Ready for Windows 95? Check out Apple’s response to Microsoft’s media avalanche and find out why Mick Jagger suddenly has sympathy for Bill Gates. Also in this issue, more highlights from the Boston Macworld Expo, additions to last issue’s article on FTP with AOL and CompuServe, info on where to get QuickDraw 3D, and a thought-provoking essay from Brad De Long on the realities of a wired world.
Mick’s The Man — I guess Bill Gates decided that the Rolling Stones song "Start Me Up" would be perfect for advertising Windows 95, since one of Windows 95’s most recognizable features is a Start button on the Task Bar. According to the Sun, an English tabloid, Microsoft contacted Mick Jagger about it, and Mick asked for a whopping $12 million for rights to use the song in Windows 95 advertising. Apparently, Mick thought that if he asked for a preposterously large amount, that Microsoft would go home empty-handed, but Microsoft’s response was "Do you want cash, or is a check all right?" So, starting this week, expect to hear the Stones’ best three chords used for peddling software. Of course, Macintosh aficionados can get some mileage out of the song’s chorus – "You make a grown man cry" – but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. [GD]
QuickDraw 3D Available from Apple — Apple recently announced that QuickDraw 3D 1.0 – its new 3D rendering and realization software – is available online, as well as with the new Power Mac 8500 and 7500 computers and commercial rendering packages (such as Strata’s StudioPro Blitz). QuickDraw 3D requires a Power Mac with at least 16 MB of RAM and the package weighs in at about 2.4 MB. Apple also has sample applications and models available online, along with information for developers and other interested parties. If you have a Power Mac, RAM, and CPU cycles to spare, check it out! [GD]
Where Do You Want To Go Today? As the computing world braces for a Windows 95 onslaught, Apple comes out swinging with a no-holds-barred campaign reminding potential buyers of the still-significant Macintosh advantage. The campaign uses radio, TV, print advertising, and a dedicated Web site. In the campaign, Apple pokes fun at some of Windows 95’s advances: "It lets you use more than eight characters to name your files. It has a trash can you can open and take things back out again. It lets you drop files anywhere you want on the desktop. Imagine that. Windows 95 makes a PC more like a Macintosh – you know, the Macintosh we built back in 1984." No timidity here. [MHA]
[Still, one wonders what Apple hopes to accomplish against Microsoft’s marketing juggernaut – is Apple reassuring investors and current users, or do they hope to attract new customers? Microsoft will reportedly spend $500 million this year promoting Windows 95. For $500 million, Bill could make almost three Kevin Costner movies. That’s a lot of money. -Geoff]
Power Mac Office 4.2x Update Update — In TidBITS-289, I reported on questions and quirks relating to the Office 4.2x Update for Power Mac. In the article, I said that Office 4.2x Update for Power Mac, version n/a, has been updated to version 1.01. A few people wrote in asking about Office 4.2x Update for Power Mac 1.0, which may be installed from the Office CD. My contacts at Microsoft have confirmed that version 1.0 is the same as version n/a, so if you have version 1.0 and use either the Global Village Toolbox extension or STF Technologies’s FAXstf software, you should replace version 1.0 with version 1.01.
Microsoft has posted the Office 4.2x Update for Power Mac incorrectly, such that you must download it in binary mode. Try downloading the cryptically named file from the URL below using Netscape (which downloads most everything in binary mode), or try using Fetch, which has a Binary button that can force a binary download. Otherwise, configure your FTP client to treat the file suffix ".hqx" as a binary file, and be sure to change the setting back when you’re done. [TJE]
Jason Whong <[email protected]> writes:
It appears the folks at Ziff-Davis publishing are surveying computer users about their willingness to upgrade to Windows 95. This survey is accessible on the Web at the Ziff-Davis site. In jest, I took the survey, but I was surprised to discover that they seem to expect Macintosh users to respond. So, through the survey, it was duly noted that I’m comfortable with my iteration of System 7, and that I’m not interested in upgrading to an OS that won’t run on my computer. [These surveys are never statistically valid because of the way the data are collected, so hey, stop in and let Ziff-Davis know what you as a Mac user think of Windows 95. -Adam]
At a trade show with thousands of products, it’s impossible to see everything – or even all the important things. Some of these products may receive more in-depth coverage in future TidBITS issues, but we figured you’d want to hear about them sooner rather than later.
Neat Paging Software — Isn’t it nice when a company tops itself? Ex Machina has done so, adding to its line of paging software with Reach Me!, a customizable utility pager users can give their friends and clients. Purchased in sets of ten or fifty diskettes (for Mac or Windows), Reach Me! lets the friend or client send a message to the pager owner with a minimum of fuss or muss. The software has your pager’s phone number and ID code pre-entered, and it automatically configures itself to the user’s modem.
Ex Machina — 212/843-0000 — <[email protected]>
More is Better — A year or so ago, Radius sold the Pivot product line back to Portrait Display Labs, which had developed the concept originally. Now PDL has introduced a 17-inch version of its flexible color monitor, which operates in portrait or landscape mode. This model won’t trigger the Mac to redraw the screen automatically, as would previous Pivot monitors; a representative explained that implementing that feature and supporting the new PCI video cards at the same time was an insurmountable challenge. Still, not having that feature may not phase experienced Pivot users, who often found it caused more problems than it solved.
Portrait Display Labs — 510/227-2700 — <[email protected]>
Less is Better — Technosystems USA, developers of Chagall, don’t think Photoshop users need to switch to their program, but they’re happy to provide a less-expensive, smaller, snappier alternative to new buyers. The $299 Chagall handles most popular graphics file formats, runs fine in as little as 750K of RAM, and even supports Photoshop plug-ins. Its drawing and painting tools are clever and intuitive, and a native Power Mac version is available. (And yes, converted Photoshop users are welcome.)
Technosystems USA — 800/417-0108 — 502/351-0108
A Magical Experience — By far the coolest CD-ROM I ran into in Boston last week was Broderbund’s new Learn the Art of Magic. On the CD, professional magician Jay Alexander gives an interactive video-clip tour of the art’s history, some of its most important practitioners, and dozens of fun tricks. The demonstrations help kids or adults learn some impressive prestidigitation to amaze friends and relatives, or even go into the business.
Broderbund Software — 415/382-4400 — 415/382-4582 (fax)
Tame Those Fonts! Impossible Software’s Type-Tamer goes the traditional font-menu utility one better, showing the kind of font (TrueType, PostScript, or bitmap only) as a miniature icon in the Font menu. It also offers a full display of the font’s character set right from the Font menu of just about any program, and can tell you what fonts are used in your current document.
Impossible Software — 714/470-4800 — <[email protected]>
At It Again — We’re almost, but not quite, tired of commenting that a new Connectix product offers what Apple software engineers ought to have provided all along. The new Speed Doubler replaces Apple’s 68LC040 emulator built into every Power Macintosh with a souped-up emulator that compiles on the fly, significantly improving the performance of non-native software. (We’ve all got some, despite our best efforts.) As a bonus, Speed Doubler replaces Apple’s disk cache function with a faster one, and speeds up Finder copying and deleting while letting you move it to the background. 68K Mac owners will see some speed improvements from the disk caching, but Power Mac owners will see their emulated software fly, although there have been sporadic reports of less-than-miraculous performance improvements from Speed Doubler. [It’s not miraculous, but as a Power Mac owner, count me as a satisfied Speed Doubler user. -Tonya]
Connectix — 800/950-5880 — 415/571-5100 — <[email protected]>
Tongue-in-Cheek T — Frank Imburgia is a familiar face outside Boston’s World Trade Center, where he’s sold clever T-shirts to Mac fanatics each August for years. (His dogcow shirts are priceless.) This year’s best? A new version of the "This is your brain… this is your brain on drugs" cliche, with an Apple logo under the first phrase and a Windows logo under the second. No, it’s not too late to get yours.
The Yankee Group — 617/367-1000 — <[email protected]>
Cool Gadget — Macworld always has its share of nifty peripherals, but this one is small enough you might have missed it. Alps now sells a GlidePoint pointing device, just like the flat-surface Trackpad in Apple’s 500 series PowerBooks, but the star of their show was the GlidePoint Keypad, a combination numeric keypad and pointing device scheduled to ship for both Mac and PC platforms any day now. Ever wonder why you couldn’t simply tap on a PowerBook’s Trackpad to click, instead of reaching for one of the buttons? Alps wondered, too, so the GlidePoint products let you tap right on the pointing surface. The buttons are there, too, and can be programmed for double-clicks, keystrokes, etc.
Alps Electric (USA) — 800/825-2577 — 408/432-6000
Too Obvious? Until now, every single developer of telecommunications software has had to cope with a daunting array of different ways that people need to dial the phone. Software needs to handle local and long-distance calls, phone credit cards, authorization codes, and access digits. The problem is compounded for roving users whose PowerBooks need to dial the phone differently each day. Now, Cypress Research offers MegaDial, an inexpensive utility that intercepts any program’s attempt to dial with your modem, and handles all of these concerns. MegaDial even knows the local access numbers worldwide for popular commercial online services, and switches for you. Just tell MegaDial where you are.
Cypress Research — 408/752-2700 — 408/752-2735 (fax) — <[email protected]>
Missed By That Much — CE Software was almost, but not quite, ready to ship QuickMail 3.5 at Macworld. (The release, planned for this August, should be ready in early September.) As promised, the update supports styled text, drag and drop, server-based mail processing, an America Online gateway, and a non-modal QuickConference chat feature. The company has managed to eliminate the need for any extensions in QuickMail, so the software should be cleaner to run, but the resulting three-application architecture (including an always-running QuickMailHub background application) may prove cumbersome.
CE Software — 800/523-7638 — 515/221-1801 — <[email protected]>
Utterly Non-Mac — One of the niftiest products at the show has nothing to do with Macs. VideoGuide is a television set-top unit that receives its information through MobileComm’s nationwide radio pager network. The remote-controlled unit has always-up-to-date TV program schedules for your area, complete with descriptions, movie casts, and local programming. The box is under $100 and works with any TV in the continental US, with or without cable. There’s a low monthly charge for the basic data, and a small optional monthly charge if you also want the unit to show you the latest sports and news info on-screen.
VideoGuide — 617/276-8800 — 617/276-8878 (fax)
How… Nice — On Technology is very proud of the email integration feature in the new Meeting Maker XP 3.0, but I’m less impressed by the company’s decision to support only Microsoft’s MAPI technology for email. The much-touted Internet support in the program inexplicably doesn’t include email, though I’d hate to downplay the cool ability to connect to your calendar server from anywhere on the Internet (including via PPP or SLIP). Support for SMTP should be a given, and adding support for other LAN-based email technologies such as SoftArc’s FirstClass or CE’s QuickMail would help in the workgroup environments Meeting Maker calls home.
On Technology — 800/548-8871 — 617/374-1400
Turnabout Revisited — I like Here & Now from Software Architects better than Insignia’s utility for reading Mac disks on DOS/Windows computers; you can read not only Mac-formatted floppies, but also SCSI devices such as Bernoulli and SyQuest cartridges, optical discs, and even hard drives. Here & Now supports the Mac’s 31-character filenames, and links Mac file types to appropriate Windows applications.
Software Architects — 206/487-0122 — <[email protected]>
Best PCI Device — It’s not that I don’t like the new PCI Local Bus expansion technology Apple has adopted for its new line of Power Macs, just that some devices can be hard to find on PCI at this point. Add one of Second Wave’s Xpanse PN units to your PCI-based Mac, and you can use two, four, or eight NuBus cards with your system, although it’s not exactly an inexpensive alternative.
Second Wave — 512/329-9283 — 512/329-9299 (fax)
We’d Hate to See "Complex" — Claris now offers the Claris Card, a calling card "created to simplify your life." As far as we can tell, it just simplifies Claris’s ability to charge for technical support that many companies still offer free of charge. (Either pay-as-you-go, starting at $19.95 for the first ten minutes, or annual subscriptions for $129 and up.) The company promises the card will zip you past its phone support line’s "complicated" menu system. You can use it as a phone calling card for long distance calls, too. So, um… this is simple?
Claris — 800/234-4750
Neat Giveaway — Gone are the days of tchotchkes at every other booth, but the clever folks at Digitool, Inc. were spreading the word about their new Power Mac native version of Macintosh Common Lisp (formerly an Apple product) by giving out postcards complete with a postage stamp. Tell your friends.
Digitool — 617/441-5000 — <[email protected]>
Several readers commented on our review in TidBITS-290 of AOL and CompuServe’s internal FTP clients, mostly to note that AOL’s recently released Web browser also provides FTP features. Although these features are available to any Mac AOL user, since they exist in a separate program from the main AOL application, it may not be entirely fair to compare them to the internal FTP features in CompuServe Information Manager.
Dave Martin <[email protected]> writes:
In the article about the AOL and CIS FTP clients, you left out a few things about AOL’s FTP client. For one, it does allow the user to connect to a remote host as something other than anonymous – you can mark a checkbox to ask for username and password upon connecting. Also, users can now upload files to the remote host once connected. This last feature was a recent change made via one of those darn online database updates that you see every now and then.
Of course, using AOL 2.6 you can use the AOL Web Browser to do FTP. Though still a bit crude, the interface is much better than the client internal to AOL. It does offer a nice dual-directory Font/DA Mover-style display (if you prefer) which shows files on the remote host and files on your local drive for easier uploading and downloading. It is slow; however, since AOL grabs the data from the source machine and then sends it on to the user, you have to expect slowdowns in any Internet transaction.
Les Jones <[email protected]> adds:
Your review of AOL and CompuServe’s FTP features overlooked AOL’s Web Browser, which is more useful for FTP and Gopher than the main AOL application. The browser stores frequently used FTP sites and directories for re-use, correctly uses URLs to the file level, and automatically decodes files in AppleSingle, BinHex, StuffIt, and uuencode formats. The browser also has a respectable set of tools for managing a remote FTP site – uploading files, creating directories, and renaming and deleting files and directories.
All of these features are easy to miss, because AOL’s Web Browser features aren’t well documented. Version 2.6 of the AOL FAQ will be finished in a few weeks, and will be fully updated for AOL 2.6 and the Web Browser. Look for it then in:
I recently had an Internet experience that was profoundly disturbing, and made me want to consult a philosophical professional in the same way that a health problem makes me want to consult a medical professional.
Let me start from the beginning. For the past year or so one of my main Internet activities has been to look for pictures of dinosaurs. My five-year-old sits on my right knee and my two-year-old on my left. We stare at Triceratops eye-to-eye, and count the teeth of Tyrannosaurus Rex. The five-year-old is pretty good at following links; the two-year-old is still at the "Twicer’ops. Piktur Twicer’ops" stage.
One of our favorite places is the University of California Museum of Paleontology – the UCMP. On the Internet, the UCMP is a marvelous virtual, interactive museum. Adam Engst even wrote in one of his books that he could "spend the rest of the afternoon here, browsing the exhibits, and all without hurting my feet."
Last June, I stopped being a Senior Treasury Department Official, and became a Berkeley economics professor. Since the UCMP is in the "berkeley.edu" domain, I asked around, and was told that the UCMP had just moved into the newly-renovated Valley Life Sciences Building.
So one afternoon I paused in my attempts to deal with the pile of paper created by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Sending Junk Mail to Faculty and the Assistant Associate Vice Chancellor for Thinking Up Pointless Rules, and took the five-year-old and the two-year-old to the Valley Life Sciences Building.
We first walked past a wall of news clippings and pictures of paleontological digs. We soon found ourselves in the central stairwell in front of a banner that said "University of California Museum of Paleontology." There was an impressive Tyrannosaurus skull behind glass. On the next floor up there was a similarly impressive Triceratops skull. The hip bones of a Tyrannosaurus (a different Tyrannosaurus) hung suspended in the stairwell.
That was pretty much it. The UCMP had just moved and not all of the public exhibits had been unpacked yet. By mid-September an entire Tyrannosaurus Rex will fill up the three-story stairwell. But the public fossil collection was very small. The UCMP is a research museum, not a display museum: it is for twenty-five-year-old graduate students fascinated by posters with titles like "Acid Rain an Agent of Extinction at the K-T Boundary – Not!" This research museum is not designed for five-year-olds, or for thirty-five-year-olds who don’t know as much about geology and chemistry as they should.
I stood in the stairwell. I looked at the few impressive fossils. I thought to myself, "Let’s get back to my office computer, so that we can see the real University of California Museum of Paleontology Dinosaur exhibit at:
"The real museum," I thought, "has audio narration by the discoverers of dinosaurs. The real museum has many more bones – a Diplodocus skeleton, for one thing. The real museum has detailed exhibits on dinosaur evolution and geology…
"No – wait.
"This is the real museum. The Internet Web site is just the "virtual" image – an electronic reflection – of this place."
And that was when I felt I needed a consulting philosopher bad.
There have long been speculations about how the electronic shadows made possible by the computer and telecommunications revolutions will acquire the intensity of effect, the immediacy, the complexity and the depth to become – in a certain sense – real. That afternoon in the Valley Life Sciences Building was the first time in my life that I had compared a place in the real world – the UCMP – to its virtual electronic image in cyberspace and found the real world lacking, found that the real world experience didn’t have, compared to its virtual electronic image, the intensity of effect, the immediacy, the complexity, and the depth necessary for reality.
Thinking back, I realized that the electronic world behind the computer screen has been slowly acquiring reality – and the real world losing it – for some years. I check the card catalog for something or other every week; but it has been four years since I saw a wooden or metal drawer with 3 by 5 cards in it. If I say "it’s on my desktop," I almost surely mean that a pointer to the computer file exists at the root level directory of my notebook computer. As far as desktops and card catalogs are concerned, the "virtual" images have so swamped the "real" objects as to make them vanish from my consciousness.
My cousin Tom Kalil tells me that cyberspace has obtained "lift-off." Traffic on the now-defunct NSFNET Internet backbone went up from 3.6 billion bytes in March 1993 to 4.8 trillion bytes in March 1995. WebCrawler and Yahoo now index over four million electronic documents, and receive more than 9.4 million hits per week.
Some are oblivious to this transformation. I think of a respected academic elder who claimed that all physical discoveries since 1930 (including our current computer and communications technologies) were less significant than the past generation’s "discoveries" in literary criticism; he had the lack of perception (or perhaps he was simply irony-challenged) to make this claim in an electronic mail message!
For two generations people have been talking about how computers will have an extraordinary impact on human society and human knowledge. Our children will think as differently from us as we think differently from pre-Gutenberg monks, who would spend years copying and writing a commentary on a single illuminated manuscript. Our children will find our doctrines and beliefs as quaint as we find Socrates’ distrust of the written word as an suitable tool for education.
The evening after returning from our expedition to the Valley Life Sciences Building I went upstairs to put the five-year-old to bed. He was talking – but not to himself.
"If you want to read books," he said, "click on the bookcase. If you want to play with dinosaur toys, click over here."
He was pretending to be a help system.
"To play with Lion King toys, click on the bottom of the bed."
I have pretended to be many things at play and at work – a space explorer, a wise king, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, a Berkeley professor. But I have never pretended to be a help system.
"If you need help, click on my picture on top of the dresser. I’ll be there in a flash…"
Not only is the virtual world behind the computer screen acquiring an increasing aura of reality, but the real world on this side of the screen is acquiring aspects of virtuality as well.