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Adam Engst No comments

Scores Author Charged

With all the effort that many of you have put in responding to our survey, we hate to ask you to write yet another letter. However, you may want to do so depending on your experiences with viruses. The Dallas prosecutor’s office is going to file charges against the author of the Scores virus, one of the first of those nasty little beasties. They feel that they have plenty of hard evidence in the case, but are looking for more information on the scope of the damage done by Scores outside of EDS (the company originally targeted by the Scores virus). Any information you provide will not be used on a per-item basis and you will not be called as a witness. However, this is something you can do to show your support of legal action against virus authors. If you wish to help out, include specifics on when your computer(s) contracted Scores, any damage it did, and approximately what it took in terms of time and expense to clean up after it. Any other related data will be appreciated as well.

Send your letters to

Lt. Walt Manning
Dallas Police Dept.
1840 Chestnut. St.
Dallas, TX 75226

Lt. Manning would also appreciate separate letters on letterhead stating that viruses such as Scores are a major problem in the computing community and that if possible, their authors should be prosecuted under appropriate laws. Evidently he’s looking for some rational, well-reasoned letters of support that could be used as a backdrop to the case.

According to Lt. Manning, they expect the suspect to plead guilty when shown the evidence they have against him. No life imprisonments here either – they’re going to try to get a suspended sentence with a public apology and lots of community service. We support such sentences so long as they are appropriately served. Talented programmers such as this person and Robert Morris should be put to work doing programming. No need to waste their talents. Of course, if a convicted virus author is caught loosing another virus, that’s when we should collectively break his or her fingers.

That said, we encourage you to write these letters. Even if you haven’t had the Scores virus itself, the unimaginable amount of time that has been spent by everyone who uses computers in fighting viruses should be acknowledged to the legal community.

Information from:
Mark Anbinder — [email protected]
Gene Spafford — [email protected]

Adam Engst No comments

Christmas Things

Before anything else, we’d like to wish you all a very happy holiday season, wherever you are and whatever holiday you’d like celebrate. Enjoy.

Well, we’ve been sick, and it was a slow week, and we don’t expect much more to happen next week either as everything stops for Christmas. We will be taking a much-needed break, so don’t expect to see TidBITS until 1991. We’ll probably be missing only two issues, and we hope to write some review issues in our time off.

To clear up a question we recently asked (and thanks to [email protected] for the first answer), the abbreviation plc stands for Public Limited Company and is roughly the equivalent of Inc. in the US. So a plc is a publicly-traded company with limited liability to its stockholders. This is in contrast to Ltd. which is a privately-held company with limited liability. Nice to know these sorts of things on occasion. Mingo adds that the German equivalent is AG (for Aktien Gesellschaft), and Ltd. is GmbH (Gesellschaft mit Beschraenkter Haftung). Consider it your IBL (International Business Lesson) for the day.

We said that Michael Joyce’s Afternoon is perhaps the first electronic novel, and [email protected] confirmed our suspicion that there was indeed an earlier novel, called Brimstone, from Synapse and Broederbund. It wasn’t particularly popular, in part because it wasn’t all that interesting, according to Julian. He said it was already in the bargain bin at Computerware when he found it in 1986, so it probably isn’t still around to check out. Sorry.

We’ve started a new folder in the Speak Out section of ForumLink on America Online to talk about TidBITS and the articles that are either present or should be included. We’ll also probably talk about things that don’t quite merit an article as they stand, but are interesting nonetheless. So if you have access to America Online, we urge you to check it out. If it goes well, we may see about setting up TidBITS discussion groups other places, though the best possibility right now would be Usenet, since we don’t have accounts on CompuServe or GEnie due to lack of funding.

Adam Engst No comments

Last Chance Survey

Well, this is it. This is the last week that our survey will be included in the issue. If you’ve responded already, please, we implore you, delete this item. If you’re seeing this for the first time or you haven’t yet gotten up the gumption or initiative to respond, we’d appreciate it if you did. Don’t worry about the space this is taking up since it’s been a slow week. We’re not holding out any good news to include the survey this last time. As far as we can tell at the moment, we’re looking at about a 3% return rate. That may be good by normal survey standards, but it seems a tad low to us. So be abnormal and tell us about yourself.

Send completed surveys in any form you wish to any of these addresses:

  • Internet:

[email protected]
ace%[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

  • America Online: Adam Engst
  • CompuServe:

:INTERNET:[email protected]
(or :INTERNET plus any other Internet address above)

  • GEnie:

Sorry we have no account on GEnie and are unaware of any
gateways to the Internet. You’ll have to use snail mail.

  • Snail mail:

Adam Engst
901 Dryden Rd. #88
Ithaca, NY 14850 USA

Basic Questions

  1. We’ll start with the easy ones. What is your name?

  2. They’re not getting much harder. In what town and country do you live?

  3. Another easy one. Do you read TidBITS regularly?

  4. From where do you download or otherwise acquire TidBITS?

3a. If download statistics are listed, approximately how many others download each issue of TidBITS from that source? This one’s important!

  1. Do you redistribute TidBITS to other people or online services, such as your mother or a local BBS?

4a. If you do redistribute TidBITS, approximately how many people read each issue that you redistribute? This one’s also important!

  1. Do you use TidBITS articles in user group or university (or other non-profit) publications? (You can, you know, as long as you credit us.)

  2. Have you found the TidBITS Archive useful for looking up information?

  • (For the following questions, 1 is low, 10 is high, and only integers exist)
  1. On a scale of 1-10, how knowledgeable are you as a Mac user, if a DOS user who has never seen a Mac is 0 on the scale and Andy Hertzfeld is 10?

  2. On a scale of 1-10, how knowledgeable are you as a HyperCard user/author?

  3. On a scale of 1-10, how often do you use the contact information to contact companies?

  4. On a scale of 1-10, how often do you use the references to related articles?

  5. Do you have HyperCard 2.0 yet? You’ll want to get it soon, because TidBITS will require it some time in the future. Of course at that point the distribution format will be text, so you’ll only need it for the archiving features.

Optional Questions

  1. What do you like best about TidBITS?

  2. What do you like least about TidBITS?

  3. What sort of articles would you like to see in TidBITS that are not currently present?

  4. What would make TidBITS easier to acquire and read?

  5. What other Macintosh publications (paper or electronic) do you read regularly?

  6. Are you interested in writing special issues (like the Xanadu issue, #30) or product reviews for TidBITS? If so, please contact us via email for more information. We pay only in fame, since that’s all we get.

  7. What’s your favorite color?

That’s 21 questions including the sub-questions, so we’ll stop now. Give yourself 1 point for each question answered. Scores of more than 11 win. Scores of less than 3 indicate that you probably won’t return the survey, so answer a few more questions and then send it in. At most it’s a few minutes and a stamp and we guarantee never to do telephone surveys (or to sell your name to mailing list brokers). Also, we will share the results (especially the statistical significance of question 18) in TidBITS. Thanks for the enthusiasm, it keeps us going.

Adam Engst No comments

Expo Expectations

Unlike the Macworld Expo in Boston this year, the San Francisco Expo promises to show some products that haven’t been thoroughly squeezed of interest by the press (including us :-)). The computer industry and Apple in particular has a strange fascination with leaking information, wavering between battening down the security hatches and making sure that "unofficial" information is freely available. The three recently-introduced Macs are the best example of this latter phenomenon since almost everyone knew exactly what they could do well before they actually appeared. For this upcoming Expo on January 10-13 in San Francisco, though, everyone’s staying quiet. We’ve got a few ideas about what might be released there, some backed up with evidence, some just based on educated speculation.

The main thing to look for at the Expo is Apple’s new laptop. It’s rumored to be a bit lighter than the current one, and may use a different pointing device (the leading contender is the Isopoint, the one used in the Outbound portable). We haven’t heard whether or not a new screen will be included, but there have been lots of talk of Apple working with Toshiba and Sony, both of whom could contribute a lot to the new portable’s screen capability. We originally thought that the Portable’s screen was quite good, but in using a borrowed one more, we’re not all that impressed. We have heard of several people who can barely use a luminescent screen because of eye problems. For them, an LCD screen is a must. There’s also been talk of lighter portables coming out later in the year, which we certainly wouldn’t complain about.

We’ve been thinking (and saw mention of this in the 10-Dec edition of Robert X Cringely’s rumor column in InfoWorld) that Apple may actually ship System 7.0 at this Expo, rather than in the spring as had been the previous indication. We have seen System 7.0 up and running and have seen few crashes, although the fancier stuff like virtual memory and file sharing wasn’t quite complete. If System 7.0 shipped at the Expo, and if third-party developers were ready for it, that would mean a whole slew of new System 7.0 versions of programs like Word and Excel, which are both looking a little grey around the edges (and I don’t mean grey-scale) in comparison to their competitors. We’ll just have to wait and see.

We’re betting on a color version of Radius’s popular Pivot monitor to show up at the Expo too. Radius hasn’t said anything concrete about it yet, but one inquiring soul was given a solid "No comment." Now if we asked in true journalistic style, "Do you deny that you were avoiding the question of whether or not there will be a color Pivot introduced at the Expo?" then we’d know for sure what was happening. Lucky for Radius, we’re not nasty journalists and we like their monitors. So one way or another, we hope there is a color Pivot introduced, if only because we’d love to see a review unit and because they would sell like hotcakes if they weren’t too expensive. Who knows, maybe PCPC will even show the Flipper monitor at the Expo too. If so, it would be the first time we’d heard of a confirmed sighting. Our money (if we had any) is on Radius.

Information from:
Michael Kobb — [email protected]

Related articles:
PC WEEK — 10-Dec-90, Vol. 7, #49, pg. 1
InfoWorld — 03-Dec-90, Vol. 12, #49, pg. 1