New Macs? Yup, but the Apple Workgroup Servers may not knock your socks off. David Blatner’s essential "Desktop Publisher’s Survival Kit" from Peachpit Press stands a better chance. We also have two reports from user group land, including a new Internet SIG of the Boston Computer Society, and a sad story of online unpleasantness. Digital sex crops up again, and if you think that’s exciting, check out the new Apple Internet Router upgrade. Whee!
I’m trying something new. Since I receive a ton of information that doesn’t warrant detailed exploration in TidBITS, I’m starting a new section called TwoBITS that will address deserving announcements but will do so in only two sentences (and contact info). Let me know how you like it after you’ve seen a few.
Practical Peripherals announced significant price cuts on various modem models. Perhaps the most interesting reduction is the PM14400FXMT, a v.everything external data/fax modem whose list price dropped from $399 to $299.
Practical Peripherals — 805/497-4774 — 805/374-7272 (fax)
After Dark Module Contest ’93 — Entries are now available from Berkeley Systems for their 1993 contest for best After Dark module in each of three categories: Macintosh, Windows, and Computer Artist. Prizes for the contest, which ends 15-Jul-93, range from the $10,000 Grand Prize to various pieces of hardware for runners-up.
Berkeley Systems — 510/540-5535 x 600 — 510/540-5115 (fax)
Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers
Users of Apple’s Internet Router 2.0 package can now purchase the Internet Router Basic Connectivity Package upgrade kit through the mail. You must mail your original Internet Router 2.0 disk (part number 690-5327-A); your name, company name, shipping address (no P.O. boxes), and telephone number; proof of purchase showing the date on which you bought Internet Router 2.0; and appropriate payment.
The price is $49 plus local sales tax if you bought Internet Router 2.0 after 01-Nov-92, or $149 plus local sales tax if you bought it earlier. Accepted payment forms are a check payable to Apple Computer, Inc., or credit card information including card number, expiration date, the name on the card, and the card’s billing address. Apple accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and the Apple Credit Card.
Mail all that to:
Apple Computer, Inc.
Attn: Apple Internet Router Upgrade Program
P.O. Box 7043
Dover, DE 19903
Apple says users should allow three to seven days for delivery.
Jim Bates from Nisus Technical Support wrote to tell us that they prefer to use the term "hardware enabling" when talking about the ADB-based hardware copy protection device, colloquially called a "dongle." Jim also mentioned that he had read somewhere that "dongle" stems from the name of the man who invented it, Don Gill. No idea as to the truth of that bit.
The Nisus dongle is actually called the PETlock, in part because it’s a cool name and in part because it is based on "Paragon Enabling Technology." One reason Nisus prefers the more politically correct term "hardware enabler" is that Nisus doesn’t cease to work without the dongle. Instead, Nisus acts like the demo version, with saving disabled and "Nisus Demo" plastered over all printed pages. I appreciate that because I think most people could do basic word processing for a short time in that mode in case of a dongle failure, pasting new text into a TeachText document for saving, for instance. Nonetheless, I hope that Nisus would ship a new dongle as fast as FedEx would allow to anyone whose dongle failed. I’d go nuts if I lost the use of Nisus for a few days, and I even have other word processors to use.
Despite the "enabling" that goes on, I think Nisus should use the more-obnoxious term "copy protection" instead, if only to bring attention to the fact that the point of this device is to reduce piracy. Nisus has stated publicly that they don’t like using the dongle any more than anyone else, so it’s in everyone’s best interests to raise awareness of the piracy problem in various parts of the world. Only when people know about the problems piracy causes will they stand up for elimination of both piracy and obnoxious copy protection.
Failing that, how about if Nisus got together with Global Village and put the guts of a TelePort ADB modem into the dongle? At least then you’d have something useful hanging off your ADB port.
As an aside, I now have Nisus 3.4L, and although I like it a lot, I immediately hit a bug that Nisus knows about and is fixing. If you spell check a word longer than 32 characters (such as a Unix directory path), the checker helpfully reports a "Spelling checker error." Until Nisus has a fix ready, if you receive the error message, simply move the cursor below the too-long word (command-click in the main document to do this without sending the Check Spelling window to the back – a slick touch), and start the check again. It will fail again at the long word, but you’ll know that everything in between was checked. Using the Ignore Spelling style doesn’t work, sorry. Nisus said they’d send me an updated version as soon as they had it fixed, but you do have to call if you want the fix since it’s not something that most people will ever notice.
Nisus Writer Upgrade — Mel Martinez writes:
You should also point out that despite the nominal charges for upgrading to Nisus 3.4L ($20) or 3.4C ($120), those Nisus users who ordered the Nisus XS upgrade before 09-Jun-92 are entitled to receive that upgrade free when it ships, hopefully in a few months. Also, Nisus XS has been renamed Nisus Writer. This, I guess, brings the name in sync with the popular Japanese version of Nisus which is called SoloWriter.
I am glad to see Nisus continue to remember their early supporters by offering the next major upgrade to them free. However, I would be even happier to see it ship.
[I think the name change may also have been a marketing move to improve Nisus’s name recognition. If you don’t know that Nisus is a word processor, the name "Nisus" won’t clue you in. "Nisus Writer" implies that the program is a word processor. I approve of this move a great deal – in part because Tonya and I came up with the same name independently when talking about reasons why Nisus had name recognition troubles. Naming is important, and it certainly hasn’t helped the almost-unknown word processor Taste, which could be a recipe database for all you can tell from the name. -Adam]
Although Tonya Engst’s book review of "Silicon Mirage" wasn’t specifically intended to cover the topic of "virtual sex," some points need to be clarified. Even though I am NOT an expert in virtual reality (VR), I participated in a network conference on that subject a year ago as an interested party and would like to mention some of the finer details and conclusions we agreed on in the conference.
Tonya says, "It turns out that virtual reality has little to do with sex." I am sorry to say that as a quickly evolving technology and because it has always been the case, exploitative people will surely use VR as another sex-oriented product in an already huge industry. This is where the real problem arises.
Right now, VR is in its infancy and we are still far from publicly available computer-generated animations that are credible as reality. But as is often the case, the creation of a niche market for virtual sex will finance technological advances, leading to a finer quality of consumer VR within years. This forces us to take a stand on the matter very quickly.
With the advent of consumer VR, we will be flooded with a mass of VR peripherals that will cover the broad spectrum of sensations that a person can experience in real life, including sex. It is difficult NOT to imagine such peripherals considering the huge number of sex-oriented mechanical devices in sex shops. With the coming of peripherals capable of simulating the stimulus of sex in a fantasy reality, we are giving people the means to reinforce this pretend reality, a reality in which sex could conceivably be exaggerated beyond reality into imagination. In fact, we are creating the perfect device to transform people into sex-obsessed schizophrenics, people who can’t distinguish reality from fiction. These devices could cause serious mental and sociological problems. [Of course, this applies to many different topics within a broad-based virtual environment, and is equally as harmful in those cases as well. -Adam]
The conclusion we drew in the VR conference was that even though VR is an interesting and promising technology, it must be closely supervised to achieve its true potential; without this supervision, VR could become another dangerous technology that could cost millions in medical care, social rehabilitation, and perhaps even lives. It is high time we address the possible abuses and deal with them while we still hold the reins.
[For those interested in the arguments that always swirl around when sex is mentioned, check out the cover story in NewMedia magazine’s April issue, entitled "Digital Sex: Technology, Law, & Censorship." Suzanne Stefanac provides an excellent and thoughtful overview of many of the issues we raised in TidBITS#159 and #160, and she touches briefly on the issues Keith mentions above. -Adam]
NewMedia Magazine — [email protected]
Last week Apple introduced three new flavors of Macintosh, the Apple Workgroup Servers 60, 80, and 95. They closely resemble their cousins, the existing Centris 610, Quadra 800, and Quadra 950, much as the Performa 200, 400, and 600 closely resemble the Classic II, LC II, and IIvx.
Old Macs telling a new story — The Apple Workgroup Servers (AWS) 60 and 80 represent the low- and medium-end of what you can buy. The AWS 60 comes standard with onboard Ethernet, unlike its Centris 610 cousin, which offers onboard Ethernet only optionally. Both the AWS 60 and 80 ship standard with large hard drive configurations and a faster version of AppleShare, AppleShare 4.0, which only works on 68040 Macs. AppleShare will come pre-installed, hopefully making life easier for busy network administrators. Apple plans to ship these configurations in July, and since the hardware should be ready, the delay probably comes from finishing up AppleShare 4.0.
Hardware in a hurry — The AWS 95 offers more interesting changes than the others. It resembles the Quadra 950 but includes a built-in PDS accelerator card that speeds operations with a 128K or 256K static RAM (SRAM) cache and two SCSI direct memory access (DMA) ports. Other uncommon hardware includes parity RAM, which ensures that memory reads and writes are completely accurate. This doesn’t much matter except in utterly critical tasks, but I gather that certain U.S. government contracts require this level of computing safety.
Software on the AWS 95 supports the speed offered by the hardware. Network administrators buying an AWS 95 need a rudimentary knowledge of A/UX, because this machine ships with AppleShare Pro running under A/UX, which allows the hardware to work to spec and provides multi-threading and multi-tasking, making it possible for a crowd of people to simultaneously read and write from the server. The AWS 95 also ships with a four-user pack (for the server and three clients, and you can buy more user packs from Dantz) of Retrospect Remote 2.0 A/UX. Dantz’s new release can backup both Unix and Macintosh file formats. The machine comes with A/UX and AppleShare Pro pre-installed and should ship shortly.
The AWS 95 will provide a true SCSI challenge for those interested. In addition to the two SCSI DMA ports, the computer sports two regular SCSI ports. At seven devices per port, you could theoretically attach 28 devices [In your dreams! -Adam]. Various magazines suggest that 20 to 25 devices will be more realistic, with a combination of internal and external devices. Perhaps a hardware company could sponsor an annual contest where SCSI configuration experts could gather and compete to see how many devices they could successfully attach to an AWS 95 with bonus points going to the person with the longest SCSI chain length.
Software — Aside from Retrospect Remote 2.0 A/UX, other software for the new servers will include a special version of the Oracle7 database from Oracle, a version of 4D Server from ACIUS, and possibly some deals with Sybase and Informix, companies that are big in the large-scale database market. Later this year, Apple will also release AppleSearch, a full text search application, complete with relevance ordering and XTND capabilities.
Overall — The AWS 60 and 80 will only succeed if Apple can separate them sufficiently from the Centris 610 or Quadra 800 in terms of features and pricing. Otherwise people will simply purchase a comparable Centris or Quadra and configure it with network software and third-party hard drives. Without competitive pricing, these Macs will only sell to people who wish to blithely purchase a Macintosh server, without taking the time to do more research than scan a colorful Apple brochure. Since pricing will range from $3000 for the cheapest AWS 60 to $13,000 for the snazziest AWS 95 (upgrades from the Quadra 900 and 950 will be available), cost will be a major issue.
The AWS 95 is the most interesting of the lot, and you would be hard pressed to match its functionality. Also, Dantz doesn’t currently plan to market Retrospect Remote A/UX 2.0 separately. For those who need the fastest server possible now, the AWS 95 should fit the bill. For those who can wait, Cyclones and PowerPCs may soon provide even more alluring speeds.
Dantz Development — 510/849-0293 — 510/849-1708 (fax)
Apple and Dantz propaganda
MacWEEK — 08-Mar-93, Vol 7, #10, pg. 1
MacWEEK — 22-Mar-93, Vol. 7, #12, pg. 1
Macworld — May-93, pg. 64
The Boston Computer Society, the world’s largest computer user group, has created an Internet Special Interest Group (ISIG) in response to increased interest in the Internet, without doubt the coolest thing happening in communication today. You have to be a BCS member or an MIT person to join the ISIG, but anyone can attend the meetings or join the ISIG’s Internet mailing list.
ISIG provides an opportunity for members to explore two common questions about the Internet. Ever wondered what the Internet is good for, or how you could access and use it? Then the ISIG can help. Like standard user group SIGs, the ISIG will have local monthly meetings and will offer other user group services to people in Boston, such as free and low-cost classes, but members outside of Boston receive a monthly newsletter and free support via phone or electronic mail.
"This is a big step for the BCS," said ISIG Director Michael Barrow, a computer systems consultant at MIT. "Until now, there was no place for people outside the universities and the computer industry to learn about the net."
For more information contact:
Michael Barrow, Boston Computer Society
617/252-0600 — 617/491-4580 — 617/577-9365 (fax)
FTP to: isig.mit.edu
The world’s largest Macintosh user group, Berkeley-based BMUG, recently set up a second bulletin board system across the country in Boston. Boston, of course, is home to the other big Mac user group, the Macintosh arm of the Boston Computer Society (BCS). BMUG’s Boston BBS arose because of internal political problems within BCS that caused the resignation of the volunteer sysops on the BCS Mac BBS. We thought a brief look at this story might shed light on problems that can affect volunteer user groups and suggest ways of avoiding similar problems.
The Boston sysop team left BCS because of frustrations over BCS internal politics and lack of BCS support for online services. The BCS team had cooperated with BMUG on joint promotions that directly benefited the BCS Mac BBS to the tune of several thousand dollars. Nevertheless, the Mac group as a whole was running a serious deficit. The recently-appointed BCS president, Robert Grenoble, wasn’t pleased and labeled the sysops’ activities an "embarrassment" to the BCS. It’s unclear whether he felt the relaxed style of BMUG was unbefitting the BCS image, or whether his objection was to some violation of administrative protocol within the BCS hierarchy.
At any rate, the sysops’ resignations set off a chain of events that raised a furor in the Boston online community. The BCS employee sent to take over management of the DOS-based Mac bulletin board soon began deleting messages critical of the BCS, including private email messages. He reduced the access of many remaining Mac activists, then when some of those volunteers resigned in protest, he deleted their resignation messages, which set off yet another round of resignations.
BCS President Grenoble, when questioned by a local newspaper on this issue, was quoted as saying there was no censorship, just deletion of "disruptive" and deliberately inflammatory messages by people using the system for personal, and juvenile, grudges. However, since Grenoble himself doesn’t use bulletin boards or email, he probably failed to understand what a passionate response the message deletions would evoke (or how quickly the whole issue would probably have blown over, had the so-called inflammatory messages simply been ignored).
As computers become more a business tool and less a homebrew hobby, many user groups are having a hard time defining roles and rules. Can one group meet the increasingly diverse demands of the corporate user, the home user, the novice user, the power user? How do you attract and keep volunteers, while keeping them under some semblance of organization? How do online services fit into the over-all user group mission? What is this mission anyway? User groups need to come up with good answers to convince people they’re worth the price of a membership.
People interested in comparing the online answers from BCS and BMUG can call (via modem):
BCS Mac BBS — 617/864-0712
BMUG Boston BBS — 617/721-5840
Planet BMUG BBS (Berkeley) — 510/849-2684
BCS Mac is a DOS-based TBBS board. The BMUG systems run on FirstClass. Although you can call BMUG in command-line mode with a regular communications program, the FirstClass client software is free from most online services, or from various Internet sites, including sumex-aim.stanford.edu (archived as info-mac/comm/first-class-user-207.hqx).
[As a quick disclaimer, Roz was involved in the unpleasantness on the BCS Mac BBS, and is currently working with the BMUG Boston BBS. -Adam]
Before, I couldn’t even kern "Desktop Publisher." Now I are one.
So there I was, in a mild state of panic, babbling semi-coherently at Adam over the phone. The manager of the Kinko’s at which I work had decided to make the desktop publishing position official, which meant I could apply for it and try to escape boredom, bad hours, and poverty in a single stroke. Sadly, the extent of my desktop publishing ability was a general competency with the Mac combined with a working knowledge of Microsoft Word 4.0. Not exactly the foundation of an empire.
"So what’s the problem?" Adam asked me. I explained that I had to learn PageMaker, FreeHand, and The Rules in approximately four days. "Don’t worry about it," he said. "Come over tomorrow night and I’ll help you out."
What sort of help could he give me, I wondered? A crash course without pause for sleep? Self-hypnosis tapes? Incriminating photographs of the interviewers? I arrived, curious, and he handed me… a book.
"This’ll tell you everything you have to know," he told me. I looked skeptical. It was quite small, and a fairly sickly shade of green to boot. "Not everything you’ll ever want to know to be a desktop publisher," he explained, noticing my expression. "Everything you absolutely must know if you plan to be one. No more, no less."
Damned if he wasn’t right.
David Blatner, author of the "Desktop Publisher’s Survival Kit," (Peachpit Press, ISBN# 0-938151-76-2, $22.95) has successfully compacted a wealth of vital information into a short, quick-reading volume. Despite the density of information, it is easy, often entertaining, to read, and David explains the concepts clearly and simply. The book is well-organized, covering a single major topic in each chapter and breaking down concepts within each topic into easily digestible chunks. One could say that David is the intestinal enzyme of choice for the novice desktop publisher, except that he might take it the wrong way. Major topics include:
- Graphic files – different types, how they work, what they’re good for
- Fonts – similar issues
- Word Processing – concepts, do’s and don’ts, how-to’s, and copy editing concepts
- Typography – how to make it look good, and why you should make it look good
- Styles and Codes – how to make your life a whole lot easier
- Scans and Halftones – how they work, how to work with them
- Color – different kinds, how it displays, how it prints
- Printing – different output devices, setting up, dealing with service bureaus, and much, much more
- When Things Go Wrong – what can go wrong, why it might, how to try to fix it, and The Strangest Bug He’s Ever Seen (which you must see to believe)
- Software – the book also comes with a disk full of handy utilities, and David explains what they are and why they’re useful to you.
Note that the book does not give you instruction in any particular software package. It’s not meant as a software tutorial or a manual. It explains the concepts that apply to the entire field, regardless of what software you use.
As far as I’m concerned, the Typography and Styles & Codes chapters are sufficient reason for you to buy David a lot of beer if you run across him. They were all I needed for my immediate concerns. I found a wealth of useful information in the other chapters of the book as well, with the exceptions of the Scans & Halftones and Color chapters, which I didn’t read past their first pages. To me, at least, those subjects are far more complex than the others, and even David was unable to simplify them to the point where a total novice could understand them.
On the other hand, after three months on the job, I’m ready to go back and read those chapters. Not only will I now understand what they’re talking about, but it’s getting to the point where I need to understand that information. Yes, that’s right; I got the job, and I can honestly say that I don’t think it would have happened if not for the "Desktop Publisher’s Survival Kit." Before, I was a measly weekend shift supervisor with no night life, no money, an old Apple IIgs, vast debt, and a cupboard full of Mission Macaroni and Cheese dinners. Now, I’m a desktop publisher with a Duo 210, lots of friends, a good social life, and enough money to brew a little beer on the side. I think I may be losing weight and gaining a deeper understanding of the cosmic truths as well.
Will the "Desktop Publisher’s Survival Kit" do all this for you, too? There’s only one way to find out.
Peachpit Press — 800/283-9444 — 510/548-4393