This week we finally conclude our notes from Macworld Expo, with Adam taking a close look at rationale behind the market research numbers Steve Jobs shared during his keynote address. Contributing Editor Matt Neuburg joins us with a review of Papyrus, a bibliography management program that offers numerous features to academics everywhere. In the news, we cover Apple’s $183 million Q1 profit and Connectix’s free update to RAM Doubler 9.
Connectix Releases Free RAM Doubler 9 Update — Perhaps the most essential utility that fell prey to compatibility problems with the release of Mac OS 9 was Connectix’s RAM Doubler 8, which replaces Apple’s built-in virtual memory scheme with alternative methods of increasing the amount of memory available to applications. It does this by first reclaiming unused memory from other applications, then by compressing memory in use so it takes less space, and finally by swapping the contents of memory out to disk. (See "Free RAM Doubler 8 Update" in TidBITS-439 and "RAM Doubler 2" TidBITS-351 for more details.) Connectix has finally released a free update to RAM Doubler 9 that adds no new features but makes RAM Doubler compatible with Mac OS 9. If you’ve been missing RAM Doubler since upgrading to Mac OS 9, it’s well worth downloading. Unfortunately, Connectix also stated that it has no plans to update the popular SpeedDoubler 8 or Surf Express Deluxe for Mac OS 9. [ACE]
Apple Posts $183 Million Profit — Apple Computer posted a $183 million profit for its first fiscal quarter of 2000. Apple’s unit shipments were up 46 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago: Apple sold nearly 1.4 million systems during the quarter (including 700,000 iMacs and 235,000 iBooks) and 51 percent of those sales were to international customers. Apple has $3.6 billion in cash and short term investments, and ended the quarter with less than one day of inventory on hand. Although these numbers are quite healthy, they would have been $178 million without some mammoth one-time events. Apple sold five million shares of ARM Holdings for a total gain of $101 million, took a net restructuring charge of $6 million, and allotted $90 million dollars in "executive compensation" for turnaround-leader Steve Jobs, who was given his own Gulfstream V jet and options to buy 10 million shares of Apple stock. That’s not bad pay for a part-time job. [GD]
Poll Results: Swimming Towards Aqua — After only one live preview, Apple’s new Aqua interface for Mac OS X has been branded everything from the "Jolly Rancher interface" to the equivalent to the misfire that was New Coke. Now, TidBITS readers have filed their opinions in last week’s poll, when we asked, "How do you feel about Apple’s new interface for Mac OS X?" From a total of 1,005 responses, 40 percent said they loved the new look; 34 percent were positively wishy-washy and said it was okay; 22 percent said "I’m worried"; and only 4 percent expressed outright hatred. Although Mac OS X isn’t scheduled to ship for another six months or so, it looks like many users will be happy to go with the flow. [JLC]
Quiz Preview: Sending Email Attachments to Windows — It’s quiz time again, and this week’s question is one that has vexed many a newbie (and plenty of veteran users). Attaching files to outgoing email messages intended for Mac users is usually no sweat, especially for people using modern email programs. But what’s the best encoding method to use when sending a file to a Windows user via email? It’s a tricky question, and if you test your knowledge on our home page, the results page will explain the correct answer. [JLC]
At the beginning of his keynote address at Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Steve Jobs spent about five minutes going over Apple’s numbers, primarily those garnered from market research. These carefully chosen statistics aren’t necessarily dry economic figures but rather reflect how Apple is justifying the company’s current strategies and directions. Follow along as I look at what the numbers mean to the Mac community and why Jobs wanted to share these particular results.
First though, for those that wondered about this emphasis on statistics at Macworld, remember that the keynote address is heavily attended by the mainstream media, and Jobs understands the power of speaking to that audience. Put bluntly, numbers are easy to write down and remember, so mainstream journalists can easily assemble a quick story around them. Jobs’s careful presentation of positive results before anything else in the keynote was clearly aimed at generating positive press. Only a couple years ago mainstream media regularly shredded Apple in print; Jobs wants to ensure a solid footing with the press, and there’s no better way to do that than feed journalists good numbers in a forum where they can’t even ask questions.
Portable & Consumer Popularity — Jobs focused first on the iBook and the PowerBook, which together garnered 11 percent of the U.S. retail market share in November. Although he didn’t split out the iBook’s numbers specifically at the time, Jobs did comment that according to PC Data, the iBook was the top-selling portable in the U.S. retail market in both October and November. Stating the numbers in this way met two goals – it emphasized the popularity of the iBook (in the face of the now-rote criticism heaped on the iBook for its curvaceous looks and moderate specifications) and gave a nod to the continuing strength of the eight-month old PowerBook line, perhaps as a jab at the widespread rumors that new PowerBooks would be introduced at the show.
Also aimed at answering iBook criticism was Apple’s research showing that 56 percent of iBooks purchased were the first portable computer in the home. That number helps support Apple’s approach of making a consumer-level laptop, a market whose needs computer makers – including Apple – haven’t previously addressed.
With the numbers released last week in Apple’s quarterly report, we can see even more of where Apple’s business is heading. Apple shipped nearly 1,377,000 Macs in its first fiscal quarter of 2000; of those, 700,000 were iMacs and 235,000 were iBooks. That’s a total of 935,000 candy-colored Macs, or about 68 percent of total sales, which shows that the lion’s share of Apple’s business is coming from consumer-oriented systems. Of course, Apple’s professional-level Power Macintosh G4 line has suffered from supply problems (Jobs shared no research numbers regarding the G4s), and the current PowerBook G3 had to fight both being the oldest member of the Mac line and those rumors of imminent replacement. Perhaps next quarter’s results will show movement back toward the professional line. Still, it’s hard to argue with Apple’s continued focus on the consumer market that brought the company back to profitability and still sustains it.
New to the Mac — Next, Jobs turned his attention to who is buying iBooks and iMacs. First-time computer buyers made up 11 percent of iBook buyers, and 17 percent switched from Windows-based PCs. The numbers for the iMac were even higher, with 30 percent first-time computer buyers and 14 percent Windows PC converts. That makes more than a quarter of iBook buyers and almost half of iMac buyers converts to the Mac platform, which Apple likes to highlight. Plus, Apple claimed that 67 percent of iMac buyers never considered another computer.
Many media reports characterized Apple’s recovery initially as coming entirely from pent-up demand from the Macintosh faithful, but with this large percentage of iBook and iMac buyers coming from outside the fold, Apple can show that although existing Macintosh owners are remaining loyal to the platform, the iMac and iBook are responsible for bringing hundreds of thousands of new users to the Macintosh. That growth in customer base is significant in numerous ways: it plays well with the stock analyst crowd; it makes for a good story for the mass media (and hints that additional Macintosh coverage might be worthwhile); it encourages developers to support the Macintosh; and it reassures existing Macintosh owners that they’re by no means alone.
What They’re Using — Jobs then focused on Apple’s high-profile hardware features: AirPort wireless networking and the digital video capabilities in the iMac DV. Sixteen percent of iBook owners have installed AirPort cards, which strikes me as high, given that AirPort cards are only useful either in multiple iBook situations or in conjunction with AirPort Base Stations. Despite the ease of networking the Macintosh in the past, Apple has never done much to promote features like LocalTalk or Personal File Sharing, so it’s good to see them emphasizing AirPort. Tonya and I have been using an iBook with an AirPort Base Station for several weeks, and I have to say that wireless networking is utterly addictive, despite some annoying problems with the current AirPort software.
On the other hand, Jobs said that 10 percent of iMac DV owners have made a digital movie, and another 22 percent say that they plan to do so. He obviously thought these numbers were impressive enough to share, although I’m somewhat surprised, since they feel low to me given the emphasis Apple has placed on digital video and the price of the iMac DV. If nothing else, the fact that Jobs had to mention the iMac DV owners who planned to use iMovie indicates that even Apple may be bothered that only 10 percent actually have used iMovie for real.
Given the overwhelming interest in digital video in the TidBITS poll on the topic (where 75 percent of respondents said they found digital video moderately or very appealing) and the related discussion on TidBITS Talk, I would have expected the number of iMac DV owners who had already made a movie to be larger.
Why the low numbers? Despite iMovie’s ease of use, it requires an expensive digital camcorder, and people who already have traditional camcorders may have difficulty justifying the purchase of a new camcorder as well as the iMac DV. And even then, messing around with digital video requires that most precious commodity: time. For example, we have an elderly JVC camcorder that uses VHS-C tapes. As new parents, Tonya and I find this setup more useful than digital video in some ways, since we can just videotape Tristan and then send the videotape to relatives to share amongst themselves. The process is fast and simple, and although we could produce better quality movies with iMovie, we barely have time to upload digital stills of Tristan to the Web, much less edit digital movies of him. At least Apple’s iDisk and QuickTime-streaming-capable HomePage iTool will go a long way toward eliminating the other significant limitation of large QuickTime movies: distribution.
iT’s the iNternet — Jobs next reeled off several numbers aimed at justifying the Internet focus of the iBooks and iMacs, saying that 90 percent of iBook owners were on the Internet and a full 70 percent had purchased goods and services online. The comparable iMac numbers were slightly different, with 93 percent on the Internet – 62 percent having connected on the first day of ownership – and 57 percent purchasing on the Internet. I suspect the lower percentage of iMac owners purchasing online has to do with iMacs attracting users with less elastic wallets and less previous experience with the Internet. After all, 11 percent of iBook buyers are new to computers, whereas 30 percent of iMac buyers purchased the iMac as their first computer.
In short, these statistics about Internet use and purchasing say that not only are iBook and iMac owners almost certain to get on the Internet, they also spend money on the Internet. That might help identify Apple as a "dot com" company to Wall Street analysts, and the research might also encourage large Web sites to design for Mac users as well as Windows users. I still periodically receive email from people asking for Macintosh/Internet usage statistics to help convince their Web designers to make a site more accessible for Mac users- hopefully these numbers will help.
Finally, Jobs also noted that the online Apple Store did $300 million in sales in the last quarter, giving it a $1 billion annual sales rate. Since overall revenues for the quarter were $2.34 billion, that means about 13 percent of Apple’s business comes directly through the Internet. I’d be interested to hear how many first-time iMac and iBook buyers purchased through the Apple Store, and what the comparable numbers were for PC-converts.
The Message Is the Message — Dirty secret time. Many companies, especially large ones that devote significant resources to their marketing efforts, create "marketing messages" to go along with product launches or other marketing efforts. In meetings with the press and in subsequent public presentations to customers, the goal is not so much to show the product, but to instill the marketing message so deeply that it becomes "the word" on that product, both in the media and among users. I’ve been in numerous press briefings where I just wanted to interrupt the oh-so-earnest presentation and say, "Yes, I understand that your goal is to provide a best-of-class product that meets the needs of today’s users and supports all of Apple’s latest technologies in a variety of candy-coated colors. That’s true for everyone. Now can we talk about your program’s new features?"
The problem with this approach is that good journalists and thoughtful users like to make up their own minds and dislike feeling manipulated. But it doesn’t have to work that way. A skillful marketer – and that describes Steve Jobs if it describes anyone – understands that a better approach is to provide carefully selected raw materials to let people form their own opinions. By providing more detailed results than is common, Jobs managed to guide opinion in a positive direction while avoiding the heavy-handed marketing message approach. It seems to have worked – Apple has received positive press and word of mouth in abundance since Jobs’s keynote.
Throughout my Classics career, the hardest part of scholarly writing was managing the bibliography. My thesis was particularly nightmarish. Like most humanities Ph.D. theses, it involved an extended critique of the existing scholarship – a complete history of claims and contradictions on hundreds of disputed issues. I maintained a vast collection of oversize note cards with holes round the outside; a v-shaped punch and some knitting needles helped me retrieve references bearing on a given matter. My typescript had to follow precisely the official style sheet on footnotes and citations, lest the Dreaded Thesis Secretary reject the whole thing on formal grounds.
I could really have used a program like Papyrus, from Research Software Design.
I’ve never used any commercial bibliography management software, so before studying Papyrus I imagined an ideal system that might have helped me with my thesis and other writings, and decided that it should:
Act as a database for entry, storage, and flexible retrieval of references.
Do the textual "arithmetic" to combine the fields of each reference into a canonically formed citation.
Integrate with a word-processor to insert citations.
Act as, or integrate with, note-taking software.
Papyrus does all these, and adds a fifth function, obviously valuable in this computer age, but which hadn’t occurred to me:
Automatically import text references culled from online and CD-based bibliographical databases.
I’ll discuss Papyrus under each of these heads in turn.
The Database — Papyrus’s database is absolutely splendid. The interface is clean and intuitive, revolving around two chief window types: the Reference, where you edit individual references, and the Group, which lists a subset of the stored references. There is powerful use of such devices as drag & drop, double-clicking in a window to open a related window, keyboard navigation, and other well-implemented conveniences too numerous to mention.
Papyrus knows which fields are relevant to each type of material (a book, an article in a journal, an article in a book, and so on), and ingeniously presents these as required fields, optional fields, and fields so rarely needed that they are hidden unless you ask to see them. Text fields are styled and WorldScript-savvy. You can add fields and material types, but you probably won’t need to.
As you edit, Papyrus’s "intelligence" saves you from errors and unnecessary work. For example, it knows which fields might repeat (there might be more than one author, for instance) and automatically provides a new blank when you fill one in; if you omit the comma in the author field (because you’ve forgotten that Papyrus expects last name, comma, first name) it prompts you; it distinguishes automatically between a first name and a first initial, understands a further comma to mean an appendage after the last name ("Dumas, Alexandre, Jr."), capitalizes names for you, and so forth.
Papyrus’s database is truly relational, in a transparent, automatic way. Thus, for example, as you’re entering entire references, Papyrus is gathering authors’ names into a separate internal structure. Therefore, additional information can be associated with an author; plus, you can change a name and propagate that change to every reference that uses it. Also, this permits intelligent lookup: having entered an author in one reference, it suffices to type the first few letters of that name in another.
You can assemble groups manually or through a query, and both groups and queries can be saved. Even more important, since it’s easy to save and open a group listing one project’s references, you’re likely to have just a single database comprising references for all your projects – so that you take advantage of Papyrus’s relational capabilities across all of them at once. It’s a brilliant architecture.
Building a Citation — Papyrus constructs citations from fields by way of a Format, which is a set of instructions you enter partly through a series of dialogs and sub-dialogs, and partly through a grep-like formula describing the desired output. So, for example, to say that authors should be shown last name plus comma plus initials with period space after each, you drill down to a dialog and check the desired options; but to say that an article should appear as author, period, space, journal name in italics, comma, series if there’s a series, volume number in bold, and so forth, you build a formula which looks rather like a Nisus PowerFind expression. Papyrus comes with a large number of formats, corresponding to various citation styles such as American Medical Association, Forestry Chronicle, Chicago Manual, and Turabian; you can use or modify one of these, or construct your own from scratch.
This is fine in principle, but I worry that the means to describe the desired output lacks sufficient generality. Papyrus seems to assert that it knows best what you should want to do: stay within these limitations and you’ll be fine. Personally, I prefer programs that put the power into the hands of the user. The problem stems from three causes:
You can’t circumvent Papyrus’s "intelligence," which is sometimes more simple-minded than reality. For instance, you have no way to say that the proper abbreviated form of Yuri Gagarin’s first name is "Yu." (and if you actually enter his first name as "Yu.", Papyrus strips the period, thinking it’s his whole first name).
You can’t enter an option unless a dialog provides for it. For instance, there’s no way to say that the first of multiple authors should have the first name written out but subsequent authors should have the first name abbreviated.
The language of the output formula is weak. For example, there’s no if-then-else construct; so you can’t say that if a book’s abbreviated-title field is defined, it should be used, and otherwise its normal title field should be used. This is almost shocking when you consider the extensive prior art for letting the user express just this sort of thing (such as Helix abacus dataflow diagrams, FileMaker calculation fields).
Word Processor Integration — At a basic level, Papyrus works with just about any word processor. You can copy and paste (or drag & drop) a reference in Papyrus into a word processor document; the result is a citation in a particular format. And you can export an entire group of references as citations in a particular format, as MacWrite or RTF, which most word processors can import.
But if your word processor is Nisus Writer or Microsoft Word, both of which are scriptable, Papyrus is much smarter. Your document can contain coded abbreviations for references, like this: [], meaning your reference whose ID number is 6. When you’re done writing, Papyrus automatically examines your document and constructs, based on these abbreviations, both the citations and the bibliography. For example, if [] means my Lysistrata translation, then Papyrus will substitute "(Neuburg 1992)" for it, and will include the full citation in the bibliography that it appends. In my tests, this worked rather better with Word than with Nisus Writer.
This is lovely, but it doesn’t go far enough. What if you encounter bugs in Papyrus’s substitution algorithm, or in its scripting of the word processor? (I did.) Or what if you use a different word processor, like AppleWorks? To be sure, you can get around such problems manually; you could just export all your references in any needed formats, and then rearrange them within your project. But a far better solution would be for Papyrus itself to be scriptable; you might then, say, write an AppleScript or OneClick script that examines the number in the current selection, asks Papyrus for the citation for that reference in a given format, and pastes it into your document – essentially building your own automatic integration where Papyrus’s fails.
But Papyrus is not scriptable – ironic, considering the odium that the Papyrus documentation heaps upon AppleWorks for its lack of scriptability. Once again, rather than opening itself to the user’s commands, Papyrus wants all the power for itself, driving other programs through scripts that the user can’t see, modify, or work around.
Note-Taking — On one hand, Papyrus holds great promise as a note-taking program, because of the power of its queries. Every reference can have multiple keywords, and you can define relationships between references, and between keywords, and use them in queries. For example, you can define a reference relationship "contradicts," and then perform a query which yields not only all references with (let’s say) the keyword "determinism," but also all references which contradict any reference in that found set. This remarkable capability to evoke the structure of argumentatively related positions reminds me of MacEuclid, whose like I thought I’d never see again.
But alas, the same window which is so suitable for entry of brief reference fields is clumsy for comments longer than a sentence or two; nor is there any true hypertext, where a phrase becomes a link to another reference. Thus, I’d find Papyrus uncomfortable for note-taking, in contrast to a dedicated tool such as Palimpsest, or even an outliner. Papyrus needs a completely revised "note card" interface; additionally, it could take a cue from such programs as MORE, Helix, or In Control, by allowing a field to be an alias for opening a notes file with a different application. Papyrus seems once again, by its lack of such cooperation with other programs, to assert that it knows better than you do what you should want to do and how you should want to do it.
Import — Papyrus can automatically import text bibliographies into reference fields; but this relies again upon Formats, and suffers from the same shortcomings. For instance, the input formula language (which is the same as the output formula language, a very odd design decision) lacks an "either/or" or "shortest match" construct. A genuine grep would have been really useful here; Nisus Writer’s grep does a far better job of rearranging a text bibliography into canonical form than Papyrus could possibly do.
Crossing The Ts — Papyrus is a splendid program. It is reliable, thoughtful, original, ingenious, straightforward. It is also easy to learn; the printed manuals rank with the best I have ever seen, and there is superb online and balloon help. It has many excellent touches I haven’t had room to mention here. Doubtless my personal library contains books whose bibliographic style Papyrus would be hard pressed to emulate, but that’s a minor issue; some last-minute hand tweaking is perfectly acceptable. If you maintain lots of references, generate citations in certain standard formats, and are using Microsoft Word, you should certainly give Papyrus a try.
But despite offering such excellent features, Papyrus doesn’t turn out to be the bibliography manager of my dreams. As I investigated Papyrus, I discovered that it lacks an important general quality for my work, that openness and programmability that I seek in any major workhorse. A bibliography system is basically just a database, after all; and I already have several database applications, plus other utilities, that are scriptable. So I can use these to form a bibliography management system that works the way I want. At present, it’s a toss-up as to whether Papyrus gives me a good enough reason not to do that. On the other hand, when Papyrus sports a more sophisticated formatting language, a better note-taking interface, and scriptability, along with a less implicitly restrictive philosophy, I’ll be hooked.
Papyrus is $90, or $140 with printed manuals. A free demo version, limited to 200 references, is available for download. Papyrus requires System 7.0 or later, and is about an 11 MB installation (about 20 MB with full online help).