In this, our last issue of 1994, we announce the arrival of Geoff Duncan, our new managing editor; report on problems with Quantum Daytona drives and certain SCSI-Manager 4.3 compliant drivers; debunk the "Good Times" hoax; report on Global Village’s new OneWorlds; and share fact, speculation, and rumor about future Macintosh operating systems. Finally, this issue really tells how to get Apple press releases via email. Best wishes for 1995.
This is the final issue of 1994, since we plan to take the next two weeks off in order to enjoy the holiday season with friends and relatives. As the year ends, we’d like to thank you for participating in the spread of knowledge and ideas throughout the global Internet community. May all your wishes come true. -Adam and Tonya
IBM Halts Pentium Shipments — IBM said Monday that they are halting shipments of Pentium-based PCs because the risk of floating point division errors in Intel’s chips was "worse than previously described." Intel has asserted in press releases and public announcements that the bug’s probability of occurring is only once in every 27,000 years of typical use and that the majority of off-the-shelf software would not be affected. IBM, however, said their tests indicate that common spreadsheet programs could generate the error as frequently as once every 24 days when recalculating for only 15 minutes a day. Further, IBM joined Hewlett-Packard in offering to replace flawed Pentium chips at no cost to customers. However, Intel is not expected to supply corrected chips to manufacturers until the first quarter of 1995. [GD]
Our FTP site at <ftp.tidbits.com> (also called <ftp.halcyon.com> because it’s one of Northwest Nexus’s public machines) reeled under the load placed on it as users requested the updater for MacTCP last week. Unfortunately it seems that the machine claimed "user anonymous unknown" when it meant there were too many simultaneous users logged in. Other users experienced "file table overflow" errors that we haven’t figured out yet. Don’t worry if you receive one of these errors; simply trying again a few times usually works, and you can retrieve the file from the /comm directory of any Info-Mac mirror site.
In addition, Apple’s Communications Products & Technologies group recently upgraded the home site for the MacTCP upgrade, <seeding.apple.com> (a Quadra 700 running FTPd 2.3 and AppleShare 3.0), to handle 25 simultaneous users. [ACE]
Got those MacTCP 2.0.6 Updater Blues? Many MacTCP 2.0.4 users have had bad experiences trying to use the MacTCP 2.0.6 updater (see TidBITS-255). Specifically, the updater application often refuses to update the existing version of MacTCP because the driver resource ".ipp" doesn’t match what the updater expects.
The updater works properly on a "clean" copy of MacTCP 2.0.x that’s never been installed; however, if you’re absolutely stuck without a "clean" copy, this particular problem may be fixed with ResEdit (but no guarantees):
1) Make a copy of the MacTCP 2.0.x control panel.
2) Using ResEdit 2.1.1 or higher, open your copy of the MacTCP control panel.
3) Locate the DRVR resource and open it. You should see only one resource, ID 22, called Driver: ".ipp".
4) Select the driver resource and choose Get Resource Info from the Resource menu.
5) At the bottom of the resource info window are six checkboxes: uncheck the System Heap checkbox.
6) Save your changes and quit ResEdit.
7) Run the appropriate MacTCP updater on your modified copy of the MacTCP control panel.
8) Swap the updated MacTCP and the old MacTCP in your Control Panels folder and restart.
Note that updates to MacTCP 2.0.4 or 2.0.6 cannot be performed on versions 1.x of MacTCP. [GD]
Apple propaganda is now available on the Internet via a mailing list. Thanks to Robert Winston <[email protected]> for alerting us to this list. Send email to <[email protected]> with "sub pressrel Your Name" in the body of the message. You can also put the command "help" or "lists" on a line by itself to get more information or a list of lists on Apple’s ListProcessor machine. [ACE]
Pythaeus writes: A computer movie is being shot right now under the name of "The Net" and stars Sandra Bullock (of "Speed" fame). Interestingly, the final scene is a chase scene, and it will be based upon and take place at this year’s Macworld San Francisco. The production company is setting up a "real" booth across from the eWorld booth that will be part of the movie. From what I have heard, they are actually supposed to be filming at Macworld.
Multiple Santas — The Internet Multicasting Service has also set up a Christmas-oriented Web site, complete with a <[email protected]> address and a number of interesting Web pages. This Web site has a Cyberspace Christmas Campaign, in which several corporations, including Sun Microsystems, have agreed to donate thousands of dollars to charities of their choice. The catch is that the donations come in dime-sized increments, one for each time someone on the Internet browses the Web pages associated with those charities. So, for instance, to receive the full $25,000 promised by Sun, the Second Harvest Food Bank pages must be viewed 250,000 times; otherwise Sun gets the unused portion of their money back in early January. Browse early and often. [ACE]
With this, our 256th issue, we are pleased to welcome Geoff Duncan <[email protected]> as our Managing Editor. You may have noticed his [GD] tag affixed to a few MailBITS in the past few issues, and starting with this issue, he’ll be writing and editing more articles. Frankly, this is a huge move for TidBITS; in the past Tonya and I have handled all of the administrative tasks associated with TidBITS, as well as much of the writing (with the able assistance of Mark H. Anbinder, our indefatigable News Editor) and all of the editing. Geoff’s main goals are to help keep the quality of TidBITS high and to work on new and innovative ways of creating and maintaining a fully electronic publication.
When we decided this summer that we had to bring someone in to help with TidBITS, Geoff was one of only a few conceivable candidates. We needed someone who was totally comfortable with email as the primary method of communication, whose knowledge and experience complemented ours, who could write his or her way out of a paper bag, whose computer skills were at least on a par with ours, and – most importantly – who knew and understood true electronic publishing.
Needless to say, Geoff met all of these requirements perfectly. He’s worked on many different computer systems connected to the nets from the time he was a student at Oberlin College (where he received a degree in Sociology and Art History/Studio Art and wrote a senior honors thesis on implications of the net). Geoff has worked as a studio musician and recording engineer, had jobs in a biochemistry lab, as a technical writer, and as an intern in charge of user services in academic labs, not to mention his work in advertising and marketing production and as an independent computer consultant. Most recently, he worked as a software tester and test lead on several Microsoft CD-ROM products, and he’s better at breaking programs than most anyone I know.
Geoff knows far more about Unix and VMS than I’ll ever hope to; he’s a competent programmer and scripter; and he participated in an early electronic fiction magazine called Athene, which later became the highly regarded electronic fiction magazine InterText <[email protected]>. Geoff is the long-standing assistant editor of InterText, and works with the editor, Jason Snell (also an assistant editor at MacUser), and another assistant editor, Susan Grossman.
[Thanks for leaving out the awkward bits about my electric bow tie collection and the incident with the Hawaiian shirts and chocolate cake mix. I owe you one. -Geoff]
The addition of Geoff to our staff makes possible positive changes to TidBITS in the future. We’ll start using <[email protected]> as our public address soon, so as to spread the massive email load around among us. You will also start seeing more corporate sponsors, since the income generated from the sponsorships will support Geoff, in addition to being funneled back into the business to cover our connection, travel, hardware, and office expenses. We hope to improve and increase the information we make available by more fully utilizing alternative methods of publishing on the Internet.
The main reason we decided we needed help with TidBITS is that as TidBITS has become more popular, we’ve had more trouble keeping up. It hasn’t helped that both the Macintosh industry and the Internet continue to grow and evolve; nor has it helped that both Tonya and I have various book publishing projects that constantly clamor for time and attention. TidBITS is now read by well over 110,000 people every week, and our direct mailing list (graciously hosted by Rice University, one of the early members of the Macintosh university consortium) has become one of the largest LISTSERVs on the Internet, with more than 14,700 subscribers and increases well in excess of 1,000 readers per month. So, if an article generates even a 0.05 percent response, that’s still a fair amount of email to respond to. In the early years of TidBITS, the volumes were much lower, of course, and we had more to prove back then. Now we’re concentrating on figuring out ways of reclaiming our lives from the gravitational pull of Eudora’s In Box while still contributing to the net community. After all, no one benefits if we burn out before we hit age thirty.
Director of Technical Services, Baka Industries Inc.
Early in December, many well-intentioned people forwarded email messages warning of a virus called "Good Times" that was being distributed as an email message that would erase your hard drive if you read it. These messages sparked much confusion and even some reports of virus sightings, but investigators have determined that the warning messages were merely a hoax.
The Computer Incident Advisory Capability office (CIAC) of the U.S. Department of Energy released a bulletin on 06-Dec-94 explaining that the message originated from an America Online user and a student at a university at approximately the same time, and that it was meant as a hoax.
Karyn Pichnarczyk of the CIAC team said the warnings gained a false aura of credibility when many users received messages with "Good Times" in the subject line and deleted them without reading them, "thus believing that they have saved themselves from being attacked."
Some computer professionals have commented that the message itself is the virus; one offered the term "memetic virus" to describe the way this warning has prompted well-meaning readers to propagate it.
CIAC says that at this time there are no known viruses which can infect merely through the reading of an email message. A program must be executed for a virus to be spread. Trojan horses, programs that do something other than expected but that don’t replicate by themselves, have appeared as executable attachments to mail messages.
Pichnarczyk suggests that anyone receiving a warning about a "Good Times virus" should "simply ignore it or send a reply stating that this is a false rumor."
As always, we strongly urge that, if you find evidence of a virus, or receive a warning of one, you forward it directly to an anti-virus expert. Spreading unverified reports just creates panic, and allows this sort of thing to happen. Gene Spafford at Purdue University <[email protected]> has said he’s willing to receive such material.
CIAC <[email protected]>
Global Village today announced they are preparing to ship two new models of their OneWorld communications server family. The OneWorld Network Modem replaces the OneWorld Remote Access server, offering both incoming ARA and outgoing shared modem services. The OneWorld Combo offers both of those features, plus the outgoing fax service of the OneWorld Fax server.
When Global Village introduced their OneWorld Fax and OneWorld Remote Access servers (see TidBITS-232), the potential for enhancement was obvious. The OneWorld Combo unit offers nearly all of the capabilities we outlined nearly six months ago. (It still can’t receive faxes, and currently supports Apple Remote Access 1.0 or 2.0, but not SLIP or PPP.)
The basic OneWorld device is still a book-sized box with one or two PowerPort modems (100-series) installed, and either just LocalTalk, or both LocalTalk and EtherTalk ports. Global Village’s downloadable firmware approach means any OneWorld can take on any of the above identities. In fact, first-generation OneWorld owners can upgrade to Network Modem or Combo capabilities quickly and easily. (Serialized keys mean users won’t be able to pirate upgrades.) Global Village will begin shipping the new OneWorlds around the time of next month’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco, and both retail and upgrade pricing will be available at that time.
GlobalFax gets a face-lift with this release as well; the popular fax software that comes with the OneWorld Combo now offers better greyscale and more dialing options. The current software also supports all of Global Village’s personal modem products; previous OneWorld users had trouble with Duo and 500-series PowerPort modems.
Each of the modems built into the OneWorld can handle any or all of the unit’s tasks: incoming ARA, outgoing faxes, or outgoing network modem service. That network modem service gives users the option of "shadowing" either a modem or printer port, or of using a CTB-aware application to access the OneWorld server more directly.
A single OneWorld Combo could replace two LanRovers, two TelePort Mercury modems, and a 4-Sight Fax server, all with a single box that doesn’t require a Macintosh. Sounds like a good arrangement to me.
Global Village Communication — 800/736-4821 — 408/523-1000
408/523-2423 (fax) — <[email protected]>
During the last few weeks, reports have circulated on the nets about failures to properly spin up PowerBook hard disks after putting a PowerBook to sleep. These reports have most often been associated with the use of SCSI Manager 4.3-savvy drivers.
La Cie has confirmed that some series of Quantum Daytona hard disks with capacities of 250 MB, 340 MB, and 540 MB don’t like SCSI Manager 4.3-savvy drivers and have exhibited problems with Silverlining 5.6 (the first version of Silverlining to take advantage of SCSI Manager 4.3). The workaround is to obtain from La Cie a revised version of Silverlining (5.54/23) that specifically addresses this problem.
La Cie will send version 5.54/23 at no charge to any owner of Silverlining 5.6 who is having problems with a Daytona drive. Note that the disk image for version 5.54/23 is included with the La Cie software included on all La Cie’s new drives (even ones that shipped with Silverlining 5.6), so check for it before you make a telephone call. La Cie’s standard upgrade policy from any previous version of Silverlining is $10, plus $5 shipping (or $7 and your phone number for Airborne Express). To upgrade from a previous version, you’ll need to send your original program disk to the address below.
FWB, makers of Hard Disk Toolkit (HDT), also confirm that their engineers discovered a problem with sleep mode on Quantum Daytona disks and will correct the problem in HDT 1.6.3, which they hope to ship by the middle of this week. An upgrade policy has not been set at this time, but a FWB representative indicated that they anticipate offering a free upgrade to users of HDT 1.6 and Quantum Daytona disks, and they also plan to release an updater application to the nets.
In the meantime, PowerBook users with Quantum Daytona disks may wish to avoid SCSI Manager 4.3-savvy drivers (we haven’t received information from other driver makers) until these problems are resolved. Note that although SCSI Manager 4.3-savvy drivers improve hard disk performance on most 68040 Quadras and all Power Macs, they don’t improve performance on 68040-based PowerBooks or the Quadra 630 (see TidBITS-251 for details). For the time being, PowerBook users have no reason to upgrade to SCSI Manager 4.3-savvy drivers.
La Cie Technical Support — 800/288-9919
8700 SW Creekside Place, Beaverton, OR, 97008 (Attn: Updates)
FWB Software Upgrades — 415/474-8055 — <[email protected]>
With rumors that the next major revision of Apple’s system software (Copland or System 8) is set for the tail end of 1995, Apple is gearing up for an interim system software release in early 1995 to pave the way for new Macintosh models and critical new Apple technologies. In the meantime, Apple is slowly dispersing information on future system technology in an effort to clarify their stance on future directions and Windows 95.
Marconi — Code-named Marconi, this system software will incorporate support for new Power Macs based on the PowerPC 603 and 604 chips, including new PowerBooks, desktop Macs, and upgrades for existing CPUs set to ship in the first half of 1995. In addition, Marconi will ship with OpenDoc, Open Transport, and possibly the Appearance Manager and the long-rumored enhanced version of the Power Mac’s 68040 emulator. We should also see some interface changes, better support for 3-D graphics technology, support for PCI and other (possibly FireWire) peripherals, and a good deal more PowerPC-native code in the system.
The much-touted OpenDoc is a central technology in Apple’s movement toward a more document-centered operating system (see TidBITS-187, TidBITS-210, and TidBITS-219). To over-generalize, OpenDoc lets users apply collections of small, compatible tools to their documents rather than throwing their documents at sets of large, unwieldy applications. Under OpenDoc, users will be able to mix-and-match spell checkers, drawing tools, text tools, and utilities to meet their particular needs. OpenDoc is a superset of Microsoft’s OLE 2.0 technology (shipping in current versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Works) and will thus be compliant with existing applications using OLE.
Open Transport is a new, modular layer of the operating system designed to allow Macs to communicate "natively" using any network protocol, such as TCP/IP, SNA, Novell NetWare, DECnet and others. Traditionally, Macs only "speak" AppleTalk; Open Transport will enable Macs to behave as if they were native denizens of any network, and furthermore be able to run more than one network protocol simultaneously. Presumably Apple will provide a set of protocols with Open Transport (such as AppleTalk and TCP/IP); other protocols will likely be available from third parties.
Incidentally, Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1947) was an Italian engineer who transmitted long-wave radio signals across the Atlantic in 1901. In 1909, he shared the Nobel Prize in physics.
Copland — Although rumor and innuendo continue to surround Copland, a few common themes have begun to emerge. One is that it probably won’t be called System 8. Apple representatives declined to comment on what Copland’s final name might be, although they have suggested it won’t be System 95. Copland may ship under the name MacOS, possibly with Marconi leading the way as MacOS 1.0. Copland is also allegedly a complete rewrite of system code based almost entirely on OpenDoc components.
Another consistent thread is that Copland will be the last release of Macintosh system software that will run on 68000-based Macs and, furthermore, that the release of the 68000-based version of Copland might occur as late as the second quarter of 1996. Apple insists that Copland will ship by the end of 1995 (a key point in their strategy to compete with Windows 95), but they may be backing away from commitment to a 68000 version by that date. Although this is good news for Power Mac owners, it does leave many owners of earlier Macintoshes wondering what will happen next.
Copland is presently set to include a significant set of features and enhancements:
- Preemptive multitasking and protected memory. The new microkernel-based system will enable your Mac to do more things simultaneously and let you continue working without interruption through what now are modal operations (i.e., formatting disks, launching applications, polling network services, etc.). Protected memory management means that crashes in applications (or even the system) should have minimal impact on other programs or your machine. (This should also include support for applications developed under the current Macintosh memory model and run them in their own protected memory area.) Copland will include a threaded version of the Finder that can run many Finder tasks concurrently.
- Active Assistants: With the introduction of Apple Guide in System 7.5, we’ve seen the beginning of active assistance integrated into the Macintosh system. Copland will expand on this model and include precursors to intelligent agents. Expect early examples to be tightly integrated with the System – printing, network use, and PowerTalk come to mind – but application support and inter-application features should be provided by third parties.
- Workplace features, with better support for workgroup and collaborative applications. Likely candidates include MovieTalk (QuickTime-based video-conferencing) and collaborative document spaces that can be modified and viewed simultaneously by multiple users.
- 64-bit memory addressing, which would allow Macs to see disks up to 256 terabytes in size and access over 16 million volumes simultaneously. This should keep even the most intensive power users happy for at least a couple of years.
Gershwin — Fewer details are available regarding Gershwin, Apple’s system software set to follow Copland in 1997. It seems that Gershwin will not run on 68000-based Macs; however, it will incorporate a portable microkernel that would allow Apple (or its licensees) to compile Gershwin for a variety of processors, including (but not limited to) PowerPCs, DEC Alphas, MIPS, and Intel processors. If this effort bears fruit, users would be able to select from a number of hardware architectures and still run Macintosh applications. Not surprisingly, Gershwin is set to include application and operating system frameworks from Taligent, allowing Mac users to run applications from other platforms under the Mac OS.
Gershwin is also slated to support multi-processor machines. As CPU chips get less expensive, significant performance improvements could be seen on desktop computers by incorporating a number of inexpensive processors rather than a single high-end, high-speed CPU. This would also allow Apple to have a mainstream OS that runs on high-end, multi-processor workstations and servers.
Gershwin should include system-level support for advanced 3-D graphics, possibly with the aid of technology licensed from SGI or other graphics-platform vendors. This would let application developers and information providers more easily incorporate high-speed 3-D models and renderings into their products. Additionally, Gershwin should include intelligent agents that handle and assist with a wide variety of tasks. Don’t look for them to simply help you learn your new word processor or find a missing file: intelligent agents might handle telephone messages, email, reservations, personal finances, program the VCR, and even make sure your house has that lived-in look while you’re on vacation. Intelligent agents will likely be one of the gee-whiz features Apple focuses on as Gershwin gets closer to market, both in its advertising and demonstrations, as well as in efforts to attract developers to its new technologies.
Summary — With these rumors of spectacular progress in Apple’s operating systems, it’s important to note that Rome wasn’t networked in a day. With Marconi, the introduction of OpenDoc and Open Transport will likely be akin to the introduction of QuickDraw GX with System 7.5: cool technology that few programs support. By introducing these technologies and shipping them with new Macintosh models, Apple hopes to push these components into the world and encourage developers to use them. By the time Copland ships, these technologies will hopefully be mature enough to provide real advantages for everyday Macintosh users.
By announcing these plans as much as a year in advance and making some details available to developers and the press, Apple is also attempting to clarify its stance relative to Microsoft’s much-hyped (and much-delayed) Windows 95. Microsoft would have you believe that with the introduction of Windows 95, there will no longer be any reason to buy a Mac. By discussing and demonstrating its current and upcoming technology, Apple hopes to show that its offerings already eclipse Windows 95, and that the Mac’s future will both ship earlier and be significantly more elegant than Microsoft’s options. This certainly won’t be the last chapter of the Mac-versus-Windows debate, but I believe it shows Apple intends to be in the thick of the fight.