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Adam Engst No comments

Couple of Things

Once again I have a few interesting items that don’t quite merit their own articles. Since San Francisco’s Macworld Expo just ended, I figured you would wish to read about what was there and what was not. I couldn’t go for various reasons – not the least of which was 3000 miles of intervening continent – but Mark Anbinder, a local Macophile and president of MUGWUMP, the Ithaca Macintosh Users’ Group, volunteered to send back some articles. Aren’t Mac Portables nice? This is good stuff, and Mark even managed to get press badge because he was writing for TidBITS. If anyone wishes to cover other shows that I can’t go to, like Macworld Timbuktu, let me know and I’ll write you a note on TidBITS letterhead saying that yes indeed, you are an authorized TidBITS Cub Reporter and should get a press badge. Next thing you know we’ll have TidBITS Secret Decoder Rings. Seriously, though, if you wish to do this, I’ll send along article guidelines as well, because a trade is a trade and I would expect decent articles in return for a press badge.

We recently received some nice brochures from Cork about the Cork System 30 (exactly as we reported a few weeks ago). Cork was a little premature in printing their brochures, though, as someone had to hand correct the price ($2999 up from $2299, unfortunately) and the operating system (Apple instead of Cork). Curious. On a related note, if you want more information about the Cork, you must call or write them. Through an unfortunate formatting happenstance, Doug Davenport’s name and address were listed in our article in a way that made it seem as though he is related to Cork. He isn’t and can’t even reply to email sent to that address. So please, don’t ask Doug for Cork information, instead, call Cork in Texas and talk to them. They’re quite friendly, though we’ll be even fonder of them if they send us a review unit. In the interests of science, of course :-). One final note. If you order a Cork System 30 before the end of January, you get a $200 rebate, though there’s no telling when Cork will actually ship their IIci clone.

Cork Computer Corp.
9430 Research Blvd. Bldg. II Suite 250
Austin, TX 78579
512/343-1301 (voice)
512/345-5059 (fax)

Right around Christmas (nice timing) we received a disk from who, of all people, but Ashton-Tate. You know, the people who do dBASE and can’t remember that they have any Macintosh products for a minute or so when you call them on the phone. When they do remember, they make you call all around California looking for help. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the disk contained a free upgrade of Full Impact 2.0. Ashton-Tate claims that the upgrade fixes some slow recalculation times and also improves the memory management to make Full Impact more stable. We haven’t had any problems with it, but we don’t bother to save most of our spreadsheets, not being much in the way of serious number people and having very little in the way of important numbers.

If you have problems with Full Impact, Ashton-Tate says that they’ve moved their Technical Support for Macintosh products to Northern California to improve customer service. I’m not sure I see the connection, but perhaps it helps if you’ve been to Northern California, which I haven’t. If you’re curious, or if you’re having trouble with Full Anything (shorthand for the whole product line and the name they could use for an integrated package) call the number below.

Ashton-Tate — 408/927-0880

Adam Engst No comments

MacUser’s Editors’ Choice Awards

The evening before Macworld Expo opened, MacUser announced this year’s winners of its series of coveted industry awards. 1990 was, the editors’ introduction tells us, "a year of great beginnings in areas such as 24-bit color, cross-platform connectivity, virtual reality, 3-D modeling, and video." Each category has a winner and two honorable mention recipients; we will only provide a list of the winners themselves. MacUser will publish its own list containing all three finalists for each category, along with descriptions of the products and the reasons they came out on top.

[Editors’ note: Congratulations to the winners! Our main regret is that there was no category in which TidBITS could compete. Maybe next year. Kudos to Mark for gathering all the contact information at the end – it must have been a lot of work.]

  • Best Data-Management Product: ClearAccess 1.21, from Fairfield Software.
  • Best Data Resource: Accents & Borders, from 3G Graphics.
  • Best Financial-Management Package: WealthBuilder by Money Magazine, from Reality Technologies.
  • Best Communications Product: TelePort A300, from Global Village Communication.
  • Best Page-Design Program: PublishIt! Easy 2.0, from Timeworks.
  • Best Typographic Program: TypeStyler 1.5, from Broederbund.
  • Best Presentation Product: MORE 3.0, from Symantec.
  • Best Color Prepress: ColorStudio 1.1, from Letraset.
  • Best CAD Software: MiniCad+ 3.0, from Graphsoft.
  • Best 3-D Modeling/Rendering Package: DynaPerspective 2.0, from DynaWare.
  • Best Animation Program: FilmMaker, from Encore Development and Paracomp.
  • Best Multimedia Software: Authorware Professional for Macintosh, from Authorware.
  • Best Desktop-Video Product: RasterOps Video ColorBoard 364, from RasterOps.
  • Best Connectivity Software: Timbuktu, from Farallon.
  • Best Connectivity Hardware: EtherPrint, from Dayna.
  • Best Work-Group Project: Aspects, from Grop Technologies.
  • Best Executive-Information-Systems Product: Tactician, from Tactics International.
  • Best Data-Acquisition/Analysis Product: LabVIEW 2.1, from National Instruments.
  • Best Development Tool: THINK Pascal, from Symantec.
  • Best Utility: The Norton Utilities for the Macintosh, from Symantec.
  • Best Compression Product: Compactor, shareware from Bill Goodman.
  • Best Music Product: Deck, from OSC and Digidesign.
  • Best Education Program: Discis Books, from Discis Knowledge Resource.
  • Best Recreational Program: The Cosmic Osmo CD-ROM from Activision.
  • Best Input Device: Voice Navigator II, from Articulate Systems.
  • Best Display Product: L-*View Multi-Mode, from Sigma Designs.
  • Best Scanner: JX-600, from Sharp.
  • Best Monochrome-Output Device: QMS PS-410, from QMS.
  • Best Color-Output Device: Kodak XL7700, from Kodak.
  • Best Storage Product: SBT-1288NP, from MicroNet Technology.
  • Software Product of the Year: Photoshop, from Adobe Systems.
  • Hardware Product of the Year: RadiusTV, from Radius.
  • Breakthrough Product of the Year: Virtus WalkThrough, from Virtus.
  • John J. Anderson Distinguished Achievement Award: Bill Atkinson, creator of MacPaint and HyperCard, and the father of much of the Mac’s interface standard.
  • Derek Van Alstyne Rising Star Award: Rand K. and Robyn Miller, two brothers who are responsible for The Manhole and Cosmic Osmo.

(Anderson and Alstyne were the two MacUser staff members who died during the 1989 California earthquake.)

3G Graphics — 206/367-9321
Activision — 415/329-0500
Adobe Systems, Inc. — 415/961-4400 — 800/344-8335
Articulate Systems — 617/876-5236 — 800/443-7077
Authorware, Inc. — 612/921-8555
Dayna Communications — 801/531-0600
Digidesign — 415/327-8811 — 800/333-2137
Discis Knowledge Research — 416/250-6537 — 800/567-4321
DynaWare Corp. — 415/349-5700 — 800/445-3962
Fairfield Software, Inc. — 800/522-4252
Farallon Computing, Inc. — 415/596-9100 — 800/344-7489
Global Village Communication — 415/329-0700 — 800/736-4821
Group Technologies — 703/528-1555 — 800/476-8781
Letraset — 201/845-6100 — 800/343-8973
MicroNet Technology, Inc. — 714/837-6033
National Instruments — 512/794-0100 — 800/433-3488
Paracomp, Inc. — 415/956-4091
QMS, Inc. — 800/631-2692
Radius, Inc. — 408/434-1010 — 800/227-2795
RasterOps Corp. — 408/562-4200
Reality Technologies — 215/387-6055
Sharp Electronics Corp. — 201/529-8200 — 800/526-0264
Sigma Designs — 415/770-0100
Symantec Corp. — 408/253-9600 — 800/441-7234
Tactics International — 508/475-4475
Timeworks — 708/948-9200 — 800/535-9497
Virtus Corp. — 919/467-9700

Information from:
Mark Anbinder — [email protected]

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

TidBITS Macworld Expo Briefs

For those of you who couldn’t attend, and as a recap for those of you who could, here are some of the high points – and a few low points – from Macworld San Francisco ’91. There seemed to be no overriding theme at the Expo this time around, which is just as well; most of us are tired of the Mac buzz-words of the eighties. In any case, there were some noteworthy items.

  • Slickest Display: SuperMac Technology’s booth featured a wall covered with video displays, showing a fast-paced series of still photographs accompanying Billy Joel’s song, "We Didn’t Start the Fire," to promote their SuperSqueeze still-image compression technology. If you were curious, they weren’t decompressing all that material on the fly, as they did with the full-motion video compression display last August; it was a canned demo being run using XCMDs under HyperCard 1.2.5, and the multiple monitors were being handled by a Dynair video image amplifier and splitter. This wall almost, but not quite, managed to overshadow SuperMac’s new dual-mode monitors.
  • Best T-Shirt: Much more creative than Apple’s shirts, with their inspirational Sculley quotes on the back, are CE Software’s "Connecting people and productivity" shirts. No doubt it’s better in person, but the back of the shirt is a two-by-two matrix, with "Productive" and "Unproductive" across the top, and "Fun" and "Not so fun" down the side, like so:
                        Productive          Unproductive

                     (a whole bunch
     Fun           of CE product icons)        Tetris

     Not so Fun        Tupperware              Tetanus
  • Deepest Sigh of Relief: WordPerfect Corporation finally shipped WordPerfect 2.0 for the Macintosh on the first day of the Expo. This long-awaited upgrade offers a far-more-Maclike user interface than the company’s first Mac offering, but still has optional interface features for those who really DID like the original WordPerfect Mac (all two of them). A $100 price hike for the new version, and some drastic changes for the worse to the way WordPerfect handles educational sales (more on this later perhaps), may put this product out of the reach of some, but it is certainly a strong contender in the diverse Macintosh word processing market.
  • It’s About Time: Just a few weeks before the show, Rodime Systems introduced a new version of its driver software for the Cobra series of hard drives. This driver is finally compatible with the free Disinfectant antivirus utility. The new software is available to Cobra drive owners, directly from Rodime, or from Rodime dealers.
  • Neatest Product: The WristMac, from Ex Machina (published by Microseeds Publishing), is a Seiko wristwatch that stores up to 80 two-line "screens" of data, such as phone numbers, appointments, and to-do lists, complete with an interface cable that connects to a Mac serial ports, so you can use the included HyperCard 2.0 stack to enter and manipulate the data. You can even have the watch’s alarm function alert you of the appointments that you’ve entered into the database.
  • Smartest Acquisition: Connectix Corporation – the brash bunch that has brought us Virtual, Optima, and Maxima (an assortment of system-enhancing memory utilities for the Mac) and has laughed at System 7.0’s virtual memory for the last two years – announced the purchase of Fred Hollander’s HandOff II the day before the show. HandOff II, which received an Honorable Mention in this year’s MacUser awards in the Best Utility category, offers an application-launching menu like that provided by OnCue, but also document-grouping "briefcases" and application categories, as well as application substitution (assigning a specific application to handle specific file formats, such as having SuperPaint launched when a MacPaint document is double-clicked). It’s especially useful for all those MacWrite documentation files for those of us who don’t have MacWrite around.
  • Best Upcoming Innovation: CE Software introduces yet another invaluable extension to the Macintosh interface, with their "Tiles" product, to be released sometime this year. Tiles product manager John Pence started writing the utility three years ago, but only started actively developing it as a product last year. This handy gizmo can best be described as an extension of both the NeXT icon dock and HandOff II. It allows launching of applications or opening of documents simply by clicking on "tiles," which are basically labelled pictures. Tiles can also hold "projects," or groups of documents created by any number of applications, that can all be launched together; as well as any kind of QuicKey action or sequence.
  • Biggest No-Shows: The Mac rumour mill isn’t always right, of course, and this year’s Expo proved that at least twice. One product that didn’t make it under the wire is Apple’s revised Macintosh Portable. The improved machine is rumoured to offer a backlit LCD screen, and a lighter battery assembly. The release has been postponed indefinitely; it’s not clear what effect that may have on the upcoming joint Apple-Sony project. Not to be underdone, Radius has refrained from introducing a color version of its flippable Pivot monitor. Instead, they are offering a new Pivot that works with the built-in video circuitry in the Mac IIsi and IIci.
  • I-wouldn’t-do-this-to-MY-drive category: Iomega drew people to its storage-products display booth by attaching a Bernoulli Transportable removable cartridge drive to a rotating machine that lifted it up and thumped it back down about once a second. All the while, an attached IIfx was reading large color images from the drive, without interruption. This shocking demo, which prompted one viewer to wonder, "If they don’t want the thing, why don’t they just give it to me?!" was intended to illustrate the drive’s ability to withstand shock forces of 1000 G.
  • Cutest Give-away: Visitors to the Bay Area might not understand, but the "Have a drink on Mainstay" promotion actually provides a service. Mainstay, the publishers of such things as MarkUp, MarcoPolo, and a prime candidate for biggest non-product of the industry, AntiToxin, handed out Coast Guard-approved foil pouches of emergency drinking water. These 125 ml pouches (of which you need four per person per day) might be handy in the event of another earthquake (or a San Francisco Water Department four-hour shutoff that affects your hotel late one night during the Expo…).
  • Biggest Non-Product: What the heck, I might as well explain that. Mainstay’s AntiToxin is an antivirus utility with two parts: an application that repairs files infected with known viruses, and an INIT that notes the presence of known viruses and prevents infected files from being opened. Sounds good, except that when I asked how it compared to John Norstad’s free Disinfectant utility, the Mainstay rep I spoke to agreed with my assessment that the product didn’t quite live up in terms of features, and added that it is not updated as quickly as Disinfectant. Oh well, thanks for the water, Mainstay.

CE Software, Inc. — 515/224-1995
Mainstay Products, Inc. — 818/991-6540
Iomega — 801/778-4494 — 800/456-5522
Radius Inc. — 408/434-1010
Microseeds Publishing, Inc. — 813/882-8635
Connectix Corp. — 415/324-0727
Dynair Electronics, Inc. — 619/263-7711 — 800/854-2831
SuperMac Technology — 408 245-2202
Rodime Systems, Inc. — 407/994-5585

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

Filling the Portable Gap

Apple recently announced a delay in the hoped-for updated version of its Macintosh Portable computer system, originally scheduled for release at this Macworld Expo. Rumours had suggested that the new computer would include a lighter battery assembly and a backlit liquid crystal display, taking care of two of the most pervasive complaints about the original Portable.

Other rumours in the same field focus on Apple’s joint efforts with Sony to develop a significantly smaller and lighter portable Mac, and on Apple’s purchase of technology developed by Outbound Systems and subsequent licensing of that same technology back to Outbound.

Outbound is one of several vendors trying to fill the demand for portable Macintosh computing. Another vendor, with several new products for the portable arena, is Dynamac Computer Products, Inc.

Taking advantage of Apple’s new Macintosh LC, Dynamac has introduced three items that should fill many people’s needs for portability and power. The first is the Dynamac IIsf, originally code named the "StarFighter"), a battery-operated laptop with a backlit liquid crystal Kyocera display, a built-in UnMouse[tm] TouchPad graphics tablet, support for external Apple 12" and 13" monitors, and, at its heart, a Macintosh LC logic board with a 68020 microprocessor. An enhanced version, the IIsf/30, offers a 68030 processor and 68882 math coprocessor, a data/fax modem, and extended video capabilities for handling external monitors.

Dynamac also offers new options for users who want their LC’s intact, but not tied to their desks, including the LCDisplay and the LCPortable. The LCDisplay is a 640 by 480 flat-panel display unit with an easel stand on the back and a recess in the front to hold Apple’s new LC microphone. The LCPortable takes that a couple of steps further, including a battery in the back for three to six hours of operation, and the LCPower bundle of 68030 CPU and 68882 coprocessor, to enhance the LC’s performance much the same way the Dynamac IIsf package does.

Just as revolutionary as Dynamac’s new products is its three-year "TLC" (Traveler’s Logistics Center) Warranty. For a period of three years from purchase, TLC offers both-way FedEx shipping of a covered computer if it needs repairs with one-day repair turnaround at the other end, or Dynamac will ship repair parts overnight so users can perform their own repairs.

Less headline-making but still newsworthy is Outbound. Outbound introduced its original Outbound Laptop System in March of 1990, offering a compact, lightweight laptop system requiring a Mac Plus or SE ROM chip to make it complete. Improvements since then include a bundled Microsoft Mouse, for those who can’t stand the "Isopoint[tm]" rolling-bar pointing device, an external floppy drive, and a "SCSI Adapter and Emulator" that allows users to connect the Outbound to any SCSI-equipped Mac.

Outbound’s new offerings at this week’s Expo included a line-powered, 2.4 ounce, pocket-sized portable modem; a software-based numeric keypad emulation utility, a soon-to-be-released universal power supply, and Outbound support for the Mac 512KE and the Mac Classic.

Despite the disappointment from Apple, it seems that Mac enthusiasts who need portability and power without the excess weight or premium prices won’t have to wait any longer. Apple may not have their juggling act together, but companies like Dynamac and Outbound should keep the market up in the air for a while.

Dynamac Computer Products — 303/296-0606 — 800/234-2349
Outbound Systems, Inc. — 303/786-9200

Mark H. Anbinder No comments

Stupid Net Tricks

Among the product categories that were evident at Macworld, if you took the trouble to categorize things, were neat networking products. None of them were earth-shattering, but each takes us a step forward in Macintosh networking.

Closest to earth-shattering, I suppose, is Apple’s new line of Ethernet products, which set a new standard for ease of installation and flexibility. These include a Macintosh LC Ethernet card, new transceivers, and self-terminating cables that can be connected and disconnected without interrupting network services. Several other companies, including Ethernet veterans Asante and Farallon, also introduced new (and less expensive) products supporting Apple’s new standards.

Network file transfer utilities include two desk accessory and INIT combinations, relative newcomers Send Express, from Gizmo Technologies, and Mac To Mac, from Caravelle Networks Corporation. Send Express, written by a group of Apple alumni, allows sending of files, notes, or clipboard contents to one or multiple network users, who can then look at and file away the received information. Mac to Mac does not offer multiple recipients, but it does have the advantage of unattended bidirectional transfer and a split-screen chat mode reminiscent of a neighborhood BBS.

Network management takes an upward turn, with an update to an existing product, and a few new ones. Pharos has released a new version of Status*Mac, which now offers direct network workstation profiling without depending on Microsoft Mail or a file server. Similar, though less powerful is Technology Works’ GraceLAN, which we’ll talk more about in an upcoming issue. CSG Technologies, a division of Management Science Associates, Inc., introduced Network Supervisor at the show. This new "network information and management tool," a compiled 4th Dimension database, offers real-time information gathering in various network environments. The AG Group is offering a pair of networking tools, NetAlert and LocalPeek, to help round out the networker’s toolbox. NetAlert monitors various aspects of a network’s performance and notifies the manager if something goes wrong. LocalPeek is a network packet monitoring and decoding tool, providing a deeper analysis of traffic on a network.

An item that’s been long awaited in the Mac industry is FaxPro, from Cypress Research. It’s a networkable 9600 baud fax-sending modem with a Chooser-level interface and fax call accounting capability. The software works by queueing files on a network file server, but if you don’t have one of the many compatible file sharing packages (including AppleShare, TOPS, 3COM, Novell, or any AppleShare-compatible packages including the shareware SingleShare), for an additional $100, Cypress will include its own fully-functional file sharing software.

The AG Group — 415/937-7900
Asante Technologies — 800/662-9686
Caravelle Networks Corporation — 613/596-2802
CSG Technologies — 412/471-7170 — 800/FON-4-MAC
Cypress Research Corp. — 408/752-2700
Farallon Computing, Inc. — 415/596-9000
Gizmo Technologies — 415/623-7899
Pharos Technologies Inc. — 513/984-9273
Technology Works — 800/688-7466