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Lots of little bits this week, including comments, corrections, and tips about System 7. Mark Anbinder covers the malicious INIT-M virus along with an excellent offer for a MS Mail/Internet gateway that expires at the end of the week. On the lighter side we have Ian Feldman’s intriguing list of fiction set in computer or programming environments. Finally, a look into the future at the PowerBook 145B, the next cheap PowerBook, and what it means for Apple.

Adam Engst No comments

UnMountIt Availability

UnMountIt Availability — George Headley <[email protected]> writes to tell us that UnMountIt, the free utility from Apple that aids in unmounting shared removable volumes, is available on <> for anonymous FTP. Look for /dts/mac/hacks/fsid.hqx which contains several utilities in disk image form (use DiskCopy to read it).

Adam Engst No comments

Quadra 700 Comments

Quadra 700 Comments — Brian Hughes <[email protected]> writes to tell us that Glenn Fleishman’s editorial on the Quadra 700 had some incorrect information. The LC and LC II max out at 512K of VRAM, which is enough for 16-bit color on the 12" monitor only (8-bit color on the 13"/14" monitor), and the LC III tops out at 768K VRAM, which will handle 16-bit color on monitors up to 13"/14".

Michael Peirce <[email protected]>, author of Smoothie, which smooths jaggies in on-screen presentations, comments that Apple might be throwing a bone to the video card manufacturers, who would otherwise lose customers who have 24-bit internal video. Otherwise, Apple risks losing these manufacturers to the Windows market, where fast, high-quality video is an absolute necessity. Michael also notes that many people doing high-end 24-bit color work also need big monitors, and even the 24-bit color on the Quadra 700, 900, and 950 only works up to 16".

Adam Engst No comments

Damaged Fonts

Damaged Fonts — Lloyd Lim <[email protected]> says that a good check for bad font files, along with other files with resource forks, is to run John Norstad’s excellent virus fighter, Disinfectant (now at version 3.2, see below), which checks for and reports damaged resource forks. It may not catch all types of damage, but it is a useful troubleshooting tool.

Adam Engst No comments

More System 7 Answers

More System 7 Answers — Brian Jewett <[email protected]> adds another thing to check for when experiencing Bad F-line errors. After much trouble, he discovered the culprit was an old ROM in his RasterOps video board, which was apparently not 32-bit QuickDraw-friendly. So consider older hardware in strange troubleshooting situations.

Quinn <[email protected]> chimes in that if you experience a weird system error while running on a 68040 machine, it’s worth testing with the caches off. There are utilities to shut them off flexibly, but you can also open the Cache Switch Control Panel, hold down the option key, and click the More Compatible button. If your Cache Switch Control Panel is missing, look on your System disks; it usually ships on the Tidbits disk.

Jon Pugh <[email protected]> supplies additional answers that we hadn’t known. You can get 8-bit icons for floppies by setting the Custom Icon bit for the floppy by dropping it on FileTyper 4.0. Also, we mentioned AppleScript as a reason to upgrade to System 7.1, but Jon says AppleScript runs fine under 7.0 and 7.0.1. AppleScript is shipping from APDA, although they may not have disks in quantity yet.

Todd Hooper <[email protected]> comments that reformatting your hard drive to retrieve that extra bit of space may cause the HFS bug we discussed last issue to appear. If you do reformat your hard disk and change partition sizes, run the Disk Bug Checker before you rely on the disk heavily.

Alex McCormick <[email protected]> notes that zapping the PRAM as a troubleshooting measure is a good idea, but will require some work to reset your default settings (time and date and all that). The most important thing to watch, though, is that zapping the PRAM will also kill a PowerBook’s RAM disk, which may contain information you don’t have backed up.

Adam Engst No comments

HFS Clarification

HFS Clarification — Dave Camp <[email protected]> of Central Point Software and author of the Disk Bug Checker we mentioned last issue, wrote to clarify that Central Point Software wrote the free program as a service to their customers who may have experienced the problem. Thanks to Dave and Central Point for making this useful utility available to the Macintosh community.

Adam Engst No comments

PowerPoint Problem

PowerPoint Problem — We found out more details about what may have caused the problem Andrew Nielsen reported in TidBITS #169 with launching PowerPoint from his Duo. It turns out that launching PowerPoint 3.0 will crash any enabled Mac if you use a version of the Shared Code Manager earlier than 1.0.5. The Shared Code manager is an extension that allows OLE (object linking and embedding) to work with PowerPoint. You can fix the problem in the short term by trashing Shared Code Manager and in the long term by using an updated version of the Shared Code Manager.

Microsoft U.S. Customer Service — 800/426-9400
Canadian Customer Service — 800/563-9048
International Customer Service — 206/936-8661
PowerPoint Technical Support — 206/635-7145

Information from:
Kevin Verboort, Microsoft

Adam Engst No comments

EndNote Upgrade

EndNote Upgrade — Niles & Associates released new versions of the $149 EndNote and $249 EndNote Plus that work with Nisus and FrameMaker, should you need bibliographic features in either of those programs. Upgrades cost $19, and moving from EndNote to EndNote Plus is $99.

Niles & Associates — 510/649-8176 — 510/649-8179 (fax)

Adam Engst No comments

America Online Cheapened

America Online Cheapened — America Online now boasts lower access rates of $9.95 per month, which includes the first five hours of usage at any time of day (starts 01-May-93) and $3.50 per hour for usage after those first five hours (starts 01-Jul-93). AOL still lacks 9,600 bps access, but rumors hint that it won’t be any more expensive when it appears real soon now.

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

Malicious Virus On The Loose

Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers

Gene Spafford of Purdue University yesterday released a joint announcement for the various antiviral utility publishers, describing a newly-discovered virus (dubbed INIT-M) and a suite of new versions of the popular antiviral utilities.

INIT-M is a MALICIOUS virus and can result in irreparable damage to your files, folders, and file systems. It is different from the INIT 17 virus announced on 12-Apr-93.

INIT-M rapidly spreads to applications, system extensions, documents and preference files under System 7; it does not spread or activate on System 6 systems. The virus spreads as the application files run, and is likely to spread extensively on an infected machine. The infection is accomplished by altering existing program code. Besides this incidental damage (that may, because of bugs in the virus code, cause more severe damage), the virus also does extensive damage to systems running on any Friday the 13th – NOT just booted on that day. Files and folders will be renamed to random strings, creation and modification dates will be changed, and file creator and type information will be scrambled. In rare circumstances, a file or files may be deleted. This behavior is similar to the previously announced (Mar-92) INIT-1984 virus. Recovery from this damage will be difficult or impossible.

Note that the next three Friday the 13ths are in August 1993, May 1994, and January 1995.

The virus, when present on an infected system, may interfere with the proper display of some application window operations. It will also create a file named "FSV Prefs" in the Preferences folder.

John Norstad has released version 3.2 of his free Disinfectant utility to detect and remove this virus. It is available via anonymous FTP from (stored as a BinHexed self-extracting archive) or (stored as a binary self-extracting archive), and from other usual sources.

Recent versions of Chris Johnson’s free Gatekeeper utility (the current version is 1.2.7) and Symantec’s SAM Intercept (in advanced and custom mode) are already effective and should generate an alert if the virus tries to infect a file. Gatekeeper 1.2.7 is available from and other FTP archives, as well as other usual sources.

The other major antiviral utilities have new versions ready. Contact your utility’s vendor for update information.

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

PostalUnion Unites MS Mail, Internet Mail

Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers

Information Electronics announced that it is shipping its fifth gateway to the Internet, PostalUnion/SMTP for Microsoft Mail. In celebration of its fifth Internet gateway product (eleventh gateway overall), the company is offering a pre-release special price of $695 for its unlimited-users package linking Microsoft Mail to the Internet via SMTP, instead of the full price of $995.

This new gateway fits into IE’s family of PostalUnion gateways, which take advantage of the company’s rich, modular PostalUnion mail interchange system. The company develops a single PostalUnion module for each mail system, and combines these modules to create the needed gateway products. The PostalUnion format itself is an intermediate storage format that includes all mail attributes and capabilities of the supported mail systems, as well as a number of attributes and capabilities not available in current mail products. This ingenious approach helps the company take most of the drudgery out of developing each gateway, and, they say, allows them to pass the savings in time and expense to the purchaser.

To date, the company has developed PostalUnion modules for FirstClass, Microsoft Mail, QuickMail, Internet via SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), and Internet via UUCP . Available gateways include FirstClass to Microsoft Mail, FirstClass to Internet (both SMTP and UUCP), FirstClass to QuickMail, and QuickMail to Microsoft Mail. The company has a wide installed user base of its SMTP\QM and UMCP\QM Internet gateways for QuickMail (using pre-PostalUnion technology), and plans to provide an upgrade path for these users at a future time.

The PostalUnion/SMTP for Microsoft Mail gateway offers an unlimited-user license (including support for multiple Microsoft Mail servers), a POP3 feature allowing users of both Microsoft Mail and a POP3 client to combine their mail into one mailbox, direct MacTCP support, support for the full Microsoft Mail user name and custom aliases, UNIX-style .signature files, automatic word wrap in outgoing mail, automatic support for uuencoded AppleSingle or BinHex enclosures, and a character translation table to turn the Mac’s extended character set into readable text for the rest of the universe.

Orders for this gateway at the introductory price of $695 must be pre-paid by check (New York State customers must add sales tax. Credit card orders are not accepted, and purchase orders must be accompanied by check). Canadian customers should add $15 for shipping, and all other non-U.S. customers should add $30. U.S. customers will receive second-day UPS Blue shipping where possible at no extra charge. The offer expires at the end of this week, as the software is being released on 01-May-93. Send to:

Information Electronics
520 West Lake Road
Hammondsport, NY 14840 USA
607/868-3333 (fax)
[email protected]

Information from:
Information Electronics propaganda

Ian Feldman No comments

Fiction in Computer Science

Some time ago I asked in the rec.arts.books group on the Usenet about preferably-non-Science-Fiction books set in academic Computer Science or programming environments. Judging from results of that survey there don’t yet seem to be many such works that deal with the everyday dilemmas faced by programmers (technical and moral). This is why you’ll also find below a number of cyberpunk, rather than strictly-programmer, titles. Unlike the rest of TidBITS, this list has been formatted primarily for paper printout and, at 69 lines in length, should therefore fit easily on a single page. Enjoy!

  ================ ------------------------------------------------------------
  |||||||| SciP+Fi  ction set in C-Sci\programming environs list by Ian Feldman
  ..........:::::: ---------------------------------------- ---- --------------
  Written by:_____ _Book Title_; publisher'year, pp         v2.7           ISBN
  -----------       =============================== ------- ==== ##############
      John Brunner _Shockwave Rider_; Ray/Ballantine'84 $5_______ 0-345-32431-5
                    "cracking the net to free information for the common good"
       Pat Cadigan _Mindplayers_; ("an absolute must-have" --Bruce Sterling)
       Pat Cadigan _Synners_; Bantam $5; (virtual reality)_______ 0-553-28254-9
  Orson Scott Card _Lost Boys_; Harper Collins'92; (programmer and family
                    encounters strange events in North Carolina)
      Denise Danks _Frame Grabber_; St.Martin's, hrdb [GBP]17____ 0-312-08786-1
                    computer-illiterate journalix tracks down murderer via BBS
     Toni Dwiggins _Interrupt_; ("a techno-mystery set in Silicon Valley")
     Michael Frayn _The Tin Men_; Fontana, ("inspired lunacy" but out of print)
     David Gerrold _When HARLIE was One Release 2.0_; Bantam'88__ 0-553-26465-6
    William Gibson _Count Zero_; (computers as gods, part of a trilogy)
    William Gibson _Mona Lisa Overdrive_; (virtual reality)______ 0-553-28174-7
    William Gibson _Burning Chrome_; (cyberpunk short stories)___ 0-441-08934-8
    William Gibson _Neuromancer_; (industrial espionage)_________ 0-441-56959-5
                    (author guilty of inventing the cyberpunk genre)
       James Hogan _The Genesis Machine_; Del Ray'87 $3__________ 0-345-34756-0
       James Hogan _Thrice Upon A Time_; ("time travel for information")
       James Hogan _The Two Faces of Tomorrow_; Del Ray'79_______ 0-345-27517-9
                    ultimate test of AI-OS by letting it run a spacelab -> amok
     Stanislaw Lem _His Master's Voice_; (failed attempt to decode ET-message)
        Tom Maddox _HALO_ ("remarkable SF of robots & artificial intelligence")
  George RR Martin _Nightflyers_; Tor Books'87___________________ 0-8125-4564-8
       R A MacAvoy _Tea with the Black Dragon_; ("mystery around a computer
                    fraud situation; computing bits ring true.")
  Vonda N McIntyre _Steelcollar Worker_; in Analog Nov'92; (blue-collar VR)
      Marge Piercy _Body of Glass_; Penguin'92, 584pp; (data piracy++) review
                    finger "books=Body_of_Glass%danny"
  ---> David Pogue _Hard-Drive_; Diamond'93 $5, 304pp____________ 1-55773-884-X
                    (*programmer dies in accident, leaves no documentation
                    behind; software firms fight for market share with virii;
                    "right out of the pages of MacWorld" --Steve Brock)
    Richard Powers _The Gold Bug Variations_; Morrow '91, (famous molecular
                    scientist ponders on the ?why? of love, life in EDP dept.)
       Paul Preuss _Human Error_; (nanotech computer infects brain-damaged kid)
     Thomas J Ryan _The Adolescence of P1_; ACE'79_______________ 0-671-55970-2
                    (runaway AI experiment takes over mainframes, wrecks havoc)
    Bruce Sterling _The Difference Engine_; (with W Gibson) Bantam'91; finger
       Cliff Stoll _The Cuckoo's Egg_; (non-fiction but reads like one); review
                    FTP <>; /mac/tidbits/1991/tb048_18-Mar-91.etx
      Tom T Thomas _ME_; ("smart computers")
      Vernor Vinge _Across Realtime_; Baen Books_____________ [several titles
      Vernor Vinge _Tatja Grimm's World_; Baen Books__________ soon available
      Vernor Vinge _The Witling_; Baen Books___________________ as Millennium
      Vernor Vinge _Threats and Other Promises_; Baen Books_____ Books in UK]
      Vernor Vinge _True Names & Other Dangers_; Baen Books'87___ 0-671-65363-6
      Vernor Vinge _A Fire Upon The Deep_; Tor Books, 640p, $6___ 0-8125-1528-5
                    ("essentially about the future of the Internet")
       John Varley _Press Enter_; ("Short story, gruesome, but good")
        Ed Yourdon _Silent Witness_; ("Computer crime caper story; gumshoe
                    has to explain intricacies of computer OS to girlfriend")
  Herbert W Franke _Das Zentrum der Milchstrasse_; ("the center of the galaxy")
  Herbert W Franke _Letzte Programmierer_; ("'the last programmer';
                    I do NOT mean Frank Herbert!")
        Emil Zopfi _Computer Fuer 1001 Nacht_; Limmat Verlag, Switzerland
        Emil Zopfi _Jede Minute Kostet 33 Franken_; (last 4 in German; last 2
                    "set in the commercial computing world of the early 70's")
  current version of this list via 'finger "scip+fi%danny"'
  compiled 930424; % mail -s "additions/ comments/ updates --->" [email protected]
  ================ ============================================= ==============

Adam Engst No comments

PowerBook 145B & Apple Strategy

After all my yammering about what a wonderful idea the PowerBook 100 suddenly became after Apple dropped the price, it looks like the powers-that-be at Apple listened. Or, should I say, that’s what those of us doing the yammering would like to believe. On June 15th, Apple will announce the PowerBook 180c (active matrix color screen on a PowerBook 180) and the 145B. I don’t know what that "B" stands for, but I suspect "budget" or "bare bones" or perhaps something totally nonsensical like "brillig." That’s right, we’re going to see another cheap PowerBook. Rumored prices currently range from $1,300 to $1,500.

The 145B, according to one source, will replace the 145, but it won’t differ significantly from its predecessor. In fact, the only technical difference that I’m sure of is that the 145B will have a slight daughterboard modification to will provide 4 MB of RAM soldered on. The RAM slot will remain the same, but don’t bother putting a 6 MB card in since the 145B will still only address 8 MB of RAM total.

So how else will the 145B differ from the 145? It won’t ship with System disks (but it will come with a backup program that I suspect will be the one that comes with the Performas), it won’t have a microphone, and it may ship with ARA Client and a bunch of software demos on the hard disk. Those are small changes, but when multiplied over many thousands of machine they may make a significant difference to Apple’s bottom line. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see the 145B ship with documentation on a diet.

The immediate response, especially from tech support people who get their jollies from having troubleshooting-challenged customers boot with the Disk Tools disk, will undoubtedly be an outraged squawk. But think, folks. How many people would buy PowerBook 145Bs as their only Macs? I’m willing to put money on that number being low. And, to further lower the number of people affected, how many of those PowerBook 145B-only users would be sufficiently inexperienced to fail to realize they can get System 7.0.x for free? So everyone should already have or can easily get a set of System disks (and please do, folks, if only to appease the overworked tech support therapists). I have at least three sets of System disks right now, and a number of sets of documentation, none of which I ever read.

[I suppose Adam is right, but I hope Apple sells that 145B with a warning right on the box – "This Macintosh does not come with a set of System 7 disks. Proceed at your own risk." -Tonya]

Oh, and the microphone? Neat idea, but the support for sound in Macintosh applications has generally been abysmal. I’m not talking about sound for sound’s sake, but sound for productivity’s sake. I doubt many people will miss the microphone.

I think the 145B is an excellent idea as I currently understand it. This isn’t say that some little detail won’t appear later on that will change my mind, such as learning (and this is hypothetical!) that another missing feature is the one-year warranty. That would bug me.

Apple has shown that dropping the price on soon-to-be obsolete machines works well; it increases market share and customer loyalty, although it probably doesn’t affect the large corporate accounts much, and they exert an unfortunately disproportionate level of influence. But can this sort of price drop work on a machine that isn’t yet on the endangered list? The concept of stripping a machine down to the bare minimum is certainly not new. The technique originated in the computer industry with the no-name PC-clone manufacturers who would put together a customized system for you or let you buy only those parts you wanted. And, those prices that were so commonly batted around for extremely cheap PC clones often didn’t include DOS or manuals or even necessary cables at times. Hmm, pre-format the hard disk and don’t include the operating system and some other package stuff. Sounds like the 145B.

This technique serves the picky power user perfectly. When I buy my next Mac, I will want a minimum of 20 MB of RAM and a lot more hard disk space than I have now. The Apple monitors are nice, but I’ve heard good things about NEC’s recent entries, and frankly, I’ve never liked the feel of Apple’s keyboards, especially the el-cheapo one that came with the Classic. So why should I pay for Apple memory, hard drives, monitors, and keyboards when I can buy equipment more suited to my work style for less money elsewhere? Support isn’t a big issue; I know what I’m doing. So, for instance, I’d like a Quadra 800 with no hard drive and only the motherboard memory. Nothing else. If you’re like me, machines like that 145B are just what you want.

The negative aspects of this technique are obvious. Many don’t wish to make lots of choices from the Macintosh buffet. They want to give someone money and have the system up and running out of the box, plain and simple. And, equally as clearly, Apple earns less money which could affect the company negatively and result in less or slower innovation. But still, I think there is room in Apple’s product line for stripped models of certain Macs.

Another view — In his first column for Macworld (Jun-93), Guy Kawasaki (what does he really do in the industry these days, other than push TouchBASE and Norton Essentials for PowerBook at user group meetings?) suggests that Apple bless three models of the Macintosh and discontinue the rest in order to make it easy for people to decide which model to buy. Guy’s suggestion has some attraction, especially for the indecisive and for those poor tech support people, who are having trouble keeping up with the Macintosh of the month since they have to know every model. And, from the perspective of Guy, a man who left Apple just after the introduction of the Macintosh SE and Macintosh II, it’s not in the least bit surprising.

However, Guy carefully ignores some basic marketing issues. Back in the spring of 1987, when Guy left Apple for ACIUS, there were far fewer computers, far fewer computer users, and most notably, far fewer Macintosh users. It’s easy to keep a small number of people happy with a small number of choices, but as your audience increases in size, so does the number of different viewpoints and desires expressed therein. Combine that with the concept of filling shelf space, and you see that the SE and II could exist on their own because they had far less immediate competition from PC clones (they weren’t sold in the same places, for one). Even still, Macs always looked outnumbered whenever they were displayed with other computers. That’s what having 15 models of Macs does for you, and discontinuing all but three Macs (Guy suggests the Color Classic, PowerBook 160, and Centris 650) would significantly shrink Apple’s presence in stores. Small presence, small sales. See TidBITS #171 for Marc Kossover’s article on shelf space wars.

This isn’t to imply that Apple is correct to keep ramping up the number of models at all times. For instance, the IIvx has never excited me, and with the quick introduction of the LC III below it and the Centris 610 and 650 above it, I can’t see much reason to keep it around. And, as much as I like the Duos, there isn’t much difference between them. Pick one, discontinue the other. Judicious weeding and the introduction of some stripped models for the budget-conscious power user could be the combination Apple needs, although with the Star Trek project at Apple putting the Macintosh operating system on PC machines on top of Novell’s DR DOS, all bets are off as to what Apple’s crack (or cracked?) marketing team will do next.

Information from:

Related articles:
Macworld — Jun-93, pg. 316