Looking for Macintosh news? This week we have plenty: Claris is restructuring as FileMaker, Inc.; Frontier 5 and KeyQuencer 2.5 are shipping; Eudora Pro 4.0 will appear overseas; Conflict Catcher 4.1.1 is out; and APS has filed for Chapter 11 (but expects to stay afloat). We also have more about Open Transport 1.3 and a look at inconveniences caused by Quark’s anti-piracy measures. Finally, Adam discusses how to host a successful trade show party.
Claris to Restructure as FileMaker, Inc.
Claris to Restructure as FileMaker, Inc. — In a surprise move last week, Apple Computer announced that its Claris subsidiary will restructure to focus entirely on FileMaker Pro, Claris’s best-selling database for Macintosh and Windows. According to Claris, FileMaker is the most popular database on the Macintosh and the second most popular stand-alone database for Windows, accounting for $73 million in sales in 1997. The restructuring includes changing the company name to FileMaker, Inc., "divesting" of products other than the FileMaker Pro line and Home Page, and laying off approximately 300 employees. As of 01-Feb-98, Apple will distribute all Apple-branded software, including Mac OS 8, and will continue to develop, distribute, and support ClarisWorks. A letter from Claris President Dominique Goupil also notes that Claris Emailer, ClarisDraw, ClarisImpact, and Claris Organizer will move to Apple. A Question & Answer page on the Claris site contains more information. [ACE]
English Eudora Pro 4.0 to Be Available Overseas
English Eudora Pro 4.0 to Be Available Overseas — Qualcomm has clarified their position on international availability of Eudora Pro 4.0 for Macintosh. Qualcomm is creating an English-language version of Eudora Pro 4.0 that contains just the Eudora software, avoiding the export problems with PGP. Qualcomm will make this version available to their international resellers worldwide, as well as to their local "re-publishers," who will be able to sell the software to anyone. We’re pleased to see this official statement and Qualcomm’s support of loyal Eudora users around the world. [ACE]
Frontier 5.0 Ships
Frontier 5.0 Ships — UserLand Software, Inc., has finalized and released version 5.0 of Frontier, a free scripting environment which includes Web site management, CGI scripting, and network communications capabilities (Frontier’s Web site features were reviewed in TidBITS-389). Frontier 5.0 is the first version also available for Windows; there have been some interface improvements (tables are now outlines); and the Web site tools are easier to use. Users of Frontier 4.2.3 and earlier can export their existing work to 5.0, but there is no reliable path in the other direction. Because there has been a significant neatening and rearrangement of the database (including renaming of some important verbs), Frontier 4.x scripts may require some hand-tweaking.
TidBITS contributing editor Matt Neuburg has written a large book explaining Frontier; it’s due very soon from O’Reilly & Associates. It covers Frontier 4.2.3, the stable version at the time he was writing; Matt is already working on a second edition, to which purchasers of the first edition will be able to update inexpensively. [GD]
HFS Plus Utilities Available for Online Purchase
HFS Plus Utilities Available for Online Purchase — Alsoft announced last week that its two utilities – PlusMaker and PlusMaximizer – for converting hard disks to Apple’s new Macintosh Extended Format (HFS Plus) are available for purchase and download at its Web site. With the release of Mac OS 8.1, users may use the new Extended Format, which saves disk space by increasing the number of allocation blocks on the disk. (See "All About Macintosh Extended Format (HFS Plus)" in TidBITS-414.) One catch, however, is that you must backup and initialize your disks with the new Extended Format, then restore the data – a time-consuming operation, especially for system administrators managing numerous Macs. PlusMaker (an 875K download) enables you to perform the conversion without reformatting; PlusMaximizer (a 265K download) gives you the option of using 512-byte allocation blocks instead of Apple’s default size. Each utility costs $29.95, or you can purchase both as a 1.1 MB download for $39.95. [JLC]
APS Files Chapter 11, Expects to Emerge Soon
APS Files Chapter 11, Expects to Emerge Soon — Storage vendor, Macintosh clone maker, and long-time TidBITS sponsor APS last week filed for protection of assets under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code while the company undergoes reorganization. Company officials believe that APS is still a viable business and expect to emerge from Chapter 11 in a few months. APS does not plan massive layoffs, and business will continue apace. APS Vice President Paul McGraw said, "If you choose to call, you’ll find that business will be pretty much as usual. Our employees will be paid, our customers will receive their products, and we’ll continue to do our best to provide the best support available anywhere."
Two events, the unexpected November 1997 bankruptcy and liquidation of hard drive manufacturer Micropolis Corporation and Apple Computer’s decision to stop licensing the Mac OS, were at the heart of the problems of the otherwise-profitable company. After Micropolis went belly-up, APS spent millions of dollars fulfilling Micropolis’s warranty responsibilities on hundreds of thousands of drives. Similarly, Apple’s elimination of clone vendors left APS with millions of dollars in product inventory and wasted marketing costs. We wish APS the best of luck in recovering from these setbacks. [ACE]
KeyQuencer Upgraded to 2.5
KeyQuencer Upgraded to 2.5 — Binary Software has released KeyQuencer 2.5, a major upgrade to Alessandro Levi Montalcini’s popular macro utility. New features include contextual menu support for Mac OS 8 users, an OpenURL command that opens any Web or FTP site with a keystroke, and KeyQuencer Helpers that simplify and automate macro creation. KeyQuencer 2.5 also includes numerous tweaks. Upgrades cost $11.95 for registered users of KeyQuencer 2.0 or 2.1. For a review of KeyQuencer 2.0 and general information about macro programs, see "KeyQuencer – QuicKeys Quencher?" in TidBITS-351 and "The User Over Your Shoulder – Of Macs and Macros" in TidBITS-357. [ACE]
Conflict Catcher Updated
Conflict Catcher Updated — Casady & Greene has released Conflict Catcher 4.1.1, a minor update to the month-old Conflict Catcher 4.1. Version 4.1 added new features to the already-powerful extension manager along with the capability to work under Mac OS 8.1. As it turned out, Conflict Catcher 4.1 could also identify certain system-related files in 8.1 as having damaged resources. (In fact, the "damage" was cosmetic in that the resource forks were 11 bytes larger than they should have been.) Version 4.1.1 adds a handful of small tweaks, and – as anyone checking out the Casady & Greene Web site today will not miss – the capability to remove those extra 11 bytes. The update is free to owners of Conflict Catcher 4 and the download comes in around 875K. [TJE]
Immortalize Yourself in the Macintosh Bible
Immortalize Yourself in the Macintosh Bible — Do you have a great tip relating to the Macintosh? The people who create the Macintosh Bible want to know about it for possible inclusion in the seventh edition, and they’ll give you a brush with fame by placing your name in the book’s acknowledgments. If you visit The Tipster Web site, you can submit your tip and check out the tip of the week. The Macintosh Bible is a venerable favorite in the Macintosh world; TidBITS last reviewed it in "Peachpit Updates the Bible" in TidBITS-343. [TJE]
OT 1.3 & Single-Link Multihoming
OT 1.3 & Single-Link Multihoming — Mark Kriegsman <[email protected]> of ClearWay Technologies writes:
It’s nice to see Open Transport 1.3 (OT) receiving good press, but I think you missed two important points in "Open Transport 1.3" in TidBITS-414.
Although you focus on the multiple IP address functions of OT 1.3, you overlooked the far more universal and significant point of OT 1.3 for Web servers: it’s much faster for Web servers than older versions of OT. Apple fixed a bug that inserted an unnecessary delay between the first two packets sent for each new connection. For Web servers, this meant an added delay for every hit! OT 1.3 eliminates the delay, speeding every hit on every Mac Web server using OT 1.3.
For over a year, the W3C has strongly recommended that webmasters not consume additional IP addresses simply for Web hosting. The W3C in fact now insists that all Web clients and servers be able to do Web hosting via the HTTP Host field; further, they recommend that when a browser does not supply the Host field, the server should use heuristics to locate the correct file to serve. Although OT 1.3 does support multiple IP addresses, the driving need for this feature has now passed, and the use of multiple IP addresses for Web hosting is strongly discouraged. Having it in OT 1.3 is a nice "brag point" for the Mac, but real-world webmasters should follow current standards.
You mentioned both OpenDoor’s HomeDoor and Jon Stevens’s ClearlyHome as alternative Web hosting packages, but omitted our FireSite VDM. FireSite VDM implements both of the W3C’s recommendations: it uses the HTTP Host field if available, and it uses heuristics to select the correct file otherwise. This allows search engines complete access to FireSite-hosted sites, even using a single IP address. Under OT 1.3 (and W*API 1.3), FireSite VDM does allow webmasters to use multiple IP addresses for Web hosting if they wish. FireSite VDM also includes features to support "seamless DNS transitions" from single to multiple IP setups and back.
Quark Security Zaps Legit Users
I’ve used the page-layout software QuarkXPress since 1989, and being an early adopter, I excitedly placed an order for the 4.0 upgrade as soon as it shipped. [Quark has just released a 4.01r1 updater, which addresses a number of minor concerns with 4.0. -Adam] Imagine my chagrin when I opened the package and found a serialized floppy disk and a CD-ROM.
You see, I’m a PowerBook 3400c owner and can choose to have either a floppy drive or a CD-ROM drive inserted in the expansion bay – but not both at once. (PowerBook 1400, 3400, and G3 users all face this "limitation.") This dual-insertion requirement is part of a long series of Quark’s attempts to control piracy – both in the world at large and inside organizations. Although I have to applaud Quark’s efforts to discourage piracy, their methods hamper registered users like myself.
Trying to be clever, I made a disk image of the serialized QuarkXPress disk and mounted it using Aladdin’s ShrinkWrap utility. I inserted the CD-ROM drive and ran the installer. Ah ha, the installer is cleverer than I – it wanted an unlocked disk. Fortunately, ShrinkWrap has a setting for this; success followed after I ejected and remounted the virtual floppy. QuarkXPress Installer must write some information to their installer disk – possibly keeping track of how often the installation is done or linking the installer to work only with a specific CD.
My installation problems did not altogether surprise me, as Quark has a long history of taking strong anti-piracy measures. Quark was one of the first companies to register their products’ serial numbers over AppleTalk networks. Whenever you run QuarkXPress, the program checks for other copies on your local AppleTalk network running with the same serial number.
(With a program like Dartmouth College’s MacPing or the AG Group’s EtherPeek – version 3.5 has just shipped – you can see all the AppleTalk devices and programs, including QuarkXPress programs, Retrospect Remote clients, copies of FileMaker Pro 4, and others doing this serial number broadcast.)
Years ago, in the olden days of LocalTalk networks that some of you are still enjoying, we heard that people in a pinch would occasionally – ahem – unplug the LocalTalk connector, launch QuarkXPress, and reconnect. However, Quark is too smart for that, and in some release of 3.x, they added an occasional AppleTalk query to check for serial numbers while the program was running, disabling the program in mid-stride if violators were found. Friends don’t let friends run unauthorized copies of software.
A History of Unconventional Security — Quark has never created a generic installer in which you type in a serial number during the installation process. Every product sold by Quark is pre-serialized, requiring the specific floppy and generic CD-ROM combination. When I was responsible for the technical side of Kodak’s Center for Creative Imaging, we had a QuarkXPress ten-pack which we installed and kept in separate folders on a server, organized by serial number, in case we had to reinstall the software on a student’s computer. Otherwise, we would have had to dig up the original floppies and do a fresh, full installation. Site license? Not Quark!
In overseas markets, where many products sell for two or three times the U.S. price, Quark often requires dongles to further thwart pirates. These doohickeys are just hardware serial numbers that plug into the printer port, the Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) port, or, on a PC, a pass-through connector on the parallel port.
The program sends a query to the dongle and receives the serial number in return. Usually you only see a hardware dongle on software costing thousands of dollars, like ElectricImage’s animation program. It also happens in niche markets where there’s a high likelihood of piracy and a small number of potential customers – Isis Software <[email protected]> and Second Glance Software both protect their competing stochastic screening packages, for instance, because there are only tens (probably not hundreds) of thousands of potential customers.
What will the future bring? A nuclear-submarine-like procedure of, "Insert Floppy A at the same instant as inserting CD-ROM B and Zip Disk C while having Colleague D press Control-Command-Delete-Option-Backspace on Computer E"?
"Open the spot color palette, please, HAL."
"I’m sorry, Glenn, I can’t do that."
[Glenn Fleishman is the editor in chief of NetBITS, explaining the Internet without assuming you’re a dummy (or a Dummy[tm]). He’s used every desktop publishing software package since version 1.0 – except CorelDRAW.]
Macworld Geek Party Guide
I’ve attended many Macworld Expos, and at each one, I go to a number of the parties. You know what? Most Macworld parties stink, at least from the geek perspective. Guess who makes up at least 95 percent of Macworld attendees? Geeks!
In this article, which I hope lives a long and useful life being passed around in email to anyone who plans trade show parties, I offer some suggestions about how to give a good geek party at Macworld Expo or any trade show. These ideas aren’t mine alone – I’ve gathered them by commiserating with people at parties, including vendors, IS directors, consultants, product managers, and fellow journalists.
The Goal — First off, let’s establish the goal of a Macworld party. The company giving the party wants everyone to have fun, become only decorously tipsy, and buy (or recommend) lots of the company’s product. Only the first two can happen at the party (selling product at a party is considered poor form), but the third is more likely to happen later if the first two happen at the party. A party establishes a company as successful; it’s a mark of real or desired importance. Also, parties can be a way of saying "thank you" to important customers, and as such are essentially another sales tool. On the other side, the party goers want to have a good time, chat with others, eat, and feel that they’re close to the company giving the party.
There’s an implied social contract at a trade show party. Everyone knows the party is a sales tool, but the company giving the party shouldn’t push product too hard, and the guests should refrain from ill-mannered behavior, such as talking loudly about the product’s bugs or competition, or asking uncomfortable questions that are more appropriate to a press conference or booth demonstration.
Music — Many Macworld parties feature live bands, some of whom are quite good and undoubtedly need paying gigs. But, I’m going to recommend that anyone planning a party forgo the live music unless it’s along the lines of a string quartet playing in the corner. The problem is that most bands come with amplifiers and most parties are held in large spaces with awful acoustics. The combination creates an atmosphere where no one can hear anything other than the band, and even if you like the band, the sound quality is generally terrible.
Let’s face it, we’re talking about geek parties, and geek parties thrown for people who may see each other only once or twice a year. We want to talk to one another, not dance. Even those of us who manage to put aside our utter hipness to wallow in the geekiness of Macworld Expo don’t want to dance – we’re there to schmooze. The dance floor at any Macworld party features at most a few hardy souls. My guess is that they’re the people who planned the party, and they figure, by jiggers, someone’s going to dance.
Location — Real estate agents always emphasize location, and it applies equally well to trade show parties. Pick a location that’s within walking distance of the show venue, since many people will attend a party based on whether they think they can get to it easily. In addition, some of us actually like to walk, weather permitting.
It may not always be possible to find the appropriate place close by, but if not, try to make sure that it’s a place that cabs go or that has public transit nearby. Trade shows are held in big cities, and most big cities have dangerous parts of town – don’t situate your party far from the show venue in a part of town where people won’t feel comfortable walking late at night.
Bars can be good because they’re cheap or free, and you don’t have to worry about liquor regulations. However, they also tend to be overly loud, smoky (though not in California any more), and they lack both food and many places to sit. Overall, I’d say to skip bars.
If possible, have a secure coat check where people can leave their coats and, more importantly, their show goodies and PowerBooks. This is a bit more necessary at a winter show than one held in the summer, but the principle applies no matter what the season – PowerBooks just aren’t light enough.
Invitations — Who to invite? First, invite everyone from your company, because they’re great to have on hand for questions and general representation in discussions. Definitely invite members of the press, since you can’t buy editorial, but inviting it to a party never hurts. Always invite important customers; it makes them feel even more important and that translates into sales. Similarly, if your company partners with other companies in the industry, to invite them to your party; it shows solidarity.
The real trick comes in whether or not to invite the general public. Being a populist, I encourage it, but being a realist, I understand that it’s not possible to invite everyone or have enough food and drink, even if the space is sufficiently large.
Here’s my solution. Make your party invitation-only, but distribute multiple invitations to each person you invite, along with a note that they’re welcome to invite friends. That way you have a rough idea of how many people might show up (based on the number of printed invitations), your party gains a faint cachet of exclusivity, the people who give out the invitations pick up a few favor points, and the people who get to come without having been explicitly invited are grateful to everyone.
Have name tags for everyone invited to the party (if that’s too much work, encourage people to make them at the door). I once saw an elderly woman (not at a trade show) with a large yellow button that proclaimed, "I can’t remember your name either!" That’s how many of us feel at trade shows, and if people have removed their show badges, identification can be difficult, leading to tricky social situations.
Finally, post your party on the Robert Hess Memorial Party List. Even if it’s invitation only, it makes it easier for people to figure out schedules and scam invitations from friends.
Oh, one more thing. Even if you’re throwing an exclusive party, let spouses in without a fuss. Turn the spouse away, and you’ll lose the person you invited and make them look bad in front of the spouse. Even worse, if we’re talking about a geek/non-geek couple, rejecting the non-geek spouse won’t engender positive feelings toward you from the geek, who probably pulled a favor to convince the spouse to attend at all. This might seem like a small point, but believe me, I see it all the time.
Timing — There are relatively few times to have a party at a show like Macworld, which goes for four days. The first night is always the most popular, which forces many people to party-hop. I hit three parties the first night of Macworld this year, and as much as I would have preferred to stay longer at all three, there wasn’t time. The second and third nights were somewhat sparse this year, and the last night is out since everyone is tired and many people leave right after the show floor closes.
The kind of party you want may affect the time you pick. If you’re aiming for a splashy product launch, go for prime time on the first night. If you want a more intimate gathering or don’t need to make a quick impression, aim for later in the week. And, for the truly exclusive party, schedule it for the last day and send invitations well in advance.
Food & Drink — Food is good, and I recommend you have some at your party, especially since some people tend to become grumpy on low blood sugar. However, don’t feel the need to spend a ton of money on fancy catering as long as you follow these basic rules.
Think finger food and think clean. Serving something messy like chicken wings is idiotic. No one wants to get disgustingly dirty at a party, especially when you’re shaking hands constantly.
Try for a mix of foods, and remember that there are a lot of vegetarians and even vegans out there, so focusing on meat treats will go over badly. A range of foods also enables people to decide what part of a normal meal they’re up to – focusing entirely on sweets plays havoc with those trying to maintain a healthy diet and a full set of teeth.
Make sure to offer a range of drinks, including, though no one seems to think about it, plain water. Some people may want to avoid caffeinated drinks and others may be uninterested in alcohol, at least at a large public party.
Placement of the food is also important since it will attract lots of people. Don’t put food down a narrow hall, along a narrow walkway through which everyone must pass, or in other high-traffic areas. Although they make me a little nervous since I’m not good about being served, I have to admit that roving wait staff with trays of finger food make it easier to eat while carrying on discussions.
Demos — There’s always a temptation to do a major demonstration at your party, especially if you’re celebrating a product launch. The fact is that people don’t come to a party to see a demo, and the kind of space (big room, chairs in rows) that works well for a demo doesn’t work for a party.
If you must have a demo, keep it short – perhaps ten minutes or less – and make it the responsibility of someone who’s fast and funny. Having stations set up around the perimeter for personal demos after the main demo is a good followup and won’t bother anyone (except perhaps the poor folks who have to staff the demo machines during the party). Apple did this one year at an otherwise too-loud party and it was the saving grace of the event.
Themes & Freebies — Many parties have themes, which, for the most part, are ignored. Don’t expend too much energy on a theme, and it’s also not worth spending much on gifts – clever though they may seem at the time. Everyone picks up a ton of stuff at Macworld, so unless your giveaway is perfect, it will be wasted. Ideally, look for something that’s small, light, and either durable or consumable. StarNine’s foam brains from last year were inspired – the brain is the only Macworld tchotchke that has made it to our living room. Things like customized pens and Post-It notes may not seem exciting, but people will probably use them for a long time – I still have some of a pad of note paper Dantz gave out several years ago, and DriveSavers once gave away a pen that featured several different (and only slightly litigious) sayings that rotate in a clear window as you click the pen’s top.
In the end, don’t get caught up in the trappings of the party. The major feature of these parties is the people who are attending. Attract a crowd of interesting people and provide a congenial atmosphere, and you’ll have a successful party.