Let’s send 2001 out with a packed issue! Dan Kohn returns with an essay asking if his discussion of the future of digital content is just an elaborate justification for stealing. Then Mark Anbinder looks at the new features in Virtual PC 5.0, Matt Neuburg provides a sneak peek at Apple’s forthcoming AppleScript Studio, and Adam highlights the events you won’t want to miss at January’s Macworld Expo. We also glance briefly at new releases of the PowerBook G4 Titanium, IPNetRouter 1.6.3, and PowerMail 3.1. See you in 2002!
So Long 2001, and Thanks for All the Fish — It’s been a long and unsettling year, but it’s coming to a close with a holiday season that we hope is calm and restful for everyone. As always, my sincere thanks to the people who make TidBITS possible: Tonya, Geoff, Jeff, Matt, and Mark, our corporate sponsors and Internet hosts, those people who have contributed money directly to TidBITS, the writers whose articles we’ve published this year, the selfless volunteers who translate TidBITS into five languages, the many participants in TidBITS Talk, and most important, all our readers out there, without whom none of the rest would ever happen. Our next issue will appear 07-Jan-02, and barring further schedule changes or unforeseen travel difficulties, should contain coverage of Steve Jobs’s Macworld Expo keynote. Let me leave you, then, with the hope that your holidays live up to all that you wish them to be. [ACE]
PowerBook G4 Titanium Gains Combo Drive — Tired of making trade-offs in its high-end laptop, Apple today refreshed the PowerBook G4 so all models now come standard with a slot-loading DVD-ROM/CD-RW Combo drive that lets you watch DVD movies, burn CDs, and (of course) read standard audio and data CDs. The timing of the move is odd, but perhaps Apple is trying to take advantage of the remainder of the holiday shopping season (though it will probably be a week before the new configurations ship). Also, useful though the Combo drive is, it’s not the kind of big news Steve Jobs can emphasize in a Macworld Expo keynote. Upgrades for those who purchased the PowerBook G4 models released in October (see "Apple Speed Bumps iBook and Titanium" in TidBITS-602) will reportedly be possible, although details weren’t yet available. [ACE]
IPNetRouter 1.6.3 Gets Dynamic — Sustainable Software has released version 1.6.3 of IPNetRouter, their popular Internet sharing software, adding one significant feature. For those using IPNetRouter to share a connection that has a dynamically assigned IP number (many consumer level broadband connections have dynamic IP numbers), IPNetRouter 1.6.3 can now work with the free dynamic DNS service at DynDNS.org. Serving as a DynDNS client, IPNetRouter informs the DynDNS servers when your IP address changes so your fixed domain name can be updated to point to the new IP address. Other DynDNS clients for the Mac exist, including James Sentman’s free Dynamic DNS Client, but if you’re already using IPNetRouter to share your Internet connection, it’s more elegant and potentially quicker to have it inform the DynDNS servers of your IP address changes. Upgrades to IPNetRouter 1.6.3 are free to registered users; the program is a 1.4 MB download. [ACE]
PowerMail 3.1 Beefs Up IMAP Support — CTM Development has released PowerMail 3.1, the latest version of their capable email client, with completely rewritten IMAP support. (See "Migrating to New Climes with PowerMail" in TidBITS-530 for a review of PowerMail 3.0.) Other new features include manual activation of filters, improved support for other languages, faster filtering, automatic bracketing of pasted or dragged URLs to reduce the likelihood a recipient won’t be able to successfully click long URLs that break across lines, enhanced AppleScript functionality, and support for mouse wheels under Mac OS X. PowerMail 3.1 also fixes a number of bugs in the previous version. It’s a free update for registered users of PowerMail 3.0, and there’s a 30-day demo available as a 4.1 MB download. [ACE]
The main event of the Macintosh world looms large in our calendar – Macworld Expo San Francisco will be held from 07-Jan-02 through 11-Jan-02. PC-oriented trade shows were hemorrhaging even before the terrorist attacks of September 11th, and it only got worse afterwards, with attendance at Fall Comdex in Las Vegas down 40 percent and all exhibitors fitting into a single venue. But July’s Macworld Expo in New York fared well in terms of attendance numbers, out-drawing the previous month’s PC Expo, so there’s hope that this upcoming show will prosper as well. That said, there are a few less exhibitors signed up for San Francisco versus New York, and I suspect that user-driven events like the Netter’s Dinner may stand out in contrast to vendor parties, given tightened budgets for even those companies that are exhibiting.
Jobs Keynote Moved Up — IDG World Expo announced late last week that the date for Steve Jobs’s traditional Macworld Expo keynote has been moved a day earlier. The keynote will now be on Monday, 07-Jan-02 from 9 AM to 11:30 AM. The date change is unfortunate, because it means that many members of the press who had previously planned to arrive in San Francisco on Monday will now either miss the keynote entirely or have to change flight and hotel plans, although it appears that Apple may be reimbursing those impacted to some extent. The other primary attendees of the keynote – people with conference passes – are less affected, since the Macworld Expo conferences were already scheduled to start on Monday. Although Apple is undoubtedly aware that keynote attendance will be lower on Monday (and Steve Jobs prefers to play to a packed house), running the keynote on Monday could result in the loss of significant press coverage to CES, the International Consumer Electronics Show, that starts on Monday night in Las Vegas. Given Apple’s recent foray into the consumer electronics market with the iPod and a likely redesign of the consumer-level iMac, Apple needs mainstream press attendance at the keynote.
TidBITS Events — As in past years, a number of TidBITS staff members are speaking at Macworld, so if you’re planning on being at the show, we never turn down a few shills. Wear a TidBITS t-shirt to one of my presentations and I’ll sign it on the spot, and we’ll all have some TidBITS t-shirts to hand out at our events.
On Tuesday, January 8th at 2:00 PM, I’ll be at the Aladdin booth (#1407), passing on tips and tricks about using Eudora and answering any and all questions about Eudora or Internet email in general.
On Wednesday, January 9th, Contributing Editor Matt Neuburg will be delivering a Macworld Pro conference session entitled "Taking Control of Mac OS X" from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM in Room C24. Matt always puts on a great show, so if you’ve been wondering about how to automate applications like FileMaker Pro, Eudora, and Microsoft Word in Mac OS X using tools like QuicKeys, BBEdit, Script Debugger, REALbasic, and Cocoa, this session is for you.
On Thursday, January 10th, from noon to 1:00 PM Managing Editor Jeff Carlson and Bob LeVitus will be talking at the Peachpit booth (#2011) about iMovie and iTunes. Then Jeff will continue on from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM at the same booth, speaking along with a panel of authors of Peachpit’s digital video books. If you were lucky enough to get a DV camcorder this holiday season, make sure to stop by this talk. Meanwhile, Adam will be participating in a Macworld Pro conference session entitled "Backup, Archiving, and File Transfers for Mac OS X" from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM with Craig Isaacs and Leonard Rosenthol in Room 133. Come and learn why backup under Mac OS X is such a painful topic. Then, from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM, Adam (and possibly other TidBITS editors) will be in the User Group Lounge in Room 250/262 (West Mezzanine in the South Hall of Moscone, one level above the show floor) for an hour of discussion about what’s happened at the show, Apple, the Macintosh industry, and the topics that we’ve been covering in TidBITS. It’s bound to be an interesting chat, and will be an ideal way to get off your feet for a while toward the end of the day. Thursday night is also the Netter’s Dinner – see below for details.
On Friday, January 11th, Jeff and Glenn Fleishman will be back at the Peachpit booth (#2011) from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM to talk about using Adobe GoLive.
Netter’s Dinner — There’s no reason to mess with success, so for the 16th year in a row, the annual Netter’s Dinner remains the longest-running event (and certainly one of the most congenial) at Macworld Expo. Unfortunately, in what is also becoming a tradition (though an unplanned one last year), the booming voice and Hawaiian shirt of our fearless organizer, Jon Pugh, will once again be absent, so I’ll be moderating the traditionally boisterous raise-your-hands survey. Help me avoid ad-libbing the survey on stage by sending me suggestions for questions.
As in previous years, meet at the top of the escalators on the south side of Moscone at 6:00 PM and be prepared for a brisk, sometimes damp walk that snarls traffic throughout downtown San Francisco. Our destination will of course be the Hunan at Sansome and Broadway, where dinner of hot and spicy Chinese food (vegetarian dishes are included too) costs $18 this year,. You must register in advance (by 08-Jan-02) via Kagi.
Hess Macworld Events List — Ilene Hoffman has started collecting events during Macworld Expo for this show’s Robert Hess Memorial Events List, and I’m hoping to see it fill up over the next few weeks, since it’s pretty sparse at the moment (if it’s any consolation, a party list I found for CES was almost equally as bare). Nonetheless, bookmark the Hess Events List and check back right before the show to find events you might not otherwise have known about during the days and nights of Macworld Expo.
See you in San Francisco!
Users of Mac OS X, when Apple releases version 10.2, will find a little something extra in their holiday stocking – AppleScript Studio. Since its announcement in September, though it immediately won a Macworld award, AppleScript Studio has been mostly just a name; beta-testers weren’t allowed to tell what it was. But last week AppleScript Studio’s documentation was made public, and AppleScript Studio itself was released in the free December Developer Tools, so the cat’s out of the bag. And what a cat! AppleScript Studio isn’t a mere scripting tool; it isn’t just AppleScript with some interface widgets wrapped around it. AppleScript Studio is Cocoa.
Cocoa is an application framework – a set of interface widgets, and the knowledge of how to manipulate them, along with windows and documents and everything else, to form a standard working application. This framework is built right into Mac OS X, which is why Cocoa applications are relatively compact, with a fairly uniform look and feel: the system itself contains much of their code, and they draw upon the same set of built-in interface widgets and behaviors. For writing Cocoa applications, Apple provides free tools called Interface Builder and Project Builder, in which you respectively draw the interface and write the code. Up to now, users have had a choice of two code languages, Objective-C and Java; AppleScript Studio means there is now a third choice – AppleScript.
AppleScript is an English-like language originally designed for encoding Apple events to drive other applications. AppleScript Studio is a system-level addition to OS X that gives this language the hooks needed to talk to Cocoa’s interface widgets and built-in functions. The learning curve isn’t trivial – Project Builder and Interface Builder aren’t simple to use – but the implication is that users who already know AppleScript, or who are willing to learn it instead of a more daunting full-fledged programming language, can leverage their knowledge to write Cocoa applications. I must stress that from the outside, an application written with AppleScript Studio is indistinguishable from any other Cocoa application. Just as on the Internet no one can tell you’re a dog, with AppleScript Studio no one can tell that you didn’t know Objective-C.
It was evident in Mac OS X 10.1, from such evidence as the new Scripts menu, that after years of almost ignoring it, Apple had finally understood the importance of AppleScript, and was promoting it to first-class status. With AppleScript Studio, that promotion is complete. Look for it when Mac OS X 10.2 ships, and you too can unleash your inner Cocoa programmer urges.
Earlier this month, Connectix Corporation shipped the latest version of Virtual PC, their Pentium emulation software for running Windows (and other PC operating systems) on a Power Macintosh. Virtual PC 5.0, which is available right away as a Windows 98 bundle and PC-DOS bundle, runs in both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X, and takes advantage of multiprocessor Macs under Mac OS X, using the second processor for screen updating. The software resolves the various shortcomings seen in the Test Drive version under Mac OS X, and adds several new touches. You can use the same installation of the software and the same virtual machines in both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X, but if you’ve installed it while booted into Mac OS X, you’ll have to do some manual configuration.
The most innovative new feature in Virtual PC 5.0 is undoubtedly the "undoable" drive image, which enables the user to back out of a Windows session to a specific previous point in time. Basically, Virtual PC stores just the changes to the entire hard disk image in a separate file, so reverting to the original just uses that version without the changes applied to it. You can also merge changes into the hard disk image, which lets you define the state to which you’ll be able to revert. This feature, which reminds us a bit of Power On Software’s Rewind utility, lacks Rewind’s ability to return at any moment to any arbitrary earlier point, but does offer the advantage of easily erasing a given session. We see this feature being of enormous potential value to software developers or in shared-user lab environments. One note – this feature is not password protected, so beware that a user with access to your Mac could revert your emulated PC to a previous session.
A new "Virtual Switch" feature offers networking among virtual machines under Mac OS X, allowing guest "virtual" computers two-way networking with one another, with the Mac they’re running on, and even other computers on the network. The beauty of Virtual Switch networking is that it lets you simulate a small network inside your Mac. For instance, you could run Windows 2000 Server’s Web server in one virtual machine and connect to it from Web browsers running on the Mac and in a Windows 98 virtual machine.
The old Shared Networking approach is still present for both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X and remains the default because it doesn’t require users to know how to configure Windows networking. There is one downside of Shared Networking, though: by default both Windows and Mac OS X run NetBIOS conflicting file sharing clients, which causes the Windows client to be disabled and generates an error message suggesting Virtual Switch networking as a solution.
I’m delighted by Virtual PC 5.0’s handling of screen resolution. Unlike Virtual PC 4, which could occasionally mess up window or icon positions on the Mac side by unexpectedly changing the Mac’s resolution without asking, the new version is much friendlier. Not only does it not change the Mac’s resolution without your permission, for the first time it’s capable of telling Windows to change its resolution on the fly. In full screen mode, this means the Windows desktop can expand to the available space (even the unusual 1152 by 768 resolution of the PowerBook G4), and when the user resizes Virtual PC’s window by dragging the window’s resize handle, Virtual PC tells Windows to change its resolution to match. This saves the user from having to figure out the intricacies of changing resolutions within Windows using the Display control panel.
Reports vary widely as to the performance of Virtual PC 5.0 under Mac OS X. Some folks have reported it’s considerably slower – to the point of being unusable – than either Virtual PC 4.0 under Mac OS 9 or the Test Drive under Mac OS X. In my own testing, it’s quite usable on my 500 MHz PowerBook G4 under Mac OS X (even more so now that I have 512 MB of RAM instead of 256), and not surprisingly, it flies on an 800 MHz dual-processor Power Mac G4 – Windows seems every bit as fluid as on a nearby 700 MHz Pentium III. Just as Apple did when it released early PowerPC versions of the Mac OS, Connectix has focused on performance of user interface items. Drawing of menus and windows, in particular, were a priority, making the interface seem, in general, snappier than in previous versions.
For best performance, of course, throw as much CPU power and RAM at Virtual PC as you can. Virtual PC 5.0 requires a PowerPC G3- or G4-based Mac (running at least at 400 MHz for Mac OS X support) with Mac OS 9.1 or later or Mac OS X 10.1 or later. RAM minimums vary from 64 MB to 256 MB depending on whether you’re running in Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X and with different PC operating systems; disk space requirements vary with the PC operating system from 260 MB to 2 GB.
Other minor features in Virtual PC 5.0 include support for data DVDs and CD images, automatic sharing of removable media, access to more special Windows keys that may not exist on Macintosh keyboards, and a Get Info window that displays details about memory utilization and performance statistics. And although we couldn’t confirm this easily, Virtual PC reportedly auto-localizes itself based on the selected language (English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish) in Mac OS X.
Virtual PC 5.0 is also compatible with Microsoft’s Windows XP. Connectix will be offering bundles of Virtual PC with Windows XP Home Edition in the United States, and with Windows XP Professional Edition in Japan, based on where they feel each bundle will be popular. Both operating systems will be available everywhere in the form of add-on OS packs in January of 2002; only the bundles will be market-specific.
An upgrade to Virtual PC 5.0 from an earlier version costs $80 (free to users who purchased Virtual PC 4.0 since 01-Nov-01), Virtual PC with DOS costs $100, and Virtual PC with Windows 98 costs $200. Bundled versions with Windows 2000 and Windows XP Home Edition will ship in a few weeks, as will Connectix OS Packs for users who wish to add Windows operating systems to an existing Virtual PC installation.
"Information is the currency of democracy."
– Thomas Jefferson
At least since the U.S. Constitution explicitly granted Congress the power to protect copyright, an intellectual foundation has been built up regarding intellectual property. My previous essays argued that foundation is now crumbling, and will be gone within 10 years as broadband connections (to enable easy transfer of large files) become ubiquitous and people become more comfortable viewing material on computer screens (where it becomes impossible to stop copying) versus on paper (where content is still somewhat excludable). In other words, if you make money from selling content, the news is worse than you think.
But whether or not this trend is inevitable, one could stop and ask whether it’s a good thing, and whether the death of excludable content should be grieved or cheered. Property is generally defined by economists as goods that are rival (e.g., if I take your car, you don’t have one) and excludable (e.g., you can lock your door to keep me out of your home). As information has become digitized (and therefore nonrival and nonexcludable), the intellectual underpinning of intellectual property has eroded, so that today the term intellectual property is little more than an oxymoron. Intellectual property may, in a few years, sound as strange to the ears as "reasonable attorney fees", "low tar cigarettes", and "Zero Administration Windows" do today.
Note, however, that while this erosion applies to all forms of copyright, 99 percent of patents remain valid and enforceable. That’s because the majority of patents entail securing property rights regarding the manipulation of atoms, not bits. If someone steals your patented concept of how to build a better mousetrap, you can still sue that company, shut down their mousetrap factory, and get a large cash settlement. Even patents regarding the way information is stored on physical media, such as the MPEG patents that apply to DVDs, remain enforceable because you can sue to shut down DVD factories that violate them. The patents that will become increasingly unenforceable are those regarding the transfer of digital information over networks, such as the patents that Fraunhofer holds over software that creates MP3 music. Yes, Fraunhofer can sue large companies that might infringe, such as Microsoft or Real, but they are unlikely to succeed in stopping individuals that create MP3 software as a hobby and release it for free. Bits are virtual; atoms are real. The rule of thumb is that if you can’t kick it, you can’t sue it.
Won’t people’s conscience stop them from "stealing" other’s "property?" Ask the millions of college students who popularized Napster. The reality is that new technology almost always changes the views of its users as to what is permissible and even what is moral. For example, the Pill radically changed society’s view of the permissibility (and feasibility) of sex outside of marriage, and had even larger effects on the role of women in all walks of life. Going back further, it is hard to see how Martin Luther’s Protestant Revolution could have taken hold without the broad availability and consequential wide literacy enabled by the Gutenberg Bible. In fact, the drastically reduced cost of information distribution that Gutenberg’s printing press entailed can be seen to underpin the entire Enlightenment, as well as its intellectual offspring, liberal democracy and market capitalism. (Not to mention the similarity that the printing press was quickly applied to the production of erotic texts and imagery, just as VCRs caught on as a way to watch adult movies in the comfort of one’s home, and the sons-of-Napster are exchanging an increasing quantity of adult materials in addition to MP3 music.)
As the marginal cost of distributing information goes from a few pennies per megabyte (the approximate cost of most media today) to zero, it is likely that the impact on larger society will accelerate. Most people will probably come to see the terms property and stealing as simply unrelated to how information is distributed and how its creation is funded.
Price per megabyte of different media today
book $20/50 MB $0.40 per MB per copy newspaper $0.50/10 MB $0.05 per MB per copy 30 second TV ad $500,000/5 MB $0.03 per MB per person (assuming 3 million viewers) CD-ROM $15/650 MB $0.02 per MB per copy DVD $50/7000 MB $0.007 per MB per copy
A.J. Liebling said that "Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one." The reality is that throughout history, the distribution of information has been monopolized by a tiny, yet extraordinarily powerful, elite. In ancient Egypt, priests would jealously guard their astronomical knowledge so as to ensure their place at the top of society by being able to predict the annual flooding of the Nile. The Roman Catholic Church used the literacy of its clergy and monks to develop a parallel government that was more powerful than the theoretically sovereign kings during the 1,000 years of the Middle Ages. Although freedom of the press is enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the reality today is that the majority of information distribution channels are still controlled by a small elite of publishers and broadcasters. An oligopoly of five powerful companies has nearly exclusive control in deciding what music will be heard. (This is certainly one of the fundamental reasons that Britney Spears is so popular.)
The influential media theorist Ithiel de Sola Pool described the concept of a technology of freedom, which he said, "aims at pluralism of expression rather than a dissemination of preferred ideas." Pool analyzed the radical differences in how communications technologies were regulated by the government, based on the perceived scarcity of how many publishers could be supported. The press was the gold standard by which others were measured, which because of its wide availability, is given the broadest First Amendment protection. But radio and television broadcasters, by convincing the government that there is a scarcity of available radio spectrum, have successfully argued the need for heavy regulation. Thus, the government not only regulates the kinds of content that can be broadcast (allowing almost any level of violence as long as no nudity is shown) but also makes it far more difficult for new entrants to compete with the established players.
If he were alive today, Pool would surely believe that the Internet is the ultimate technology of freedom. Or, as Judge Dalzell said in his historic ruling in ACLU v. Reno that pronounced the Communications Decency Act unconstitutional, "It is no exaggeration to conclude that the Internet has achieved, and continues to achieve, the most participatory marketplace of mass speech that this country – and indeed the world – has yet seen." Intriguingly, he implied that the Internet may therefore deserve even greater free speech protection than what is currently available for print. That’s because anyone with basic literacy skills can use the Internet to reach an enormous and growing audience for almost no cost. If Liebling was right and the limiting factor is the availability of the printing press, than that price has been reduced to the $1 an hour or so charged by Internet cafes, or the free Internet access made available in many U.S. libraries.
The world we seem to be entering, then, is one in which the distribution of content is essentially free, even while its creation must still be funded. However, the group most responsible for promoting the concept of intellectual property is the recording industry, which generally gets the ownership rights to artists’ music in exchange for agreeing to distribute it. Is it any wonder then that the recording industry routinely makes absurd comparisons such as that there is no difference between stealing music and stealing a car? (The recording industry also routinely refers to copying music as piracy, trivializing a real crime in which hundreds of people are killed every year on the high seas. Piracy on the seas is violent as a direct result of the fact that physical goods are rival.)
A world in which distribution is free is one where many more voices can be heard (and also hopefully in which the corresponding mouths can be fed). It is unlikely, though, that there will be enough money left over to support the recording industry. On the night when the RIAA’s last lawyers are laid off – they will go out toasting, "Well, at least we brought Napster down with us" – few tears will be shed for the demise of the music oligopoly.
Of course, the music industry as it currently exists is not giving up without a fight, and a future essay will examine how their announced digital offerings compare with the many services that have risen up in place of Napster.