In all the discussions about what the new Macintosh computers will have in terms of hardware, it seems that much of the original simplicity of the Mac has been lost. Two sources bring this problem to the forefront, an article in Usenet by Philip Machanick and a column in MacUser by John Dvorak.
Machanick presents a list of the various changes in the Macintosh line from the Plus to the IIfx, including the location of screen memory, which is part of the main RAM on the Plus and SE, and somewhat similar on the IIci. The SE/30 has special video RAM and well as a Processor Direct Slot, and the Mac II line all use NuBus cards, although IIfx can also take a video card in its special slot.
Slots are the worst offenders as far as variability goes, considering the that Plus has none, the SE, SE/30, IIfx, and Portable all have different types of incompatible slots, and the Mac II line supports NuBus. The result of this variation is that any developer must develop the same card for several different slot types, which significantly increases development cost.
Machanick mentions the difference between the Mac Plus method of handling the keyboard/mouse versus the ADB keyboard/mouse, but in this instance Apple has been trying to phase out the old style in favor of ADB on every machine.
The upshot of the problem is that all development work, be it hardware or system software, must deal with a great many exceptions. Unless Apple can condense the product line variations to prevent these exceptions, the Macintosh line will start to have the same problems that affect the world of supposedly-compatible PC-clones. It’s nice to say that everything there is compatible, but the reality says otherwise.
This brings us to Dvorak’s column. He claims that Macs have a true marketing edge over PC-clones and will for some time to come-as long as the Macintosh line stays simple. This edge is the Mac’s ease of installation. We recently installed an SE/30 with 5 meg of memory on a TOPS network in place of a Plus with an external 60 meg drive. The entire process took about an hour, including the lengthy process of cutting through Apple’s packaging, adding the SIMMs, and moving the old Plus out of the way. In contrast, setting up a new PC-clone with extra memory can take hours while you try to get your CONFIG.SYS file using the proper device drivers to handle the extra memory, and did you want extended or expanded memory? And you want to network it too? This week?
Sarcasm aside, Apple would do well to push the Mac’s ease of installation. Apple would also do well to keep the installation process easy. The packaging people go all out with their shrink-wrap machine, but they do include good basic instructions on how to get up and running. The hardware might become the sticky point as it becomes more difficult to match computers and peripherals. So Apple, keep it simple!
Philip Machanick — [email protected]
John Dvorak, MacUser — Jul-90, pg. 302
Sold For Dollars and Sense
Software Toolworks will acquire Monogram, maker of Dollars and Sense, a popular home finance package, at the end of June. Owners of Dollars and Sense need not worry, though, since Software Toolworks will continue to support Dollars and Sense, and the upgrade to version 5.0 will still be released in a month or so. Software Toolworks is retaining the list of people who have requested the upgrade to version 5.0, but if you are curious it might be best to call and confirm. The CompuServe forum run by Monogram will be closing but may be re-opened by Software Toolworks. Calling them and requesting the support forum would probably help to ensure its return.
Monogram — 800/356-5988 — 213/533-5120 (tentative)
Software Toolworks — 818/885-9000
Bruce Holm — [email protected]
An INIT called STEROID has been discovered to be a Trojan Horse. It falsely claims to accelerate QuickDraw on 9" monitors but in fact contains a time bomb that will erase all mounted volumes (floppies and hard disks) on July 1st, 1990. Apparently erased files can be recovered with SUM II (Symantec Utilities for Macintosh) and probably with other file recovery utilities. Needless to say, disable this INIT immediately and do not depend on one of the file recovery utilities. Strangely enough, having the Communication Toolbox installed seems to prevent STEROID from working.
The details of STEROID’s identity are as follows:
TYPE : INIT CREATOR : qdac CODE SIZE : 1080 DATA SIZE : 267 ID : 148 INIT Resource Name: QuickDraw Accelerator File Name : " Steroid" (First 2 characters are ASCII 1) Created : June 2, 1990, 11:24 AM Version : Steroid 1.1
Note the two invisible characters in front of the file name. They ensure that STEROID will load before SAM and other virus prevention utilities that might stop STEROID. Paul Cozza, author of SAM (Symantec AntiVirus for Macintosh) says that SAM would flag STEROID if and only if SAM loads before STEROID, which does not happen currently due to the two invisible characters before STEROID’s name. No unknown INITs should ever be allowed to run before SAM for just this reason.
If you use SAM, you can enter the following virus definition in Virus Clinic to allow both SAM Intercept and Virus Clinic to detect this Trojan during scans.
Virus Name: Steroid Trojan Resource Type: INIT Resource ID: 148 Resource Size: 1080 Search String: ADE9 343C 000A 4EFA FFF2 4A78 (hex) String Offset: 96
If you use Virus Detective 4.x, you can enter the following search string to find STEROID.
Resource INIT & Size<1200 & WData FE680C6E#E4EBA#F60 ; For finding Steroid Trojan
Chuq Von Rospach — [email protected]
Joel B. Levin — [email protected]
Paul Cozza — SAM Author
Color PostScript Printers
Color PostScript printers still cost more than their speedier monochrome counterparts, but now that they list for under $8,000, they should become more widely available. The $7,995 Phaser PX from Tektronix will compete with the $6,999 Colorpoint from Seiko. Both printers use thermal wax transfer technology and take about one minute to print a page.
The Phaser PX runs from a Motorola 68020 chip and comes equipped with serial, parallel, SCSI, and AppleTalk ports and can print PostScript and HPGL (Hewlett-Packard’s page-description language). Given extra RAM, the printer automatically switches between its ports, thus supporting the IBM and the Mac without messing with cables or cartridges. It comes standard the Apple LaserWriter PostScript font set, but the SCSI port feature won’t actually work until a new feature is added later this year.
The Colorpoint uses Intel’s 80960 RISC chip and comes with serial, parallel, and AppleTalk ports. It can print from any of those ports without any cable or card swapping, but the HPGL interpreting ability won’t be available until an upgrade comes out later this year. The upgrade should also include the addition of two SCSI ports to the printer.
Although prices on these printers do not put them in the home-user market, it would be reasonable to expect public laser printing services and public computer rooms to have color printers and that more and more businesses will find room in their budgets for color. (After all, a color printer does help justify a color monitor!)
To give you an idea of how these printers stack up price-wise to popular monochrome printers, the Apple LaserWriter IINT and IINTX list for $4499 and $5999 respectively. To properly equip the Hewlett-Packard LaserJet IIP with PostScript and AppleTalk, you will find a list price around $3500, and the Hewlett-Packard LaserJet III with PostScript and AppleTalk lists for approximately $3,900. (These HP prices include the necessary memory upgrade for PostScript.) In addition, it looks as though prices will continue to drop, so if you can’t afford color now, tune in again next year. No materials prices have been quoted, but they are undoubtedly rather high. A printer that could use standard laser techniques for printing in monochrome but could also print with thermal wax transfer for color would be an ideal combination.
Seiko Instruments USA Inc. — 408/922-5800
Tektronix Inc. — 800/835-6100
MacWEEK — 22-May-90, Vol. 4 #20, pg. 3
MacWEEK — 05-Jun-90, Vol. 4 #21, pg. 1
InfoWorld — 28-May-90, Vol. 12 #22, pg. 3
InfoWorld — 04-Jun-90, Vol. 12 #23, pg. 25
Several people on Usenet report that CompuServe has killed its National Bulletin Board service as of June 1st, 1990. In its place is a new bulletin board service that charges $1.00 per line. The cost doesn’t seem to be the problem, though. Instead CompuServe has instituted a censorship policy on all ads, judging them for appropriateness, however broad that might be. An exact definition was not forthcoming from CompuServe, but materials of a sexual nature are definitely prohibited. Luckily, this policy seems only to affect the open areas such as the data libraries and advertisements; closed areas are still uncensored.
Despite the irritation that some people will no doubt feel at this new policy, CompuServe is not to blame. They are merely protecting themselves from prosecution. One Usenet member suggests that CompuServe might be subject to local and state laws in areas wherever a CompuServe dial-up number is located. The greater issue is why CompuServe feels it necessary to protect themselves that extent. Interestingly enough, Usenet carries materials that are almost certain to offend those of the stricter morality, but we suspect that it would be almost impossible to force Usenet as a whole to do anything legally, considering the huge and amorphous structure of the net. CompuServe, as a corporate entity, cannot ignore the legal manipulations and dangers of the business world. Pity, since free flow of information requires freedom from persecution, be it legal or not.
CompuServe — 800/848-8990 — 614/457-8650
Art Gentry — [email protected]
Leonard Erickson — [email protected]
Robert Noyce Dies
Robert Noyce, one of the inventors of the integrated circuit, died recently of a heart attack at age 62. In 1959 he was awarded a patent for his work in connecting a number of transistors on a single silicon chip, the first of the integrated circuits that are now responsible for the $500 billion electronics industry.
Noyce founded Intel, but his influence was also distributed to the political aspects of the industry, and he spent much time in Washington lobbying on behalf of the industry. He helped found the Semiconductor Industry Association in 1975 and served as the president and chief executive of Sematech Inc., a research consortium organized to close the gap between the American and Japanese semiconductor manufacturing industries.
We regret his passing and will miss his influence.
Timothy E. Forsyth — [email protected]
Ho Hum News
Deciding what events in the computer industry merit mention in TidBITS is a difficult task, since the headline grabbing events are not always the most interesting ones. Many of the articles in Usenet and the trade magazines continue to focus on the introduction of Windows 3.0 and the effect it will have on the industry. We wrote about Windows in the 21-May-90 issue of TidBITS are not inclined to do so again so soon, or at least not until more people have used Windows heavily. But should you wish to learn more about Windows, you can read the 04-Jun-90 and 05-Jun-90 issues of PC WEEK, MacWEEK, and InfoWorld, all of which have numerous articles on the subject.
The second item of little interest is the news that the Lotus Novell merger is off. Apparently Novell wanted a little too much power in the resulting company and Lotus couldn’t accept that. Obviously, all the prognosticating the press did is for naught now, and we at TidBITS merely wish to say that Microsoft is probably breathing a little easier now in its quest to control all of personal computing. We think Microsoft should learn to create real interfaces already and should program by the rules, neither of which is in evidence with their Macintosh software. Many thanks to Pat Hirayama for an article on Usenet that predated all the reports in the trade magazines by almost two weeks. We wish now that we had used his posting last issue. Oh well.
Finally, our apologies for missing last week’s issue of TidBITS. Three factors contributed to our temporary delinquency. First, the Memorial Day weekend in the US cut back on the availability of information from vendors and magazines. Second, it was an uninteresting week as far as the computer industry went, due in part to Memorial Day as well, no doubt. Third and finally, we put out TidBITS completely for free and as such it must take a back seat to our attempts to earn a living. Unfortunate but true. We hope that these circumstances will not conspire again to make us miss an issue. Again, our sincere apologies.
Pat Hirayama — [email protected]
InfoWorld — 28-May-90, Vol. 12 #22, pg. 1