Chuck Bartosch returns with more about the Power Mac versus the Pentium; we announce the second edition of Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh; and we take a quick look at a project to provide free Internet access to citizens in Italy. Mark Anbinder reports on numerous small software updates, and additional rumors and news talk about the latest version of AOL’s software as well as a hybrid computer with a PowerPC 601 and a 486 on the motherboard.
It was a dark and stormy night that Thursday the 13th of October, and the pavement had broken out into an oily sheen of sweat. And then, to use the Reagan/Bush passive voice cop-out, mistakes were made, resulting in an automobile accident involving Tonya and our Honda Civic. The car can be repaired in a week or two, but the more subtle injuries to Tonya’s neck took several days to manifest themselves and may take much longer to heal. With any luck, she’ll be fine in a few weeks or months, but in the meantime, Tonya cannot handle much email. This, combined with some pre-arranged commitments I have for the next two weeks, means the less unnecessary email we receive, the better. Thanks for understanding. [ACE]
Internet Video — One of the things I’m doing in the next few weeks is working on a video about the Internet, and the producer is looking for images to use in it. If you have computer art or digitized photographs that you would like to submit for consideration and to which you have rights, please send them to Harry Wiland at <[email protected]>. The act of submission constitutes permission to use, so please don’t submit anything that’s not your work since we’re trying to stay well within the bounds of acceptable use. [ACE]
HDT and Stacker could be a dangerous combination if you use a "Stacked" disk (a disk compressed with Stacker from Stac Electronics) that’s been formatted with FWB’s Hard Disk Toolkit on a computer running Apple’s SCSI Manager 4.3. (SCSI Manager 4.3 only works on Centris, Quadra, and Power Mac models, and if you use one of those Macs, note that System 7.5 includes the SCSI Manager 4.3 extension in its default installation.) FWB Technical Support confirmed a report from Stac Electronics that SCSI Manager 4.3-compatible versions of HDT can cause data loss when used with Stacker. (The HDT 1.6 Read Me file alerts users to an incompatibility.) One solution is to not install the SCSI Manager 4.3 extension when installing System 7.5. (After installing the System, restart with extensions disabled and remove the extension.) On Macintosh models with SCSI Manager 4.3 in ROM, such as the Quadra AV systems and Power Macs, don’t use "Stacked" disks if you formatted them with HDT 1.5 or later. FWB says a fix is in the works but will probably not be available until the next major release. [MHA]
LaserWriter 8.2 was recently released by Apple, and they recommend using it instead of any previous 8.x driver. Fixes and changes mentioned include: improved printing of PICTs containing rotated objects, improved Chooser setup routine, and a change in the default output device – the 8.2 driver always defaults back to the printer as the print job destination. Evidently, previous versions defaulted to the most recently used destination and – as a result – too many print jobs were accidently faxed via printers that include fax cards.
The version of 8.2 available on the nets does not come with an installer; instead you get the driver and a folder of Apple PPDs. The ReadMe suggests that you use an installer to install a previous version of the 8.x driver before copying the 8.2 driver into your Extensions folder. The ReadMe also recommends trashing your LaserWriter Prefs folder and using the new PPDs. [TJE]
QuickDraw GX — In preparing the three part series about QuickDraw GX (starting in TidBITS-243), I found the Peirce Guide to QuickDraw GX Printing quite helpful. Michael Peirce has converted the document into a DocMaker document, and you can now retrieve it via FTP. [TJE]
Pythaeus writes, "One of our System Engineers just got back from Apple training and said Apple was showing a Mac that I’ve come to call the MacGinsu. It’s a Mac with a 66 MHz PowerPC 601 and a 66 MHz 486 on the motherboard with video in and out for under $2,000."
[What’s great about this report is how it compares to one of my 1991 April Fools articles (see TidBITS-52). Compare this sentence: "Hybrid/3 includes a 16 MHz 68030 CPU (and its associated math coprocessor) from Motorola and a 33 MHz 80386 from Intel, along with a custom controller that allows either one to be used independently (one at a time)." Ah, the vagaries of fiction. -Adam]
The Macintosh Client/Server Database Development Summary, Revision 1.1, by Liam Breck, has just been released. It summarizes client-builder tools, data access layers, and database servers applicable to Macintosh (and cross-platform) client/server database development. The summary includes explanations of the three categories and describes over 25 products. It is purely informational and contains no propaganda, as the author is a neutral party. To receive the document by email, request a copy from the author at <[email protected]>.
Workgroup Server 95 owners have a little longer to obtain a performance-enhancing software upgrade. Last January, Apple introduced AppleShare Pro server software version 1.1 and A/UX 3.1. The new software can provide up to 40 percent better performance when used with high performance hard disks. Those who purchased an AWS 95 before 01-Dec-93 may order an upgrade for both programs for $199; owners of AWS 95 systems who purchased them on or after 01-Dec-93 but who have earlier versions of the software are entitled to a free upgrade. The upgrade offer has been extended until 02-Jan-95. [MHA]
The official release of version 2.5.1 of the AOL software is now available on the Internet right (as well as on AOL itself, undoubtedly) at:
Despite what the accompanying ReadMe says, the AOL 2.5.1 client software does not, in fact, require an Internet connection, but supports both regular modem connections and MacTCP-based Internet connections.
New features include the capability to connect over the Internet, and the client software looks and works just the same. AOL seems to have fixed earlier problems with downloading files while connected over the Internet. There are some security concerns regarding this type of connection because the software sends your username and password in clear text over the Internet, making it possible for someone to steal them and run up large bills. If this concerns you, don’t use the Internet connection method.
The client software sports a new 3-D marbled look and many of the top-level screens have been rearranged, making them easier and more enjoyable to navigate. Unfortunately, once you navigate into your favorite small forum, the look returns to the old style.
Image hounds will appreciate the new capability to view images while downloading, depending on the file format. The partial view allows you to cancel downloads of images that aren’t looking promising. Also, if the image has a thumbnail preview (many Photoshop and JPEGView images do), AOL now makes it available as part of the file’s description. For formats that don’t lend themselves to partial views, (like JPEG-compressed images), AOL displays the image when you are done downloading, if you use the Download Now button.
[AOL just started testing anonymous FTP access (keyword: FTP), and although it seemed to work, a 1.3 MB StuffIt file I downloaded was somehow corrupted. -Adam]
Director of Technical Services, Baka Industries Inc.
Apple has announced the release of two software updates to address problems PowerBook owners have experienced with their modems. The new Express Modem 1.5.4 software is for users of the Apple Express Modem with System 7.5; the other is for PowerBook 150 owners.
Version 1.5.4 of the Express Modem software eliminates the problem that caused a PowerBook running System 7.5 to crash on restart if there were faxes waiting to go out.
The new PowerBook 150 Update 1.0 software corrects a problem with the original modem-handling abilities of the PowerBook 150 that caused any internal modem to continue to use battery power even when it was not in use. Global Village released a new version of their PowerPort software several weeks ago that prevented the problem from occurring, but it only supports the company’s own PowerPort modems.
Both updates are available on AppleLink, or on the Internet via FTP in:
Apple has introduced a number of software updates to fix problems or improve performance on a variety of Macintosh hardware.
- The 040 VM Update 1.0 eliminates the tendency of certain 68040 Macs (Quadra/LC/Performa 630 series and LC/Performa 570 series machines) to hang when the 68040 processor caches and virtual memory are both active.
- The 630 SCSI Update 1.0 patches the SCSI Manager to improve large file transfers on the Quadra/LC/Performa 630 series machines’ SCSI bus.
- Express modem users on the Quadra/LC/Performa 630 series should install the EM Sound Update 1.0 to add sound support to the modem; sounds generated on the phone line such as dial tone and modem carrier tones can be heard through the Mac’s speaker.
- Mount IDE Drive 1.0 can be used to access the internal IDE hard drive on a PowerBook 150 or 630-series computer when the Mac has been booted from a device other than the internal drive.
- Color Classic owners can finally use their Apple IIe cards with System 7.5 installed, thanks to Color Classic Update 1.0.
- The Macintosh TV now supports TV mode under System 7.5 with TV Setup Control Panel 1.0.2 installed.
All of these updates are available on AppleLink under "Apple Products -> Apple SW Updates -> Macintosh -> System Software -> Other System Software," and on the Internet via FTP at <ftp.austin.apple.com> and via Gopher at <info.hed.apple.com>.
Mario Marinelli <[email protected]> tells us that, in what may be a first, the Italian city of Bologna now provides free Internet access to all its citizens.
CINECA, a semi-public organization owned in part by the City of Bologna, has leased a 128K high speed link to the Internet and provides Internet access in several ways, including basic Unix shell accounts, a BBS (probably SoftArc’s FirstClass) that will provide news and email, and also, for a fee of $20 per month, SLIP or PPP accounts for more advanced users who want their own Internet nodes. The project, called NetTuno ("Nettuno" is the Italian name for the Roman god of the sea and the symbol of Bologna), has been joined by the cities of Rome and Turin as well. If other Italian cities follow suit, it could lead to a significant upswell in Internet use from Italy.
The initiative apparently started as a result of the responses to a series of newspaper articles about global networking and its impact for growth in business opportunities, but perhaps more interesting, in response to articles discussing the development and implementation of a new model of participatory democracy. You can get more information about the project via email from <[email protected]> or via the Web (assuming you read Italian) at:
[Incidentally, I found the above information on Bologna via The Virtual Tourist, an especially interesting Web service located at the URL below. -Adam]
Last week’s business article (TidBITS-248) drew several questions and lots of great mail. This article responds to some of the issue raised.
Quantities — Last week I stated with undue confidence that there were about four times as many Power Macs in existence as Pentium-based systems. I based this statement in part on information that says Power Mac sales are still outrunning Pentium sales (at least through the dealer channel – direct sales are harder to verify), but that Pentium sales are ramping up quickly. Pentium sales are definitely slower than Intel expected, and weren’t helped by the PCI glitch Intel suffered earlier this summer.
Since last week, I’ve done considerable research to uncover trustworthy numbers on this topic. An Apple technical briefing in August first raised the idea with numbers similar to what I quoted. Unfortunately, my best information comes from Pythaeus, who saw specific research from market research firms like IDC and InfoCorp, who don’t give data to non-paying customers. Hence, I can’t provide many references that people can cite to show their PC friends.
However, in the Oct-94 Macworld (pg. 41), Patrick McKenna writes, "analysts report Pentium sales lagging behind those of the Power Mac," and mentions the speculation of one analyst that many PC users recently switched to 66 MHz 486 systems, resulting in less need for another performance boost.
The current problem is that no one believes Pentium sales will continue to lag behind Power Mac sales for long, and the companies who use the PowerPC chip don’t want to have their promotion of the current situation thrown back at them later.
Native vs. Optimized — Another common comment concerned the issue of "native Pentium applications." First, at least three applications have been optimized for the Pentium to date. None of the current three are mainstream applications, but rumor has it that Adobe is rewriting Photoshop for Pentium-optimized compilation.
Second, as Eric Schlegel of Microsoft mentioned in email, the term "native" isn’t applicable, since the Pentium does include x86 code and is thus not "emulating" when running older applications. I think that this point clouds the real situation. I see little point in using a Pentium if you only end up running it as a faster clock speed 386. Still, it is more correct to ask "how many Pentium-optimized Win32 applications have you seen?"
Few applications use the 486 as anything but a fast 386 either, though that’s partly because the main advantage of the 486 is not new instructions (there aren’t many), but instead reduced clock cycles for many instructions and the addition of an on-chip cache (this enabled the core CPU speed to increase with less concern about the external bus clocking).
This is similar to the situation with the 286, since most DOS applications were written to work with the 8088 for years after the release of the 286. In other words, few programs took advantage of the extra capabilities of the 286, much less the incipient 386. Crudely speaking, each successive chip has had more instructions without those capabilities being used by application software (though other features, like caches, are used, of course). This predicament was one of the major motivations behind OS/2 – to force software into the new age of the 386.
Fundamentally, these are the issues:
- You can discount Intel’s Pentium SPECmark ratings by 10 to 20 percent to account for the fact that real software isn’t optimized for the Pentium. I think this is significant.
- Intel has lost control of the x86 standard. Now that AMD and Cyrix have come out with their own versions of "Pentium-like" chips (which aren’t clones), the problem compounds. Do you recompile for each chip? Or none of them? So far the answer has generally been none. This has long term ramifications for the Intel world.
- Intel can’t move forward without recompiling. By that I mean that they can’t take full advantage of new capabilities and full performance without recompilation for each generation of chip. That’s not to say that recompilation won’t be required for the PowerPC 604 or 620 to make best use of those chips, but Apple seems to have enough control over developers to ensure that recompilation takes place if necessary.
The Industry Says… — I’m not alone in thinking the optimized applications issue is a significant one for Intel. Consider the following quotes regarding the performance of the 486DX4 versus the Pentium. In 07-Sep-94 NewsBytes, Steve Gold wrote that the Apricot 486DX4 PC "is faster than more than half the Pentium-based PCs available from the likes of Compaq, Dell, Gateway, IBM, NEC, and AT&T." This information came from a "real world" test by BAPC (Business Applications Performance Corporation).
Several Computer Shopper articles make much the same point, and the Sep-94 issue of PC World says, "NEC’s DX4-100 outperforms six Pentium-60s and -66s. Ambra’s 486DX2-66 outperforms two Pentium-60s. At one time a PC’s processor gave buyers a rough but accurate guide to a system’s price/performance, but that simple indicator no longer works. Performance levels and prices, too, are all over the map."
Finally, in the Sep-94 issue of Computer Shopper, microprocessor guru Michael Slater writes, "semiconductor economics and typical PC user needs favor the DX4. The DX4 is significantly cheaper to make than the Pentium, and on integer programs that have not been optimized for the Pentium – which includes the vast majority of software in use today – it provides comparable performance. The cost of building a system around the processor is also lower."
The second edition of Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh ($29.95, ISBN 1-56830-111-1) should be readily available now. You can still order direct from Hayden with a 20 percent discount, just send email to <[email protected]> for the information. Many people have asked me about the most significant changes.
First of all, the book is a lot longer than the first edition, some 990 pages versus 640 pages. Despite this, it’s not much thicker, since Hayden used relatively thin paper for the second edition, whereas they used bulky paper for the first edition. Never judge a book by its spine. To underscore the impact of all that writing, also consider the fact that the first edition has about 280 pages of appendices, but the second has less than 250.
So what is all that new text? A number of the chapters increased in length, as I figured out better ways of explaining how the Internet works and how it fits together. I also mentioned a few notable events that had happened in the previous year, such as Canter and Siegel spamming Usenet. The chapter about MacTCP and MacTCP software grew so large that I ended up splitting it into two. Chapter 12 focuses on MacTCP, PPP, and SLIP, and contains lots of technical and troubleshooting information that I learned since the first edition, and Chapter 13 covers just the MacTCP-based applications. Even with that split, Chapter 13 is huge, because so many new and updated applications appeared last year, and I wanted to discuss each one, at least briefly. Although some have no doubt changed already, I also included URLs for pretty much every program in the book.
The expanded chapters were aided in the size increase by the book business’s version of steroids – new chapters. I added Chapter 5, which excerpts some of Internet Explorer Kit for Macintosh, which I co-authored with Bill Dickson last spring. I decided to add the excerpt because one of the criticisms of the first edition was that it told you how to do lots of stuff, but it didn’t tell you why you might want to do those things or what the Internet would be like, which the Explorer Kit did well. The other criticism of the first edition was that it didn’t provide simple step-by-step instructions on how to use the main programs. I had avoided those instructions because they’re difficult to write well for something that changes as quickly as the Internet. But, my editor prevailed, and thus was born Chapter 14, which covers MacTCP, MacPPP, InterSLIP, Eudora, Anarchie, Fetch, NewsWatcher, MacWAIS, TurboGopher, Mosaic, and MacWeb. You won’t learn how to do much from those instructions, but they will get you started.
Ken Stuart <[email protected]> came through with an admirable job of updating the list of Internet resources in Appendix A, including numerous Web sites along with mailing lists, WAIS sources, FTP sites, and Gopher servers. We had to shrink the list of newsgroups in Appendix B to keep the book at a reasonable size (with over 9,000 newsgroups, you have to draw the line somewhere), and Appendix C and D still list Internet providers along with contact information.
Perhaps the part of the book that I’m the most proud of is the disk. It’s a high density disk this time, and includes the following software: MacTCP 2.0.4, MacPPP 2.0.1, InterSLIP 1.0.1, Eudora 1.4.3, Anarchie 1.2.0, MacWAIS 1.29, MacWeb 0.98a, TurboGopher 1.0.8b4, and a folder of Essential Internet Bookmarks that point at self-extracting versions (use Binary mode to retrieve them if you don’t use the bookmarks) of the latest essential Internet applications in:
It’s easy to throw programs on a disk, though, so this time we created an installer using Aladdin’s excellent StuffIt InstallerMaker.
The installer puts everything in the proper places, and if you use Northwest Nexus, it even configures MacTCP for you. I’ve created a custom installer for another provider, LA-based EarthLink Network <[email protected]> in exchange for them buying a quantity of books for their startup kits, and I can do the same for other interested providers – just send me email.
Regardless of the provider you use, everyone gets a PPP Preferences file that contains a slew of modem strings – I’ve discovered that most of the problems people have in connecting to the Internet are related to their modem init strings. The entire list is also on the disk as a text file. The version of MacWeb on the disk connects to the Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh home page by default, and that page lists, chronologically, the latest versions of the programs that you can retrieve via the Essential Internet Bookmarks.
So, along with updating all the information that needed updating, those are the main changes in the book. I’m happy with the second edition because I’ve learned so much over the last year and I think the added knowledge helps the book, and thus the reader, a great deal. Reports from providers so far indicate that I succeeded.
Should you buy the second edition if you already have the first? That’s of course up to you, and I’d say that it depends on how you’ve used the Internet. If you dove right in and always have the latest of everything, no, the second edition won’t tell you all that much that’s new. One local Internet user recommended on a local newsgroup getting the second edition and giving the first edition to a friend. I don’t know if that’s true for everyone, but little of the information in the first edition is wrong; it’s just out of date. If, on the other hand, you haven’t explored the Internet all that much, but you want to get more into it now, the second edition may be extremely worthwhile.
Oh, and to answer the question about upgrades, no, there is no upgrade path. Despite the addition of the disk, this is a book, and books don’t have upgrades. Materials cost is about a third of what the book sells to stores for, so the margins are extremely low. In comparison, a software product is often cheaper to produce in terms of materials, and usually sells for quite a bit more money. And yes, I know O’Reilly offers 25 percent discounts on second editions if you send them the cover from your first edition. All I can say to that is that you can get 20 percent off both the first edition and the second edition by ordering direct from Hayden, and you don’t have to rip the cover from the first edition.
Actually, why the heck are you asking me if you should buy the second edition? I obviously think you should buy three, or maybe ten, and give them to your friends and relatives as gifts. They stack well, and make great furniture, and if it’s another cold winter in the eastern U.S., I bet there are quite a number of BTUs stored in those pages.
For a second opinion (and, I think, a well done review), check out Elliotte Rusty Harold’s <[email protected]> review at:
For those of you who like buying things in computer stores rather than bookstores, Hayden is releasing another version of the book into the software channel. The "software version" as I’ve been calling it for lack of a better title, is exactly the same as the book version, with four differences. First, it comes in a box. Second, it costs a little more. Third, it has another disk, for a total of two. (The second disk includes DropStuff with Expander Enhancer 3.5.1, Finger 1.3.7, MacTCP Watcher 1.1.1, MacWeather 2.0.3, NCSA Telnet 2.6, NewsWatcher 2.0b9, StuffIt Expander 3.5.1, and Talk 1.1.1.) Fourth, and most importantly in my opinion, I managed to get Hayden to license all of the shareware on the two disks other than MacWAIS and DropStuff. That means if you buy the software version, you get not only a licensed version of MacTCP, but you are already registered for Anarchie, Finger, Talk, MacTCP Watcher, MacWeather, and TurboGopher (and yes, I know some of those are free – we licensed them anyway to support the programmers). I was especially pleased to be able to negotiate these licenses, since financially recognizing the programmers helps to legitimize the excellent shareware available.