Skip to content
Thoughtful, detailed coverage of everything Apple for 34 years
and the TidBITS Content Network for Apple professionals
Show excerpts


This week we bring you info on a new set of DeskWriter drivers for PCI Power Macs, Adobe’s purchase of Ceneca Communications, and version 2.0 of Netscape Navigator. Also, learn about StarNine’s acquisition of the moribund Microsoft Mail, a new release of The Internet Adapter, and Pinehill Software’s Newton application development tool AppGen. Finally, we round out the issue with highlights from the mammoth Apple Expo in Paris and Tonya’s look at the font management utility TypeTamer.

Adam Engst No comments


By the time you see this, Tonya and I will have moved into our new house in Issaquah, Washington. We simply needed more space to escape the gravitational pull of our computers and explore the most appropriate ways to integrate technology into life. TidBITS will be moving as well, so if you need its new snail mail address for items that can’t travel via the Internet, send email to <[email protected]>. We think we have the transition figured out in terms of where to site our Apple Internet Server, although we’ll personally be limited to modem connections to the Internet until U.S. West installs our ISDN line. Needless to say, please be gentle with email and don’t send large attachments without asking first. Please also try to bear with us through any periods of server flakiness during the move. [ACE]

Geoff Duncan No comments

New DeskWriter Drivers for PCI Macs

New DeskWriter Drivers for PCI Macs — Last week, Hewlett-Packard released version 6.0.3 of its DeskWriter drivers which attempt to correct serial printing problems on the Power Mac 7200, 7500, and 9500 using HP’s DeskWriter, DeskWriter C, 510, 520, 540, 550c and 560c printers. (See TidBITS-294 for a description of serial printing problems on these machines.) So far, indications are that the new drivers are working well for most people; however, some users report various (possibly unrelated) problems remain. The drivers are available on HP’s CompuServe and AOL forums as well as via the Internet, and are distributed as a disk images between 1 and 2 MB in size. The URL below points to the English version; localized versions for German, French, Dutch, European English, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish are available in the same directory. [GD] software/dw110en.hqx

Geoff Duncan No comments

Adobe Buys Ceneca

Adobe Buys Ceneca — Adobe Systems announced last week that it is buying Ceneca Communications, Inc., makers of the not-yet-shipping World Wide Web production and site-management programs PageMill and SiteMill, big hits at Boston’s Macworld Expo in August. (See TidBITS-290.) The amount of money involved was not disclosed, and Adobe is expected to integrate Acrobat PDF and other Adobe technologies into the products over time. Pricing and product availability is expected to be announced in the next few weeks. [GD]

Geoff Duncan No comments

Netscape Announces Navigator 2.0

Netscape Announces Navigator 2.0 — Last week, Netscape announced version 2.0 of its widely-used Netscape Navigator Web browser, and the first public betas may be available as early as this week. Version 2.0 will be split into two products: Netscape Navigator, an enhanced Web browser, and Navigator Gold, which will also provide Web authoring capabilities. Navigator 2.0 will feature improved integrated email and newsgroup capabilities, integration of Adobe PDF, Apple QuickTime, and Macromedia Director playback via plug-ins, support for Java applets to create interactive objects, plus Netscape’s own Java-based scripting language. However, people with a bitter taste in their mouths from the non-standard "enhancements" to HTML included in previous releases had better break out the Rolaids right now. Although Netscape supports a good portion of what’s likely to become HTML 3.0, it also includes a bevy of new non-standard tags and a feature called "frames" (separate from the HTML 3.0 <BANNER> tag) that enables authors to split the display area into a number of independent regions. [GD] navigator/version_2.0/index.html

Geoff Duncan No comments

La Cie Software Updates Online

La Cie Software Updates Online — Users of La Cie’s Silverlining disk formatter and other software products have long been frustrated by La Cie’s software update policy. First, La Cie never told customers about updates, and when you learned about them yourself, obtaining them involved the irksome process of sending your original disks to La Cie along with payment. Given that history, La Cie customers will rejoice to learn that La Cie has set up a Web site which, along with some decent technical information and product info, includes updaters to current versions of its Silverlining, Silverscanner, and Joule RAID software. You still must have an original version to upgrade, but this sure beats relying on the postal service or word of mouth. Possibly the only folks happier about this than La Cie’s customers are La Cie’s technical support staff. [GD]

Geoff Duncan No comments

Seeing Double?

Many people subscribed to the TidBITS mailing list wrote us last week to inform us (or complain) that two copies of TidBITS-295 had appeared in their mailbox. "Did you hit that Send button twice or something?" and "Stop that!" were common refrains. Well, there’s no single button that sends TidBITS out the door, so we couldn’t press it twice even if we wanted to. But it’s clear from the reaction that some comments are in order.

First, the problem last week was caused by a misconfigured machine at Pennsylvania State University, but it could have been anywhere. The TidBITS list is configured to reject unauthorized attempts to distribute material, but every now and again this is going to happen – it’s a fact of life in the online world. The TidBITS list has been remarkably free of accidents like this over the last few years, and subscribers can take some satisfaction in knowing the list successfully rejects several "spamming" attempts per week (including the usual chain letters, advertisements, and inappropriate materials).

Second, isolated subscribers will occasionally receive multiple copies of an issue. In all cases so far – including the one that occurred last week – there’s nothing we’ve been able to do about it. The most common cause of receiving duplicate copies is a problem with a subscriber’s Internet provider or a machine between your mailbox and the LISTSERV at Rice University. Our best (and only) recommendation in this situation is to contact your system administrator to see if they can identify or fix the problem.

Third, if you think there’s a problem with the TidBITS mailing list and want to tell us about it, don’t. We maintain several test subscriptions to TidBITS and are aware of any problems just as soon as everyone else. Writing us only contributes to a flood of essentially identical messages, and until we get a proverbial "staff of thousands," it takes us time and resources to deal with that flood. We appreciate the concern, but we do keep an eye on things. Really.

Adam Engst No comments

TIA 2.0 Available

Cyberspace Development has updated The Internet Adapter, or TIA. Released in August of 1994 (see TidBITS-239), TIA enables a Unix machine to provide graphical Internet access without additional expensive hardware by emulating SLIP, and – new in version 2.0 – CSLIP (Compressed SLIP) and PPP. TIA is available for entire machines ($495) or single user accounts ($30), and is important because it allows people to avoid learning and using Unix if their Internet connection was previously limited to a Unix shell account. Single users can update for free through 13-Oct-95 (but you must get a new license code from the TIA Web site), although a $12.50 upgrade fee provides six months of email tech support and all future 2.x upgrades. The upgrade is only available through 01-Nov-95, after which the price increases to $15, and after 01-Jan-96, the upgrade option disappears entirely and you have to buy a new copy for $30.

TIA’s new CSLIP support provides improved SLIP performance, and its PPP support gives users the option of using PPP client software like MacPPP instead of SLIP client software like InterCon’s InterSLIP. Also new in TIA 2.0 is port redirection, which enables people to connect directly to your machine even if you don’t have a true IP number.

TIA has spawned at least one imitator, the free SLiRP, which also emulates SLIP and PPP on Unix machines. Since I have always had access to hardware-based SLIP and PPP accounts, I haven’t attempted to compare TIA and SLiRP, but I suspect you’re likely to get more support from the TIA folks, given that it’s a commercial product.

For more information about TIA 2.0, send email to <[email protected]> or check the Web page below, where you can also download the free trial version.

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

Newton Tool Builds Custom Applications

Pinehill Software Corporation has announced a new version 3 of its AppGen software for Apple’s Newton handheld organizers, scheduled to ship in early October. AppGen allows users to build customized complete applications for data management on any Newton.

The currently shipping AppGen 2.1 supports only one custom application at a time, though version 3 will allow multiple applications. It also lets users use previously entered data in calculations and offers more direct access to data transfer via the Newton Connection Kit.

AppGen development takes place entirely on the Newton MessagePad, so no external computer is required for programming. Setup is simple and intuitive, with an on-screen form that lets users specify field names, data types, and behaviors.

Currently, AppGen 2.1 is available for $49.95 ($69.95 for a bar-code-capable version). Those who purchase AppGen during September 1995 will receive a free upgrade to version 3, and a free copy of the company’s FormulaGen tool for adding custom formulas to AppGen.

Pinehill’s package includes step-by-step instructions for setting up a time-and expense-tracking application, though the software can clearly be used for data collection and management in almost any field, from inventory to farm management.

Pinehill Software Corp. — 508/548-4470 — 508/548-8731 (fax)
<[email protected]>

Adam Engst No comments

StarNine Rescues Microsoft Mail

StarNine and Microsoft jointly announced last week that StarNine will assume all responsibilities for the moribund Microsoft Mail (now called StarNine Mail), including development, marketing, sales, and support. When StarNine Mail starts shipping within 30 days, it will include a 10-user copy of StarNine’s MailLink Remote UUCP gateway to the Internet. Users interested in an SMTP gateway for a dedicated Internet connection can use StarNine’s MailLink SMTP for Microsoft Mail. Interestingly, given Microsoft Mail’s proprietary nature, StarNine has committed publicly to open Internet standards. David Thompson, StarNine’s director of marketing, said, "StarNine’s server strategy calls for all of our MacOS servers to be accessible by any commonly used, open standards (i.e. Internet) client, whether it’s our Web server, mailing list server, or email server." I’ll let you interpret that statement as you will, but think about the possibilities of using the Web for remote access to email.

Pricing for StarNine Mail will stay roughly the same, at about $270 for the server, $270 for a 5-user license, and $900 for a 20-user license. You can receive email updates about the transition by sending email to <[email protected]> with the word "subscribe" in the Subject line (you can also discuss the future of the product there with the product managers and engineers). Information about the transition will be available on the company’s Web server.

StarNine — 800/525-2580 — <[email protected]>

Richard Erickson No comments

Apple Expo in Paris

As it has for the last ten years, Apple recently rolled out its "pommes" for the annual Apple Expo, in a vertical business ghetto just west of Paris. As I have never attended any computer show or Apple Expo outside of France, I can’t tell you what makes a Gallic version different from one in Boston or Reykjavik. Perhaps the underwear is a bit more chic here, but who can know for sure?

Meet Me Tonight — Some things have been around in fiction so long that when you see them working in real life, you may not even notice. This happened to me with the Visioconference system for Macintosh, which is being marketed as Meet-Me. At the heart of the system lies a box called the GeoPort ISDN Adapter, co-developed by Apple and France Telecom developer and supplier, Sagem. Although the box was characterized by Jeff Soesbe of Apple as a "beta prototype," I saw it functioning all over the Expo site – so much so that I just about took it for granted.

The Apple Expo price for the system is 42,200 francs. Before you gulp, some explanations are necessary. This French price includes a 20.6 percent value-added tax, and you get a Power Macintosh 7100/80 with 16 MB RAM, a CD drive and an AV card, a 17" Apple monitor, and the Meet-Me kit; which includes a video camera. Straight conversion to dollars yields about $8,000. On top of the kit, you have to find and pay for an ISDN line; a Sagem engineer told me Meet-Me will run on 56 or 64 Kbps line, and that a 128 Kbps line would be nice. The engineer added that France Telecom charges $20 a month for a 128 Kbps line, plus, of course, line charges.

Here’s how it works: Your caller can hold up an FBI badge to the camera and say that you are under arrest. Or, you can work together with your accountant on your tax form. You can send your accountant a still photo of your receipts (or any other kind of document) or just do a screen dump of the FBI agent’s badge.

[The basic Meet-Me technology appears to also be available as a NuBus board (apparently priced around $3,000); if you are interested, check out the URL below -Tonya]

Apple Djinn Pro is not a Sexy Sports Car — The Apple Djinn Pro is Apple off-white, looks like a small 1930’s table radio just smaller than an AppleDesign speaker, and was developed by Apple France and France Telecom. What’s behind the sexy name?

The Pro succeeds the plain old AppleDjinn, which was essentially a 9600 bps modem with special features: Djinn Pro is also a fax/modem, it answers and records phone messages, and – France Telecom holy of holies – it is also a Minitel terminal emulator. The new Pro offers speeds up to 14.4 Kbps.

The rhythm of development in France seems to dictate that as soon as the next fastest modems take off, the AppleDjinn moves up to the previous fastest speed. Too bad, because it looks neat – just like those 1950’s movies where the boss used a desktop box to say, "Monica, get me a reservation for lunch at Maxim’s."

It is a usual plug-and-play Apple product: plug it into Mac, plug it into the phone box on the wall, and plug in the power. It comes with all the software necessary for its functions, including a software telephone book that supports QuickDraw GX and PowerTalk, plus an onscreen dialer that can handle international prefixes and keep a log of calls. It can manage nine voice-message folders, and can be consulted remotely. Like any modem, it can access the Internet as well.

In case you were wondering, Minitel emulation means that the AppleDjinn permits you to look at a Minitel-service videotext screen on your Mac monitor. On a stock (but free) Minitel 1 from France Telecom, these screens look like computing in 1978. But Minitel is moving ahead too; enough so as to have color displays and color photos online.

Basically, the Minitel service was introduced by France Telecom to replace the phone book, so they gave the terminals away. Taking an idea from Yellow Pages, Minitel soon offered all sorts of services and access to databases as well. Early on, somebody dreamed up the idea of making a lot of money from these services, and France Telecom has made a bundle.

All this wonderful but somewhat clutzy stuff has a downside. Although France Telecom gives away the basic Minitel terminals (which are plug-and-play, with no configuration and no software), their keyboards are terrible and they are slow – line charges! – and the search engine was designed to keep you online. But aside from those faults, they are free. So, why buy a Mac and go online when there is a Minitel alternative? Despite the fact that Apple’s eWorld-France considers Minitel to be its main competitor rather than the Internet or CompuServe, there they are, France Telecom and Apple France going down the road together, sexy but slow with AppleDjinn and very sexy and fast with the ISDN-GeoPort-based Meet-Me video-computer/telephone. With cheap ISDN lines available to household users, a Macintosh offers considerably more online potential – and more advanced multimedia – than Minitel, giving you the best of both worlds. If you live in France, maybe it is the future.

Nomai Removable Cartridges — A small French company, Nomai, located near Mont St. Michel in Brittany, presented its new removable hard disk cartridge drive, the MCD 540, and corresponding 540 MB cartridge. MCD stands for Multimedia Cartridge Drive.

Nomai, a French cloner of SyQuest cartridges, settled last spring whatever beef (patent infringement) it had with SyQuest, allowing it to manufacture and sell SyQuest-technology cartridges with the SyQuest logo. This has resulted in a general drop in prices of cartridges made by both SyQuest and Nomai.

While SyQuest has been concentrating on the smaller capacity EZ135 format, Nomai, with some aid from IBM, has developed a fairly inexpensive removable cartridge drive that takes 540 MB cartridges. The Nomai drives are put together at the IBM-Xyratex factory in England, and IBM had a hand in the development of the entire system. Nomai’s version works with both the Macintosh and the PC. The cartridge is the same size as – but not compatible with – a SyQuest 270 cartridge. Nomai uses its own technology for tighter sealing and higher rotational speeds. The cartridge life is estimated at 10,000 in/out cycles, an the high-speed SCSI-2 drive has a 512K cache, average seek time of 10 milliseconds and a burst transfer rate of 10 MB per second. Nomai said there was a compatible 270 MB cartridge available and plans to have a 680 or 720 MB cartridge by year’s end. I also heard hints about an upcoming 1.3 GB cartridge.

Launch price in France is about the same as for a SyQuest drive and cartridge a year ago; so on a U.S. scale, without French value-added tax, this system will be very competitively priced. As it is, this will be a useful tool for multimedia producers.

[Richard Erickson is a freelance journalist in Paris, France, and is a regular (practically real-time) contributor to Norman Barth’s Paris Pages. More material on the Apple Expo in Paris (with photos) is at the URL below. -Geoff]

Nomai in France — (33) 33 89 16 00 — (33) 33 89 16 01 (fax)
<[email protected]>
Nomai in the U.S. — 1-800-55NOMAI — 407/367-1216
407/391-8675 (fax) — <[email protected]>
SAT-Sagem in Europe — 33-1-40-77-12-11
33-1-40-77-14-41 (fax) — [email protected]>
SAT-Sagem in the U.S. — 408/446-8690 — 408/446-9766 (fax)
<[email protected]>

Tonya Engst No comments

TypeTamer Meets Grunge Fonts

While walking the crowded aisles at Boston Macworld last month, I spotted a program I hadn’t seen before, called TypeTamer. TypeTamer 1.0.6i, by Impossible Software, organizes Font menus and makes them easier to use. At a street price around $50, it’s worth a look if you tend to have a lot of fonts installed or enjoy using and experimenting with typography. TypeTamer requires a Macintosh running System 7 with at least 4 MB of RAM. The program takes up approximately 500K of disk space.

A Blip in the Continuum — Before I began this article, I didn’t have many special fonts installed, so immediately after installing TypeTamer, I looked around my office for fonts in need of taming. My eyes immediately settled on the obvious choice, a collection of shareware Grunge fonts that came with, a BLiP in the continuum, a recent book by Robin Williams and John Tollet ($22.95 from Peachpit Press, ISBN 1-56609-188-8). a BLiP in the continuum uses text and colorful illustrations to explain grunge fonts, those fonts whose characters look as though they were drawn with a magic marker by someone having a bad hair day or typed with a typewriter that’s been through a centrifuge. As the book explains, these fonts are for people who want to break rules, and that while the fonts may be hard to read, they do make you read more slowly, thus forcing you to retain more of the message.

The book suggests that if you, "look at this kind of typography and gasp in horror, you can rest assured you are not the market they wanted to reach anyhow. So who cares what you think." It’s hard to feel much fondness for fonts used to market stuff that isn’t targeted at me (since I have ambivalent feelings about grunge fonts and tend to think anything marketed with them is for the Pepsi generation, those people about my age who – apparently – continually shun education, work, and any sort of intellectual exercise so they can play on the beach).

Getting Started — After installing the Grunge fonts, I looked at my Nisus Writer Font menu (though I could have looked in most any program, including the font menu on Word 5’s Ribbon) and saw that TypeTamer had transformed the menu as follows:

  • The Font menu became shorter and gained an All command. Instead of listing all my fonts, it only listed fonts currently in the active document. To see a full list of fonts, I used the new All option to view the full list in a hierarchical menu, which popped out from the Font menu.
  • My font families grouped themselves together. For example, Garamond appeared in the All hierarchical menu, with a hierarchical menu that offered Regular, Italic, Semi-Bold, and so on.
  • Each font showed with an icon to its left, indicating whether the font was a bitmap font, a bitmap font with its PostScript counterpart installed, or TrueType font.
  • My fonts having foundry information showed with that information to their right, enclosed in angle brackets. In my case, this mainly meant that <MT> showed by fonts from Microsoft Office (the <MT> means the fonts are from the Monotype foundry); the TypeTamer manual points out that serious typographers might find this feature helpful if they had installed both the Adobe and the Digital Typeface Corporation version of a font such as Don Casual.
  • My Font menus gained a TypeTamer command. By choosing TypeTamer from any Font menu, I was able to access TypeTamer’s controls, which I used to set up two additional hierarchical menus, one for the Grunge fonts and one for Not Grunge fonts. That was good – now the Grunge fonts were segregated and I only had to think about them when I wanted to. TypeTamer considers each additional hierarchical menu to be a "category," and you can set up lots of categories, based on font types, projects, or whatever. The same font can appear in more than one category, and it’s easy to change or delete categories.

Features — TypeTamer doesn’t work like Now’s WYSIWYG Menus (in fact, they are incompatible – if you launch with TypeTamer active, it will disable WYSIWYG menus) or like any of those other products that display the Font menu using the available fonts (such as Suitcase). Instead, TypeTamer offers the ability to quickly see a full display of what the font looks like. Drag the pointer over the icons that show left of each font name, and a window pops up, showing a phrase displayed in that font in three different sizes. (You can set up TypeTamer with whatever phrase and sizes you like.)

To learn more about special characters in a font, you can press Option or Shift-Option while dragging over the icon or while you have the window open. This causes the window to show the characters you can get by pressing Option (or Shift-Option) and some other key. You can select and insert these characters from the window, or you can note the keyboard shortcut displayed at the lower left.

For an ornamental font (like Zapf Dingbats) pressing Command shows the standard characters that you get by just pressing keys on the keyboard (i.e. pressing ‘n’ in Zapf Dingbats gives you a solid box, and – by the way – if you format that box in Outline, you get a nice-looking checkbox).

Although TypeTamer doesn’t feel entirely polished (the windows that pop-up showing the font’s appearances and character sets look out of proportion), it does have some nice features, and Impossible Software has thought about different issues that might arise while using TypeTamer:

  • TypeTamer’s Find Fonts feature helps you figure out what fonts are used in a document. Currently, TypeTamer advertises the feature as working with Illustrator 5.0 and 5.5, Photoshop 2.1.5, PageMaker 5.0, Word 5.1a, and WordPerfect 3.0a.
  • You can temporarily disable TypeTamer for a given Font menu by pressing Shift as you drag down the menu.
  • The 35-page manual begins with a glossary of terms, ranging from ATM to suitcase to Suitcase to Type Reunion. It’s refreshing to see a manual that acknowledges and explains the existence of other products.
  • TypeTamer’s SpeedFont feature helps you quickly navigate a large All category by moving fonts that begin with the letter you type to the top of the hierarchical menu.

Results — Now that I’ve used a few of the Grunge fonts to label a few filing folders (Basketcase-Roman is perfect for my Bills To Pay folder) I’m understanding them more. TypeTamer turned out to be a real help in choosing the fonts, because I could slowly scroll down my Grunge menu, looking at the font samples as I went. I’ll be keeping the Grunge fonts installed for a while; perhaps I’ll use them more. I also plan to keep TypeTamer installed.

You can download a thirty-day demo of TypeTamer from any Info-Mac mirror: type-tamer-106i-demo.hqx

Impossible Software — 714/470-4800 — 714/470-4740 (fax)
<[email protected]>