This TidBITS issue roams far and wide, with MailBITS about Green Disk, a company that creates recycled floppy disks, a CodeWarrior Web site, comments about Timbuktu, and other announcements. The issue continues with a report about a QuickMail client for the Newton called EnRoute, a look at several software packages that teach and translate between languages, a look at a pair of security programs for public Macs, and a review of RedShift, a CD for astronomy enthusiasts.
Tom Abbott <[email protected]> and Glenn Tiffert <[email protected]> tell us that the current versions of the Japanese and Chinese Language Kits don’t work with System 7.5, and that users of those script systems will reportedly have to wait for version 1.1.1, due out at the end of the year. However, Glenn claimed that the conflict may only lie with QuickDraw GX, so if you don’t use QuickDraw GX, the Japanese and Chinese Language Kits may still work. In contrast, Tom’s source implied that even trying to load the Japanese Language Kit could cause troubles. Be forewarned. [ACE]
GreenDisk — Kudos to GreenDisk, a company that recycles obsolete floppy disks and manuals to make fresh floppy disks, which Craig O’Donnell <[email protected]> recently brought to our attention. Craig writes, "These recycled diskettes come from big-league software publishers who need to ditch last year’s upgrade package or unsold inventory. The diskettes themselves – some 12 million last year – adhere to the high quality standards of major software publishers like Aldus and WordPerfect. The GreenDisk company claims that 98.9% of all materials it receives from publishers (including those hefty manuals and that slick packaging) is recycled. The diskettes are erased, relabeled with recycled-paper labels, and resold under the brand name GreenDisk. Egghead Software sells GreenDisks by catalog and vouches for their quality." [TJE]
GreenDisk — 206/489-2550
Paul Robichaux <[email protected]> writes:
CWWWW, the official CodeWarrior WWW support site, is now available. Metrowerks is contributing technical and marketing material. The CWWWW server also has the soon-to-be-famous PowerPlant Contributed Class Archive and a variety of other nifty tidbits for CodeWarrior users and potential customers. [Note that the character before "fairgate" in the URL below is a tilde – at least one person had trouble with that character the last time one came through in a URL. -Adam]
Arrange 2.0, the personal information manager from Common Knowledge, is now shipping, although it unfortunately still has (in my opinion) serious limits on the amount of text per note. But perhaps I’m a special case. You can find demos and the Plug-in Developers Kit on the Internet at the URL below. [ACE]
Common Knowledge — 415/325-9900 — 415/325-9600 (fax) –<[email protected]>
Apple has a new Web server that currently serves only one purpose – to provide another way to reach the software archives on <ftp.support.apple.com>. The server does have a number of pages under construction that might prove interesting later on. It’s at: [ACE]
Ashley Barnard <[email protected]> of the Arizona Mac Users Group writes to tell us that AMUG has released the latest version of their BBS in a Box CD-ROM (Volume XII) in ISO format, which means that PC-based BBSs can now provide files from the CD-ROM for Macintosh users. [ACE]
Mark Richman <[email protected]> writes:
I just wanted to add one point to your otherwise excellent article on Timbuktu Pro. You mentioned in passing that the Pro version works with ARA, but did not go into details. Other than TCP/IP support, this is one of my favorite new features. If you connect to a remote network via ARA and then save a connection document (an exchange files connection for example), the next time you use that connection document, Timbuktu Pro will bring up the ARA connection automatically for you (if it’s not already there). When you quit Timbuktu, it asks if you want to disconnect from ARA or remain connected. I use this to connect to my office machine all the time and it works well.
Chris Meyer <[email protected]> writes:
The recent in-depth review of Timbuktu in the recent TidBITS was much appreciated. Here is another angle on Timbuktu. Pacific Bell has been pushing ISDN for telecommuting. Aside from linking together networks, some use Timbuktu to screen-share, which I think is a fabulous way to work remotely with an art director (or client). We do desktop video and motion graphics, and the idea of interactively checking off a design (and being able to make modifications in real time) without the designer being at your physical location is very attractive. It’s inefficient to render a trial animation, make a rough tape, overnight or messenger it to them, and get back comments a day or two later over the phone "this color should be richer, and the type larger" when you could have checked some details beforehand.
Director of Technical Services, Baka Industries Inc.
CE Software added more communications capability to Newton MessagePads with its recent introduction of EnRoute, a $129 QuickMail client developed by Netstrategy Software. EnRoute connects to QuickMail servers via modem, and permits both batch transfer of waiting messages and online one-at-a-time message reading and sending. According to a CE representative, the software evolved from the "QuickAccess" prototype shown at Macworld Expo last year (see TidBITS-188).
EnRoute is integrated with the Newton Names and Note Pad applications. Users may store QuickMail user addresses (including addresses that must be reached through gateways) in the MessagePad Names file’s email address field, and can mail a message written on a Note Pad note rather than in a special EnRoute window. FirstClass Retriever, the Newton client for SoftArc’s FirstClass software developed by Black Labs (see TidBITS-234), can do neither in its current incarnation.
Although EnRoute seems to fit in well with the Newton environment, it comes up wanting in the QuickMail environment. The software works only via a modem connection, so users cannot check their QuickMail mailboxes while in the office using a LocalTalk network. (The same is true of the current version of FirstClass Retriever.)
CE president and CEO Ford Goodman commented that "EnRoute is another way that we’re ensuring that users have universal access to their QuickMail mailboxes." CE’s pride in its multi-platform support would be better warranted if its mail access were universal. Currently, Windows users are segregated from Macintosh users in "file-based" mailcenters accessible using common DOS and Windows communications methods such as Novell’s Netware software. CE has no support for AppleTalk or other direct network communications between its Macintosh-based servers and Windows clients. As a result, Mac users can’t check their mail using computers running Windows, and Windows users can’t check their mail using Macs.
With the addition of EnRoute, Netstrategy Software now has developed three products that CE publishes. The first two products are the ARA-Link QM and QM-Postman, which provide automatic network access and mail list management, respectively.
One ray of sunshine at the recent Boston Macworld Expo was the foreign language software. Foreign language software has two major categories – instructional and translation. I found an excellent example in each category.
Instructional Software — In the instructional area, HyperGlot Software sells a CD offering a beautiful multimedia implementation of an excellent curriculum. The Spanish course, Learn to Speak Spanish, version 4.0, (which I now own) is exceptional! Besides a CD, the course contains a user manual and a textbook/workbook. The CD has an excellent screen layout, which makes operating the program a joy. Along with the usual written vocabulary list, you can hear each word pronounced by a native speaker. You can also click on individual sentences to hear them spoken. QuickTime movies use a sound track spoken by native speakers and tell a story that ties together the vocabulary and grammar lessons. The instructional drills also use the story content. Instant translations of words and phrases in the instruction sequence are just a click away.
A number of the drills involve dragging words into their proper place with instant feedback regarding right and wrong choices. Properly match a feminine singular article with a similar noun and a cheerful "bueno" (or other appropriate phrase) issues forth from your Mac. Make a mistake and you might hear "lo siento" (I’m sorry) in a sad voice. There are fill-in-the-blank drills as well as arrange-words-to-make-a-sentence drills. In each case a native speaker immediately tells you if you are right or wrong. During vocabulary drills, the program keeps track of errors and presents that list on completion of the drill, if you desire.
If your Mac has a microphone, there is another useful feature. You can click on a sentence, hear the native speaker say it, then you say it, and the Mac records your response. Then the program plays back both the native speaker and your response so you can instantly compare your pronunciation.
HyperGlot advertises the complete course as being for beginner and intermediate levels of study. As a moderately experienced Spanish speaker, I found the course very valuable. The combination of an excellent curriculum and a well-designed interface makes this program a winner!
HyperGlot offers a series of other language learning aids ranging from pronunciation tutors to drills in Katakana and Hiragana syllabaries and Chinese writing. All products have a thirty day unconditional 100 percent satisfaction guarantee if purchased from HyperGlot. List prices range from $99 to $149 for the CD-based offerings. Languages include Spanish and French (for English speakers). You can also purchase courses that teach English to native speakers of Spanish, French, Japanese, Italian, and Portuguese.
Translation — In the translating arena, I was extremely impressed by the capabilities of Power Translator by GlobaLink (suggested retail price $249). Power Translator can take an English sentence like "He tried to light the light with a light blue lighter" and correctly translate it into Spanish! It also correctly translated a Spanish sentence that said "The lady who CAME here CAME to buy old WINE" into English – although every upper case word above is "VINO" in the Spanish sentence. The documentation is bilingual. Translations can be done iteratively (sentence-by-sentence) in an automatic batch mode.
During the demonstration, I typed text into one window in English, specially tagged words or proper names I didn’t want translated, and then told the program to translate. Within moments the translation appeared in an adjacent window. The reverse process from Spanish to English was just as simple. Based on the amount of time required to display the translated text, it seems that the program does something more than a simple word lookup between languages. That is, rather than doing a simple dictionary translation, Power Translator appears to identify where in a sentence a word appears and to then select an appropriate translation. Not having a copy of Power Translator program to work with, I cannot attest to its capability to handle other ambiguities.
The Power Translator Professional version (suggested retail price $595), comes with one of a number of subject dictionaries (Automotive, Business/Finance, Banking, Brewing, Computer, Legal, and so on), although you can purchase additional subject dictionaries as needed. The subject dictionaries available vary according to language (French, German, Spanish and Russian)., and you can customize these dictionaries to further facilitate your translations.
The GlobaLink programs require a Mac II series or higher, 68020 or higher, System 7.0 or later, 2 MB RAM (4 MB recommended) and 15-36 MB of hard disk space. In automatic mode, the professional version can translate over 20,000 words per hour. Purchases made directly from GlobaLink have a thirty day money back guarantee. Mail order or discount store prices may be less, but check their return policy.
In addition to the Mac versions, GlobaLink has offerings for DOS, Windows, OS/2 and Unix. The MS-DOS Power Translator was reviewed in the January, 1994 publication "Computing NOW!" GlobaLink’s literature also discusses a palm-sized computer that runs on two AAA batteries and performs bidirectional translations in Spanish/English or French/English.
Finally, GlobaLink offers programs under the name "VoicePower" which provide interactive training in pronunciation of foreign languages (including a comparison of "voice prints" of a native speaker and the student). Their literature on this product indicates it is currently available only for IBM type machines. (I figured this out when their requirements mentioned specs such as a 386DX25). I don’t know if Mac versions are in the works. Given the capabilities of the HyperGlot offerings, and their excellent curriculum discussed earlier, I think this particular market would be an uphill battle for GlobaLink.
HyperGlot Software — 800/800-8270 — 615/558-8270 (fax)
GlobaLink — 703/273-5600 — 800/255-5660 — 703/273-3866 (fax)
Have you ever maintained a Macintosh shared by multiple users? Or shared your own Mac with coworkers or family members? If so, you may have faced the nightmare of randomly trashed applications, misplaced documents, and changed settings. If you shop around, you’ll find many utilities that decrease the chaos involved in sharing a Mac, and this article discusses one possible solution – a program from Hi Resolution, called MacPrefect, and its companion program, DiskPrefect. MacPrefect enables you to prevent other "experts" from interfering with the Macintosh environment that you so carefully set up.
Locking Out the Unwashed Masses — You may like the people who use your Mac, but that doesn’t mean you want them poking around in places where they don’t belong. As an extreme measure, you can lock the hard disk, so that others cannot move, rename, or save files on the hard disk. If you don’t want to lock the entire disk, you can lock individual folders (locking a folder locks all the folders inside it). If a user tries to save to a locked folder, he gets a message informing him that he can’t save to the locked location. You can customize the message so it directs the user to an appropriate location.
Fortunately, programs can get into the System Folder, even if users can’t. According to the MacPrefect folks, "MacPrefect allows applications to create and maintain their own preference files or temporary files as required. This ensures that locking the System folder in its entirety is possible with no resulting interference to the normal action of applications."
If you choose to allow users to save on the hard disk, you can "sweep" the disk clean of files at startup. Any files older than a certain number of days can be removed – either all such files, or until a specified amount of disk space frees up. This feature would be especially useful for a public Macintosh where you don’t want users’ files cluttering the hard disk.
If you do maintain a public Macintosh, you may be particularly concerned about piracy – you don’t want pirated software on the public Mac, and you don’t want users making unauthorized copies of programs from the Mac. A feature called Copy Control meets these concerns by preventing users from copying certain file types to or from the hard disk.
As an additional anti-piracy measure (or as an additional control mechanism) launch keys enable you to you control which programs can run on the Mac. An application can be prevented from running unless it has a launch key file in its folder. The launch key feature doesn’t care what disk the program is on, so it prevents users from launching software stored on floppy disks (though you can set it to allow launches from CD-ROMs). You can also configure MacPrefect to only allow software to launch if the software is stored on the startup volume.
MacPrefect has a number of other features that prevent users from completing all manner of actions, such as filling up the hard disk by repeatedly taking screen shots, changing control panel settings, and changing the name of the hard disk.
Bypassing the Security System — "This all sounds wonderful," you may be thinking, "but I bet any savvy user can weasel around MacPrefect by booting with the Shift key down or booting from a floppy disk." Hi Resolution thought of that and added additional security features. MacPrefect allows you to disable the Shift key’s startup function, and DiskPrefect takes security a step further by preventing users from booting from floppy disks. DiskPrefect comes as a separate, companion product to MacPrefect, although you get both together if you purchase the software in the U.K. or Australia.
To disable DiskPrefect, you must use a copy of MacPrefect with the correct serial number. This means your machine is safe even if a user obtains another copy of MacPrefect. DiskPrefect only works with Apple formatted disks, but won’t damage other hard disks if you attempt to install it on them.
DiskPrefect comes with a Lockpick application, which you can use to unlock the disk in an emergency. To use Lockpick, you must have a random authorization code, and you must get the code from Hi Resolution each time you need to use Lockpick.
Conclusion — I found MacPrefect to be reliable in operation and straightforward to use. With the addition of DiskPrefect, your beloved Mac can be protected against assault by all but the most expert of hackers.
Pricing varies for corporate and educational customers, depending on the number of copies purchased.
As I begin this article, I’m imagining that I’m on a satellite of Mars called Phobos, and I’m watching Mars, which looks like an enormous crescent, eight times the size of the Big Dipper as seen from Earth. Such imaginary wanderings can now take place from within my home, with the help of a wonderful CD-ROM planetarium simulator called RedShift (about $60 street price), created by Maris Multimedia in the U.K. and published in North America by Maxis Software.
RedShift offers all the features of a normal planetarium simulator. Its stellar database includes stars as faint as the 12th magnitude, giving you around 250,000 stars to explore. Should you tire of stars, you can also explore some 5,000 asteroids, 100 short-period comets, and 40,000 deep sky objects (such as nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies). Using RedShift, you can place yourself anywhere on Earth at any time or in any era, and view the sky as it was (or will be) then and there. The program also takes precession into account; that’s the extremely slow wobble of our planet’s axis over the millennia.
With the possible exception of the enormous database of stellar objects, you might expect such features from any real life planetarium in any major city. RedShift takes another exciting step: it gives you the ability to observe the night sky anyplace in the solar system within 100 AUs (Astronomical Units, or 93 million miles) of the Sun. Not only can it put you on the equator of any of the planets or several of their moons, it can also put you at any point in space within the solar system. You can watch the universe revolve in real or accelerated time, and take advantage of this unique opportunity to watch a planet as it sweeps by you in its orbit. As a bonus, the CD-ROM includes detailed maps of the Earth, Moon, and Mars, giving you the ability to view the sky from the same perspective as Viking 2 on Mars or Tranquility Base on the Moon, for example.
The program also allows you to record your own still images or QuickTime movies. Take a picture of the sky on your birthday to show friends, or record a QuickTime movie of Venus transiting the Sun to enhance your classroom astronomy lesson.
While other planetarium simulators allow you to view conjunctions and eclipses you already know about, RedShift allows you to calculate when the next ones will appear. Was the Star of Bethlehem really a conjunction of several planets in the night sky of the Middle East? Set it up and you can decide for yourself.
RedShift also acts as a multimedia astronomical encyclopedia. The CD contains the full text of the revised and updated Penguin Dictionary of Astronomy by Dr. Jacqueline Mitton. This text has been enhanced by hypertextual links, additional illustrations, and animation. The dictionary interface enables you to browse around via both the contents and an index. You can also access it by simply clicking on the object the screen that you want to find out more about. A dialog box will appear and give you access to the dictionary among other reports.
Finally, Maris Software has marketed this product in a format that I look forward to seeing from other companies: the Windows, Macintosh, and Power Macintosh versions of the program are all included on the same CD-ROM, thus eliminating any confusion about what platform the CD-ROM will run on when you buy it and offering the maximum flexibility in deciding where to run the program. In doing this, Maris has given its customers a truly "plug and play" solution and I commend them for it.
No program is perfect, and as wonderful as RedShift is, there is room for improvement. The software’s handling of time, an important concept in astronomy, could be better. The program reads the system’s clock and map control panel to determine your location and time zone. This causes problems during the summer when most people switch to Daylight Savings Time; to get around the problem you must manually modify the difference in the number of hours between your time zone and Greenwich Meridian Time. Also, when you place yourself on the surface of other planets and moons the program mandates that only Greenwich Meridian Time has meaning. Unfortunately it then insists that your computer’s system clock shows Greenwich Meridian Time which, unless you live in England, is not the case. I’ve worked around this difficulty by using the shareware World Time Control Panel to temporarily change my system’s clock to Greenwich Meridian Time when I need to.
Since starting to review CD-ROMs I’ve found that their quality varies quite a bit. Some have not been worth the plastic expended to print them, while others embody the reason CD-ROM technology has taken the industry by storm. RedShift falls into the latter category. It shines like Venus in the early evening sky. This is one CD that justifies your CD-ROM drive in the first place! Although its handling of time is a blemish in an otherwise outstanding product, it can be worked around. If you have any interest in astronomy, RedShift would make a fine addition to your CD-ROM collection.
Maris Multimedia Ltd — 800/336-0185 (US) — 44-71-488-1566 (UK)
44-71-702-0534 (UK fax)
Maxis — 800/336-2947 — 510/254-8700 — 510/253-3736 (fax)