Skip to content
Thoughtful, detailed coverage of everything Apple for 32 years
and the TidBITS Content Network for Apple professionals
Show excerpts


More news from Macworld focusing on the PowerPC this week, along with a number of small articles on upgrades to HyperCard and ARA Commander, a free ZMODEM tool from Mark/Space Softworks, a list of the current System Enablers, the solution to the nasty problem some Duos have been having with charging the battery recently, an announcement of an Internet book sale, and finally, a look at the Auto Power On/Off control panel from Apple.

Adam Engst No comments


You may notice below that we have switched to using HTML (HyperText Markup Language) format for listing files at FTP sites. We are doing that as a slow progression toward making TidBITS more compatible with the World-Wide Web (WWW). The basic format is easy to figure out – a listing, called a URL or Universal Resource Locator, can look like one of these two possibilities (the difference being that the first one points at a file, whereas the second points at a directory):


If you use NCSA Mosaic heavily, you can easily copy that line, switch to Mosaic, from the File menu choose Open URL, and paste the URL into the dialog box to retrieve the file via Mosaic. Of course, it might be easier to use the information in Fetch or TurboGopher or just plain Unix FTP.

Adam Engst No comments

David Loebell

David Loebell <[email protected]> writes:

My most amusing moment at Macworld was at the huge Digital booth, which had a three-foot high neon sign that said "Digital at Macworld. Imagine that." They had a video pinball gimmick; you could play pinball onscreen, and then one of the fantastic Digital printers would print out a full-color picture of the game’s backboard with your score. Once when I passed by the game, it was frozen, and the backboard was displaying a corrupted version of its normal graphic. As Digital employees scurried around trying to fix it, the following message appeared on the backboard:

Not ready error writing device PRN.
Abort, Retry, Ignore?

[It’s rather "PC," but not exactly Politically Correct at a Macintosh trade show. -Adam]

Adam Engst No comments

Pete Gontier

Pete Gontier <[email protected]> writes:

I liked your editorial on why Macworld is not so exciting for "the rest of us" any more. One thing you may have missed: Macworld this year was just not very exciting for anyone, RAM Doubler aside. The reasons?

  • Developers are expending effort porting to PowerPC. It doesn’t make sense to me that this should be a big effort, but maybe a lot of code out there is skankier than one might think. Anyway, lots of folks were showing their products running fast on PowerPC machines. In a way, this is exciting, but it’s also boring. I found it boring. I’d rather see new ideas running slow. (Not that anyone should reconsider gifting me a PowerPC machine.)
  • Developers are holding back feature upgrade releases until March when the PowerPC Macs are rumored to ship. Developers can better take advantage of the Apple marketing hype juggernaut if their new features are demonstrated by Michael Spindler live on stage in front of 10,000 people and on worldwide satellite TV.

Adam Engst No comments

Video Solution vs. 840AV

Video Solution vs. 840AV — Mark Anbinder writes:

According to Apple, the Apple Professional Video Production Solution, announced on 03-Jan-94 but not yet shipping, is not compatible with the Quadra 840AV. Early product data sheets incorrectly indicated that the bundle could be used with the 840AV, as well as the Quadra 800 and 950 models.

The Professional Video Production Solution bundle includes a Storage Dimensions MacInStor SpeedArray 2 GB external hard disk that interfaces with the processor direct slot on the Quadra 800 and 950; the 840AV lacks a PDS and does not support the disk.

Adam Engst No comments

180c Shortage

180c Shortage — Pythaeus tells us that Apple has run out of the popular PowerBook 180c 4/160 and the corresponding bundle with Apple Express Modem. Although these configurations are in Apple’s current "instant rebate" promotion, running through 31-Jan-94, the "while supplies last" rule in that promotion may leave hopeful buyers without the model they want. Apple’s announcement that buyers considering the 180c should instead purchase the 4/80 model, or a Duo 270c, suggests that Apple plans to discontinue the 180c in the near future.

Adam Engst No comments

Glenn Fleishman

Glenn Fleishman <[email protected]> writes:

You recently mentioned the AppleCD 300 as a holiday gift. If you have a Mac that takes the internal AppleCD 300i, which is about $100 to $150 less than the external version, you may be out of luck for the near future. A project manager I know at Apple told me that the drives are ridiculously back ordered; the Apple Store doesn’t have them; and he had to arrange an internal trade to get one (for money even) for a relative. My employer ordered one from Computer City’s local outlet in September, and it took two months to arrive because of the backlog. The best advice my Apple contact offered is that if you buy a new Macintosh, don’t wait for a separate CD-ROM, because it could be a long wait. Instead, buy a configuration that includes the CD-ROM, because Apple has reserved that supply.

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

Read All About the Internet

Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers

Lauriat’s Books, a chain of bookstores around the U.S. (usually found in shopping malls), has a special sale on books about the Internet through the end of January. Several titles (identified by a blue dot on the cover) are 25 percent off. Among the offerings is Adam Engst’s Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh, which includes (as you already know if you’ve been paying attention) a disk full of useful software for Mac-based Internet users, including Apple’s normally $59 MacTCP, and two free weeks of Internet access through Seattle-based Northwest Nexus.

The bookstore attendants are unlikely to be able to provide much help on selecting the best titles since a decent store carries thousands of books on every imaginable topic. However, if you already have some good recommendations on books, this special deal will make those books more affordable.

[I no longer know which of the Unix Internet books are the best since there are about ten new ones. However, for those that don’t know how to search the List of Lists WAIS source, or where various electronic publications are located, a directory-type book on the Internet might be useful. They seldom offer unique information, but often it’s easier to do a quick flip in a book than to search the nets. I know of two decent books in this genre – Eric Braun’s The Internet Directory (ISBN 0-449-908-984) and Internet World’s On Internet 94 from Meckler Publishing (ISBN 0-88736-929-4). -Adam]

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

HyperCard 2.2 Upgrade

Apple announced that the over 52,000 registered users of HyperCard 2.0 and 2.1 will receive an upgrade coupon in the mail within the next few weeks, outlining the upgrade options for HyperCard 2.2. The upgrade is for owners of the HyperCard retail software package or the HyperCard Developer Licensing Kit, but not for people who received HyperCard or the HyperCard Player on the disks that came with a new Macintosh.

The upgrade, available only within the U.S., costs $89 for those who purchased HyperCard before 01-Nov-93, or $39 for those who bought it since (plus tax, shipping, and handling). The upgrade offer is valid through 01-Apr-94, and Apple accepts orders only by mail. Proof of purchase, which must be mailed with the order, may include the manual cover, disk, or an itemized sales invoice, for the $89 upgrade. Orders for the more-restricted $39 upgrade must include a dated, itemized sales invoice to prove purchase following 01-Nov-93.

If you registered your copy of HyperCard, you should receive an upgrade coupon. To ensure that you receive one, or for more information about the upgrade offer, call 800/769-2775, extension 7810. If we learn of upgrade offers available outside the U.S., we’ll pass the word along.

— Information from:
Apple propaganda

Adam Engst No comments

Mark/Space ZMODEM Tool Released

One of the most frequently asked of frequently asked questions on the Macintosh Internet discussion groups has been, "Is there a freeware or shareware ZMODEM tool for Communications Toolbox (CTB) programs?" Until very recently, the answer was always "No, and there aren’t really any common commercial ones either." Aladdin solved the commercial conundrum by including one with their popular new program, SITcomm, and DCA’s CrossTalk for Macintosh also includes one. But now, thanks to Mark/Space Softworks there is a free ZMODEM tool on the nets.

The tool (which lives in your Extensions folder) works with numerous CTB programs such as the communications modules in ClarisWorks, GreatWorks, and Microsoft Works, Synergy’s powerful VersaTerm, and Tim Endres’s free Termy. It supports auto receive, picks up interrupted transfers in the middle, supports batch transfers, works over telnet connections and serial connections using software flow control, and includes full status information.

The catch? "There must be a catch," you say. You’re right. The free version of the ZMODEM tool is actually a demo for the $29.95 commercial version, but the difference between the two is that the free demo version supports only downloading. Thus, if you’re like most people and mostly or only download files, the demo will serve your needs. And of course, you can order the full version with the order form included with the demo should you wish to take advantage of the speed and features of ZMODEM when uploading. zmodem-tool-100-demo.hqx

Mark/Space Softworks — 800/799-4737 — 510/649-7627
408/982-9781 (support) — 408/982-9780 (fax)
[email protected]

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

ARACommander Upgraded

At the end of 1993, Trilobyte Software announced that it has released a new version of its ARACommander client software for AppleTalk Remote Access (see TidBITS #178). The new version supports Apple’s recent ARA 2.0 release, and adds several new features.

ARACommander’s new feature set focuses on a full scheduling and scripting capability, as well as on additional security measures. While small license pricing has increased (from $19.95 to $35 for a single user license, for example) the bulk licensing has become more affordable (such as a 100-user license for $675).

ARACommander 1.0’s security offerings included the ability for a network manager to produce a "Connector" application that wasn’t modifiable, and that didn’t permit users to view the phone number or username settings. 2.0 adds the ability for the Connector to disable itself after a specified number of bad password attempts. Connectors may also be set to disable themselves after a certain number of days.

Connections may be scheduled through ARACommander’s own interface, and the software provides full AppleScript compatibility to allow even more flexible scheduling options. (Both connections and disconnections may be scheduled or scripted to occur automatically.) ARACommander can also automatically redial if the ARA server line is busy or doesn’t answer.

Registered users who purchased ARACommander after 31-Jul-93 may upgrade for a shipping and handling fee of $4, regardless of license size; earlier purchasers’ upgrade costs range from $10 for a single user license to $120 for the 100-user license.

Trilobyte Software — 513/777-6641 — 513/779-7760 (fax)
[email protected]

— Information from:
Ron Duritsch, Trilobyte Software — [email protected]

Adam Engst No comments

Current System Enablers

The information below comes directly from Apple Computer, and although not exactly new (the list was updated as of 03-Nov-93), it is still current. I won’t pretend that it’s terribly interesting to read, but I consider it important and useful information, and worth putting into the record in this fashion. If you use a Macintosh or Performa that is not listed below, don’t worry, it doesn’t require a System Enabler to boot. You can find all of the System Enablers (except those for the Performas) on: 7.1.system.enablers/

 Performa                        System Enabler Used    Version
  Performa 600                   System Enabler 304     1.0.1
  Performa 450,460,466/7         System Enabler 308     1.0
  Performa 475,476,550           System Enabler 364     1.1

 Macintosh                       System Enabler Used    Version
  Macintosh Centris 610          System Enabler 040     1.1
  Macintosh Centris 650          System Enabler 040     1.1
  Macintosh Centris 660AV        System Enabler 088     1.1
  Macintosh Color Classic        System Enabler 401     1.0.5
  Macintosh IIvi                 System Enabler 001     1.0.1
  Macintosh IIvx                 System Enabler 001     1.0.1
  Macintosh LC III               System Enabler 003     1.0
  Macintosh LC 475               System Enabler 065     1.0
  Macintosh LC 520               System Enabler 403     1.0.1
  Macintosh PowerBook 160        System Enabler 131     1.0.3    A
  Macintosh PowerBook 165c       System Enabler 131     1.0.3    A
  Macintosh PowerBook 180        System Enabler 131     1.0.3    A
  Macintosh PowerBook 180c       System Enabler 131     1.0.3    A
  Macintosh PowerBook Duo 210    PowerBook Duo Enabler  1.0
  Macintosh PowerBook Duo 230    PowerBook Duo Enabler  1.0
  Macintosh PowerBook Duo 250    PowerBook Duo Enabler  1.0
  Macintosh PowerBook Duo 270c   PowerBook Duo Enabler  1.0
  Macintosh Quadra 605           System Enabler 065     1.0
  Macintosh Quadra 610           System Enabler 040     1.1
  Macintosh Quadra 650           System Enabler 040     1.1
  Macintosh Quadra 660AV         System Enabler 088     1.1
  Macintosh Quadra 800           System Enabler 040     1.1
  Macintosh Quadra 840AV         System Enabler 088     1.1
  Macintosh TV                   System Enabler 404     1.0

  A - System Enabler 131 replaces System Enabler 111 and System
      Enabler 121

 * PowerBook Duo Enabler
     1.0   - First release. Replaces System Enabler 201.

 * System Enabler 001
     1.0   - First release.
     1.0.1 - Improved support for high speed serial communications
             and improved accuracy of the system clock. Also
             addressed a rare problem where floppies may not be
             ejected properly at shutdown.

 * System Enabler 003
     1.0   - First release.

 * System Enabler 040
     1.0   - First release.
     1.1   - Added support for Quadra 610 and Quadra 650.

 * System Enabler 065
     1.0   - First release.

 * System Enabler 088
     1.0   - First release.
     1.0.1 - Required for System 7 Pro 7.1.1 support.
     1.1   - Added support for Quadra 660AV.

 * System Enabler 131
     1.0   - First release to support the PowerBook 180c.
             Replaced System Enabler 121 (supporting 165c) as well
             as System Enabler 111 (supporting 160 & 180).
     1.0.2 - Corrected a problem involving the serial driver. If a
             user has the serial driver open, but is not
             transmitting, and then puts the PowerBook to sleep,
             any attempt to transmit upon waking, would cause
             the system to hang.
     1.0.3 - Added support for the PowerBook 165.

 * System Enabler 401
     1.0.4 - First release.
     1.0.5 - Fixed a problem involving erratic mouse movement with
             Apple II mouse based applications running on the Apple
             IIe card installed in the PDS slot.

 * System Enabler 403
     1.0   - First release.
     1.0.1 - Manufacturing release only.

 * System Enabler 404
     1.0   - First release.

Mike Harm No comments

Macworld and PowerPC Impressions

There was a demo of the PowerPC in the Apple Pavilion. The Apple rep talked about scalability and how they can increase speed by two, three and four times past current speeds. He then did a demo in which he ran Fractal Designer 2.5 on a 66 MHz Compaq Pentium Machine and compared it to a 66 MHz PowerPC Mac. Normally, Apple demos cheat in these tests by giving the DOS machine stock, slow bus video while most Macs have fast onboard video, but the demo involved very few screen draws so it was probably reasonably fair. The presenter launched Fractal Design on the Pentium box and started the test. He then spent 45-50 seconds describing the test (image blur, rotate, color separation – basically an integer and floating point mix with few disk accesses). After 45 seconds he started the PowerPC, which still won by about five seconds.

The PowerPC talk was odd in that the Apple guy was saying that PowerPC was going to be the future of Apple computers, it was great, it would let you do stuff you never imagined before, etc. and it would be available in just a few months. But, twenty feet away was the booth showing off the AV Macs, which left one to wonder why anyone would be interested in 680×0-based Mac now… but a lot of people were buying them, so I guess there’s some sense to it. [I suspect it has something to do with people needing a new Mac now, and not wanting to bet on the first PowerPCs being completely compatible right off. -Adam]

Apple said it plans to offer upgrades for many of the newer Mac models, and DayStar plans to sell cards for several models for which Apple won’t offer upgrade. So there’s hope for you Mac IIsi owners out there!

An Apple Developer talk went into the nuts and bolts of the PowerPC, showing how the PowerPC architecture could be scaled up internally and how the Pentium can’t (for instance, the first two clock ticks of a floating point operation on a Pentium are done in the integer unit, so integer and floating point operations cannot be done concurrently). Basically, the only thing the Pentium can do is increase clock speed; it has hit its architectural ceiling. The talk went on a lot about emulation mode and how a PowerPC can run almost any ordinary Mac application.

Many booths on the floor were showing their wares in native PowerPC applications, with real PowerPCs hidden under a black cloth. [I’m not sure why they bothered to hide the machines, given the fact all the real ones I saw at various times looked much like normal Macs (generally the Quadra 610 case) without a nameplate. -Adam]

An engineer from Apple said they brought a case of champagne to a conference a month ago and offered a bottle to anyone whose Macintosh application could work on a normal Mac but crash a PowerPC in emulation mode. They didn’t give any away.

Microsoft said they probably wouldn’t have native PowerPC versions of Word or Excel done when the PowerPC Macs ship, but shortly thereafter. They are busy getting Word 6.0 up on the Mac first, then worrying about PowerPC stuff. [You have to wonder if Word or Excel for NT might not be draining a few resources right now as well. -Adam]

Wolfram Research said there wouldn’t be a student version of native Mathematica for the PowerPC, because it would have to be every bit as fast as the full blown version (which would be, of course, as fast as a Sparc 2) due to the fact that the SANE math library on the Mac will be native PowerPC, and not emulated. Another guy said there would be a lower-priced student version, however, that would be cut back in some other way.

Biggest Lies of the Show

  • "WordPerfect Inc. has always had an eye on the Macintosh market."
  • "Apple has a terrific track record with respect to offering machine upgrades."
  • "Microsoft will be working with other smaller companies in a collaborative effort."
  • "Apple has always encouraged the small developer."
  • "An Iris Indigo workstation is just as easy to use as a Macintosh." (for some reason, Iris had a display at Macworld)

Brad Cox No comments

Duo Charges Refused

Here’s the resolution to the non-charging Duo battery problem repeatedly discussed on comp.sys.mac.portables. This problem is real, verified in several discussions with 800/SOS-APPL and one $30 visit to an "Authorized Repair Shop" with my brand new Duo 250. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my proof of purchase in the clinch.

The symptom is that the Duo refuse to charge its battery, though it runs fine on external power. The cause is a still-mysterious conflict (mysterious to Apple as well; they’re still tracking this one down) between the recently released PowerBook Duo Enabler 1.0 and the Express Modem software, both of which came pre-installed from the factory in my case.

The result of this combination is that sooner or later (the trigger is unknown), something low-level that controls charging becomes corrupted such that none of the standard "reset the world" tricks can repair it (zapping the PRAM, resetting the Power Manager by holding in the reset button for 20 seconds with the battery out, resetting the Power Manager by leaving all power sources disconnected for an hour, etc.).

The fix is to completely remove all power in order to clear the corrupted bits. There’s a slow way and a quick way to do this. The slow way is to remove the external battery and leave the Duo unplugged long enough for the internal lithium battery to run down. You can also send the whole thing back to Apple for a warranty repair in that time since we’re talking about two days or more.

The quicker way is to remove the external battery and unplug the internal lithium battery for about 15 seconds. To get to the internal battery, you must remove the keyboard by removing the three screws that hold it in with a Torx T8 driver – auto supply stores generally have it. The three screws you want are towards the back of the Duo (there’s a fourth towards the front under the trackball that needn’t be disconnected.)

The tricky bit is disconnecting the internal lithium battery. Its connector sits under the right end of the space bar; it’s the connector with three multicolored wires leading in. The connector is so tiny I couldn’t figure how to disconnect it, which is why I gave up and took it to the shop. It turns out that the connector unhooks by motion parallel to the circuit board best achieved by using two small screwdrivers to push against the two wings provided for this purpose.

All this (except the do it yourself part and the connector disconnect drill, which I learned by spending $30 to watch the repairman do this) has been verified with 800/SOS-APPL. They’re working on curing the problem at the root, and will release a new PowerBook Duo Enabler and/or Express Modem Software kit when they do.

Be very careful if you try this fix yourself since you are guaranteed to void your warranty if you blow it. Things are delicate in there.

Dieder Bylsma No comments

Auto Power On/Off

With the release of the Quadra 840AV (it also comes with the 660AV), among the many goodies that Apple included with it such as speech recognition and speaking capabilities, Apple also included with it a new control panel called Auto Power On/Off. Auto Power On/Off does exactly what its title implies and permits the user of a System 7.1 machine that is capable of soft-power on (i.e. power on by the keyboard power key) to schedule the Mac’s shutdown and startup times. However, so far as I can tell, it only works on the following three modular Macs: Quadra 840AV, the IIvx, and the IIsi.

The control panel consists of a number of options, one section controls startup times, one controls shutdown times, and a few extra options control warning times given for the shutdown of the Mac, as well as an "auto-restart in event of power-failure" feature. Auto Power On/Off provides two options for startups or shutdowns. One option is a scheduled "one-time only" startup/shutdown, and can be specified to occur just once. The other option is recurring, i.e. the machine can be set to turn itself on or off on any of the days of the week, weekdays, or weekends. As for the additional warning time options, Auto Power On/Off provides an option of whether or not a warning is needed before shutdown and how long ahead of the shutdown time to give the warning. If the warning is set for more than an hour ahead of time, the machine warns the user at one hour, fifteen minute, ten minute and one minute before shutdown. Settings are saved in a Preferences file in the Preferences folder.

The auto-restart in case of power failure feature is a mixed blessing, depending on your electrical situation. The idea behind it is that if the power is suddenly cut off at the source, as in an electrical blackout (but not if you hit the power switch at the back of the machine), the Mac turns itself on when the power returns. All in all, for a small 47K control panel, it packs a variety of useful power supply options, allowing scheduling of startup and/or shutdown times, at a user-determined interval, to warning options, and the ability for an auto-restart in event of a black-out.

The Shutdown process is just as if the user had actually chosen Shutdown from the Finder menu, and thus can be stalled if the user has open applications with unsaved changes at the time of shutdown. If the user wants a machine guaranteed to shut down regardless of the status of various changes, various third party programs help with that, such as ShutDown Items.

Why Apple has not implemented this feature in other machines is impossible to say, especially since this feature is not new, and was in fact documented in the IIsi developer notes released in 1991. However, all is not lost to those who don’t have the IIsi/IIvx/Quadra 840AV, since there are several third-party hardware devices that work on all ADB-capable Macs. These devices include the PowerSwitch LT from Radiant Enterprises, the PowerKey from Sophisticated Circuits, and the SmartBar from Sequence Electronics. [I have more information on the PowerSwitch LT and the SmartBar planned for a future issue. -Adam]