This issue features our picks for the most interesting products and events at the recent San Francisco Macworld Expo, complete with Adam’s take on Internet software at the show, Tonya’s report on the state of QuickDraw GX fonts and applications, and our traditional Macworld Expo superlatives. The usual complement of MailBITS commenting on previous articles round out the issue.
We’re all back from Macworld San Francisco, where we had a good time despite gusty wind and rain and a somewhat ho-hum show. Our personal high points came when playing country mice riding up the multiple floors of semi-circular escalators at the Nordstrom store on Market Street and riding up the 32-floor-high external glass elevators at the Westin St. Francis hotel. Close behind was the night when Tonya didn’t want a serious sit down dinner, but "just a hamburger or something." We ended up at a diner called The Original Perfect Hamburger, appropriately enough, but behind that oh-so-American moniker hid the fact that the Oriental proprietors also served Chinese food. This made for some fun combinations, such as my meal of eggrolls and onion rings. On the Sunday after Macworld, I gave a keynote to a wonderful group the MacSciTech conference, and then we found time for a cable car ride, with the trip back made more exciting walking the last nine blocks due to a pair of cable cars put out of commission. [ACE]
Hayden Sponsoring — We’d like to welcome our latest sponsor, Hayden Books, the company that publishes Tonya’s and my books, along with many other titles. Ever since Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh took off, Hayden has looked at getting on the Internet in a serious way, but the process was complicated by the fact that Hayden is an imprint of Macmillan Computer Publishing. Thus, the Web site that recently appeared had to take into account not just Hayden, but all of the Macmillan Computer Publishing imprints. The site has large amounts of information about the various titles including tables of contents and sample chapters from many books. You can search for specific books, subscribe to a service that alerts you to new books in certain subject areas, and even download software that’s bundled with some of the books. You can buy books online if you wish, and all are discounted 20 percent. And, of course, each of the imprints has its own home page. So if you’re a computer book fan, check it out. [ACE]
PowerCity Notes — PowerCity, which started sponsoring TidBITS last week, was briefly overwhelmed by the unexpectedly enthusiastic response. Unfortunately, their response time increased significantly during the peak load times. The PowerCity folks are working to improve their response times, and ask that if you merely want more information about PowerCity that you put the words "Ordering Information" in the subject of your message. You should definitely read this information before making a quote request so you know what to expect. Also, when making a quote request, put "Price Quote" in the subject of your message, or, although it shouldn’t normally be necessary for a fast response, put "Price Quote – URGENT" in the subject line if you need the response as fast as possible. Finally, please send requests for ordering information separately from quote requests. [ACE]
Charles Wheeler <[email protected]> writes:
Your end of the year report in TidBITS-257 neglected to mention that 1994 was finally the year CD-ROM gained mass acceptance after years of trying. (Even I, the self proclaimed archenemy of CD-ROM technology, bought a drive last year.) What changed in 1994 was not the technology or people’s perceptions of it, but prices and, most important, content. Led by Myst and assisted by the Microsoft Home series, there now exist CD-ROMs worth owning. My personal favorites include Simon & Schuster’s Star Trek: The Next Generation Interactive Technical Manual (introducing QuickTime VR) [see TidBITS-250], Now What Software’s Real World Picture Atlas and The Cities Below, Microsoft’s Cinemania ’95, and the excellent interactive version of David Macaulay’s best selling book The Way Things Work. These products, along with other high quality, high content offerings, make putting up with the speed limitations of the technology worthwhile. (I was told at Macworld San Francisco that someone was showing a 15x drive with 40 millisecond access times, so maybe that liability will soon be gone.)
David M. Palmer <[email protected]> writes:
On the subject of DOS compatibility, Metrowerks, which in the past year has become THE Macintosh development system company, has announced CodeWarrior Platinum, which is the Metrowerks developer environment (Pascal, C, C++, etc.) that can compile for the 68×00, the PowerPC, and the Intel 80×86. With this development, a Power Mac with a DOS card may become the standard system for cross-platform development, and may even become the standard system for Wintel development.
No OS/2 for DOS in Mac, Maybe Power Mac — For those who asked, the DOS card from Reply cannot currently run IBM’s OS/2 operating system. Apparently it looks for something in firmware which exist on the card. Reply said they could work around the problem in doesn’t software but don’t have definite plans at the moment. However, IBM has reportedly shipped the first beta of OS/2 for the PowerPC, which could eventually result in a version of OS/2 that runs on Power Macs. [ACE]
Every year, like all members of the press, we try to figure out the unofficial theme of the show. This year, the annual Netters’ Dinner stood in traditional relief against this unofficial theme: Internet products by those who don’t quite get it (and a few who do). This was the first year that vendors seemed relatively email savvy, and Tonya and Geoff commented on the fact that saying they were from TidBITS resulted in a fair amount of recognition this year (although still far more from developers than marketing people, not surprisingly). Richard Huff created an unofficial Macworld Expo home page, complete with some photos from his QuickTake.
Here are some of the more noticeable Internet attempts and successes of the show.
Global Village introduced the OneWorld Internet, a $2,000 box that connects an Ethernet network to the Internet via a 28,800 bps modem (no doubt a PowerPort Mercury). An ISDN version is also in the works, but both versions suffer from ludicrously expensive charges. Since the connection is through an 800 number (and thus U.S.-only, I presume), the cost is $8.95 per hour plus a monthly fee based on the number of users at your site. When I calculated this out for the minimum number of users connecting for only four hours per day, it was not only twice as slow, but also roughly twice as expensive as my dedicated 56K frame relay connection. The box seems only to work with QuickMail for email, which limits it to sites that have QuickMail installed. Although the OneWorld Internet box sports some technically impressive features, and Global Village provides some Internet amenities such as custom domain names, the usage prices make the product easy to ignore.
Global Village — <[email protected]> — 408/523-1000 — 408/523-2407 (fax)
InterCon Systems showed version 2.1 of TCP/Connect II, their integrated Internet access package, which primarily adds support for the SOCKS standard for navigating firewalls and a fast Web browser that is not licensed from some other vendor. Also new from InterCon was the $195 ($89 at the show) TCP/Connect II Remote software package, which does everything the complete version of TCP/Connect II does, but uses its own implementation of TCP and SLIP or PPP. In other words, via TCP/Connect II Remote, you can use most of the popular services on the Internet, such as email, news (including offline reading), FTP, Gopher, and the Web, but you cannot use MacTCP programs such as Eudora, NewsWatcher, Anarchie, and MacWeb.
InterCon Systems — <[email protected]> — 703/709-5500 — 703/709-5555 (fax)
Synergy Software wasn’t showing anything new, but was celebrating VersaTerm’s tenth birthday. It’s nice to see a small company like Synergy continue to produce high-quality communications software like VersaTerm and VersaTerm-Link (an integrated Internet access program with which TCP/Connect II Remote will compete) for all these years.
Synergy Software — <[email protected]> — 610/779-0522 — 610/370-0548 (fax)
StarNine was showing a pre-release version of EMail-On-Demand, a mailing list manager program for the Macintosh that works with any SMTP server like MailShare or StarNine Mail*Link gateways, any POP3/SMTP mail system like Eudora, and with the LAN email packages QuickMail and Microsoft Mail. EMail-On-Demand (eMOD) supports LISTSERV-like mailing lists, auto-reply capabilities for returning information based on the address or subject of a message, and direct mailing lists for distributing mail to a number of people all at once. eMOD does all of this with a collection of user-created rules, where each rule is comprised of a trigger and an action. eMOD is slated for a first quarter release.
StarNine — <[email protected]> (put "subscribe" in the subject of the message to subscribe to the eMOD mailing list) — 510/649-4949 — 510/548-0393 (fax)
Open Door Networks announced that it now offers Internet access in a rather unique way, through Apple Remote Access (ARA). With MacTCP installed and configured properly (Open Door Networks will sell you MacTCP if you don’t have it), you can use ARA (assuming you own it as well) to connect and access AppleTalk services on the host servers, all at the same time as you run MacTCP-based applications to access the rest of the Internet. The prices are currently high, but the concept is an interesting one.
Open Door Networks — <[email protected]>
Software Ventures moved beyond MicroPhone’s terminal emulation with Snatcher, a graphical FTP client that makes heavy use of drag & drop, and thus requires System 7.5 or System 7.1 with Finder 7.1.3, AppleScript 1.1, Drag and Drop 1.1, and of course, MacTCP. Although Snatcher doesn’t do anything particularly wrong (other than closing windows when the FTP connection goes away), neither does it particularly distinguish itself from Peter Lewis’s shareware Anarchie, other than by more closely resembling the Finder. Perhaps the main audience for this version of Snatcher will be a company that wants to use FTP as the primary method for distributing files instead of AppleShare, since Snatcher can display proper icons for files on FTP sites based on filename extensions (only an internal site would use extensions for file types other than the few basic Internet types).
Software Ventures — <[email protected]> — 510/644-3232 — 510/848-0885 (fax)
OpenSoft also weighed in with a graphical FTP client, differentiating itself by relying on Catalogs and other features present only via Apple’s PowerTalk technology. PowerFTP will face an uphill battle given the low adoption rate of PowerTalk, although it’s good to see something finally using that technology in an interesting way. OpenSoft plans other PowerTalk-based Internet clients, including an email client that, if well-enough done, might even make PowerTalk mail usable for those of us who receive a lot of email.
OpenSoft — <[email protected]> — 800/996-OPEN — 714/650-3696 (fax)
Outland showed off their extremely cool game network, and the best part (aside from the fact that it makes graphical interactive gaming available over the Internet) is that the rates are now $9.95 per month, flat-rate. Outland has a free five hour trial as well, so it’s easy to see if you like playing Spaceward Ho!, Go, Backgammon, Reversi, Chess, Hearts, Galley, and Backstab against other players from all over the Internet. You can get Outland’s software (for use with a MacTCP-based Internet connection) from:
For more information on Outland, send them email at <[email protected]> or check out their Web site at:
Guy Kawasaki’s current project, Emailer, was somewhat hidden at the Bit Jugglers booth. Emailer attempts to bring all your email, whether it be from CompuServe, AOL, eWorld, or the Internet, into a single place. You can have a single set of nicknames and can schedule connections to the different services. Although Emailer doesn’t offer all the features one might want in an "email client that does everything," it may be a compelling product for people who must maintain (and constantly check) email on a variety of services. Emailer isn’t yet available, but we’ll be sure to mention it here when it is.
The World-Wide Web was the hot topic, as one might expect. MacHTTP developer Chuck Shotton’s sessions overflowed their spaces, the Intermediate Internet talk that I, Richard Ford, and Kee Nethery gave didn’t even have standing room, and some folks from Netscape took QuarkXPress files of Apple’s Digital Daily newspaper and turned them into HTML files. Perhaps the strangest Web browser around was one from AllPen <[email protected]> that I never managed to find, but it runs on a Newton. With a larger screen and maybe some color, I could see a Newton being a pretty cool hand-held Web browser.
After writing about QuickDraw GX in TidBITS-243 , I settled in to wait for Macworld Expo, where I hoped to see the wonders of GX fonts in action. GX has gobs of practical problems, but I thought (and still think) that the fonts are compelling enough to make some abandon practicality and to make others improve the practicality.
Mainstream vendors of the feature-laden monstrosities we consider "popular" programs appear to be taking a wait-and-see approach to supporting GX fonts (though support for the GX printing architecture is more common). This leaves room for lesser-known companies to support GX fonts with a higher risk and with higher potential returns. Programs supporting GX fonts offer an interface for accessing font options, so you can see how changes you make to type look within the context of the current document.
Linotype-Hell — GX fonts do exist, and Linotype-Hell had a demo going in the Apple area. The demo showed off some of Linotype Hell’s GX fonts, and show-goers could see how easy GX makes it to use special dingbats, ligatures, fractions, small caps, drop caps, and so on that can be built into a GX font. GX fonts can also include Multiple Master-like features, so you can (for example) lighten, darken, contract, or expand text in a font.
LightningDraw GX — Lightning Draw GX, a soon-to-be-shipping graphics program from Lari Software, works fine with GX fonts and uses GX graphics capabilities in a number of features. The program combines painting and drawing in sometimes unexpected ways. For example, you can paint with tools such as Charcoal or Paint, and the program then merges your efforts into a single object.
The Reshaper tool lets you change the shape of an object by pushing and pulling any point on the object’s edge (you can set the amount of force with which the object thinks you are pushing or pulling). You can join and subtract objects; for example, you might draw a large square, draw a smaller circle within the square, subtract the circle out of the square, and end up with a square having a round hole in its middle. Objects placed on top of one another can also overlap and you can set the level of transparency that the top object has, thus determining the color of the area where the objects overlap.
When LightningDraw GX ships, it should import Photoshop and PICT images, and place EPS images. It should be able to save as PICT. Other features, such as bezier curves, Multigon and Star tools, extensive zoom, unlimited layers, WorldScript, and ColorSync add up to make for an interesting product that takes up 2 MB or your hard disk and requires a minimum of 2.5 MB RAM. It will run on any 68020 or later, and (of course) requires that you also run QuickDraw GX.
UniQorn — One surprise at Macworld this year was from SoftPress Systems Limited in England. They’re putting together a product called UniQorn, a fully-featured professional design and layout program built on top of QuickDraw GX. UniQorn exploits all of QuickDraw GX’s new functionality, allowing extensive typographic and display features not available in non-GX-savvy applications. (Quark has indicated it won’t support GX in QuarkXPress because GX isn’t cross-platform; Adobe is at present an unknown with PageMaker.)
In addition to all the functionality provided by QuickDraw GX, UniQorn is scriptable, WorldScript-savvy, implements Drag and Drop, and comes with Apple Guide assistance. SoftPress has indicated that they fully intend to support OpenDoc when it becomes available. UniQorn is targeted at designers, naturally, but SoftPress’s tactics seem more directed at "multiple media publishing," meaning the preparation of data for a wide variety of formats. UniQorn can transform a portrait, U.S. letter document into a landscape, A4 document using a set of customizable rules about how graphics, columns, and the like should shift. One particularly interesting application is that UniQorn automatically generates tagged versions of its documents: with the right style sheet, these can look remarkably like HTML. UniQorn will be available for Macs and Power Macs and, although pricing isn’t set, is expected to be between $700 and $900. We’ll have more news on UniQorn as its shipping date nears.
Besides newcomers Lari and SoftPress, the only other GX-savvy software I saw at the Expo was Pixar’s Typestry 2, a type rendering and animation program. I didn’t get a chance to see a personal demo of Typestry 2, and the group demo didn’t mention the fonts.
Lari Software — 800/933-7303 — 919/968-0701
919/968-0801 (fax) — <[email protected]>
Linotype-Hell — 800/842-9721 — 516/434-2706 (fax)
Pixar — 510/236-4000
SoftPress Systems — 44-993-882588 — 44-993-883970 (fax)
Mark Anbinder started our tradition of an article awarding some tongue-in-cheek awards (and some serious ones) to various companies, products, and events at the show. Mark wasn’t able to make it to San Francisco, so we tried to pick up the slack.
Most Connected T-shirt — Outland gets this award for their t-shirt, which, aside from having a nice design, had a URL emblazoned on it. Next thing you know, URLs will be on cereal boxes.
Classic Microsoft — Microsoft gave "Windows 95 for Macintosh Developers" seminars and passed out t-shirts with the witty slogan, "Windows 95 Sucks Less." Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell them that Apple had "System 7.5 Sucks Less" t-shirts at Macworld Boston this past August, so once again, Microsoft had to settle for copying Apple after the fact. Plus, the t-shirts made one wonder if Microsoft was saying Windows 95 sucked less than the Mac, a distinctly unpopular sentiment at a Mac trade show.
Neatest Utility — Natural Intelligence enthusiastically demonstrated a utility, called DragStrip, that enables you to create sets of launcher tiles, much like the freeware Malph, but with numerous enhancements, such as the ability to attach recently used documents to an application launcher tile, and hotspots that bring your strips to the foreground. DragStrip takes the genre to its peak for the moment, and supports its own DragStrip Additions (for changing monitor depth, sound volume, and so on) and Control Strip modules, which were previously only accessible on a desktop Mac with Desktop Strip. DragStrip also comes with a separate Control Panel called Bail, (also released separately by Christopher Evans <[email protected]>) that lets you cancel the launch of an application, a useful capability if you keep both Word 5 and Word 6 on your hard disk. Check out the DragStrip demo if you’re interested.
Natural Intelligence — <[email protected]> — 617/876-4876 — 617/492-7425 (fax)
Fishiest Product — This award easily goes to Aquazone, an aquarium simulator that even had one of its developers stumped when we walked by (he couldn’t figure out why all of his fish were dying suddenly). Aquazone isn’t a game: you add, remove, and name your fish, feed them, take care of them, control the water temperature, clean the filter, and even tap on the glass. What’s more, you can watch your fish grow, lay eggs, and give birth to new fish. Of course, your fish can get sick (and Aquazone comes with a lot of information on piscine diseases!) or even die. You can control the rate at which time passes (typical is 50x normal time) to make things happen faster. Aquazone gives you digital pets, and wins kudos from aquarium owners and fish enthusiasts. In future versions, they plan to add environments and creatures, plus use artificial life techniques to give your ecosystems emergent behaviors and interactions.
Tecsys Computers — 714/955-4968 — 714/955-4963 (fax)
Best Booth Display — DriveSavers, a company that specializes in data recovery, had the most interesting booth display, titled "Museum of Bizarre Disk-asters." Museum-style glass cases displayed several seriously messed up Macs (from which they had recovered hard disk data) in simulations of the original accidents, which included a PowerBook 100 that spent two days in the Amazon river, a PowerBook 140 run over by a Boston Macworld shuttle bus, and a Macintosh that the booth representatives had trouble identifying, but which looked well-scorched.
Drive Savers — 415/883-4232 — 415/883-0780 (fax)
Best Deal — Deneba Software was offering a steep discount on a good bundle: Canvas 3.5, Pixar Typestry 2.0 and DeltaGraph Pro for $159. If you believed the signs on the booth, this was a $900 value, but in terms of street prices it still added up to about 50 percent off. Considering that the upgrade price for Canvas 3.5 alone was over $100, the deal amounted to quite a steal.
Deneba Software — <[email protected]> — 305/596-5644.
Most Frequent Buys — The two products that everyone rushed around trying to buy were Marathon, from Bungie Software, and Route 66, from Geographic Information Systems. We’ll look more closely at Route 66 in a future issue, but it looks like a promising application for people who need road maps and also want specific driving directions, complete with PowerPC native code, Apple Guide, and AppleScript abilities. Geographic Information Systems has some U.S. maps available, but they are a Dutch company, so they also have a number of European maps for sale.
Bungie Software — <[email protected]> — 312/563-6200 — 312/563-0545 (fax)
Geographic Information Systems — 415/957-0666 — 415/957-1644 (fax)
Best Tongue-in-Cheek Booth — Dell Computer, one of the main PC clone vendors, had a booth in the Developer Central section of the show floor. I never saw what they were demonstrating, but they had prepared for the worst by piling sandbags around their booth for protection. We’re not that mean of a crowd, are we?
Interesting Retreat — A few months ago, Mitch Hall Associates sent out a press release announcing they had banned all vendors of erotic software from future shows. I was surprised, then, to run into Penthouse Interactive and a couple of similar companies. Rumor had it that after that press release, Penthouse used the "speak softly and wave a big lawyer" technique, and Mitch Hall Associates rescinded the ban rather than fight it in court.
Coolest Gimmick — Touch-It Paper unveiled Living Paper, a line of heat-sensitive paper products, which come in six different colors in a paint wash look. The trick is that as they heat, they change from their original color to white, and then, relatively quickly, right back again as they cool off. You can print on the paper with a laser printer, and Touch-It’s president claimed the paper’s color-change capability was more or less permanent. Sure, it’s a gimmick, but it’s fun, and the world needs more fun.
Touch-It Paper — 801/786-1000 — 801/786-1400 (fax)
Neatest Emulator — Digital Eclipse gets this award for their emulation software that enables them to license and run the code from original classic arcade games, including Defender, Joust, and Robotron, on a Power Mac. Their booth had the original game cabinets with the guts ripped out and replaced with Macs. As they say, the only thing missing is the sticky buttons.
Digital Eclipse — 510/450-1740 — 800/289-3374
Best New Hardware — Iomega and Visioneer share this award since we couldn’t decide whether Iomega’s purple Zip drives were neater than Visioneer’s PaperPort personal scanner. The Mac and DOS/Windows-compatible Zip drive costs about $200 and stores 100 MB on a single $20 Zip disk (it doesn’t read or write normal 1.4 MB floppies). The under-$400 PaperPort has OCR software, turns on when you insert a page (and off when it’s done), and can scan a page in about six seconds. In fact, we don’t have to decide which is best, since Iomega and Visioneer collaborated to create The Electronic Filing Cabinet, which includes a Zip drive and a PaperMax personal scanner (which, as far as I can tell is the same as the PaperPort).
Iomega — 800/777-6654 — 801/778-1000 — 801/778-3748 (fax)
Visioneer — 800/787-7007 — 415/812-6400 — 415/855-9750 (fax)
Best Bumper Sticker — Pentium Happens.