close this bookTidBITS#17   19900820
View the documentJust ADDmotion
View the documentApple: Help Wanted
View the documentSE/xpanded
View the documentNew Viruses, Sigh
View the documentMac/PC Prices
View the documentReviews/20-Aug-90
View the documentFoot Notes

Topics:

  • Just ADDmotion
  • Apple: Help Wanted
  • SE/xpanded
  • New Viruses, Sigh
  • Mac/PC Prices
  • Reviews/20-Aug-90

Copyright 1990 TidBITS Electronic Publishing. All rights reserved.
Information: <info@tidbits.com> Comments: <editors@tidbits.com>


Just ADDmotion

A number of weeks ago MotionWorks introduced ADDmotion, a multimedia package that will run under HyperCard 2.0. We were interested but wanted to get more information before we did an article on it. Luckily MotionWorks was at Macworld and we also found talk on America Online about ADDmotion.

Overall, ADDmotion seems like it will be a nice low-end animation and multimedia tool for those not wishing to delve into the complexity of Macromind Director. ADDmotion works on an object-path metaphor, so you create an actor (in the included 24-bit color paint module, which would be useful for other things in HyperCard as well) and then draw a path for the actor to travel on. If you want, ADDmotion will create a path for you once you specify the start and end points. The path looks a like a Bezier curve with lots of handles for easy manipulation. ADDmotion also includes cues, so other HyperCard actions (including other XCMDs) can be executed at the appropriate times. A Timeline window shows you the relative chronological positions of the actors, sounds, and backdrops so it is simple to synchronize everything. If you already have work in Director or want to bring in other animations, ADDmotion can import and export PICS, PICT, PICT2, and MacPaint files.

We were quite impressed with ADDmotion at Macworld, although it won't be shipping until HyperCard 2.0 does. It has a list price of $295 and all animations produced with ADDmotion can be freely distributed without royalties. Distribution will be easy because the ADDmotion animation engine XCMD is a mere 22K.

One use we immediately thought of for ADDmotion was a symbiosis with tapes produced with Farallon's MediaTracks, which can record mouse movements and screen changes and play them within HyperCard. MediaTracks could be used to make a tape of how an application is used, and then ADDmotion could add animation and actors to the tape to provide commentary and further information. That sort of thing can be done now, with just HyperCard and MediaTracks' predecessor, ScreenRecorder, but the process is clumsy at best and the results look lousy on the whole. Neither the MotionWorks people nor the Farallon people had thought of using the two packages together, but both said they would look into it further.

MotionWorks -- 604/732-0289
Farallon -- 415/849-2331

Information from:
Adam C. Engst -- TidBITS Editor
MotionWorks propaganda

Related articles:
MacWEEK -- 21-Aug-90, Vol. 4 #29, pg. 36
InfoWorld -- 16-Jul-90, Vol. 12 #29, pg. 36

Apple: Help Wanted

Apple advertised in two recent issues of MacWEEK, using a two page spread ad to list the new jobs it has available. None of them looked like they were designed for us, so we thought we might pass along some of the more interesting ones, though a lot of them sound like palm readings, as in - "You will meet a tall dark engineer of the appropriate sex."

The first job listed under Product Design & Imaging is Reliability Engineer. Hmm, wonder what they're getting at? A bit further on down the page, two jobs for hardware types are listed with the blurb "You will work on advanced floppy disks." There's an interesting thought. Now that the SuperDrives have finally calmed down a bit, it's time to look into new drives. The new NeXT machines will have 2.8 megabyte floppies, and Kennect's Drive 2.4 can read and write at 2.4 megabytes, but it seems more likely that Apple is looking into the floppy technology that can put 10 or 20 meg on a single disk. Listed right after the floppy drive jobs is one which says something about "you will take primary responsibility for optical drive evaluation, selection, and debug." Aside from the dubious grammar of that last word, it sounds like Apple is playing catch-up with Steve Jobs. Someone should tell them that the NeXT's optical disk is now an option, not a standard. One way or another, it will probably be a while before any new floppies or flopticals hit the market.

The next section is Video/Graphics & Voice/Speech. The fifteen jobs listed here indicate that Apple will be putting it's money where John Sculley's mouth has been recently in regard to multimedia. Two interesting jobs are the Text to Speech Software Engineer and the Voice Recognition Software Engineer. Macintalk has been officially dead for some time, but many people were less than pleased with its demise. These two engineers ought to come up with some useful stuff, particularly considering the rumors that the new IIsi will have built-in audio digitizing hardware and System 6.0.6 will have a cdev and a HyperCard XCMD for digitizing sound. A number of the other jobs in this section use the words compression and decompression. Pleasant of them to compress all this video stuff, even if they are working on some larger storage devices as well. The most cryptic entry is one which reads "You will contribute to our 3D product." Haven't heard about that one before.

The last section, IS & T, is devoted to relatively boring corporate-type jobs such as designing 4D databases and business applications on a whole slew of nasty IBM machines like the S/370-3090, S/38, and AS400. 'Tis the price you pay for becoming a "serious business machine" company.

Apple Computer
90525 Mariani Ave. MS 39A
Cupertino, CA 95014

Information from:
Adam C. Engst -- TidBITS Editor

Related articles:
MacWEEK -- 14-Aug-90, Vol. 4 #28, pg. 82

SE/xpanded

While at Macworld Expo, we found out more about two new products offered in the back of MacWEEK. Both products expand the compact Macintoshes in ways that Apple cannot do for you and Apple's spec sheets for general consumption say cannot be done. (Of course, that's never stopped people from trying!)

The first product, Aura Systems's ScuzzyGraph II, allows you to attach a color monitor to a 512KE, Plus, or SE. This cannot normally be done because the ROMs in these computers do not have color QuickDraw. The sales people in the booth didn't exactly know how the product works, but they did have it hooked up to a Plus and an SE. The SE had an accelerator card in it (we easily detected the card when we launched Word 4.0 and it came up almost instantly), so we couldn't tell whether or not the ScuzzyGraph was slowing down the SE. The Plus, however, seemed to be plugging along at its normal rate.

ScuzzyGraph is a box about the size of a hard drive, and can sit comfortably under a compact Mac. Inside the box, according to Aura, resides a special graphics processor which processes and accelerates QuickDraw commands. The spec sheet says that ScuzzyGraph gives you up to a 650% larger screen, eight "vivid" colors (they looked normal to us), 1280 by 1024 pixels (though this amount only applies to the most expensive version), instant installation, works with existing software (we should hope so!), and color printing (a good reason to buy Color MacCheese).

It looked to us like ScuzzyGraph might be a nice option for people who already have a compact Mac and want a color monitor, but that the price rules it out as something people would buy along with a new compact system in most cases. There are actually three versions of ScuzzyGraph, and the main differences are the resolutions they support. They cost, list price, $895, $1295, and $1995 respectively. You can also buy them with a monitor provided by Aura, and they offer four models, with prices ranging from $1595 to $3695, depending on the resolution and the monitor size. Since we still don't know how the device works, we would recommend more research on the part of anyone contemplating a purchase.

Another product line that expands on some compact Macs is a line of expansion chassis from Second Wave. Like the ScuzzyGraph, these products will, in most cases, only make sense when purchased for an older machine, not if purchased in conjunction with a new Mac. Second Wave makes a two-slot chassis for the Portable that takes SE cards, a four-slot chassis for Pluses and SEs that takes SE cards, and a four and an eight-slot NuBus chassis for the SE/30. (It also make them for Mac IIs, for people who want more slots than fingers.) The idea of the chassis was more exciting than actually looking at it, though in some cases the boxes were fairly large, which might be something (especially in the case of the Portable) that you would want to know before you bought.

It's nice to know that expansion products exist for the compact Macs although to be successful these products must be boring and blend in just as though the Mac had color capabilities or several slots built in. They seem to do just that, so if you are truly attached to your compact Mac and want a little more room to flex, check them out.

Aura Systems -- 800/365-AURA
Second Wave -- 512 343 9661

Information from:
Tonya Byard -- TidBITS editor
Aura System propaganda
Second Wave propaganda


New Viruses, Sigh

This is getting depressing. Two new viruses have appeared in Ithaca (kudos to Don Lee, a student computer supervisor at Cornell for first identifying them), one a simple clone of the MDEF virus, the other a take-off on the irritating WDEF.

The first virus, MDEF B (Top Cat) is exactly the same as MDEF A (Garfield) except that it can bypass the protection afforded by the Vaccine INIT. Vaccine should not be used any more since so many of the viruses circumvent its protection and since it will never be updated. Instead, use either GateKeeper and GateKeeper Aid or the Disinfectant INIT. If you're rich, the commercial programs have their uses as well.

The second virus, CDEF, works in the same basic way as WDEF does, copying itself into the invisible Desktop file whenever possible. It won't infect any other files, but it spreads so rapidly that it is a threat by its presence alone. Unlike WDEF, CDEF is a bit more solid and won't cause as many problems, but it's still not the sort of thing you want hanging around even though it doesn't actively cause damage. Like WDEF, rebuilding the Desktop file (hold down command-option when booting or when quitting an application under the Finder) will remove the CDEF virus. Also like WDEF, the CDEF resource is a valid Macintosh resource, but there should never be any CDEF or WDEF resources in the Desktop file.

These viruses irritate me because they show, as did the nVIR clones, that there are a lot anti-social types out there with nothing better to do than make others' lives more difficult. The whole situation reminds me of a quote from Monty Python. "Yes well, that's the sort of blinkered, philistine, pig ignorance I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage." In other words, if you're even considering writing a virus, get a real life. I'll be really interested to see what Cornell does if the author of some of these viruses is found.

In any event, there is a new version of Disinfectant out, version 2.1, to combat these viruses. Version 2.1 also corrects a few errors in version 2.0, including incompatibilities with A/UX 2.0, Icon-It!, Spy!, SuperClock, and Rival. We haven't been able to test the viruses ourselves, but GateKeeper and GateKeeper Aid (which is now at version 1.02) should also catch these new ones.

Information from:
John Norstad -- jln@acns.nwu.edu
Adam C. Engst -- TidBITS Editor


Mac/PC Prices

Apple finally stopped protecting the information about the new (relatively) low-cost Macs enough so MacWEEK published specs, though the local Apple rep has said that people at Apple haven't finished arguing about what the details will be. It appears that there will be a 68000-based machine, the Mac Classic (wasn't John Sculley from Pepsi, not Coca-Cola? :-)), a 68020 machine, the Mac LC, and the IIsi, a 20 MHz 68030 machine placed right below the IIci in power. All the machines will include 2 meg of RAM.

Prices haven't been finally set, but people on Usenet have been batting around $2000 as the list price for the Mac Classic. This has brought up the age-old debate of whether or not the Macintosh line is pricy in comparison to comparable PC-clones. The major conclusion that seems to have appeared is that the Mac line and the PC clones are not comparable - at least for knowledgeable users. One problem with the higher prices for the Mac is that inexperienced users will buy the machine that will perform basic computer stuff at the lowest price, and that machine will seldom be a Macintosh. Apple will have to face a small market share in that price range, but it may be worth it if most inexperienced home users never upgrade to more powerful equipment.

Our feeling is that yes, you can get a powerful PC for less than you can get a powerful Mac. One catch is that you really have to know what you are doing if you want to get the lowest price around via mail order, because the cheaper machines have worse support, cheaper parts, and negligible documentation. A power user can get away with that, but a novice user could be burnt badly in the process. Another catch is that the prices go up rapidly when you start outfitting a PC to be more like a Mac, with extra memory, networking hardware, a VGA monitor and card, a mouse, Windows, a large hard disk, and a fast processor. The major difference I see is intense competition between the major vendors, forcing prices to drop constantly. Apple could get into the market gently that way, by allowing the most reputable mail-order vendors to sell Macs at whatever price they want. Nah, it'll never happen.

Information from:
Adam C. Engst -- TidBITS Editor
Jim Gaynor -- gaynor@hpuxa.ircc.ohio-state.edu
Matthew T. Russotto -- russotto@eng.umd.edu
Norman Goodger -- ngg@bridge2.ESD.3Com.COM
Peter Kovac -- pkovac@pro-truckstop.cts.com
Paul Raulerson -- paulr@pnet51.orb.mn.org

Related articles:
MacWEEK -- 21-Aug-90, Vol. 4 #29, pg. 1
InfoWorld -- 20-Aug-90, Vol. 12 #34, pg. 1

Reviews/20-Aug-90

  • MacWEEK
    • Hand Scanners, pg. 27
      • Lightning Scan 400
      • ScanMan Model 32
      • Half-Page Scanner/400
      • Mars 105 & 128 Hand-Scanners
      • Mars 800 Hand-Scanner
    • Aldus PrePrint, pg. 56
    • Amazing Paint, pg. 56
    • Capture 3.0, pg. 57
    • Report Ideas , pg. 57
    • Norton Utilities, pg. 63
    • MaraThon 030 SE, pg. 63
  • InfoWorld
    • Illustration Packages, pg. 51
      • Adobe Illustrator 1.9.5
      • Aldus FreeHand 2.0.2
      • CA-Cricket Draw 1.1.1
      • Canvas 2.1

References:

  • MacWEEK -- 21-Aug-90, Vol. 4 #29
  • InfoWorld -- 20-Aug-90, Vol. 12 #34

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