Having problems with your new PCI Power Mac? Maybe this week’s crop of fixes and updates will help you out. Also, learn about a new commercial HTML editor, get more details on nifty digital cameras, plus read about the just-announced PowerPC Platform specification and where on the Web to find the Internet white paper Adam wrote for Apple. Finally, we round out the issue with the first part of an interview with the well-known Mac Internet developer Peter Lewis.
A few months ago, I completed a white paper for Apple, called "Apple and the Internet: The Macintosh Advantage." If you are interested, you can now read the paper on the Web, where it appears to be identical to the paper version other than including my bio at the end. [ACE]
PowerPC Platform Specification Announced — At COMDEX in Las Vegas last week, Apple, IBM, and Motorola jointly announced the "PowerPC Platform" specification, formerly referred to as the Common Hardware Reference Platform (CHRP). A long time in development, this specification directly challenges Intel-based computing architectures, and is designed to spell out the details of a unified computer architecture based on the PowerPC chip. In theory, a machine designed to this specification can run any operating system designed for the architecture. At the moment, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, and Sun say they plan to support the PowerPC Platform with future operating systems, and many chip and component manufacturers have announced their intention to develop and support the PowerPC Platform as well. It’s expected the first machines built to the PowerPC Platform spec will be available in the middle of 1996, with Apple’s first Macintoshes supporting the platform sometime in 1997. [GD]
Billions of Happy Astronomers — Famed astronomer and Cornell University professor Carl Sagan has reached an amicable settlement with Apple Computer in their argument over Apple’s internal use of Sagan’s name as a codename for a new computer model. When Sagan objected to the use of his name, the codename was changed to "BHA," which reportedly stood for "Butt Head Astronomer." Sagan’s lawyers filed suit for defamation of character, but a judge threw out the case and Sagan appealed. The new settlement appeases both sides. [MHA]
Now Utilities 5.0.2 for PCI Macs — Earlier this month, Now Software finally released Now Utilities 5.0.2 for System 7.5.2 and Apple’s new set of PCI Macs. Though the updates have been available on commercial online services since last week, they’re now available on Now’s FTP site as well. The updates address problems with Now Menus, Super Boomerang, Now Startup Manager, and Now QuickFiler, and contain an updated version of Now Toolbox. The updater only works on Now Utilities 5.0.1, but there’s also an updater available that will take version 5.0 of Now Utilities to version 5.0.1. You must re-enter your serial number when you update, so have that handy before installing. [GD]
Energy Saver and 1710AV Monitors — An article in Apple’s Tech Info library confirms reports of problems using Energy Saver with Apple’s new 1710AV monitor. According to Apple, 1710AV monitors with serial numbers between SG522xxxxxx and SG536xxxxxx (inclusive) may randomly cycle while in Energy Saver mode, causing the power LED to randomly flash along with popping and clicking from the monitor itself. Units with serial numbers greater than SG537xxxxxx are not affected. This repeated cycling is hard on the monitor and may cause it to fail; Apple recommends disabling System Sleep in the Energy Saver control panel until the monitor can be serviced. If you have such a monitor, contact your Apple dealer or call 800/SOS-APPL. Be warned: there are reports of Apple refusing to exchange or accept returns of affected 1710AV monitors even if they have been hammered (and possibly damaged) by this problem. [GD]
Apple Announces Three Language Kits — Apple has announced Claris will be marketing Arabic, Cyrillic, and Hebrew Language Kits for System 7.1 or higher. The kits should be available by the end of November with an estimated price around $100, and each kit includes a selection of fonts and keyboard layouts as well as the language software itself. Apple claims the Cyrillic kit can be used with almost any MacOS application, but the Arabic and Hebrew kits require localized and/or WorldScript-savvy applications that support right-to-left text entry. The kits require 4 MB of RAM and a 68020 processor or better and come with Power Mac native versions (which require at least 8 MB of RAM). [GD]
Java Support Planned for CodeWarrior — Metrowerks has announced plans to ship a suite of Java development tools for the Macintosh. The Java tools will be developed in conjunction with Sun Microsystems (creators of Java), and Metrowerks expects to have an initial release by mid-1996. Though Java applets (in theory) will run on any platform with Java support, being able to develop Java applets on the Macintosh is a plus since so much multimedia and Internet development currently takes place on the Mac. [GD]
Last week Apple released a set of printing software updates under the collective name 7.5.2 Printing Update 1.1. Don’t confuse this update with version 1.0.2 of the 7.5.2 Printing Fix (see TidBITS-299); this update supersedes Apple’s earlier attempts to fix printing problems on the Power Mac 7200, 7500, 8500, and 9500, and includes additional materials that may help some other Mac users.
What’s Included — 7.5.2 Printing Update 1.1 includes the following three components. There’s no installer program supplied, so each element you want to use must be installed by manually dragging it to your System Folder.
- 7.5.2 Printer Fix 1.1. This is the latest version of the extension Apple previously released to help with printing problems on the Power Mac 7200, 7500, 8500, and 9500. In addition to previous fixes for using busy network printers, version 1.1 corrects a similar problem using LocalTalk to print to a network printer. Please note that this extension requires Open Transport 1.0.7 or better, and the extension isn’t of use on earlier Macs.
- SerialDMA 2.0.2. SerialDMA 2.0 was originally a rewrite of the serial drivers that shipped with the first AV Macs (the Centris 660AV and Quadra 840AV) and were later carried over to Apple’s first line of Power Macs and their derivative models. Version 2.0.2 of SerialDMA patches some remaining bugs and adds support for Apple’s newer PCI Power Macs. In addition to offering greater reliability, better performance, higher baud rates, and a number of bug fixes, version 2.0.2 should offer significant performance improvements on 68040-based AV Macintoshes, as well as fix printing problems with StyleWriters on the Power Mac 7200, 7500, 8500, and 9500. Please note SerialDMA has a known problem with the Serial Port Arbitrator extension that’s included with AppleTalk Remote Access (ARA) on Apple’s PCI Power Macs. If you need to use SerialDMA on one of those machines, remove Serial Port Arbitrator from your system (apparently it doesn’t show up in most extension management utilities).
- LaserWriter 8.3.2. This update to the LaserWriter 8 driver allegedly addresses two crashing problems that can occur on the Power Mac 7200, 7500, 8500, and 9500, one involving printing large documents to a network printer and the other involving printing to a busy network printer. LaserWriter 8.3.2 is only of use on Apple’s PCI Power Macs and requires Open Transport 1.0.7 or better to function.
Open Transport 1.0.8 for the PCI Power Macs can be found on Apple’s FTP servers at the URL below.
Do You Need All This? The classic axiom "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it" applies: if you don’t print to network printers or have problems with serial communications programs that use a modem, GeoPort, or other telecommunications device, don’t rush out to download and install these utilities. On the other hand, if your work involves extensive printing or if you’ve experienced problems like the ones described above, it might be worth your trouble. Evidence so far indicates these fixes have solved problems for a number of people, although there are still reports of persistent troubles that may or may not be related.
Mixed in with the flurry of issues surrounding Apple’s new PCI Power Macs – including difficulties with Open Transport and numerous printing problems – there have been reports of slow Ethernet performance and outright crashes on the Power Mac 7200/90. Apple last week confirmed the problem exists and announced plans to fix the problem. Only the Power Macintosh 7200/90 model is affected by this problem; neither the 7200/75 nor any other Macintosh model are impacted.
What’s the Problem? The built-in Ethernet on the Power Macintosh 7200/90 may fail to correctly send large packets over an Ethernet network regardless of the network protocol being used. This can cause connections to time out, give poor performance, or in some cases lock up the machine.
The trouble stems from the design of the built-in Ethernet on the 7200/90, which is timed from a clock generator ASIC; other Macintosh systems clock built-in Ethernet off a dedicated clock chip. Apple has reworked the logic board of the 7200/90 to include a dedicated clock chip, and all units currently in manufacturing incorporate this change. This problem does not impact the 7200/90’s printer or modem ports, and (obviously) does not cause trouble if the built-in Ethernet on the machine isn’t in use.
Apple has posted detailed information about the problem on commercial online services and in its Tech Info Library. I had trouble locating the article in the Tech Info Library, but Ric Ford has made the text of Apple’s release available on his MacInTouch Web site.
Which 7200/90s are Affected? Power Macintosh 7200/90s with serial numbers before xx543xxxxxxx may exhibit the problem. Serial numbers greater than xx544xxxxxxx incorporate the reworked logic board and don’t have the problem.
However, just having a 7200/90 with a serial number in the right range doesn’t mean every network trouble is attributable to this timing problem – plenty of other things can cause slow network transfers and (yes) crashes. If you’re having trouble, Apple recommends troubleshooting your Ethernet connection to see if the problem might be network-related. It’s also probably a good idea to install the latest version of Open Transport (currently 1.0.8) and the 7.5.2 Printing Fix 1.1 (if you print) to see if those help your performance. (See the previous article about the 7.5.2 Printing Fix for more information.)
If You’re Affected… Apple has announced it will replace motherboards on 7200/90 systems at no cost so long as the unit’s serial number is in the specified range; contact your Apple dealer or call Apple at 800/SOS-APPL. Apple claims customer complaints on this issue have been limited to a few calls from large corporations. Though reports on online services and Usenet have been more extensive, it’s difficult to tell whether some of the problems reported are due to this hardware issue or unrelated network problems. The bottom line seems to be that if you own a 7200/90 in the serial number range and rely on its built-in Ethernet, it’s probably worth investigating Apple’s logic board replacement.
Web authors don’t just have to keep up with new browsers and tags, they must also contend with a sometimes bewildering array of HTML tools. I’m not going to sort out that array today, but I will point out that another tool has joined the commercial arena.
Best Enterprises just released World Wide Web Weaver for Macintosh 1.0. Unlike Adobe’s new PageMill which offers a WYSIWYG approach to creating Web pages, World Wide Web Weaver shows HTML documents in text format, such that you can see the tags in the document as you work.
World Wide Web Weaver should be a familiar to those who have used its shareware predecessor, HTML Web Weaver, an early shareware HTML authoring tool. HTML Web Weaver comes pre-registered with my recent book, Create Your Own Home Page, and I consider it a capable tool for someone getting started with HTML. HTML Web Weaver is still available, and its author, Robert Best, recently released version 2.5.3. The new version is much the same as 2.5.2, but with improved documentation.
According to its press release, World Wide Web Weaver comes with the level of support that you would expect from a commercial product. Along with an improved interface and an improved technique for displaying tags and tagged text, World Wide Web Weaver also supports many more tags, including tags for colors, backgrounds, and tables. The table support enables you to work with an image of a table instead of directly with the tags (although you can work with the tags if you wish), and it works well for moderately complex tables. Unfortunately if you use colspan or rowspan attributes, the table feature becomes unwieldy. (Colspan and rowspan let you create table cells that span more than one column or row.)
World Wide Web Weaver requires System 7 and comes with a suggested RAM allocation of 1700K. I plan to review World Wide Web Weaver in an upcoming TidBITS issue. In the meantime, you can check out a demo at:
The demo is fully functional and works for one month. Best Enterprises has chosen a multiple-option pricing scheme. World Wide Web Weaver costs $50, or you can pay $75 for an annual subscription. The subscription includes all releases (minor or major) at no extra charge. Best Enterprises also offers educational rates of $30 and $55, and offers site license prices.
Best Enterprises — 315/265-0930 — <[email protected]>
My articles regarding digital cameras (starting in TidBITS-297) have prompted scores of comments, including reports of newer and cooler cameras. Each time I get a new report, I think, "Enough about these digital cameras," and each time I read the note and think "Wow, that’s too cool!" So, here are more details about the Ricoh DC-1 (or RDC-1, depending on who you believe) digital camera along with a note from Japan about a new single-lens reflex digital camera from NEC. I’m going to try to avoid writing more about digital cameras for a while, and perhaps we’ll see some serious price drops in the near future, since I think price is the main concern for most people.
David Andrew <[email protected]> writes:
In TidBITS-301, Peter Glaskowsky described a new digital camera from Ricoh. Here are the details (according to the Sep-95 issue of Multimedia Producer, p. 62). [There’s also an article about it in the Dec-95 issue of Popular Photography. -Adam]
The Ricoh DC-1 digital camera weighs nine ounces, can record up to 492 still images, 100 minutes of sound (8-bit, mono) or four full-motion video scenes of five seconds each on a single 8 MB PC Card [MacWEEK recently reported similar specs but mentioned 10-second video clips and a 24 MB PC Card for an $1,800 price point and a U.S. spring release. -Adam]. It sports a F2.8 CCD that averages between 380,00 and 410,000 pixels. The screen resolution is 640 x 480, and it records all images in JPEG format.
According to the article, Ricoh claims the camera can record and play back footage at 60 frames/second in 24-bit color. It generates an NTSC signal, so it can connect directly to a television or video printer. There is also an optional 2.5" LCD which swivels like the Sharp ViewCam.
The DC-1 takes Type 1 PC Cards and can transfer images to a PC using an RS-232 cable. Other options include a built-in strobe flash, 3X zoom and auto exposure.
The DC-1 is only available in Japan, but will soon be in the U.S. for $1,600 to $2,300, depending on options. Of course, how soon is anybody’s guess. I’ll take two.
Masato Ogawa <[email protected]>, a longtime TidBITS reader from Japan, notes that with the necessary options, the Ricoh DC-1 would cost about $2,400 in U.S. dollars, although he was impressed by the picture quality. Masato also passed on some information about an NEC digital camera demoed at the Telecom ’95 conference in Geneva, Switzerland. It’s a single-lens reflex camera, so you can change lenses, and it stores the data on a PC Card in JPEG/TIFF format so you don’t need to convert the pictures after downloading. The price is most alluring, at about $1,000.
Peter Lewis <[email protected]> is one of the best-known Macintosh Internet programmers, with about 20 programs in distribution on the Internet. Most are freeware or inexpensive shareware in the $5 to $10 range. Peter’s hit program is the FTP client Anarchie (pronounced "anarchy"), which surpassed another excellent FTP program (Fetch from Jim Matthews) to become a staple of many Mac users’ Internet toolkits. Many of Peter’s programs (most notably the public domain Internet Config) are written with the help of Quinn, who goes only by his last name and who recently went to work for Apple. Oh, and if you’re wondering, Peter N Lewis should not be confused with Peter H. Lewis, the Internet reporter for the New York Times.
Intriguingly, Peter dwells not in Silicon Valley or even in the United States, but in Perth, a city in Western Australia. Although I did this interview via email, I have met Peter in person. In April of 1994 we were just starting to chat via email when he asked if I planned to attend Mactivity in July. I said no, since I had a different conference to attend several days later. But I did extend a social invitation (hey, these things are usually safe, especially with people from other continents): I told Peter that if he was ever in the Seattle area, he was welcome to visit us. His reply said, "Sure, how’s July 12th through 17th?" I gulped, and went to tell Tonya that we’d be having a houseguest for five days in July.
Needless to say, the meeting at the airport was a little tricky, since neither of us knew what the other looked like. I wore my Eudora t-shirt, and printed Anarchie’s icon so it filled a sheet of paper, figuring I’d hold it up like limo drivers hold signs with people’s last names on them. Peter came right over to me, although he later confided that he’d only seen the Eudora t-shirt, but figured he could go home with anyone wearing a Eudora t-shirt.
We had a fabulous time while Peter was visiting, and he collected shareware fees everywhere he went. In between insulting U.S. money for being all the same size and color (Australian money is cooler), Peter commented that he never had to worry about exchanging money, since so many people paid their shareware fees as soon as they saw him in person that he earned quite a bit in U.S. dollars while visiting. Maybe that’s the trick with shareware – world tours where the guilty can come and pay their shareware fees. In any event, when I came up with the idea of doing some email interviews with interesting people in the Macintosh world, Peter was first on the list.
- [Adam] You’ve written some great programs and at least Anarchie and FTPd could be commercial. I’m sure you’ve had offers from companies – why have you shied away from that market? Why shareware?
[Peter] Various reasons. Shareware gives me complete control, something I’m unlikely to get in the commercial world. It allows me to provide my programs at much lower prices than would otherwise be the case (with packaging and marketing and channel markups, they would have to cost at least $50 to earn me the same $9 I currently get). It lets me concentrate on writing the programs and not worry about the other issues (like packaging and marketing and channels).
- [Adam] FTPd and especially Anarchie are highly successful for shareware. Roughly what percentage of users pay for them? Is that depressing, or simply the way shareware works?
[Peter] My guess is somewhere between two and twenty percent, probably closer to the four percent mark. It’s hard to tell with any accuracy (although SIVC [Simple Internet Version Control] helps by telling me there are at least 14,700 Anarchie 1.6 users and at least 2,300 FTPd 3.0 users). At $10 a copy, that would be a lot more money than I’ve made in shareware fees. It’s a shame: I go out of my way to ensure my programs are useful and inexpensive; it’d be nice to think everyone would pay $10 for a program that’s useful to them, but it doesn’t work that way. Obviously there are things I could do to force people to pay (time-outs and crippled features and serial numbers and annoying reminder notices and all the rest), but I’d rather not (and hopefully I won’t be forced to).
- [Adam] What about Kee Nethery’s Kagi Shareware service <[email protected]> – has that significantly helped bring in a larger percentage of shareware fees? If nothing else, it must make it a heck of a lot easier to deal with the issues surrounding international money exchange.
[Peter] Absolutely. The general consensus amongst shareware authors using Kagi is that their income goes up over 50 percent simply because Kagi can accept Visa and MasterCard. I know from my own experience that if I can just send a quick email off to pay for a program, I’m far more likely to just pay it when I start looking at it. If I have to send off snail mail, by the time I get around to finding an envelope, I’ve probably trashed the program anyway.
- [Adam] So what’s the end result of people not paying their shareware fees?
[Peter] It’s sad really, because I’d like to hire some people to help me write more cool software, so users who don’t pay end up hurting themselves. Think about it: if just half the people paid, I’d have ten times more income, which would translate it to half a dozen programmers working full time to produce other programs. Taking a quick look at my project list, that would probably mean we’d already have an NNTP news server, a DNS server, some interesting Internet messaging services (like sharing clipboards or keyboards), maybe even a shareware equivalent for Timbuktu, and who knows what else.
Still, I do make my living out of shareware, it pays my full time salary (fortunately the cost of living in Perth is much lower than, say, California, and hence so are salaries). So I’d like to thank those people who do pay their shareware fees for allowing me to work full time, and hopefully continue to improve my various programs and write a few more cool ones.
- [Adam] Have you considered moving away from Australia now that you’re supported entirely by your programming skills, especially now that Quinn has left to work for Apple in Cupertino?
[Peter] Not really. I love Perth, it’s the most beautiful city in the world, and the most pleasant to live in (well, it does get a bit too hot for my liking in February). Plus my family and most of my friends are here. What I’m thinking of doing is coming down to the USA for more extended visits, but I need to figure out how I can work down there since I don’t want to lose months of work time. Besides, I can’t go very long without having the urge to program.
- [Adam] Will Quinn’s move to work in Apple’s Developer Technical Support slow down development of shared projects like Internet Config, and to a lesser extent, Anarchie (with the Apple Guide that Quinn did)? And speaking of Quinn, how much would we have to bribe you to tell us Quinn’s first name?
[Peter] Do you think I could get a MacWEEK mug for it? I’d probably tell you for a couple hundred grand, but I’d have to ask Quinn if it’s OK first. It’s not that hard to find out his first name anyway, I’m sure it’s on the net if you look hard enough.
Quinn’s move will definitely have an effect on some of our projects. But, Internet Config is now sufficiently mature that we can probably split it into several smaller parts and each do them separately. For instance, I’ll probably end up working on the Internet Config application, and Quinn will get stuck with maintaining the component and the rest of the Internet Config API.
It’s certainly harder to do late night hacks when you don’t even share the same late night time.
- [Adam] You’ve written a slew of programs, including the main Macintosh Finger and Talk clients and various non-Internet programs. Which of your lesser known programs should people check out?
[Peter] Well, all my programs are available via FTP, and the Web site describes them, so that’s one way of finding out about my other projects.
The one that I think is most useful and under-used is Assimilator, which is not an Internet program at all. It’s function is to maintain labs of identical Macintoshes (like student labs or demonstration labs). Basically it mirrors the lab Mac’s hard disk from a folder on an AppleShare server. I wrote it to help Quinn and Craig maintain their respective student labs at the University of Western Australia, and it seems to work quite well there.
[Next week, Peter talks about the future of the Macintosh, connectivity in Australia, the Netscape explosion, and the virtues of Pascal.]