Find out below why Apple is a lousy lover, according to long-time developer Dave Winer. We also take a long, hard look at SCSI Manager 4.3, which could improve performance on most 68040 Macs with System 7.5 and the right applications. Mark Anbinder presents a brief bit on the Power 8100/110 and also looks at CE Software’s QuickMail Internet Access Kit. Finally, check out the new URL for our Web server, and a $199 deal on a Newton MessagePad 100.
We very much appreciates the email condolences we’ve received in regard to Tonya’s neck injury, and we’d especially like to thank Martin Stoermer of the University of Queensland in Australia for collecting get-well messages from lots of wonderful people on several mailing lists. The combined email get-well card raised Tonya’s spirits, and we’d like to offer it as an counter example whenever someone starts ranting about how unpleasant the Internet can be. Again, thanks so much for the kind words. [ACE]
TidBITS Web Server Moves — Andy Williams <[email protected]> of Dartmouth College, who runs the public TidBITS Web server recently moved it to a more capable machine to improve access and reliability. Check it out at the URL below, and if you keep links to this site on your own Web page, please update them. [ACE]
The Newton envious may want to check out a current offer from several mail-order sources (including MacConnection and MacMall) for a Newton MessagePad 100 complete with Power Organizer Pack (fax modem and some software) for $199, hundreds less than the current price for a MessagePad 110. The 100 has the updated ROM (with better handwriting recognition) of its more expensive cousin, but has less RAM. Buyers should ask specifically for the MessagePad 100 with fax modem and software; apparently some buyers who weren’t specific received just the MessagePad, which doesn’t have the current ROM. [MHA]
Director of Technical Services, Baka Industries Inc.
Delivering on its promise to raise the Macintosh performance ceiling as PowerPC technology improves, Apple today introduced the Power Macintosh 8100/110. The new Mac incorporates a 110 MHz version of the PowerPC 601 processor and costs $6,379.
Apple expects quantities of the new model, available in a single configuration with 16 MB of RAM, a 2 GB hard drive, and built-in CD-ROM drive (item M3561LL/A), will be limited for the first few weeks. Those who must have the fastest possible computer, however, may find the unit worth waiting for. The new model will crunch numbers about a third faster than earlier Power Macintosh 8100/80 models.
The Power Mac 8100/110 will be aimed at high-end computing users such as publishing, technical, and multimedia software users. All current configurations of the 8100/80 model will remain available. No 8100/110 logic board upgrade is planned at this time.
The small office Internet email game is easier than before, thanks to CE Software’s new QuickMail Internet Access Kit. The entry-level bundle (expected to sell for around $549) includes a ten-user QuickMail package; a Mail*Link Remote UUCP gateway from StarNine Technologies, Inc. licensed for ten users; a copy of "Dr. Bob Rankin’s Accessing the Internet by E-mail" (a book that offers advice on making the most of an email-only Internet connection); and an introductory offer from UUNET for UUCP mail service. (UUCP access to the Internet uses on-demand modem connections to exchange incoming and outgoing mail files.)
QuickMail is CE Software’s workgroup-oriented electronic mail software (see TidBITS-240), and a QuickMail ten-pack has a retail price of $649, which CE says is typically available for about $200 less than the retail price. A Mail*Link Remote ten-user license is available from CE for $279, so the QuickMail Internet Access Kit is a great deal for those planning to buy both products anyway.
StarNine Technologies says the new version of Mail*Link Remote included in this bundle (version 1.5) offers a greatly streamlined installation process. Since the bundle includes ten free hours of UUNET service and a waiver of UUNET’s setup and registration fees, the software comes pre-configured to work with UUNET. The purchaser can fax a registration form to UUNET to quickly obtain a domain name and other customized information needed to set up a mail gateway.
MailLink Remote uses a modem to communicate regularly with UUNET or another service provider, and exchanges electronic mail messages and Usenet news articles. (QuickMail has no practical facility for handling news, however.) MailLink Remote 1.5 has a number of improvements over previous versions of the StarNine gateway, though it doesn’t have the polish of its big brother, MailLink SMTP, which requires a full-time Internet connection. The company plans an affordable upgrade for MailLink Remote in the first half of 1995 that will further beef up the product. Meanwhile, QuickMail Internet Access Kit buyers who decide they need a higher-level connection will be able to upgrade to Mail*Link SMTP at a reduced price, once they hook up the full-time Internet line.
StarNine’s David Thompson comments that one powerful possibility with this bundle includes mailing list management. QM-Postman (see TidBITS-237) offers centralized creation and maintenance of email distribution lists, which can include recipients on the Internet.
If your office already has QuickMail, and you just need a gateway, CE Software now offers separate MailLink Remote packages on its own price list. A ten-user pack costs $279, 20-user $399, 50-user $899, and 100-user $1199. Another option is UMCP\QM from Information Electronics. This gateway, available at $395 for an unlimited number of users on a single mail server, pays a bit more attention to Internet mail conventions in converting between QuickMail and Internet mail. IE’s PostalUnion/SMTP for QuickMail offers a much more complete solution than UMCP\QM, but like MailLink SMTP is intended for use with a full-time Internet connection. The company plans a PostalUnion/UUCP gateway for QuickMail for early 1995 release, and will make upgrades available to UMCP\QM owners.
Using a gateway between a desktop email program and the Internet is never a perfect scenario, but for many businesses it’s the best approach. More Internet-oriented solutions are most affordable in single-user environments (such as the dialup SLIP service and assorted TCP/IP utilities described in Adam’s Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh); such solutions for workgroups are only feasible with full-time network connections, which are still expensive enough to be beyond the reach of many small businesses and a good number of larger ones as well. A UUCP gateway has the advantage of being inexpensive to operate; Internet service providers can offer UUCP services without needing much in the way of resources.
CE Software has been embarrassed by the ugly Internet mail addresses <firstname_lastname%[email protected]> it uses internally, but a company spokesman assures us that a change is in the works, and CE will soon have its own domain name registered.
CE Software, Inc. — 800/523-7638 — 515/221-1801
515/221-1806 (fax) — <[email protected]>
Information Electronics — 912/638-1893 — 912/638-1384 (fax)
StarNine Technologies, Inc. — 510/649-4949 — 510/548-0393 (fax)
[One of the long-time developers in the Macintosh world, Dave Winer has written ThinkTank and MORE, among others. More recently, he founded UserLand Software and in 1992, shipped Frontier, which, according to Dave, is "AppleScript done right."]
To Apple, and to the rest of the world – market share is a head-trip. It isn’t the issue. Developers are key. Apple’s economics are out of whack. Definitely. But increasing market share isn’t what it’s about.
Love is what it’s about.
This is going to take some explaining.
When I woke up this morning I found a bunch of flowers in my mailbox from Bill Gates. What a guy! I recently noted in a rather public message that I didn’t have a Windows 95 beta to play with. Bill-the-Platform-Vendor correctly read the message. Dave wants flowers. The love letter in my mailbox began "Bill Gates requested that we add you to the Windows 95 Beta Program." Ohhhh.
Another platform vendor who gets it, Jean-Louis Gassee (Be Inc.), had sent me a love letter too. I can’t repeat his message here; it was too sexy.
Have you read the Celestine Prophecy? These guys were getting me ready to write this angry love letter to Apple Computer. Reminding me that love is out there. There are options.
Developer relations is a mating game. Think of platform vendors as the guys, and developers as the girls. Send flowers. Like wives and girlfriends, developers just want to be thought of. It’s the little things that count. That’s a big secret. You sent flowers last week? So what! You gotta send them every week, rain or shine.
Apple always made a big deal of how many girlfriends it had. And it tended to favor the glamorous but less reliable ones (Lotus, Borland, etc.), while ignoring the ones that cooked the meals, cleaned the house, made the babies.
I’ve received my share of flowers from Apple, mostly in 1986 and 1987. There was a renaissance at Apple in that period. The Macintosh market was booming, which was great for the faithful and lucky developers who survived the mess of late 84-85. I remember those times fondly. I did win-win deals, almost routinely, with Apple. Many thanks to Guy Kawasaki, Bill Campbell, and Jean-Louis Gassee, who understood that a good developer is worth a hundred promiscuous girlfriends. In those days my mailbox overflowed with floral arrangements. And I cooked some great meals!
Then, something predictable happened. Kawasaki, Campbell, Gassee, and people of similar spirit were forced out. A legion of employees invaded the platform, hired by other employees to replace the developers with high-paid, low-output, loveless computer scientists. That’s the major reason Apple’s economics are way out of whack right now.
Back to Gates… I have never heard him say a negative thing about the Macintosh. Quite the opposite. At the System 7 rollout, not a single Apple executive could explain why the new OS was so cool. I sat in the audience, amazed that Bill Gates was the only one on stage who could get me excited about System 7. (It was also amazing that I was in the audience. I was the only developer in the room that was building on System 7 in a meaningful way [with Frontier]. I was being punished for that. I could have given a stirring speech, but Apple people were afraid that some of them would lose their jobs if I was successful.)
On 23-Oct-94, in an email to me, Bill Gates said "Other large developers have humiliated the Mac through their statements or by dropping support, in some cases many times. Over the last few years we have introduced more new titles for the Mac than any other company. This is despite Apple suing us and discriminating against us."
Has Apple ever thanked Bill Gates for developing for the Macintosh? What about Paul Brainerd? John Warnock? Tim Gill? Marc Canter? Nat Goldhaber? Don Brown? Leonard Rosenthol? Andrew Singer? What about me?
Why not take Gates at face value? If he’s produced so much Macintosh software without any gratitude from Apple, maybe he’d support the platform even more enthusiastically if Apple showed just a bit of appreciation.
1994 is the ten-year anniversary of the shipment of the Macintosh. Did Apple honor the developers who were there at startup? Absolutely not. Not even a plaque. Not even an email saying thank you. I was pissed.
At the ten-year celebration at Moscone Center in San Francisco on January 6th, I sat in the audience, fuming, listening to Bill Atkinson and Andy Hertzfeld talk about the magic of the Macintosh, how great they were, without a single reference to any developers. Where was Spindler? Didn’t he have anything to say at this important milestone?
Today, Macintosh is an empty, loveless house. Not a home. All the developers walked but left the babies behind. Not because of market share; that can be fixed with economic tweaks. We walked because Apple is a lousy lover.
A platform is like a harem of sorts. One rich husband. Lots of wives. If the husband abuses one wife, it hurts all the wives. All of sudden food starts getting cold. The bed is empty. All of a sudden, the husband isn’t so rich.
One of the least well-publicized bits of semi-recent technology from Apple has been SCSI Manager 4.3, which I’ve seen discussed mostly in MacWEEK, primarily in Ric Ford’s MacInTouch columns. It’s a complicated subject, but with some welcome help from well-placed sources, this article attempts to explain what SCSI Manager 4.3 is, what it does, and what programs and drivers support it.
What is it? SCSI Manager is software that mediates between SCSI requests (such as disk reads and writes) made by applications or by SCSI drivers and the physical SCSI devices attached to a Mac. Between the clients (applications or drivers) and the SCSI Manager code sits the SCSI Manager software interface, also known as an API (Application Programming Interface) or SPI (System Programming Interface).
The old SCSI Manager software interface supported one bus with SCSI IDs 0 through 7, with the Mac at SCSI ID 7. In contrast, SCSI Manager 4.3 supports up to 256 buses, 256 SCSI IDs per bus, and 256 LUNs (Logical Unit Number) per ID. However, to make things easier to use and develop for, SCSI Manager 4.3 makes it appear to programs and drivers as though all devices are on the same bus.
In real life, this means that if you use a Wide SCSI card that is SCSI Manager 4.3-compliant, such as the FWB JackHammer card, any 4.3-savvy client can access all SCSI IDs from 0 through 15. The same goes for the dual SCSI chains on the Quadra 900 and 950.
SCSI Manager 4.3 supposedly adds support for the SCSI-2 standard, but in fact, all Macs support all the mandatory SCSI-2 protocol functions for initiating devices. What most Macs don’t support are two frequently discussed SCSI-2 features – Fast and Wide transfers – that are optional. SCSI Manager 4.3 directly supports SCSI-2 features, including the optional Fast and Wide transfers. However, the hardware on Mac motherboards (called the HBA, or Host Bus Adapter, and controlled by software called SIMs, or SCSI Interface Modules) doesn’t yet support synchronous SCSI (actually part of the SCSI-1 standard), fast synchronous SCSI (10 MB per second), or wide SCSI. To gain access to these features, even with SCSI Manager 4.3, you need an HBA and SIM that supports them, and the only current one is FWB’s JackHammer card.
What’s it good for? The goal of SCSI Manager 4.3 is to increase performance of the system as a whole, and in the process, to take advantage of new hardware such as DMA (Direct Memory Access). Essentially, SCSI Manager 4.3 is "fully asynchronous and fully concurrent," which means applications can submit any number of asynchronous SCSI requests to different devices on the same or different buses, and SCSI Manager 4.3 properly queues those requests up for when the device is ready, returning as much control to the application as possible in the process. To maintain backward compatibility with programs that are not SCSI Manager 4.3-aware, SCSI Manager 4.3 steps back to the constraints of the old SCSI Manager interface when performing old-style synchronous SCSI Manager requests. Thanks to some serious programming wizardry, SCSI Manager 4.3 can also handle old, synchronous SCSI Manager requests simultaneously with the new, asynchronous requests.
SCSI Manager 4.3 increases performance in three main ways. It enables asynchronous access to SCSI devices, supports SCSI disconnect-reconnect, and also uses DMA when available. Let’s take a look at each of these methods of improving performance:
Asynchronous access means that other things can happen at the same time as the disk read or write, something that has been generally impossible before. Although this would be nice to have in all applications so saving or opening files wouldn’t take over the machine, it’s most important for applications like digital video that need to move a lot of data while not tying up the CPU for other processing. Another good example of the utility of asynchronous access is backup to tape, where a program can read from the hard disk at the same time it writes to the tape.
SCSI disconnect-reconnect is related to asynchronous access, and means SCSI Manager 4.3 doesn’t have to wait for responses to commands sent to SCSI devices. While the device is working on a command, such as formatting a disk, the device can disconnect, enabling the Mac to work with other SCSI devices. Once our example disk is done formatting or needs to inform the formatting program of its status, it reconnects, signalling SCSI Manager 4.3 to pick up where it left off. By being asynchronous, SCSI Manager 4.3 enables application-level activities to occur while a SCSI operation is in progress, even if the device doesn’t disconnect (unless the application issues a synchronous file system request that ends up going to disk).
Using DMA when available improves performance by reducing the amount of work the CPU has to do in dealing with the fact that a disk read or write is in progress. If DMA is present, the DMA hardware can move data directly from the SCSI chip into memory (or vice versa for a write), never bothering the CPU with the transaction. Without DMA, the CPU must handle the data transfer between the SCSI chip and memory, reducing the amount of time it can spend on application-level tasks like recalculating a spreadsheet. DMA requires DMA support in hardware, which exists only in certain Mac models, specifically the Power Macs, the AV Macs, and the Apple Workgroup Server 95 (it has DMA on the two extra SCSI channels on its special PDS card). The elderly IIfx has DMA support, but SCSI Manager 4.3 doesn’t currently support its older SCSI chip.
Interestingly, using DMA is not necessarily any faster (and is sometimes even slower due to the overhead of setting up and tearing down DMA buffers) than moving data via the CPU. So, raw performance numbers don’t benefit from the use of DMA, but real world performance often does, since the CPU has more time to spend on applications.
So where’d it go? SCSI Manager 4.3 sounds like a good thing, so why don’t we hear more about it? There are several reasons, but most simply, it’s because users shouldn’t have to care since SCSI Manager 4.3 works at such a low level. In addition, driver support has been slow to arrive. This isn’t entirely the fault of driver developers; for some time there was no good documentation or much sample code. Some companies didn’t have active engineering teams working on their formatting software, and others attempted to hack their old synchronous drivers to add asynchronous support, a strategy which often proved more difficult than rewriting from scratch. Finally, SCSI Manager 4.3 was a major change for the industry, and there’s no doubt that some people weren’t happy about the change, not so much due to the advantages provided, but because of the amount of work entailed in converting driver software.
Even though users shouldn’t have to care about SCSI Manager 4.3 specifically, they should care about asynchronous file access, because it translates into increased performance and productivity. In fact, since few applications issue direct SCSI Manager requests, it’s silly to say that an application supports SCSI Manager 4.3 – it would be better to write the application to access files using asynchronous calls and to call out that fact for users.
Most major hard disk formatting programs now support SCSI Manager 4.3 or will soon, but users seldom think about updating their disk formatting software. It’s out of sight, and thus completely out of mind. Like many software companies, the companies that make software for formatting hard disks don’t always notify their customers of updates, and some, like La Cie, never notify customers at all (they’ve never notified me in the five years I’ve owned Silverlining). If you call and ask for an update, you can get one, but that requires a level of technical knowledge and vigilance beyond the call of duty.
Application support — Another problem with SCSI Manager 4.3 is that it requires application support to be useful. If an applications don’t make asynchronous calls, SCSI Manager 4.3 services the older, and slower, synchronous calls. Currently, only a few major applications support SCSI Manager 4.3.
First, Dantz Development’s Retrospect 2.1 supports SCSI Manager 4.3 directly, and the performance increase is shocking. I watched the start of a long backup session shortly after installing Retrospect 2.1 on my 660AV (which has SCSI Manager 4.3 in ROM), and the backup flew along at 12 MB per minute, with both the hard drive and the DAT drive in constant use. Second, FileMaker Pro now uses asynchronous file I/O to overlap disk operations with other activities. Unlike Retrospect 2.1, FileMaker Pro doesn’t directly access SCSI Manager 4.3, but its use of asynchronous file I/O enables it to take advantage of SCSI Manager 4.3’s capabilities. Third, Drive7 from Casa Blanca Works, along with being a SCSI Manager 4.3-savvy driver, supports SCSI disconnect-reconnect while formatting, so you can start a disk formatting and continue to work in Drive7 (formatting other drives if you want) or other programs.
Despite the seeming paucity of programs that use asynchronous calls, the problem is apparently more that many programs expect to wait for those calls to be processed before continuing, sitting in a loop and spinning a cursor instead of doing something useful. The trick, then, is two-fold. Programs must use asynchronous calls, and they should have something else to do if that call can be serviced by SCSI Manager 4.3 and an asynchronous driver.
Hardware support — Perhaps the main confusion with SCSI Manager 4.3 is which Macs support it. The 660AV and 840AV have the SCSI Manager 4.3 in ROM, as do the Power Macs and the Power Macintosh Upgrade Card. Until System 7.5, those were the only Macs that supported SCSI Manager 4.3, but the SCSI Manager 4.3 extension in System 7.5 provides support to all 68040-based Macs and Performas, except for the Quadra 630 and the 68040-based PowerBooks. The extension might appear on older 68030 Macs if you install a system "for any Macintosh," but it won’t do anything for them. The 68040 PowerBooks use different SCSI hardware that isn’t supported by SCSI Manager 4.3.
On an AV, the extension completely replaces the SCSI Manager 4.3 code from ROM, and it fixes some bugs in the Power Macintosh Upgrade Card ROMs, but it doesn’t do anything for Power Macs. There are a few patches to the SCSI Manager 4.3 code that’s in the Power Mac ROMs, but they exist only in the System 7.5 System file and in the PowerPC Enabler for System 7.1.2.
Using a DMA-equipped Mac, such as a Power Mac or an AV, without a SCSI Manager 4.3-savvy disk driver can reduce performance significantly (one report placed the slowdown at thirty percent). This performance degradation happens because SCSI Manager 4.3 is backward compatible with the old SCSI Manager way of working with 4.3-clueless drivers. The old SCSI Manager mode handles DMA in the AVs and Power Macs badly in comparison with the way SCSI Manager 4.3 handles DMA. In other words, if you have an AV or a Power Mac with a third party disk drive that hasn’t been formatted with SCSI Manager 4.3-savvy driver, you’re probably taking a hefty speed hit.
In the end — So, to take full advantage of the performance enhancements promised by SCSI Manager 4.3, you need the following:
- The right Mac, which means Power Macs and 68040-based Macs other than the Quadra 630 and 68040-based PowerBooks. Macs with DMA hardware, including the AV Macs and the Power Macs, will enjoy increased system performance when the DMA hardware frees the CPU from mediating SCSI requests.
- The SCSI Manager 4.3 extension from System 7.5 if you have a non-AV Mac.
- A SCSI Manager 4.3 compatible hard disk driver, which you can obtain from any of the following hard disk formatting packages (we hope this list is at least partially complete; see below for contact information for these vendors):
HD SC Setup 7.2 or later (Apple)
Drive7 v.X.X (Casa Blanca Works)
Anubis 2.5 or later (CharisMac)
Hard Disk Toolkit 1.5 or later (FWB)
Silverlining 5.6 (La Cie)
FormatterOne Pro (Software Architects)
MicroNet 6.0.0 Utility (or later, but only with MicroNet drives)
SCSI Director Professional 3.0 or later (Transoft)
Lido Disk Formatting Utility 7.31 (Surf City Software)
- Applications that intelligently use asynchronous file system calls so they can do useful work while SCSI Manager 4.3 deals with the asynchronous call. Current examples include Dantz’s Retrospect 2.1 and Claris’s FileMaker Pro.
In the end, support for SCSI Manager 4.3 could be the main hitherto unknown reason for most Quadra and Centris owners to upgrade to System 7.5 and a SCSI Manager 4.3-savvy hard disk driver.
Casa Blanca Works — 415/461-2227 — 415/461-2249 (fax)
Claris — 800/544-8554 — <[email protected]>
Dantz — 510/849-0293 — <[email protected]>
MicroNet — 714/453-6000 — 714/453-6001 (fax)
FWB — 415/474-8055 — 415/775-2125 (fax)
CharisMac Engineering — 916/885-4420 — 800/487-4420
Transoft — 805/565-5200 — 805/565-5208 (fax)
Surf City Software — 714/289-8543 — 714/289-1002 (fax)
Software Architects — 206/487-0122 — 206/487-0467 (fax)