This week brings both death and birth – we mourn the passing of our friend, colleague, and Macintosh luminary Cary Lu and then turn around to share the details of our new publication, NetBITS (think of it as TidBITS on Internet steroids). Tonya explores more contextual menu utilities and we note updates to LetterRip and ListSTAR, the acquisition of Dayna by Intel, the release of Internet Config 1.4, the move of Macworld Boston, and Virtual PC 1.0.1.
NetBITS Subscription Reminder — We received a great response to the first issue of NetBITS, sent to all current TidBITS subscribers (our apologies for not explaining the unusual send within NetBITS – we incorrectly assumed TidBITS readers would have read last week’s TidBITS issue before receiving NetBITS on Friday). TidBITS subscribers will also receive the second issue automatically on 02-Oct-97; after that you won’t receive NetBITS unless you subscribe by sending email to <[email protected]>. Read on in this issue for a full explanation of NetBITS. [ACE]
TidBITS in Italian — We’re happy to announce the Italian translation of TidBITS. The first few issues have been translated by coordinator Francesco Madeddu <[email protected]>, and he’s looking for volunteers to help out with translating. If you’re interested in helping translate articles, send Francesco mail. The Italian translation of TidBITS is available via the Web at the URL below and via a mailing list, so tell friends who might be interested in reading TidBITS in Italian. To subscribe, send email to <[email protected]>; to unsubscribe, send email to <[email protected]>. Thanks to Francesco and our other volunteer translators for making TidBITS an increasingly multi-lingual publication. [ACE]
Intel to Acquire Dayna Communications — Last week, Intel announced an agreement to acquire Dayna Communications, the Salt Lake City company that has produced popular networking and storage peripherals (remember the DaynaFile that read 5.25" DOS disks?) for Macintosh and Windows computers for over a decade. Dayna’s product line focuses on the needs of small business and educational sites and will become a key part of Intel’s strategy for the small business networking market. An Intel spokeswoman said that Intel and Dayna will be evaluating Dayna’s entire product line, including Mac products, to determine the best mix of products for 1998. [MHA]
Easier Than Upgrading a PC — Connectix has released the Virtual PC 1.0.1 Updater, which makes Virtual PC easier to use and fixes a number of small problems, including setting modem speeds incorrectly and many game-related issues. The new version offers faster floppy disk access and makes it simpler to use Virtual PC with multiple operating systems, in addition to better support for Ethernet adapters and printing. Virtual PC 1.0.1 also addresses a problem that we missed in our review (see TidBITS-397). Pressing Option while launching Virtual PC brings up a Preferences dialog before Virtual PC launches Windows 95; this enables you to change D: drive settings and other behavior that requires a reboot of the virtual machine. Version 1.0.1 now allows you to choose Shut Down inside Windows 95 and then press Option to access the same feature. The updater is about a 3 MB download and comes in different versions for Windows 3.11 and Windows 95. [GF]
Internet Config 1.4 Released — Peter N Lewis and Quinn have released version 1.4 of Internet Config, the public domain solution for centralizing Internet preferences such as email server, Web home page, download folder, and much more. Many Internet applications rely on Internet Config, including NewsWatcher, Anarchie, Fetch, and Internet Explorer. Internet Config 1.4 offers significant reliability improvements over previous versions, along with a few new features, including support within the Internet Config application for routing Get URL Apple events, default preferences within the Internet Config extension, sanity checks on preferences, and an internal backup of the preferences so it can revert to that backup in the event of corruption. Internet Config is a 161K download. [ACE]
Mailing List Managers Updated — The two major commercial mailing list manager programs, StarNine’s ListSTAR and FogCity’s LetterRip, have both been updated recently. New features in ListSTAR 1.2 provide improved templates for setting up new email services and internal changes that improve performance by reducing the number of DNS lookups when sending mail on machines using Open Transport. The ListSTAR update is a 3.3 MB download for either the POP or SMTP versions of ListSTAR. FogCity’s LetterRip 2.0.1 is a maintenance release with a few welcome feature additions, including the capability to disable list headers for a list and support for Maxum’s PageSentry server monitoring software. LetterRip 2.0.1 is a 2.7 MB download. [ACE]
Macworld Big Apple — IDG Expo Management, formed with the recent acquisition of MHA Event Management, has announced that future east coast Macworld Expos will be held in New York City rather than in Boston, as has happened since 1984. The first Macworld Expo in New York will take place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s west side, running from 08-Jul-98 to 10-Jul-98 (the Macworld Expo Professional Conference Program will run from 06-Jul-98 to 08-Jul-98). According to the Boston Globe, the move comes in response to New York City being a bigger Macintosh market, and due to feedback from vendors and show goers for whom the dual-site show in Boston was a logistical nightmare. [MHA]
There is little more difficult than to write about a close friend who has died. The words come slowly, and in clumps, with little sense of the whole. And yet, memories and stories surge beneath the surface, along with all sorts of often conflicting feelings. Bear with me as I try to explain what Cary Lu, who died 23-Sep-97 of cancer, meant to me and to so many others both in and out of the Mac community.
Those in the Mac community remember Cary as a contributing editor to Macworld and as author of The Apple Macintosh Book, one of the first Macintosh books. But, many people author popular books and write regularly for Macintosh magazines. Those descriptions don’t do justice to Cary’s depth and breadth.
Tonya and I met Cary at a meeting of dBUG, the Seattle Macintosh Users Group. The Quadras had just been released, and Cary relayed the complete technical details to a rapt audience. He was often interrupted by his then two-year-old son, Nathaniel, and even Cary couldn’t answer detailed questions about new Macs and deal with a toddler; luckily a friend of Tonya’s from Microsoft volunteered to watch Nathaniel, and the meeting proceeded uninterrupted.
Tonya and I bumped into Cary occasionally after that, but since he didn’t do much online, we moved in different circles. At Macworld Expos, though, members of the press tend to meet, and after seeing Cary in Boston and San Francisco several times, we began meeting in our hometown of Seattle as well.
That was the start of our friendship, at first restricted to computer industry topics. Then Cary invited Geoff Duncan and me to drive with him and another friend to Comdex PacRim in Vancouver, Canada. We went along, only realizing later that much of Cary’s motivation was to have dinner at a specific restaurant (though, interestingly given his proximity to Seattle, Cary said he’d never tasted beer or coffee, the smell being too much for him) and to visit used CD stores in his ongoing hunt for rare imports of classical music to add to his thousand-CD collection.
As we became better friends, more details spilled out. Cary had a bachelor’s degree in physics from Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in vision research from Cal Tech. He was at Bell Labs around the time Unix was invented, developed short films for Sesame Street, worked for the Children’s Television Workshop, and was on the team that came up with the Nova television series. He also worked on technology education issues for the governments of Australia, Algeria, and Kenya. He’d done so much, and in talking with him after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer at age 51, he felt he’d lived a full life.
What he did regret was that he wouldn’t see his children, Meredith and Nathaniel, now ten and seven, grow up. Cary was perhaps the most doggedly practical person I’ve ever met, and he loved children. When Tonya and I were discussing the arguments behind having children, I came up with the brilliant idea of asking Cary’s opinion. "After all," I thought, "Cary will certainly have come up with the quintessential rational argument for having children." So I called him and posed the question – Cary always had time to talk. Without the slightest hesitation, he laughed and said that there was no rational argument for children and that you simply had to want them. Although not the answer I expected, it was a perfect example of Cary’s ability to distill the essence of a situation.
Cary deserves credit for two extremely cogent pieces of thinking in regard to hotly debated issues in the computer world. First, in his position of helping decide the computer policies of his daughter’s elementary school, he noted that it made little difference what platform a child used in third grade because the industry moved so quickly that all computers would be completely different by the time that third grader reached college. Second, in regard to the age-old question of what computer platform should you buy, Cary commented accurately that it should be the platform used by your closest technical friend, the kind of person you could call on a Saturday night if you had a problem.
(Cary also told the story of how, many years ago, an annoying neighbor who’d heard that he was a computer expert wanted confirmation of her choice of an Apple II computer. He said that it sounded like an excellent choice, not telling her that his answer was based on the fact that he knew nothing about the Apple II and thus couldn’t be rooked into a lifetime of tech support.)
Although he ducked that particular neighbor, Cary did more to help other individuals with computers than any ten people I could name. Growing up in the 50s and 60s, he had become proficient with electronics and excelled at fixing electronics of all sorts for friends and acquaintances. Once, while soldering a bad connection in my PowerBook 100, he asked if I had done electronics as a kid, sounding slightly confused about how someone could get into computers to my level without a knowledge of electronics. I replied that I’d grown up on a farm and had spent my summers instead fixing farm machinery, for which hammers were more useful than soldering irons.
Cary’s skill with malfunctioning electronics also aided him in one of his favorite pastimes – buying and selling old and used computer equipment. His goal was to acquire all the hardware he wanted without paying a cent in the end, and during our last trip to Boeing Surplus (where you can buy Boeing’s old and extra stuff), Cary commented that he’d come out even in 1996, spending just a little less than he made from selling old equipment. The stories abounded, such as the time he bought a bunch of old monochrome two-page displays, fixed most of them and used others as parts, and resold them, but not before his wife Ellen complained about them taking up the entire garage floor. He also once put together a 486-based PC clone using spare parts and stuff friends gave him, spending only $1 on a clock crystal chip.
Although he seldom bought new computers (he worked on a used IIfx for a long time and only recently upgraded to a used Power Mac 8100), Cary delighted in finding great deals. He once bought an Ethernet card at a scratch-and-dent sale for $7, after the salesperson asked him what he would pay. That was his favorite deal until the time he bought a pallet of stuff at an auction to get a broken stereomicroscope for his kids. He knew he could fix the microscope, and it was well worth the $35 he paid for the whole pallet. As he dug through the rest of the detritus, though, he discovered about 50 power cords and a pair of sealed boxes with DEC written on them – those boxes contained a pair of 2 GB SCSI drives. A friend at DEC helped him get the necessary hardware upgrade so they worked with Macs.
Cary’s friends were a major part of his life, and he had many from his various careers, something that few of us realized until his cancer worsened in the last few months. Suddenly, lots of people wanted to come visit him, both when he was in the hospital for treatments and after, and almost every time we visited him, other friends were there as well.
Cary’s cancer, which was diagnosed just after Macworld San Francisco in January of 1997, had first evidenced itself as back pain when he sat down, and Tonya and I ate a standing lunch with him toward the end of that Macworld. A week later, an MRI scan revealed the tumor in a vertebrae that was causing the pain. From then, the news continued to worsen, though for a while Cary showed few symptoms other than the results of the radiation and chemotherapy. We spent more time than usual with him after that, and became far closer friends than would have happened had he remained healthy.
Others have experienced the same deepening of friendships with Cary, and we and a number of other friends have collaborated to create a Web site to hold thoughts and remembrances from anyone whose life Cary touched. We hope that we can all use the site to express better who Cary was and what he meant to us. More important, we are archiving everything to give to Cary’s wife Ellen and his children for when they’re older. Nathaniel and Meredith will not have Cary in their lives as they continue to grow up, but they’ll be able to read how he was a part of so many other lives.
The site has already had tens of thousands of visitors, and submissions continue to come in from people who’ve known Cary. I encourage you to visit the site, read what others have written, and, if you have anything to share, to send it to <[email protected]>.
We are all the poorer with the loss of Cary. I will miss his knowledge, skill, precision, and fanatical pickiness (he was enthusiastic about very few products, and only recently admitted to the overall utility of the Internet). I will also miss his subtle wit, represented so drily in his writing that those who didn’t know him often failed to see the humor. And finally, I will honor his memory as a friend and role model, for there was great good in Cary to emulate. I wish the same could be said of more of us.
Now that you’ve seen the first issue, I want to tell you more about NetBITS, our new publication. TidBITS began as a newsletter focusing primarily on Macintosh issues, and over the years, we began covering more Internet topics. Even though our Internet coverage has generally been Macintosh-related, such as Tonya’s extensive reviews of HTML authoring tools, we’ve had internal debates over the ideal ratio of Macintosh to Internet information. At times we considered separating the Macintosh and Internet content, but were always dissuaded by the amount of work it takes to put out one weekly publication, much less two.
Enter Glenn Fleishman <[email protected]>. Glenn’s an old friend of ours, and was an early contributor to TidBITS, before he relocated to Seattle and moved beyond being an email acquaintance. Glenn’s experience is far-ranging, starting with the Kodak Center for Creative Imaging, after which he worked as the managing editor for Open House, a book-packaging firm in Seattle that has created numerous books for Peachpit Press. Back in 1994, Glenn left Open House to found Point of Presence Company (POPCO), one of the first Web hosting companies. When we were without a dedicated Internet connection for nine months (thanks to US West’s incompetence), Glenn volunteered to host TidBITS’s Web and mailing list servers on POPCO’s T1 connection. During that time, Glenn also started and moderated the popular Internet Marketing Discussion List. Then, in late 1996, Glenn sold POPCO and spent six months as Catalog Manager for Internet bookseller Amazon.com. Eventually, the pace of the fastest-growing startup of all-time (after Microsoft) got to him, and he left to pursue slightly less frenetic activity.
After taking time to smell the roses in his back yard, Glenn proposed the idea of NetBITS, a TidBITS-like publication that treats the Internet like a platform. Since we’d wanted to do something like this for a long time, we jumped at the chance. Over the years, Glenn has written for a wide range of publications about Internet issues, and he has Unix system administration experience that the rest of us lack. Glenn’s idea was that he would act as editor in chief for NetBITS and we’d take advantage of the technological and editorial infrastructure we’ve built up with TidBITS.
We’ve spent the last month scaling what we do to another publication and talking about what works in TidBITS and what we’d like to change. NetBITS will strongly resemble TidBITS in style, look, tone, and professionalism, but gradually evolve its own identity. For instance, NetBITS has a Q&A section and an explicit area for letters to the editor. Sometimes we receive great letters that we can’t figure out how to weave into an issue of TidBITS; we hope the letters section in NetBITS will alleviate that problem and help disseminate useful information from readers.
Overall, our goal with NetBITS is to cover issues of interest to people who spend a reasonable part of their waking hours online at work or at home and want to know how to do what they do more easily, more efficiently – or how to do it at all. We’re going to cover the conceptual part of the Net (how things work) as well as the practical (how to use it better). Although NetBITS will have some Macintosh-specific content, it will also include Internet information for those using Unix, Windows 95, and other operating systems. Like TidBITS, NetBITS will be financially supported primarily by corporate sponsors, but we also hope to experiment with some alternative financing methods that could prove interesting. For instance, we offer low-priced classified ads for those looking to reach an audience but not able to be a marquee sponsor.
Some of the articles we have planned for our first few issues include an examination of how the legal system interacts with the Internet, an overview of ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, a new high-speed way to access the Internet); a tips and tricks article about Eudora covering both the Mac and Windows versions; and a review of the @Home Internet cable network.
To answer the inevitable question, no, we have no plans to cease publication of TidBITS. In fact, TidBITS may contain even more Macintosh news as some of our Internet articles move to NetBITS. On occasion we may run an article in both publications if we consider it sufficiently important. Simply put, NetBITS is not a replacement for TidBITS; as long as the Macintosh industry remains strong and TidBITS can support itself financially, we’ll keep writing about our preferred computer platform.
Our current plans call for NetBITS to be published every Thursday night, which means issues should arrive in your mailbox Friday. We are sending the first two issues of NetBITS to the full TidBITS mailing list to introduce it; after that you’ll need to subscribe by sending email to <[email protected]> (for the setext version, like TidBITS is now) or <[email protected]> (for the HTML version; make sure your email program can interpret HTML mail, as can Netscape Navigator 3.0 and Netscape Communicator 4.0, though Eudora’s HTML support isn’t currently up to snuff). You can also subscribe or read issues on the NetBITS Web site at:
If you use the Internet heavily and want to make better use of it, if you’re fascinated by the technological and sociological implications of the Internet, or if you simply want to figure out what all the fuss is about, subscribe to NetBITS and tell your friends. It’s free, it’s easy, and we hope to make it the most useful Internet publication you’ll find online.
In TidBITS-398, I wrote about how to use and customize contextual menus under Mac OS 8. This week, I want to follow up on that article by noting a utility that offers contextual menus under System 7 (and acts as a CM plug-in for Mac OS 8), look at a few additional CM plug-ins, and agree with readers who noted that one-handed use of CM menus is also possible with a multi-button mouse.
Most people writing in about multi-button mice noted their standard use under other operating systems (such as Windows) and their utility when running PC emulation software. Based on the email, many TidBITS readers are enamored with Kensington’s input devices. For instance, Ross Yahnke <[email protected]> wrote:
One thing I’d like to mention about contextual menus is that – along with Virtual PC – they provide a good excuse to buy a multi-button mouse. I just got Kensington’s Thinking Mouse, a four-button mouse, and as in Windows, have assigned the right button to do contextual menus. It makes using contextual menus much more transparent; I’m figuring it won’t be long before Apple ships two-button mice.
Adding Menus to 68K Macs, System 7 — Covering a collection of utilities in TidBITS usually prompts readers to write in about a wide-ranging collection of other programs that we left out. In this case, almost all comments noted only a few favorites. In particular, I left out Mark Aiken’s $15 shareware PowerMenu 2.0.1, which provides menu commands to PowerPC-based Macs using Mac OS 8’s Contextual Menus, and – using a different technique than Mac OS 8 – provides its own contextual menus (which only display PowerMenu commands) on Macs running System 7.1 or later and to 68040-based machines running Mac OS 8.
PowerMenu primarily speeds up opening files, launching applications, and organizing the desktop. For instance, it enables you to open selected items in any running application or any application you’ve added to its Quick Launch option (for example, I added Word 5 so I can consistently use it in favor of Word 6, which I use only occasionally). Another set of commands makes it easy to copy or alias items into appropriate Finder folders (though there’s no move option). The Read Me file has useful directions, and the download is 333K.
Another Wonderful Utility — The vast majority of the comments concerned Eric de la Musse’s freeware CMTools 3.0. This utility adds many optional commands to Mac OS 8’s Contextual Menus that (like PowerMenu) genuinely ease working in the Finder. For example, if you’re like me, active documents accumulate on the desktop and are eventually filed in folders nested down several levels. Though Mac OS 8’s spring-loaded folders simplify moving items into folders, CMTools’s customizable Copy to and Move to commands seem even simpler.
CMTools has other goodies as well, including Compress and Decompress options, though these require you to make aliases to your compression software and place them in the CMTools Configuration folder; whereas Chris DeSalvo’s $5 Compression plug-in (which I noted last week) just works with no special attention. Similar to PowerMenu, an Open Using command enables you to open files in a desired application. There’s also a Lock/Unlock option, and commands for setting a file’s creator and type attributes. Also like PowerMenu, CMTools requires more setup than most CM plug-ins, but the setup gives you a great deal of flexibility, and Eric has provided clear directions (translated from French to English by Turagd Aleahmad). According to the ReadMe, CMTools doesn’t work with QuicKeys Toolbox; however, users of the PowerPC version of QuicKeys 3.5.2 no longer require QuicKeys Toolbox, a fine point that seems to be often missed.
One More to Download — Last week, I praised Look Mom, No Hands! for its wonderful ability to pop up a contextual menu without a keyboard shortcut. In so distinguishing Look Mom, No Hands!, I left out FinderPop, an optional $7 "pintware" from Turlough O’Connor, which offers the same feature. FinderPop (a 120K download) is a nicely designed control panel that enables you to customize contextual menu appearance (font, size, and more) and adds commands that quickly bring to the front any window open on the desktop, open any mounted volume, or switch to any active application.
Late Breaking News — Finally, in recent contextual menu news, John Moe has released the freeware IADD, which enables you to turn off Apple’s Internet Address Detectors (IAD) in any application that you like, thus avoiding conflicts between those applications and IAD.