Apple experiments with new varieties of the Macintosh this month, so we have a report on the Macintosh TV and the Quadra 610, DOS Compatible, which wins the worst name of the year award. Andrew Johnston reviews the powerful and popular BBEdit, Mark Anbinder explains some of the issues behind FirstClass bounces, and readers provide various useful comments, such as international availability of the Color It deal.
This issue comes a day early since I’m spending much of the week at the Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Hypertext here in Seattle. Monday night I hope to attend a reception in honor of Ted Nelson, the father of hypertext and creator of the Xanadu system. If you want to read more about Ted Nelson and Xanadu, I suggest you dig back into the TidBITS archives for TidBITS #30, in which Ian Feldman focused on Xanadu. And of course, I’ll have a report on the entire conference, probably in next week’s issue.
Mark H. Anbinder <[email protected]> writes:
Thanks are due to several alert readers who let us know that the lack of FPU on the low-end Quadra 610 model only appears to affect Apple U.S.A. customers. The internationally-available Quadra 610 4/160, popular in higher-education programs overseas, sports a complete 68040 processor. As far as we can determine, only the U.S. Quadra 610 8/160 has a 68LC040 processor.
Chris Jackson <[email protected]> writes:
I recently discovered that MicroFrontier offers their special pricing to international customers as well (see TidBITS #199). The international price for Color It is $15, which includes shipping, as opposed to the $8.37 it costs in the U.S.
MicroFrontier — 800/949-5555 — 515/270-8109 — 515/278-6828 (fax)
Communicate Coughing — If you try the Communicate Lite demo mentioned in TidBITS #199, and you leave it connected but idle in the background, it will make a slight coughing noise every five minutes to let you know you are still connected, much as AppleLink does. The reminder helps you to avoid running up a phone bill or running down a PowerBook battery. If you don’t like the sound, you can turn it off, pick another one, or increase the time between reminders.
Trivia quiz for the week time… Can you place these quotes?
"It can run Mac software at about the speed of a IIcx,
PC software at the speed of a 33 MHz 386 clones…"
"Apple decided to take advantage of their "MacOS Blue"
project and the ready availability of inexpensive
Pentiums (Intel’s trade name for the processor commonly
but incorrectly known as the 586) by shipping an
Intel-based Macintosh late this summer."
Unless you search way back in TidBITS, you probably won’t the first quote, since it came from TidBITS #52, whereas the second quote came from TidBITS #171, a more recent issue. The main thing these two quotes share is that they’re fake – they were both April Fool jokes, the first one in 1991, the second one in 1993.
It’s said that life imitates art, and if so Mark and I have earned our artistic licenses. On Monday, Apple will announce the Quadra 610, DOS Compatible. That’s what I’ve heard it’s called, which is even stupider than other names Apple has thought up recently, but there’s still hope that our advance information from Pythaeus isn’t quite correct on that account.
The specs Pythaeus reported are real though, and we’re talking about a 25 MHz 68LC040 (the one without the FPU) and a 25 MHz 486SX (which is roughly comparable). We’re still not sure to what extent the two environments can interact in terms of sharing RAM, copying information, etc., but if you have a single monitor you can switch between Mac and DOS with a keystroke, and if you have two monitors (it doesn’t require an additional video card) you can view both environments at the same time. The machine supports standard VGA, SVGA, and multisync monitors as well as normal Macintosh monitors, but the specifics are still masked.
The machine includes MS-DOS 6 (hopefully 6.2, which is supposedly less prone to snacking on your hard disk if you use its built-in compression) but no mention was made of Windows. The two configurations of the machine (notice how I’m actively trying to avoid typing that awful name) include an 8/160 with Ethernet and an 8/230/CD with Ethernet and an FPU. The only special port that the machine includes is a PC joystick port.
For existing owners of the Centris 610 or Quadra 610, the DOS Compatibility Card for Macintosh provides similar functionality. No word about support for other models, not even the 660AV, which shares the 610 case. It’s entirely likely that the machine is an experiment, much like the Macintosh TV (see below), and should it prove a successful one we’ll undoubtedly see more blue blood in this vein from Apple.
Pricing for the machine is rumored at about $500 more than the price of a comparable Quadra 610, so one would assume that the stand-alone card will cost somewhere around $500 as well.
Unfortunately, this article, which includes everything we know at the moment, asks more questions than it answers, so we’ll all have to wait for those answers to appear.
— Information from:
Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers
Although Maury Markowitz’s article on avoiding non-delivery notices (NDNs) on FirstClass systems (see TidBITS #199) has some useful suggestions, a bit more explanation might be in order so that FirstClass administrators can make educated decisions on what’s right for their systems.
- Expiry dates should be set such that the contents of a conference or folder won’t be unwieldy to the new user, but more importantly so that the conference won’t overflow. FirstClass has a limit of 1,024 items in a single conference, so if a mailing list or USENET newsgroup carries heavy traffic, it will fill up quickly, and messages beyond the limit will be rewarded with NDNs sent to the confused message senders. Allowing busy newsgroups’ messages to expire in a couple of days is appropriate. For low-traffic mailing lists such as the TidBITS distribution list, an expiry length of weeks or months is not unreasonable.
- Placing "Internet" and "Contributor" on the first line of the Permissions screen for an Internet conference is a good generalization, but won’t be suitable for every system. If your conferences, by default, allow unrestricted message posting, that’s plenty. If you wish to restrict posting at all, though, your Internet gateway must indeed have posting privileges explicitly assigned, and of course if your Internet gateway has a name other than "Internet" you must use the correct name. The permission list must go from highest privileges to lowest or no privileges.
- If a message comes to a FirstClass server from another FirstClass server that received it from the Internet, both the FirstClass gateway and the local Internet gateway (if the destination server has one) need posting privileges.
- Do indeed make sure you have a conference named "JunkNews" if you are using one of the PostalUnion gateways from Information Electronics. If you are using another gateway product, follow its instructions to accommodate incoming USENET news articles that have no place to go.
- Regardless of your gateway software, you should have a user, mailing list, or conference named "Postmaster" that receives messages sent to that address at your Internet site. (This is a network standard address for sending error reports or administrative messages to a site.)
Is Macintosh TV the wave of the future for the next generation of Macintosh-using couch potatoes? Or is it merely a special edition gimmick that will run afoul of societal customs? That’s what Apple intends to find out.
Macintosh TV combines a IIvx-class Macintosh with a color television monitor. The Macintosh details include a 32 MHz 68030 (no word on the speed of the data bus, the albatross slung around the neck of the IIvx) with 5 MB of RAM, a SuperDrive, and a 160 MB hard disk. The hard disk is no doubt standard, but Apple limited RAM expandability to 8 MB, which is pure idiocy in today’s world where 8 MB is rapidly becoming a realistic minimum configuration. I suspect that the 5 MB comes in the form of 4 MB soldered on and a 1 MB SIMM in a single slot, but I can’t imagine why Apple would prevent you from putting an 8 MB or 16 MB SIMM in that slot. It’s also unclear which motherboard model Apple used – only the original PowerBooks were limited to 8 MB of RAM, but none used 32 MHz processors.
Like the Performas, Macintosh TV comes with various pieces of bundled software, including ClarisWorks 2.0 (perfect for many students), the American Heritage Electronic Dictionary, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, HomeWork Templates, and the Performa Click Art Collection. Bundled CD-ROMs include Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia, World Atlas, Space Shuttle, Wonders of the World (Volume I), Time Almanac 1993, and the Kodak Photo CD Sampler.
The television is a 14" color Sony Trinitron display capable of displaying 8-bit color (256 colors) with a .26 mm dot pitch (that’s good). Although the system has 512K VRAM, there’s no telling if you could add more. More interestingly, Macintosh TV includes a built-in cable tuner. Interaction between the television and the computer is limited to frame grabbing, channel surfing, password-protection of TV mode, and closed captions, although many of these features I’d have to see to fully understand. The frame grabbing feature will prove incredibly popular, I suspect, and I’m sure we’ll soon see 640 x 480 startup screens from every imaginable television show and movie. Do keep in mind that you may violate copyright law by grabbing such a screen shot and distributing it, even for free.
Apple didn’t stop with the Macintosh and the TV, but added a standard AppleCD 300i internal double-speed CD-ROM drive. The CD-ROM drive plays normal audio CDs and CD-ROMs, and is compatible with Kodak’s PhotoCD format disks.
Normal TV and computer features abound, so you can attach all sorts of Macintosh peripherals, as well as TV peripherals like a VCR, camcorder, laserdisc player, or video game unit. A single infrared remote controls both the TV functions and the CD player, and I bet that someone at MacHack next year will hack it to control the Mac as well.
If Macintosh TV sounds like an experiment, that’s because it is. Apple only sells Macintosh TV in the U.S. (a chorus of groans arises from international readers – I know) and only via selected consumer retail stores, higher education dealers, and the Apple Catalog. The price isn’t bad at $2,079 (and that’s the ApplePrice, which means that you probably won’t find significant discounts from it), and there is only the one configuration.
If I were in college, I’d be drooling over Macintosh TV, although I still think I would have preferred a Duo over a desktop Mac of any sort. Nonetheless, the college market is perfect for such a machine. Many college students don’t yet have TVs, Macs, or CD players, and with the addition of some decent speakers (a slightly strange omission), you’ve got a fabulous dorm room system (minus a radio, unfortunately). Dorm rooms, generally being smaller than the average broom closet, won’t suffer from what I see as the major problem such a Mac will face – placement. It sounds silly, but how many of you watch TV from the same location as you work on your Mac? I’m willing to bet the percentage is low – my mother always told me to move back from the TV when I was a kid (apparently The Mother’s Manual knew about VLF and ELF radiation long ago) but you can’t read a computer screen from six feet away. Most normal furniture that holds TVs isn’t designed to function as a desk (the ergonomic implications of people using TV stands as desk are painful to consider), and frankly, 14" is a bit small for a TV these days. There’s also a question of whether or not many people think of TVs and computers as being related – TVs encourage passivity whereas computers require interaction. Interactive TV has generally flopped – will the same societal viewpoints hurt Macintosh TV?
Finally, although it seems to make sense to combine these electronic gadgets, similar attempts at combining fax machines, scanners, printers, and copiers have generally failed miserably. Macintosh TV could run afoul of the same problem – why buy a Macintosh TV when you already have a TV or a Macintosh? Because it’s cool, that’s why!
So no, I don’t think that Macintosh TV will put the Mac into every living room. I do think it that will be perfect for a high school or college student who doesn’t already have a computer, television, or CD player. Putting it all into a single case was intelligent as well, since the people for whom Macintosh TV makes sense move frequently, and it’s a pain to deal with gobs of different components and cables.
President, Johnston/Johnston Consulting, Macintosh Developer
I first started using BBEdit 2.2 about six months ago and was impressed with all of the features available in this freeware package from Bare-Bones Software. Not only was it free, but there was an Internet address for support: [email protected]. Since then, two other versions of BBEdit have become available: BBEdit Lite 2.3 and BBEdit 2.5. BBEdit Lite 2.3 is a smaller version of BBEdit 2.2 but lacks some of the features of 2.2. It is, however, the official freeware version of BBEdit – version 2.2 is no longer supported. BBEdit Lite has everything that 2.2 has, except:
- XTND support
- THINK Reference support
- ToolServer support
- On Location support
Bare-Bones Software released BBEdit 2.5 about the time of the Apple World Wide Developers conference. Unlike BBEdit Lite 2.3, BBEdit 2.5 is the commercial version of BBEdit (yes – you pay for this one – but it is worth it!) and sports a host of new features not available in previous versions. BBEdit has too many features for me to completely cover them all in the space of this review, but I will try to cover those that I found most interesting.
First, let’s talk a little about what BBEdit is. BBEdit is a text-only editor well-suited for software developers. BBEdit is not a word processor in the sense of Nisus or Word. You won’t be inserting any graphics or QuickTime movies into BBEdit – nor will you be changing the font or font style every other paragraph. You will be working with a stable, well-written text editor that has been fine-tuned for software development.
I have used BBEdit 2.5 since the release of the Symantec C++ compiler and will, for the most part, be reviewing this commercial version of the product. I have used BBEdit version 2.5 in conjunction with Symantec C++ 6.0, Think Reference 2.0, and the MPW ToolServer on several Macintosh platforms – a Mac IIcx with Radius Rocket 25i, a Mac LC III, and a PowerBook 170 – all running System 7.1. BBEdit ran equally well on all platforms, but is the most useful when there is plenty of memory available to have all the above Apple event-savvy applications loaded and running. This was no problem with the Mac IIcx/Rocket (32 MB) and the LC III (20 MB) but worked less well on the PowerBook 170 (8 MB). With only 8 MB available I found that I could leave the THINK Project Manger and BBEdit open simultaneously and had to alternate between using the Symantec Debugger or the THINK Reference (but not both). Your use will vary depending on the size of your system and projects. It should be noted that this is not BBEdit’s fault, since it needs a minimum of 320K of memory – more for lots of open documents.
BBEdit has two basic kinds of windows, browser windows and edit windows. It can show multiple disk/file browsers, multiple Symantec Project browsers, a compile error browser, and a glossary browser.
The disk/file browsers allow you to browse any installed file system and view any files that BBEdit recognizes in the bottom panel of the browser. BBEdit is also compatible with the Claris XTND file filters. You can select and copy any text displayed in the browser, but you cannot edit the file without opening an edit window. The Project browsers allow you to look at the contents of any Symantec Version 6.0 Project to see which files or libraries (sub-projects) are in the project. You can view any text files included in the project or automatically launch the Project to start using it. Note that this means that the THINK Project Manager doesn’t have to be running in order to parse the projects! BBEdit can also open project documents created by THINK C 5.0 or THINK Pascal 4.0. The Compile Error browser lists all errors generated by the Symantec compiler – more about it later. The Glossary browser allows you to access the glossary feature of BBEdit.
Using BBEdit as the main editor in conjunction with the new Symantec 6.0 Project Manager is virtually seamless and adds a host of features that you won’t find in the standard Symantec editor. A few of the features I particularly appreciated were:
- split screen editing panes
- multiple file and disk searching
- compare tools similar to the MPW compare script
- compiler errors batch window
- ToolServer support
- THINK Reference/MPW 411 support
- support for DOS files (LF support etc.)
BBEdit communicates via Apple events to the MPW ToolServer, THINK Reference 2.0, and the Symantec compilers. To take advantage of this integration you must run System 7; however, BBEdit does work under System 6. My main motivation for using the commercial version of BBEdit is that it has integrated support for the new Symantec C and C++ compilers. In particular, you can use BBEdit 2.5 as the host editor when using the Symantec compiler by selecting "Use external editor" in the Editor preferences under the THINK Project Manager Options. Then place an alias (renamed "Editor") to the BBEdit application in the Tools folder in the Symantec compiler folder. This enables the Symantec C/C++ compiler to communicate with an external editor using Apple events under System 7.
Once you have the Symantec compiler set up to use BBEdit as the external editor you can execute almost all of the compiler functions from BBEdit. BBEdit’s THINK menu supports bringing the THINK Project Manger to the front, Compile, Check Syntax, Add File, Add & Compile, Disassemble, Preprocess, Precompile, Bring up to Date, Make, and Run. Unfortunately not all the command key equivalents for the compiler commands are the same as those in the THINK Project Manager.
The THINK Project Manager communicates compiler errors and warnings via Apple events to BBEdit, which displays them in the Compile Errors browser window. The browser lists all the errors reported from the Symantec compiler and shows the selected file and highlighted error in the lower section of the browser. To edit the error you double-click on the error listed in the browser, which opens the file and displays the line containing the error. As with the Symantec Editor, the file does not have to be explicitly saved to disk before compiling or checking syntax. For some reason BBEdit never adds the Compile Errors window to the its window management menu – all other open windows are added to BBEdit’s Windows menu for easy window management. When working with several files you can easily lose sight of the Compile Errors window. Hopefully this is just an oversight and will be changed in the next release of BBEdit.
BBEdit can NOT set breakpoints for the debugger. This is a shortcoming because to set breakpoints you must go to the THINK Project Manger, turn off the Use external editor option, and then use the Project Manager’s built-in editor to set the breakpoints or set them directly in the debugger window. This is an oversight of the THINK Project Manger’s Apple event suite which I hope Symantec will rectify in later releases.
In addition to Symantec compiler support, BBEdit also has integrated support for the MPW ToolServer. This feature puts it in a class shared by few other editors. BBEdit can start and quit ToolServer from the BBEdit ToolServer menu. BBEdit also adds to the BBEdit ToolServer Menu any MPW tools or scripts that the user places in the BBEdit ToolServer folder. This makes for a great replacement to the cumbersome MPW environment and is essential for those developers using MPW compilers. BBEdit opens a MPW Worksheet window for ToolServer that allows you to communicate with the MPW environment. You can generally perform any action that you would normally run from MPW as long as it doesn’t require an open text file to perform. Once again, this limitation stems not from BBEdit, but from ToolServer.
BBEdit recognizes MPW Projector source control information but does not currently directly support the MPW SourceServer. Rich Siegel, BBEdit’s author, indicates that he hopes to add direct support for SourceServer along the lines of the existing ToolServer support in the near future.
Be aware of one quirk when using BBEdit with files that are under MPW Projector support. In the current version of BBEdit, Projector and Read-Only support are mutually exclusive. If you check both Projector-Aware and Open Read-Only under the Filing Preferences, BBEdit will overlook any projector status. In other words, if both of these options are checked you can quickly change from Read-Only to Read-Write without seeing the "Do you want to change the status of the projector file to Modify Read-Only" dialog, fooling you into thinking that the file is not under source code control. When working on a software project not all the files I’m looking at may be under source code control (Projector), such as Mac Header files, MacApp source, or TCL source. In this case I would prefer to default to opening all files as read-only to help me from changing the source by accident. Rich is aware of this quandary and hopefully will address it in the future.
BBEdit supports both THINK Reference and MPW 411 files. You can select which reference will be your primary lookup for Toolbox help. I tend to use the THINK Reference as my primary source of information; however, the MPW 411 system allows you to build your own custom help files for projects. You must run the MPW ToolServer to access 411 help files. Regardless of whether you use THINK Reference or using MPW 411 files you access help via the Toolbox Lookup menu item under the Search menu, or via the command minus keyboard shortcut. BBEdit then sends the appropriate Apple event to request the information for the highlighted words.
BBEdit has strong search and replace capabilities including standard GREP (Global Regular Expression Parser) style searches that enable you to easily search for textual patterns. You can search the active window, all currently open documents, the entire project, or entire directories for matches. This can also extend to global search and replace. Batch search operations are displayed in a Search Results browser window added to the Windows menu. Search Browser windows have an upper section showing the line containing the found items and a lower section that displays the rest of the text file surrounding the selection. You can view the entire file in the browser window, but you cannot edit it. Double-clicking on the search list or on the Open button quickly opens the text file. BBEdit can open all the file types that it recognizes – either text-only or any file that is supported through the Claris XTND file filters – and can search the data fork of any file.
You can extend the capabilities of BBEdit by writing your own code resources of type BBXT. BBEdit loads all code resource extensions in the BBEdit Extensions folder at program startup and places them in the BBEdit Extensions menu. BBEdit ships with a handful of extensions – some are useful in their own right and a few are just examples to help you write your own BBEdit extensions. The manual carefully details how to write your own extensions and includes the programming interface to BBEdit. Quite frankly, BBEdit is so full featured that most users will never have the need to write their own extensions, but it is nice to know that the flexibility is there. Other BBEdit users have written a number of extensions generally available on the nets.
My pet peeve with BBEdit is that it lacks a built-in pop-up function/marker function for quickly accessing C/C++ functions and markers similar to the ones in the THINK Project Manger Editor. BBEdit does come with a demo copy of PopUpFuncs ($45 from SciComp Software) that provides this functionality, but this is a glaring omission. Other users may not consider this a problem, but considering this is one of the most heavily used features of any programmer’s editor I think it should be an integral part of the editor and not an add-on. Also, PopUpFuncs 2.0 doesn’t list C++ overloaded operator methods in its list of functions, making it incomplete for C++ work.
BBEdit’s manual is detailed and well-written in a style similar to the old THINK C 5.0 manuals. Overall, the product is well thought-out and has evolved and been tested over a period of years by hundreds (perhaps thousands) of early BBEdit freeware users. BBEdit provides much functionality in an uncluttered interface that belies its power. This program works and will work for you regardless of which development system you use, just as it provided a strong, straightforward, tool set for software development for me in both THINK C/C++ and MPW. BBEdit is my editor of choice for almost all development projects.
BBEdit retails for $99 and can be purchased directly from Bare-Bones Software. There are also discount prices for students (with proof of enrollment) for $29, and $49 for previous users of the old BBEdit. Users who want to upgrade can send in a screen shot of their BBEdit Lite or BBEdit 2.2 About box or Get Info window to get the discounted price. There is also a discount for competing products (QUED/M, Vantage, etc.) or complementary products (THINK C, THINK Pascal, MPW, etc.) at $49. E-mail orders should be sent to <[email protected]>, or to 73051,3255 on CompuServe.
Bare-Bones Software — 508/651-3561 — [email protected]