Wondering what it would be like to own a Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh? Tonya shares her one-day experience. Also in this issue, we note a new version of Disinfectant, a low price for LetterRip 2.0, explain why Power Computing plans to sell Intel-based computers, and highlight resources for those interested in Internet security. Reviews this week include Broderbund’s Family Tree Maker and CyberStudio from GoLive Systems.
Disinfectant 3.7 — John Norstad has released version 3.7 of his venerable anti-virus utility Disinfectant, this time to combat a variation on the MBDF B virus that was detected correctly by the Disinfectant INIT, but not by the application itself. Disinfectant 3.7 is also savvier about locked disks and network volumes, and now includes an up-front warning that Disinfectant does not recognize macro viruses (see TidBITS-385). [GD]
Power to the Public — Last week, documents filed by Power Computing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission revealed that Power Computing plans to become a publicly held company with an initial offering of about three million shares of stock. The documents also reveal that Power Computing plans to make Intel-based computers in addition to its extensive line of Mac-compatible machines.
In typical fashion, mainstream media interpreted the SEC filing to mean Power Computing was "switching" to Intel, ignoring the documents’ emphasis on Power Computing’s Macintosh business. The SEC filings also reveal the complete text of its previously confidential Mac OS licensing and certification deal with Apple, and also that Power has obtained a more limited Mac OS license from IBM, presumably in case negotiations with Apple break down. Power’s plans to make Intel machines aren’t too surprising – plenty of Mac shops use NT servers but do their work on Macs – and Power hopes to sell to both sides of that demand. The entire text of the filing (835K) can be downloaded from the SEC. [GD]
No Sense of Security? Following my article on Macintosh security challenges in TidBITS-385, I’ve learned about Dr. John D. Howard’s Ph.D. dissertation, which analyzes trends in Internet security from 1989 to 1995 using about 4,300 incidents reported to the Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center. Chapters 1 and 14 (the introduction, plus policy implications and recommendations) make for good general reading, and there’s plenty of meat to back it up. The research as a whole finds that (with the exception of denial-of-service attacks), security incidents are declining relative to the size of the Internet.
If you’re looking for a Macintosh security challenge, Sweden’s Infinit Information AB opened its second Crack-A-Mac contest on 04-Jul-97. (See TidBITS-378 for details on the first contest.) This time, instead of running a standard, out-of-the-box Mac Web server, they’re exposing a cutting edge, real-world system to a real-world pummeling. The Crack-A-Mac server setup includes final candidate versions of WebSTAR and Mac OS 8, plus SiteEdit Pro, multiple domain service via ClearlyHome, and database access via Lasso and FileMaker Pro. To claim the prize money (100,000 Swedish crowns; about $13,000 U.S.), read the contest rules, then alter the contents of the server’s home page. [GD]
Net Regulation in Germany — Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s government in Germany has passed a law regulating the Internet that takes effect on 01-Aug-97. Although the law sets standards for electronic commerce and the use of digital signatures, it is also intended to combat pornography, Nazi propaganda, and other uses of the Internet that are illegal in Germany. Online providers knowingly carrying such illegal content face charges if it’s "technically possible and reasonable" to prevent it, even if they have no direct control over provided content, and even if the content originates outside Germany. [MHA]
Last week, Michael Koidahl, owner of Westwind Computing in Seattle, solved the problem of determining when Adam and I should have our big summer party. Noting that Westwind had a prototype model of Apple’s 20th Anniversary Macintosh for the weekend, he suggested that we invite tons of people over for a barbecue and a chance to play with the Mac.
The barbecue was a success, even though I splattered salsa on my purple tie-dyed Apple t-shirt. TidBITS Managing Editor Jeff Carlson extended himself culinarily and made an Apple pie with the Mac OS logo cut into the surface.
The 20th Anniversary Macintosh’s heritage combines the initial style and friendliness of the 128K Mac with the engineering pizazz of the first PowerBooks. The case that contains the logic board is a scant three inches thick and sports a gorgeous,12.1-inch, color, active-matrix, backlit screen displaying 800 by 600 pixels. The new Mac has a floppy drive in its side; the front panel beneath the screen is taken up by a vertically mounted CD-ROM drive and a set of touch controls.
The 20th Anniversary Mac mixes common Macintosh features (a 250 MHz PowerPC 603e chip, 32 MB RAM, 256K Level 2 cache) with high-end consumer electronics options and an elegant, futuristic design. The system includes a custom Acoustimass Bose sound system that divides sound output between speakers contained in the case and a separate bass unit, which looks like a miniature space-age silo and also contains the entire computer’s power supply. Although it didn’t seem to be on the prototype unit that we had, software should come with the Mac to help you set the "listening angle" and balance sound levels.
There are also built-in FM radio and television tuners, and an S-video port and composite video adapter cable can attach to the likes of laser discs (we had Blade Runner running much of the afternoon), VCRs, and DSS satellite dishes.
Other features include a remote control, a 2 GB hard disk, an external 33.6 Kbps GeoPort modem, a communications slot for an Ethernet card, an AV slot, a 7-inch PCI slot, and a custom keyboard with leather palm wrests and a removable trackpad. Purchasing one of these beauties also includes delivery and setup, a three-year hardware warranty, and three years of free phone support.
I’d already seen the 20th Anniversary Macintosh at a meeting of dBUG, Seattle’s Macintosh Users Group, but it made more of an impression set up on my dining room table, where it fit in with the decor extremely nicely. The Bose system sounded fabulous, and the screen was obviously nicer (and had a wider viewing angle) than the one in the PowerBook 5300c that lives in our kitchen.
After most people had left, we decided to hook it to the Internet via a Ricochet modem (see TidBITS-366), which worked fine, even though we’re well outside Metricom’s local Seattle coverage. It turned out that the Ricochet modems can talk to transceivers over greater distances than previously thought. They’re generally deployed in clusters from a half a mile to two miles apart, but we calculated the distance to our transceivers at between 15 and 20 miles. The important variable is that our house is set into the side of a mountain, so we had line-of-sight to transceivers in Renton and Seattle.
Of course, I want one of the 20th Anniversary Macs – who wouldn’t? (I couldn’t convince the Westwind people to leave without the prototype unit, despite a few pointed suggestions about how it was getting late.) I wish Apple would break out the pricing and the features so more people could afford one (the unit lists for $7,500; even at that price, Westwind has orders for seven already). I scraped and saved to afford my first academic-priced SE back in 1988, and – frankly – this Mac seems a bit too elitist, more like a computer that would come to high tea than a cookout. Still, it was fun having it come for a visit, and the salsa did wash out of my t-shirt.
Even if you can’t pick your relatives, you can pick your genealogical software.
Earlier this year, Broderbund released a Macintosh version of Family Tree Maker (FTM), which is considered to be the best-selling genealogy-tracking software for DOS and Windows machines. The software manages information about your relatives and produces handsome reports, charts, and family trees. The software is bundled with CD-ROMs designed to jump-start genealogical research, and the company’s Web site provides its customers a range of specialized services.
Meeting the Family — The main screen in FTM is the Family page, which has fields for names, dates, and places of parents and their children. Tabs on the right side of the screen lead to each parent’s family and to each child’s marriage.
Secondary screens store addresses, medical data, and notes. Another screen includes fields for describing a person’s relationship with his parents – whether they are his birth or adoptive parents, for example. A Facts screen provides sixteen date and sixteen text fields, which users can label to suit their needs. I use mine for tracking cemetery locations, where people lived, what occupations they had, what religion they practiced, and when and where they were baptized.
Most location and name fields use a feature called "fastfields," which works like Quicken’s QuickFill feature. You type in the first few characters until FTM has correctly selected what you want, based on previous entries. This can be a real blessing. It not only eliminates some typing, it also ensures consistent data entry.
FTM offers plenty of ways to print all this data, including tree charts showing an individual’s ancestors or descendants. The software provides plenty of control over how the charts will appear, letting you pick designs, fonts and point sizes, and which data to include.
Several reports are hard-wired into the program, including a calendar for the birthdays and anniversaries of living relatives, and one that lists the relationships between an individual and everyone else in the database. Here you can find out whether Cousin Tilly is your second cousin once removed or your first cousin twice removed. It also produces two Family Group Sheets, a standard form that genealogists use to present family information. One is a "just-the-facts-ma’am" style with parents, children, and dates. The other adds selected information, including what you’ve entered on the Facts screen.
If these reports don’t suit, users have some flexibility in creating their own. It would be easy, for example, to create a report on the causes of death of your dearly departed. You can print the report or copy and paste it into a word processor.
As your FTM file grows, its information becomes more valuable. Luckily, FTM automatically backs up each time you quit the program, and the Mac and Windows platforms share the same file format, so sharing data is a snap at family reunions.
To get data into and out of FTM, the program uses GEDCOM (Genealogical Data Communications), an interchange protocol established to simplify this type of work. It handles these files with ease – even the information stored in Facts fields – though one element belies its PC heritage: a filename must end in ".ged" before FTM will try to import its data.
A few other peculiarities seem to be artifacts of the switch between operating systems. If you double-click an FTM file in the Finder, FTM opens the file that was open when you last ran the software, not the file you clicked. The close box displayed on a file’s window doesn’t close the file but quits the whole program, and the program uses all the function keys at the top of the keyboard and mostly ignores command keys. Few Mac users would think of pressing F1 for help, rather than the Help key.
The Mac software also doesn’t include the Scrapbook function in the Windows version, which stores pictures with the database. A company spokeswoman said the feature was pulled at the last minute – that might explain why it’s listed on the packaging, and the online documentation has several references to it. However, because the Mac version can read Windows files, Mac FTM users will be able to see pictures in the files of their PC cousins, even if they can’t store their own.
Branching Out — The software comes with the Social Security Death Index on CD-ROM. This information supplies the name, birth date, Social Security number, and likely residence of anyone who died more than two years ago. Using this information, you can write to the federal government for a person’s SS-5, the form required to get a Social Security card, which has the names and addresses of his or her parents.
Also included are the first two CDs in Broderbund’s World Family Tree project. This is an effort to encourage genealogy through Broderbund customers sharing their research. Here I was hoping to find some information about my great-great-great-grandfather Cornelison Tallman, a man who seems to have left his descendants with little record of his existence. Finding his parents, I believe, will extend my family tree back to the Netherlands.
Had one of these CDs revealed any of Corny’s footprints, I’d likely be a lot more positive about them. Unfortunately, he remains a mystery. The CDs, though, can be a big help. If you can find a link between yourself and a tree, you can save plenty of time and effort re-keying information – plus the research is done at home, not in a dreary library. Additional CDs sell for about $20 or more from Broderbund. A few World Family Tree critics have sprouted on genealogy newsgroups and mailing lists, claiming trees have been submitted without their researchers’ consent and erroneous information has been distributed. In my family I found data that contradicted my own trustworthy information, so I recommend verifying any information you find on the CDs.
A great many budding genealogists will benefit from Family Tree Maker’s Web site, and much of the information is free. One valuable resource on the site is a collection of tips for researching in the National Archives and getting vital information out of county seats and state capitals. Broderbund has also just started offering an Internet FamilyFinder Agents service. You type in a name that you’re looking for, and it searches its own index of Web sites looking for a match. The company claims the agents will periodically perform searches and send results to you via email.
The Web site gives FTM customers extra benefits, such as a discussion board, free classified ads, and their own simple Web pages. Accessing these special services requires Netscape Navigator; no other browser is currently supported, although Broderbund has gotten requests to support other browsers.
Tools to Help Your Trees Grow — The Mac has several alternatives to FTM, including the well-received Reunion from Leister Productions Inc., and the shareware gem Gene from Diana and David Eppstein.
One thing that both of these programs do that FTM doesn’t is prepare a book-style report of your genealogy. For that reason alone, it’s worth downloading Gene, which easily imports the GEDCOMs that FTM creates. Broderbund, by the way, included that feature in its recently released update for its Windows software; there’s no word on whether a Mac update is coming soon.
There are almost as many Web sites and mailing lists devoted to genealogy as there are to Star Trek, plus Usenet newsgroups like <alt.genealogy>.
RootsWeb maintains the ROOTS-L mailing list, which is a good starting point, plus operates a number of mailing lists tailored to specific surnames and locales, plus a list for research novices. Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet is a treasure, with more than 21,000 sites listed and indexed. The soc.genealogy.* newsgroup hierarchy encompasses 18 newsgroups; <soc.genealogy.computing> is devoted to software and Internet assistance.
Family Tree Maker comes on a CD-ROM and requires a PowerPC-based Mac with at least 16 MB of RAM (or 8 MB with virtual memory) running System 7.1.2 or later. It takes up a healthy amount of disk space, with 7 MB for the software and 4.5 MB for required Microsoft system extensions.
Broderbund Software — 800/315-0672 — 415/382-4419 (fax)
If you read earlier sections of this series (which began in TidBITS-384), you know the ins and outs of text-oriented Web publishing tools as well as low-end visual tools that work much like simple word processors. Both types work well for certain tasks, but neither type is the cat’s pajamas for Web publishing. Today we’ll look at CyberStudio 1.1 from GoLive Systems, a hot new release that draws its strengths from the text and the visual camps, plus adds high-end features.
Puppy Love — Here at TidBITS, we sometimes use the phrase "demos well." That means a product sounds wonderful and looks great initially, but may have flaws that reveal themselves once we try it at home. With its elegant, attractive interface and multiplicity of key features, CyberStudio decidedly demos well.
CyberStudio also makes a great first impression. The ReadMe file says where, exactly, all parts of CyberStudio will end up when installed. The printed manual is attractive and professional, unlike most cobbled-together manuals found in this hurry-up-and-ship era. The section that covers CyberStudio’s color palettes (RGB, Apple, CMYK, 216-Web-safe, and more) is printed in color on glossy paper, and the shipping package includes a card noting major incompatibilities. (Irv at CyberStudio tech support said some people run RAM Doubler without problems, but others must turn it off to use CyberStudio. Running CyberStudio with Adobe Type Reunion results in CyberStudio pop-up menus appearing with many garbage characters.)
Launching CyberStudio brings up a tabbed document window with the Layout tab active. In the lower right corner, there’s a pop-up menu for matching the window size to a few common browser widths. Other tabs switch the window to other views. Above the document window sits a closable basic toolbar. A tabbed palette (called Palette) holds icons representing items you might want to add to a page or site, such as a table or META tag. There’s also an Inspector palette, which is used to customize items dragged in from the Palette.
Two problems with the interface may trouble you. CyberStudio has a profusion of windows and palettes, and I found that my two-monitor setup was none too large. The program would function more fluidly with palette and window management options. Second, CyberStudio takes drag & drop to an extreme that makes for extra dragging, something RSI-prone people will want to avoid. For example, items on the Palette cannot be clicked for insertion at the insertion point or added by way of a keyboard shortcut; they must be physically dragged onto the page.
Viewing the HTML — There’s nothing like real-world projects to reveal flaws in any product, and importing a page from the upcoming redesign of the TidBITS Web site brought out a big one: we’ve designed our site with paired paragraph tags; that is, each paragraph begins with a <P> tag and ends with a </P>. CyberStudio only uses the start <P> tag and modifies imported HTML documents accordingly, and thus slightly changes the vertical spacing in some instances.
CyberStudio’s Source tab most directly imitates the HTML views in software we looked at last week; it uses syntax coloring to distinguish tags from text, and the font and style is somewhat customizable. Previous visual editors that we’ve looked at require users to type almost every tag from scratch in HTML view. CyberStudio doesn’t suffer from this limitation; anything it has a command for in the Layout tab also works in the Source tab. For example, to insert a Submit button in Source view, you just drag in the Submit Button item from the Palette. CyberStudio responds by inserting the appropriate HTML. Unfortunately, the Source display cannot wrap text, so long paragraphs expand well past the right edge of the window.
If working in the Source tab isn’t structured enough, you can also work in the Outline tab, which displays HTML in a collapsible outline, with tags displayed as tiles containing pop-up menus. These menus enable you to add attributes (like the size of a table border), which then also display in the tiles. The Outline tab works with a customizable database, and you can add tags to the database, plus customize attributes.
To Pixel or Not To Pixel — At first glance, the Layout tab works much like the Edit views in the lower-end visual tools. You can type text and insert media elements like graphics and movies, but you can’t drag items around freely. This makes for human-readable HTML, a concern I noted in the first article of this series. However, if pixel-perfect placement overwhelms concerns about comprehensible HTML, you can drag in a layout grid from the Palette. The grid can be all or only part of a page, and items can be dragged about freely on the grid, much as they would in a desktop publishing program. By giving users a choice about using or not using a desktop publishing metaphor, CyberStudio accommodates a wide range of users and tasks.
Although the grid provides pixel-perfect placement, it doesn’t replace tables for some pages – if you need a 5 by 5 table with specific cell dimensions, a table will be faster, since the grid doesn’t easily give location information as you position objects (I would like the grid to work with a ruler or a status bar showing location coordinates). You can get around this to some degree by placing layout grids inside table cells – you use the table to set a skeleton of known dimension and then do visually oriented layouts within the skeleton.
Given the grid’s inability to show exactly where items are placed, it’s disappointing that CyberStudio doesn’t top some of its low-end competitors when it comes to regular table making. On the plus side, you can Option-drag cell borders to resize the table, and the tabling commands are not buried in a modal dialog box, so formatting goes reasonably quickly. On the minus side, for the most part, cells must be formatted individually, as must the text within each cell. For intense table work, Symantec Visual Page is a better product.
CyberStudio’s Frame tab is easy to use, and there’s even a whole tab on the Palette for dragging in different frameset configurations. Visual Page and Adobe PageMill stand up well to CyberStudio in the framing arena; they both display frames within the frameset, a feature that CyberStudio lacks. That is, in CyberStudio (much as in Claris Home Page), you can see the skeleton of a frameset, but cannot see pages that should show in the frames. You can try a frameset by switching out to the browser preview, which has a default browser option or can switch to any browser installed on your computer.
Live Media — You can include any plug-in file on a page created in CyberStudio, and you can preview it live if you place its plug-in application in CyberStudio’s Plug-ins folder (though the release notes discourage use of the Shockwave plug-in). In this respect, CyberStudio resembles PageMill 2.0, and in a previous article in this series I overlooked this fact. CyberStudio can also play Java applets.
Gobs of Features — I haven’t nearly covered every CyberStudio feature. Two others of particular note are support for AppleScript (complete with printed documentation) and for WorldScript. One feature that’s lacking is a spelling checker. In a feature checklist war, CyberStudio generally dominates the products I’ve highlighted in this series. However, CyberStudio isn’t really in the same sandbox with these products. It doesn’t work on 68K Macs and costs a few hundred dollars more. Plus, it has extensive visual site management features that move it into the arena of site-oriented software like Adobe SiteMill (which now ships with PageMill), NetObjects Fusion, and Microsoft FrontPage. Text-oriented site-focused tools also exist, most notably Userland Frontier. I’ll look at all this software, plus the site management portion of CyberStudio starting in the next installment of this series.
More on the Cost — CyberStudio Pro has a suggested retail price of $349, and the street price appears to be just under $300. (Academic pricing is set at $149.) Those who purchase between 17-Jun-97 and 30-Jul-97 will receive a coupon for a $100 cross-grade rebate, available to owners of Adobe PageMill or SiteMill, NetObjects Fusion, Symantec Visual Page, Claris Home Page, and Microsoft Front Page. If you registered a copy of golive Pro 1.x, you can also take advantage of a $20 "loyalty" rebate.
Overall, despite the weaknesses I’ve noted, CyberStudio does a fabulous job of combining many oft-requested features in a pleasant working environment. You can give it a test run by downloading a 3.7 MB 30-day trial version from the GoLive Web site.
CyberStudio requires a PowerPC-based Macintosh running System 7.5.5 or later and 8 MB free application RAM, with 12 MB or 16 MB recommended, depending on which GoLive documentation you happen to be reading.
GoLive Systems — 800/554-6638 — 415/463-1580 — <[email protected]>