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Adam Engst No comments

Warranty Realities

This isn’t exactly news, but I think all Mac owners should know this important information. You do know that Apple finally extended its warranty period from 90 days to one year, a move which we at TidBITS considered to be a case of "About time!" You may not know that it’s easy to void that wonderful one year warranty, at which point your friendly local dealer will be more than happy to fix your broken machine and take your first-born as a down payment on the repair bill. OK, so it’s not quite that bad, but still…

All Apple and third party hardware upgrades (basically anything you would want to put in your Mac, such as an internal hard drive, extra RAM, a PMMU, a new carburetor, etc.), must be performed by an Authorized Apple Service Technician. If some of my description sounds stilted, it’s because I’m closely following the guidelines to avoid ambiguity. Apple figures that if you crack a compact Mac or generally muck about with anything inside the case, you are likely to screw it up, most likely by failing to properly ground yourself against electrostatic discharge. While this probably isn’t true of most people who know enough to open the case, Apple doesn’t want to pay for your mistakes just because your machine is still under warranty.

What you can do inside your Mac is install a NuBus card if you have a Mac II-class machine, including the IIsi with the NuBus adapter (We haven’t heard about the PDS adapter, but it seems that PDS cards shouldn’t be different from NuBus cards in this instance. Check if you’re worried.). However, you have to check the details for your card, because there are three criteria which it must meet. First, the card manufacturer must not require installation by an authorized reseller. Second, the NuBus card must meet Apple’s specifications for NuBus architecture for the Macintosh II family. Third, the system configuration (in other words, the sum total of everything you’ve jammed in previously as well as this current board) must not exceed Apple’s specified total power consumption, as noted in the system owner’s manual. Whew. Be careful out there…

This last criterion is most applicable with the new Macs, and most specifically with the IIsi, which has a power limitation of 15 watts. Most cards fit within this limitation with the exception of some high-end graphics cards, including the Apple 824GC card. We gather that exceeding the IIsi’s power limitation will result in overheating, though Apple says that it tested the 824GC card with the IIsi and found no troubles in normal operating temperatures (up to 90[deg] F or 32[deg] C). If the IIsi overheats, an internal thermal sensor automatically shuts the machine down. So if your IIsi occasionally shuts down for no apparent reason, it might be overheating. Or it just might be possessed with daemons, you never can tell.

Information from:
Mark H. Anbinder — [email protected]

Adam Engst No comments

Correction Daemons

Whatever the excuse, our last issue was plagued by error daemons. Unlike our more staid, paper-based counterparts, when we make a mistake, we admit it freely and explain the problem. No one’s perfect and the weekly deadline doesn’t leave much time to check facts and fiction. In light of last weeks problems, this week seems like a good time to acknowledge and correct errors from previous weeks.

Some time ago we accidentally released the article "Electronic Jabberwocky" (on getting the electronic version of the Alice in Wonderland books via FTP) with a typographical error. The address should be, not [email protected]. Our apologies to those of you who have been frustrated by our mistake.

In the continuing confession series, we’ve received two complaints about TidBITS-042, our special issue on compression programs. First, we failed to include contact information. Sorry about that. Second, the tests focussed on the compression times, but failed to mention the equally as important expansion times. We’re working to rectify these oversights and will release that issue again in a week or so when everything is complete. There will be no change in issue number. If you’ve been archiving the issues, go ahead and delete the old items from your TidBITS Archive, then merge the new issue. If you have added this issue already, it will be slightly out of order, but no problems will arise from that. Waiting to merge this issue will ensure no gaps in your archive.

"ADB Oddities" and "GO’s Green Light" both invoked the TidBITS error handlers. In "ADB Oddities" we talked about problems with typing certain key combinations on Mac keyboards. This isn’t exactly a bug, but it is a design trade-off. Apparently, most, if not all, keyboards (the problem can occur any computer system) use a matrix to reduce the number of leads that must lead into the keyboard microcontroller. With 105-key keyboard, you would need close to 105 leads going into the microcontroller (the modifier keys don’t count in the same way). Most companies, including Apple, organize the keyboard so that four keys share a lead, and are organized into a 2 x 2 matrix on their own. So the problem with typing "out" and getting "ou;" comes about because "o," "u," "t," and ";" are all in the same 2 x 2 matrix. When the first two keys are down, the controller can’t distinguish between the other two, and probably picks more or less randomly. "But I’m not holding down both keys at once," you say. That’s true, except when you type very quickly, at which point the controller can’t tell the difference. The reason more problems don’t stem from this design is that the controller can record the keystroke on keyUp, which will be more distinct. If you want to play with this stuff, try holding down several keys at once in KeyCaps.

With "GO’s Green Light," we made one mistake and one omission. Our mistake, obviously caused by youth and inexperience, was saying that GO’s Embedded Document Architecture was radically different from existing operating systems. Sak Wathanasin pointed out that the Xerox Star operating system did precisely this, allowing the user to include different types of data in a single document and have the appropriate tool be available when the chart or text was appropriately selected. I’d love to get my hands on a Xerox Star sometime. I would also like to ask an obvious question. How in hell did Xerox bungle this computer!?! It seems that only after a number of years have companies managed to pull themselves back up to the level of the Star in many respects. Sak also mentions that while handwriting is slow, shorthand is much faster and could be used for fast text input on a handwriting system. Of course, you have learn shorthand, but if it’s speed you crave…

The data that we omitted from the GO article was the contact information, not for any malicious reason, but simply because none of our sources listed it. We do have it now, so here it is.

GO Corp.
950 Tower Lane, Suite 1400
Foster City, CA 94404
415/345-9833 (fax)

Information from:
Sak Wathanasin — [email protected]

Adam Engst No comments

The Latest in QuickMail

CE’s popular electronic mail package will see some significant enhancements when version 2.5 ships this summer. Perhaps the most important change, at least for those of us who must deal with non-AppleTalk networks, is support for AppleTalk Filing Protocol (AFP) compatible networks, such as Novell Netware, 3Com’s 3+ Open, Microsoft’s LAN Manager, DEC’s PCSA, and Banyan VINES. With the QuickMail PC for PC LANs, any PC on the network can send and receive mail from its own file servers, though mail to or from a machine on an AppleTalk network must go through the QuickMail server on the AppleTalk network. The only two minor inconveniences are the fact that you can’t use the QuickConference feature to send interactive messages, and you have to administrate the PC LAN clients with QM Administrator on a Macintosh. Gotta keep those Macs around for something :-).

There are plenty of other new features that will make everyone and their brothers want to upgrade to 2.5, not the least of which is the fact that it’s a free upgrade for users of 2.2.3. Even though the current release of QuickMail works under System 7.0, version 2.5 will be 32-bit clean for System 7.0 and A/UX. We haven’t heard if QuickMail will support System 7.0’s cool IAC features, though such enhancements are likely to take a while as everyone gets used to the possibilities of IAC. A new feature I personally am going to love is 2.5’s ability to send only a single copy of messages that have multiple recipients on the same server. A corollary to this is that only a single message will be stored on the local server, thus saving lots of disk space. When I send out TidBITS each week to the people who redistribute it, I send out about 10 copies, which bogs down my poor 2400 baud modem. Luckily QuickMail is good about scheduling such tedious work for 2:00 AM. Finally, the remote parts of QuickMail (on which I rely heavily) now support Apple’s Communications Toolbox, so QM-QM Bridge can now dial callers back to increase security. Additions to CE’s remote QuickMail products include QM-Direct, QM-Script, and QM-Link, all of which help communications within large, complex telephone systems and international systems – and no, I don’t know exactly what each one will do yet, but CE’s press release muttered something about ISDN, X.25, and ADSP, for those in the acronym know. QM-Remote (which lets you read and write mail remotely) now looks like the QuickMail client, supports the Comm Toolbox, and lets you work off-line to minimize on-line time and connect charges.

For those of you who don’t mess with administration, CE added to the QuickMail client as well. All incoming mail now goes into a single folder until you file it somewhere else (I assume that this single folder differs from the current scheme in that you can close it, so you don’t have to stare at all that mail you haven’t read or answered yet.). There are also a number of new features related to sending and replying to mail, so you can now reply to the "sender," the "originator," or "everyone," a feature which will make QuickMail even better at conferencing. Forwarded mail can be "as-is" or "with changes" (these quoted terms are CE’s, not mine), and pop-up address books, which will be a welcome change from the current clumsy method of changing address books. Finally, incoming mail can trigger a QuicKeys2 macro. Although I can’t think of a good example now, (other than "Delete all mail from So-and So") I’m sure people will think of excellent uses for this feature.

Information Electronics, one of the most innovative firms to produce add-ons for QuickMail, will soon have something for those of you searching to consolidate all of your email. The $129 QMSight allows users of a Second Sight BBS (previously known as Red Ryder Host) to send mail through other QuickMail gateways to numerous other electronic services, including CompuServe, AppleLink, GEnie, Usenet, but not America Online. (If you wish, hassle the AOL folks to provide Information Electronics with the necessary specifications and you’re likely to see a QM-AOL bridge shortly thereafter. QMSight also allows people on a network containing the Mac running the Second Sight BBS to respond directly via QuickMail over the network without having to dial in. I personally feel that QMSight’s first ability is the most important, since a Second Sight BBS sysop can now provide local access to important electronic services. For many people not affiliated with a large business or educational institution, electronic access has previously been a daunting and expensive task.

Another QuickMail developer, StarNine Technologies, will release two more QuickMail gateways this spring. The first one, MailLink QM-MS will allow QuickMail users and Microsoft Mail users to transfer messages and enclosures, though not forms or address books. Since QuickMail has about 55% of the market and Microsoft Mail has another 20% or so, linking the two packages should be a popular option. MailLink QM-MS will cost $295 for 50 users, $495 for 100 users, and $4950 for a site license. The second gateway, Mail*Link MHS, will replace a CE product that provided the same ability to transfer messages to email systems using the MHS (Message Handling Service) engine from Action Technologies and Novell. MHS is used by programs like WordPerfect Office, cc:Mail, and DaVinci Mail, all popular DOS mail systems. StarNine has a free 50-user upgrade for users of CE’s MHS gateway, and prices for new users are based on number of users. Now if only everyone was on a network…

CE Software — 515/224-1995
Information Electronics — 607/267-5840
StarNine Technologies — 415/548-0391

Information from:
CE propaganda

Related articles:
MacWEEK — 12-Feb-91, Vol. 5, #6, pg. 15
MacWEEK — 29-Jan-91, Vol. 5, #4, pg. 15, 16
InfoWorld — 11-Feb-91, Vol. 13, #6, pg. 33
PC WEEK — 11-Feb-91, Vol. 8, #6, pg. 41

Adam Engst No comments

Printer News

Back in November, we claimed that Apple was going to come out with a cheap ink-jet printer this spring, and it’s looking more and more like we were right (in this business you have to take these minor victories where you can get them). Apple of course refused to confirm reports that they denied everything when asked about the printers, but we think Apple will soon release the StyleWriter, a sub-$600 ink-jet based on the 360 dpi Canon bubble-jet engine, and the sub-$1400 Personal LaserWriter LS, a 300 dpi laser based on the same 4 page per minute engine used by the Personal LaserWriter NT. Despite InfoWorld’s impression that "other Apple LaserWriters use a SCSI connection," the Personal LaserWriter LS will not be unique in using the serial port (only the LaserWriter II SC and Personal LaserWriter SC, the latter of which will be discontinued in all likelihood), connect via the SCSI port – guess what the SC in their names stands for…). Of course both printers will support TrueType and QuickDraw, which places their release date sometime around or after the release of System 7.0. We have no information on whether or not either of these printers can be upgraded to handle True Image, though PostScript upgrades will not be possible. By the way, we’ve heard that the documentation for System 7.0 is completely done and Apple is trying to make sure it is as bug-free as possible even though it’s stable now.

Interestingly enough, we haven’t heard much about True Image, the PostScript clone that Apple licensed from Microsoft in return for Apple’s TrueType technology. Microsoft hasn’t yet shipped the True Image interpreter to the companies who want to use it yet, supposedly because of delays with TrueType at Apple. A few companies, most notably LaserMAX Systems, have shipped True Image printers already, but those printers will have to be upgraded when the final release of True Image comes out. Abaton just announced a low-end, 6 page per minute, PostScript-compatible printer using the Microsoft PostScript clone. Like the QMS-PS 410, it has numerous input ports (one parallel, two serial, and one AppleTalk) and can accept data on any one without manual switching. With either of these PostScript clone printers, you must determine if the PostScript emulation is good enough for your purposes (though even true Adobe PostScript can’t necessarily print all possible PostScript documents).

Apple certainly isn’t ignoring the high-end these days, despite its recent emphasis on the low-end. Work on the 68040 machines is going well, with a workstation using A/UX and a high-end machine to knock the IIfx down a rung to come out sometime this spring. New laser printers are coming as well to take over for the aging II NT and II NTX. In all likelihood, the new printers will use the same engine, but will have faster processors to speed output and will include Ethernet ports to go with all of Apple’s new Ethernet hardware. Since PostScript printers seldom reach the engine’s rated speed, the processor is the main bottleneck. And what better way to avoid a bottleneck than throwing more processor power at it.

LaserMAX Systems — 612/944-9696
Abaton — 800/444-5321 — 415/683-2226

Information from:

Related articles:
MacWEEK — 05-Feb-91, Vol. 5, #5, pg. 1, 6
InfoWorld — 11-Feb-91, Vol. 13, #6, pg. 101
PC WEEK — 04-Feb-91, Vol. 8, #5, pg. 19