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The September 19 gathering will be one of out split SIG meetings. The Linux SIG will be finishing up their examination of security issues before the main meeting. After the main business meeting, the Macintosh SIG will have Emil Cobb demonstrating the Stomp Click'N Design 3D CD labeling program and Jack Melby will conduct a Q&A session on the new Mac OS 10.2 - "Jaguar". The WinSIG meeting will be brimming over with topics and goodies. Kevin Hisel will be doing a companion mini-review of the Stomp CD labeling software. There will be a discussion of the new Service Pack 1 release for Windows XP. Kevin said, "If you are having trouble downloading the this update from the Microsoft web site because it is so busy, we will have some XP SP1 CDs available (FREE for members only) at the meeting." But wait, there's more: a Questions and Answers session, another of our famous round-table (hey, where's the table?) discussions on network security issues or whatever comes up. And also, thanks to some very generous donations from Microsoft, we will be sponsoring a monthly FREE raffle just for showing up. As part of their Mindshare user-group program, Microsoft sent CUCUG a box of stuff which Kevin priced out at about $600 on Amazon.com. All kinds of full-retail-boxed software from MS were included so we plan to have a prize available for every WinSIG meeting from now on. Here's a great reason to attend the meetings!
We welcome any kind of input or feedback from members. Run across an interesting item or tidbit on the net? Just send the link to the editor. Have an article or review you'd like to submit? Send it in. Have a comment? Email any officer you like. Involvement is the driving force of any user group. Welcome to the group.
Due to Jim's departure, Vice President Emil Cobb will assume the presidential duties until the Board can appoint a new president in accordance with our bylaws (or delegate those responsibility to someone else). Since we are only three months away from our next election of officers, the Board may decide to forego those appointments, as no minimum time frame is specified in the bylaws, and let the membership make those choices.
Jim was a formidable presence in CUCUG. He held three offices, two elected and one voluntary: President, Corporate Agent, and WinSIG Chairman. We're going to need three individuals to step up and fill these positions. Please, if you can, pitch in and help, the need is there.
Other of Jim's "behind the scenes" contributions to the club are being dealt with by various Board members. Our thanks to them for stepping into the breach.
Regarding Jim, he should soon be reachable via e-mail, so if you'd like to contact him, he will be checking his mail at email@example.com. Just give him a little time.
We're all really sorry to see Jim go. He was a good CUCUG president and he'll be sorely missed.
The odd thing is, to get the discount, you must phone your order in (how 20th century!). In any event, to place your Microsoft Press order just phone 1-800-MSPRESS. Give them the code MCPC to identify yourself as a user group member and receive 20% off.
BT has lost its controversial bid to sue Prodigy Communications over a patent that it claimed covered the use of hyperlinks.
U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon awarded Prodigy its motion for summary judgment to have the case dismissed, saying that no jury could find that Prodigy infringes BT's patent.
The ruling frees all Internet service providers from the threat of having to pay a license fee to BT for hosting pages that use hyperlinks--the building blocks of the Web. If BT had won and license fees had been imposed, the charges would have almost certainly been passed on to ISP customers.
BT had contacted Prodigy and 16 other ISPs, including America Online, in June 2000, asking them to buy a hyperlink license. When they refused, the British telecommunications giant pursued Prodigy as a test case.
The ruling is a huge blow for BT, which had doggedly pursued the case. Shortly before the case went to trial in February, BT Chairman Sir Christopher Bland dismissed suggestions that BT would be wise to ditch the lawsuit. "The case will go ahead," Bland said at the time. "The idea that we should abandon this suit in order to provide ISPs with a feel-good factor is, frankly, bizarre…Everyone sues all the time in the States, anyway."
BT appeared to be losing the case almost from the start. In March, McMahon decided, in what is known as a Markman ruling, that many of BT's claims were invalid. A Markman ruling constitutes the first phase of patent trials and is concerned primarily with putting the words of the patent claim into plain English.
The hyperlink patent--properly known as the Sargent patent--describes a system in which multiple users, located at remote terminals, can access data stored at a central computer. BT had argued that the Internet infringes the Sargent patent and that Prodigy facilitates infringement by its subscribers by providing them with access to the Internet.
But McMahon found three problems with BT's arguments. First, she said, the Internet has no "central computer" as described in the Sargent patent. Second, she said that because the Internet itself does not infringe the Sargent patent, "Prodigy cannot be liable for contributory infringement or active inducement for providing its users with access to the Internet."
And third, said the judge, BT's argument that Prodigy's Web servers directly infringe the Sargent patent also fails "because Web pages stored on Prodigy's Web servers do not contain 'blocks of information' or 'complete addresses' as claimed in the Sargent patent."
"In contrast to what BT would have us believe," McMahon concluded, "there are no disputed issues of material fact in this case. Instead, the two sides reach vastly different conclusions based on the same set of facts. I find that, as a matter of law, no jury could find that Prodigy infringes the Sargent patent...either as part of the Internet or on its Web server viewed separate from the Internet. Prodigy's motion for summary judgment is therefore granted."
BT filed for the patent in the United States in 1976. The patent, No. 4,873,662, was issued to BT in the United States in 1989 and expires in 2006. The company said it only discovered the patent in a routine trawl through its own patents four years ago.
ZDNet UK's Matt Loney reported from London.
Those of you that read the Athlon XP 2600+ review at Anandtech the other day may have noticed that he didn't use Sysmark as he used to.. He said they had found some issues with it.
According to Dean Kent, one of the people behind Realworldtech.com (he is a widely respected guy in the hw enthusiast community), some people have found proof of some very murky stuff going on in Sysmark, and they have sent this proof to several websites, so the lid is going off soon... Take a look at this post:
Intel is an investor of Bapco, the creator of Sysmark. Some people are speculating that this might give the people that sued Intel for misleading people about the performance of the P4 a very good case.
Intel has been an investor in Bapco for a long time IIRC. The funny thing is that each new version comes up with a mix that makes Intel chips look faster. But AMD have added stuff like SSE and prefetch, so Bapco have produced a version that are bandwidth hungry or SSE2 optimized.
When the Hammer comes out I guess they'll favour PNI... Or maybe not, as AMD joined Bapco recently. Makes you wonder if AMD found out about this, and wanted to join in order to influence the next version.
It will be very interesting to see how this develops.
In a move many people expected to happen at last month's Macworld Expo, Apple has unveiled new Power Mac G4s that offer significant enhancements to Apple's professional desktop line while changing only the front panel of the elegant Power Mac industrial design. In fact, the front panel change points to the Power Mac's differentiating name - Apple identifies the new models as with the clunky moniker "Power Mac G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors)."
The new Power Macs all feature dual PowerPC G4 processors running at 867 MHz, 1 GHz, or 1.25 GHz; the first two have 1 MB of backside L3 cache, and the 1.25 GHz model offers 2 MB of backside L3 cache. Three video cards, all of which offer ADC and DVI connectors and support dual monitors, are available: the Nvidia GeForce4 MX with 32 MB of DDR-SDRAM, the ATI Radeon 9000 Pro with 64 MB of DDR-SD-RAM, or the Nvidia GeForce4 Ti with a 128 MB frame buffer of DDR-SDRAM for the ultimate in graphics power. The main system memory is also DDR-SDRAM, which provides twice the throughput of conventional single data rate RAM. Storage comes in the form of a 60 GB, 80 GB, or 120 GB Ultra ATA/100 hard drive running at 7200 rpm, plus either a Combo drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) or a SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW). If you want more storage, there are three additional 3.5-inch internal hard drive expansion bays and one more external expansion drive bay. Additional system expansion is possible with the four 64-bit 33 MHz PCI slots and one 4x AGP slot. After that, the specs return to the familiar, with two FireWire ports, four USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet, an AirPort card slot, keyboard, mouse, and so on.
The new Power Macs do require (and boot into by default) Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar; they also include Mac OS 9.2.2. Other bundled software includes Lemke Software's Graphic Converter, Omni Group's OmniGraffle and OmniOutliner, Caffeine Software's PixelNhance, and Ambrosia's Snapz Pro X, plus Apple's full iApp suite.
The dual 867 MHz Power Mac G4 starts at $1,700, with the dual 1 GHz model starting at $2,500 and the dual 1.25 GHz model at $3,300. The dual 867 MHz and dual 1 GHz models are available immediately; the 1.25 GHz model is slated to ship in the second half of September.
Apple last week announced small changes to its consumer desktop line of Macs. The eMac, which initially offered only a CD-RW drive, now features either a Combo drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) for $1,100, or Apple's SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW) for $1,500 (the two configurations differ in other ways too - the SuperDrive-equipped model has a faster CPU, more RAM, and a larger hard disk). If you want the stylish iMac with its flat-panel display instead, Apple just sweetened the deal by dropping the prices on the CD-RW and Combo drive models by $100, to $1,300 and $1,500 respectively. (Both repriced models come with the 15-inch LCD screen; the 15-inch model with a SuperDrive remains priced at $1,800 and the 17-inch model comes only with a SuperDrive and costs $2,000.) Although these changes are minor, they help make the iMac and eMac even more attractive to students just before the start of the school year.
On Saturday, 24-Aug-02, Apple released Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar, the second major update to Mac OS X since the operating system's release on 24-Mar-01. As with Mac OS X 10.1, Jaguar offers significant improvements on the status quo, bringing back features from Mac OS 9 (such as spring- loaded folders and Software Base Station) and breaking new ground (look at Rendezvous and Inkwell). We've looked at Jaguar's features in brief before, and additional coverage will be forthcoming as we learn more. In the meantime, Jaguar discussions have already started on TidBITS Talk - be sure to check them out for details. A single-user copy of Jaguar costs $130, or you can buy a 5-license family pack for $200. [ACE]
Apple has made available a pair of security updates for Mac OS X to help prevent unwanted access to your Mac. Specifically, the updates modify components of Mac OS X to incorporate changes in OpenSSL 0.9.6g, and the Sun RPC XDR encoder under Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar. Security Update 2002-08-20 applies to machines running Mac OS X 10.1.5; Security Update 2002-08-23 works on Macs running Jaguar. The update is either a 2.2 MB or 5.6 MB download, depending on which version applies, and is available through Software Update or as a separate download from Apple. [JLC]
Netscape Communications has released Netscape 7, a promising improvement to the now-underdog Web browser. New in Netscape Navigator 7 is tabbed windows, which enable you to load multiple Web sites within the same browser window, plus overall performance improvements and bug fixes. Other new features include persistent history that records visited URLs across windows and sessions, a Download Manager that tracks all your downloads in a single window (like Internet Explorer), a Print Preview (though it doesn't redraw the preview to account for scaling percentages), the capability to save a page as a folder of files, a contextual menu feature that lets you start a Web search for selected text, and update notifications of new releases. The Netscape Mail component has also has much-needed performance enhancements, a quick search for messages in a mailbox, alerts of new mail, labels, easier filters, and more. Netscape 7 is a free 19.2 MB download for users of Mac OS X, or a 155K active installer for users of Mac OS 8.6 or 9.x (where the eventual installation needs approximately 36 MB of disk space). [JLC]
For those interested, Mozilla 1.1 is now out.
I've ran into one change that I would call a bug but might be a design flaw in tabbed browsing. Selecting a bookmark of tabs to load up no longer replaces what is already loaded and tabbed. It now adds that many more tabbed sites to the window. I haven't found a way to change this so I'm going to have to do some research on this. It seems to handle MS's site "slightly" better depending on the format of the page.
The one thing that stands out and they claim is what they focused on is that it's faster. Much faster!
So far it's a keeper!
After an initial release and rapid retraction last July, Microsoft has re-released its Palm conduit for Entourage X, enabling Entourage X users to synchronize contacts, calendar items, tasks, and notes (but not email) between Entourage X and Palm-compatible handheld devices. We haven't yet tested this newest release and can't say if it's any more reliable than the version Microsoft previously withdrew, so (as always) back up your data before installing. The conduit requires Microsoft Office X Service Release 1, Mac OS X 10.1 or later, and a Palm-compatible handheld with Palm OS 3.x or later and Palm Desktop 4.0 or later. It's a 716K download. [GD]
At Apple Expo in Paris, Apple today released iCal, the company's simple calendar application announced at Macworld Expo in July. iCal provides an attractive Aqua interface, supports multiple calendars, and allows for calendar sharing via a WebDAV server or via .Mac (which can also publish calendars so they can be viewed in a Web browser). The program is free and is a 6.3 MB download, but keep in mind that it requires Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar and can send email invitations only with Apple's Mail.
The other noteworthy announcement from Apple is that starting in January of 2003, all new Macs will boot only into Mac OS X. Older applications will remain accessible via the Classic environment. The announcement is no surprise - we've all known the day was coming when new Macs would cease to be able to boot into Mac OS 9 - so if you were thinking about buying a new Mac and need the capability to boot into Mac OS 9, you might want to buy something in the next few months. [ACE]
Karelia Software has released Watson 1.5.5, its utility for easily gathering information from the Web that offers more features than Apple's otherwise-similar Sherlock 3. New in this version is the capability to perform Internet searches using Google, along with a module that helps you find and purchase products from Amazon.com. The ZIP Code lookup utility has also been improved, and Watson is now fully compatible with Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar. It's often easier to use Watson instead of a Web browser to look up information such as movie times, flight schedules, eBay auctions, and more. Watson 1.5.5 is a free update to owners of Watson 1.5 and later, and is available as a 2 MB download. An individual license to use Watson beyond its two-week demo period costs $30; a "household" license costs $40. [JLC]
When Font Reserve 3.0 was released as DiamondSoft's first attempt on the Mac OS X fortress, it couldn't handle Mac OS X fonts, such as .dfonts, .otfs, and Windows .ttfs - rather a serious limitation for a font management utility. (See "Font Reserve Moves to Mac OS X" in TidBITS-620_.) Now an update, version 3.1, fills that hole; it's a 10.2 MB download. Font Reserve 3.1 is Jaguar-compatible and manages all Mac OS X font types. Auto-activation now works too: when a document is opened by just about any Mac OS X application, if it uses any fonts that are in Font Reserve's database and aren't active, Font Reserve activates them transparently. Those who favor Font Reserve's centralized approach to font storage and its database-like features that make finding and navigating even huge quantities of fonts easy will be delighted to see at last a Mac OS X version that truly works. It's free for owners of version 3.0, $30 for owners of previous versions, $50 for owners of ATM Deluxe and Suitcase, and $90 for new users. [MAN]
Now that developers have had more time to work with the shipping version of Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar, applications are being updated to address various compatibility issues. Last week saw updates to Bare Bones Software's BBEdit and QuicKeys X, both free to registered users. BBEdit 6.5.3 is a 7.7 MB download; QuicKeys 1.5.3 is an 8.9 MB download. [JLC]
The Most Important Rule: Build Products People Want.
iMovie, iPod, iPhoto, iTunes, television tuner-cards, composite video out, CD burners on laptops, flat-screen iMacs, Cinema displays, and QuickTime... seemingly every quarter, Apple ships another drool-worthy technology that further erodes the tenuous division between "entertainment devices" and computers.
Since 1979, Apple has broken every rule in business. It shipped a personal computer at a time when computers were million-dollar playthings of universities, insurance companies, and defense contractors. It introduced a commercial graphical interface to a market filled with power-nerds who sneered at the ridiculous idea of "friendly" computers. It brought video to the desktop, wireless to the home, and the biggest, sexiest titanium notebook ever made to laps everywhere. It put freaking open-source Unix underneath its legendarily easy-to-use operating system!
Apple has broken every rule except the most important one: build what your customers want to buy. Since 1979, Apple has achieved its every success by selling the stuff that people like you and I want to buy. Since 1979, Apple's failures (Remember the Apple III? The Newton? The Cube?) have been products that simply didn't sell well enough.
Today, Apple - and every other technology company - is in danger of losing its right to make any device that it thinks it can sell. Hollywood, panicked at the thought of unauthorized distribution of movies captured from digital television sets, is calling for a new law that would give it ultimate control over the design of every device capable of handling digital television signals.
This is bad news for any company that wants to collapse the distinction between entertainment devices and computers. Digital hub projects are exciting, but they're also squarely in Hollywood's cross-hairs. The more your Mac acts like a television device (think of TidBITS's April Fools spoof iTiVo coming true, or El Gato's new EyeTV) the more your Mac will be subject to regulations that are meant to control "only" digital television (DTV) devices.
We've seen some coarse attempts to reign in technical innovation from the likes of Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC), whose Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA) is also known as the "Consume, But Don't Try Programming Anything" bill. There's a far more insidious threat to your rights to buy a Mac that does what you want it to do: regulations intended to speed the adoption of digital television are in the offing, regulations that will have a disastrous effect on Apple and every other computer manufacturer.
Digital Television and Hollywood
Here comes digital television. Digital television uses a lot less radio spectrum than the analog TV system we use today. If all broadcasters were to switch to digital, the U.S. government could auction off the freed-up spectrum for billions of dollars. Understandably, the FCC is big on getting America switched over to digital, so much so that they've ordered all analog broadcasts to cease in 2006, provided that 85 percent of Americans have bought digital sets.
Hollywood says that digital television will make it too easy to make digital copies of its broadcast movies and redistribute them over the Internet. Never mind that digital TV signals eat up to a whopping 19.4 megabits of data per second, well beyond the ability of any current Internet user to redistribute without compressing the video to the point where it's indistinguishable from analog shows captured with a TV card. Never mind that you can always hook up a capture card to the analog output of a digital set and make a near-perfect copy.
Never mind reality. In Hollywood's paranoid fantasy, digital television plus Internet equals total and immediate "Napsterization" of every movie shown on TV. So the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has threatened to withhold its movies from digital television unless Something Is Done.
This has given the feds The Fear. If there aren't any movies on digital television (the argument goes), no one will buy a digital TV set, and if no one buys a digital TV, the feds won't be able to sell off all that freed-up spectrum and turn into budget-time heroes. So Something Will Be Done.
Perfect Control Makes Imperfect Devices
In November of 2001, at the request of Representative Billy Tauzin (R-LA), the MPAA's Copy Protection Technical Working Group spun off a sub- group, called the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group (BPDG). It's an inter-industry group with representatives from the movie studios, consumer electronics companies, computer companies, broadcasters, and cable and satellite operators. The BPDG's job was to consult with all these industries and draft a proposal that would set out what kinds of technologies would be legal for use in conjunction with digital television.
The BPDG started off by ratifying two principles:
1. All digital TV technologies must be "tamper resistant." That means that they need to be engineered to frustrate end-users' attempts to modify them. Under this rule, open-source digital television components will be illegal, since open-source software (like Darwin, the system that underpins Mac OS X) is designed to be modified by end-users.
2. To be legal, a digital television device must incorporate only approved recording and output technologies. Some system will be devised to green-light technologies that won't "compromise" the programming that they interact with, and if you want to build a digital TV device, you'll need to draw its recording and output components exclusively from the list of approved technologies.
Hollywood Never Gets Technology
The entertainment industry has a rotten track record when it comes to assessing the impact of new technologies on its bottom line. Every new media technology that's come down the pipe has been the subject of entertainment industry lawsuits over its right to exist: from player pianos to the radio to the VCR to the MP3 format and the digital video recorder, the industry has attempted to convince the courts to ban or neuter every new entertainment technology.
In 1984, Hollywood lost its suit to keep Sony's Betamax VCR off the market. The Betamax, Hollywood argued, would kill the movie industry. In the words of MPAA president Jack Valenti, the VCR was to the American film industry "as the Boston Strangler is to the woman home alone." The most important thing to emerge from that case was the "Betamax doctrine," the legal principle that a media technology is legal, even if it can be used to infringe copyright, provided that it has substantial non-infringing uses.
That means that even though a VCR can be used to duplicate and resell commercial video cassettes illegally, it's still legal to manufacture VCRs, because you can also use them to time-shift your favorite programs, a use that is legal. That's why the iPod exists: You can create MP3s legally by ripping your lawfully acquired CDs with iTunes. That you can also illegally download MP3s from file-sharing networks is irrelevant: the iPod has a substantial, non-infringing use.
The BPDG proposal compromises the Betamax Doctrine. Under Betamax, Apple can make any device it wants to, without having to design it so that it can never be used to infringe - it is enough that some of the uses for the device are non-infringing. Crowbar manufacturers aren't required to design their tools so that they can never be used to break into houses - it's enough that crowbars have some lawful uses. It's impossible to make really good, general-purpose tools that can't ever be used illegally - Betamax lets manufacturers off that impossible hook.
A Veto Over New Technology
Consumer electronics and IT companies were willing to go along with the idea that devices should be tamper-resistant, and that there should be some criteria for deciding which outputs and recording methods would be permitted. Each company had its own reasons for participating.
Two groups now have proprietary copy-prevention technology they want to build a market for: Hitachi, Intel, Matsushita, Sony, and Toshiba are members of the "5C" group, and Intel, IBM, Matsushita (Panasonic), and Toshiba are members of the "4C" group. Since the 4C and 5C technologies have been blessed by Hollywood's representatives to the BPDG, a mandated BPDG standard will make it illegal to sell less-restrictive competing products, and so by participating in BPDG, the 4C and 5C companies could shut out the competition, guaranteeing a royalty on every DTV device sold.
Other companies, like Philips and Microsoft, have their own copy- prevention technologies and were anxious that if they didn't play ball with the BPDG, it would be illegal for them to sell DTV devices that incorporate their technology.
Finally, the computer companies became involved because they saw the BPDG as a way of setting out an objective standard that they could follow, and in so doing, be sure that they wouldn't be sued into bankruptcy if their customers figured out how to use their technology in ways that Hollywood disapproved of. But then Hollywood dropped its bomb. When it came time to setting out the actual criteria for DTV technology, Hollywood announced that it would consider only one proposal: new DTV technology would be legal only if three major movie studios approved it.
The tech companies at the BPDG had been there with the understanding that the BPDG's job was to establish a set of objective criteria for new technology. Those criteria might be restrictive, but at the very least, tech companies would know where they stood when they were planning new gizmos.
Hollywood suckered the tech companies in with this promise and then sprang the trap. No, you won't get a set of objective criteria out of us. From now on, every technology company with a new product will have to come to us on its knees and beg for our approval. We can't tell you what technology we're looking for, but we'll know it when we see it. That's the "standard" we're writing here: we'll know it when we see it.
The BPDG co-chairs submitted their final report to Rep. Tauzin, the Congressman who had asked for the BPDG to be formed at the beginning. The report was short and sweet, but attached to it was a half-inch thick collection of dissenting opinions from the likes of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Free Software Foundation, and Digital Consumer, as well as commercial interests like Philips, Sharp, Zenith, Thomson, and Microsoft.
Missing from the report were objections from any computer manufacturer. The information technology industry took its lead from Intel, which has an interest in the 5C and 4C technologies, and is quite pleased at the idea of a BPDG mandate becoming law. Apple, which has previously been outspoken on the subject of a free technology market, was silent, as were IBM, HP, Dell, Gateway, and all the other general-purpose computing companies who have the most to lose from a BPDG mandate.
It's bleak. On 08-Aug-02, FCC Chairman Michael Powell announced that the FCC would open proceedings to mandate the BPDG proposal, turning this "standard" into the law of the land. Without any computer companies willing to carry the banner for the freedom to innovate, to make Betamax-legal technology without oversight from the film industry, the BPDG mandate will almost certainly come to pass.
The BPDG world will be extremely hostile to the digital hub concept. Think about a high-definition digital video suite of iMovie tools. These tools will exist to capture, store, and manipulate high-definition video streams - streams from camcorders, TV sources, and removable media like DVDs. They might support cable-in or a DTV antenna so that your digital hub doesn't require a stand-alone TV. And they'll need a DVD burner/reader and drivers.
Incorporating a tuner and a DVD player/burner into a Mac is just the kind of thing that scares the daylights out of the BPDG. If you expect to be able to play your existing DVDs on your Mac, let alone record shows that you get off cable or an antenna and play them on your TV set, think again.
Hollywood wants to be sure that you can't do anything with video from TV or cable without the film studios' permission. So while you may want to be able to stick a DVD full of home movies into your Mac and edit a five minute short for your distant relatives to download from your iDisk, Hollywood wants to be sure you won't be able to do the same with that episode of Buffy you recorded from the TV. When your distant relatives download your home movies to their computers and burn them to DVD, Hollywood wants to be sure that what they're burning is really a home movie and not a Law & Order episode that slipped through the cracks and made it onto a Web site.
How can this be accomplished? Once the video is on a DVD, a Web site, or your hard disk, neither your Mac nor your TV can tell the difference between Buffy and your holiday videos. There's no easy answer, and lucky for us, the Betamax doctrine says that just because someone might do something illegal with El Gato's EyeTV or a real iTiVo, it doesn't mean you can't have one. It's enough that there are legal things that can be done with the technology.
But absent any way to achieve Hollywood-grade perfect control over the technology's use, the BPDG simply won't let it come into being. It will be illegal to _manufacture_ this device.
Hollywood's approval of an iTiVo will be contingent on its "tamper resistance" (so long, Mac OS X, hello again, Mac OS 9!) and its operating system will have to include a facility for marking files that can't be streamed over an AirPort card or Ethernet port (forget sitting in your bedroom watching video stored on a server in your living room!). The entire operating system and box will have to be redesigned to prevent unauthorized copying of Hollywood movies, even if that means your own digital video data can't be backed up, sent to a friend, or accessed remotely.
If the entertainment industry had gotten its way, we wouldn't have radios, TVs, VCRs, MP3s, or DVRs. Business Week called Hollywood "some of the most change-resistant companies in the world." No one should be in charge of what innovation is permitted, especially not the technophobes of the silver screen.
A Glimmer of Hope
For all the likelihood of a BPDG mandate becoming law, it's by no means inevitable.
One technology company - Apple, IBM, AMD, Gateway, Dell, HP - could stall the process. All it would take is a public statement of opposition to the BPDG, a breaking of ranks with Intel and the other companies who are seeking to secure a market for their copy-prevention technologies, and the FCC would be confronted with infinitely more uncertainty about a BPDG mandate than it currently faces.
There are already a couple million DTV devices in the market that will be nearly impossible to accommodate under the BPDG mandate; another 12 months and there will be 10 million or more, and it will be too late to try to lock down DTV without permanently alienating DTV's most important customers.
Apple has been a strong champion of its customers' right to buy and use innovative technologies in innovative ways. If any company has the rule-breaking courage to stand up to Hollywood's bullying, it's Apple. If we're very lucky, Apple will agree. One press conference where Steve Jobs gives the MPAA what-for would likely derail the FCC's consideration of the BPDG process - maybe forever.
Mac users are fiercely loyal to the Macintosh, and Apple has always responded with new Macs with innovative features. Let's hope that they won't forget us now that there's pending legislation that could hamstring both Apple's entire digital hub strategy and the ways we already use our Macs with tools like iMovie, iDVD, and the SuperDrive.
(For further reading, I encourage you to read the following Web sites and articles: the EFF's BPDG weblog, "Consensus at Lawyerpoint"; Rep. Tauzin's memo to the BPDG representatives; the EFF's letter to Rep. Tauzin; the New York Times on the BPDG's final report; the EFF's comments on the BPDG's final report; a summary of the EFF's comments on the BPDG's final report; and the BPDG final report.)
[Cory Doctorow is Outreach Coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He's been using Apple computers since 1979 and has a 27-pixel-by-27-pixel tattoo of a Sad Mac on his right bicep. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer at the 2000 Hugo Awards, and his first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, will be published by Tor Books next Christmas. He is the co-editor of the weblogs Boing Boing and Forwarding Address: OS X and is a frequent contributor to Wired.]
Cory Doctorow's article last week on whether Apple's digital hub concept can survive the political machinations of Hollywood garnered unprecedented attention, thanks to a mention on the geek news site Slashdot. Like others who have been "Slashdotted," we were unprepared for the tidal wave of traffic. After a few hours we managed to move the cached article from our database server (behind a 128K ISDN line) to our main server at digital.forest (where they have a huge OC-12 Internet connection); that helped, but even our main server maxed out serving 100 simultaneous connections with no respite until the load started to wane in the afternoon. Although I still don't think it's necessary to design a system just to handle an isolated spike in traffic like this, a move to Mac OS X on a faster Mac will probably ease future concerns.
Also, Cory sent a clarification surrounding his statement that the FCC had announced it "would open proceedings to mandate the BPDG proposal, turning this 'standard' into the law of the land." He writes:
"In the FCC rulemaking proceeding, the FCC commissioners and spokespeople clarified this, saying that the FCC proceeding was looking for comments on what sort of Broadcast Flag mandate, if any, would be appropriate; further, they said that the BPDG proposal would not receive any special consideration. For information on how you can submit your own comments to the FCC rulemaking, visit the link below and sign up for regular updates."
Finally, as always, I encourage you to check out the ongoing discussion on TidBITS Talk surrounding this topic. Although the outlook may seem bleak regarding legislation in the U.S. seriously hampering the kind of digital lifestyle that Apple has been promoting, the efforts of individuals can make a difference, both by convincing companies we support to stand up and by sounding off directly to our elected representatives.
[Yes has recently completed the first leg of its Yes Tour 2002, in which "the classic Yes lineup" of Wakeman, Squire, vocalist Jon Anderson, drummer Alan White and guitarist Steve Howe have played to packed amphitheaters. In August, the band released "In a Word: Yes" (Rhino) a comprehensive, five-disc set, complete with 80-page booklet, that encompasses the group's entire career.]
CNN: Yes seems to have gone through waves of popularity. Now you seem to be reaching a whole new generation ...
WAKEMAN: My oldest boy sort of summed that up. He's 30 -- my oldest lad -- and said the trouble is that a lot of the people remember when rock 'n' roll started. He said if you remember when something starts, you'll always date it. Like nobody cares about a 90-year-old jazz musician; nobody cares that Sinatra got to his ripe old age and was still crooning away; nobody cares if there is an 80-year-old folk singer, or a 90-year-old blues singer singing, because it's the norm. He said, the funny thing is, in 50 years time this could be a load of 80-year-old rock 'n' rollers and nobody will bat an eyelid; you either like it or you don't. And it is very true.
So the kids ... these people don't have that ageism problem that a lot of the media, especially the radio media, have. And that's a shame because, you know, in England the main radio stations really won't play anybody if they are over the age of about 22, which, when you consider the fine young musicians around in their late-20s and early-30s, and they are struggling to get heard. I mean, we're not too bad, but if Yes was formed tomorrow, we wouldn't get a record contract and I doubt whether we would get heard anywhere. I mean, we're all right, but I just feel sorry for some of the other ones.
CNN: Why do you think that is? It seems that there are a lot of bands in the same boat.
WAKEMAN: When rock 'n' roll sort of started as it is known now, it became a business. It became a business, shall we say, in the '70s ... the late '60s and early '70s. Suddenly businessmen were there saying "hold on a minute." New formats were coming out ... it was a serious youth revolution. There were so many more and different types of music floating around, everybody had a type of music they liked. ...
But what happened was, when the music industry was around in the '70s it was all run by people our age and so everybody growing up with it. Now you've got a situation that nobody ever expected there to be, of 50- and 60-year-old rock 'n' rollers. (laughs) I went to see The Who at the Garden, they did four nights at the Garden -- all sold out -- and nobody would ever have foreseen that there would be 80,000 or 90,000 people going to see The Who at Madison Square Garden. And they are getting a real mixture of ages -- everything from kids to grannies.
Now the record companies, not ready for this, most of them, in fact all of the record companies are run by young people and that's fine. Thirty-five and under, call it what you like. Now they just don't understand that there are bands that have been around -- have been started before they were born. That still draw huge crowds. They don't market for them. Because they don't market for them, the don't understand them, so they shy away from them.
It's the same with the radio, though it's interesting to see that because people like to have choice how fast XM radio is growing. That's really opening my eyes that people want their choice. I mean, my kids for example, won't listen to terrestrial radio anymore, they pick everything up on the Net. They pick up radio stations from all round the world because they say they do not want to be dictated to what we should listen to, they want to find things out for themselves.
My view is that the record companies need to take a parallel from sport. For example, golf, people said what are we going to do with golfers when they reach the age of 50? And they came up with this very clever idea: the Senior Tour. Now they do the Senior Tour, which is as successful as the ordinary tour. It draws huge crowds to come out and see these people -- young and old -- and they've done the same with tennis. There's the Senior Tennis Tour.
What needs to happen, from my point of view, within the record industry is there is no reason why they can't have an area within the major labels that, shall we say, looks after the "classic" bands. Say, OK, "the classic bands" and have it run by people who understand it. Who understand how to market that area and understand how to work that area.
I mean, it's not difficult. If you've got 80,000 people that are going to see The Who, just in New York, then you have potentially there you always say 2-for-1, that's 160,000 potential CDs there in that area. That's how it used to be looked at. And people just aren't doing it.
It's the same with us, because there's nobody within these record companies that understand how it works. None at all. I might just think if one brave individual company looked at it and said, OK, let's get some people in who understand how these bands work, who know the market, who know the people -- it's no good pitching bands like Yes at people who watch MTV. It's hilarious, you know? It's never going to happen. They've forgotten this huge market that has always been there.
... I think that if record companies would be brave enough to start a classic department using the strength of the big company, but run by people who know how to market then they would do exceptionally well. But they won't because they are all stuck in what I call the Pan Am/TWA syndrome, which is when airlines had to change, companies like Pan Am said "Oh we're too big. We're an American institution. There will always be a Pan Am and a TWA. Always." Big mistake. They're gone. And I said, about four or five years in an interview that all of the big names that we know in music ... like Polygram and others ... within five years they'd all be disappearing and you wouldn't see the big names anymore. ...
I just think that the industry is ill-prepared for the situation it finds itself in now with the different types of music, with older musicians, with younger bands. ... It certainly wasn't prepared for downloading. It completely closed its eyes on that one and looked aside and said "oh, that will never happen." And now they've gotten themselves in all sorts of trouble there. ... The whole industry, I think, could be doing a better service to the public as a whole.
It's not going to happen though because all the people up there in their ivory towers are too worried about their own wages, pension and looking over their shoulder to the person above them to make sure they still have a job that they really don't care. I'm not saying that for all of them, there are some ... I am not saying that everyone in the business is bad ... there are a lot of very good people, but unfortunately, I think a lot of the very good people are not in the positions where they'd be given the power where they could actually make change. After saying all that I will probably never, ever get a contract again in my life. (laughs)
CNN: You mentioned downloading, and that's become an increasingly bigger problem, to say the least ...
WAKEMAN: But it needn't have been! It needn't have been! The colossal joke is that it needn't have been a big problem. Intel, for example, years ago already had the software and various things in place where people could download the tracks they wanted from any major company...they could download the tracks and make up their own CDs. ... They could do all of the things that people really would love to do and at the moment that they swiped their credit card to pay for whatever, it's a very simple software process ... where the correct little whatever it might be -- 10 cents goes to that writer there and 5 cents whatever -- it just automatically gets logged onto a database and goes off to the right places ... it's done instantly and everybody's happy. The person gets the music they paid for and the writer, the artist, the company gets their same little chunk that they always get from the sale. Very easy. It's very simple.
But no, the record industry refused to embrace the idea and so what happens is, people just go ahead and do it anyway, which means there is less and less money going into the industry. When there is less and less money that means there is less and less to be paid out. So what record companies tend to do now, instead of spreading the money across the board, they'll throw millions at two or three acts, which ... I just scratch my head. It doesn't make any sense at all.
You speak to the average person who downloads and they'll tell you they'll be very happy, they don't want to see the writer or the artist passed up. They realize there has to be money in the industry to make the product. The majority of the people you speak to would be very happy to swipe their cards, the money goes off to the right places and they've got what they want. And the record industry is really, really slow. And it has gotten itself into a complete mess over it.
I mean, you should be able to walk into a store, Tower Records, wherever you like ... you should be able to walk in, go up to the counter, the same way you go into a catalog shop, you should be able to write down on a piece of paper or type into a computer the tracks that you want, you should then be able to go up to another counter to fetch your product and collect your CD.
CNN: That sounds pretty cool ...
WAKEMAN: It's so simple. It's not a difficult thing to do. If a company like XM Radio can have 2 million tracks just logged on hard disk in their setup in Washington or where ever it is they've got it, then there is ... it is not difficult. It is such a simple process. And that's what should be done. I am sure they do it over here ... my children range from 30 down to 16 and they all make composite CDs that they want to play in their cars, so they are doing it and you'd think the record companies and the places like Tower Records would say "Hold it a minute. This is what everybody is doing at home. Why aren't we doing it for them?"
CNN: Why do you think that they aren't?
WAKEMAN: Because they are so un-streetwise. The people who run the music industry are so un-streetwise. They are focused pretty much on one age group. They are focused on fashion instead of the music and are forgetting shelved material. It's the equivalent of the supermarket taking everything out of their shops except the new cereal that's just come in. ...
You know my daughter said to me, it was quite funny, she made a similar analogy when she was listening to a rock station in Argentina called Big Bear music or something and she said, "there's some great stuff that they're playing Dad," and I said, what some foreign stuff or what? And she said, "No .. .they're English bands and American bands that you never hear on the radio normally." And she actually likened to a similar thing and she said how would you like it if you went into the supermarket and they were only selling three brands of coffee, but after five years you actually discovered that there were 103 brands. She said, you'd be pretty pissed off at that place. (laughs) And what would you do? You'd go out and try to discover what the other 100 were. You might not like them, but you'd go out and try to discover them. She said, exactly.
So the industry is ... you know, if I had the money, the wherewithal and time, I would love to do something about that. Because I know it is there for the taking. But there you go.
Wow, I just downloaded Open Office (http://www.openoffice.org/) and it looks much more polished than I had imagined. I haven't given it a real going over, but it did load all the MS files I fed it.
Open Office is a Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) work-alike suite. It has been getting good reviews, is available on a number of different platforms and loads/saves MS-format files. The install download is pretty big (50-70M depending on platform) but if you have a cable modem it's only a few minutes of downloading.
Apparently versions exist for Windows, Linux and Solaris. I swear I saw something about Mac OS-X but it's not in the download listing.
My favorite feature of OpenOffice is the price: FREE!
from Jim Huls
Posted: Tue Aug 27, 2002 7:09 pm
It does work well for a free item. I have ran into one glitch though in its font handling. Essentially it doesn't. My uses are pretty basic but using the occasional non-standard font seems to be a bit buggy.
In a growing number of homes, waiting an eon for a Web page to download or putting up with constant interruptions in online music or video feeds are distant memories. High-speed connections, such as cable and DSL, have made speedy Web browsing a reality. The only problem: Everyone in the household ends up competing for time on the one computer with a high-speed connection, while other laptops and PCs go unused or become glorified word processors.
Microsoft plans to launch a line of products that will allow users to access high-speed connections and other conveniences on any PC almost anywhere in their home, or even their favorite coffee shop. This new line of wireless broadband networking products, which will hit store shelves later this year, will also allow users to share printers and files among their PCs.
PressPass caught up Randy Ringer, general manager for the Microsoft Hardware Division, to talk about why Microsoft is entering this new space and how the company will help customers set up their wireless networks quickly and easily.
PressPass: Tell me a bit more about your plans.
Randy Ringer: Microsoft plans to enter the wireless networking market. We will be bringing a line of Wi-Fi hardware products - ones that use the 802.11b wireless standard -- to market later this year. These products will enable consumers to set up a wireless network quickly and easily so they can share their broadband Internet connections, files and printers with the other computers in their home or small office.
PressPass: Why is Microsoft doing this?
Ringer: Wireless networking opens up a wide range of possibilities for personal computing. We've done a lot of research, and it has shown that consumers want to be able to share their broadband Internet connections, and they want more mobility - the ability to move about their house or set up a computer anywhere, to connect to their information from wherever they are.
But right now networking is very difficult; it takes a long time to set up and it's very confusing for a lot of people. Everyday users are a bit afraid to take the plunge. So it really hasn't taken off beyond the "early adopter" segment of users. But networking - especially wireless networking - can bring a whole host of advantages to all users, not just the more "technical" ones. Microsoft has an amazing opportunity to help solve the challenges consumers face with networking by making the entire process much easier.
PressPass: Why do you think Microsoft can make wireless networking easier and more convenient?
Ringer: Microsoft has an outstanding track record of making technologies simpler, more enjoyable and more productive for people to use in all areas of their life. This is evident in the software that people use every day, from word processing and creating spreadsheets at work to accessing digital pictures, music and movies over the Internet at home. We intend to apply this expertise and vision toward wireless networking, to enhance the ways that people work and play.
PressPass: How does this fit in with Microsoft's overall vision for the consumer?
Ringer: Today, the PC is at the center of productivity in most homes. People use it to communicate with friends and family, browse the Internet and track their finances. But consumers want their PCs and their electronics to do more than just the "traditional" tasks; they want to play head-to-head games, talk to and see friends across the country over the Internet, and access and play their music from any PC in the house. That's where the Microsoft wireless networking products come in. They will allow users to access the Internet and their data from all areas of their house - regardless of which computer it's housed on - while adding expanded mobility and the option of putting a PC wherever they want it.
PressPass: Why did you choose the Wi-Fi, what's also known as 802.11b, as the communication standard for these products?
Ringer: Microsoft chose Wi-Fi because it is widely available and affordable today, and it will provide consumers with the best possible experience. Wi-Fi is being adopted broadly, as well, both in the corporate setting and in "hot spots" like coffee shops, airports and hotels. Our use of Wi-Fi will ensure compatibility for our customers so that they can log on to the Internet as they go from the office to a coffee shop, to the airport or to their home.
PressPass: What will differentiate your products from the rest of the wireless networking products on the market?
Ringer: Without sharing any trade secrets, our goal with the product line is to provide customers with an easy way to get their wireless networks up and running, so they can take advantage of all the great benefits a wireless network offers. These products raise the bar for easy setup and maintenance, which will ultimately help transform Wi-Fi from its current status as an early adopter technology to a mainstream one.
PressPass: Security seems to be a big concern when it comes to wireless networking. How are you going to ensure this is a secure solution?
Ringer: Again, we're not going to discuss product details until later this year. But I can tell you that Microsoft is monitoring the security concerns around wireless networking, particularly with regard to WiFi, and we will address these concerns in our products.
What it comes down to is this: Microsoft will deliver a line of wireless networking products that are very secure and that also perform well for our customers in the home, home office and small office.
Shareware - $10-$20 depending on OS
This little ditty does something I searched long and hard for. It gives you control over your system's file requesters. In the old Amiga days (sigh) one not only could control the system file requesters, you could replace them altogether! DlgXRSizer allows you to set the size and position of most file requesters and also gives you a few new gadgets to easily pull up most-used directories. A real frustration-saver!
Shareware - $27
TextPad is arguably one of the best text editors on any platform. It's fast, feature-rich and very user-oriented. For most people, Notepad is all they ever need. But for many of us who edit a lot of text or write source code for programs or web pages, TextPad eases the pain in a big way. There are too many features to even start mentioning here but just suffice it to say that everyone I know who uses TextPad LOVES the darn thing.
Shareware - $40
MacroExpress automates just about anything on your PC. It includes a very powerful macro language and recorder that allows you to simulate keystrokes, mouse movements and clicks, execute programs...almost any Windows action you can think of. The latest versions of MacroExpress includes a wonderful little function called "ShortKeys" which lets you program text snips of any length into your keyboard which can be typed-out with just three keystrokes. This is a real time-saver for filling out online forms. MacroExpress is a monster in terms of features and controls, yet it takes very little of your system's RAM or processor load.
Shareware - $10
I am so happy I finally found ZMover. It's a simple little utility that lets you control the size and positions of all your applications' windows. If all applications behaved properly, there would be no need for this program but a few critical apps--like Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Explorer--are notorious about forgetting where you put them. ZMover keeps these apps' windows where they belong and put you back in control.
AVG Free Edition
I've purchased the Norton Avtivirus and the McAffee virus programs but I now run AVG Free Edition on all my machines. The simple truth is that AVG uses less of your systems' RAM and processor and installs cleanly. Plus, the price (FREE) is very agreeable. With the commercial apps, not only do you have to buy the software but you have to pay to subscribe to their virus updates on an annual basis. This is an example of where the free app might actually be better than its commercial counterparts.
Hundreds of programs these days install secret capabilities that are not revealed to the user. Some of these send back personal information, introduce unwanted advertising onto your desktop and may even take over your machine and sell your spare processor cycles to third parties--all this without your knowledge! Ad-Aware scans your system for these applications and gives you an opportunity to delete these pesky and unwanted add-on programs.
IrfanView is one of the most-capable graphic file viewers ever. It supports dozens of common graphic file formats as well as some not-so- common. If you have a digital camera, IrfanView might be the only application you will ever need to view, edit, touch-up and resize your pictures. A favorite feature of mine is the batch processor which allows you to make adjustments to hundreds of pictures at one time very quickly.
TweakUI is the Microsoft Windows tool that Microsoft chooses to release separately from the OS. It is not "supported" by Microsoft which means that if you mess something up or can't figure it out, don't call them--ask your friendly user group expert. TweakUI allows you to more finely control over a hundred different settings in Windows. It's really a wonderful application that I couldn't live without. Too many features to mention here, but if you have Windows and you'd like to make it more friendly, download and install TweakUI today.
Winamp is the best MP3 player available for Windows. Many of you will be perfectly happy with Windows Media Player and it will indeed play your MP3 files, but it's still weak in its user interface, playlist management and add-on feature availability. If you listen to a lot of MP3 files, you should download Winamp. I am not recommending the newest version (3.0) because it appears to still be a little buggy.
Wintidy remembers and restores all of your icons' positions on your desktop. Set your icon positions how you want them, press a button and Wintidy will remember your desktop layout. Next time it gets messed up, run Wintidy and click on the "restore" button and *poof* everything goes back exactly where you put it!
Office, IE lapses put millions in danger of being hacked
SEATTLE, Washington (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. said Thursday that "critical" security lapses in its Office software and Internet Explorer Web browser put tens of millions of users at risk of having their files read and altered by online attackers.
The world's No. 1 software maker said that an attacker, using e-mail or a Web page, could use Internet related parts of Office to run programs, alter data and wipe out the hard drive as well as view file and clipboard contents on a user's system.
Office is a software product that runs on Windows and is used to write documents and crunch numbers.
"Microsoft is committed to keeping customers' information safe, and is providing a patch that eliminates three vulnerabilities in Office Web Components," Microsoft Security Program Manager Christopher Budd said in an e-mail.
In addition, Microsoft reported vulnerabilities in the three latest versions of its dominant Internet Explorer browser software that allows infiltrators to read files.
Microsoft urged users to fix the glitches by downloading software patches from Microsoft's TechNet Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/technet).
"It's important that users get the patch," said Russ Cooper, head of security at TruSecure Corp., a computer security company, and editor of NTBugTraq.
"Typically with these types of issues it will be six to nine months until we see a massive attempt to start exploiting it," Cooper said, adding that a preemptive patch was critical.
Since Office is used by at least 100 million users, the risk of widespread attacks was significant, Cooper said.
Another security headache
The security warnings are the latest headaches for the Redmond, Washington-based software company.
Microsoft, shaken by break-ins to its system and vulnerabilities in its software, launched a "trustworthy computing" campaign earlier this year to improve the security of all of its software.
Since that initiative, which chairman Bill Gates said had cost the company $100 million so far this year, Microsoft has issued at least 30 security bulletins for flaws in its software.
Last week, security experts reported serious flaws in the Internet Explorer browser and a complementary encryption program that could expose credit card and other sensitive information of Internet users.
The Office-related programs vulnerable to attacks include Microsoft Office 2000, Office XP, Money 2002, Money 2003, Project 2002 as well as server software related to such client software, Microsoft said.
Microsoft said it is not aware of any specific security breaches or the amount of any potential damage that might have occurred due to vulnerabilities in its software.
Software giant: Repair available for only newer versions
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Microsoft's flagship word processor has for years had a security flaw that could allow a criminal to steal computer files by "bugging" a document with a hidden code.
The company said it will definitely repair the problem only for owners of the most recent versions of the software. That decision -- still left largely up in the air by Microsoft engineers -- may leave millions of users of Word 97 without a fix. All versions of Word are susceptible to the flaw, but the problem is most severe in Word 97.
"It's incredible to me that Microsoft would turn its back on Word 97 users," said Woody Leonhard, who has written books on Microsoft's Word and Office software. "They bought the package with full faith in Microsoft and its ability to protect them from this kind of exploit."
The attacker sends the victim a bugged document, usually with a request that the document be revised and returned to the sender -- a common form of daily communication. When the document is changed and sent back, the file the attacker wants to steal is attached.
The flaw would most likely occur in the workplace, where Word is the most prominent word processing program. Potential targets for theft are sensitive legal contracts, payroll records or e-mails, either from a hard drive or computer network, depending on the victim's access to files.
Microsoft says an attacker would have to know the exact file name to be stolen and its location. But many critical files -- an address book or saved e-mails, for example -- are usually in obvious or predictable places on every Microsoft Windows computer.
"The issue appears to affect all versions of Microsoft Word," Microsoft said in a statement Thursday in response to questions by The Associated Press. "When the investigation is completed, we will take the action that best serves Microsoft's customers."
Word 97 most susceptible
Word 97, an earlier version of the program, is most susceptible to the attack. Microsoft said it is its policy to no longer repair Word 97, but said the company is still exploring the issue.
A research firm reported in May that about 32 percent of offices have copies of Word 97 running, according to a survey of 1,500 high-tech managers worldwide.
Analyst Laura DiDio of the Yankee Group said companies are taking a risk by using such old software, but Microsoft should correct the problem because of its severity. "These are paying customers," she said.
Word 97 users may be able to get some help from through Microsoft's telephone technical support, company spokesman Casey McGee said. But, referring to Microsoft engineers, McGee said "there's only so far back they can go."
The flaw involving Word 97 was discovered by Alex Gantman of cellular phone company Qualcomm and was released on the Internet last month.
If the intended target uses Word 2000 or 2002, the most recent versions, the attack will only work if the Word document is printed first before the reply is sent to the attacker.
After seeing Gantman's work on a public security e-mail forum, Leonhard found a similar flaw that affects recent Word versions even when a document is not printed. In this case, the stolen file is visible within the document, although the attacker can make it hard to find.
Microsoft suggests users view hidden codes in every document they open. In Word 2002, the latest version, that can be done by selecting tools, options, then checking the "field codes" box. Many companies, however, use such codes for legitimate and harmless purposes.
SAN FRANCISCO--A technology policy think tank is campaigning to win Linux a greater role in government by offering to act as a central repository for a federally certified version of the open-source operating system.
The Cyberspace Policy Institute, established a decade ago at George Washington University, plans to push for Linux to be certified under the Common Criteria, a standard grading of technology required by the United States and other countries before products can be sold into sensitive government applications.
If successful, the initiative would lead to a single, standard version of Linux acceptable to the government, and hence make it easier for Linux companies to compete against Microsoft and other large software makers. Certification costs anywhere from $100,000 to millions of dollars and takes up to five years--Microsoft is just finishing the certification of Windows 2000--but the effort could be a boon for Linux companies.
"The government wants to get open-source certified, but they don't want to certify for any specific vendor," Tony Stanco, senior policy analyst for open-source and e-government at the Cyberspace Policy Institute, said at a panel discussion on promoting Linux to the government.
A single agency administering the certification process for Linux is a must, Stanco said. Otherwise, only a few companies would be able to offer products and the entire community wouldn't benefit from the effort.
"Only one company (Red Hat) has enough money to get certified," he said. "I don't think even United Linux has enough money to get Linux-certified."
The initiative would also add the United States to the list of national governments that are supporting open-source efforts to offer a second option, along with Microsoft software, within federal agencies. On Monday, the British government confirmed that it would consider open-source software alternatives to buying Microsoft applications. And, in June, the German government signed a deal with IBM and Linux vendor SuSE to provide an open-source alternative to Microsoft operating systems. Both China and Taiwan, two nations often at loggerheads, have also dipped their toes into Linux.
A better Linux
Strong support for the open-source operating system within the government came from a surprising quarter in early 2001 with the release of Security-Enhanced Linux from the National Security Agency, which for decades stymied researchers' and technology companies' efforts to create broadly available strong encryption.
SE Linux adds military-strength architecture improvements to Linux, the most obvious security improvement being mandatory access controls, or MACs, based on technology developed by Secure Computing Corp. The Cyberspace Policy Institute plans to also add authentication and key management features to the operating system.
Such technologies make computers much less susceptible to attacks. Mark Westerman, managing partner with network consultant Westcam, installed the SE Linux access controls on a critical server for one of his customers after a common security flaw, known as a buffer overflow, allowed a hacker to take control of the company's server. Westerman configured the access rules but left the buffer overflow unpatched on the server as a test.
When the hacker came back a second time to the server and attempted to gain control of the process, the access controls limited what the attacker could do. Instead of taking control of the computer, the hacker could only crash the service that had the buffer overflow, but did no other damage.
"With the access controls, the customer doesn't have to worry about the next buffer overflow that comes along," said Westerman at a panel discussion at this week's LinuxWorld Conference and Expo. "SE Linux gives you military grade security at open-source cost."
Microsoft vs. the NSA
SE Linux may be the NSA's last direct contribution to open-source security, however. Because of loud criticism, the NSA will have a far less direct role in the creation of more secure versions of open-source software.
"We didn't fully understand the consequences of releasing software under the GPL (General Public License)," said Dick Schafer, deputy director of the NSA. "We received a lot of loud complaints regarding our efforts with SE Linux."
Many complaints criticized the agency for providing the fruits of research to everyone, not just U.S. companies, and thus hurting American business.
While stressing that the agency received a loud chorus of support as well, the chagrined Schafer said that the issue was contentious enough that "we won't be doing anything like that again."
Sources familiar with events said that aggressive Microsoft lobbying efforts have contributed to a halt on any further work. "Microsoft was worried that the NSA's releasing open-source software would compete with American proprietary software," said a source familiar with the complaints against the NSA who asked not to be identified.
Microsoft would not comment directly on its lobbying efforts, but did stress that it wanted to ensure the government continued to fund commercial ventures. "The federal government plays an important role in funding basic software research," said a Microsoft representative. "Our interest is in helping to ensure that the government licenses its research in ways that take into account a stated goal of the U.S. government: to promote commercialization of public research."
The debate over whether the government should fund open source projects has been raging for some time. In July, MITRE, a defense contractor and think tank, released a much-awaited report sponsored by the Department of Defense endorsing the use of open-source software in the government.
"Open source methods and products are well worth considering seriously in a wide range of government applications," the report concluded.
After news of the favorable report leaked out in May, a second report appeared in early June from the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, a newcomer to the open-source debate, calling such software insecure. A press release preceding the report breathlessly announced "open-source software may offer target for terrorists."
Many critics have claimed that Microsoft funded the report, but a Microsoft representative denied that charge, saying that while the software giant does fund the institution, it doesn't fund any specific research.
Despite the intense battle surrounding the open source, the NSA will still fund research on secure operating systems based on Linux as well as work with U.S. companies to create better security in their own operating systems.
Both Red Hat's CEO Matthew Szulik and Chief Technology Officer Michael Tiemann said the company is working with the NSA on security projects, but neither would give details about the initiatives. On Tuesday morning, Tiemann and other technologists from companies including Intel, IBM and Oracle met to discuss the future of Linux in the government, said a source familiar with the meeting.
Through the Composable High Assurance Trusted Systems (CHATS) fund, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an arm of the Department of Defense, funds open-source initiatives that improve security. A year ago, Network Associates received $1.2 million from the CHATS program to create a common set of security features for open-source operating systems.
Apple Computer also will push its own operating system, the Mac OS X, which is based on the open-source Unix variant, FreeBSD, for government certification. Apple and a coalition of 40 government agencies have formed the Secure Trusted Operating System (STOS) consortium to create security features for the base FreeBSD operating system known as Darwin.
Welcome to certification
The road to certification will not be easy, however.
For one, the co-developer of SE Linux, Secure Computing, has indicated that it plans to enforce patent claims on part of the access control technology based on its research and development.
In addition, the Common Criteria process, run jointly by the NSA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology under the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP), is better suited to certify proprietary software coming from a single company. It's ill suited to deal with the myriad updates that the open-source community produces on a regular basis.
"The big issue is how you fit this wild community into the all the little boxes that the government bureaucracy wants," said CPI's Stanco.
NIAP Common Criteria certifications run from Evaluation Assurance Level 1 (EAL), the lowest level, to EAL 7, the highest. The first four levels can be obtained through commercial labs, but the levels 5 through 7 require certification from the NSA themselves.
Because it is Linux's first time through the process, the Cyberspace Policy Institute has modest aims: EAL 2.
"That way we get some validation of open-source security," said Stanco. "Going straight to EAL 4 would be tough."
Shooting for a modest target gives the open-source community time to work out some kinks--not in Linux, but in the government's certification process.
Last week's much-anticipated release of Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar hasn't disappointed - Apple pulled out all the stops in improving and adding to Mac OS X. Despite the $130 upgrade cost, over 100,000 people purchased Jaguar in the first weekend it was available, a number Apple claims is a record for Mac OS sales in a single weekend (though it undoubtedly includes all the pre-orders placed up to that time as well).
We've all heard plenty about the major features of Jaguar so far - iChat, Rendezvous, the system-wide Address Book, etc. - so in this article, I'm instead going to take a quick spin through some of the less-noticeable features that have gladdened our jaded eyes here at TidBITS, plus a couple of installation tips that will save you headaches and disk space. I'm sure we'll continue to discover similar bits about Jaguar; if this article proves popular, we'll continue collecting them for a sequel.
Check Utilities Before Installing
A number of utilities, most notably those that modify system behavior, are not compatible with Jaguar. Be sure to check for updates to those utilities you consider essential before upgrading. This has been a public service announcement, brought to you by the same people who always nag you about backing up before installing a major operating system update.
At the Select Destination step in the Jaguar installer, the default button is Continue, which will put you on a path to upgrading an existing Mac OS X installation. However, reports from the Internet and our own experiences with random application crashes indicate that it's worth the extra effort to do a clean installation, something that Apple has improved immensely since Mac OS 9. Click the Options button, and in the sheet that appears, you're presented with three options: Upgrade Mac OS X (the default), Archive and Install, and Erase and Install. Choose Archive and Install, and click the Preserve Users and Network Settings checkbox below it. Then click OK and continue on with the installation. When the installer is done, you'll have a Previous Systems folder at the top level of your hard disk, and inside that, a Previous System 1 folder that contains all the items the installer didn't merge into the new installation. Check through that folder for items you don't want to delete; it does a pretty good job, though it's not perfect at retaining everything. On TidBITS Talk, Dan Frakes pointed us to an excellent article he wrote for Macworld about particular places to check for files to save. If you're a Unix-head, be sure to inspect the Previous System 1 folder in the Terminal, since directories where you may have been keeping stuff, such as /usr/local, are present but invisible in the Finder. When you're done, you can toss the Previous System 1 folder in the Trash; you can't toast the enclosing Previous Systems folder without some fussing with privileges.
Save Disk Space with Custom Installs
Apple appears to be doing an excellent job with localizing Mac OS X and applications so people in at least some other countries can use the Mac in their own language. But is there any point in installing localized files if you don't read those languages? Plus, Apple installs numerous printer drivers you likely don't need. You can save a boatload of disk space by not installing all of these extras, but you have to pay attention, since Easy Install gives you everything, and it's too easy to start the installation without realizing. In the Jaguar installer's Installation Type step, click the Customize button, and deselect the appropriate checkboxes. One note: I failed to do this on my first installation (for a variety of testing purposes, I restored from my backup and reinstalled Jaguar - I _strongly_ recommend a pre-Jaguar backup), and I couldn't find a safe way to remove these items after the fact; a tip I found about deleting all the .lproj files via a complex Unix command looked as though it was going to delete far more than was safe.
Privilege Fixing Disk Utility in Installer
In the event of trouble, it's always worth running the First Aid component of Apple's Disk Utility. But it won't check the startup disk, which can be annoying. Work around this by booting from the Jaguar installation CD (Install Disc 1 - yes, that's right, Jaguar comes on two CDs, or three, if you count the Developer Tools). Choose Open Disk Utility from the Installer application menu at any point, and you'll see that not only can you perform the usual tasks, but also that Disk Utility's First Aid component can now verify and repair privileges (which it calls "disk permissions," a surprising lapse for Apple, which almost universally uses the term "privileges"). I suspect this code comes from Apple's recently released Repair Privileges utility (now at version 1.1, in case you previously downloaded the 1.0 version). Interestingly, when I ran Verify Disk Permissions on my brand new Jaguar installation, it found two errors in folders I couldn't have touched. (Two other notes about functions available in the installer: You can reset your password from the Installer application menu, if necessary, but the Terminal menu item was never available for me for unknown reasons.)
Adieu Happy Mac
As has been reported elsewhere, Jaguar replaces the 18-year-old happy Mac startup icon with a gray Apple logo. I'm not particularly surprised; as much as everyone was accustomed to the happy Mac, it didn't fit in with the graphical look Apple has taken such pains to present with Mac OS X and new hardware. It's not as though any Macintosh has even looked like the happy Mac for years, and the new look doesn't presuppose any particular hardware design. Plus, Apple could easily change the color of the Apple logo in the future - I wonder why they didn't fill it with rendered jaguar fur. The other question is if the sad Mac, whose presence announces the ominous news of hardware failure, is still around, or if it's been replaced by a rotting Apple logo with a worm crawling out. Probably not.
Tired of Logging In?
Many people have complained about having to provide their passwords to installers in Mac OS X. I'll happily enter a password instead of being forced to reboot, as in Mac OS 9, but the frequent password prompts are annoying. Luckily, you can turn them into reminders by making your password blank. You can't do this with the Change Password button in Jaguar's new My Account preference pane (where it claims your password must be at least four characters long), but you can do it by editing your user in the Accounts preference pane (it used to be called Users). Once you've set your password to blank, you can dismiss password dialogs merely by pressing Return. Needless to say, a blank password is a huge gaping security hole with razor sharp edges, so consider yourself forewarned. I wouldn't recommend doing this on a machine that's always accessible from the Internet, and I'd reset a password on a laptop before leaving home in case it was stolen.
Energy Saver Returns
The options in the Mac OS X Energy Saver preference pane have never matched up to those in Mac OS 9's Energy Saver control panel. But with Jaguar, much of that control is back, so you can set different options for when your PowerBook or iBook is running on battery power or is plugged into the power adapter, and there's a checkbox that claims to reduce the processor speed. Four different presets give you canned choices for Highest Performance, Longest Battery Life, DVD Playback, and Presentations, the first two of which provide the same settings whether or not the laptop is plugged in. Personally, I'll be setting my iBook to save power when using battery, and provide optimal performance when plugged in. It's too soon to tell just how well this additional control will help increase the battery life of laptops on the road, but any improvement will be welcome. One addition I'd like to see - an option to lower the screen brightness automatically when using battery power, since my experience is that's one of the major consumers of precious electricity.
Hidden away in Jaguar's General preference pane is a new pop-up menu that lets you configure Mac OS X's font smoothing style. It's worth checking this out, since the default setting may not be ideal for your monitor (my iBook defaulted to "Standard - best for CRT" for instance), and everyone has different visual preferences.
FTP in the Finder: Keep Trying, Apple
Jaguar is growling at another class of software - FTP clients. That's because you can now mount FTP servers as disks in the Finder, just like any other network volume. Just type a full FTP URL like the one below into the Connect to Server dialog (access it from the Go menu, or type Command-K) and click Connect. If a username and password are necessary, the Finder will prompt for them. Unfortunately, in our testing, Jaguar can only get read access to FTP servers, even if you add your userid and password to the FTP URL. Worse yet, several of us have managed to lock up Jaguar completely using this feature, so be careful. Finally, Jaguar's Finder FTP client doesn't appear to work at all with Peter Lewis's elderly NetPresenz FTP server, which is undoubtedly still in wide use on older Mac servers. I'd recommend keeping your favorite FTP client around for a while.
In the Red with Force Quit
Two new tweaks related to forcing applications to quit have appeared with Jaguar. First off, if an application isn't responding, it appears in red in the Force Quit Applications window (accessible from the Apple menu or by typing Command-Option-Escape). It's a nice touch that simplifies identifying the application you want to quit. Second, if an application isn't responding, Control-clicking its icon in the Dock presents a menu with Force Quit instead of Quit; previously, you had to hold down Option while clicking the Dock icon to get to the Force Quit menu item. One final tip that works in previous versions of Mac OS X as well: after you've forced an application to quit via the Force Quit Applications window, you can close the window quickly by pressing Escape - it's easier than clicking the tiny close window control.
Classic appears to work basically the same as it has in the past (though it will likely prompt you to let it update some items in your System Folder), with three notable changes. It launches faster, a new Memory/Versions tab in the Classic preference pane shows you the memory usage for each Classic application (plus background processes), and you can now set an option in the Classic preference pane to let you approve each launch. No more watching Classic load when you didn't even mean to launch it. (Classic isn't a serious CPU hog as long as there aren't any Classic applications running, but if there are, it can eat a hefty percentage of your CPU cycles.) Another piggy application is Microsoft Word X, which munches CPU cycles whenever it has open documents, so if you're not using a Word document, close it to make extra CPU cycles available to other applications. You can see what's happening by using Jaguar's improved Process Viewer utility, which now shows proper names for Carbon applications, thus eliminating the need to use the "top -u" command in the Terminal.
Window Layering Improved for Eudora
Possibly my favorite change in Jaguar is a fix for one of Mac OS X's window layering problems. In Eudora, if you Command-click a URL, it opens in a new browser window in the background, a fabulous feature I use many times a day. Or rather, a feature I used to use, since a bug in Mac OS X resulted in a background window being drawn over all of Eudora's windows, forcing me to switch processes manually to layer the windows properly again. In Jaguar, this feature of Eudora works correctly again. (If you're reading this using Eudora and Command-clicking doesn't open browser windows in the background for you, double-click the URL below and accept the prompt; otherwise, you can copy and paste the URL into a Eudora message, then double-click it. For more information on x-eudora-setting URLs and a full list of them for Eudora 5.1.1, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
< x-eudora-setting:258=y >
That said, Eudora can have problems downloading graphics in HTML messages when QuickTime 6 is installed, as it must be in Jaguar. If you experience crashes in Eudora while downloading graphics, turn off automatic downloading of HTML graphics in the Fonts & Display settings panel and resist the urge to download them manually. Qualcomm knows about the bug and is trying to fix it.
Just Find It!
I've never been a fan of Sherlock. It provided a slow and clumsy interface for finding files, and I always found its channels harder to use than just going to the appropriate Web site or search engine. I'm reserving judgement on Sherlock 3, which is similar to the more-capable Watson, but the excellent news is that Jaguar gives us back the old Find utility for finding files. It's simple, focused, and sprightly, plus it can have multiple results windows. Multiple criteria are available, and it can limit searches to Everywhere, Local disks, Home, and Specific places (which you can add by dragging folders in from the Finder). Find is available from the Finder's File menu; you can also of course type Command-F to activate it.
I also like the new Search field in Finder window toolbars, which enables you to search the contents of the currently selected folder, and all its sub-folders. However, it only shows up as a field only if the toolbar is set to display either Icons & Text or just Icons - if you've set toolbars to show only Text, you get a Search button that launches the Find utility. To change the display style, select Customize Toolbar from the Finder's View menu, and adjust the Show pop-up menu.
Sharing is Good
With Jaguar, Apple has significantly beefed up the Sharing preference pane, which previously let you start and stop file sharing, personal Web sharing, FTP access, remote login, and reception of remote Apple Events. All that is still available, but Apple has added Windows File Sharing (via SMB) and Printer Sharing for sharing all the printers your Mac can see. One tip: To share printers with Mac OS 9 machines, Apple claims you'll need to use Printer Sharing under Classic - setting it up in Jaguar won't work. Two other tabs in the Sharing preference pane let you configure Mac OS X's built-in firewall and Internet sharing, better known by its previous name, Software Base Station. Both offer only basic configurations, but they should suffice for most people (and if you need more from your firewall, check out the $25 shareware Brickhouse).
Get Info Returns
Mac OS X's Show Info window has long been an annoyance, thanks to its refusal to let you open more than one instance of the window (making it hard to compare multiple files). Also bothersome was the pop-up menu you had to use to switch among the five different informational panels. Jaguar takes a swipe at Show Info, renaming it Get Info, restoring our ability to open multiple info windows to compare files, and giving the Get Info window five different disclosure triangles so you can show only the informational panels that interest you. However, it works a bit differently from the way Get Info worked in Mac OS 9. When multiple items are selected, Mac OS 9 would open a Get Info window for each one, whereas Jaguar opens a single Get Info window with combined information. To compare files, you must open a Get Info window for each one individually.
PayBITS: Did these tips save you hours of unnecessary work? Show your appreciation to Adam with a few bucks via PayPal. http://www.paypal.com/xclick/business=ace%40tidbits.com Read more about PayBITS: http://www.tidbits.com/paybits/
Notes about upgrading to Jaguar from 10.1 - a couple of gotchas.
On the whole, running Jaguar as an "upgrade" is just fine. It works. If folks are in love with certain utilities, however, they may wish to wait to do certain upgrades until their authors release 10.2 versions. Mainly effected are the preference panes. So if you use ASM 2 for application switching, or TinkerTool, these don't work. If you rely on them, you may wish to wait.
Some nice improvements in Jaguar, however, make missing TinkerTool temporarily OK. If you work with Terminal, the new Windows Settings allows you to adjust transparency. Just remember to press "use as default settings" after you've made any adjustments.
As for horrors, and why waiting for updated 10.2 shareware may be a good idea: an attempt to install the the version of TinkerTool released for the Jaguar Developer release version (comparable to the commercial release) wiped out my system, requiring a complete reinstall. It was nasty: the system would reboot, but no GUI would be available.
This is a reminder to make a back up of your boot partition using a tool like Carbon Copy Cloner, unless you're comfortable with the ditto -rsrc command in a Terminal window - you need to catch all the invisible files in your directories. There are also utilities to make those invisible files visible.
[Frankly, I think having a full backup before installing something as major as Jaguar is a necessity. Personally, I plan to add to my normal tape backup with a Retrospect-driven file backup to an external FireWire drive, making a quick reversion easy if necessary. As far as the comments below go, I'll be breaking replies about specific features into their own threads unless they're equally short and general. -Adam]
Speed increases are noticeable particularly on G3s. For G4s it seems launch times for applications are reduced. It seems most of the horsepower is in the more hidden features, like better integrated networking from Rendezvous, and improved dev tools like gcc3.
The dock also has a few nice touches: documents when minimized carry the tag of the app that created them, so you know a minimized browser window belongs to Explorer, or Acrobat.
You can't colorize folders, and spring loaded folders only works when you're dragging content into a folder.
The spinning rainbow cursor now looks more like a swirling beach ball (slightly flattened). Also, gone on startup is the icon of the classic Mac box; gone, too, are the smiley faces of Mac OS 9. instead, one sees a grey apple with a kind of spoked wheel circling as the system loads. This circling spoke thing also shows up while waiting for many Finder processes, like Find to run. Haven't figured out why the beachball appears for some cases and the spoke thing for others.
Speaking of Find
The new "find" command is now separate from Sherlock. It brings back some of the flexibility of the pre OS Sherlock functionality, such as making it easy to add criteria to a current search request. It's also added a type of boolean form (like Eudora's search) so that you can say look for files with This and This in the title and Created TODAY (or whenever). The only disappointment here is that if you wish to look in a set of specific partitions, the window showing those partitions/drives is not resizable, forcing you to scroll to find the drives you want.
The search field that shows up for the current folder, a la iTunes, is quite nice: it lets you restrict a search to just that folder. It also lets you keep the results of multiple searches. However, making Find come to the front is not easy unless you deliberately select the Finder in the dock, since Find does not show up as a separate application.
The new Sherlock is strikingly like Watson, except with fewer channels currently. (Did apple license anything from Watson, or did it not have to because of the Channels format being used?)
[My impression is that Sherlock 3 and Watson were developed independently, but Watson came out much sooner because it wasn't tied to an OS release. -Adam]
Also, Apple's Sherlock area on the OS X web site advertises a "news" channel. There's none in the list of available channels in this version of the OS. Wonder if that's just a regional thing.
Handwriting is available if you have a Wacom tablet, however, it's more like hand printing. There seems to be no obvious way to train Inkwell with one's handwriting which makes the application not entirely useful. This seems surprising, since one of the necessities of Newton, from which Inkwell inherits, was the ability to train the handwriting system.
It's a relatively painless upgrade, again, as long as you don't rely on certain third party utilities which may not either work, or may be even less graceful in how they fail if you try them.
Is it worth it? if you don't have a huge developer need or networking need, and you're happy with what you have, you may want to wait to upgrade until a few more third party apps come on line as 10.2 compliant. Perhaps by that time, iCal will also be available.
From: "Phil A. Lefebvre" (email@example.com)
I just installed OS X 10.2.
It took something like an hour to do all it had to do, but when it finished up and restarted everything came up perfectly; nothing overwritten or otherwise "eaten." It seems to have passed the acid test, which is to say it didn't obliterate my Internet settings.
I installed it over 10.1.5 on my Beige G3 on Friday. I left for lunch as the installer started, saying it would take about 20 minutes. When I came back 19 minutes later, it had a minute left to install. It took a few minutes to optimize, then a few minutes to restart and install the HP printer drivers from the second disk.
I'm curious if all these hour-plus installs are full (easy?) installs. I chose the optional install and deselected all the foreign languages and all the printer drivers but the HP set. Saved well over half a gig of drive space, went as fast as a full OS 9 install, and the results so far have been flawless.
I found it pretty easy to crash OS X 10.1.x, or at least crash/freeze the Finder and/or Aqua, but so far 10.2 has brushed off everything I've thrown at it. This is by far the most cutting edge I've ever been with a new OS (heck, I had it installed before it was "officially" released!) and I'm pretty impressed with it so far, as a proof of concept anyway. That's because, though I am trying, and it is starting to get close, it is not my main OS yet. There are still a lot of things that are "broken" or MIA compared to OS 9, a lot of my stuff is not yet native for or compatible with OS X, and a show-stopping amount of my OS X-native stuff broke in 10.2. *Sigh* One step forward, one step back.
Last weekend my family and I made the trek up to Chicago to see some sights and on Monday one of them was the Woodfield Mall. I had forgotten at the time it housed one of the Apple Stores that Apple has been opening around the country but when I saw it, I was compelled to check it out.
Let me just start by saying that it does grab your attention when you walk by it. It makes a certain fashion statement in how it contrasts with the surroundings. As I walked in at around 11am I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by one of the employees there who was very friendly yet not overly aggressive in driving off customers in trying to make a sale. I made a round through the store for a semi-quick glimpse and noticed some things.
1. The employees were all very helpful, kind, and polite. I'm usually pretty critical of anyone doing sales because frankly most come across as being "too" aggressive to make a sale.
2. They had a small table with crt imacs setup with children's software available on them. My oldest daughter just loved sitting on seats that were her height and getting to use these computers. Nice win there in my opinion.
3. There was a decent selection of popular software. I didn't really notice a lot of 3rd party hardware but I actually didn't get to look that closely at everything.
4. There were quite a few people shopping in there. Granted it was a holiday but I was still surprised to find about 2 dozen people in there checking things out. There were definitely more there than many of the other stores on the mall when we made our rounds. I don't know that anyone was buying much of anything since I didn't hang around that long but I was surprised nonetheless.
5. The place is huge!!! This may be the single-most issue I could criticize negatively about the store. They better be bringing in some cash because they have a location close to the center of the mall that can't be cheap and then you throw in a large store that really could be cut in half with the amount of stuff in there. I will add that they had some equipment in the back setup in an area that appears to be for presentations...maybe training? If that somehow is being used for something like training, maybe that will provide the cash needed. Honestly the store almost looked bare because of the size.
That sums it up for the most part. I was sure eyeing those iBooks and Powerbooks. I played briefly with Mac OS X 10.2 on a dual 867Mhz system and can say that with the brief use of it, I was impressed with how smooth it felt in comparison to a WinXP system with a P4 2.1Ghz CPU and other features being close to similar. Not looking to say that it's faster but that it just felt smoother.
The size of the store still boggles my mind. Maybe it's a fashion thing? Maybe they're planning on growth into other markets where they can sell those products there? Maybe it's just stupidity? Could be...I don't know and I won't make that call yet.
I would like to have hung around there longer just to play and maybe ask a few questions but my wife and youngest one were not exactly being the most patient. I've heard that one is opening in Indianapolis so that might be another chance to check one out if I get so inclined.
Greetings to one and all:
I would first like to thank all of those that I had the chance to meet in Sacramento. While a short trip it was indeed great fun and real delight meeting with all of you and hearing not only the encouraging words, but also sharing in your concerns, desires, and dreams. We are looking forward to deliver on what we discussed with you.
When we purchased Amiga from Gateway there were many out there who said that we would fail. There were many out there who have worked against our efforts, and others that have misrepresented fact and manipulated privileged information in order to further their obviously self serving goals. There have been those who have wronged us, and caused us damage.
But, guess what? We are still here! We are still delivering! We are going to stay here! Amiga is about people, technology, excellence, we are a most tenacious people, and we have the community to prove it. Has it always gone according to plan? no. Have we made some adjustments to the plan? yes. Are we delivering on the plan? yes. Will we allow others to dictate our future? Absolutely not. Period.
Because of you, the Amiga dream lives, because of you, Amiga's are still being used throughout the world performing amazing tasks and activities, and because of you, we are still here and moving forward.
Amiga is a giant resting for the day of the fight, and gaining strength quietly, for, as we embark on this mission together, nothing will tear us apart.
Thank you once again for supporting us, and showing to the world that what was begun in 1985 was truly only the beginning.
Bill McEwen, and the Amiga Team
Amiga Club Members:
I would also like to take a minute and say a special howdy to all of the club members. It is really encouraging to see all of the activity and input from you with regards to the shirt design and name for the club. The "I am Amiga" name did not go over as well as I had thought, but in the next couple of weeks (after we get the ok from those who already have the name that was selected) we will all have the name and shirt design with which an be happy and proud to wear. Each member will receive their first newsletter in the next two weeks, and there will be all sorts of great announcements and information e, so look forward to it in your inbox.
As a reminder we will be having a new drawing for an Amiga Enabled Cell Phone in September, and we would encourage those of you who have not joined yet, to get in here and do so. We have many plans and activities coming up for the club, and once again for only $ 50.00 you will receive the newsletter, Shirt and other special promotions. The lifetime membership offer has ended, but we would encourage you to be a part of something really exciting as the members will continue to receive special discounts and exclusive programs directed at the membership. We will honor the "$50.00 off" certificate for the next members who join through the end of September, at which point we will hold the draw for the new cell phone.
September 1st, 2002:
As mentioned in Sacramento at AmiWest, we had offered amnesty to those people/companies/entities who have knowingly stolen our IP and used it for their own gains, or who have shipped product knowing that they are illegal had until the end of August in order for them to comply and to get legal.
Now, I am not going to mention names nor am I going to get into a public discourse on what is happening.. But legal action has begun. In the next two weeks papers will be served. We will target one violator at a time with the hope that we will send a very clear signal that this is very serious, will not be permitted and will be stopped.
This is a private action between Amiga Inc, and those who wish to continue in this practice. While we announced publicly our intentions, the actions will be private. I am sure that everyone can understand this and I hope will support this.
Well, the amazing team of Eyetech and Hyperion are doing a great job. Many of you already have in your possession the AmigaOne boards, and many more of you have seen the hardware in action. This is indeed another major leap forward as we near the release of the new hardware and OS 4.0. Eyetech and Alan Redhouse have been doing a great job of keeping everyone informed of the progress, and we look forward to the products release.
Hyperion and the team are making amazing strides here. The screen shots that we all see and the updates from Ben and the people working on it shows great progress. I know that they are working hard with regard to the integration into the AmigaOne, and I for one am looking forward to seeing it all working together, and from what I hear we are not too far off from making that happen. With this stated we have received some more shots of the interface from the OS 4.0 team. You can see the new AmiDock screenshots here.
PDA/Cell Phone Update:
As mentioned in Sacramento the Amiga Anywhere Content Engine and associated content will be shipping on the new Sendo™ SmartPhone™ when it ships. Now, to answer the many e-mails that I have received about the Sendo phone…. I do not know when the device will ship commercially; it is out of our hands with regard to when they will have the phone available. I will tell you that before the end of the year we will be making at least two more Cell Phone announcements and at least two more PDA announcements.
We are really starting to move on getting these business deals done and there will be many more opportunities for our developers to create new products for these cutting edge devices.
A Possible New Product Offering - Let me know your thoughts:
In recent dealings with one of our hardware OEM's they offered an opportunity.
This opportunity is for excellent laptop hardware at excellent prices. They would be dual boot systems with Linux/UAE, and Bernie Meyers product (formally known as Amithlon) pre-loaded on the device. Here is a sample of some of the pricing that you could expect, all prices quoted are in US$:
Intel® 1.2GHz 15.0" TFT 20GB Celeron™ 256MB Active Hard DVD Linux/UAE $999 Processor RAM Matrix Drive Drive Ami* Intel® 15.0" 1.6GHz 256MB XGA TFT 20GB DVD/CDRW Linux/UAE Pentium® 4 RAM Active Hard Combo Ami* $1579 Processor Matrix Drive Drive Intel® 1.6GHz 256MB SXGA TFT 30GB DVD/CDRW Linux/UAE Pentium® 4 RAM Active Hard Combo Ami* $1679 Processor Matrix Drive DriveThese examples are notebook computers. There are other options available, but I am trying to find out how many of you would be interested in purchasing these through your local Amiga dealer. Let us know by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. There are also desktops and other configurations but I think that a notebook Amiga would be compelling. Let us know.
The Product Formally Know as Amithlo*:
As mentioned before Bernie Meyers has a wonderful product, and we expected it to be out by now. However there have been a couple of delays, none of these are engineering driven, that has delayed the release. I can tell you that the new product will be out very soon, and will offer some new requested features, and from what I understand is really going to knock your socks off. We will have an update concerning the timing of this release and the new name very shortly. So contrary to what you may have heard, it will be available soon.
This message is an update for you. You have created some of the greatest content that the world has ever known. Your skill sets and your tenacity have overwhelmed many, and everyday you become more and more important to the future.
If you have been sitting on the sidelines I encourage you to jump in. We are getting requests from many of our OEM partners with regard to content that they are looking for on their devices.
While it has been a slow start (as is always the case in developing a market), this next quarter is going to see major movement, and distribution. We have many programs ready to take place for the Holiday season and we want you to be a part of it. So I encourage you to jump in make contact with us. Join us in creating the future.
In closing I wish to thank each and every member of the Amiga family for their support and good wishes in this amazing journey that we have embarked upon together. We are closer today than we were yesterday to the dreams and goals of Amiga. Tomorrow we will be closer again, and soon we can all share in the rewards.
Bill McEwen and the rest of the Amiga Team
In Search of a New Amiga
I don't know if any of you recall or not, but 2 -3 months ago I was asking about suggestions for purchasing an IBM-compatible computer. My most important use was to be for running UAE, but I also was likely to use it somewhat for web browsing. I mentioned at that time that I would report back on what I bought, and how it was working for me. So here is my report.
I did go with the local shop, and have been very pleased with the response to my questions. The PC I bought has the Athlon 1800+ CPU and 256 MB of memory, nVidia TNT graphics card with 64MB of memory, and with both a LiteOn CDRW and a regular 54X CD. It came with monitor (15", despite pleadings from several of you), speakers, keyboard and optical mouse. The OS is W2k. I also received the Corel Wordperfect Office suite and Norton Utilities + ant-virus. I paid $800.
The hardware has been flawless. Probably my only unhappiness is the fan noise -- I guess I've been around the Amiga too long. Windows2000 is very good. After having struggled with W98 for years, I can't believe how much better W2k is -- I have had no crashes, and it recognizes all of the hardware. It still feels somewhat unresponsive and numb compared to AmigaOS, and I still don't understand where the files are placed, but it really is a huge step up from 98. If any of you are still using 98 or ME, do yourself a favor and replace it with W2k. So, I have to say that I consider my purchase to have been a complete success.
If you recall, I was also interested in web browsing (so many sites that AWeb couldn't deal with), so asked about Mozilla. I'm glad I received a favorable response from several of you. I downloaded Mozilla, and find that it is quite good. I've been using it for most of my browsing. I also got the latest version of Eudora, for those times when I do email from Windows.
Now to my main reason for getting the computer, ie running UAE. I purchased Amiga Forever 5 from Merlancia (incidentally Skal, I was only charged once). It installed flawlessly, and it seems to be a significant improvement over version 3 which I bought a couple of years ago. Of course, the problem is separating out the AF5 package from the computer it was installed on -- AF3 was installed on my granddaughters computer, which is a 400mHz Celeron running W98. I copied everything over from my Amiga to the new PC and the setup has gone easily. I've been able to go on-line for email and browsing with AWeb. Most of my software has worked okay, although there have been a couple of unfortunate happenings (more below). Basically, it appears as though by using a more-recent version of UAE and by using a powerful enough computer (and stable enough OS), I've now managed to achieve a satisfactory emulation. It still feels somewhat slow and not quite right, but it is close to giving me an Amiga. It does an adequate job of replacing my dead Amiga.
Now on to a couple of questions:
1. AF5 has version 8.17release3 of UAE. I see that the current release is 8.21release4. Do any of you know if there have been any large changes/improvements? In other words, would it be worthwhile for me to download and install the newer version? Or would I just have problems getting it set up and running, and perhaps some instability? Any suggestions would be welcome.
2. Any suggestions as to some of the best settings. I've been using the RTG display with 16MB of memory devoted to it. 68020+FPU with 2 MB chip, 2MB Fast Ram, 8 MB of Zorro Ram, and then I'm allocating 32 MB to the JIT cache. Oh, and I am emulating the sound. Do all of those appear to be reasonable? Any other suggestions?
3. This is the big question. We have a couple of very favorite card games (Excellent Cards I and II, purchased from Tower Software). Both games are playable, but when we try to quit/exit nothing happens. It appears the only thing I can do at that time is to quit WinUAE altogether. Have any of you had this sort of problem? How do I end one of these games without having to kill the whole emulation? It really is frustrating, and I welcome any ideas.
Addressing Question One:
> 1. AF5 has version 8.17release3 of UAE. I see that the current > release is 8.21release4. Do any of you know if there have been > any large changes/improvements? In other words, would it be worthwhile > for me to download and install the newer version?
From: "James L Boyd" (email@example.com)
I think it's worth going for the new version, though I don't know how it integrates into the Amiga Forever setup. If you can back up your current setup -- copying and pasting the whole folder elsewhere would presumably work -- just try it. The changes are logged on the main page at http://www.winuae.net/ . The current releases are by a new author, but seem very stable here, and have quite a few bug fixes (but note that the changes listed at the top of that page are the *upcoming* changes). Tony Wilen seems like he'll be a really good maintainer of WinUAE.
Saying all that, I'm surprised Cloanto don't have an easy way to upgrade the version of WinUAE installed -- or do they try and keep the fact that it is WinUAE quiet? ;)
Amiga Forever users don't seem to know anything about being able to update it.
From: Donald Feldbruegge (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you for your opinion. As both Alan and yourself have suggested that the new version is worthwhile, I'll download and install it. I had a bad experience when I tried upgrading the WinUAE in version3 of AF, which has made me somewhat cautious. As to the installation, my recollection from 2 years ago was that it presented no problem whatsoever. As a matter of fact in AF5, there are already 2 versions of WinUAE happily residing side by side in the WinUAE folder.
They do provide a link to the WinUAE home page. It didn't appear to me that they were at all secretive about it. Hmm, I also see they have a software update manager. I haven't investigated it. Really, I don't foresee any problem downloading and installing version 8.21release4. My concern is whether it does provide improvements, and without any loss of stability.
From: "Brian E. Doe" (email@example.com)
When you first launch AF5, it brings up a splash screen with a number of options, like loading WinUAE configs or WinFellow configs. Click the "Check for Updates" link near the bottom of the window.
For the record, release 4 works great and solves many issues, especially those with sound. I do occasionally get a "UAE Copper/JIT bug workaround" dialog in Windows (annoying, since it diverts my screen when it happens), but it only seems to happen when the MUI Progress Bar (Gauge class?) is in use, and it's only a minor irritant, nothing more.
From: "Anthony Becker" (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Amiga Forever just puts UAE in a different location (in the \Program Files\Cloanto\Amiga Forever\Emulation\WinUAE directory) so Cloanto could consolidate all the parts of the Amiga Forever package (Roms, Workbench ADFs, Amiga hard disk files, Fellow, etc.).
All you have to do is decompress the latest version of WinUAE then copy it there, or decompress it to that directory rather than it's default.
Addressing Question Two:
> 2. Any suggestions as to some of the best settings. I've been using the > RTG display with 16MB of memory devoted to it. 68020+FPU with > 2 MB chip, 2MB Fast Ram, 8 MB of Zorro Ram, and then I'm allocating > 32 MB to the JIT cache. Oh, and I am emulating the sound. Do all of those > appear to be reasonable? Any other suggestions?
From: "James L Boyd" (email@example.com)
Sounds fine to me (the latest WinUAE does handle sound much better, BTW). I have 32MB graphics memory, but that's really overkill. The only thing I might suggest changing is bumping it up to '040 + FPU emulation -- the emulation is perfectly capable of doing this without any speed loss on a machine such as yours.
Addressing Question Three:
> 3. This is the big question. We have a couple of very favorite card games > (Excellent Cards I and II, purchased from Tower Software). Both games are > playable, but when we try to quit/exit nothing happens.
From: "James L Boyd" (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What do these games do on a real Amiga? Do you run them from Workbench? Are they supposed to exit to Workbench on the real thing? You could try pressing F12 to get the WinUAE GUI up though.
From: Donald Feldbruegge (email@example.com)
They are run from workbench, and they exit to workbench on my A1200s and also did so on the older A2000. They don't seem to be special in any way. They were programmed in England by Tower Software. Both of them contain 5 different card games, ones that my wife and I both enjoy playing. It is possible to play any or all of them on WinUAE, just as on a real Amiga. When one goes to the menu item for quit on a real Amiga, a requester is presented saying "are you sure you want to quit?" When one clicks on the "yes" answer you are back to workbench. When playing them under WinUAE the same requester appears, and the click on "yes" results in a big fat nothing. One is back at the opening screen, showing the 5 card games to choose from -- however, there is no response to any further clicks on the selections nor any response to a menu item. The only thing one can do is to press F12, and ungracefully exit WinUAE from there. It is quite frustrating. There really ought to be some way to kill the game and return to the Workbench.
From: "Brian E. Doe" (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I know it's not a workaround, but it'll save you the ungraceful exit from UAE. Try simply rebooting the Amiga side. CTRL+LWin+RWin should work, just like the traditional three-finger salute on a real Amiga.
I have spent several weeks tweaking WinUAE on my laptop, and it is now my primary Amiga, and is extremely stable. I even have OS3.9 running on it though it was a painful process - CD handling still needs significant improvement), so feel free to hit me up for any help/hints/whatever.
From: Donald Feldbruegge (email@example.com)
Just a brief progress report to let you both know that I installed version 8.21 of WinUAE today. I had no problems with the download or the installation. In regards to James comment about AF users not knowing how to update, the answer is that we (or at least I) do know how to update -- my original question was in regards to whether it was worthwhile.
I do have an answer to that question -- well actually I have 2 answers. First off version 8.21 is definitely slower than version 8.17 was, or else I haven't got it set up properly yet. Secondly, version 8.21 certainly has better compatibility with a "real" Amiga. Those 2 games that wouldn't exit/quit for me now exit back to workbench without any problem. Yay! I'll sacrifice a little speed for things operating right.
It seems every day the prospect of a new and better Amiga draws a little closer, then is delayed a little further, to the point where one wonders if product will ever be delivered and promises kept. One unfortunate truth is that the community of current and former Amiga users that are the most likely to buy something next-generation is extremely small, to the point where it's difficult, if not impossible, to be financially successful even if every member of the Amiga community bought plenty of hardware and software. It's no wonder many of these folks are hedging their bets by playing to the Linux community, not to mention Amiga's own multi-platform Amiga DE/Anywhere. The other sad truth is that the community has developed a schism, and loyalties are divided between Amiga and MorphOS over who best embodies the "true spirit of the Amiga." This is evidenced by the wars of words over the message bases in Amiga News Network and other sites, and the dubious and confusing legal contention between the two players don't help matters either. A pittance divided two or three ways might as well be nothing. While I'm very much looking forward to new hardware and operating system from all players -- choice is supposed to be a good thing, after all -- it's hard to imagine the Amiga regaining its spot as a strong alternative platform, or maybe even succeeding at all.
I didn't exactly intend to be a downer this month, but the editorial rants usually take on a life of their own. This one was inspired in part from an article linked from the ANN site, stating that a lot of the wars of loyalties between fans of Amiga, Morph, or what have you have blinded people to what is really important. In the early days, people said the custom hardware design was what made the Amiga great. Nowadays people say the operating system is what makes the Amiga great, though the genuine advantages are more debatable with each revision. The real truth is, people buy computers to do things, possibly creative things, and the machine that shows it can do some things quite well becomes desirable. Most people just want to play games, surf the web, and get some work done at home. Those people will most likely get a PC. In its early days, the Amiga had the hardware and software that made it easy, and inexpensive, to be creative with graphics, sound, music, animation, and multimedia, and play the occasional game or bring some work home. The Video Toaster bolstered that by practically inventing the niche of desktop video, making the creation of your own semi-pro video projects cheap compared to doing the same with other equipment. This was what truly made the Amiga great. But between dumb management decisions and bankruptcies, The Amiga lost its way. In today's world, the closest embodiment of that spirit may be the various Macintosh models. Before you pull out the pitchforks, think about it for a second. It's possible, with little to no additional hardware or software, to shoot a video, edit it on the Mac and burn the project onto a DVD -- not to mention surf the net, mix your own CD's, play a few games, and take a little work home. I could see the Amiga in this position if the spirit that brought us DeluxePaint and the Video Toaster swept the Amiga into its future. I don't know if the Amiga can recapture even a fraction of its original spirit, but I'd love to see. And if it can't, at least I know where to follow a facsimile of that spirit.
August 15, 2002 - The meeting began with President Jim Lewis performing the traditional Introduction of club officers. He then introduced our visitors and new members for the evening.
Mac News: Jack Melby reported that Apple had released their new desktops. All of them have dual processors at 867 MHz, 1 GHz, and 1.25 GHz. They use DDR 133 RAM, have Super Drives (all but low end) and OS 10.2. Jack noted that the next iteration of PowerMacs won't boot OS 9.
The official introduction date for OS 10.2 is August 24th.
It was pointed out, however, that the chip set in the new machines can't take advantage of DDR RAM speed.
Someone really liked the fact that they came with two optical drive bays internally. Matt Skaj said, "The four slots on the front of the new Macs are quarter slots for .mac service."
George Krumins mentioned that the new "Family Pack OS X" licensing scheme Apple has come up with to "legally" allow OS X installations on five machines for $199.
PC News: George Krumins brought up the subject of the SSL hole in the Windows OS.
Memory prices have dropped recently.
Hard drive prices have come down nicely. Mike Latinovich talked about his new one.
Intel will have a 3 GHz processor by the end of the year.
Mike Latinovich talked about his "Aldi" laptop, which he purchased at the Aldi food store for $1500. Here's what Mike had to say:
"So, Aldi had this circular with the newspapers this past week about laptops. Yeah yeah, I know, Aldi? .. Laptops? ..
Well, what the heck. I got one. It's branded as a "Medion" (a German company), model "M1".
Here are the specs: P4 2.2GHz, 15" TFT LCD (1024x768), 512MB DDR RAM (Siemens), IBM 40GB hard drive, ATI 32MB Radeon (the laptop version), 8x DVD/ 8x8x24 CD- RW combo drive, floppy, 10/100 ethernet, 56k modem, usb (*2), 1* serial, 1* parallel, SVGA out, S-Video out, mic in, headphone/speaker out, 2x PCMCIA (cardbus? dunno), on-board audio (and speakers), touchpad 'mouse'.
It also has WinXP (Home), MS Works Suite 2002, Norton AV 2002, PowerDVD 4, Nero (188.8.131.52), AOL (ha ha, of course!).
All for US$1499. Seems pretty good, so far. There were two dead pixels on the first one I got, so I got another that had one dead pixel. Third one was charm.
Performance seems to be pretty sweet so far. While I haven't loaded up any games onto it (yet), the stock MS OpenGL screensavers freakin FLY!. Boot up times are very reasonable for a laptop; noise of the hard disc access is acceptably low. Enough to not be annoying for myself. The fan for the CPU (when it kicks on) can definitely be heard, but it's also not really annoying.
I'm not sure what else to say. It's got a 1 year warranty and all that jazz. Hopefully, I won't have to bother with that, but at the price, it's hard to beat for the things it's got."
However, Mark Morenz was quick to point out the downside of the deal, saying "Yeah, but you have to bag it yourself."
Medion is a small German company, but Kevin Hisel waggishly noted of the laptop "It was endorsed by David Hasselhoff."
Mark Zinzow said the Champaign store sold 11 of their allotted 12 on the first day they had them.
Jack Melby said, "Wait 'til you start typing on it and find out it's got a German keyboard."
Mike took all this crap with good humor. Why not? He got a heck of a deal.
Turning to more PC news, someone reported that Hewlett-Packard had won the desktop contract with Microsoft.
.net and Apache will be compliant.
Linux news: The Linuxworld conference is running this week. Microsoft has a table there.
There was a discussion about Sun and IBM servers.
Boreland has released Delphi version seven.
Mike Latinovich talked about the Optoron chip, a 64-bit processor from AMD.
George Krumins spoke about the XBox Linux project, which lead into a general discussion of game consoles.
Dan Jansen said Dell is going to start selling boxes with FreeDOS on them, which is seen as an end run around Microsoft's OS licensing agreement. He also said that 53% of the organizations currently under license with Microsoft are not in negotiations for their new licensing agreement.
When the floor was opened to general discussion, Jim Mueller talked about Lawrence Lessig and his new book "The Future of Ideas."
He also brought up that some books are freely available from O'Reilly publishing at http://oreilly.com/openbook/ .
Mark Morenz wrote on the Starship II Forums:
I was one of the people who took one of Jim Mueller's free audio CDs of Professor Larry Lessig's speech on "Free Culture" at the last meeting.
A short 3-page transcript of this speech can be found here...
If you're concerned about regulations and misuse of new technologies taking away our freedoms to give, trade, or sell *what we've already bought* then it's worth a quick read.
"got a match?"
"yes. talk to my lawyer about purchasing a fire license..."
Richard Rollins talked about his 377 KB downloads on his new cable modem connection. The Tornadonet line-of-sight wireless Internet connection was discussed. It's a 3 MB connection. Richard talked more connection rate figures.
Kevin Hisel recommended http://www.practicallynetworked.com/ as a great place for info on routers and networking. He also suggested http://www.speedguide.net/ .
Kevin later posted this to the Starship II Forums:
The Data-Transfer-Rate Conversion Table Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2002 9:41 pm
I was going to send this to Rich since he has run into the same trouble we all do trying to interpret the various throughput ratings in kbps, KB/s etc.
The Data-Transfer-Rate Conversion Table
For Rich, you'll be happy to see that you are "off the chart" since it really only goes up to T1 speed. Insight cable Internet service offers a 3.0Mbps (about 350KB/s) down connection and about 128Kbps (about 16KB/s) up connection.
Emil Cobb talked about XPod.
This evening's guest speaker was Matthew Klahn from CodeTek Studios. CodeTek is located right here in Urbana. Matt is one of the principle programmers of Codetek's Virtual Desktop for the Macintosh. Virtual Desktop allows the user to set up as many desktops as he would like. Actually there has been an arbitrary limit set at 100 separate desktops, but you'll run out of memory and ideas for them before you ever hit that limit.
Matt began his demo by showing us how to access the virtual desktops you can create. They are reached via "The Pager" or menu. The Pager is a grid like icon that resides on your desktop. The Pager is "skinnable," so you can choose a look that suits you. From the Pager, just by clicking on one of the segments of the grid, you can jump to the desktop each one represents. Each desktop is fully customizable within itself. The number of options was positively dizzying. If you like to tinker, you can spend an eon setting things up just the way you want them.
Matt then ran through the Preference pane and their pager. Both of these items appear on all the desktops you create. They're you link between your multiple workspaces.
One of the nice things about navigating from one desktop to another is thew ability to scroll your mouse off the screen to the left or the rights and moving into the adjacent workspace. You can also use hotkeys to navigate your way around if you prefer the keyboard approach to things. Being an old Amiga hand, I was beginning to see visions of Amiga-N and Amiga-M running through my mind.
Matt informed us that version 1.4.1 of Virtual Desktop was released today. How hot off the presses is that? As one of Virtual Desktop's programmers, Matt gave us a real behind the scenes feel for the program. He gave us a little background information on his experience and familiarity with various programming languages. He raved about the efficiency and utility of Cocoa for a programmer. He said he has never been so productive in any other language. He highly recommended Aaron Hillegass's book "Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X" for programming in Cocoa.
Returning to Virtual Desktop, Matt said the application costs $20, after that all upgrades are free. He said this is a company policy: not to continually hit up their users with continual charges as certain other software companies do.
He then spoke a little about his company. CodeTek Studios, Inc. as a company is 10 months old. It is comprised of seven people. There are two Mac programmers, two Windows programmers, the President, the web guy, and one other (sorry, missed his function). CodeTek is a shareware company: you can download their software from their web site at http://www.codetek.com . The company is physically located near the Federal Express offices, at 1910 N. Federal Dr., Suite 135 in Urbana, IL. 61801 . They can be reached by phone at 217-367-5411 or toll free at 1-866-9CodeTek or 1-866-926-3383 , or by fax at 217-367-5481.
When the discussion on Virtual Desktop opened up, Harold Ravlin made the point that he liked its "focus follows mouse."
Matt then showed the DockExtender application. It is currently $10, but will be going up to $20 when it goes to version three. It has the same "free upgrade" policy. DockExtender gives you the option of up to 10 Dock configurations and up to 10 docklings.
In the discussion that followed the presentations, someone said Virtual Desktop ought to be picked up by Apple and incorporated into the Mac OS. Matt Skaj made note of the fact that there is precedent for that as both iCal and iSync are Windows applications by Brown Bear.
All in all, the applications shown this evening are well worth investigating.
The August meeting of the CUCUG executive board took place on Tuesday, August 20, 2002, 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, Richard Rollins, Kris Klindworth, Jim Huls, Rich Hall, Kevin Hopkins,and Kevin Hisel.
Jim Lewis: Jim said, "Dan Jansen did an excellent job on the Linux SIG. The WinSIG portion went better than I thought it would. Attendance was great. Overall, it went pretty well." There was a discussion about room logistics. Jim continued by saying, "We need ideas for the WinSIG next month."
Kevin Hisel talked about avenues for promoting the group. He informed everyone about some products for review he had a line on. Emil will demo the Stomp software for the Mac. Jim Lewis said he would do the PC version. We'll do a joint meeting next time [obviously later amended].
Emil Cobb: Emil reported that we had 29 attendees at the last meeting.
Richard Rollins: Richard talked about the Vegas Video software he had just gotten for editing video and making VCDs. He said he may do a demo of it at a later meeting. He said he had been using MGI Video Wave for a long time for that purpose. Perhaps, he will do a comparison demo, he mused.
There was talk about Tornadonet again. During the discussion Jim noted that 1K/second is 2/3 of a T1.
Richard let us know that founding President Steve Gast's son Charlie has gotten a job at Maxim, the game manufacturer.
Kris Klindworth: Kris said he was sorry he missed the meeting. He noted that John Ross reported back good things. He was also sorry he missed the PC SIG's firewalling discussion. Next month, Kris concluded, the Linux SIG will be finishing up their discussion of computer security. He said they would address Point to Point tunneling with SSH.
Jim Huls: Jim said, "It was all cool. The Linux SIG was cool. The WinSIG was good. The partitioning was not overly technical."
The discussion drifted into talk about Mike Latinovich's "Aldi" laptop.
Jim informed us that a new ZIP drive is coming out. It is a 750 MB drive. It reads the ZIP 100 disks, but it won't write them. The consensus was that this product is "Dead On Arrival" when competing with writable CDs, USB drives, smart media and all the rest. The new Zip 750 media costs $15 a disk and the drive costs $169. Its all external, USB 2, and USB powered.
Rich Hall: Treasurer Hall reported that the club's money is in the bank collecting dust. There was a bit of an argument about the cause for our diminished interest income, but with the unprecedented eleven reductions in the interest rate in 2001 and the fact that consumer confidence directly effects two third of the U.S. economy, it is not a mystery to this writer where the source of this withering lies.
Regaining the floor, Rich stated that we had a very interesting Mac SIG. The presenter, Matt Klahn, was very knowledgeable.
Kevin Hopkins: Kevin had nothing to add.
Kevin Hisel: Kevin urged members to use the club forums at http://www.cucug.org/starship/index.php.
He reported that he had signed us up with Microsoft Mindshare.
Kevin reiterated the good deals that can be found at Best Buy.
Here's what Kevin posted on the new "Hot Deals" Forum:
Three Interesting Items at Best Buy Posted: Fri Aug 09, 2002 7:41 pm
Found a few pretty interesting things at Best Buy today. If you've ever bought anything from them, you probably received some 10%-off coupons from them for use this weekend, so this stuff could be had for a nice discount off the prices shown here. No, I do not work for Best Buy.
Samsung 40x12x40 Internal CD-RW Drive: $59.99 after rebate. I've seen some pretty decent reviews about this unit, despite the price point. It has everything you might expect and an 8M buffer.
D-Link Express EtherNetwork 4-Port Cable/DSL Router: $29.99 after rebate. If you want to share a cable-modem or DSL connection this has got to be the most cost-effective solution I've ever seen!
True Seating Lane Pillowsoft Fabric Executive Chair: $129.99. Okay, it's not that cheap but when I sat in this chair, I HAD to get one so I did. It's really comfy and doesn't cut into the back of my knees like my old chair.
Jim Huls posted this on the "Hot Deals" Forum:
Maxtor 7200 40GB - $9.99
Posted: Sun Aug 18, 2002 9:24 pm
The hot deals world is going nuts it seems. Office Depot is offering a Maxtor 7200 40GB harddrive for $89.99. When you figure in the $20 off $75 coupon that is circulating and then the two $30 rebates listed on Office Depot's the final cost is $9.99. Necessary links are listed below.
Link for coupon:
Link for harddrive:
Link for rebates:
Posted: Wed Aug 28, 2002 5:55 pm
Well it's here and it's an ATA133 version. Just have to wait on the rebates now. Even if only one were to make it back, it's still a nice deal for me. Now I just need to get one more to add to the two 40GB drives I now have so I can raid 5 them on my server.
Kevin said, "Check it out." That's http://www.cucug.org/starship/index.php .
Kevin then told everyone about the availability of a free game for Windows, a 200 MB download, called "Army Ops" put out by the U.S. Army. The link to the Army game is http://americasarmy.com/ .
In a discussion about the quality of MP3 files, Kevin said anything compressed with LAME sounds better. LAME normalizes the volume, not by peak volumes, but by the mean volume.
Kevin then related some information about AT&T's new premium service. He said, "In the old days, AT&T Cable customers were getting 3.0 Mbps down and 128 Kbps up when they were with At Home. When At Home went belly-up, AT&T miraculously created their own network in the space of just a few weeks (well, I guess they ARE the telephone company) and trasitioned their broadband customers to the new network at 1.5 Mbps down. So, in the transition, customers lost some download bandwidth. Now, AT&T is offering to up that back to 3.0 Mbps (and 384 Kbps up) for a premium fee ($70- $80/mo.). It's not a bad deal for people who do a lot of downloading (in the REAL world, a 3.0 Mbps pipe would cost about $1,500/month). Lucky us, we Insight customers. We're getting 3.0 Mbps down...cheap!!!!" But AT&T customers? Paying more for what they had before.
This discussion brought up the ubiquitous AOL. Kevin said, "AOL is the same thing as Internet Training Wheels. Its one advantage is that it has access anywhere."
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 http://www.cucug.org/meeting.html . The Illinois Technology Center is also on the web at www.IL-Tech-Ctr.com .
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 621-2343 firstname.lastname@example.org Vice-President: Emil Cobb 398-0149 email@example.com Secretary/Editor: Kevin Hopkins 356-5026 firstname.lastname@example.org Treasurer: Richard Hall 344-8687 email@example.com Corporate Agent: Jim Lewis 621-2343 firstname.lastname@example.org Board Advisor: Richard Rollins 469-2616 Webmaster: Kevin Hisel 406-948-1999 Mac SIG Co-Chair: John Melby 352-3638 email@example.com Mac SIG Co-Chair: Charles Melby-Thompson 352-3638 firstname.lastname@example.org Linux SIG Co-Chair: John Ross 469-0208 email@example.com Linux SIG Co-Chair: Kris Klindworth 239-0097 kris.klindworth@Carle.com
Visit our web site at http://www.cucug.org/, or join in our online forums at http://www.cucug.org/starship/index.php .