This week we bring you news on a series of high end Macintosh clones from Power Computing, plus a flurry of MailBITS on the latest updates to Connectix’s RAM Doubler and Symantec’s Norton Utilities, new Apple monitors, a native version of the scripting environment Frontier, and much more. We round out the issue with details on a nifty new cellular PC Card and Adam’s ruminations on moving without losing your mind… or your Macintosh.
Double Your RAM — RAM Doubler, Connectix’s popular RAM-doubling utility, now doubles RAM on more Macs than ever before. The newly released version 1.6 adds compatibility with the following new Macintosh lines:
- Power Macintosh 7200, 7500, 8500, and 9500
- PowerBook 190 and 5300
- Duo 2300
- Power Macintosh/Performa 5200 and 6200
If you haven’t run out to buy one of the new Macintoshes, but do use RAM Doubler, you may benefit from the fixes also included in version 1.6. According to the ReadMe file, people using RAM Doubler on 6100 DOS Compatibles can now successfully transfer files to floppy disks while in DOS mode. Also, Connectix has fixed problems with sending AppleMail enclosures over PowerTalk, file transfer over certain LocalTalk configurations, and an incompatibility resulting from using both RAM Doubler and SpeedDoubler together with certain Power Mac upgrade cards. RAM Doubler 1.6 also improves FWB SCSI JackHammer compatibility and incorporates the RAM Doubler/Symantec Project Manager 8.0 Patch. RAM Doubler owners can acquire the update to version 1.6 online or by calling Connectix and asking them to mail the update on a floppy disk. If you choose the floppy disk route, note that Connectix charges a $9.95 shipping and handling fee. [TJE]
Connectix — 800/950-5880 — 415/571-5100 — 415/571-5195 (fax) — <[email protected]>
New Clay Basket and a Native Frontier — Last week was a big one for Dave Winer. First, he released a new beta (1.0b5) of Clay Basket, his online outliner, bookmark handler, and (most recently) Web site manager.
Clay Basket has numerous features that tie in with versions 1.1 and 2.0 of Netscape Navigator and (of course) Frontier. Clay Basket has some rough edges, but Dave’s been making outliners for years and his experience shows. What’s more, Sandra Silcot (whose HTML Macros made Nisus Writer a highly effective Web publishing tool) is developing a set of pages about getting started with Clay Basket.
In addition, users of UserLand Frontier (or its free incarnation, Aretha; see TidBITS-279) will be pleased to know that a public beta of a Power Macintosh native version of Frontier was made available last week. Preliminary tests show astounding performance improvements (though Frontier was previously no slouch). Users doing processor-intensive tasks with Frontier or who use it as a CGI engine on a Macintosh Web server will be pleased with the results. [GD]
Norton Utilities 3.2 — Symantec Corporation has announced the availability of Norton Utilities 3.2 for Macintosh, which enables the disk-recovery and protection package to operate on volumes up to two terabytes in size. (System 7.5.2 supports volumes that large; earlier systems only support volumes 2 GB or 4 GB in size.) Symantec notes that support for volumes larger than 4 GB is the only change in version 3.2, and unless you use volumes larger than 4 GB there’s no need to upgrade from Norton Utilities 3.1. For people who need the update, Symantec will send disks for $10 plus shipping and handling, but has no plans to make an updater available online. Updates from versions of Norton Utilities before 3.1 cost $39.95. [GD]
Symantec — 800/441-7234 — 503/334-6054
Macworld Removes Sign-Ins — In a welcome move, Macworld magazine has eliminated the sign-in and authentication requirements for many areas of its much-promoted Web site (including current and back issues of Macworld magazine), although authentication is still required for message boards and vendor-based areas. Macworld claims it needs to grab some demographic information to keep advertisers happy and revenue flowing, but it’s interesting to note that MacUser has never required authentication on its Web site, which has been around a lot longer. [GD]
Macjordomo 1.0b6 has been released by its author, Michele Fuortes. The free mailing list server software for Macintosh includes many of the popular features of products like LISTSERV, ListSTAR, and Majordomo (for which Macjordomo is named), including automatic or manual subscribe and unsubscribe features, message digests, and file retrieval. The new beta-test release offers a Power Mac-native version, a verbose log option, and other improvements and bug fixes. [MHA]
Apple Introduces & Updates Monitors — Apple recently announced the Multiple Scan 1705, an MPR II and Energy Star compliant 17-inch multi-sync monitor that can handle resolutions up to 1024 by 768 at 75 Hz (or 1280 by 1024 at 60 Hz). The monitor uses a flat-square shadow mask tube with a 0.28 mm dot pitch (and a 15.8-inch viewable image size) rather than the usual Trinitron tube found in Apple monitors, but at an estimated street price of $819 it might just be a good buy. Apple also announced it is upgrading the Apple Multiple Scan 20 display to a .26 mm stripe pitch Trinitron tube. Though the Multiple Scan 20 is an excellent monitor, with an Apple Price of $2,149, that extra four inches of viewable display area comes with a big price tag attached. [GD]
Swoop to Victory — If you don’t suffer from repetitive strain injuries and need an excuse to play more video games, check out Swoop, a $15 shareware program written by David Wareing and distributed by Ambrosia Software. Given my (mostly better) tendonitis, I could not play Swoop for long, but it appears to live up to Ambrosia’s description as "a fast vertical shoot ’em up arcade game for the Macintosh in which you battle 3D-rendered aliens with a variety of powerful weapons."
Ambrosia Software has announced a High Score Contest wherein the player achieving the highest Swoop score by 01-Dec-95 will be awarded $300; the second- and third-highest scoring contenders will win $100 and $50 respectively; and the top fifty players will win t-shirts. To enter you must be a registered user of Swoop, and have at least Swoop version 1.0.1. You can find out more about the contest in a document called "Swoop Contest PR.text," which is installed along with Swoop when you run the Swoop installer. [TJE]
Ambrosia Software — 800/231-1816 — 716/325-1910 — 716/325-3665 (fax)
Power Computing today introduced their PowerWave product line, which currently consists of three new Mac clones built around the PowerPC 604 CPU, one of which will run at 150 MHz and potentially be the fastest Macintosh available. Expected to ship in November, the PowerWave product line features speed, good expansion and upgrade options, plus the ability to combine PCI and NuBus expansion slots in the same machine.
PowerWave Models — The PowerWave Mac clones have numerical names – the PowerWave 604/150, 604/132, and 604/120 – with the number at the end of the model name indicating the CPU speed in megahertz. The first two models are mini-tower systems, and the 604/120 has a desktop case. All models have the PowerPC 604 processor on a daughter card, allowing the possibility of upgrading the processor in the future. PowerWave models also offer up to 1 MB of Level 2 cache, two or three PCI expansion slots (see below), PCI-based accelerated video, built-in AAUI and 10Base-T Ethernet, an optional quad-speed CD-ROM drive, and a 10 MB/second internal SCSI bus. All PowerWave models use eight DIMM slots for a maximum RAM capacity of 512 MB; in addition, the PowerWaves take advantage of memory interleaving, so installing matching DIMMs in adjacent banks enables the computer to use a 128-bit memory path for increased performance. The PCI video card included with the systems comes standard with 2 MB of VRAM, allowing 24-bit color to a resolution of 832 by 624 pixels. The card can be upgraded to 4 MB of VRAM, for 24-bit support up to 1152 by 870, and support for monitor resolutions up to 1600 by 1200. In addition, the PCI video card features connectors for both standard Macintosh monitors and VGA monitors, and claims to offer software-only configuration for VGA monitors.
The mini-tower cases of the PowerWave 604/150 and 604/132 feature three drive bays accessible from the front of the machine, as well as an internal 3.5-inch bay that can hold either one full-height or two half-height devices, giving these machines plenty of storage options. The 604/120’s desktop case doesn’t lack in this department either, with two front-accessible bays and two internal bays that can handle 3.5-inch full-height devices. Front-accessible bays are important for systems using removable media (optical disks, DATs, or other systems), and the ability to handle full-height drives is important for large capacity hard disks.
Pricing for PowerWave models will vary significantly because Power Computing allows customers to request custom configurations. Direct pricing for base models of the 604/150, 604/132, and 604/120 is set at $4,499, $3,699, and $3,199 respectively. To get a better idea what your preferred configuration would cost, check out Power Computing’s online "configurator," which features complete model specifications and lets customers check prices on specific configuration options.
Stargate — Possibly the most intriguing aspect of the PowerWaves is Power Computing’s proprietary ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit), codenamed Stargate. Stargate enables Power Computing to include both PCI slots and NuBus slots in the same machine; users interested in a PowerWave can either get a machine with three PCI slots – just like the Power Mac 8500, 7500, or 7200 – or they can spend about $250 extra and get a PowerWave with two PCI slots and two NuBus slots, which sit on a riser card plugged into a connector on the motherboard.
The ability to mix PCI and NuBus peripherals should tempt many Macintosh owners who currently have investments in NuBus hardware that otherwise could not easily move to a PCI-based Mac. (Second Wave manufactures external devices that let NuBus cards be used with PCI Macs, but they’re pretty expensive.) However, before slamming money into a PowerWave with PCI and NuBus capability, it’s important to note that many people who currently own NuBus cards have no reason to bring them over to PCI Macs. The two most common types of NuBus cards are networking (Ethernet) and video cards. All PCI Macs – both Apple’s and Power Computing’s – include built-in Ethernet, so bringing over an Ethernet NuBus card is pointless. Second, even accelerated NuBus video cards typically aren’t as fast as PCI video cards, and cost considerably more. Unless you already own a specialized (or very costly) NuBus video card, it doesn’t make economic sense to try to shoe-horn it into a PCI Mac. Nonetheless, for owners of specialized NuBus peripherals (high-end digitalization and capture, high-speed SCSI cards, specialized interfaces to lab or research equipment, and others), Stargate may well provide a viable and inexpensive bridge into the world of high-performance Macs.
Best of Both Worlds? Power Computing’s engineering on its first Mac clones is widely regarded as being top-notch, and it will be interesting to see how independent lab tests rate the PowerWaves on performance and compatibility. Assuming Power Computing lives up to its reputation, these machines could be serious contenders in the high-end Macintosh market – especially with their ability to integrate existing NuBus peripherals – even though they lack the sophisticated AV features present in Apple’s current line of Power Macs. However, the long-term viability of Power Computing machines remains untested. Power Computing works very closely with Apple (and Apple is going to some lengths to provide support for clone manufacturers), but it’s important to remember this is a new road rather than a familiar hometown street – there may yet be unpaved sections ahead.
Another interesting aspect of the new PowerWaves is that they solidly target the high end Macintosh world. Part of the reason Apple opened up to cloning was to gain market share for the Macintosh and provide lower-cost options to consumers. So far, however, Macintosh clones have tended to target Apple’s markets in publishing, multimedia, and graphics, rather than the low-end consumer market or education. Although I’ve heard rumors of forthcoming Power Computing machines that will cost less than $1,000, one wonders if clone companies are trying to open new Macintosh markets or merely carve up Apple’s existing user base.
It’s not the first cellular modem PC Card for PowerBooks and other laptops, but the AirGo PhoneCard, announced today, is the first with a unique combination of data, fax, and voice capabilities for cellular and land-line communications. The new Type III PC Card for Macintosh or Windows computers comes from AirGo Communications, Inc., a new subsidiary of Dayna Communications.
The AirGo PhoneCard works in a Type III PC Card slot such as the one in the PowerBook 5300 and the earlier PCMCIA adapter for 500-series PowerBooks (each slot can support a single Type III card or two Type II cards). While the PhoneCard is docked, users can send and receive faxes, use the modem for data at up to 14.4 Kbps, or place and receive voice calls, using the cellular circuit or a land-line connection. The earphone jack supports any compatible earphone, such as Jabra’s earPHONE, for hands-free use.
AirGo’s included PhoneBook software enables users to keep track of contact names, phone numbers, and addresses, as well as the phone’s use. The software can download up to a hundred contacts to the card itself.
The package also includes the company’s CardPhone handset, which serves as a stand-alone cellular phone when the PhoneCard is inserted. The handset’s display makes it easy to access contact information that’s been stored in the card. The LCD display also shows the usual signal strength, battery charge, and roaming indicators.
No final price has been set for the card and phone handset, which are expected to ship around the end of the year, but the company expects "unsubsidized" prices to be around $1,000 for card, handset, and software, along with a battery charger and a single battery. Lest that price scare you, keep in mind that even the cellular phones given away for free (or for $20-50) by cellular service companies have unsubsidized prices in the $200-500 range. This package, purchased with cellular service, is likely to be much less expensive when it becomes available.
AirGo Communications — 801/269-7200 — 801/269-7363 (fax)
Tonya and I just moved, and although moving is a traumatic experience in the best of times, it gets hairy when you try to move computers and not have much down time. Most people probably aren’t in quite the same situation we are, but I thought I’d pass on some of the strategies we employed to retain what little of our sanity remains after dealing with a sick cat who needs special food that makes our other cat throw up instantly.
Boxes — By far the most important thing I can recommend is to save your original computer boxes, along with their original styrofoam packing material. Tonya would call me retentive about it, but I save the box for anything the size of a hard drive or larger (which includes the incredibly ungainly Telebit WorldBlazer, which is larger than our PowerBook 100). Even I draw the line at boxes for normal modems, trackballs, and Ethernet connectors, since you can pack them in a box with cables and other miscellaneous electronic gear. I realize that original boxes are bulky and hard to store, but they stack well in an attic (we’re considering using them as room dividers due to a lack of attic space in otherwise spacious quarters) and enable you to avoid throwing out the styrofoam, which generally isn’t easy to recycle. Whatever the pain of storage, it’s worth it for the knowledge that your computer equipment (which may be among your most valuable possessions) is as safe as possible from the vagaries of the movers or from your well-meaning but butter-fingered friends.
Cables — My next piece of advice concerns cables and may earn me some more retentive points. As long as you’re dismantling everything and hopefully sorting through cluttered boxes of miscellaneous cables, take a few minutes to label and organize cables into basic categories. I now have plastic bags for cables and adapters related to power, SCSI, telephones, serial connections, and so on. I didn’t worry so much about the organization before moving, because although my cable box was messy, I had a pretty good idea of where everything was. However, finding the cable box itself is hard enough among the detritus of the move, and trying to find a specific cable within that box would have been just about impossible without prior organization.
Speaking of cables, if you’re used to networking two or more Macs together, consider visiting your local Homeowner Hell store and purchasing a few 50 and 25 foot lengths of 4-wire phone cable, along with several of those handy little connectors that let you join two cables into one. In a pinch, remember that PhoneNet connectors can also serve as temporary methods of patching together two phone cords (for either LocalTalk or the phone). In our case, we wanted to create an ad hoc LocalTalk network until we wired for Ethernet, and between that and some awkwardly located phone jacks, we used close to 200 feet of cable. It’s not expensive and it never hurts to have it around.
My final cable comment is that you should think about how you will be getting power to your Mac or Macs. Often when you move, the power outlets aren’t in quite the right spot, and you need to use an extension cord or power strip or something. We also strongly recommend that you consider getting a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) if the power in the new area is at all flaky. They’re mildly expensive (several hundred dollars for a good one), but the peace of mind they provide is well worth it. If a UPS protects you from losing significant work just once, it has paid for itself, and it’s even more worthwhile if it prevents a piece of more expensive equipment from being damaged when a tree branch hits a power line. (The electric company will reportedly often turn the power off, on, and off again in an attempt to burn the branch off the line, and one of our hard disks once fell victim to this practice.) We now have four UPSs, having just bought another one because the our SE/30 server can no longer share mine, being in a different room.
Furniture — We took the opportunity of moving to refit our offices with good desks that can be adjusted to proper ergonomic heights. I’ve been working on a door slung across two cubbies since 1988, and although my sister and I chopped an inch and a half off the bottom of the cubbies three years ago when my hands were hurting badly, it still wasn’t a good solution. After lusting for the pricey AnthroCart desks – which seem infinitely adjustable and sport more accessories than Barbie – we happened on excellent substitutes at the Swedish housewares and furniture store, IKEA. Our desks, made by a Swedish company called Jerker (I suspect it sounds better in Swedish), consist of two side supports with holes drilled every inch or so. They come with a desk platform and a monitor shelf standard, and you can flexibly adjust the height when you assemble them. The desk platform has two slide-out shelves on either side for holding papers or perhaps the mouse. Although not as easy to accessorize as the AnthroCart furniture, the Jerker desks can add an extension shelf that rises above the monitor shelf, and rotating platforms that attach to the side supports.
Tonya’s desk doesn’t have the extension shelf, and she placed her two rotating platforms on the right-hand side, the lower one for her LaserWriter Select 360, and the upper one for a Color OneScanner. I got the extension shelf, being taller, and put my two rotating platforms on either side for holding PowerBooks at typing height while standing up. The desks take an hour or so to put together with the included graphical instructions (which were much appreciated, since we don’t know any Swedish), and seem to be extremely sturdy. The secondary reason for getting new desks is that we had no room in our old offices for some equipment we’d received several months ago as part of payment for a white paper about the Internet that I wrote for Apple. (Ask your dealer if you want a copy.) Now I’m up to using a 20" monitor as my main screen and a 15" as my secondary, and Tonya’s using a 17" as her main screen and a 15" as her secondary (and Geoff uses a 15" and a 17" as his two monitors). Needless to say, we can’t recommend multiple monitor setups too highly, and we consider them one of the most significant reasons to use a Mac over a PC.
Oh, the Jerker desks from IKEA cost about $240 for the desk, $30 for the extension shelf, and $15 each for the rotating platforms, which you can get with a large shelf (as we did), or a smaller shelf for holding a phone. They’re pretty heavy, so shipping might be expensive, but if you have an IKEA store near you, check them out sometime.
Connectivity — Finally, if you’re as connected as we are, give some thought to your connectivity when you move. We went from a 56K frame relay Internet connection and two analog phone lines to a single analog line that we have to share for modem and voice use. We had hoped to have at least more analog lines in quickly, but due to lack of wires, U.S. West hasn’t provided them just yet. So, to enable people to leave messages when the phone is busy (which is often, with two people using modems), we’re thinking of having the phone company install voicemail until our other lines appear. Equally serious in many ways has been the slowdown in dealing with Internet email, and for that I set up AutoShare to reply to all my incoming messages. It tells people why my response time may be much slower than in the past and also provides them with email (<[email protected]>) and Web pointers to my Frequently Asked Question list, which answers many of the questions I get via email.
AutoShare is good about not sending replies to addresses that I’ve preset as being mailing lists, and it also only sends one response per person, even if they send me more than one message. AutoShare only works with Apple Internet Mail Server (or the older MailShare), but you may be able to simulate the same thing with your provider using the Vacation program. Not all providers will have it installed, but try using the Vacation command from the Unix prompt, or try MR Mac’s VacationMail program, a shareware Macintosh program that communicates with your host to set up the Vacation program.
I can’t pretend that this advice will make your move go smoothly, since that would violate a basic law of the universe. But if you can reduce the tension of fighting with your Mac and your connectivity during the move, that’s a good thing and worth the attempt.