Wondering if you need to update some of your software? Look no further: this week we bring you news of updates to Speed Doubler, Norton Disk Doctor, and Apple Drive Setup. We also bring you news of a "Day of Protest" against Internet censorship, the conclusion of Travis Butler’s overview of PPP software, Adam’s take on shopping online, plus suggestions for holiday gifts for Mac geeks.
Giving Back to the Net
Giving Back to the Net — We’re pleased to welcome our latest sponsor, America Online, the largest of the commercial online services. We’ve razzed AOL on occasion for blitzing us with AOL software disks, but as the commercial online services go, AOL has been the most forward-thinking. They offered a free Internet email gateway when that was unusual and were the first commercial online service to provide access to Gopher and WAIS databases. The AOL software now supports FTP includes a Web browser.
I think AOL’s best move in regard to the Internet has been their Give Back to the Net program, which has funded a number of Internet projects and has established an FTP site that helps spread the load for mirror networks like Info-Mac and UMich. As part of the Give Back to the Net program, America Online will be sponsoring TidBITS for the next year.
It’s great to see AOL being a good Internet citizen in this fashion. As the commercial online services added features that enabled their users to access the Internet, one concern was that the influx of users would place a significant drain on free Internet resources. Commercial online services can easily take from the Internet without giving anything back; AOL’s Give Back to the Net program elegantly avoids this problem. Here’s hoping that the other online services follow suit and find similar methods of supporting the Internet community. [ACE]
"Day Of Protest" Against Net Censorship
"Day Of Protest" Against Net Censorship — The Electronic Frontier Foundation – in conjunction with the ACLU, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and a host of other groups – is organizing a national day of protest on 12-Dec-95 in an effort to derail legislation before the U.S. Congress regarding the regulation of content on the Internet. If passed, the legislation would hold online service providers criminally liable for material passing through their sites that is deemed "indecent" – a notably (and historically) vague term. Though widely believed to place unconstitutional restrictions on free speech, the legislation could significantly alter the nature of Internet access and use in the United States. [GD]
Important News for Speed Doubler Users
Important News for Speed Doubler Users — Late last week, Connectix released Speed Doubler 1.1 to correct a serious problem with the Speed Access component of Speed Doubler. Speed Access 1.1 corrects a problem whereby an uncommon combination of file system calls could cause a disk directory error. Other changes in the update include better performance for high speed serial transfers and improved compatibility with Excel 4.0, Apple PowerPC Upgrade cards, and future System updates. Connectix recommends all Speed Doubler users update to Speed Access 1.1, and though Connectix has announced plans to mail a floppy disk update to all registered users, I recommend you download the update and apply it today – why take chances?
Kudos to Connectix for making an effort to publicize and correct the problem. Not every company has the integrity to ship free update disks to some 50,000 registered users. [TJE]
Connectix — 800/839-3632 — 415/571-5100 — 415/571-5195 (fax) —
800/395-2043 (special Speed Doubler 1.1 number) — <[email protected]>
ClarisWorks 4 Updater Update
ClarisWorks 4 Updater Update — Unfortunately, the new ClarisWorks 4 updater (see TidBITS-306) only works with the U.S. version of ClarisWorks. Dieder Bylsma <[email protected] >was the first to point this out: "People with international versions will not be able to update their system until later on this month when Claris releases an updater for them." My apologies to anyone who downloaded the updater and then found that it didn’t work. [TJE]
Norton Disk Doctor 3.2.1
Norton Disk Doctor 3.2.1 — Symantec has released a patch for Norton Disk Doctor 3.2 to address an incompatibility with the Custom Partitioning feature in FWB’s Hard Disk Toolkit. Apparently Norton Disk Doctor 3.2 will incorrectly diagnose problems on disks with certain custom partition sizes, then attempt to repair those problems. Only users of the Custom Partitioning feature in any version of Hard Disk ToolKit are affected; if you don’t use that feature (or use a different disk formatting package from Apple or another vendor) you don’t need this update. Please note that Symantec has apparently moved its Web server in the last few days; if the first URL doesn’t work, try the one with the raw IP number. Symantec has posted the updater in MacBinary format. [GD]
Drive Setup 1.0.3
Drive Setup 1.0.3 — Apple has released version 1.0.3 of Drive Setup, a program used to format, partition, and test Apple SCSI and IDE hard disks. Version 1.0.3 makes no changes to the SCSI driver (so many people won’t need it), but the new IDE driver fixes cache-flushing problems on machines with IDE hard disks (including 580 and 630-series Macs) plus corrects a crashing problem that may occur while waking up a PowerBook 190, 2300, or 5300. Drive Setup 1.0.3 only works with System 7.5 or later; see the update’s ReadMe file for additional information, including using the update with Processor Upgrade cards. [GD]
ftp://ftp.support.apple.com/pub/apple_sw_ updates/US/mac/utils/Drive_Setup_ 1.0.3.hqx
Truncated Uploads with Fetch
Truncated Uploads with Fetch — Several people have reported a bug with Fetch 3.0 truncating uploads on PCI Power Macs using Open Transport via a SLIP or PPP connection. Jim Matthews is aware of the problem, but hasn’t had a chance to investigate it yet. However, he offers a workaround that might help: using ResEdit, add a resource of type ‘NoOT’, ID# 256 to Fetch. That resource forces Fetch to use MacTCP calls rather than its Open Transport code and should avoid the problem. Jim also mentioned that there’s a known incompatibility with Fetch and 68000 Macs (the Plus, SE, Classic, and PowerBook 100) related to a bug in CodeWarrior 7. He plans to fix this bug and a few others in the forthcoming Fetch 3.0.1. [ACE]
1995 Gift Suggestions
First, thanks to everyone who sent in suggestions! I received way too many to include all of them, even after some judicious editing, so I decided to stick to a few basic rules. First, the product must be computer-related in some form or fashion. Second, the product must not be suggested only by its retailers.
Steve Hideg <[email protected]> writes:
For the consultant/network support person in your life, I recommend a useful device from Asante, the NetExtender Hub. For about $130 mail order, you get a small box that has a cable with an AAUI connector on it (it receives power from the AAUI, so one machine must have an AAUI connector) and four 10Base-T ports on it. One port is for connecting to the network, but you can use it to connect to a local machine with a special adapter cable that’s provided. The NetExtender enables you to quickly expand one 10Base-T network connection into four (be careful about having more than four repeaters on one network), or you can quickly create a stand-alone Ethernet network. This device has proven useful for us when users upgrade to new Macs and need to move their files over from their old machines. Just plug them in, turn on file sharing, and copy at Ethernet speeds! We also use it to temporarily expand a network connection to allow PowerBooks to get on the network when troubleshooting a machine. One caveat: The connector shell on the AAUI connector prohibits it from connecting to the AAUI connector on 500-series PowerBooks, and I had to get Asante to replace mine. I don’t know if later models have the correct connector shell.
Cindy Newberry <[email protected]> writes:
The Beer Hunter CD-ROM may not be particularly out of the ordinary, but it fits into my idea of holiday cheer. The Discovery Channel markets it for about $30, and it’s all about the fine art of brewing.
Daniel Collison <[email protected]> writes:
Digital Sprites has a beautiful animated Christmas card for the Mac that competes with Currier and Ives in depicting the charm of a New England Christmas. The setting: evening, just after twilight; warm light glows from the windows of a rustic Cap Cod home set in a clearing in the New England woods. When you click on the chimney, door, snowman, mailbox, woods, or sixteen other spots, you’ll be surprised by the clever animation and gentle sound effects that result. My little boy loved it; it will provide young children hours of pleasure, and the quiet stillness as the snow falls over the tableau makes a beautiful screen saver for any adult. Highly recommended. A user customizable birthday card product ($9.98) and Windows versions are available as well. Holiday Greetings for Mac: $5.98 each disk and mailer; add $1.50 for shipping and handling and 5 percent sales tax for Vermont residents. Visa, MasterCard, check or money order (payable to "Digital Sprites"). Fax or snail mail your order.
Digital Sprites, 76 Olcott Drive, Suite L6, White River Jct., VT 05001 USA — 802/296-7627 (fax)
Al Lilly <[email protected]> writes:
The new ALPS GlidePoint desktop trackpad model is super! It is larger than the forerunners, and has a nice little stand that comes with it. The price is right at about $80 mail order.
Jason Elliot Robbins <[email protected]> suggests:
For people that are involved in software development, I’d recommend Microsoft Secrets by Cusumano and Selby. It gives real insight into how development is done at Microsoft and has enough personality to be interesting without being gushing. It’s a serious book for people who seriously want to develop software and succeed at it. Professor Selby teaches here at UCI, and I was in a class that reviewed his manuscript and gave suggestions.
Mark Horne <[email protected]> writes:
If you’re tired of the usual games, The Puppet Motel CD-ROM by Laurie Anderson is a real treat. In this visual delight from Voyager, you navigate from room to room in the motel, solving puzzles, watching videos, leaving messages, or sending faxes. The $39.95 CD-ROM is currently only available for the Mac, has CD quality sound, lets you download QuickTime movies from the Voyager site (from Laurie’s last concert tour), and even permits you to access the control code to alter certain game parameters. Part performance piece, part game, part music video, this CD really shows off the potential of CD-ROMs.
Josh Rafofsky <[email protected]> writes:
For every Mac lover, a great, unique gift idea is a personalized mousepad! Take a picture to your local Kinko’s – they will make a fantastic mouse pad out of it for about $20. It’s a great way for computer widows to get their husbands to remember them… with a smiling picture every time they look down to move their mouse. [Sounds like it would also work as a subtle guilt trip device to me. -Adam]
Paul Edwards <[email protected]> suggests a wonderful non-capitalist Mac accessory that would probably be a great project for kids:
One year while working as tech support for an academic department, I made all the staff members a Christmas "MacHat." It’s basically a piece of cardboard folded in half and slipped over one corner of the monitor to reduce or eliminate glare and reflections from windows and sunlight on monitors. Decorate as appropriate – I used tinsel and bits of colored glitter, and sometimes images of the particular staff members’ research interests or hobbies (one administrative assistant had hers covered in pictures of bowling balls). These MacHats have the great advantage of being useful, cheap, fun to make, and totally personalized.
I popped into this department the other day. Nearly three years later, several original MacHats are still around; others had died and been superseded, but most of them were still being used. One staff member had attached another piece of cardboard perpendicular to the side of the hat and was using it to store sticky notes.
______ <--- MacHat (hat rests on corner of monitor or Mac) | _______ | | | | | | <--- Mac or monitor |_____| | -- | |_____|
Screensaver Suggestions came from a number of people, including Catherine Reed <[email protected]> who writes:
I plan on giving several of my friends customized screensavers from Hubris Software for Christmas (including one with a Windows 95 logo). [Check out the deal in the latest DealBITS <[email protected]> if you’re interested in the customized screensavers from Hubris. -Adam]
<[email protected]> has the same idea, but via a different company:
My favorite gift for my Mac-loving friends is FaceSaver, a custom screensaver from Ultimate Software. You send them up to five photos and they’ll make a screensaver nobody else in the world has. Their prices are reasonable: $25 for U.S. customers, $30 for overseas. They also have versions for pet lovers.
CatPause and PuppyPause. Ultimate Software — <[email protected]>
Finally, Mason Loring Bliss, author of the screensaver Basic Black, now offers much the same service for $10 (or $5 if you send a pre-scanned image), and will email the screensaver back to you for faster response.
Mason Loring Bliss — <[email protected]>
Mark Short <[email protected]> suggests:
Here’s my small contribution to your list; the Kawai K11 Digital Synthesizer. The Kawai K11 retailed for $1,395 a year ago, the Guitar Center (see URL below) has this jewel on sale right now for $499. The Kawai K11 is General MIDI Synthesizer, and has 512 wave forms (256 tuned instruments and 256 drum/percussion) in on-board memory. It provides instant access to 384 sounds, all fully programmable, and plays up to 32 simultaneous multitimbral parts (with 32-note polyphony). The Kawai K11 has velocity and after-touch sensitive keys, and 55 temperament variations (individually selectable for the 32 sections) recreate realistic orchestral textures. A Mac-compatible interface port built in and dual MIDI ports are provided.
Mark H. Anbinder <[email protected]> notes:
I recommend You Don’t Know Jack, the CD-ROM game from Berkeley Systems. It’s a one-player or multi-player quiz show such as you might see on TV, and not only is it a great game, it also has an absolutely wonderful irreverent sense of humor running throughout! After dozens of plays it’s still original.
Macintosh PPP Overview (Part 2)
[This week we finish Travis’s overview of PPP software for the Macintosh begun in TidBITS-306, highlighting ongoing PPP projects as well as commercial PPP implementations. -Geoff]
The "Future of PPP" Projects — Two different groups recently put together "collective PPP" projects – attempts to gather the best of all of the different Merit MacPPP-derived versions together into a single, coherent release, which could then be used as a basis for building future PPP software. For the moment, they still count as MacPPP-derivative software, and most of the latest versions of MacPPP add-ons and configuration information work with them, which may cease to be true in the future if they continue to diverge. Both of these programs are available in the MacTCP software directory on Info-Mac.
MacPPP 2.2.0a was written by a Belgian group called MacBel UG vzw. It features:
- The Username/Password features from 2.0.1cm4.
- The background connection feature from 2.0.1cm4.
- Display of the connect speed in the PPP status window.
- The high-speed serial port fixes from MacPPP 2.1SD (2.1.2SD’s predecessor).
- Support for PSI’s ISDN service, from John Stephen, who also implemented that feature for 2.1.2SD.
- Timing fixes for some modems, also from John Stephen.
- A major makeover of the Config PPP control panel and a redesign of the PPP status window, for a cleaner interface.
Unfortunately, MacPPP 2.2.0a is apparently not compatible with Open Transport. It also didn’t work correctly with my old PowerBook 170’s internal modem, so either it doesn’t incorporate the PowerBook fixes from 2.0.1cm4 and/or 2.1.2SD, or it tried to incorporate them and they don’t work properly. 2.2.0a ran fine on my IIci at home and my Quadra 840AV at work. MacPPP 2.2.0a might worth a try if you don’t use Open Transport or a PowerBook, and I like the revised interface.
However, MacBel has discontinued work on MacPPP 2.2.0a. I received email from Lieven Embrechts, the contact listed in the 2.2.0a documentation, stating, "Development [on 2.2.0a] is stopped. We are now working on different projects." This means that although 2.2.0a is worth a look (and should still be usable if you have no problems with it), I cannot recommend it.
FreePPP 1.0.2 is the successor to MacPPP 2.1.2SD, and Steve Dagley is still the guiding force, although he has included contributions by a large number of people, making FreePPP a group project. The name change came in part to eliminate some of the confusion surrounding all the derivative MacPPP releases with similar names and different numbers.
[Sharp-eyed readers may have seen FreePPP 1.0.3 appear last week; that version has been retracted because it exacerbated a problem initiating PPP connections from within an application rather than from the control panel. FreePPP 1.0.2 has been restored to the Info-Mac archives and should be considered the current version. -Geoff]
In addition to the features in MacPPP 2.1.2SD, FreePPP adds:
- CHAP support, for the few hosts like MCI that require CHAP authentication. (I haven’t tested this; my provider doesn’t use CHAP.)
- A new PPP Status window, with progress icons and more connect information. The window can be shifted into the background, allowing background connections; it’s a little large onscreen, though.
- Improved stability with virtual memory. (I haven’t tested this; I use RAM Doubler and haven’t had problems. However, RAM Doubler can cause many of the same compatibility issues as virtual memory, and many people on <comp.sys.mac.comm> are still reporting troubles.)
- A "Disable Automatic Connect" option that keeps FreePPP from dialing automatically when something tries to open MacTCP. This fixes problems with "ghost dialing" experienced by some users; unfortunately, the option may need to be turned off for some PPP add-ons to work.
- A "Long Redial Delay" option that stretches the time between redials to one minute.
- A Username/Password feature similar to that in 2.0.1cm4 was just added in version 1.0.2; it enables you to use the ID and password information from MacPPP/FreePPP’s Authentication dialog box (normally used only with PAP and CHAP authentication) in your connect script.
I’m currently using FreePPP 1.0.2 on my 840AV at work and my new PowerBook 5300; it appears to be stable, and runs well. However, reports from Macintosh newsgroups still cite a few stability problems and the FreePPP group is working to resolve them.
I’d like to see FreePPP get a revamped control panel, along the lines of 2.2.0a. The current control panel is a slightly changed version of the original, which was a front-runner for the Ugliest Control Panel in Existence award. Work is underway on alternative interfaces for FreePPP, so hopefully we’ll see improvements in future releases.
Commercial PPP software — Although there are plenty of free options if you want to use PPP, some people feel more comfortable with a commercially supported product. There are a few available right now; I haven’t tried any of them, since I’ve been happy with the freeware products. None of the PPP add-on programs for the MacPPP derivatives work with these commercial products.
InterPPP II — InterCon Systems was one of the first developers of commercial Internet software for the Mac. Their version of PPP, InterPPP II, supports AppleTalk over PPP as well as TCP/IP (think Apple Remote Access, which is supposed to be switching to a PPP foundation with the next major release). However, this is only an advantage if your host also supports AppleTalk access via PPP, which isn’t true of most Unix-based Internet providers. InterPPP II can also establish SLIP connections and is supposed to be compatible with Open Transport 1.0.8. InterPPP II uses CCL scripts (like Apple Remote Access) to handle dialing and login. It has built-in scripts that should handle most modems; built-in scripts also handle logins for people who use Telebit or most Unix-based PPP servers, PSI InterRamp, internetMCI, CompuServe’s PPP, or PPP servers that use PAP or CHAP authentication. However, people who don’t use one of these might need to write their own CCL connection script, a potentially daunting task.
MacSLIP was originally a full-featured SLIP implementation; in version 3.0, it adds support for PPP. MacSLIP’s maker, Hyde Park Software, says on their Web page that MacSLIP 3.0.2 also supports Open Transport, making it an alternative to MacPPP 2.1.2SD/FreePPP. Several people on <comp.sys.mac.comm> have offered strong recommendations for MacSLIP, stating that it’s more robust than the MacPPP derivatives. MacSLIP uses a scripting language to set up connections; although this is more powerful than the "prompt-response" setup that the MacPPP derivatives use, it can be more difficult to set up. MacSLIP comes with the commercial version of Eudora, as well as with MicroPhone Pro, although it’s worth checking to make sure both have the latest version.
SonicPPP is a PPP client available from Sonic Systems, the Macintosh networking company; it can be downloaded from their Web site. SonicPPP appears to work only with PPP servers that support PAP or CHAP authentication; it has no provision for a login script, so I was unable to test it with my Internet provider.
VersaTerm SLIP — Although not a PPP program, this SLIP implementation is notable because it reportedly supports Open Transport. At least one reader has written to comment that VersaTerm AdminSLIP works fine on his Power Mac 8500. VersaTerm SLIP is available as part of several of VersaTerm’s Internet software bundles.
Recommendations — These recommendations apply primarily to the freely available programs because they’re more commonly used and because I haven’t tried many of the commercial options.
- If you use Open Transport, there’s only one freeware choice right now: MacPPP 2.1.2SD, or (given some testing time to make sure the bugs are out) its successor FreePPP 1.0.2. None of the other MacPPP derivatives work under Open Transport. You could also try the commercial MacSLIP or InterPPP II, if you want to spend the money.
- If you use a PowerBook, I’d also go for MacPPP 2.1.2SD, or FreePPP 1.0.2. The fixes for slow PowerBook modems are a definite help here. Given the troubles I had, I don’t recommend MacPPP 2.2.0a.
- Some people have had specific problems with the original MacPPP, as shown by the lists of fixes implemented in the various derivative versions. You might look over the lists and see if one of them matches your situation.
People who don’t fit these special cases have a wider selection:
- I suggest you start with the original MacPPP 2.0.1. It’s likely to give you the least grief, clunky interface and all. Further, all the derivative versions are compatible with 2.0.1’s configuration file, so the work you do in setting up a connection will be saved if you switch to a different version. Just don’t mix and match the PPP extensions and control panels between versions!
- If you want to enter your user name and password at connect time, consider MacPPP 2.2.0a; the enhanced interface is nice, and the other improvements can make life easier. However, since the authors have stopped development, no further upgrades or bug fixes are likely to appear. You should also look at FreePPP 1.0.2, with its newly-added support for using the Authentication dialog’s information in connect scripts.
- If you don’t have any specific needs, but want something nicer than the original MacPPP 2.0.1, try both FreePPP 1.0.2 and MacPPP 2.2.0a, and settle on the one you like the best.
I have to admit I’m encouraged by FreePPP 1.0.2, and with what I saw in MacPPP 2.2.0a. It’s too soon to say what will happen with FreePPP, but it presents a future growth path for Macintosh PPP software born of community spirit, and that’s something everyone should be happy about.
(This article is based on information from my Web page on Macintosh PPP software. I’ll continue to update the page with new information on PPP programs as I find it.)
Hyde Park Software (via TriSoft) — 800/531-5170
512/472-0744 — 512/473-2122 (fax) — <[email protected]>
InterCon Systems — 800/468-7266 — 703/709-5500
703/709-5555 (fax) — <[email protected]>
Sonic Systems — 800/535-0725 — 408/736-1900
408/736-7228 (fax) — <[email protected]>
Synergy Software — 800/876-8376 — 610/779-0522
610/370-0548 (fax) — <[email protected]>