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Adam Engst No comments


Check out page 4 of the 07-May-91 issue of MacWEEK for the first time I’ve been quoted by a national magazine. Thanks to Henry Norr for including it.

Emery Berger corrects our TechnoBITS article on Iterated Systems’s fractal compression board since we blew it and missed the final sentence of the original BYTE article. "I wouldn’t be pedantic if this weren’t an important point (OK, maybe I would :-)), but this [our claim that fractal compression is lossless] is incorrect. From the horse’s mouth "Fractal transformation throws away some information, because it’s a lossy method, but it tends to throw away noise, rather than data you need." (But it’s still pretty damn neat!)"

Yet another correction from Joseph Pinner. "Latest TidBITS in MailBITS says that AccessPC does not work under System 7. According to the Update notes on the current release (1.1), this is NOT true – it does work under 7."

Mark H. Anbinder forwards this bit from the Seattle Times, 30-Apr-91. "A lucky Macintosh user had the Talking Moose program (Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.) working on his Macintosh when burglars broke into his home while he was away. Presumably thinking there was someone in the home, the burglars left the room with the Macintosh alone." [A new module called Screaming Bjarne (in which this wild eyed person appears on the screen and screams periodically) for After Dark might be even more effective. :-)]

Also from Mark: "Just so you all know, the Apple 400K External Floppy Disk Drive is no longer supported on the new Macintosh CPUs (the Classic, LC, and IIsi). The 800K drive is supported. Users who have old 400K drives who want to bring ’em over to their new Macs… tough."

Will he never stop? I hope not. Once more from Mark: "Seen in a reseller update memo… "Effective immediately the following Radius products have experienced a price reduction." Talk about your existential peripherals!"

Information from:
Emery Berger — [email protected]
Joseph W. Pinner — [email protected]
Mark H. Anbinder — [email protected]

Adam Engst No comments

System Version News

System system, who’s got the system? Apple has a couple of them that you might be interested in, so pay attention. You thought that System 7 was going to be the only System Software released in the next few months, but you weren’t counting on 6.0.8. It’s not exactly interesting, since 6.0.8 has no added features and no bug fixes (not that there were any bugs in 6.0.7 – read on for more about that), but it does contain System 7-compatible printing software. You’ll want that software because otherwise you’ll be reinitializing laser printers right and left every time a Mac with different System Software prints. As of July 1st, 6.0.8 will also ship with all Macs that can’t run System 7 because they don’t have enough memory (the Mac Classic, floppy-drive LC, and a few other options). So those of you that don’t have enough memory for System 7 can rest easy – Apple hasn’t forgotten about you yet (and I emphasize the ‘yet’). Apple wants everyone to upgrade to System 7, but if you can’t, 6.0.8 replaces 6.0.7 as the version of choice, particularly for networks that want to standardize. However, if you don’t share a printer and can’t upgrade to 7, there’s no reason to change what works for you now.

Apple has released a statement concerning "bugs," to use Apple’s quotes, in 6.0.7. A number of people have complained about various problems in 6.0.7 that may not indeed be Apple’s fault. The three main problems that seemingly implicate 6.0.7 are faulty 2 MB SIMMs from some third party manufacturers, that confusing "Co-processor not installed" message, and an incompatibility with the WDEF virus.

You can check problems possibly caused by bad 2 MB SIMMs by removing them and running without extra memory for a bit. Then contact the manufacturer for more information. The "Co-processor not installed" messages are usually due to errors in programs that would previously have bombed with a "System Error ID = 10" message – with the new message Apple attempts to be more informative, even though in this case it’s not all that helpful. Finally, if you have the WDEF virus and use 6.0.7, you’ll run into serious system crashes until you remove the infection. Apple recommends running Disinfectant 2.4 on all your disks in order to ferret out WDEF, which otherwise spreads like wildfire.

System 7’s biggest bugaboo will be compatibility, and Apple is trying to ease the transition by including a Compatibility Checker with the release. Here are some other notes that Apple has released recently which might be of assistance in the process. Hardware-wise, System 7 works with all Macs with from the Plus up (the 128, 512, and 512KE need the Plus Logic Board Kit and the Disk Drive Kit) if and only if (I guess that’s spelled iff in math terms) they have 2 MB of RAM and a hard disk. Of course, virtual memory only works on 68030 Macs and the Mac II with a 68851 PMMU. Networks should have no trouble iff you upgrade the printer drivers on the System 6 Macs.

As far as software goes, it’s a bit more complex. Use the Compatibility Checker before you install System 7. A number of Apple products require upgraded software to work with System 7, so if you have any Apple SCSI hard drive (who knows about the old serial drives), the 5.25" drive, Apple EtherTalk or TokenTalk cards, any Apple printer, or the Portable Backlight Screen Upgrade, you should install the new software from the System 7 disks. If you have the AppleCD SC CD-ROM drive, the Apple Scanner, or InterPoll, see your dealer for new software that will work with System 7. You’ll have to wait a while for upgrades to MacTCP, MacX 1.1, MacDFT, the Apple Coax/Twinax Card w/MacDFT (whatever that is :-)), A/UX 2.0.1, and Macintosh Display Card 824 GC (the software doesn’t work in accelerated mode). If you’ve got an Apple Tape Backup 40SC, throw it out… oops, sorry, I meant to say that it won’t work with System 7, but it should work with third-party backup software. Apple also says that you shouldn’t upgrade A/UX configurations or server bundles to System 7, and that you shouldn’t install AppleShare Print Server or AppleShare File Server 2.0 on a System 7 Mac. They work fine on a System 6 Mac and will talk to System 7 Macs with no trouble. Gee, do you think this means that AppleShare 3.0 can be too far away?

Information from:
Apple Worldwide Product Marketing Information
Mark H. Anbinder — [email protected]
Patrick Kuras — [email protected]

Adam Engst No comments

ACE Standards

I probably can’t sue for the use of my initials, and a group like the Advanced Computer Environment probably wouldn’t notice anyway (besides, then I’d have to consort with lawyers :-)). The ACE group is composed of some of the major players in the computing industry, companies including Compaq, DEC, Microsoft, MIPS, the Santa Cruz Operation, and soon, some Pacific Rim clone makers. The idea behind the consortium is to set a standard for RISC-based computing using chips from MIPS, systems from Compaq and DEC, OS/2 3.0 from Microsoft, a version of Unix from SCO, and cheap clones from the usual people who make cheap clones. Also included is Silicon Graphics, whose 3-D graphics technologies will show up somewhere in there as well. Don’t expect products until sometime in 1993, since the MIPS R4000 chip won’t appear until late this year and OS/2 3.0 may come well after that.

The announcement of the group’s formation came several weeks ago, but I’ve been holding off because it’s a strange and interesting event that I wanted to ponder for a while. I think I’ve finally grasped some of what might be happening, and I’m less impressed than I was initially. Originally, it sounded pretty good. Lots of reputable companies banding together to set a standard that would carry computing through the 90’s. However, looking more closely, the list of companies that have not joined ACE is impressive as well. Companies such as IBM, Apple, HP, Lotus, Adobe, Pixar, Sun, Novell, AT&T, NCR, Intel, and Motorola all have either declined to join or are waiting to see what happens. IBM, Apple, HP, and Sun all have competing lines of hardware that they would not want to give up, and that hardware is primarily based on Intel and Motorola chips.

So let’s look at what the companies in ACE have to gain. Compaq can break out of the clone maker role and avoid companies like Dell which are out-cloning Compaq. MIPS gets a market for its chips, which aren’t used in the major workstations as far as I know. Microsoft gets a foot into a new environment as usual, and has promised that OS/2 3.0 will run applications written for DOS, Windows, and earlier versions of OS/2 no matter which hardware platform it runs on. That’s a tall order, but is certainly possible. DEC can compete with workstations from IBM and HP, something which it hasn’t done all that well with in the past. Silicon Graphics wants its graphics technology to become a standard, and SCO wants its version of Unix to do the same.

Looking at the group in that light, the announcement seems like a preemptive strike (a Microsoft specialty) to prevent users from buying SPARCstations and R/6000 workstations from IBM. A single set of standards is the obvious advantage of such a group, though it’s unclear if the members of the group have enough market clout to overthrow SPARC and IBM’s RISC machines, not to mention the increasingly powerful Macs and PC-clones based on the 680×0 and 80×86 chips from Motorola and Intel. We also shouldn’t ignore NeXT in all of this, if only because it has a significant head start on any ACE workstation that Compaq might be working on. I’m not betting on ACE taking over the computer industry any time in the near future, if at all, since it seems to be mostly an attempt for the second-place companies to modify the rules in mid-race.

Also keep in mind that much of ACE depends on Microsoft and OS/2 3.0, which might have a few more troubles now that the Federal Trade Commission is expanding the scope of its antitrust probe. IBM may hurt Microsoft somewhat as well by pushing OS/2 2.0 in favor of Windows 3.0 via lower prices and lots of marketing money.

Related articles:
PC WEEK — 06-May-91, Vol. 8, #18, pg. 1
PC WEEK — 15-Apr-91, Vol. 8, #15, pg. 1, 10
PC WEEK — 08-Apr-91, Vol. 8, #14, pg. 1
InfoWorld — 06-May-91, Vol. 13, #18, pg. 8, 33
InfoWorld — 22-Apr-91, Vol. 13, #16, pg. 1, 29
InfoWorld — 15-Apr-91, Vol. 13, #15, pg. 1, 5
InfoWorld — 08-Apr-91, Vol. 13, #14, pg. 1
InfoWorld — 25-Mar-91, Vol. 13, #12, pg. 1
COMMUNICATION WEEK — 15-Apr-91, pg. 8
MacWEEK — 02-Apr-91, Vol. 5, #13, pg. 6

Adam Engst No comments


These pseudo-sporadic columns are fun, if only because then I don’t have to think of new titles all the time. I’m anticipating a ton of news related to System 7, so this space will collect what’s interesting.

First off, Dantz was nice enough to send out a free upgrade of Retrospect a few days ago. Retrospect 1.3 improves an already impressive program (which we will review soon, I hope) with full System 7 compatibility, a maximum archive size of one terabyte, and network updating of the [deg]Remote INIT (which allows you to back up remote volumes without file sharing software like TOPS around). One of the neater additions to Retrospect is that if you drag files, folders, or disks on top of the Retrospect icon, Retrospect launches itself and marks those files to be archived. Features like this will require changes in working habits, because I’d have to search through about five folder levels to find Retrospect now, although I suppose I could create an alias for it in System 7.

Second, the rest of this information comes from Mark H. Anbinder, and it sounds like extremely good advice when upgrading to System 7, which I’m sure many of you will do as soon as you can get your hot little hands on that many disks. Thanks, Mark!

Here are a few hints and tips on the subject of upgrading to System 7. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the issues involved, but it should provide some useful information for you.

  • You really should use the Compatibility Checker on the Before You Install System 7 diskette before proceeding with your installation. Do so while your current startup drive is active, so it can analyze the contents of your current System Folder. LISTEN to what the Compatibility Checker tells you. If the report it generates says that one of your programs is NOT compatible with System 7, and you MUST have that program working in order to function, DO NOT UPGRADE YOUR SYSTEM to System 7. Contact the developer of the program to get an upgrade to a compatible version of their software. (The Compatibility Checker includes contact phone numbers for a large number of vendors.)
  • Apple recommends installing System 7 onto your System 6 hard drive without removing the old System Folder. You can now do an installation while running from the target hard drive. You can, but you don’t have to, start up from the Install 1 diskette before doing the installation.
  • DO remove any PRE-RELEASE copies of System 7 before installing the release version. If you have installed an alpha or beta of System 7, remove that System Folder before beginning the installation process.
  • REMOVE any anti-virus INITs from the active System Folder, and restart, before doing an installation. If you have an anti-virus INIT active during installation, it can create problems that may OR MAY NOT show up immediately. Be sure to replace the anti-virus INITs when you are done, making sure that you have the current versions.
  • If you have an existing Scrapbook file in your System Folder when you do an installation, the Installer will not replace it with the new file. There are some neat things in the new Scrapbook file, so you will want to combine the two using a utility such as SmartScrap, if you need to keep the contents of the old one.
  • The color map picture in the System 7 Scrapbook is not just a neat picture. If you Copy it into your Clipboard, and then open the Map control panel and Paste, the color map will replace the old black and white map in the control panel.
  • You can force the current foreground process (whether it’s an application or desk accessory or whatever) to quit by holding down the Command and Option keys, and pressing the Escape key. This can be useful if your computer freezes and you can’t seem to recover without restarting. Try a Forced Quit first. After doing this, IMMEDIATELY save all open documents and restart the computer; the system may not be in a stable state.
  • Several pieces of Apple software need to be upgraded in order to work with System 7. These include the Apple CD-SC software, which drives the CD-ROM drive, and the Apple Scanner software. Updates are available from dealers. You may also need to use the new Apple HD SC Setup utility to update your hard disk’s driver software.
  • Technical support for System 7 is available from your usual support providers. For those who don’t have expert dealers, user groups, or consultants nearby, or who prefer a different approach, Apple is providing technical support for System 7. Customers who purchase the official Personal Upgrade Kit or Group Upgrade Kit receive 90 or 180 days, respectively, of free support within the US via a special toll-free 800 number. After that period, or for people who choose to copy the System disks at their local dealer or user group without paying for the full upgrade kit, there is a 900 number that you can call from within the US. You will be billed $2 per minute by your telephone company. The number is 900/535-APPL. In addition, Apple has set up an answering system that will play pre-recorded answers to commonly asked questions about System 7. You can call this at 408/257-7700, and need only pay for the telephone call (it is a long distance call outside the immediate vicinity of Cupertino, California).

Dantz Development — 415/849-0293

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