The Champaign-Urbana Computer Users Group

The Status Register - May, 2001

This newsletter will never appear on CUCUG.ORG before the monthly CUCUG meeting it is intended to announce. This is in deference to actual CUCUG members. They get each edition hot off the presses. If you'd like to join our group, you can get the pertinent facts by looking in the "Information About CUCUG" page. If you'd care to look at prior editions of the newsletter, they may be found via the Status Register Newsletter page.
News     Common     PC     Mac     Amiga     CUCUG

May 2001

To move quickly to an article of your choice, use the search feature of your reader or the hypertext directory above. Enjoy.

May News:

The May Meeting

The next CUCUG meeting will be held on our regular third Thursday of the month: Thursday, May 17th, at 7:00 pm, at the Illinois Technology Center. Directions to the ITC are at the end of this newsletter.

The May 17 gathering will be one of our combined meetings. George Krumins will be giving a demonstration of the Playstation 2. He'll be talking about the console, how it compares with others already released, as well as the Xbox, and an overview of the PS2 console, including optional accessories. He'll show some of the web sites for the PS2. He'll demo the DVD functions, and then show a couple of games, both single player and multi-player. Members will be encouraged to play. For the multi-player games some allow 4 players at a time. Since George only has 3 controllers, he requests anyone that has a fourth to bring along. Sounds like a fun time. See you there.


Welcome New Members

We'd like to welcome the newest member of our group, joining us in the last month: Dennis Ducey (A3000/4000).

We'd also like to extend a belated welcome to returning member John Baird.

We welcome any kind of input or feedback from members. Have an article or review you'd like to submit? Send it in. This month has been extraordinary in this regard. I'd like to publicly thank Kevin Hisel, Jim Lewis, Mike Latinovich, Jack Melby and Edwin Hadley for their contributions to the newsletter this month. Involvement is the driving force of any user group. Welcome to the group.


Douglas Noel Adams (1952 - 2001)

Douglas Adams died suddenly following a heart attack on the 11th May, 2001. He was 49. Douglas Adams became a household name after his science-fiction comedy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was turned into a BBC TV series. "Don't Panic" became a catch phrase for a generation. He will be missed.


Apple Releases Mac OS X Update with CD Burning

CUPERTINO, California - May 1, 2001 - Apple announced that it will release its second software update for Mac OS X today, which together with a simultaneously-released update to iTunes will add the ability to burn custom music CDs on Mac OS X. Both software updates will be released at noon today and will begin automatically notifying users and updating their copies of Mac OS X over the Internet during the coming week.

Along with providing support for burning music CDs with CD-RW drives, the second software update to Mac OS X also features improvements in overall application stability and the latest version of the Internet file transfer service (ftpd). The update will be made available by automatic software update to all Mac OS X users for free.

"As promised, CD burning is now available on Mac OS X," said Steve Jobs, AppleĠs CEO. "As you can see, weĠre improving Mac OS X on a regular basis by using our amazing Internet-based software update technology."

iTunes for Mac OS X will now allow users to create custom music CDs and watch stunning full screen visualizations on their computer display. Available exclusively for the Mac, iTunes also lets users import songs to their hard drives from their favorite CDs and compress them into MP3s; organize their music using powerful searching, browsing and play list features; and tune into hundreds of Internet radio stations. Since its launch in January 2001, iTunes has been downloaded more than 2 million times.

Users around the world will be automatically notified of the Mac OS X v10.0.2 update via AppleĠs Software Update system. Earlier this April, users received the first update to Mac OS X, which improved support for third-party USB devices, improved Classic compatibility, increased application stability and provided support for the popular open source Secure Shell service.

Availability Mac OS X is available through The Apple Store ( and through Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $129 (US).

Mac OS X requires a minimum of 128MB of memory and is designed to run on the following Apple products: iMac, iBook, Power Macintosh G3, Power Mac G4, Power Mac G4 Cube and any PowerBook introduced after May 1998.

iTunes is available as a free download from for use with Macintosh computers running Mac OS 9.0.4, Mac OS 9.1 and Mac OS X.


Apple To Open Its First Retail Store

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) - Apple Computer Inc. will open its first retail store May 19 in McLean, Va. - the first of what is expected to become a chain of Apple outlets.

Until its media invitation Monday announcing the grand opening, the Cupertino-based personal computer maker had refused to confirm reports that it planned to open its own stores. News reports have instead relied on city sources, including Apple's pending application to build a store in downtown Palo Alto.

Apple currently relies mainly on resellers, large electronics retailers and its own Web site to sell its products.

The McLean store will be in Tysons Corner, one of two large business centers in a city that has been attracting more high-tech businesses. Tysons Corner has the highest concentration of high- technology employers of any other location in Fairfax County, according to the city's Web site.

The city, part of Washington D.C.'s greater metropolitan area, is also home to several federal government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency.

Chris Le Tocq, an analyst at Guernsey Research, thinks Apple may be going after the government market, in part by getting more federal employees to use their products.

Unlike Gateway Inc., which has about 300 stores throughout the United States, Le Tocq said "Apple is being more targeted here, going for areas where it feels it is not getting its fair shake."

Apple officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

In trading Monday on the Nasdaq Stock Market, Apple fell 79 cents a share to $24.96.


Eudora 5.1 Adds SSL, Palm Address Synchronization


Qualcomm has released Eudora 5.1, a free update to their popular email application. New features include support for secure, authenticated connections via SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) if your email server supports them; an option to display signatures inline in message composition windows; support for sending, receiving, and storing vCards; colorizing of MoodWatch trigger words and phrases (Paid or Sponsored mode only); and a new MoodWatch settings panel. Qualcomm rewrote Eudora's Address Book for Eudora 5.0 (see "Eudora 5.0 Reads Your Mind" in TidBITS-547_), and now we're starting to see the benefits. Enhancements include a conduit for synchronizing your Eudora Address Book with a Palm OS handheld, support for photos in address book entries and in nickname toolbar buttons, the capability to export the Address Book (or just selected entries) to a comma-delimited text file, and a new Address Book settings panel. In addition, Qualcomm fixed a slew of minor bugs. A 4.8 MB installer enables you to install a fresh Eudora Application Folder or update a Paid copy of Eudora 5.0.x (but not a beta version). For those running Mac OS X, a carbonized version of Eudora 5.1 is in beta testing now (it's a 3.8 MB download). [ACE]


BBEdit 6.1 Adds Features, Mac OS X Support


Bare Bones Software's popular text and HTML editor BBEdit has now joined the ranks of software carbonized for Mac OS X. Along with that basic architectural change and numerous tweaks to fit into the Mac OS X environment better, BBEdit 6.1 offers many new and enhanced features, including integration with Mac OS X's Perl tools, an improved FTP engine with support for alternate ports, optional display of hard line numbers in soft-wrapped documents, FTP browser windows for viewing remote directories, and support for Emacs-style key equivalents for editing commands. BBEdit 6.1 is 8.3 MB download and works on System 7.5.5 and higher. It's free for registered users of BBEdit 6.0; $39 for users of previous versions of BBEdit, $79 for cross-upgrades, and $119 for everyone else. [ACE]


Acrobat 5 Focuses on Online Collaboration


Adobe has released Adobe Acrobat 5, positioning its Portable Document Format (PDF) as an online collaboration tool rather than just a way to view documents across platforms (see the TidBITS series on document collaboration). Acrobat 5 adds the capability to save the contents of PDF files in other formats such as RTF, or to save pages as TIFF, JPEG, or PNG images. On the security front, Acrobat 5 supports 128-bit encrypted password protection and digital signatures for handling confidential documents, and it can restrict editing and printing. You can apply annotations and changes to shared documents online from within a Web browser, saving the trouble of shuttling multiple versions of a document via email. Adobe has boosted Acrobat's capability to use forms in PDF documents, so users can create live electronic forms that can be tied into back-end databases using Acrobat's XML support. Acrobat 5 also includes accessibility features such as high- contrast display settings, support for Windows-based screen readers (see our series on accessibility for the disabled), and more keyboard shortcuts. The program also offers a host of other features, such as enhanced output and color controls, batch processing, and tools for analyzing and repairing PDF files. Acrobat 5 is now available for $250 and is carbonized for Mac OS X. The free Acrobat 5 Reader installer is a 380K download; the application itself is a 10 MB download. [JLC]


PowerBook G4 Titanium Propels Apple $43 Million Profit

by Adam Engst (

For its second fiscal quarter of 2001, Apple Computer last week announced a net profit of $43 million dollars, or $.12 per share, on sales of 751,000 Macs. That number was helped slightly by $89 million from Apple's sale of 23 million shares in ARM Holdings, plc, which more than offset an $86 million charge for a write-down of Apple's investment in EarthLink. Apple has only 8 million shares in ARM Holdings remaining, but selling shares in ARM Holdings has done wonders for bolstering Apple's finances over the last few years. Although this quarter's results don't compare well with the $233 million profit ($.64 per share) on sales of over 1 million Macs from the second quarter last year, they utterly crush analysts' estimates of $.01 per share that followed last quarter's $195 million loss. Apple's cash and short-term investment position remains strong at over $4.1 billion.

Credit for the improved results goes in part to Apple's cost- cutting measures and lower component costs, but more obviously to the popular PowerBook G4 Titanium, which sold 134,000 units in the quarter, far better than its PowerBook G3 (FireWire) predecessor in either last quarter or the year ago quarter. The PowerBook G4 Titanium also helped boost Apple's gross margins to 26.9 percent, still below last year's 28.2 percent. Sales of the Power Mac G4 (Digital Audio) were also stronger than last quarter, at 250,000 units. However, the iMac couldn't quite match the Christmas quarter with 300,000 units, and the iBook - the model most likely to be revised soon - racked up sales of only 55,000 units. Even with Apple's price cuts, the Power Mac G4 Cube managed sales of only 12,000 units. The most interesting lift to Apple's revenues came from Mac OS X, which accounted for $19 million.

Some thoughts about Apple's financial position: the company's fortunes may be relatively independent of the larger computer industry, perhaps because Macintosh purchases are more commonly individual rather than corporate decisions. Also, note that a compelling product like the PowerBook G4 Titanium can sell well even in a cool economic climate. In contrast, the Power Mac G4 Cube - despite its elegant and quiet design - simply doesn't offer sufficient advantages over either high-end iMacs or low-end Power Mac G4s to entice buyers even after Apple dropped its price. We'll probably see the Cube either benefit from a significant revision or disappear entirely by the end of 2001.


Bad Power Mac G4 Hard Drives


Apple has revealed that some Power Mac G4s (Digital Audio - those released in January of 2001) contain defective 40 GB and 60 GB hard drives that can damage files, cause data loss, and potentially prevent the computer from starting up. Only a limited number of machines sold in the U.S. and Canada are affected, so if you have a Power Mac G4 (Digital Audio) with a 40 GB or 60 GB hard drive, read the Tech Info Library's instructions on how to determine whether your Mac has a bad drive. If so, Apple will replace the drive under warranty. [ACE]


Palm Desktop 2.6.3 Supports Newest Handhelds


Palm has released Palm Desktop 2.6.3, a small update that primarily provides compatibility with the latest Palm devices running Palm OS 4.0. The new version updates Palm's HotSync synchronization software to improve data transfers using the m500 series' Universal USB Connector, plus adds the capability to transfer files to an expansion card (see "Palm Announces Thin Color m505" in TidBITS-573_). The update also fixes a problem with the Instant Palm Desktop extension. Palm Desktop 2.6.3 is a free update, and is a 6.1 MB download. [JLC]


BBEdit 6.1.1 Addresses Conflicts, Fixes Bugs


Less than a week after releasing BBEdit 6.1, Bare Bones Software has issued a minor update to fix crashes caused by bugs in St. Clair Software's Screen Catcher 2.3.3 and earlier (an update to 2.3.4 is already available) and Logitech's MouseWare 3.5.1 and earlier. Also fixed in BBEdit 6.1.1 are a crash related to bringing up the Forms/Button dialog, an About box drawing glitch, and a bug in which using root addressing for a URL incorrectly added an extra slash. The update is free and recommended for all users of BBEdit 6.0 and higher. Bare Bones has released updaters for both BBEdit 6.0.x (8.3 MB) and 6.1 (1.3 MB). [ACE]


Apple Releases QuickTime 5.0.1


After a long public beta, Apple has released QuickTime 5.0.1, enhancing performance and finally cleaning up the QuickTime Player interface. The former version's awkward circular volume control is gone, replaced by a sensible slider and complemented by control buttons sporting an Aqua appearance. Content creators, however, can now forego the interface entirely by designing their own custom interfaces. There are also improvements under the skin, such as a new DV codec that improves conversion to and from digital videotape, significantly enhanced AppleScript support, full support for MPEG-1 and Flash 4 media, and the capability to download new components as needed. QuickTime 5 also adds Cubic VR, which displays full 360 degree views of specially created QuickTime VR movies (previously, you were limited when viewing up or down), plus a new music synthesizer. The QuickTime Player is free, but you'll need to pay $30 to unlock the QuickTime Pro features (unless you registered after 12-Oct-00). QuickTime 5.0.1 is available both as a 408K Web installer and a 9.1 MB stand-alone installer. [JLC]


Fetch 4.0 Off the Leash


Jim Matthews, who bought the rights to his Fetch FTP client from Dartmouth College and founded Fetch Softworks with his winnings on the U.S. television game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," has now released Fetch 4.0, the first major update to the program since 1995. Jim updated his venerable 12-year-old FTP client by making it compatible with Mac OS X, where it features a full Aqua interface, while retaining compatibility all the way back to System 7.0. Modern technologies supported in Fetch 4.0 include AppleScript, the Keychain, contextual menus, QuickTime for viewing media, and text to speech for feedback. Other interesting features include a mirror command for synchronization between local and remote folders, support for creating and editing text and graphic files with BBEdit and Graphic Converter, support for Kerberos security, the capability to resume interrupted downloads, and a Get Info command that can tell you how much data is stored in a folder through recursive listing. Most amazing though, is Fetch's new capability to copy files from one FTP server to another and to move files within an FTP server by dragging them from window to window. Fetch costs $25 for individual use, though free serial numbers are available for educational or charitable organizations, and site licenses are available for multiple copies. Despite the transfer from Dartmouth at the end of 2000, upgrades from version 3.0.3 purchased any time after 30-Apr-00 are free. It's great to see Fetch development moving forward again like this! [ACE]


Brazilian Full Aminet Mirror is now online

Posted on 11-May-2001 14:16 GMT
last edited 11-May-2001 18:59 GMT by Christian Kemp

Gustavo Sarmento wrote: "AmigaBR usergroup and MMA Internet & Sistemas are proud to announce Aminet-BR full mirror, the very first full Aminet mirror in the whole Latin America. It is located in Santo Antonio de Jesus, Bahia, Brazil, and can be accessed through the address"


VillageTronic lays off 80% of Amiga workers

Posted on 20-Apr-2001 11:08 GMT,
last edited 20-Apr-2001 11:08 GMT by Christophe Decanini

From VGR website:" Mr. Randy West posted some information on VillageTronic GmbH and the Voodoo add on module for the Picasso IV on comp.sys.amiga.hardware: "Talk to a friend that lives by Villagetronic. It's offical Villagetronic Amiga is more more 80% of the Amiga workers have been laided off. There won't be a Paraglider unless they sell the prototype board which is the only one that was made."

That was a follow up to this post "The last announcement I got from Blittersoft was last summer (or last fall?) when they confirmed that the project was still going on. I got an email from them a month or so ago where saying that they removed the advertisement from their site. Since 3dfx is kind of dead, are there any chance of seeing this product come to life?" "


Eyetech AmigaOne pictures

Posted on 09-Apr-2001 11:24 GMT
last edited 09-Apr-2001 11:24 GMT by Christophe Decanini

From VGR website: " Eyetech Group Ltd have placed online a AmigaOne picture page . They have 6 pictures of the Zico spec A1 motherbpard that include: AmigaOne PCB layout, AmigaOne PCB layout (closeup), AmigaOne board, AmigaOne board + A1200 in an EZTower-Z4, AmigaOne in standard ATX Tower case and AmigaOne in standard ATX Tower case. - Are all the drivers running today, or is this just a stuff-n-go picture for size concept? You can find a local copy of the pics and a nice Thumbnail page for a quick overview here: 08-Apr-01 AmigaOne picture. " or access directly to Eyetech pictures page.


Another two Cinemaware's classics


"Due to the overwhelmingly positive response from the last offering, Cinemaware proudly presents TV Sports Football and TV Sports Baseball Amiga disk images. Take a nostalgic journey back to the birth of the modern sports craze! The TV Sports franchise was original and new in that it presented the game like it was an actual television broadcast. They're only going to be available for a limited time, so run to the Vault quickly to download..."

Cinemaware website -


Common Ground:

CD-R disc makers to hike prices

By Richard Shim
Special to CNET
May 9, 2001, 1:45 p.m. PT

Wholesale prices for CD-recordable discs will spike this summer, a new report asserts, though the effects should be short-lived.

The wholesale price of CD-R discs is expected to as much as triple this summer because of a shortage of the media, according to market researcher IDC. However, prices should fall back to "normal levels" by the end of the year and possibly before the holiday-shopping season, IDC analyst Peter Brown said Wednesday.

The prices have been as low as 10 cents per disc and will increase this summer to an average of around 30 cents, he said. Consumers shouldn't feel the pinch, however.

"The price increase should only affect consumers incrementally-- probably less than $1 more for 50 CDs," Brown said. "Resellers and distributors are likely to feel the effects more dramatically."

CD-R discs, which can hold up to 700MB, allow a person to record once but not erase the data.

The price increase is partly in reaction to an artificially low bar set by manufacturers amid a price war last year, Brown said.

The growing popularity of burning CDs created a market for the media, and disc manufacturers jumped aboard. In 1999, up to 80 companies were manufacturing CD-R discs. To try to drive out competitors, they cut prices. In addition, companies overestimated demand. The result: Disc prices dropped to as low as 10 cents, Brown said, and companies began consolidating or going out of business.

With fewer disc makers around, Brown predicts that prices will rise as inventory drops. He expects that manufacturers will react to the new conditions and that inventory should be back up by the end of the year.

In 2000, manufacturers shipped about 3.5 billion CD-R discs. This year, IDC projects, manufacturers will ship 4.5 billion discs. That represents a nearly 30 percent increase, which is about half the growth from 1999 to 2000.

[This article was suggested for the newsletter by Kevin Hisel.]


USB-2 versus Firewire

In light of the statements of some of out more PeeCee-oriented members at recent meetings concerning their perception that USB-2 will prevent FireWire from getting a strong foothold in the market, I offer this quote from today's (3/27/01) Macintosh News Network ( page:

'Microsoft's support for USB appears to be not quite as warm as it once was, saying that the future of Windows XP connectivity is IEEE 1394 ("FireWire"), and not the next generation of Intel's USB 2.0 standard, according to The Register. "Stork's line suggests that Microsoft no longer sees digital video as a high-end application. Like Apple, it now thinks it's going to be a key consumer application too - Stork even refers to 1394 by Apple's own codeword for the transport, FireWire. He also waxes lyrical about the 802.11 wireless networking standard that forms the basis of Apple's AirPort system. Clearly, Redmond reckons Steve Jobs is onto something here and is out to embrace and extend his strategy. Heck, just look at the XP's MacOS X-esque styling... What was that about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery?"'

[This article was submitted for the newsletter by John Melby.]


It Finally Happened: Microsoft Impressed Me

from a Creative Prose e-mail list

Our final highlight of [Seybold's] opening day -- the expo floor opens tomorrow [4/11/01], so likely tomorrow's newsletter will be filled with product announcements, show floor assessments, etc. -- was a presentation by Dick Brass, VP of Technology Development at Microsoft. Mr. Brass spoke to a sparsely filled room on the topic of reinvigorating publishing. He spoke to the issue that publishers today are grappling with: how to make money from the Web. He noted that most ePublishers are in trouble, that there is no example of an online publishing venture that does as well as a corresponding printed version, and with the exception of the venerable The Wall Street Journal -- which charges a hefty annual fee for access to -- nobody is even breaking even yet. Brass cited flaws inherent in the Web as a content delivery vehicle: latency, poor resolution, and lack of portability. He discussed the concept of eBooks as one hope for publishers, but cited a continued lack of good resolution and processing power as reasons for slow adoption. But then, just when I was thinking, "So what's Microsoft going to do about it..."

...then he did it.

He turned off his PowerPoint show, and with a casual "Heck, I've got nothing left but to just show it to you..." he pulled out what might just be the future of personal computing: The Tablet PC.

Sporting a "gigahertz-level" processor, a 50GB hard drive, and a touch-sensitive, crystal clear (122 dpi), 8.5-by-11-inch display, the Tablet PC will be able to run the upcoming Windows XP and all Windows apps, and it will connect wirelessly to the Internet, via USB to your peripherals, and with FireWire to your DV or mass-storage devices. The prototype that Mr. Brass let us drool over was almost two pounds and felt a bit too heavy for reading while standing in the subway, but he promised that production models would be almost a pound lighter.

Microsoft hopes that the Tablet PC will supplant the laptop as the portable of choice for professionals ranging from law enforcement to doctors to Photoshop users, and that it will provide a new medium for information delivery for publishers. The company contends that the Tablet PC will be more valuable to consumers than print publications because of its interactivity, better than Web-based delivery because of its increased readability and portability, and more attractive to advertisers because they'll be able to offer more-dynamic ads for their products, the success of which they'll be able to track.

With an obvious belief in the high readability of the Tablet PC's type, its high-resolution graphics, and its portability, Brass laid down a challenge for traditional newspaper publishers by predicting that the traditional broadsheet newspaper will be dead in less than 20 years.

The target launch for the Tablet PC is 2003. Microsoft is working with Sony, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Compaq, and Acer to develop the hardware.

(Fellow Mac-users: I know this is what Newton should have been, and it pains me. But MAN is it cool.)

More tomorrow...


[This article was submitted for the newsletter by Edwin Hadley.]


Judge scraps Rambus suit against Infineon

By Ian Fried
Staff Writer, CNET
May 4, 2001, 3:20 p.m. PT

A federal judge in Virginia on Friday threw out the three remaining patent infringement claims brought by memory chip designer Rambus against European chipmaker Infineon.

Rambus had sought a court ruling that Inifineon's production of standard SDRAM and DDR-DRAM memory chips infringes on Rambus patents. Other chipmakers already have agreed to pay royalties to Rambus for those chips. However, analysts say that should Rambus ultimately lose in court, those that settled would likely not have to pay Rambus.

The stakes were high for Rambus. According to royalty rates revealed during the trial, Rambus is collecting close to $2 for each 128MB DDR DRAM chip sold by chipmakers--including market leader Samsung--that have signed agreements with the company. One analyst estimated Rambus could reap as much as $1 billion in royalty payments, retroactive over the past decade, if it was successful in its case againt Inifineon.

Los Altos, Calif.-based Rambus said in a statement that it will appeal Friday's ruling.

"We are disappointed with the Court's decision and plan to appeal the ruling," Rambus CEO Geoff Tate said. "If today's decision is allowed to stand, all companies that innovate risk having their intellectual property rights unjustly expropriated."

Friday's ruling the was the second blow to the company this week. On Tuesday, the same judge tossed out 54 other claims of patent infringement covering four Rambus patents.

Shares of Rambus were halted pending the company's news release. At the time of the trading halt, the shares were trading at $15.50, down $2.65, or more than 14 percent, before the halt. Rambus fell further once trading resumed to close regular trading at $14.60.

Rambus noted in its statement that the Virginia case against Infineon involves only four of Rambus' U.S. patents, while there are a dozen U.S. and European patents involved in other infringement cases pending against Infineon, Hyundai and Micron.

The company said it "intends to pursue all these cases vigorously," including at a trial against Infineon in Germany currently scheduled for May 18. Rambus said it also has newly issued U.S. and European patents covering Rambus inventions that it says are used in SDRAMs and DDR SDRAMs.

Until last year, Rambus' primary business strategy was licensing its own next-generation PC memory standard, known as RDRAM. However, Rambus sued Hitachi in January, claiming its patents also entitle Rambus to royalties on memory using the rival DDR (double-data rate) standard as well as SDRAM, today's standard memory.

Hitachi and several other memory makers had settled with Rambus, but other large chipmakers, including Infineon and Micron Technology had balked at such a proposal.

Following Friday's ruling, Morgan Stanley analyst Mark Edelstone, a longtime backer of Rambus, cut his rating on the company's shares to "neutral" from "strong buy." Edelstone previously had estimated that Rambus could generate up to $1 billion a year in revenue by 2003 from licensing its technology to memory makers for use in standard memory.

"In our view, if Rambus loses the Infineon case, the stock loses its catalyst," Edelstone wrote in a research note earlier this week.

Insight 64 analyst Nathan Brookwood said memory makers who settled with Rambus likely would not have done so unless there was a provision that they would be freed from having to pay should a court invalidate Rambus' claims.

"Rambus was pretty eager to get people signed up," Brookwood said. "If everybody had signed up, we wouldn't even be here."

Brookwood said that Rambus does still stand to get some revenue from licensing its own high-speed memory technology. He noted that production of Rambus-based memory is increasing as more computers use Intel's Pentium 4 chip. For now Intel's chipset supports only Rambus-based memory. A chipset supporting DDR with the Pentium 4 is due next year.

Still, Brookwood said the market for Rambus-based memory will always be a fraction of the total memory chip industry.

"It seems unlikely Rambus (memory) will ever be a high-volume, mainstream memory technology," he said.

[This article was submitted for the newsletter by Mike Latinovich.]


The PC Section:

Microsoft shelves Office XP subscription plan

By Joe Wilcox
Staff Writer, CNET
May 5, 2001, 10:15 a.m. PT

Microsoft has temporarily nixed a controversial plan to sell Office XP on a subscription basis to some U.S. customers.

The surprising turn in positioning comes less than a month before Office XP's official May 31 launch and days after Dell Computer started offering the productivity suite on new PCs.

In an e-mail late Friday, a Microsoft spokeswoman explained the strategy.

"(The) Office XP subscription offering will not be offered in the U.S. this year," she wrote. "It will be available in a few select locations when Office XP becomes available in those locations. Those countries plan to make their subscription offering announcements at a later date."

Analysts have viewed selling Office as an important test of Microsoft's ability to sell software via subscription as well as for a flat fee. The Redmond, Wash.-based company is preparing to launch its .Net software-as-a-service strategy sometime next year. Office subscriptions would have been a good gauge of Microsoft's subscription mettle, said Guernsey Research analyst Chris LeTocq.

But Microsoft also faces challenges getting customers to pay for straight Office upgrades, something the subscription program could have hurt, analysts say.

While desktop software sales rose 7 percent during Microsoft's 2001 third fiscal quarter, the category fell to 37 percent of the company's revenue from about 40 percent a quarter earlier. During fiscal year 2000, desktop applications accounted for about 46 percent of Microsoft's revenue and more than half its income.

"The thing about subscriptions is you build long-term users, but in the short term you take a hit," LeTocq said. "Microsoft has a need to pump up that 37 percent Office revenue and may not be willing to invest in the long term when the short term is so important."

While Office has traditionally been Microsoft's most important product, a successful launch during difficult economic times could make a big difference as the company closes its 2001 fiscal year on June 30 and moves into fiscal 2002, say analysts. Office XP is also the first of several new products coming out of Microsoft this year, with Windows XP expected Oct. 29 and the Xbox gaming console late fourth quarter.

"Microsoft cannot afford to miss any cues with Office," LeTocq said.

In a Friday research note, Merrill Lynch analyst Henry Blodget revised his revenue projections upward for Office XP in the short term, but remained somewhat cautious about fiscal year 2002.

Blodget raised his desktop application revenue growth projections to between 7 percent and 9 percent and possibly as high as 11 percent. He also predicted 6 percent desktop application growth in fiscal year 2002, "with possible upside growth of 8 percent," Blodget wrote.

"However, we doubt that Office XP can drive double-digit revenue growth," he emphasized. "The product is viewed as a discretionary IT expenditure, and therefore is easily deferrable in uncertain economic times. Moreover, Office depends partly on business PC unit sales, which could decline in (fiscal year 2002)."

In fact, Merrill Lynch sees little uptake in PC sales during the second half, projecting about 5 percent growth. Dataquest expects 10 percent worldwide PC growth for the entire year but flat sales in the United States. But those projections are based on a seasonally strong fourth quarter, something that didn't happen in 2000.

LeTocq said the conclusion is clear: "Either Microsoft needs initial-term revenue or the subscription trials aren't going very well. I'd put my money on the revenue issue."

By temporarily suspending subscriptions, Microsoft removes any risk of lost upgrade revenue or sales confusion, he added. But the company also sacrifices potential subscription renewals from subscribers, particularly consumers, about the time of the projected .Net roll out next year.

"Subscriptions would have been a vehicle to sell into .Net a year from now, but for now there is no real impact," LeTocq said.

Currently about 60 percent of Office users work on either version 95 or 97, not the more recent Office 2000. In a strange move, the company has opted not to offer Office XP upgrades to version 95 licensees, which make up about 10 percent of Office users. They will have to pay full price.

The Microsoft spokeswoman emphasized that the company remains "committed to the subscription model and definitely plan(s) to continue with plans to deliver subscription offerings worldwide. She described Microsoft's new strategy as a "more metered approach," with the company "rolling out subscription offerings on a country-by-country basis."

Interestingly, this might have as much to do with fighting software piracy as anything else. Already, in advance of the official Office XP launch, pirated copies are selling on the streets of Malaysia for as little as $2.60.

By switching to subscriptions and using a new authentication system that forces users to register each copy of Office that is locked to the computer hardware, Microsoft hopes to combat overseas piracy.

In this context, a country-by-country introduction makes sense, LeTocq said.

"Particularly, if you look at a country-by-country basis where they don't have as many users, trying subscriptions there makes a lot of sense," he said.


Happy Batchin' !! by Jim Lewis

by: Jim Lewis (

Hi, all you batch file aficionados, time for another installment of my batch file tutorials.

DELMT.BAT and its companion file DELMT.BAS

If you sound this out, you get "del-empty" and that is just what these files do ... to folders. My need for this tool arose from my Internet downloading. I skim a lot of files from the newsgroups and then burn them to CDROM. In the final mastering, I find I use the same folder structure each time. Since repetitive tasks are just what BATCH files are useful for, I wrote one to create the folder structure for me. I just copy "DIRZ.BAT" to the folder I'm going to burn from and double click it. Presto! My folder structure is automagically created for me.

Here is the BATCH file:


:: Dirz.bat
:: Creates new folders in the current folder
:: by: Jim Lewis
:: Modified 2-20-99

md avi
md mov
md mpg
md rm
md sound
md stream
md text
md zip


But this little solution also creates a problem. I may not have any text files to burn on this particular CD. Or, I may have only AVI's. That leaves several empty folders to confuse me later. I really dislike having to click into a folder, only to determine it's empty and go to the next one!

But wait, BATCH files to the rescue!!

In this edition we are going to take a look at a rather advanced batch file technique ... using the *free* BASIC interpreter that comes with Windows 9x, called Qbasic to help us write BATCH files. In case you think I'm on drugs (because you don't have a program by that name installed), here is where to find it:

Insert your Win9x CDROM and look in the "tools\oldmsdos" folder. Here you will find several DOS programs that never made it to the standard install of Win9x. I recommend copying all of these files to a folder in your MSDOS "path". "C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND" is such a folder. If you are familiar with altering the "path" statement in the "AUTOEXEC.BAT" file, please feel free to set up your own preference.

Now that you have access to "Qbasic", we can begin.

First, let's define the task at hand:

We want to check each folder for files or folders and if none are found we want to remove the folder. Simple concept. Simple to do with a BATCH file? Read on...

The batch language interpreter has a "FOR .. IN .. DO" statement that is quite powerful.

Here is the "help" definition of the FOR command:



Runs a specified command for each file in a set of files. You can use this command in batch programs or at the command prompt.


To use FOR in a batch program, use the following syntax:

      FOR %%variable IN (set) DO command [command-parameters]

To use FOR from the command prompt, use the following syntax:

      FOR %variable IN (set) DO command [command-parameters]


%%variable or %variable
      Represents a replaceable variable. The FOR command replaces %%variable
      (or %variable) with each text string in the specified set until the
      command (specified in the command parameter) processes all the files.
      Use %%variable to carry out the FOR command within a batch program. Use
      %variable to carry out FOR from the command prompt.

      Specifies one or more files or text strings that you want to process
      with the specified command. The parentheses are required.

      Specifies the command that you want to carry out on each file included
      in the specified set.

      Specifies any parameters or switches that you want to use with the
      specified command (if the specified command uses any parameters or


As you can see, it looks like FOR .. IN .. DO could help me figure out which folders to get rid of. Alas, as is many times the case when working with anything Microsoft, it ain't quite that easy! I'm sure there is some way to whip this command into working for me, but as time was a luxury I didn't have and I have some BASIC programming experience, I opted for "quick and dirty" instead. Enter Qbasic.

First let me mention that these programs were developed and intended to run in a DOS window under Windows 9x. Operating these programs in: straight DOS (like "Restart in MSDOS mode" from the Windows Shutdown option), Windows NT or Windows 2000 may produce unpredictable results.

Now let's list the DELMT.BAT file and analyze it a bit. I have added line numbers for clarity. If you wish to use use this code, remember to remove the line numbers and leading space. Upper or lower case isn't really an issue. Here's the code:


01  @echo off
03  ::                delmt.bat
04  ::
05  :: deletes empty directories in current directory
06  ::       using Delmt.bas and QuickBasic
07  ::
08  ::              by Jim Lewis
09  ::            for
10  ::             revised 5-01-01
13  dir /ad /on /b >dirs.txt
15  qbasic /RUN C:\UTIL\BAS\Delmt.bas
17  del dirs.txt
19  echo.
20  echo Run "CLICKME.BAT" to remove empty directories at this time.
21  echo.
22  echo When done, please delete "CLICKME.BAT".
23  echo.
25  pause
27  exit
28  cls

Here's what it does:

Line 01) Turns off the DOS default of printing each line to the screen as it executes

Line 03) Begins the comment section. It's better to use "::" than "REM" for several reasons, not the least of which is "::" is faster.

Line 13) Is the beginning of the meat and potatoes. The DIR command with these "command line switches" creates a text file (>DIRS.TXT) of folders *only* (/ad), alphabetically sorted (/on) and briefly listed (/b) without any other extra information. This happens in the folder that DELMT.BAT was executed in. This file is necessary for the following Qbasic code.

Line 15) Calls Qbasic and automatically /RUNs the specified program "C:\UTIL\BAS\Delmt.bas". I keep my BASIC source code in this folder (C:\UTIL\BAS), so I just specify the full path and filename to Qbasic of the program that I want to run. You could get around this by putting "Delmt.bas" in a folder residing in your path (like "C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND") if you wish and just use "QBASIC /RUN DELMT.BAS". I find keeping my BASIC programs there keeps me more organized.

I'll get into the BASIC code segment in a little bit.

Line 17) Is just cleanup. We only need DIRS.TXT until the BASIC program uses it, then it can be deleted. This line executes only after Qbasic exits.

Lines 19-23) Prints to the screen the instructions for the resulting BATCH file created by the Qbasic program.

Line 25) Prompts for a keypress to leave the instructions up long enough to read them.

Line 27) Tells the BATCH file to go away, closing the DOS window when it does. It *won't* however, unless you also include;

Line 28) Clears the screen, allows DOS window to close. Don't ask why, it's just Microsoft.

We now have a BATCH file that calls Qbasic to write another BATCH file, hopefully with the proper instructions.

Let's look at the Qbasic code now to see how this is done.

Again, I have added line numbers for clarity. If you wish to use use this code, remember to remove the line numbers and leading space. Upper or lower case isn't really an issue.


01  REM      Delmt.bas
02  REM      Uses a text file generated by "DIR /AD /ON /B >DIRS.TXT" to
03  REM      write a batch file to delete empty directories
04  REM      Modified 5-1-01
05  REM      by Jim Lewis
06  REM
07  REM
10  OPEN "dirs.txt" FOR INPUT AS #1
11  OPEN "clickme.bat" FOR OUTPUT AS #2
13  PRINT #2, "@echo off"
14  PRINT #2, ""
15  PRINT #2, "::                 ClickMe.bat"
16  PRINT #2, ":: Written for use in a Windows environment"
17  PRINT #2, ""
18  PRINT #2, ":: Removes empty directories from the current directory"
19  PRINT #2, "::         (also supports long filenames!!)"
20  PRINT #2, ""
21  PRINT #2, ":: If a directory remains after running this file,"
22  PRINT #2, ":: it is not empty.  You should verify the files."
23  PRINT #2, ""
24  PRINT #2, "::                by Jim Lewis"
25  PRINT #2, "::             for"
26  PRINT #2, "::                May 1, 2001"
27  PRINT #2, ""
31  DO
32      LINE INPUT #1, a$
33      REM PRINT #2, "IF NOT EXIST "; A$; "\*.* RD "; A$
34      PRINT #2, "IF NOT EXIST "; CHR$(34); A$; "\*.*"; CHR$(34); " RD "; CHR$(34); A$; CHR$(34)
37  PRINT #2, "EXIT"
38  PRINT #2, "CLS"
41  CLOSE #1
42  CLOSE #2

Lines 1-7) Describes the program.

Lines 10-11) Sets up our files for reading and writing.

Lines 13-27) Creates the comment lines for the BATCH file.

Line 31) Sets up a "DO-LOOP". In essence, a DO-LOOP repeats until some other condition exists.

Lines 32-34) Reads the contents of the DIRS.TXT file line-by-line, adds the key instructions to each line, then writes each line out to our CLICKME.BAT file. This line will make more sense when we look at a sample of the output created:

IF NOT EXIST "mov\*.*" RD "mov"

This line when executed, checks to see if "mov" is empty, and if so removes it.

In BATCH parlance, "IF NOT EXIST" means "if it's not there". Since *.* matches *anything* there, this line won't delete "mov" if it isn't empty. By adding CHR$(34) ("the quote marks ") we have made the resulting code long-filename compatible, a definite plus when working with DOS under Windows.

Line 35) Causes the DO-LOOP to keep chuggin' away until it has exhausted all the lines in DIRS.TXT. It then passes control to the next line.

Lines 37-38) Adds the code to close the DOS session automatically.

Lines 40-41) Closes our open files. This one is *very* important. Once opened, BASIC keeps a file open until you tell it otherwise. If you terminate the program without closing the file you are writing, it will be unusable.

Line 44) This causes Qbasic to terminate, not stay open in "EDIT" mode (like the END command would cause Qbasic to do).

Let's look at the output generated by our two programs:

If you commented out line 17 in DELMT.BAT, you would see that DIRS.TXT contains;




The file created by the Qbasic program, CLICKME.BAT contains;


@echo off

::                 ClickMe.bat
:: Written for use in a Windows environment

:: Removes empty directories from the current directory
::         (also supports long filenames!!)

:: If a directory remains after running this file,
:: it is not empty.  You should verify the files.

::                by Jim Lewis
::             for
::                May 1, 2001

IF NOT EXIST "avi\*.*" RD "avi"
IF NOT EXIST "mov\*.*" RD "mov"
IF NOT EXIST "mpg\*.*" RD "mpg"
IF NOT EXIST "rm\*.*" RD "rm"
IF NOT EXIST "sound\*.*" RD "sound"
IF NOT EXIST "stream\*.*" RD "stream"
IF NOT EXIST "text\*.*" RD "text"
IF NOT EXIST "zip\*.*" RD "zip"

If we examine CLICKME.BAT, we see all the right code to remove empty folders. All we have to do is double-click on CLICKME.BAT and it will do your housekeeping job quickly and easily. When you are done, just delete CLICKME.BAT.

Please feel free to copy, use, modify or malign this code as you see fit. I would appreciate you sending me a copy of any modifications made to this code at:

Til next time, Happy Batchin' !!


The Macintosh Section:

The Incredible Shrinking iBook

by Matt Deatherage (

Apple Computer last week pulled a long-awaited polycarbonate rabbit from its design hat. The technical specifications of the second-generation iBook are pretty much what you'd expect from a revision to Apple's consumer and education portable computer, but they come in a package significantly smaller and lighter than its predecessor, with an eye-catching Titanium-like design and the extra connectivity ports consumers have wanted. The package is so attractive, in fact, that the Henrico County (Virginia) school district announced that it is leasing 23,000 iBooks from Apple - a large commitment writ larger when you realize Apple sold only 55,000 iBooks in the entire March quarter.

Thinking Outside the Box

Although it's hard to see from the pictures on Apple's Web site, the iBook (whose official Apple designation is the "iBook (Dual USB)") probably counts as a subnotebook computer, for the only definition I can find says a subnotebook "is slightly lighter and smaller than a full-sized notebook." In that respect, the iBook (Dual USB) certainly qualifies. At 11.2 inches (28.5 cm) wide, it's more than two inches narrower than the previous iBook design; its width of 9.1 inches (23.0 cm) is a full two and a half inches narrower than the last iBook. The iBook (Dual USB) is 1.35 inches (3.4 cm) thick, compared to 2.06 inches (5.23 cm) for the previous iBook models (measured at the thickest point). And it weighs an average 4.9 pounds (2.2 kg), compared to 6.7 pounds (3.04 kg) on average for the previous iBook. It's not much bigger than a notebook. In fact, it's smaller in all three dimensions than the much-beloved PowerBook 2400c (which was often called a "subnotebook") and only slightly larger and heavier than Apple's first subnotebooks, the PowerBook Duos.

The weight reduction primarily comes from the shift in batteries. The new iBook's 42-watt-hour lithium ion battery is slightly less powerful than the 45-watt-hour battery in the original iBook, but is substantially smaller. The original iBook battery was notably bulky, but not so the new one, which is also easier to install and has LED charge indicators on it. Apple claimed a six-hour battery life for the old iBooks, but only a five-hour battery life for this one - the same as for the PowerBook G4. The battery charger can recharge the battery in six hours while the iBook is running, or in three and a half hours if the computer is shut down or asleep.

According to Apple's iBook Developer Note, there is also an "airliner power cable" for use on airplanes. The cable has a special sense resistor; when the iBook detects it, it uses the AC power supplied by the cable but does not try to charge the battery, because voltage on most airplane outlets is not high enough to charge the battery and power the computer simultaneously.

The case is also lighter, a polycarbonate plastic that looks good next to the titanium-cased PowerBook G4 but is clearly not composed of metal. The new iBook does have a magnesium frame for strength, though, and includes metallic shields around the rubberized feet to keep them from falling off so easily. It also has a thin rubbery coating to help provide a stable grip, "even in small hands" as Macworld editor Andy Gore describes it.

When closed, you see the same magnetic latch and release button as on the PowerBook G4. When opened, the iBook (Dual USB) is barely wider than its keyboard, which is almost identical to the one found in the PowerBook G4 models. As with previous iBooks there are no doors or panels that could get detached, as PowerBook port covers are notorious for doing. The only hinge is the one that opens the case, and even it is different - it pivots so that, when open, the top of the case is behind and below the bottom part, giving a bit more depth while minimizing height. The keyboard is below a pair of speakers. The handle of previous models is gone, though few will miss it - even though I always liked the look and concept of the handle, it's hard to imagine someone carrying an iBook down the street by the handle. The new model instead offers a standard security slot for a cable lock, since the handle served that purpose in older models.

On the left side, you'll find a more extensive complement of ports than on any previous iBook. The "Dual USB" designation gives away that there are two USB ports for the first time on an iBook, as well as a single 400 Mbps FireWire port, an internal V.90 56K modem, a 10/100Base-T Ethernet port, the same audio/video port introduced with the iBook (FireWire) that enables TV and analog audio output through a special cable, and a brand new RGB output port that connects to any monitor that supports the DDC identification standard, complete with an included cable. You can only do video mirroring, though, and to do that with Mac OS X you need Mac OS X 10.0.2 or later. Unfortunately, the analog "Apple AV cable" is no longer included - it's $20 extra. The reset pinhole is above the audio/video port; the power connector is on the right side of the case.

In a promotional video about the new computer, a man who works for a computer store is shown holding one, and it looks like it's barely bigger than his hands. Reporters who witnessed the introduction are raving for a reason - the iBook (Dual USB) is small and light. For these reasons alone, it should be extremely popular in Japan, where compact products command a price premium. Yet the iBook doesn't have to coast on its case - it's got game.

Thinking Inside the Box

Like the iMac, the iBook is still based on the PowerPC G3 processor family, and with good reason - they're inexpensive and don't require a lot of power, but pack performance that challenges Pentium III systems with higher clock rates. Although the iBook (FireWire) started at 366 MHz and topped out at 466 MHz, the iBook (Dual USB) comes in only one speed - 500 MHz, as fast as last year's top-of-the-line PowerBook (FireWire) model, and it can use PowerStep to scale back to 400 MHz during non-critical times if you wish. Okay, it's not quite as fast as the PowerBook G3 (FireWire) - the iBook is still limited by a 66 MHz system bus, and by the PowerPC 750CX chip that bundles Level 2 cache on-board the processor but limits it to 256K. iBook performance won't equal PowerBook performance.

The iBook (Dual USB) display is, however, something to write home about - though still a 12.1-inch LCD, it now operates at a native resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels, instead of the 800 by 600 top resolution of the previous iBook models. That's a resolution of over 100 dots per inch, but attendees at the briefing say the display is sharp enough to pull it off. You can still use interpolation and scaling to get 800 by 600 or 640 by 480 if you really need those resolutions. The graphics remain driven by the ATI Rage Mobility 128 chip, but not the same one: this one is an ATI Rage Mobility 128M. The 128M model provides for the 1024 by 768 resolution, where the Rage Mobility 128 chip did not. The new 128M chip also has 3D graphics acceleration. Andrew Gore reported that, at the closed briefing, Apple executives said the Rage Mobility 128 provides the best trade-off between performance and power consumption at present. As before, the chip is backed by 8 MB of SDRAM graphics memory and sits on an AGP 2X dedicated graphics bus.

Having been criticized for whatever optical drive choice it makes in consumer computers (first DVD is the wrong choice, then replacing it with CD-RW is wrong, according to critics), Apple is now offering a choice of pretty much any tray-loading optical drive you want, as long as you don't want to burn DVDs. The base model, retailing for $1,300, comes with a 24x CD-ROM drive; a $1,500 configuration comes with an 8x DVD-ROM drive that also reads CD-ROMs at 24x. A $1,600 model comes with a built-in CD-RW drive (8x writing CD-R, 4x writing CD-RW, 24x reading CDs), and a build-to-order $1,800 configuration, available from the Apple Store or any reseller that sells build-to-order systems, features a "Combo" drive that works like the 8x4x24x CD-RW but also reads DVD-ROM at up to 8x speeds.

Except for the optical drive, the three upper-end iBook (Dual USB) models are identical. That means the CD-RW drive costs $100 more than the DVD-ROM, and the Combo drive costs $300 more than DVD-ROM alone. There is no longer an eject button for any of the drives, but holding down the F12 key for a few seconds ejects the optical disk (if you're using Mac OS X, though, you need Mac OS X 10.0.2 or later to make F12 eject the tray if it's empty).

All models but the least expensive come with 128 MB of RAM soldered to the motherboard (the $1,300 model has only 64 MB); a single PC100 SO-DIMM slot allows adding up to 512 MB of extra RAM for a total of either 576 MB or 640 MB of RAM. All models come with an Ultra DMA/33 10 GB hard drive, though you can upgrade to 20 GB for $200 on build-to-order systems. The hard drive is in a rubber enclosure, providing extra shock absorbance without excessive weight. Like every Apple system since the original iBook in July 1999, the new model is ready to accept a $100 AirPort card. Extra batteries retail for $130 each, extra AC adapters (that also work with the PowerBook G4) cost $70 each.

The Classroom and Beyond

These are hot little products, folks. The original iBook garnered a few strong criticisms - it was too boldly designed with bright colors, weighed too much, didn't have full connectivity, and cost too much. Apple has eliminated all of these problems in the new iBook - a strong, lightweight, powerful computer with a sharp but conservative design. If you need more convincing that there's more to the update than style, such as moving from a 366 MHz processor to a 500 MHz chip in the entry-level models, check out the comparison page provided by the Mac Observer.

You really need to see the iBook in action. When Apple introduces new hardware, it usually produces a short promotional video, but it's typically shown only to the audience at the introduction, and sent via satellite to press outlets. This time, Apple has posted that five-and-a-half minute video so you can watch it. If you're at all interested in these machines, it's worth a viewing, but be warned: the ISDN-or-faster movie is at least 21 MB (earlier in the week, I got a 35 MB version); the version for slower-than- ISDN connections is 7.7 MB. Unless you have a broadband connection, prepare to spend 20 to 30 minutes downloading the video. You'll see just how small the iBook is, and close-up views of most of its design.

Reports suggesting this is a full frontal assault on the education market are spot on. Three years ago, Apple announced the iMac in early May, months before the product was ready to ship, so education purchasers knew something good was coming in August. Schools are making purchase decisions this month, and Apple is right to drum up support for the new machines before they actually ship (even though the company says they'll be available in "mid-May," and we've seen reports that some units might even be shipping now). At $1,200 per unit for schools, plus $70 for an AirPort card, the iBook (Dual USB) is a compelling student workstation.

Why all those extra ports if its aimed at the school market? Because now, aside from some performance issues, the iBook is just as capable as the iMac. It comes with iTunes and iMovie 2, has a similar RGB video mirroring port for hooking to school equipment, and has two USB ports so you can use one for audio and one for other USB peripherals. The only difference between the two systems now is performance; the iBook even gets the iMac's higher 1024 by 768 resolution in this revision. The trade-off is pretty clear: the iBook is portable and a little slower, the iMac is cheaper and a little faster. This isn't last year's recycled technology, either: the iBook (Dual USB) is Apple's first computer to use the new Pangea controller chip to run most of the system's hardware functions, including DMA FireWire, Ethernet, Ultra DMA IDE, USB, and Apple's new Tumbler digital audio sound circuitry, which handles audio conversion, volume, and equalization.

In nearly two years of sales, Apple has moved about 700,000 iBook units, so the lease of 23,000 on a single day is quite noteworthy. It's also a shot across Michael Dell's bow, as his company has been regularly emitting boasts about large sales to school districts. Dell is trying to establish itself as the leading educational computer company by default, and Apple is reminding analysts and press that it is far from the only computer company capable of putting a lot of computers in schools. Apple normally doesn't brag about specific sales via press release, but since Dell implies that large sales make a leader, Apple is happy to set the record straight.

The current line of iMacs is designed more for consumers but great for education, and the new iBooks are mostly designed for education but great for consumers as well. Small enough to fit in a backpack and weighing under five pounds, students of all ages will love the new iBook machines. After all, iTunes doesn't have that many classroom uses, and while iMovie 2 does, it's more of an individual product as well. Our favorite part of the promotional video is sixth grade student Harry Tannenbaum, talking about video he and his friends shot and that he edited in iMovie, sounding surprised that it "actually turned out kind of okay."

The iBook line has been underperforming for Apple for some time; it never quite lived up to iMac expectations, and even the overdue iBook (FireWire) didn't provide the kind of bump in numbers I thought the product was capable of generating. This may be the one that moves the iBook from second-class to first-class product, not only for Apple but in the broader computing world. A speed-bump revision in six months would position it perfectly for the holiday buying season, too.

This is an iBook whose appearance John C. Dvorak would not insult. It addresses every serious criticism of earlier models, costs less (or, on the high end, delivers a lot more for the same price), has everything schools need, fits well with kids, and runs Mac OS X. If Apple can't sell a few hundred thousand of these by September, maybe there's no real market for a consumer and education-oriented portable Macintosh - because if there is such a market, this product fills it perfectly. I want one.

[Matt Deatherage is the publisher of, where he oversees MDJ, MWJ, and MMJ - daily, weekly, and monthly subscription-based, ad-free journals for serious Macintosh users. For a free trial of any of the journals, visit This article was assembled from material that appeared last week in MDJ.]


Don't Buy an Iomega ZIP CD burner for an Older Mac?

by Kevin Hopkins (

I know we have a lot of good natured rivalry at our club meetings about which is better the PC or the Mac, but to tell you the truth, I haven't liked using a computer since before the Amiga sank beneath the waves. My choice for successor has been the Macintosh, but that's more of a political choice than any love affair with Mac. My reasons for disliking the PC range from the predatory business practices of its leading proponents to its inelegant engineering and copy cat software approach. But the Mac, which still has some mystique of innovation and rebellion, is just simply a piece of crap. Here's why.

Rich Hall, our club Treasurer, liked the idea of burning a CD to back up his hard drive. Not a big music fan, the usual appeal of a CD burner really didn't enter into his decision to purchase one of the new Iomega ZIP CD 650 burners ($189). With the size of hard drives growing by the day, this is a very valid desire. Both he and I had refrained from the fad of CD burning (for differing reasons) for a long time. Not so much of a "Let the pioneers take the arrows" idea but, one would think, almost all of the wrinkles would be worked out of this process by now. Finally, we were exposed to the ZIP CD burner and this seemed like a good way to join the ranks of the CD generation. That's where the trouble began.

Both Rich and I use older PPC Macintoshes. His a Mac 7200 with a 601 PowerPC processor and mine a Mac 8600 with a 604e PPC. The machine we'd seen the ZIP CD on was a G3 iMac with built in USB. Rich took the plunge first. Later, I would use his hardware to see if I could get it to work and give him a second opinion.

The first difficulty to overcome was that neither of our older Macs had a USB port. Not a problem, since both have PCI slots. So, Rich bought a two USB port PCI card ($30) from Circuit City. In this case, a D-Link DSB-500. Pop the card in, hook up the ZIP CD drive to the USB port, and we're ready for business.

The card came with no software, but suggested downloading the USB Adapter Card Support software directly from Apple.

That being done, the software was installed under OS9.1 and we ended up with six USB extensions. One was already a part of OS9.1 - USB Printer Sharing Extension 1.01. The other five came from the USB Adapter Card Support package.

USB Device Extension 1.4.1
USB Mass Storage Extension 2.0.4
USB Mass Storage Support 2.0.4
USB Software Locator 1.4.1
USB Support 1.4.1

Put a CD-ROM game in the ZIP and Presto! We have a CD on our Desktop. It opens fine. The program runs off of it. To my mind, this removes the USB card as a source of problem.

Next, we install Toast, the premiere CD burning software for the Macintosh. We already know, from things Jack Melby has said at our meetings, that we need to get the latest update, Toast 4.1.2, for the OEM version of the software that comes with drive.

So with Toast installed and updated to 4.1.2, we reboot to activate the software. Can I just tell you how annoying this rebooting procedure is every time you install some software or are trying to run down a problem? The time squandered waiting for your machine to return to working order is phenomenal. The Amiga shines like a distant beacon from the depths of this rebooting morass. The reboot mentioned here is the second in this saga and the beginning of a long series of them. The Macintosh won't come up. It hangs. To make this episode short, Jack Melby came to the rescue when Rich brought his machine in to our last club meeting. Jack found that of the three USB extensions that Toast added ...

Toast CD Reader 4.1.2
Toast USB Support 2.1.3
Toast Firewire Support 1.0.5

... Toast CD Reader was causing the system to hang. Turning it off with Extension Manager, at least brought the system back up. This points out another thing. All three of these extensions were installed activated. There's no whiff of Firewire anywhere on the machines we use. Why should that Firewire extension be hot? Off it went too. With 194 extensions in my System Folder, I really wonder how many of them need to be there.

OK, with the machine back up and running with only one Toast USB extension active - Toast USB Support 2.1.3 - just for grins, I put my CD-ROM back in the ZIP CD drive and guess what? The Macintosh can't find it anymore. (No Toast CD Reader I guess.) Launching Toast, Toast finds the ZIP CD burner, so we seem to be set. Just as an aside, though, through the course of this experiment, I found that Toast can't even find the ZIP CD burner on the USB bus without its Toast USB Support extension. This seems odd to me. I understand it needing exclusivity to the drive to do its job, but messing with the functionality of the drive that had been recognized by the system, particularly when it's not even being used by Toast, seems extremely invasive.

Let's try to burn some CDs. I already know Rich has had a world of trouble in this regard. To eliminate failure candidates, we'd substituted his Zip CD burner for the one on the G3 machine at work and the drive had functioned perfectly. But, on his machine at home, he'd been unable to burn anything over 9 MB in size before Toast would freeze up. He even went to the added expense of buying 128 MB of RAM ($350) to make sure the hanging wasn't a memory problem. The new memory didn't help. Normally, Jack said, you should edit you Preferences to make Toast's RAM cache 64 MB, the maximum allowed (Why? Rich could have dedicated 96 MB if he'd have wanted to). Since I didn't have that much free RAM, I set it at 32 MB. Neither did I have enough free space on the hard drive for an entire CD's worth of material, so I decide to follow Rich's example and try to back up a partition's worth of data.

In Toast, I select "Files & Folders" from the menu and drop 681.2 MB of data from one of my partitions on the Toast window. With a blank in the ZIP CD burner and kicked over to Simulation Mode and Write Speed set at the lowest 2X setting, I attempt to Write CD. On the first attempt, Toast copied 7 MB to a Hard Drive Cache on the Startup Disk. It filled the RAM Cache and then immediately locked up. Another attempt later ran for over 25 minutes of a 39 minute process before locking up. And the lovely thing about the Mac, no explanation why. Just dead. Crap.

Having had luck with Audio CDs on the ZIP CD we'd seen before, I tried a Simulation run on a music CD I had whose running time was about 45 minutes. At 2X that worked out to about a 22 minute burn run. The first snag I hit was that Toast has a button that directly calls on CDDB, the CD Database, on the web to get the CD title, song titles and running times of the music on the CD. This has worked in the past, but this time when I hit the button, I got an error message splattered all over the inside of the fields where the song titles usually go:

      MSG: Gracenote(tm) CDDB(tm) access is no longer valid
      MSG: for Adaptec products. If you want an application
      MSG: with CDDB access, please go to the following URL
      MSG: to see a list of available CD burner applications:

After cleaning all that mess out of my CD listing, I went to the URL suggested and the only Mac burner program listed as supported was iTunes. Great. Somebody not get paid off here? At best, it says very little about Roxio's stewardship of their recent acquisition, Toast. Anyway, I went back to my task and ran Toast on my short CD. It worked. OK, now we're getting somewhere. Let's try a 76 minute CD. Locked up or aborted. Every time. Back to the short CD. Died. In fact, I never got another run to go to completion.

My first thought was the Energy Saver software in the OS might be causing the problem, so I opened the Energy Saver Control Panel and selected the "Sleep Setup" tab. I clicked on the "Show Details" button to reveal all the options available. There are three: (1) Put the system to sleep whenever its inactive for ... , (2) Separate timing for display sleep, and (3) Separate timing for hard drive sleep. I set the first option, system sleep time to "Never" and the other two automatically followed suit. After repeated attempts and twiddling with other variations on the setting and with no discernable improvement in performance, software settings seemed absolved which left only hardware.

During all those many attempts, I did get some failures that generated an error message, "Interface Error -6979 The connection is not stable. Please check the cables and termination if SCSI." Well, I had a scanner hooked up on the external SCSI bus. Disconnected that and still Toast failed. With nothing on the external SCSI bus, I still couldn't get it to work. That only left the internal SCSI bus which was stock, as it came from the factory. This doesn't bode well. The only things on the internal SCSI bus are the hard drive (ID=0), the internal CD-ROM drive (ID=3), and an internal ZIP drive (ID=5). I had noticed one crash precipitated by a ZIP drive spinning down, so I started to focus my attention on the SCSI buses.

My first thought was to eliminate the internal SCSI bus from the equation all together, go straight from CD drive to CD burner. I had a Pioneer external CD-ROM drive, so I decided to hook it up to the external SCSI bus, by itself and terminated. This thing is ancient by technological standards, but perfectly functional. Needed a driver, so off to the Pioneer web site. As it turns out, Pioneer only has one driver for all of it's SCSI CD-ROM drives used with a Mac, so that made the choice simple.

After installing the Pioneer software, the external CD Player worked fine. I put a music CD in the drive and played it with the CLD Remote player provided in the Pioneer archive.

Back to Toast. Under Edit/Preferences, you can set the "Preferred drive for reading audio". Both CD-ROM drives showed up as options. The Pioneer external showed up as CD-ROM SCSI Bus 1, ID 1. So, I selected it. Short version: Toast saw the drive, but when I ran the Test from the Preferences panel, it would never admit the audio CD was in it. Well, I could see it, so I decided to just go ahead and drop the files onto the Toast window like normal. However, every time I dragged and dropped the files on the Toast window from the Pioneer drive, Toast would in turn report back the volume couldn't be found .... and this with the CLD Player display still showing IT could find the audio CD there that it had been playing and the window on the Desktop showing the highlighted files from "Audio CD 1". The Apple System Profiler could find it, although it reported it had no media in it when it did. (The System profiler did show an Audio CD 1 at the bottom of the Devices and Volumes page.) At this point, I'm really starting to get angry. So, I ran AppleCD Audio Player. It "unexpectedly" crashed with a Type 12 error. Now, my Macintosh Bible says this is an "Unimplemented Core Routine. If the Mac hits a breakpoint in a program (a spot where the programmer expected to do some debugging and thus put a little stop sign there) and there's no debugger installed, you get this bomb. (You shouldn't have any software with breakpoints still in it.)" Well, I do. It's Apple's CD Audio Player 2.5.2 and it would never play a note from the Pioneer external. It wouldn't even open. (I installed MacsBug 6.6.3 and it reported a User Break at 00E5DB2C in AppleCD Audio Player.) The Toast and Apple software would not allow the use of the external CD-ROM drive on the external SCSI bus.

Is this nuts or what? I now understand why Rich ripped the USB card out of his machine and boxed up the burner. I also think I understand why Elvis shot the television.

OK. What about iTunes? Should we give it a whirl? Why not? What other avenue do we have? So it's off to Apple to download it.

When you install the iTunes 1.1 package, you get thirteen new Extensions.

Apple CD/DVD Driver 1.4.3
Authoring Support 1.0.2
Firewire Authoring Support 1.0
iTunes Extension 1.1
Nomad II USB Driver 1.18
Nomad MG USB Driver 1.18
Nomad USB Shim 1.18
NomadJukeboxLib 1.0.5
SoundSpace2Lib 1.1
USB Authoring Support 1.0
USBNomadJukeboxDriver 1.0.5
USBRioDriver 3.1
USBSOundSpace2Driver 1.1

iTunes presents a couple of shortcomings almost immediately. First off, it doesn't do data files, so Rich's original desire to back up his hard drive can't be served by iTunes. You need Disc Burner, a separate application, for that and its help file says, "Drives connected to expansion cards are not supported." Great.

Secondly, for me, iTunes doesn't have a Simulation Mode to test the hardware before you commit to burning a disk. After the experience I've had up to this point, I'm not feeling too confident about my hardware. I have enough coasters. Thank you.

As I get further into iTunes, it becomes pretty clear this is the wrong application for the job. Apple calls it a "jukebox" software. iTunes is for the management of MP3s and burning compilation disks. Every tune has to be imported as an MP3 into your hard drive "Library" first, before you can write it out. There is no direct copying of a source CD, so if your band has a disk you want to copy and hand out, forget iTunes. For me, my lack of available hard drive space makes it impossible to assemble a disk's worth of material before burning. So, I'm pretty much at an impasse.

Should we give Disc Burner 1.0.1 a try? "Not supported" doesn't necessarily mean doesn't work. Let's run the installer and see. It reports ...

"This Program is incompatible with your computer."

... and shuts down. End of story.

So, what have we learned from all of this? Some models of computer are sold as easily upgradable and Apple in particular harps on the ease of use of its system. Both of the machines Rich and I use have PCI slots, the heralded avenue to future expansion. The USB card we used seemed to do its job, but in the end, the outcome of installing a CD burner onto our early model Macs was totally unacceptable. A technology so long established shouldn't be this hard to pull off. The saga here illustrates once again the death of the myths of upgradability and ease of use. In our example, there are four principle players: a third party card manufacturer, Apple, Adaptec (Roxio) and Iomega. They have failed miserably to perform in concert and the user pays the price. "Many happy returns of the day." Rich invested approximately $585 on this endeavor and as he said, "My machine runs slower now and I've got nothing to show for it. For a few dollars more I could have bought a new machine with all this stuff in it that would have worked." Once again, this reinforces a growing feeling I've had for quite some time: upgrading an older machine is not worth it. But, for the average user and the home market in particular, not everyone can afford to buy a new machine every two or three years. The money you lay out on a machine has to last you for many years. If you don't have a viable upgrade path to keep up with the times incrementally, you're stuck in a technological limbo, a fading time capsule of functionality. Hardly a value. Needless to say, this experience has created major disappointment and left a very bad taste in the mouth of those involved. It has also served as a warning to several onlookers contemplating similar upgrading. Will they be buying an Iomega ZIP CD burner for their machines. Not likely. Myself? I look forward to OS X putting a reliable, multi-tasking, Unix-based OS under the Macintosh's hood, because the Classic OS has never measured up for anyone who cut their teeth on an Amiga.


Review: Mac OS X: Still Preparing for the Enterprise

By Aaron C. Young, April 16, 2001

As a Unix administrator, I had a great time installing Mac OS X and giving it a good run for its money. I installed it on a number of systems, installed and tested many applications, and integrated it into a simple network. What did I find? With OS X, I'm able to be just as productive as I am on Mac OS 9.1 (or on my Microsoft Corp. Windows 2000 and Linux boxes, for that matter).

However, if I had to install or upgrade a large network of Mac OS X machines, I'd have my work cut out. Given the tight integration that Microsoft has created between its Windows 2000 workstation and server products, I feel like I'm only able to see half the picture with Windows. And the same holds true with Mac OS X. I felt like I must have been reviewing something like Windows 2000 Professional, say Mac OS X Professional.

Aaron's Test Machines


Installation took longer than I would have liked. It was a little different on each machine, but basically the same -- around 20 minutes. But it can take even longer. If you want to start out with everything fresh and clean, you'll need to format your disk and install Mac OS 9.1. This will add, on average, another 15 to 25 minutes, depending on your machine. You'll also need to add a few more minutes for software updates. Mac OS 9 has already made some changes, plus, at the time of this writing, a pirated Mac OS X 10.01 update is making its way around the Internet. In total, a full installation takes well over 35 minutes -- not the fastest installation I've ever seen, and certainly not as fast as Mac OS used to be. But the procedure is doing a lot more work.

As a long-time Macintosh administrator, I've always appreciated the flexibility of the Mac OS installation process as compared to other desktop operating systems. It seemed that I could always get a somewhat perfect install just by selecting and deselecting items in the Mac OS installation custom settings. Afterwards, if something unnecessary or undesired was installed, I could just pick it out and throw it in the trash. Well, be prepared to alter or customize your installation very little with Mac OS X.

This truly is an OS that Apple does not want you to trifle with, especially if you don't know what you're doing. The OS leaves very little to the installer. It does have an option to not install a BSD subsystem component, which saves some disk space and removes anything tempting that a curious but inexperienced user might try to get into. For a personal Unix administrator machine, you won't want to leave anything out, of course. But in a corporate environment, this limitation might be desirable.

Nevertheless, I found this installation simplification too limiting. I wanted to be able to remove software in a more discrete fashion -- in the manner I was accustomed to with previous versions of Mac OS. I understand the move to a Unix-based architecture was a massive effort by Apple, but adding customized installations also should be on Apple's roster.

I only experienced problems with one of the three installations. While installing the OS on my PowerBook G3, I decided to make my short name 'root' and proceed. Mac OS X didn't like this at all. After it finished installing, I found that my dock had incorrect icons (folder icons instead of Explorer, Mail, System Preferences and so on), and I didn't have permission to do anything. I couldn't even open my own Document folder.

Eventually, I gave up trying to back out of this situation and started over by installing Mac OS 9.1. I reformatted and installed with my normal customized selections. Once completed, all my work ended with that blinking question mark icon, of which Mac users are so fond. Mac OS X had left something in the boot block that wouldn't allow me to get back to Mac OS 9.1. Taking a chance, I installed Mac OS X as I would have normally and, fortunately, it saw Mac OS 9.1, so I was able to select it from the Startup Disk system preferences. Problem solved.

Integrating Mac OS X into Your Enterprise

Mac OS X can be integrated into your enterprise in a number of ways, and it fits nicely in many places. In other areas, however, it will be harder for OS X to interoperate. The answers to a number of questions will bear upon your ability to easily integrate Mac OS X. For instance, in which industry do you work? Is security an issue? And, of course, do you have to coexist in an environment with Windows machines?

A temptation exists to attack installations as an administrator who must change everything. Since any experienced Unix administrator is going to want to see what is happening below the GUI, the first thing that user will look for is the CLI (command line interface). If you're not an experienced Unix administrator, then you'll either be confused or bored by what you find in the CLI. Yet you might still have a reason to use it. For instance, if you want to compile a program and you have its source code, then you'll need to do it in the CLI. Our lead network engineer, for instance, compiled SSH immediately so that he could securely connect to his Mac OS X machine remotely.

Still, it's not that simple. I found I couldn't easily set my computer's host name, and it took some investigating to figure out how that might be done. Even then, I wondered whether I was going to break something in the underpinnings of Mac OS X. As I was making these changes in the Unix layer that lies beneath the Aqua GUI, I felt that, as hard as it was, Apple probably didn't want me doing this. Using the GUI tools didn't reflect a change at the Unix shell level. When I opened a terminal window and typed 'hostname,' I received 'localhost' in response. I found I could force the host name to change by using 'sudo hostname ' but only after editing /etc/hostconfig and /etc/hosts could I permanently change the host name. If you're compiling a program that is host-name dependent, this will be important.

If your users are not tech-savvy and you're just worried about getting the systems set up for use, then Mac OS X will not really impose many changes. True, many of your users will be frustrated by flipping back and forth between the Classic and OS X GUIs. If they can handle that and move steadily toward the Aqua GUI, then they should be able to better handle the transition -- especially as more OS X applications become available. Eventually, using OS 9.X will become history. This point became very clear to me as I quickly began to transition to Mac OS X in my daily routine.

For example, it was a breeze to integrate Mac OS X with the very same Windows 2000 servers that previously served my Mac OS 9.1 client machines. Everything was basically the same. Some initial confusion resulted, since the network tools were in a different place (no more Apple Menu, Control Panels or Chooser), but the learning curve was minor.

Application Usability

Anyone who has paid attention to Apple's Web site propaganda can see that there are a few hundred applications available for Mac OS X. Unfortunately, they aren't the tried-and-true ones that we use each day. Microsoft Office, for instance, will not be available until the fall. Meanwhile, Adobe has only recently committed to OS X development and has yet to give release dates. Given this, I had little choice but to use my favorite Mac applications in Mac OS X's "Classic" mode. Fortunately, I was happily surprised by its stability. Office 98 and Office 2001 ran just fine (I wrote part of this article in Word 98 under OS X Classic mode). My calendaring program, Meeting Maker 6.08, ran just like it always did. In fact, almost every original Mac OS 9.1-friendly application worked without issue. The only problem I ran into was with Timbuktu. Leaving its extension active in 9.1 caused the Classic environment to hang as Timbuktu started up. It took several reboots -- one without extensions booting in non-Classic mode -- to clear things up.

Aside from that, I was able to effectively perform all of my Mac OS 9.1 tasks after installing Mac OS X. My mainstay applications, which include Microsoft Office, Meeting Maker 6.08, Explorer 5.1 and OS X Mail, kept me moving along as if nothing had changed in my computing environment. When the new version of Microsoft Office and Meeting Maker come out, I will be able to just install them and let go of the Mac OS 9.1 legacy. I'm expecting to be at that point before the end of the year.

I also tried a copy of Citrix MetaFrame to see if it failed in "Classic" mode. It didn't crash, and it let me run PC applications remotely on my test Terminal Server. If your organization is already leveraging the advantages (or disadvantages) of running PC applications remotely, this will certainly come as good news. Now, this may not be the same situation all users encounter, but such capabilities do give you a good idea of how far Apple has gone to make the environment very compatible. It did require me to boot back to Mac OS 9.1 for some installation procedures, but in the end I found I could spend my day in Mac OS X and work productively without incident.

Is Apple Ready for Its Piece of the Enterprise?

I don't think that Mac OS X is any more or any less ready for the enterprise than Mac OS 9.1. The same issues persist. I do feel, however, that it's a wonderful step in a new direction. A modern operating system with all-modern features and a new, more sensible GUI are all good things. Still, Apple needs to be forceful in rounding out its offering. With Mac OS X, the company needs to stop giving the impression that it only makes a client-end operating system. For instance, where is Mac OS X Server going and how does it fit in with the Mac OS X "Client?"

If Apple is to maintain any type of hold on its market share, it needs to offer a complete product set that allows easy management of Macs. Moreover, these Macs should, when necessary, coexist with Windows machines. This will instill confidence in developers and administrators alike. Fortunately, from what I've see with Mac OS X now and with Mac OS X Server 2.0 coming out soon, I think Apple is heading in this direction. Expect to hear more good news from Apple and to see an evaluation of Mac OS X Server 2.0 from UnixWorld in the future.

[Aaron C. Young ( is the Internal Technologies Manager at NYSERNet, a provider of next-generation Internet services to New York State's research and education community, founded in 1986.]

[This article was submitted for the newsletter by Jim Lewis.]


Microsoft Mac unit focuses on profits, not politics

By Scott Hillis
Reuters 01:42 PM ET 05/06/2001

REDMOND, Wash., May 6 (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. has a message for all those who still see the software giant as a rival to Apple Computer Corp. : Get over it.

Clashes between Microsoft's Bill Gates and Apple's Steve Jobs as they vied for control of the personal computer industry are the stuff of legend.

Recently the combative stances have relaxed into more amicable postures.

Microsoft's support for Apple is embodied in its Macintosh Business Unit, a team of 185 Mac users who crank out software that many say is better than the stuff made for Windows.

"Our relationship with Apple has never been better," Kevin Browne, general manager of the "Mac B," said in a recent interview at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

That relationship centers on Office, Microsoft's popular software package that includes the Word word processor, Excel spreadsheet and PowerPoint presentation software.

In the mid-1990s, the relationship was on the rocks. Mac users were infuriated with crash-prone Office and the growing gap between releases for Windows and the Macintosh.

Apple itself started struggling, and by 1997, Microsoft pondered dropping support for the Mac, a move that analysts say would have killed the pioneering computer maker.

Instead, in a stroke that stunned Apple's fiercely loyal user base, Microsoft announced at a Mac convention in 1997 that it was investing $150 million in its beleaguered rival.

And rather than have the same programmers write software for Windows and the Mac, a separate development team was split off in 1997 and given their own budget and planning freedom.


"Our business was down, our customer satisfaction was way down," Browne said. "Microsoft took a step back and said, 'What are we going to do with the Mac?'. Obviously the easy thing to do would be to say we're not going to do this any more."

"But it's a pretty good business. Compared to Windows it doesn't look big, but as an independent company it looks alright. We sort of spun it off internally and said there should be this group of people to cater to this Mac user," Browne said.

The result, as measured by the latest product, Office 2001, has been a resounding success.

Released last October after 30 months of development, the software has sold half a million copies. Everything from pull-down menus to product packaging conforms to the hip Mac aesthetic. A new, Mac-only application was included. Analysts praised the product as better than the Windows version.

"We probably have the ability to take more risks than they do. We are opinionated, design-oriented people," said Michael Connolly, a group program manager in the unit.

The team also makes Mac versions of the Internet Explorer Web browser and the Outlook Express e-mail client. Microsoft claims both are the most popular applications of their type among Mac users.

"In the last four years we've recovered our soul to a large extent. It's understanding that Mac users are different from Windows users," Browne said.


Now the team has a new, daunting challenge: taking all the features of Office 2001 and rebuilding them on Apple's new operating system, OS X (pronounced OS Ten). They want to launch the product, code-named Office X, this fall, a development time of 12 months, less than half that of Office 2001.

Based on the industrial-strength Unix platform, OS X has an entirely new codebase and user interface. Those are hurdles for programmers who must not only get the software plumbing right, but also give the product the right look and feel.

"What we are trying to do now is transition the business over to OS X," Browne said. "The adjustment has been slow to get back to same level of productivity as on OS 9 because it's such a new system."

The Mac BU is also trying to figure out how to capitalize on Microsoft's sweeping .Net strategy to turn software into services delivered over the Web. The latest version of Office for Windows, due out May 31, takes the first step toward .Net by sporting new collaborative features and "smart tags" that can do things like pull stock quotes directly off the Web and plunk them into a document or spreadsheet.

"On the .Net initiative the watchword for us is to try to ensure that the Mac customer can get these services. It is a little premature for us to detail how we go about doing it," Browne said.

One analyst said it should actually be easier to transfer, or "port," those features to the Mac because OS X and Windows now have much more in common than in the past.

"The Windows 2000 core and (OS X's) Unix core have a lot more similarity than the old Mac OS did with Windows. The port should go easier going forward," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with technology consultancy Giga Information Group.


With the Mac market fairly stable, Microsoft's team doesn't see the need to grow quickly. Browne says the unit is "highly profitable" and he wants it to stay that way.

"We'll be steady state for a while. We need to make sure it's profitable so Microsoft continues to invest," Browne said. He declined to give revenue or profit details.

But some observers and analysts speculate Microsoft still sells Mac software mainly to defend against the government's charges that it used its Windows monopoly to harm rivals.

"It is a profitable unit but I think that if it hadn't been for the trial, given how Microsoft typically approaches a competitive situation, I think they would have been inclined to let Apple decline," Giga's Enderle said.

Browne maintains financial viability, not political cover, is the reason for Microsoft's continued support.

"It sounds like a good story somebody made up from the outside, but it doesn't affect our thinking. You can't run the business thinking about the courts," Browne said.

"Bill Gates, by the way, is a huge Mac fan and he has a warm spot in his heart for the Mac platform, and it hurt him to see our customers suffering," Browne said.

Apple fanatics, recalling the ruthless competition of the 1990s, may roll their eyes at such sentiments. But Microsoft appears eager to put the past behind it.

"A couple of years ago it was a question of how committed is Microsoft to the Mac," said Mary Rose Becker, a group product manager who works on marketing.

"I think we're past those days."

((Scott Hillis, Seattle bureau, 206-386-4848;

[This article was submitted for the newsletter by Kevin Hisel.]


The Amiga Section:

The future AmigaOS 4.0: the developers speak!

by Andrea Vallinotto, DIFF.ORG

The announcement about the forthcoming AmigaOS 4.0 done in April by Amiga Inc. has been long awaited. Now the Amiga community finally has a path forwards; but what will it be exactly? How do the authors of OS 4.0 themselves view the new road taken by Amiga Inc.? The best way to have these questions answered is to ask the main characters of this drama! So we go to them to enlighten us:

* Juergen Haage:
      Haage&Partner's president, he will once again storm his troops to write the
      new update of our favourite OS, with the experience gained in the past two
* Olaf Barthel:
      the AmigaOS demigod. Responsible for 3.5-3.9 workbench.library and many
      other contributions, he'll get even more responsibility with OS 4.0 . Olaf
      has a very prolific past as Freeware and commercial Amiga programming.
* Hyperion Entertainment:
      they need no introduction. Not only top-quality games ported to the Amiga,
      but also the Warp3D graphics library.
* Picasso'96 Tobias Abt:
      author along with Alexander Kneer of the well-known ReTargetable Graphics
      Picasso96 sub-system. Alex and him will shape the new RTG graphics.library
      of OS 4.0.

Diff: What is your role in the development of AmigaOS 4.0 ?

J. Haage: We are responsible for the core part of the OS. Our developers are working on the 68K emulator and porting the AmigaOS into ANSI C code.v

Olaf Barthel: Probably the same as with 3.5, which is complaining about the things that don't work and then surprisingly ending up doing all the work to resolve the issues I don't see anybody else finding the time to tackle. That's how I ended up rewriting workbench.library and reimplementing icon.library from scratch, plus taking to fixing a gazillion of other bits and pieces. Believe me, I'd rather have spent my time more productively.

You probably guess that Amiga will have a hard time finding somebody to touch the workbench.library code with a ten foot pole. So that job will probably, again, end up in my lap. TCP/IP stack? Yes, I've been working on one earlier this year out of frustration and boredom. Right now I'm busily working on file systems, too.

Hyperion: Hyperion Entertainment will port MesaGL 3.4.1 to AmigaOS4 and we will also provide the 3D API and drivers for the Voodoo3 and Matrox G450 graphics boards. Advanced 3D drivers which make use of all the features of modern graphics cards are key to the success of Amiga OS. Key staff-members of Hyperion also serve as technology consultants to Amiga on OS 4.x and OS 5. As a consequence, we'll be able to port our existing games and to bring some more AAA titles to the Amiga world.

Tobias Abt: We are not sure. Certainly graphics related (what a wonder...), but they did no tell us yet what they want.


Diff: Why were you chosen for that component of the OS ?

J. Haage: That's easy to answer. It seems to be self-praise but I think we have done a good job the last two years. Amiga Inc. can trust us as a loyal partner and there is no need for them to chance their partners. One year ago Bill McEwen announced a long term partnership with us and this is the confirmation.

Olaf Barthel: Probably because I didn't say "No, please, not me again!" fast enough ;) I'm also probably one of the few people left who know their AmigaOS well enough to harbor their own ideas on what's good and what's not so good, and try to address the flaws.

Hyperion: Because we have a very good relationship with Amiga Inc. and we guess our expertise in 3D graphics is one of the best for the time being.

Tobias Abt: Experience for sure.


Diff: Amiga Inc has changed their plan for DE/OS 4.0: They was supposed to put all their efforts into DE but changed their minds in favor of 4.0, due to the needs of the future Amiga systems (VM, Resource-Tracking, MP...). Do you think this was a wise decision ? Why ?

J. Haage: It was the only possible decision. Please ask Amiga why.

Olaf Barthel: From the point of view of the developer who has a computer on his desk that was made in 1990, who uses it daily for his work and who is looking for a similarly attractive development system, I believe that the move towards a 'real' stand-alone operating system was a wise one. After all, there aren't many alternatives to AmigaOS in what it does and how it does what it does around. It was about time Amiga Inc. looked at what technology they owned and what could be done with it.

Hyperion: It's a very wise decision : you don't build an OS from scratch overnight. While the AmigaDE and OS 5.0 are being built, the Amiga market needs to stay alive and people want new features in the Classic OS to go with the new hardware (AmigaOne). Moreover, we've been expecting a new AmigaOS for a long time. Now that it's coming, we can't be happier !

Tobias Abt: Sorry, I don't know enough about that as I am working too many hours to be able to keep track of Amiga Inc decisions.


Diff: Amiga Inc has an ambitious agenda for 5.0 : SMP and Memory Protection. It sounds like a complete new OS, and Fleecy himself has confirmed that OS 4.0 applications will "run in a sandbox". In your view, will that mean abandoning the AmigaOS architecture as we know it ?

J. Haage: I can't answer you this.

Olaf Barthel: There's no way around it, I'm afraid. The architecture of the new system will have to use resources just as wisely as the 68k AmigaOS architecture used to do, but I don't quite see how you can cater for memory protection and symmetric multiprocessing using a single, shared address space and pointer twiddling for message passing alone.

Hyperion: The fact that OS4.0 applications will run in a sandbox is great for backwards compatibility. This kind of feature is in the air these days, just look at Java and MacOSX which run the MacOS9 applications this way.

Tobias Abt: Yes. From the OS point of view certainly. But if it feels the same for the user, I would say it is OK.


Diff: If yes, wouldn't that mean an Amiga system that only shares the label with the Amiga we know ?

J. Haage: N/A

Olaf Barthel: Before I can answer that question, we'd both have to agree upon what makes an Amiga an Amiga. It can't be in trying to pickle a 1980'ies operating system design.

Hyperion: No, a lot of concepts and even some implementations will be carried over from OS 4.0.

Tobias Abt: Yes and no. It would certainly be different, but sometimes you have to break an egg or two to make an omelette.


Diff: Amiga Inc is willing to bring the development and management back to the U.S.; what would that mean for European developers like you ? Are you concerned by this move ?

J. Haage: N/A

Olaf Barthel: I'm quite happy to stay where I am. If Amiga is moving developers and management back into the U.S., I don't see how this is going to impact my work. Well, unless developer support were to suffer from that move.

Hyperion: Amiga Inc. wants to manage the development of the AmigaOS, which is quite logical. By the way, I don't think that H&P, the P96 team and Hyperion are American ! We have an excellent relationship with these people and many people working for Amiga are in fact Europeans. We'd work with aliens if it would get us anywhere !

Tobias Abt: It would simply mean to have more American contacts than European. I don't mind at all. OK, there are a few differences in mentality, but I don't see a problem.


Diff: Amiga Inc. now defines itself as a "software only" company, giving certifications for hardware but without building it. Do you think this will help the Amiga hardware market ?

J. Haage: N/A

Olaf Barthel: Help? Well, not being a hardware guy, my best guess is that at least it won't hurt it ;)

Hyperion: Yes. Better let the companies who know how to build good hardware instead of reinventing the wheel in Amiga Inc. It will also allow for more choice.

Tobias Abt: It won't help unless there are multiple companies who jump on the bandwagon.


Diff: Overall, are you satisfied with Amiga Inc.'s new business direction ?

J. Haage: N/A

Olaf Barthel: I think it's an improvement over the original approach which apparently failed to capture the hearts and minds of the Amiga community.

Hyperion: The answer is a plain YES ! We have therefore officially endorsed Amiga Inc's roadmap for OS 4.x and beyond.

Tobias Abt: I know too little about it.


Ok guys, thank you very much to all of you!


The CUCUG Section:

April General Meeting

reported by Kevin Hopkins (

April 19, 2001 - President Jim Lewis began by introducing two visitors to our meeting. Both were interested in Mac OS X. He then continued with the traditional introduction of officers. Noticeably absent was Kevin Hisel. Kevin Hopkins conveyed Kevin's apology and reason for this rare occurrence. Jim then outlined our meeting agenda for the visitors.

Next, Jim asked Mike Latinovich for any update in PC news he might have. Mike said there had been a dearth of PC news this month other than Dell had taken the number one slot for PC sellers.

President Lewis then asked Richard Rollins for any Macintosh news. Rich reported Apple's profitable first quarter earnings. Rich marvelled at some of the stock market analysts that downgraded Apple's stock. He said, "Apple was the only computer company to make money last quarter and they downgraded the stock. How's that for bias?"

Richard mentioned that there were iBooks available on for $999.

Jack Melby talked about the new OS X upgrade. He said he has had an astonishing speed boost. He also noted that OS X runs his Classic applications faster than they run natively.

Jack related that Roxio had finally released a version of Toast (v. 4.1.2) that works. He also passed along the news that Corel has announced that all of its applications will be Carbonized by year's end, making them OS X friendly.

It was brought up that Pioneer will release a DVD writer within 30 days for around $900.

Apple has pulled its 667 MHz machines from its line up. Faster, dual processor machines are expected to fill that void in the near future.

Mike Latinovich gave his seal of approval to the OS X direction Apple is taking, stating that "Darwin is quite cool."

The new Apple OS X update adds CD writer software, facilitates the playing of DVDs, adds USB support, and is otherwise pretty solid.

Jack added that OS X will run quite nicely on a 128 MB 366 MHz iBook. His son Charlie has such a system.

Jim Lewis publicly thanked George Krumins for his contributions to the meetings.

Ed Serbe talked about the settlement of the lawsuit against Iomega concerning the "Click of Death" controversy.

Greg Kline brought in another of his wonderful brain teasers, a reader's question about an error message she had been receiving after upgrading from Windows 95 to 98. Among the suggestions was a request for more information: click the More Info button on the requester. It might be bad RAM or a bad processor. It was stated that it is very bad to try to upgrade Microsoft products. It's better to start clean. No upgrading in place. That leaves a lot of stuff behind: a source of later problems. Patches are OK, but version changes are bad news. The woman's problem could be conflicting driver software. Bottom line, Greg's reader should back up her data and do a Clean Install. She could also go to Microsoft's Knowledge Base and find an article on her particular error number. There's sure to be one.

Mike Latinovich offered some additional PC news. He said AMD is finally turning a profit on their chips. They've also increased their share of the X86 market from 18% to 21%. Intel is not making a profit, at least not this quarter. The P4 and its dependence on Rambus memory is the problem. The opinion is that Rambus is a farce: hype that can be marketed.

Edwin Hadley showed a special issue of inDesign magazine focusing on Photoshop. He said the magazine is available at Borders bookstore for anyone who's interested.

George Krumins brought up a question for a friend whose PC was locking up. Mike Latinovich suggested flashing the BIOS with patch software for the chipset. He noted that RAM is very finicky on AMD machines, which the one in question is. Another possible cause for locking up is an overheating video card. Jim Lewis asked if the machine was overclocked, but it wasn't.

Mike Latinovich suggested that people stay away from the P4. As was said before, it is tied to Rambus memory and is a very unreliable commodity at this point.

George Krumins then asked about the pros and cons of dual head video cards. Mike spoke at some length on this subject. He concluded by saying that the most economical solution is to get the best GeForce video card you can afford. George was interested in using two monitors, but Jim Lewis noted that Windows XP doesn't support the use of two monitors.


The Presentation: CUCUG's Best of the Web, Part 2

This evening's program was on the favorite web sites of our members. Rather than a long and involved narrative, I'll just list the sites that were visited with a few random comments. The fun is going to them yourself and seeing what you think. - click on "Trip Now" to download the MPEG movie requires Windows Media Player or QuickTime Player - highly recommended Search engine Jim Lewis said. - Richard Rollins recommended this site as a compliment to - keeping track of the latest versions of Mac software or - keeping track of the latest versions of Windows software. This latter site is still under Construction.

WebWasher and PopUp Stopper were recommended as utilities to suppress ad pop-ups - Emil Cobb said you can use this site to enlarge your photo graphics. - Recommended as for the hardware junky with reviews and the like. Jim Huls said, "Check out their Hot Deals Forum." It has a lot of Hot Tips. Similar to ... - for Palm users - documents - another site recommended by Emil Cobb. - another site recommended by Emil Cobb. - one added by Emil when I called to check another address. - another one added by Emil when I called to check an address. Had some trouble with this one. - If you have nothing else to do. Rate People - a masocists wet dream. - Edwin Hadley recommended this as a humorous site. - another humor inducer.

Just Plain Angry Noise - on WEFT radio - - check "Shows" Thursday night at midnight

"Snowcraft" do a Google search and you come up with this arcade style game.
Hit the guys twice to kill 'em. - Rich Rollins rated this the "Best Mac news site on the web." - Slagging of Microsoft's Paper Clip character. - For the tech head that want to speed things up. - IT info and rumors from a renegade of the Register online magazine. - Jim Huls recommended this site as a place to syncronize and maintain your bookmarks over multiple sites. - Interested in Windows NT? - Program compatibility information - - - All things video - - - - - The Hardware Book - the Internet's largest free collection of connector pinouts and cable descriptions. - - Bill Zwicky pointed out this site, but it seems to have developed a rather shady reputation recently. - An emulations site for gamers. - Want to look at Times Square at 9:30 pm CST on a Thursday night?
BourboCAM - How about Bourbon Street in New Orleans?

Finally, here are some from Kevin Hisel .... Well. I'll let him speak for himself.

After many years, I'm finally going to miss a meeting. ...

But I did do my homework and hopefully you can pass on to the membership my web site selections. So you don't have to put on your glasses to type the URLs, just go to the CUCUG main page and click on the "Kewl Sites" link in the left-hand margin area.

[Here's what you'll find there: ]

Network Tools -

All the stuff that you'll need to diagnose network problems and just to have a little fun. Ping, Traceroute, Whois, HTTP headers, etc. The great thing is that these tests are done from a network removed from your own so you can compare results and possibly better figure out what in the heck is going on.


MSN/ZDnet Bandwidth Speed Test -
DSLReports Speed Test - Speed Test -
Sympatico HSE Speed Test -

Various speed tests for your broadband connection.


Shields Up! -

Still the best all-purpose in-bound security checker for your Internet connection. Can alert you if you have some obvious holes or vulnerabilities. Click on the "Test My Shields" and "Probe My Ports" buttons to run the tests.


Practically Networked -

If you're a home network or broadband user thinking about networking your connection, this site is a must see. Tons and tons of great networking product info, reviews and product-specific forums. Formerly

[Editor's Note: All of these sites can be referenced off the "Member Select Sites" on CUCUG's Main Page at or directly off "CUCUG's Best of the Web, Version 2" page at .]


April Board Meeting

reported by Kevin Hopkins (

April 24, 2000 - The April meeting of the CUCUG executive board took place on Tuesday, April 24, 2001, at 7PM, at Kevin Hisel's house. (For anyone wishing to attend - which is encouraged, by the way - the address and phone number are both in the book). Present at the meeting were: Jim Lewis, Emil Cobb, Mike Latinovich, Rich Hall, Dave Witt, Kevin Hopkins, and Kevin Hisel.

Jim Lewis: The meeting began with a discussion of PC hardware, in honor of Kevin Hisel's new machine, built by Jim. Jim noted that a 1.3 GHz Athlon equates to a 1.55 GHz P4. Jim said he thinks Intel has screwed itself, first by using the A20 chipset and second by being married to Rambus.

As there seems to be no burning need to upgrade the club's Mac, that purchase has been shelved for the time being.

Jim said he thought the meeting went pretty well. The T1 connection worked, There were lots of sites suggested. The two visitors were from the Linux group and it had been good to see them.

During the discussions of hardware, it was noted that PC RAM prices have gone way down. You can get 512 MB for $76 and 64 MB of memory is now only $9.

Emil Cobb: Emil reported that 20 people attended the last meeting.

Mike Latinovich: Mike said the meeting was good, but the doughnuts were bad. Old joke. Kevin Hisel said at least they were low calorie. Mike said the favored web site presentation was OK, although he felt that the second half of the meeting was a little weak. Mike said we should become a little more focused on doing work on the PC and Mac.

Mike made the suggestion that we have business cards for the club printed up and that way members could hand them out to people when they feel they might enjoy or profit from attending a club meeting.

Lastly, Mike related a bit of news that Microsoft has signed a deal with Taco Bell on the XBox.

Rich Hall: Treasurer Hall said there was nothing new to report on the Treasury front. He stated that he had paid the rent on the new meeting site for the rest of the year and all of our advance payment to the Bresnan Center had been returned. Rich then reviewed the club's investments.

Dave Witt: Dave said the meeting was decent.

Kevin Hopkins: Kevin presented the membership database update, but Kevin Hisel said he would no longer need it.

Jim Lewis asked that George Krumins be thanked in the newsletter for his recent service to the club.

There was a discussion on how best to dispose of the club's surplus hardware.

Kevin Hisel: Kevin said the meeting was "vapid", but then, of course, he hadn't been there. Kevin went on to regale us with the story of his trip back stage at the Semisonic concert he'd actually attend on our meeting night. Jake Schickter, the band's drummer, is the little brother of a roadie who worked for Kevin's band, The Rave, back in the late 70's. Kevin said Semisonic is a good band. They had a hit in the US called "Closing Time" and another in the UK called "Secret Smile". He had a great time.


The Back Page:

The CUCUG is a not-for-profit corporation, originally organized in 1983 to support and advance the knowledge of area Commodore computer users. We've grown since then.

Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Illinois Technology Center. The Center is located at 7101 Tomaras Ave in Savoy. To get to the Illinois Technology Center from Champaign or Urbana, take Neil Street (Rt 45) south. Setting the trip meter in your car to zero at the McDonalds on the corner of Kirby/Florida and Neil in Champaign, you only go 2.4 miles south. Windsor will be at the one mile mark. Curtis will be at the two mile mark. Go past the Paradise Inn/Best Western motel to the next street, Tomaras Ave. on the west (right) side. Tomaras is at the 2.4 mile mark. Turn west (right) on Tomaras Ave. The parking lot entrance is immediately on the south (left) side of Tomaras Ave. Enter the building by the front door under the three flags facing Rt 45. A map can be found on the CUCUG website at . The Illinois Technology Center is also on the web at .

Membership dues for individuals are $20 annually; prorated to $10 at mid year.

Our monthly newsletter, the Status Register, is delivered by email. All recent editions are available on our WWW site. To initiate a user group exchange, just send us your newsletter or contact our editor via email. As a matter of CUCUG policy, an exchange partner will be dropped after three months of no contact.

For further information, please attend the next meeting as our guest, or contact one of our officers (all at area code 217):

   President/WinSIG:   Jim Lewis                359-1342
   Vice-President:     Emil Cobb                398-0149  
   Secretary/Editor:   Kevin Hopkins            356-5026     
   Treasurer:          Richard Hall             344-8687  
   Corporate Agent:    Jim Lewis                359-1342
   Board Advisor:      Richard Rollins          469-2616
   Webmaster:          Kevin Hisel              406-948-1999      khisel @
   Mac SIG Co-Chair:   John Melby               352-3638 
   Mac SIG Co-Chair:   Charles Melby-Thompson   352-3638

Surf our web site at

912 Stratford Dr.
Champaign, IL