Move to Seattle and sue a spammer! A new law sets fines of up to $1,000 for deceptive email sent to Washington state residents. Also in this issue, Adam passes on more multiple monitor tips from readers and Michael Jardeen reviews Claris Home Page 3.0. In other news, Apple says Steve Jobs can remain interim CEO indefinitely, and we note the releases of QuickTime 3.0, WebSTAR 3.0, QuarkXPress 4.02r1, the Remove Office 98 utility 1.1, and Myrmidon 2.1
Interim Indefinite — Reports last week said that Apple’s Board of Directors planned to set a deadline for Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs to put up or shut up: either accept the permanent CEO position or step aside so Apple can convince someone else to assume leadership. Now, according the Wall Street Journal, Apple’s board has decided not to set a date for Jobs’s decision, effectively granting him permission to remain interim chief as long as he likes. Apparently, the board’s decision and Jobs’s handling of the company have been popular with investors: Apple’s stock price has more than doubled since Jobs assumed a leadership role with Apple in July of 1997. [GD]
Washington State Outlaws Spam — According to a Seattle Times article, Washington State Governor Gary Locke last week signed into law a bill that aims to reduce unsolicited commercial email, better known as spam (see "Damn that Spam!" in NetBITS-003, or search for "spam" in the NetBITS search engine). The new law, which takes effect in 90 days, makes it a violation for spammers to send email messages with forged return addresses, fake header information, or misleading subject lines. The law applies both to spam originating within the state of Washington and spam directed at people who the spammer knows, or has reason to know, are Washington residents. It also places the burden on the spammer to determine whether or not any given individual resides in Washington. People who receive such spam could collect up to $500 per message, and Internet service providers could collect up to $1,000. It remains to be seen how easy it will be to collect damages, but no matter what, the new law should create a possible economic liability to spam where none has previously existed.
In related news, notorious spammer Cyber Promotions has settled the last outstanding lawsuit against it by agreeing to pay ISP EarthLink Network $2 million and to stop sending unsolicited email to EarthLink members. Previously, Cyber Promotions settled spam cases with AOL, CompuServe, and Bigfoot, and had its network connectivity terminated by AGIS. [ACE]
Don’t Remove Office 98! Microsoft is warning users of Microsoft Office 98 of a situation that can result in a Macintosh being rendered temporarily inoperable due to the System Folder being relocated to the Trash. The Office 98 CD includes a utility called Remove Office 98 that moves the Microsoft Office 98 folder to the Trash. It also looks for a library called Microsoft Office 98 and moves that to the Trash. Normally, the Microsoft Office 98 library lives in the Microsoft Office 98 folder, but if you manually move the Microsoft Office 98 library to the Extensions folder (as you might have done – unnecessarily – if you double-clicked the library and were told that libraries should be placed in the Extensions folder) and then run the Remove Office 98 utility from the Value Pack folder on the CD, the utility mistakenly moves the System Folder to the Trash instead of the Microsoft Office 98 folder. After this, to boot the Mac, you must use a separate boot disk (floppy, CD, or hard disk), at which point you can retrieve the System Folder from the Trash to restore the Mac to working order. Microsoft has released version 1.1 of Remove Office 98 (a 132K download), which fixes the problem. [ACE]
Apple Ships QuickTime 3.0 — Although developer releases have been available since late 1997, Apple today released version 3.0 of its QuickTime media software for the Mac OS plus Windows 95 and Windows NT. In addition to being the first fully cross-platform release of QuickTime, version 3.0 adds support for many new media formats (including PNG and the DV digital video format), rolls in QuickTime VR and QuickDraw 3D, includes the QuickTime PictureViewer for still images, and provides an extensible architecture for nearly all types of media. QuickTime 3.0 will serve as the foundation of the MPEG 4 standard, and is the underlying technology behind the forthcoming HyperCard 3.0. Although most features of QuickTime 3.0 are available for both 68K and PowerPC-based machines, MPEG and DV playback, 3D objects, and some effects are PowerPC-only. QuickTime 3.0 can be downloaded for free from Apple (6.4 MB in MacBinary format).
Apple is also promoting QuickTime 3 Pro for $30, which apparently exposes some of QuickTime 3.0’s media editing and export capabilities; includes documentation for QuickTime utilities; and adds a few features, such as saving movies to disk directly from a Web browser. [GD]
StarNine Goes Supernova with WebSTAR 3.0 — StarNine Technologies last week released WebSTAR 3.0, a major upgrade to the company’s popular Web server. WebSTAR 3.0 adds FTP and proxy servers; built-in search capabilities; IP multihoming and virtual domain support; a revamped WebSTAR Administrative application that works over an encrypted TCP/IP connection; and interestingly, language-based routing that reads a Web browser’s language setting and serves appropriate content for that language. WebSTAR 3.0 is priced at $499; upgrades cost $199 for users of WebSTAR 2.x and $299 for users of WebSTAR 1.x. Upgrades are free for those who purchased WebSTAR on or after 15-Nov-97, and discounts are also available on WebSTAR and other products as part of StarNine’s Bundle Up program. A 30-day evaluation copy of WebSTAR 3.0 is available as a 14 MB download. [ACE]
Myrmidon 2.1 Adds CyberStudio Synergy — Terry Morse Software has released Myrmidon 2.1, a popular document-to-HTML converter that "prints" documents to HTML instead of to a printer. Along with a few minor new features and preferences, the new version brings compatibility with the layout grid in CyberStudio from GoLive Systems, making it so CyberStudio users can tweak Myrmidon layouts quickly. The $69 (direct price) Myrmidon requires at least a 68020-based Mac, with 8 MB RAM and System 7.1. A demo version of Myrmidon is available as a 450K download; the demo version works for 25 conversions. (TidBITS noted the release of version 2.0 in "Myrmidon 2.0 Brings Numerous Enhancements" in TidBITS Updates.) [TJE]
Quark Releases 4.02 Update — Since shipping QuarkXPress 4.0 for Macintosh last December, Quark has released four minor updates. The latest, a 6.8 MB download, is the 4.02r1 update. It updates any earlier version of QuarkXPress 4 to version 4.02, and replaces the 4.01, 4.01r1, and (barely released) 4.02 updaters. Along with squashing a few bugs, 4.02 offers updated versions of MS Word and XPress Tags filters and the Index and JPEG Import XTensions. The Bleed Redefine XTension released with 4.01 is incorporated directly into QuarkXPress 4.02. Quark also released the TypeTricks 1.01 XTension a few weeks ago, which replaces some of the missing functionality of free XTensions compatible only with QuarkXPress 3.3. We expect the release of more freeware XTensions in the next few weeks, bringing version 4.0’s XTension feature up to par with version 3.3. [GF]
I was almost overwhelmed with the responses to my “Double the Fun with Multiple Monitors” article in TidBITS-421. It seems that many people use multiple monitors, and those people who have several screens are as addicted to them as I am.
Finding Another Monitor — Several people bemoaned the cost of using multiple monitors. I sympathize with the problem and agree that it’s not easy to find video cards and monitors for free; however, with an inexpensive monitor adapter most Macs can use most PC monitors. It’s best to use a multisync monitor, but even a straight VGA monitor should work. [In addition, Marc Zeedar email@example.com pointed us to the XLR8 Warp Vision 2 MB PCI video card that TidBITS sponsor Cyberian Outpost sells for $99 (they also have several monitor adapters). Small Dog Electronics, another TidBITS
sponsor, also offers inexpensive monitors and video cards. -Adam]
It’s almost impossible to buy new grayscale monitors these days, but the fact that many consider them outdated may prove helpful in finding a cheap used one. You can use it for situations where color isn’t important (such as network monitoring, email, or word processing).
A few people commented that if you have an AV Mac with video-out capabilities, you can use a television as an additional monitor. The resolution isn’t great, and you may need extra VRAM, but it’s a decent way to preview Web pages at 640 by 480.
Running Interference? Many readers asked about interference between monitors pushed close together, resulting in waviness or color shifts on one or both monitors. I’d forgotten about this problem since upgrading to my Apple 21-inch monitors, since they don’t suffer interference problems. However, here are some suggestions for eliminating interference.
Move the monitors apart until the interference goes away. This is what I did with one set of monitors long ago, and although I didn’t like the inch of space between them, it was acceptable. Tonya solves the problem by cocking her monitors so the fronts touch but the backs are several inches apart.
Make sure the interference isn’t caused by video or power cables overlapping each other. Geoff had this problem after his kittens redecorated behind his desk.
Set monitors so they run at the same refresh rate, if possible. You can see and choose the rate in the Monitors & Sound control panel; the rate appears as the number listed after the resolution, as in the “67” in “640 x 480, 67 Hz.”
Use newer, low-emission monitors, which are generally better shielded than older screens.
Check for sources of emissions nearby. I’ve noticed problems if AC power adapters are plugged into the same power strip as my monitors.
Place metallic shielding between the monitors. I’ve heard a couple of suggestions for the metal to use, ranging from steel to tin to lead, but if anyone can offer a definitive explanation and shielding solution, please let me know.
Other Uses for Multiple Monitors — Probably the most commonly suggested use for a secondary monitor was to store the many palettes used by desktop publishing and graphics applications. Putting those palettes on a cheap 13-inch monitor frees up space on the primary screen, which is often an expensive 21-inch color monitor running at 24-bit color. Victor Gavenda firstname.lastname@example.org noted that multiple monitors are perfectly suited to music typesetting, where the more screen space you have, the better. Also, Max Heim email@example.com offered advice for artists thinking about upgrading to a second monitor:
“It’s important that the two monitors are closely matched in color, so when you pick a color from the color palette it looks the same in your image. For this reason I always specify Trinitron monitors and make sure they’re set to the same color temperature and gamma. I find it best to pick resolutions for the two monitors that give you the same or nearly the same “pixels per inch” (not necessarily the largest supported resolution); so that type, for example, appears the same size on either monitor. It’s easy to check this by choosing a desktop pattern that features an obvious repeating pattern, or by dragging a small window so it straddles the monitors, and see if the edges line up.”
Those who work in Macromedia Director also benefit from multiple screens. Max Heim also noted that when he did Director work, he used three monitors: a 20-inch color monitor for the Paint and Cast windows, a 20-inch grayscale monitor for the Score window, and a 13-inch color screen for the Stage.
Web designers chimed in loudly in favor of using multiple monitors so you could write HTML on one screen and preview it on another. Inexpensive monitors running at 640 by 480 are popular, since they provide a least common denominator reality check. Finally, a few mentioned using three monitors for previewing in both Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. Web designers doing double duty as network administrators also found secondary monitors useful for keeping network status windows open.
Programmers also claimed a special need for multiple monitors to keep a debugger open on one screen while an application runs on the other. I’d also encourage programmers to use multiple monitors to make sure their applications behave properly on multiple monitors. Some applications don’t zoom properly on a secondary monitor, and I once saw an application that actively prevented you from moving its window to the secondary monitor.
Several folks who use either SoftWindows, Virtual PC, or PC Compatibility cards noted that it’s easier to work back and forth between the two operating systems if each has its own monitor. I’ve certainly found this when controlling my PC via Timbuktu.
Finally, the gaming crowd strongly recommended ParSoft Interactive’s A-10 Attack and GSC’s F/A-18 Hornet 2.0 – a pair of flight simulators that use multiple monitors for additional views (though reportedly, subsequent versions of F/A-18 Hornet dropped multiple monitor support when the program went cross-platform).
Utilities — A number of people passed on utilities that they found useful when working with multiple monitor setups. For those not running Mac OS 8, several readers suggested the Secret Finder Features extension, which enables the Command-Delete keyboard shortcut for sending selected files to the Trash, a great time saver when the icons in question are far from the Trash. Similar features are available in the equally unauthorized Hidden Finder Features control panel.
Another popular utility, WestCode’s OneClick, can be scripted to reposition windows automatically for poorly behaved applications that don’t properly remember window positions. In addition, there’s a Load/Save Desktops button for OneClick that can restore Finder icons to a pre-assigned configuration, which is useful if you do anything that confuses the desktop layout. If you’re just concerned about Finder windows, Brookline Software’s Window Set Manager can be useful for opening and positioning sets of windows for a particular project.
For those who just can’t afford a second monitor, Martin Sweitzer recommends Virtual, a $10 shareware utility that provides a larger virtual screen as well as several virtual screens. Virtual might also be useful for those of us who still use SE/30s as servers, since occasionally I run across software that simply requires a larger screen.
PowerBook Users — Finally, a number of readers wrote that the only reason they weren’t upgrading to a new PowerBook was the lack of multiple monitor support. However, at least PowerBook 1400 users have some hope. John W. Fox firstname.lastname@example.org told us of the Newer Technology VIEWpowr 1400/16 video card, which supports a two monitor system for either video mirroring or as two separate screens. John’s only problem is that he can’t move the cursor from the PowerBook screen to the second monitor except from the right side – we haven’t verified this, but Apple’s original 8-bit video card for the PowerBook 1400 properly enables both video mirroring and
I run Home Page on two computers: a Power Computing Power 100 with a 100 MHz PowerPC 601 and 40 MB of RAM, and a Performa 6360 with a 160 MHz PowerPC 603 and 56 MB of RAM. Speed and responsiveness are never problematic on either machine.
As a Home Page 1.0 user, I suffered from many of the program’s foibles: version 1.0 wouldn’t display background graphics, even in preview mode; tables sometimes displayed strangely in Netscape Navigator; and frame support was missing, though at the time, I didn’t care. The one thing that worked well was overall table support.
Tables enable you to place items on a Web page anywhere you like within the grid structure created by the table’s cells. Without tables (and now, high-end, stylesheet-based positioning) your HTML layout options are fairly limited. When Home Page 1.0 came out, I loved using tables, especially because I didn’t know a lick of HTML – I was just a babe in the Web woods wanting to use that 2 MB of space that my ISP gave me. [Like many people who explored HTML during the heady youth of the Web, Michael is now a professional webmaster. -Tonya]
The Competition — Little did I know the monster that my Web authoring hobby would become. Since my first brush with Home Page, I’ve tried many WYSIWYG HTML editors and found flaws in all. For this review, though, I was particularly concerned with how Home Page 3.0 would stack up to its most direct competitors, Adobe PageMill and Symantec Visual Page. I wondered if Home Page could replace PageMill and Visual Page in my heart and alias list.
Adobe PageMill 2.0 has a great overall feature set, but its table-cell selection routine is extremely awkward. Because PageMill was the first visual editor available, it is still the standard by which basic Web authoring software is measured. Symantec’s Visual Page has been my overall favorite, especially with the recent 1.1.1 upgrade, though I wish it had beefier site management features. It combines Home Page’s nice interface with PageMill’s well-rounded features and adds font specification capabilities.
[For in-depth reviews of these and other Web authoring programs, check out my "Spinning the Web" series from mid-1997. -Tonya]
Orientation — I was surprised to find that both the Mac OS and the Windows versions of Home Page came on one CD-ROM. The surprises continued when I discovered that version 3.0 wanted to consume over 62 MB of disk space. It turned out that the application takes about 5 MB of space – the rest is optional clip art and templates, as well as help-related files.
Although I don’t care much personally for the templates and clip art, those who are new to page layout may find them valuable. The clip art is above average in quality and the templates provide a broad range of starting points, including calendars, kids’ pages, and business sites.
My final surprise was the lack of a printed manual. Instead, I found 9 MB of online help and 17 MB worth of assistants – more help than would have fit on early hard disks. So much for curling up on the couch with the manual. Luckily, the online material is clear, well done, and printable.
To start a new Web page, you launch Home Page or use the New command as well as templates and assistants as required. You can also define a site folder and use an assistant to build a complete site. The assistant saves time by helping you specify defaults like backgrounds, link colors, and titles, and it enables you to create navigational tools automatically.
Noteworthy Features — Where Home Page particularly stands out is in its interface, which has an elegant, Mac-like look and feel. It should be familiar if you’ve used other Claris software. For instance, creating tables in Home Page is easy, and tables can be resized by dragging, a feature that PageMill and Visual Page also offer. Unlike PageMill, though, selecting table cells is simple in Home Page. Home Page also has the smoothest process for joining cells to create merged rows or columns.
I appreciate Home Page’s capability to size its window to mimic common monitor resolutions: 640 by 480, 800 by 600, 1,024 by 768, or default (505 pixels wide). Finally, I like Home Page’s capability to apply fonts and even multiple font faces to selected text, a feature shared with Visual Page but not PageMill. However, Home Page stops short of Visual Page’s font groups, a feature that stores a complex font tag (such as <font face=Geneva, Arial>) as a convenient menu command.
Playing Tag — HTML in Home Page 3.0’s Edit HTML mode is better color-coded and indented, making the HTML easier to understand. When you select an item in Edit Page mode it remains selected when you switch to Edit HTML mode – a godsend when editing complex pages. However, I’d like to be able to open and close Edit HTML mode without Home Page modifying my carefully coded HTML. Importing HTML created elsewhere is still a nightmare – if Home Page could cleanly import HTML, it would stand a better chance of attracting those who prefer to code by hand at least some of the time. Macromedia’s Dreamweaver, with its "round-trip HTML" feature does a much better job at maintaining your HTML; CyberStudio from GoLive Systems also does reasonably well.
FileMaker Support — Home Page 3.0 brings the capability to build pages that interact with FileMaker databases. Traditionally, Web pages include information from databases by way of scripts or CGIs; Home Page enables you to author Web pages that include CDML (Claris Dynamic Markup Language) tags, which FileMaker Pro 4’s Web Companion interprets and replaces with information from FileMaker Pro databases.
Using CDML, you can build Web pages that search, display, and create records in FileMaker databases. Other functions support date, time, cookies, and more. You can insert CDML tags via drag & drop and then modify them by hand.
To use CDML effectively, you must have a good grasp of FileMaker and its features, but you won’t need to learn more complex programming languages, such as Perl. If you plan to publish databases using FileMaker Pro 4.0’s Web features, CDML support is an important advantage over PageMill and Visual Page.
Rough Spots — Home Page has a short list of glaring problems. High among them is the way it modifies imported HTML, although some of the graphical tools don’t measure up to the excellence of the table tool. For instance, Home Page’s framing feature has a rigid, inefficient feel to it. Finally, as a minor quibble, I don’t understand why Home Page automatically assigns a one-pixel border to linked images – almost no one does that these days.
Conclusion — Does Home Page 3.0 replace PageMill or Visual Page as my top picks for basic visual Web authoring? My answer is a polite no. Home Page is easy to learn and use, and offers an overall clean interface. Since it’s available for Mac OS, Windows 95, and Windows NT, you can trade pages cross-platform. The capability to author pages using data from FileMaker elevates Home Page to a new playing field, and it should become the logical tool for integrating a FileMaker database into a Web application if you’re serving databases using FileMaker’s built-in tools.
However, the FileMaker integration still needs some work to match the rest of Home Page’s ease of use and simplicity. Some people will find the combination of features, ease-of-use, and FileMaker support compelling, although I still prefer PageMill and Visual Page for their overall design and ease of use. No one has created the perfect WYSIWYG Web authoring program – and when someone does, the rules will change.
The $99 Home Page 3.0 calls for at least a 68020-based Macintosh, System 7.1, 12 MB available RAM, and 5 MB free disk space, though you’ll need at least 12 MB of disk space to perform a minimal installation. You can download a trial version of Home Page; MacBinary (10 MB) and BinHex (13 MB) versions are available.
[Michael Jardeen works as head designer and webmaster for MedLynx.]