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What would a week be without some corporate maneuvering? Inside we cover the latest news on Microsoft’s antitrust proceedings, Apple’s latest licensing of the Mac OS, plus some thoughts on the recent Apple/Voyager controversy. We round out the issue with news of a MacInTax fix, a brief summary of how you should attach files to mail messages using Eudora, and conclude with Part 2 of Nigel Perry’s review of Nisus Writer.

Tonya Engst No comments


Adam suggested that I let people know how I’m doing after my car accident last October. People take months (if not years) to recover from whiplash, and the medical people I’m seeing are pleased with my progress. Since late December, I’ve been well enough to go about life normally, but I am still noticeably healing. My neck hurts sometimes, usually late at night, and it feels wobbly if I bend it the wrong way. I’m under doctor’s orders to exercise (so I’m getting back in shape after an eight-year lapse from my cross-country running days!), I’m doing a some physical therapy, and I’m enjoying weekly therapeutic massages.

The most important breakthrough in the recovery, oddly enough, was realizing that if I made weird faces with my mouth open, I stretched jaw and neck muscles that desperately needed to stretch. After that, I could open my mouth normally and escaped the danger of having to wear extremely unpleasant-looking orthodontic devices. Thanks to everyone who wished me a speedy recovery! [TJE]

Geoff Duncan No comments

O Pioneer!

O Pioneer! — Japan-based Pioneer Electronics Corporation announced last week that it has reached an agreement with Apple to license the Mac OS for use in Pioneer’s first entries into the personal computer market. Pioneer, well-known for its home electronics products, plans to produce multimedia computers directly for the home entertainment market, featuring a high degree of integration with new and existing Pioneer technologies. Pioneer certainly has a lot to build upon the home electronics arena, but one wonders if Pioneer is up to the sort of technical support, quality assurance, and evangelism necessary in the computer industry. Pricing information hasn’t been announced and it’s unclear if Pioneer intends to introduce these products outside of Japan.

Pioneer plans units based on the 66 MHz PowerPC 601 and the 33 MHz 68LC040, each with 4.4x CD-ROM drives and multisync monitors. Pioneer promises to bundle original software with its units to "provide a new world of A/V computing" and provide easy capture and manipulation of audio and video data. Prototypes will be demonstrated this week at the Macworld Expo to held in Chiba, Japan. [GD]

Geoff Duncan No comments

Apprentice Phone Update

Apprentice Phone Update — Due to recent changes to western Washington’s area codes, some readers have been unable to contact Celestin Company, the makers of the Apprentice CD-ROM reviewed in TidBITS-263. If you have trouble, Celestin Company suggests trying to contact them at their old area code: 206/385-3767 and 206/385-3586 (fax). Their email address remains <[email protected]>. [GD]

Geoff Duncan No comments

MacInTax Update

MacInTax Update — Intuit, makers of the MacInTax tax software package, have written to update the situation on the MacInTax itemization bug reported in TidBITS-261. To restate, the bug occurs when importing a TXF file into MacInTax from another source (most likely Quicken) and when that TXF file has 30 or more items within a single category. In this case, every 30th item in each category will not make it into MacInTax, although the MacInTax import log will report that all the items were imported successfully. (Intuit says Schedule D is a special case and is not affected by the bug). MacInTax users should contact Intuit to obtain a version of MacInTax with the itemization bug fixed. MacInTax support can be reached at 602/295-3080 or at <[email protected]>. [GD]

Tonya Engst No comments

PowerBook Price Drop

PowerBook Price Drop — When Apple lowers prices, it often heralds the upcoming release of new models. Even so, if you’ve had your eyes on a 500-series PowerBook, you might want to check out the new pricing. Effective since 13-Feb-95, Apple has reduced prices 14 to 17 percent for models sold in the U.S. (Sorry, we don’t have information about outside the U.S.) To sweeten the deal, Apple also plans to give away a free carrying case with any PowerBook purchased from 15-Feb-95 through 31-Mar-95. The table below shows official "Apple Price" pricing information for the price reduction. [TJE]

Geoff Duncan No comments

Can’t Buy Me Love – Microsoft Antitrust Ruling

In an ironic Valentine’s Day present, U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin on February 14th rejected an agreement made between Microsoft and the U.S. Justice Department regarding charges that Microsoft licensing practices stifle competition. The dispute primarily involves how Microsoft licenses operating systems to personal computer manufacturers, including restrictive arrangements that allegedly exclude other operating systems and that may require manufacturers to pay a per-unit fee to Microsoft even on computers that do not contain Microsoft software. Additionally, Microsoft’s proposed licensing arrangements for Windows 95, due to be released later this year, have drawn sharp criticism from computer manufacturers, who admit they have little choice but to agree to terms Microsoft dictates.

Microsoft had reached an agreement with the Justice Department to change the way it licenses its products to personal computer manufacturers. However, Judge Sporkin rejected the agreement on the grounds it did not constitute an effective antitrust remedy and that it failed to adequately address Microsoft’s past and future monopolistic practices. In Judge Sporkin’s words, "simply telling a defendant to go forth and sin no more does little or nothing to address the unfair advantage it has already gained." In strong language, Judge Sporkin also characterized the agreement as "too little, too late."

The Justice Department has decided to appeal Judge Sporkin’s ruling, and U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno defended the original agreement, saying that the judge is going beyond his legal authority by examining Microsoft business practices not alleged in the original complaint. Not surprisingly, within a few hours Microsoft announced it would join the Justice Department’s appeal of the ruling.

Although the proposed $1.5 billion Microsoft/Intuit merger (see TidBITS-248) is a completely separate case being examined by the Justice Department, Intuit’s stock price fell when Judge Sporkin’s ruling was announced last week.

The direct implications of this ruling on the Macintosh community are comparatively slight, since the case primarily concerns Microsoft’s DOS and Windows licensing. However, as Apple licenses the Macintosh and its operating system to third parties, it might take care to notice where Microsoft is allocating its legal budget. Ironically, an argument could be made that a successful appeal of Judge Sporkin’s decision could be financially advantageous for Apple in the future, particularly if the Mac clone market takes off. Since a successful Macintosh clone market will eat into Apple’s hardware business, a legal precedent for restrictive OS licensing practices might allow Apple to earn back some of that money in the form of licensing fees if the clone market proves viable.

Adam Engst No comments

Eudora & Attachments

I’ve received some questions about how to best encode files attached to Eudora messages recently, so I thought I’d reiterate the information in Eudora itself about this topic (turn on balloon help and point at the options in the Attachments section of Eudora’s Settings dialog box). The commercial version of Eudora offers four settings: AppleDouble, AppleSingle, BinHex, and Uuencode. The free version of Eudora lacks Uuencode support, and is available at: eudora151.hqx eudora151fat.hqx

Use AppleDouble when sending files to other MIME-compatible mailers. AppleSingle seems to be unusual – Steve Dorner says that it’s acceptable for Mac-specific files, but notes wryly in the balloon help that only "a few whackos need this." BinHex is the standard in the Mac world and is the safest for sending files to other Macs, particularly if the recipient uses an older mail program. Uuencode is best for communicating with archaic mail programs primarily on non-Mac platforms (Microsoft Mail, for instance, used, and may still use, uuencode for attachments). For more general information, check the Eudora 1.5.1 documentation and Q & A stack at: documentation/man151-word.sea.hqx documentation/Eudora_QA.hqx

So in standard use, if you’re sending mail to people who definitely use Eudora or other MIME-compatible mailers, even on a PC, use AppleDouble. If you’re mailing Macintosh files, they’re probably destined for Macintosh users, so if you’re unsure about what the recipient might use to read email, BinHex is the safest. And finally, if you know the recipient uses DOS, Windows, or Unix and an old email program that doesn’t support MIME, you should go out and ante up your $65 for the commercial version of Eudora so you can easily use Uuencode. You can read a bit more about MIME and these issues in the relevant Request for Comment (RFC), #1741.

Frankly, if you seriously use Eudora and email, the commercial version’s cleaner interface (like being able to sort a mailbox by clicking in the column title) and massively useful filtering capabilities make it worth a measly $65. Besides, I strongly approve of Qualcomm keeping a version of Eudora free for people who don’t use email heavily or who want to try Eudora, and buying the commercial version is the best way to support Qualcomm’s attitude toward the free version.

Qualcomm recently set up a mailing list Eudora discussions. To subscribe, send email to <[email protected]> with "subscribe mac-eudora-forum" in the body of the message (sans quotes, of course). Make sure that your return address is correct – it is the address that will be added to the mailing list.

Qualcomm — <[email protected]> — 800/2-EUDORA
619/597-5113 — 619/597-5058 (fax)

Adam Engst No comments

An Unpleasant Voyage

You may have seen mention recently about how Apple is riding roughshod on First Amendment freedoms by censoring a CD-ROM from Voyager that’s bundled with Macs sold into the K-12 education channel. Although we’ve barely seen the CD, here’s the deal as I currently understand it.

Voyager, a well-respected CD-ROM developer, is charging Apple with censorship over Apple’s complaints in regard to an award-winning history CD-ROM called "Who Built America?," based on a two-volume book of the same name. The text looks at the events of the turn of the century from the viewpoint of, and via the eyes and voices of, a number of ordinary people.

In December of 1994, Apple started distributing the CD with Macs sold to the K-12 channel, and sent out over 12,000 copies. Apple started receiving complaints about the content of the CD-ROM and asked Voyager to make some changes to the CD-ROM to respond to the complaints. Voyager refused, and claims that Apple said it would cease to distribute the CD, whereas Apple says it has yet to make a final decision.

Voyager claims that the complaints (which Apple, like other content distributors, may not pass on in original form as a matter of policy) related to the inclusion of discussion of homosexuality, abortion, and birth control. Voyager further says that Apple wanted all references to these subjects removed or "greyed out."

Sources inside Apple who evaluated the CD in response to the complaints disagree with Voyager’s characterization, saying that the concern – and the part that Apple asked Voyager to remove – related primarily to a single section in which a woman relates how she received 12 abortions, some using potentially life-threatening procedures. However, other sources claim this material to be general, providing no specific information on how to perform an abortion.

There’s a difference between controversial subjects and dangerous information, and it’s unclear exactly what was said between Apple and Voyager – or how what was said might have been mis-communicated or misunderstood. However, it is clear that Voyager is screaming censorship, which seems misplaced. Apple is making a business decision to provide a product that its customers want. Apple is not saying Voyager can’t distribute the CD as-is (which they do for anyone who wants it). Apple is merely trying to respond to complaints from its customers in K-12 schools, and as we’ve all said at one time or another, the customer is always right. Even should Apple drop the CD, that in no way eliminates the wide availability of the information. Finally, Apple doesn’t distribute many CDs, and some of those no doubt have even more controversial subject matter than this one. Omission of distribution is not censorship, and cessation of distribution in one of many ways seems qualitatively no different.

What’s most confusing is why Voyager is making such a public relations stink. No matter what the level of truth or falsehood in both Voyager’s and Apple’s statements, Voyager has little or nothing to gain from alienating Apple. So in my mind, this fuss is primarily interesting not from a censorship standpoint but from a business standpoint.

The story appeared quickly in a number of large newspapers, leading one to wonder how concerted a public relations campaign Voyager waged. The story certainly makes good copy – David versus Goliath, free speech versus censorship, and so on. Voyager’s Braden Michaels says the move was not done to garner public exposure, but that ignores the fact that it did garner considerable public exposure, in the process probably attracting more attention than any other Voyager CD ever has.

It’s fairly certain that Voyager stands to lose a significant amount of money should Apple drop the Voyager CD from the bundle. These K-12 bundles are reportedly AppleSoft’s second largest money-maker (behind System 7.5) and will supposedly account for an estimated $1.4 million this year. Voyager’s percentage is unknown, but it cannot help but be significant. By rousing the public in an attempt to force Apple to keep distributing the CD, Voyager may be attempting to protect a revenue stream. But even this line of thought has flaws since any such protection would only help in the short term due to the damage it could cause to Voyager’s future relationship with Apple.

Again, Braden Michaels says releasing the story to the press wasn’t a business decision, and again, that doesn’t eliminate the fact that the entire situation stems from a potentially important business deal gone awry.

In the end, I can only conclude that Voyager is making a fuss over what is essentially a broken business deal. On the other hand, Apple is certainly to blame for at least a miscommunication with Voyager, and/or a clumsy mishandling of an obviously delicate situation. As always, it seems that we’re talking about an increasingly large number of shades of grey. Life used to be more black and white.

Information from:
Voyager propaganda
Braden Michaels, Voyager — <[email protected]>
Apple propaganda

Nigel Perry No comments

Nisus Writer 4.0.6, Part 2: Word and Document Processing

[If you read last week’s TidBITS-263, you recall that this review began with a look at Nisus Writer’s text processing features. This week, we look at its word and document processing features, and finish next week with details on multimedia features. -Tonya]

Styles — Nisus supports character and paragraph user-defined styles, which you set up in the Define Styles dialog box. Character styles can include all the usual attributes: font, colour, size etc. Paragraph styles add a named ruler to control paragraph layout.

Nisus follows the original MacWrite method of inserting rulers into a document to control layout. A ruler specifies attributes such as margins, line spacing, and space before paragraph (there is no space after paragraph). In Nisus Writer, you must define a ruler (though you need not set its attributes) in the main document window before you can include a ruler in a user-defined style. In earlier versions, you could name a new ruler in the Define Styles dialog box and Nisus Writer would automatically create the ruler on first use of the user style – I can’t figure out why Nisus Software made the change.

The split between user styles and rulers can cause much frustration. The problems are at first minor annoyances, but they can become significant. When applying a paragraph style, Nisus attaches the style information to the text, but inserts the ruler into the document – and then only if Nisus thinks the ruler is needed. [Word users might understand this better by thinking of style information as character formats and ruler information as paragraph formats. -Tonya]

The example below shows problems this causes. Consider a document containing five paragraphs, the first three in style A, the last two in style B. The document looks something like:

     Ruler A  Paragraph 1 in style A
              Paragraph 2 in style A
              Paragraph 3 in style A
     Ruler B  Paragraph 4 in style B
              Paragraph 5 in style B

If you move paragraph two below paragraph four you get:

     Ruler A  Paragraph 1 in style A
              Paragraph 3 in style A
     Ruler B  Paragraph 4 in style B
              Paragraph 2 in style A
              Paragraph 5 in style B

Paragraph two ends up styled according to A but laid out according to B! The fix is not difficult, you just manually insert an A ruler into the text. However, that Nisus Software did not fix this in Nisus Writer is indefensible.

Nisus Writer has a number of similar quirks, and as a result you must be careful while editing documents. Whenever you move text or change its style, you must make sure you end up with the ruler and style you expected. The fact that Nisus Software did not fix these quirks shows a misunderstanding on their part of what word processing rather than styled text editing is about.

[A few days ago, I innocently asked Nigel to give some examples of the "similar quirks" referred to above, and Nigel helpfully replied with an assortment of examples, most of which I ended up not including. Unfortunately, to understand them, you need a deeper understanding of Nisus Writer than we have room for. – Tonya]

You might ask why people (such as myself – Nisus Writer is my main text processing workhorse) use Nisus Writer if it has these quirks. The answer is simple: Nisus Writer’s powerful text processing capabilities usually offset the annoyance of having to be careful with rulers, or the lack of hierarchical styles – a much-requested feature.

Numbering and Referencing — You can set up flexible numbering sequences for chapters, four levels of sub-topics, figures, equations, and tables. Nisus Writer also provides six custom numbering sequences for anything else you might need to number (maps, pie charts, whatever).

Nisus Writer has added the ability to restart the page numbering within a document, something missing from earlier versions, but in an obscure manner which requires the selection of the page break character to access the settings.

Nisus Writer provides powerful cross-references that automatically update. Sections of text (or most anything else, such as graphics or tables) can be marked with a label and then referenced. The reference may contain the contents of the marked item, and you can also reference the page number of the object, its line number, and so on. By making multiple trips to the Cross Reference dialog box, you can insert references like "See Cheese Preferences on page 68, paragraph 6."

Unfortunately, you must individually mark anything that you want to cross-reference. Nisus Writer does not automatically mark figures, figure numbers, and the like. Further, though you can refer to the current chapter number in a header or footer, you cannot refer to the title of the chapter itself.

Nisus Writer provides footnotes or endnotes (but not both in the same document). You cannot place a cross-reference in a footnote or a table. Nisus Writer works with Niles and Associates’ End Note Plus, a popular utility for tracking lots of reference works and quickly formatting references.

Tables of Contents and Indices — Any text can be marked for inclusion in the table of contents or index – and the index marking can be done through the powerful Find and Replace feature (and thus through a macro if you like) or through a user style. For example, you can set the Table of Contents attribute to be part of the definition of the styles you use for section headers. The Create Contents and Create Index commands each accumulate all the appropriately marked text and produce a separate file containing a table of contents or index. You must then format the file and either print it separately or insert it into your document in the right place. If you recreate the table of contents or index, you must format it again: probably a good job for a macro.

Graphics — You can paste graphics in-line or on a separate graphics layer, which supports basic drawing tools with colour and grid alignment. Items on the graphics layer can appear in front of or behind the text, or text can flow around them. Graphics can be attached to a particular page or flow with a paragraph. You cannot, however, flow a picture with a paragraph and keep it at the top or bottom of a page. The graphics support and flow-around would appear to make Nisus suitable for small newsletter-style documents, but only if their designers want to put up with having the same number of same-width columns on all pages.

Will OpenDoc be this bad? Apple has seen the future, and the future is OpenDoc – or so we are told! With OpenDoc, the document, rather than the application, becomes the centre of things. A document acts as a container for objects produced by different applications, so your text object might be under the control of Nisus Writer, but your molecule picture might come from a chemistry program.

How is this relevant to Nisus Writer? Tables and equations, two new features, are supplied by separate modules: Macreations’s Tycho Table Maker and Design Science’s MathType (a full version, not the crippled version that comes with Word – but it only launches from Nisus Writer). To insert an equation, you launch MathType by choosing Insert Equation from the Insert menu. After creating an equation in MathType, you close the MathType window, thus returning to Nisus Writer with your equation inserted. Inserting tables works the same way, but with Tycho Table Maker acting as the editor. All this magic works by means of an Apple event suite called EGO (Edit Graphic Object), and any program that supports EGO (such as Expressionist and DeltaGraph Pro) can provide services to Nisus Writer – though the initial insertion is more complicated as the program names do not appear on the Insert menu.

[Late-breaking news flash! Nisus Writer owners can update to the most recent MathType version for the same price charged any MathType owner. The update launches with or without Nisus Writer. -Tonya]

This sounds wonderful, and very much like OpenDoc, but there are problems. Nisus Writer contains style sheets; Tycho Table Maker contains style sheets; MathType contains style sheets. Three sets of styles sheets are hard to keep in sync! You can spell check in Nisus Writer, but you can’t spell check a table from Tycho Table Maker, or in Tycho Table Maker itself. We can hope that OpenDoc will do better at integrating tools while retaining power.

Interoperability — Nisus uses the Apple/Claris XTND system to support other file formats and comes with a handful of filters. Although the filters handle basic formatting information, they lose some important elements of the document’s structure, including user styles. Nisus Writer also comes with a PageMaker import filter, and FrameMaker support is available thorough DataViz’s MacLinkPlus.

The latest version of the MacLinkPlus translator package from DataViz reportedly has added support for user styles; however, Nisus Software should address this problem more directly (even if that just means bundling MacLinkPlus) in order to better work in the real world of multiple file formats.

Word and Document Processing Conclusion — Nisus Writer offers a reasonably rich set of word and document processing features. It lacks some features that others have, and has others that they do not. However, Nisus Writer has a do-it-yourself feel to it, which programmers and fiddlers will love, but which lacks the polish to make it attractive as an everyday word, and particularly document, processor – unless you want or need its editing and multilingual text processing.

DataViz — 800/733-0030 — 203/268-0030
Design Science — 800/827-0685 — 310/433-0685
310/433-6969 (fax)
Niles and Associates — 510/649-8176 — <[email protected]>
Nisus Software — 800/890-3030 — 619/481-1477
619/481-6154 (fax) — <[email protected]>

[For more opinions and resources related to Nisus, check out the Nisus Writer page on World of Words. -Tonya] NWMain.html