TidBITS readers are nothing if not opinionated! Reader Andrew Lewis commented on our recent article about the Help Menu that the "Apple propaganda" seemed a bit much for TidBITS, and that [as Ken Hancock pointed out last issue] SuperClock 3.9 works fine with System 7 and the Help Menu anyway. Andrew's got a point, but it's important to realize that, with a company the size of Apple, not everyone is a propagandist! Apple employee Rick Holzgrafe, who wrote the original article, is "just" a System 7 user, as entitled to an opinion as any of us. :-)
Another opinion-holder is Mike Kobb, who was astounded at Earl Christie's evaluation of Intelligent Resources' Video Explorer Card as the "multimedia dud" of the recent Macworld Expo. Mike wrote that "I spent about a half hour at the booth, and I thought it was a stupendous product. The quality was tremendous, and the modularity of the product means that you can not only add S-Video and composite input modules, but also mix-and-match input products, so you can use one RGB source and one S-Video, etc. Furthermore, the company is working on a non-linear effects board, that will be able to wrap video onto spheres, and other neat things. Yes, it's expensive, but with the software bundle, it's almost a bargain. Yes, it only does RGB right now, but that'll be remedied soon." Phew! Imagine how adamant Mike would be about this if it weren't for those two "Yes, buts" at the end. Just goes to show you that no two people will agree on the significance and value of every product that comes down the road.
Michael Lee, a TidBITS reader and fellow fan of the space program, left a message while logged onto Memory Alpha BBS to retrieve the file containing details about this month's Atlantis mission and its Macintosh-based experiments. Michael says that the folks at NASA Spacelink, a free on-line service provided by NASA which you can reach by modem at 205/895-0028 (300-2400 bps, N-8-1 settings), hope to post MacSPOC, the software mentioned last week, so that Mac users can download it soon. Spacelink is located at NASA's Huntsville, Alabama facility, and is lots of fun to poke through. I spent some time looking through the press releases, technical documents, programs, and graphics files that are available on-line, and wish I had free long distance phone service so I could afford to spend more time exploring!
Apologies to those of you who depend on comp.sys.mac.digest to get your weekly TidBITS fix. The distribution of issue 77 didn't seem to go as smoothly as usual; most sites only got the first few lines of the issue's index, though a varying amount reached each site. Issue 77 will be reposted shortly, and as usual, you're welcome to take advantage of the other distribution sites if you're in a rush, or if such things happen in the future. Two good bets are America Online and Memory Alpha BBS, as neither depends on the intricacies of the Internet. Anyway, my thanks to all of you who reported the distribution problem this week, and I appreciate your patience.
As we promised (threatened?) at the end of our special Macworld Expo issue two weeks ago, there's more to say about the Expo that just didn't fit. Here's a little bit more material from Ilene Hoffman's Expo coverage that doesn't need a special issue but deserves mentioning.
The best new utility for power users at the show was Hard Disk Toolkit (HDT), a SCSI formatting utility from hard drive manufacturer FWB, Inc. This powerful tool, similar in concept to SilverLining, LaCie's universal formatter, will ship within the next few weeks. HDT includes a heap fixing tool, flexible partitioning, "impenetrable password protection," 15 diagnostic tests, bench tests for transfer rates, seek, access, and read times. The test results are stored in a library for later use. In addition, over 150 different SCSI-1 and SCSI-2 parameters are supported. You can even edit your drive's microcode! The manual is a comprehensive guide to SCSI and will be over 100 pages thick. HDT supports AppleShare, A/UX, and System 7, but its minimum requirements are one megabyte of RAM and System 6.0.2 or higher. It will retail for about $199.00. HDT gets Ilene's vote for the hottest product at the show.
Golden Triangle will release another impressive SCSI utility later in the year. DiskMaker, also with full System 7.0 compatibility, includes one button installation, password protection with an emergency override, partitioning, and an easy to use control panel. It is a good consumer product for those who do not need all the features of the Hard Disk Toolkit. The suggested retail price is $89.00.
The best general utility at the show was the update for HAND-Off II from Connectix. The desktop utility has five major features including pop-up menus to launch applications, open files, or open groups of applications and files (called Briefcases); SuperMenu, which allows for hierarchical System 7 Apple menu access like the old DAMenuz hack; automatic application substitution, which is invaluable for those without MacWrite for opening read-me files; AutoHide, which hides applications as they switch to the background to keep your desktop tidy; and automatic sound and color depth switching. Fred Hollander, the developer, was on hand to demonstrate his latest version.
Ilene Hoffman -- America Online: IleneH
As if the recent pendulum-like events in the Soviet Union weren't confusing enough, Apple and Adobe, the on-again, off-again adversaries in the type wars, have announced that they've signed a letter of intent that calls for the inclusion of Adobe Type 1 font technology within a future version of System 7.
Apple's 20 August press release states that the rasterizer technology that has been sold as Adobe Type Manager since October of 1989 will soon be incorporated into the Macintosh system software. Not surprisingly, Apple plans to continue to support the TrueType format, which should engender a sigh of relief from the font vendors who have devoted the last year or so to creating TrueType product lines to go alongside their Type 1 lines.
The inclusion of Adobe technology in Apple's system software means that users will have equal access to both common font formats when using their Macs and their favorite software, according to Charles Geschke, Adobe's president and chief operating officer. The press release doesn't mention Adobe CEO John Warnock, whose adversarial approach to the issue of separate font technologies fueled the "font wars" that we've been watching over the last couple of years.
"Implementation of the letter of intent is contingent on the execution of definitive contracts," the press release says, but is carefully vague on the subject of just when we can expect to see Type 1 rasterizing within System 7. Of more immediate interest is the statement that Apple plans to make the ATM software and a core set of Type 1 fonts available to purchasers of Macintosh systems and Apple printers in the meantime, through an "interim offer," which will be available in the Fall of 1991.
Adobe Type Manager is already available very inexpensively in several ways. The software itself (with its four included font families) is available from dealers and mail-order houses for about $60, but it's also available bundled along with an increasing number of graphics and font technology products, such as Adobe's Type On Call CD-ROM, PhotoShop, and Illustrator, and third party products such as the FontCard NTX from Sonnet Technologies, the Kodak Diconix M150 Plus printer, and the assorted CD-ROM drive bundles that also include Type On Call. The FontCard NTX is probably the most interesting of those; more on that later. It's certainly nice, though, to hear that the same technology will be made available to users in a less-expensive, better-integrated manner.
This is the kind of technological cooperation that can only benefit the end user. There's little danger that Adobe, the leader in electronic font technology, will stop working on its planned innovations, such as the FontMaster technology that promises automatic font weighting as simply as Type 1 fonts provide font scaling. On the contrary, this agreement should boost Adobe's position in the font arena and give it the motivation to keep moving. The concern? Despite Apple's promise to continue its support for TrueType, it's clear that the company has lost some of its enthusiasm for TrueType as the be-all and end-all of font technologies. What will TrueType partner Microsoft think about all this? If we find out, we'll be sure to let you know.
Apple press release
Thanks to MacWEEK and their ability to sniff out the facts ahead of time, we're all starting to get some glimpses of this fall's slate of new Macintosh computers. The article in last Tuesday's MacWEEK gives us new names for the products we've been expecting, which include two 68040 Macs, a 68030 Classic, and three new portable Macs.
The new portables, the first Apple computers that can really be called notebooks, are called PowerBooks. They fold down to 8.5 by 11 inches, and the lower section includes a keyboard and a trackball placed below the keyboard. Apparently some testers have expressed some discomfort due to the trackball's placement, but on an eleven-inch panel, there's a limit to the number of places you can put a trackball! Obviously having to have a separate mouse would not do.
Power users won't be disappointed by the raw power of Apple's '040 offerings, the Mac Quadra 700 and its big brother, the Quadra 900. These are the "Desktop" and "Tower" '040 Macs from earlier reports, with snazzier names than the "Macintosh IIex" that had been rumoured. One thing the MacWEEK article neglects to mention about these machines is the significance of their names. The "Quadra" name, from the Latin for the number four, would seem to be in atonement for the ill-fated Apple /// computer. Since the flop of the Apple ]['s would-be successor and business counterpart, Apple has quietly vowed never to name another computer with the number "three." It would have sounded silly to have a Macintosh IV without having had a Mac III, so they presumably did the next best thing and skirted the issue with some linguistic fiddling.
The least impressive of the fall's batch will be the Macintosh Classic II, a 68030 version of last fall's enormously-successful Mac Classic. This machine should really be replacing the Mac Classic, rather than the SE/30. With no expansion slot and no new features, the Classic II is hardly going to fill the void left when the SE/30 is discontinued. The void this machine will more likely fill is that created by the Classic itself, that of real computing power for the masses. People who've been considering a Classic would do well to wait for this new machine, with its rumoured retail price of $1900, and those who didn't wait will be pleased to learn that an upgrade from Classic to Classic II is expected.
Along with two new printers, these six computers represent the largest new-product offering from Apple in a long, long time, if not ever. They show Apple's return to its commitment to the high end, without the lack of attention to the low end that some had feared would accompany the '040 Macs. A good sign in an industry where diversity in the marketplace is critical.
MacWEEK -- 20-Aug-91, Vol. 5, #29, pg. 1
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