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Fat binary versions of programs get more votes from readers in this issue, and we pass on the announcement of the latest After Dark Module Programming Contest in which you don’t even have to be a programmer to compete. Those without expandable Macs may be interested in PowerR’s video solutions, and we look at Farallon’s Timbuktu Pro, which enables you to control a Macintosh remotely over an AppleTalk network, via ARA, or over the Internet.

Adam Engst No comments


The quote of the week goes to Bill Gates, who was paraphrased in a MacWEEK article in the 22-Aug-94 issue as saying that no company has produced more titles for Power Macs [than Microsoft]. This is indeed true, but only on the planet Stiltspah, where Power Mac-native versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Project, and FoxPro have been shipping for over three years. [ACE]

Adam Engst No comments


LISTSERV Reminder — Just as a quick reminder, you can subscribe to TidBITS via an Internet mailing list (yes, this works for people on America Online, CompuServe, and so on). To subscribe, send email to <[email protected]> with this line in the body of the mailfile:

SUBSCRIBE TIDBITS your full name

The corollary to this piece of information is that to change your subscription from one email address to another, first send the SIGNOFF TIDBITS command to <[email protected]> from your old account, and then subscribe again using the instructions above from your new account. In other words, there is no "change subscription" command. If it’s impossible for you to sign off from your old account, I can do it for you, but frankly, if you can work with the automated LISTSERV program, I’m sure it enjoys the task more than I do. [ACE]

Adam Engst No comments

Submitting to TidBITS

Submitting to TidBITS — I just ran into a situation that I feel bad about, and I hope this note might help matters in the future. Someone sent me email about a product he had used and liked, and several issues later, Mark independently wrote an article about the same product. This guy justifiably felt a little miffed that we’d ignored him, and I don’t like hurting people’s feelings. The problem is that I get a lot of mail, often well over a hundred messages a day via the Internet. I also get mail via CompuServe and America Online (but would prefer not to – please use the Internet gateways if you can) that I check less frequently. If someone sends me a message telling me about a new product, or some new Internet resource for Mac users, or something like that, it’s likely to be filed away for future reference. We are currently talking about new ways of storing away all the information that comes in via email, but for now, we’re more likely to use information that already resembles a MailBIT or article (it helps especially if you check both sides of any issues and include contact information and especially email addresses). It’s also a good idea to ask first about article ideas, just to make sure there’s no duplication of effort. [ACE]

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

Display Card 24AC

Display Card 24AC software is now available for Power Mac users; version 1.2 of the video card driver supports Power Macintosh. Version 1.1 was compatible with Power Macintosh hardware, but ran slowly because it was 680×0 code running in emulation. The update can be found on AppleLink, eWorld, and other online services. [MHA] SW Updates/

Adam Engst No comments

Joshua Weinberg

Joshua Weinberg <[email protected]> writes to say that he purchased System 7.5 for $99 last Saturday at CompUSA in New York City. Although he noted that the CompUSA folks said they had gotten System 7.5 in ten days early, it sounds like it will be available for the masses soon. Talk to your friendly local dealer or other purveyor of Macintosh software. You might also ask your user group – we’ve heard rumblings about user groups selling System 7.5 cheaper than the stores, reportedly for $49. [ACE]

Adam Engst No comments

Fat Binary Comments

Many people wrote in to comment on my article about fat binaries in TidBITS-240, in the process raising a few issues that I hadn’t previously considered.

Peter Lewis <[email protected]> notes:

The Umich archive people said they don’t want two different versions at <>, so a fat binary is pretty much the only choice. It’s a slight pain since it makes downloading take longer (and cost more), but I see their point.

Chris Meyer <[email protected]> writes:

We have a pair of Quadra 950s with Apple Power Mac upgrade cards in them and often switch between PowerPC and 68040 modes, depending on what we want to do and whether or not we have native tools.

We dislike needing two versions of each program for the two modes our Quadras can run in. Sometimes double-clicking on a document opens the wrong version (which means you either run very slow, or you crash). Some plug-ins even come in two versions, requiring two different plug-in folders. And installers are often stupid in their attempt to be smart – we want both versions installed, not the one that matches the current CPU mode. In the latest version of Elastic Reality, which uses the VICE installer, I went to custom and checked both versions – and it still only installed the 040 versions. Sigh.

Andrew Zmolek <[email protected]> echoes Chris’s comments:

Don’t forget that some of us have PowerPC upgrade cards and want to have fat binaries of all our favorite programs. If I can get a fat binary, then I know I’m always running as fast as I can for either processor.

I have a big beef with companies like Claris and WordPerfect that refuse to provide fat binaries. This forces me to install both versions and I have to use drag & drop to ensure that I open my files with the correct version.

WordPerfect 3.0 can be "fattened" by pasting the code resources from the 68K version into the PowerPC version, but ClarisWorks can’t. It has different resources between the two versions, so this trick won’t work. Moreover, ClarisWorks complains that it’s been modified. Speaking with the Claris folks made it clear to me that they care nothing about making a fat binary version, even though that’s what they promised when I ordered the PowerPC-native upgrade several months ago.

There are other legitimate reasons to want fat binaries. Applications that reside on fileservers are easier to use and maintain if they’re fat. Shareware and freeware can be passed on to other users without regard to the type of Mac they’ll be run on.

Mike Tippets <[email protected]> writes:

In preparing our native version of WordPerfect 3.0, which shipped on 14-Mar-94, we heavily researched the fat binary option. We determined as you concluded in your article that a "smart installer" was the better solution. However, as you mentioned at the end of the article, it is also a nice option to have a fat binary choice. Our large site customers have since requested that we give them a fat binary option in the installer. The reason for this request is that many times they want to install one copy of the application on a server and let Power Macs and 68K Macs access the same location for their application. Having the fat binary option gives them this choice. We are adding a fat binary option in the custom part of our installer for WordPerfect 3.1 in response to this request.

George Suttle <[email protected]> adds:

The fat binary issues is becoming problematic for me. I took my old Classic II into my office when I got my new Power Mac 7100. Naturally I want programs optimized for the Power Mac, but programs like PageMaker 5.0 that only include PowerPC code prevent me from using them at work. Some license agreements permit installation on home/office machines so long as there isn’t simultaneous use, but that’s undermined by Aldus’s practice of dual releases. On the other hand, I don’t want to spare room on my crammed-up Classic II drive for redundant code. So I would come down on the side of smart installers.

Tonya Engst No comments

After Dark Contest

The deadline for this year’s Berkeley Systems After Dark module contest is 14-Oct-94, and the prizes look pretty good. The contest has four categories and only one requires you to know anything about programming.

In the Programming category you must program either a Macintosh module or a Windows module. For the Artist category you must create the computer graphics for a module and describe how it would work visually. To enter the Kids category, you must be 12 years old or younger and submit drawings and a written description of the module. Finally, the Classroom category works much like the Kids category, but it’s for a collaboration among children in a classroom (grades K-6).

For the Programmer and Artist categories, one grand prize winner receives the hefty sum of $10,000, and runner-ups receive assorted computer equipment and software. The first place winner in the Kids category gets a Performa for personal use; the first place winners in the Classroom category win four Performas for their school. To get an entry form, look in the Berkeley Systems forum on America Online or CompuServe, call Berkeley Systems at 510/540-5535 (ask for extension 600 to reach the contest hotline), or look on the Internet using a Web browser at either: BerkeleySystems

This particular FTP site also has a large collection of After Dark modules if you want more.

Also, aspiring After Dark module programmers can hook into the module developer community by subscribing to a mailing list for module programmers. Send email asking to be added to <[email protected]>.

Information from:
Berkeley Systems propaganda
Lloyd Wood (Screensaver FAQ author) <[email protected]> /screensaver-faq-21.txt

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

Video Without Holes

Director of Technical Services, Baka Industries Inc.

By early 1992, there were multiple video output options for the suddenly popular PowerBooks. Companies like Envisio took advantage of this or that internal connection to provide external video support to connect a monitor or LCD projection panel to the PowerBooks. Today, most of Apple’s current PowerBooks support video output, but for those that don’t, as well as for a variety of other video-less Macs, a company called PowerR has a solution.

Ranging from $129 to $299 retail, PowerR’s products provide video output for Macintosh models such as the Color Classic and LC or Performa 575, or old all-in-one Macs like the Plus, SE, and SE/30, and of course those first-generation 140, 145, and 170 model PowerBooks, without the need for cutting out strips of plastic or soldering connections.

PowerR’s Presenter and other video adapter devices connect to the Macs’ internal video connectors, and take advantage of existing holes or slots in the outer case to bring a VGA-compatible video port out where it can do good. The connector for the PowerBook 140, 145, and 170 models, for example, piggy-backs on the internal port that connects the top and bottom halves of the PowerBook and carries the video signal. The signal is split and send out through the connector, which is wedged through the case’s existing opening. Such an approach leaves the PowerBook’s internal slot free (the Envisio adapters used the memory slot) and avoids software conflict issues entirely. With a suggested retail price of $299, these are the most expensive of PowerR’s video adapters, but early-model PowerBook owners at least have a video option again.

The Color Classic and LC 575 cases are even easier; they sport those traditional vertical air slots Apple is so fond of designing into its plastic cases. The leads for these video adapters go right through these slots. PowerR’s adapter is correspondingly simpler, and sells for only $129 for these machines.

Since the vast majority of LCD projection panels (I’m tempted to say "all") have a VGA video port, the compact PowerBook unit from PowerR saves room by offering only a VGA connector. Most of the other PowerR models have both VGA and standard Apple DB-15 connectors. All look well-assembled and solid.

Among their other products, PowerR offers an adapter to LCD panels for Macs that already have DB-15 video output; for computers with NTSC output such as Atari, Commodore, and Apple II systems; and for low-end IBM systems.

PowerR’s products are not engineering miracles or stunning innovations. It’s all been done before. But PowerR has the innovative nerve to provide stunning support for old computers no one else will touch.

PowerR — 800/729-6970 — 206/547-8000 — 206/285-0260 (fax)

Adam Engst No comments

Timbuktu Pro

[Excerpted from Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh, 2nd edition.]

As time goes by in the Internet world, software that once ran solely on local area networks such as LocalTalk or Ethernet is migrating to the Internet. Often, it’s not much of a chore to support the Internet – it’s simply another network protocol, after all. However, with so many people accessing the Internet via SLIP or PPP and a relatively slow modem, the challenge to programmers becomes more serious. How can they provide adequate performance with a program designed to work over a network many times faster than the average modem?

The network wizards at Farallon faced this problem with Timbuktu Pro, a recent release of their long-standing Timbuktu application for controlling Macs and PCs from afar. Let me explain the idea behind Timbuktu a little more before I get into the version that now works over the Internet, because once you see what Timbuktu does, you’ll better understand why supporting Internet connections was such a coup.

Networking the Macintosh has always been easy, thanks to Apple’s foresight in including network hardware in every Mac, and (since System 7) including the software necessary to create a small network complete with servers and clients. Because of this, relatively wide-flung Macintosh networks sprang up quickly, making it difficult for a network administrator to physically visit each Mac that might be having a problem or simply need to be checked on. Farallon solved this problem with Timbuktu, an application that enabled the network administrator (or anyone else running the program, for that matter), to work on a host Mac somewhere else on the network just as though it were on the administrator’s desk. Timbuktu became especially popular in large corporations because Sam on the 15th floor could call down to the help desk when he had a problem, and the help desk could not only watch onscreen what Sam did, it could also perform the task correctly, so Sam could see how to do it next time. All without some peon dashing up flights of stairs .

This was all fine and nice, and Timbuktu became popular. Farallon added the capability for Timbuktu to control PC-compatibles running Windows, and continually increased Timbuktu’s speed, since transferring all that data over a network was poky, to say the least. Then, in late 1993, Farallon released Timbuktu Pro for the Macintosh. Timbuktu Pro increased the speed of execution, added support for Apple Remote Access (ARA) and probably fixed a few bugs, but most interestingly, it added support for TCP/IP networks – in other words, the Internet.

All of a sudden, not only can you observe or control a Mac on your network, but you can observe or control an Internet-connected Macintosh running Timbuktu anywhere in the world. Before you start shaking in your shoes about the security implications, let me assure you that Timbuktu has strong security features, and unless you allow others to control your Mac, they won’t be able to do so. Same goes for observation; it’s completely under the user’s control, so there are no security or privacy implications that you cannot control yourself. One last thing – you must have two copies of Timbuktu to use it. When you buy it, you get both the client and the server, and I know of only one public Macintosh running Timbuktu, a demo machine at Farallon.

Installation and Usage — Installation of Timbuktu is handled by the Apple Installer and is thus relatively straightforward. After you finish and restart, you should see a Timbuktu icon appear as the Mac starts up. This icon comes from Timbuktu Extension in your Extensions folder. The Timbuktu application appears in your Apple Menu Items folder, and the Timbuktu Sender application shows up on your desktop. If you use System 7 Pro, a Timbuktu Catalogs Extension goes in your Extensions folder as well.

You use the Timbuktu application, which you launch either from the menu that the extension creates on the right side of your menu bar, or by double-clicking the application, for one of four tasks: observing a host Mac, controlling a host Mac, sending files to a host Mac, or exchanging files both ways with a host Mac. When launched, Timbuktu Pro presents a New Connection window and a User Access window, the latter of which enables you to see and control what sort of access others have to your Mac.

The New Connection window has a pop-up menu with two choices, AppleTalk and TCP/IP. I’ll concentrate on the TCP/IP setting, since that’s the most interesting method of access and it’s basically the same for AppleTalk anyway.

Farallon has made a Macintosh running Timbuktu available as a demo machine, and Farallon cleverly placed that demo machine’s name and IP number into the New Connection window when the TCP/IP option is selected. So, typing <> into the IP address field and clicking on the Control button enables you to control that remote Macintosh. Because <> is a public Mac that Farallon wants people to use, the program doesn’t ask for a username or password. Most Macs would have security features in place to prevent unsavory characters from riffling through private files.

Once connected to <>, a window appears that represents the host Mac. In fact, it looks just like a normal Macintosh screen. When the mouse cursor is in that window, your keyboard works for the host Mac, and you can do anything there that you can do on any other Mac, except touch it.

Needless to say, the screen redraws slowly, since Timbuktu must transfer all the screen redraw information over the Internet connection, and if that’s a modem, it takes time. You won’t work on a machine like that all day long, but it’s fine for basic troubleshooting and server control.

Farallon cleverly set up their demo machine to encourage you to check out their files, including tech support files about Timbuktu, Disinfectant (only slightly out of date), a demo version of Replica (another of their programs), and a folder entitled "Leave your comments here!" To exchange files, you click on the small icon of a folder with a double-headed arrow on the left-hand side of the Timbuktu window. Timbuktu asks for your username and password (I just told it I was a guest) and brings up the Exchange Files window.

The Exchange Files window works much like the Font/DA Mover (not that many people necessarily remember the Font/DA Mover, which hasn’t been necessary since System 6 days). You navigate through the hierarchy on either the guest or the host Mac, and by Shift-or Command-clicking on items, select files to transfer. Clicking the Copy button makes files copy in the direction of the arrows.

That’s about it for basic usage in Timbuktu Pro as a guest. If you want to be a host, your Mac must be connected to the Internet via MacTCP and either SLIP or PPP or a network. You should use Define Users from the Setup menu to create users with specific privileges before turning on access, because if you provide full access to your Mac, nothing prevents someone from wreaking havoc on your system. After you’ve defined some users and properly set up Guest access if you wish to use it, selecting TCP/IP User Access from the Timbuktu Extension’s menu in the menu bar, or clicking the On radio button for TCP/IP User Access in the User Access window of the Timbuktu application makes your Mac available as a host.

Needless to say, for someone to connect to you, they must know either your Mac’s IP name or IP number, so if you use a Server-addressed account and don’t have a dedicated IP name, you must somehow communicate the proper IP number to your guest.

Special Features — In many ways, Timbuktu sports no special features. After all, what it does is astonishing enough – the concept of using another Macintosh over the Internet is extremely cool. However, the attention to detail is high, and little things such as screen sharing in color without a major speed hit is impressive.

Timbuktu has a number of buttons along the side of the Timbuktu main window. These buttons enable you to toggle between controlling the remote Mac and merely observing it, send or exchange files, transfer clipboards back and forth, take a screenshot of the remote screen, switch monitors on a multiple monitor host, and toggle between color and grayscale.

The Timbuktu Sender application simplifies sending files to host Macs – you can even send multiple files to multiple hosts at the same time by dragging one or more files onto Timbuktu Sender and, when it asks, providing the IP address of each recipient. Timbuktu then sends the files to each of the hosts in turn, placing the files in a folder with your name on it inside another folder called (by default) Files Received. It’s a bit like broadcasting.

If you regularly connect to the same Mac, you can use connection documents to simplify the process. Launching a specific connection document connects you to the specified host Mac. It’s actually kind of eerie – open a document and suddenly you’re using or watching another Mac in a window on your screen.

Finally, Timbuktu keeps an activity log that tracks what everyone does on your Mac, which can be handy for seeing who has been peeking in. It also tracks when Timbuktu itself loads or shuts down, which corresponds closely with when your Mac restarts. It’s interesting to see how often you restart, if nothing else.

Overall Evaluation — As you may have gathered, I’m rather impressed with Timbuktu Pro. I’d never used it until the Internet version, but a friend of mine swears by it for controlling his Windows machine on his local area network. Most of my experience has come in administrating a Gopher server on a Macintosh SE/30 running Peter Lewis’s FTPd. The Macintosh lives elsewhere, but it’s directly connected to the Internet, and I can check in at any time by simply connecting via SLIP or PPP and launching my Timbuktu Pro connection document.

Timbuktu Pro’s worst problem is that using it is not as fast as using a Mac normally, especially when connecting over the Internet via modem. The mouse is jerky, menus drop slowly, and highlighting a menu item can take forever. You wouldn’t use a host Mac via Timbuktu Pro for daily work over a modem connection to the Internet. Nonetheless, most actions are fast enough to be worth the trade-off, and just because the screen draws slowly doesn’t mean the host Mac is operating slowly. Programs run at full speed on the host Mac – the only slowdown is in how fast you see the screen draw. You get used to this after a while and learn to do things such as let up on a menu option when your cursor is in the right place but before the highlight has caught up with you.

The second limitation from which Timbuktu Pro suffers is that you cannot reach out and touch the host Mac, if you’re controlling it over the Internet. This may not seem like a major liability until the Mac crashes or needs to be turned off. You can do a fair amount with software, but there’s no guaranteed way to recover from a serious freeze. In some cases, you can avoid the problem by using a shareware control panel called AutoBoot from Karl Pottie. AutoBoot looks for system errors or freezes and attempts to restart the Macintosh if it catches a crash. I suspect it would be a big help in working with a remote or headless Mac (a Mac without a monitor). AutoBoot is available at: auto-boot-13.hqx

Speaking of headless Macs, I hear that there’s a problem with Timbuktu Pro 1.0 with headless Macs and certain types of user accounts – the problem is fixed by version 1.0.5, which you can get from Farallon.

Although Timbuktu Pro would seem to be a focused tool mainly for use in situations where both people know each other, creative thinking reveals interesting uses. For instance, everyone complains about not being able to try software before buying it, except in crippled demo versions. A Mac running Timbuktu Pro could act as a demonstration Mac for someone connecting over the Internet – it shouldn’t be difficult to use security software to prevent people from copying the programs. Farallon provides demo versions of some of their programs on their public Timbuktu server, most notably Replica and Timbuktu Pro itself.

Administrative Details — If you want more information about Timbuktu or other Farallon products, you can get plenty via the Internet. Farallon runs an anonymous FTP site at <> and a World-Wide Web server accessible at:

Both sites seem to offer much the same information, ranging from technical notes about all of Farallon’s products to press releases to free trial versions of Timbuktu Pro for the Macintosh. It’s easy to navigate the Web site, but if you’re connecting via FTP and want to find the demo versions, look in: timbuktu.products/freeversions/

The free trial version works for up to seven days and on three Macs. During that time it works just like the full version, except that it won’t connect to regular versions of Timbuktu Pro. You must use Apple’s DiskCopy utility to create the installer disk for the free trial version.

Timbuktu Pro requires System 6.0.5 or later (it works best with System 7), a minimum of 4 MB of RAM, a network, and, if you’re using the Internet, MacTCP 1.1.1 or later.

Farallon sells Timbuktu Pro through various distribution channels. Mail order prices seem to run at approximately $140 for one user, up to $1,400 for 30 users.

Farallon Computing — 510-814-5000 — 510-814-5023 (fax)
<[email protected]>