capabilities. (Essentially there are two problems: first, stereo audio is 10 MB per stereo minute which makes for large disk files; and second, the data would have to be sucked into an application or utility and made into a file, like an AIFF file, before it could be used for much of anything). This may, however, presage some sort of CD-ROM to DSP sound chip capability in future Macintoshes.
Craig O’Donnell — [email protected]
Gatekeeper 1.2.7 is a set of Macintosh system extensions (INITs) and related control panels (cdevs) that, when active (i.e. allowed to install themselves during the boot process), offer protection against attacks by all viruses known to the author at the time of this release.
Gatekeeper also monitors computer activities for what are considered to be suspicious ‘events’ or ‘operations,’ in an attempt to intercept what could be variants of known viruses or even completely new viruses.
Since its initial release in January of 1989, Gatekeeper has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to stop the spread of viruses which were unknown during its design. Like any anti-virus system, however, it cannot guarantee complete protection.
Of course, no claims or promises are made regarding Gatekeeper’s effectiveness or suitability, and some functions and capabilities of Gatekeeper are non-trivial to use and may require a careful reading of the documentation.
Version 1.2.7 enhances the capabilities of, and corrects bugs in, version 1.2.6. Gatekeeper 1.2.7 is archived at <sumex-aim.stanford.edu> as /info-mac/virus/gatekeeper-127.hqx.
[Recent discussions on the Internet indicate that the previous version of Gatekeeper and AutoDoubler 2.0 from Fifth Generation Systems tended not to agree on various matters. We use John Norstad’s excellent and unobtrusive Disinfectant, but early reports indicate that Chris fixed some of the conflicts between the two. -Adam]
[In honor of this issue number, we present the following PowerBook 160 tip from Conrad Halling. -Adam]
If you set the screen to 16 grays using the Monitors control panel, you’ll notice that the scroll bars and grow region of a document window draw using grays but that the title bar, including the go away box and the zoom box, show in black and white. On any other Macintosh, if you set the monitor to 16 grays (16 colors doesn’t work), the title bar of the window draws using the grays. What’s going on here? Why is a regular feature of the Macintosh interface disabled on the PowerBook 160?
A ‘WDEF’ resource controls window drawing. Apple wrote a special WDEF resource just for the PowerBook 160 that causes the title bar to be drawn in black on white on a PowerBook 160 screen. This is because the "swimming pixel" illusion is plainly visible in a title bar drawn using the grays. However, as PowerBook 160 owners know, the six horizontal black lines in the title bar of a window cause annoying shadows on the screen. If you, like me, prefer your windows drawn in the standard manner, this tip explains how avoid the black and white title bars.
The custom ‘WDEF’ resource is contained in the "System Enabler 111" file in the System folder of a PowerBook 160. This ‘WDEF’ resource can be removed using ResEdit 2.1.1 (available from ftp.apple.com). Once you remove the custom ‘WDEF’ resource, the next time you restart, the system software will use the standard ‘WDEF’ resource from the System file.
Here’s how to make the change:
- Standard warning: use ResEdit only with a copy of a file, never with the original. It is easy to screw things up so bad that you’ll have to reinstall the system. Disclaimer: I have done this on my own PowerBook 160, but I am in no way responsible if you screw up and lose all your files. If you’re not sure of what you’re doing, at least back up all your files before you start, and have your System 7.1 installation disks handy. It’s very unlikely that you’ll need them, but just in case….
- Open the System Folder. Holding down the option key, drag the "System Enabler 111" file to the desktop. The Finder makes a copy of this file on the desktop; the original remains in the System folder. You will make changes only to the copy on the desktop.
- Use ResEdit to open the copy of "System Enabler 111" that is on the desktop.
- Click on the ‘WDEF’ line (or icon, depending on how you have set up the views of the resources). From the Edit menu, choose Cut or Clear. The ‘WDEF’ resource will be deleted.
- Save the file and close it (but don’t quit ResEdit).
- In the File menu, choose Get File/Folder Info…. Open the modified copy of "System Enabler 111" that is on the desktop.
- Click the check box that unlocks the file. Then change the name of the file to something like "System Enabler 111 (modified)". Click the check box that locks the file.
- Save the file and quit ResEdit.
- Create a new folder in the System folder named something like "Unmodified System Enabler".
- Drag the original "System Enabler 111" file into the new folder.
- Drag the modified system enabler "System Enabler 111 (modified)" into the System folder. You have now replaced the original system enabler with the modified one, and you have cleverly saved a copy of the original system enabler where the system software can’t see it. However, no changes will occur until you restart your computer (but WAIT! – don’t do a restart just yet).
- If you haven’t already done so, use the Monitors control panel to set your screen to 16 grays or 16 colors.
- Find your Disk Tools disk that came with the System 7.1 disks. You will need this if anything goes wrong.
- Restart your PowerBook 160. Open a window if one isn’t already open. The title bar should now be drawn in grays.
- If something has gone wrong (the PowerBook will not start if the System Enabler file is missing or grossly damaged), restart your PowerBook 160 using the Disk Tools disk (I told you to get it earlier, didn’t I?). Drag the modified system enabler "System Enabler 111 (modified)" to the trash, and drag the unmodified "System Enabler 111" from the "Unmodified System Enabler" folder into the "System" folder. Restart your computer.
Even with Easy View, you may find it difficult to find those little tidbits of useful information you know you read in TidBITS. Thanks to a dedicated TidBITS reader, those of us with Internet access now have another option: WAIS.
WAIS, which stands for Wide Area Information Servers, is an Internet-based network approach to information retrieval developed jointly by Thinking Machines Corporation, Apple Computer, and Dow Jones. It allows users to access information based on keyword searches; the list of items likely to be of interest is returned sorted in order of probable relevance to the search. Users may then select the documents they wish to view, and screens of text are sent across the network.
Last week, Ephraim Vishniac, one of the WAIS developers at Thinking Machines, set up an indexed archive of TidBITS issues on the Internet using WAIS. This means anyone can use WAIS to retrieve any article or group of articles.
If you already know how to use WAIS, just use the source "macintosh-tidbits.src" on cmns.think.com. Or, to search not only TidBITS but also the voluminous info-mac archives and comp.sys.mac.programmer digests, use "macintosh-news.src" instead.
If your Mac is connected to the Internet and uses MacTCP, you can use Macintosh client software to access WAIS. The software may be FTP’d from think.com; look for WAIStation-0-63.sit.hqx. There are also WAIS clients available for a variety of other platforms such as DOS, Sun, and VMS. Check on think.com, or, if you’re in Europe, check first on nic.funet.fi in the directory /pub/networking/service/wais. Alternately look for the comp.infosystems.wais Frequently Asked Questions list that specifies where each version may be located.
If you don’t have a Mac on the Internet but you do have access to an Internet-connected computer that offers telnet services, you can use the screen-based WAIS (swais) service along with a VT100 emulator. Just telnet to quake.think.com and enter the username wais (all lowercase) at the login: prompt. This swais service isn’t pretty but works for those of us who don’t have real Internet connections for our Macs.
Either way, use the source document "macintosh-tidbits.src" located on cmns.think.com, and specify one or more keywords that will enable the WAIS server to find the information buried in TidBITS that you want to see.
If you’re interested in more details about WAIS, browse through the files available in the /wais directory on think.com via FTP, or skim the articles in the comp.infosystems.wais newsgroup.
Ephraim Vishniac — [email protected]
At Macworld, Connectix showed their newly-released version 3.0 of Virtual, which implements virtual memory on the Mac. Although Connectix has had versions of Virtual 3.0 running on various accelerators that are incompatible with System 7’s built-in VM (virtual memory), the generic version of Virtual 3.0 had been plagued by delays.
Now that it’s out, why would you want it? Frankly, because it works the way virtual memory should work, quickly and without using a ton of disk space. I’ve never used VM seriously because like many people, I’m constantly low on disk space. If you have 8 MB of RAM and wish to add 5 MB to that for a total of 13 MB, you have to have a full 13 MB of free disk space for the swap file that holds the contents of memory that won’t fit in the real RAM. That’s a waste of disk space. Virtual 3.0 can work like that too, but it also has a DiskSaver mode that uses the amount of disk space equal to the amount of memory you request. In our example above, where you have 8 MB of real RAM and want 5 MB more of virtual memory, Virtual 3.0 can give you that total of 13 MB and use only 5 MB of disk space.
The other reason to use Virtual 3.0 over Apple’s VM is that even in DiskSaver mode, Virtual is faster. In the tests I saw on identical PowerBook 170s, Virtual 3.0 was noticeably faster. I hope to do a few simple speed tests (although it’s a major pain for me to turn on VM since I seldom have much free disk space) once I have Virtual 3.0 to evaluate. I was warned that some benchmark programs are fooled by Apple’s patches so the results appear faster than real RAM. The safe route for benchmarking virtual memory, then, is the low-tech stopwatch.
Those of you trying to use virtual memory on a PowerBook know what a battery hog VM is. Virtual 3.0 avoids this problem by turning off when the PowerBook is running on battery power (I hope there’s an override for this, just in case).
My conclusion is that if you rely on virtual memory, and especially if you can’t easily free up lots of disk space, you will like Virtual 3.0. If you only turn virtual memory on occasionally and you have lots of free space on that gigabyte drive, it’s probably not worth the money for Virtual. And of course, just like with compression programs, if possible, the best alternative is to drop more SIMMs in your Mac. Virtual 3.0 lists for $99 and should be readily available from dealers and mail order vendors. Registered owners of Connectix’s CPU can buy Virtual 3.0 for $19 (plus shipping and tax where applicable) by calling them and asking nicely.
Connectix — 800/950-5880 — 415/571-5100
Connectix propaganda — [email protected]
One of the more interesting previews of programs that I saw at Macworld was of Mainstay’s new object-oriented database, Phyla. Unlike traditional databases, Phyla is neither flat-file (with a simple one-to-one relationship between all types of data, such as Person, Father, and Mother) nor precisely relational (with a one-to-many relationship between data, such as Company and Phone Numbers), although you can accomplish most everything in Phyla that you could in a relational database. The basic principle underlying Phyla is that of object-orientation; everything is an object, and those objects can be easily related. I’m no expert in databases, particularly relational databases, although I have worked with Double Helix (now called Helix Express) in the past.
Given that disclaimer, you can create classes of objects like the people in a department or the computers they use that are equivalent to Double Helix’s relations. Once you have classes of objects, you define what Phyla more colloquially calls a relation, the relationship between two classes of objects. In our example, you could define a "Uses (Hardware)" relation and the reverse, "(Hardware) Is Used By," because relationships between classes of objects go both ways between the class of "Staff Members" and the class of "Department Macs." At any time it’s trivial to create another class, say "Licensed Software" and the two associated relations to "Department Macs," namely "Is Installed On" and "Has On Hard Disk." Similarly, you could then relate "Licensed Software" to "Staff Members" with "Uses (Software)" and "(Software) Is Used By."
At this point we have three interrelated classes of objects, and Phyla makes quick queries easy, such as what sort of Mac does Jill use, what software is on it, and what does Jill actually use. The standard class view, for say, "Staff Member" looks remarkably like a Finder 7 outline view, and flipping the triangle next to Jill’s name displays the two relations to that class, "Uses (Hardware)" and "Uses (Software)." Each of those two entries in the outline also has a triangle, and flipping them down reveals the data in the other object classes that match. Initially none will, of course, because we haven’t defined any common field, such as "Staff Member," as you would do in a relational database. Instead, in Phyla you merely open another object class window, for "Department Macs," for instance, and then drag an entry or two over to Jill in the other outline, like moving files in the Finder’s outline view.
Since we have already defined the ways these two classes of objects relate, dragging a Mac into Jill’s outline entry establishes that link both ways, so Jill now shows up in the outline view underneath that model of Mac. So if we gave Jill a Quadra 950, the "(Hardware) Is Used By" relation under the Quadra 950’s entry in the "Department Macs" outline will also contain Jill. You can build databases by thinking out the relationships among classes of objects in English, and then implementing them in a relatively natural way.
You’ll have to look at Phyla to make sure you understand what I’ve said, but if anything, I found it more understandable than other databases I’ve used. I did ask a couple of questions specific to a database project I’m thinking about (an Ultimate Kitchen Mac database that does more than just database things). First among these was line items, such as you would find in an recipe. Line items can be hard because you have a one-to-many relationship between the recipe and the ingredients, but you never know how many ingredients a recipe will have. The Mainstay rep showed me a sample invoice database that handled line items well. My second quirky request was for the capability to create a timer, so if a recipe has a cooking time, I’d like to be able to click a single button and have a timer start up and count down, warning me with an appropriate sound. The rep claimed that Phyla could do just that, but couldn’t find the job-tracking database that he thought would demonstrate Phyla’s ability.
Overall, I was impressed, but although Phyla seemed to do most everything I could think of, and although it appeared to have flexible forms for entering and displaying data, the proof will be in the data pudding, and it might appear this spring or summer.
Mainstay — 818/991-6540 — 818/991-4587 (fax)
A number of people wrote in regard to our articles on booth bimbos and CD-ROM pornography. Several suggested that booth bimbos are used to attract people to a booth, much like a flashy demonstration or clever freebies. I agree that booth bimbos act as an attractant for some, but for others, booth bimbos make for an embarrassing and potentially offensive situation. Furthermore, talking to them is always so depressing. What do you say, knowing that the person has the technical background of Cheez Wiz? "So hey, nice teeth you’ve got there…"
If a company doesn’t have the guts to laugh at itself with a blow-up booth bimbo, it should at least spring for good freebies. Clever and durable giveaways provide lasting exposure, and people do wear t-shirts if they like the company or program.
Alternately, try food. As Linda Iroff, a friend at Oberlin College, writes, "The scent of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies drew me to Contour Designs, tucked in a corner of the big hall. I will sit though a WordPerfect demo just for one of those mint truffles and a hat. I filled out an application for a free subscription to a new magazine to get some popcorn. And I will listen to anyone’s spiel if I think I can get a free t-shirt out of it. These freebies aren’t going to make me buy their products, but it does get me to look at what they have to offer. Anyway, I guess some people will be drawn into a booth by a bimbo. I, however, recommend cookies."
Linda Iroff — [email protected]
We touched a few nerves with our article on CD-ROM pornography. The most well-reasoned and rational letter came from Phil Ryan of Melbourne, Australia. Read Phil’s letter, and then we’ll offer additional thoughts on why we wrote the article and the overall subject.
Phil Ryan writes:
Before anyone mentions ‘censorship,’ I want to register my objection to pornography (it’s a free world). I am a part-time law student as well as a computer nutcase (i.e. Physics Ph.D.). In 1992 I enrolled in a course called ‘Feminist Legal Theory’ – partly because I wanted to find out about feminism, partly because it was the only class that I could get to while working full-time.
During the course we examined various things, including pornography. When we first brought it up, most students expressed the opinion that porn is ‘just a bit of fluff, and besides, women make money out of it.’ However, as we looked more closely into the issue, we saw how many women are (1) injured in the production of porn – like prostitutes they usually are not doing it out of ‘free choice,’ (2) offended by pornographic images – particularly violent ones, and (3) generally treated as ‘things,’ a ‘piece of meat,’ by the pornography industry. We began to realize that porn is more insidious than people realize.
I, and most of the modern, feminist anti-porn campaigners, do not criticize this industry from the point of view that it ‘corrupts the populace’ (which is, by the way, the way that most laws in Western countries are framed). Rather, we criticize the industry from the point of view that real women are injured and oppressed in real ways in order to produce this stuff. Other than Madonna, the vast majority of women used in the pornography industry are not the major beneficiaries of the money generated.
My main references on this are Catherine Mackinnon and Andrea Dworkin, American anti-porn campaigners. They started out being anti-rape campaigners and thought too that porn wasn’t a big problem. However, they became deluged with requests for assistance from refugees of the now $10 billion or more porn industry.
I object to pornography, and would rather not see it mentioned when criticism of the pornography industry’s methods is not also mentioned.
Some additional thoughts — Thanks, Phil. It is a free world, at least in some places, and thanks for pointing that out. Freedom cuts both ways.
This is obviously a sensitive issue and we apologize for any offense any of our readers may have taken. However, we do not apologize for publishing the article. Avoiding any arguments based on good or evil, we found the existence of so many pornographic CD-ROMs astonishing, and as such, fodder for TidBITS. I wrote in the context of the Macintosh and technology and provided contact information. Think about that. Sure, you could immediately use the phone numbers to order a CD-ROM and drool into your keyboard. But, that information also gives you the power to call and state your complaints. Maybe the vendors would learn something from you, or maybe you would learn something from them. Perhaps the most important tenet underlying TidBITS is that of communication. We firmly believe that only through communication can global problems be solved, and although we normally stick to our tiny niche, larger subjects occasionally impinge on our Macintosh-based tunnel vision.
Pornography is just such a topic, and we at TidBITS have devoted some serious thought to it in the past week, responding to your letters and trying to decide how we feel. Phil’s excellent letter prompted much of the thought, and we agree with his final statement about needing to balance the issue with criticisms of the pornography industry’s methods. I hope his letter achieves that for others as well.
We offer a few of our thoughts, merely as something for you to mull over, agree with, disagree with, or toss out as the words of crackpots. In reading Phil’s letter, I was struck by the possibility left open for "good" pornography that does not injure women. Apart from subjective evaluations of what is or is not offensive, and Mark has more on that subject, many objections could be met by union-style safeguards in terms of fair pay, working conditions, and so on. Such "good" pornography would then have a marketing advantage much like that enjoyed by the tuna fish companies that take pains not to harm dolphins. One hopes that market pressure would then force exploitative and injurious companies out of business. In terms of worker treatment, the pornography industry doesn’t differ significantly from any other. People can be mistreated in any field, including government, as recent sexual harassment cases show.
In relation to whether or not pornography is offensive, Mark Anbinder writes, "If we allow one person or group of people to impose his or her concept of morality or acceptability on another person or group of people, we begin to dismantle the very structure of our freedom. It is vitally important that we do not allow anyone, least of all ourselves, to quench that freedom." To expand that sentiment slightly, consider quickly the fact that what we feel is normal and healthy may seriously offend someone from another culture. Let each person be offended in his or her own way but never decree that others share that feeling.
This discussion alone could easily overwhelm our weekly space, so we’ll leave it in the future to other, more appropriate, forums. Feel free to keep thinking and sending us your comments; we’ll try to reply within the limits of our wrists. ‘Nuff said.