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From: rock@warp.Eng.Sun.COM (Bill Petro)
Newsgroups: comp.sys.mac.misc
Subject: MACWORLD Expo Review
Message-ID: <7661@exodus.Eng.Sun.COM>
Date: 8 Feb 91 18:37:27 GMT
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San Francisco MacWorld Expo 1991
review and commentary by Bill Petro

CONTENTS:
- Overview
- What's Hot
- Name Dropping
- Apple Announcements
- Product Reviews


- Overview

MacWorld Expo is the Macintosh Mecca, the winter wonderland for Mac
heads, or as my wife calls it, Disneyland for nerds.  If a show can be
accurately measured by how much literature I brought home, then this
year's show was half last years show.  This year I brought home about
10 pounds of literature, compared to last year's 23 pounds.  Each year
the MacWorld Expo seems to get bigger and better, but mostly
bigger...and perhaps thinner.  This year there were some 60,000
visitors expected at the 4-day January show for the two locations in
San Francisco.  I spent two full days visiting just the exhibits.  I
seem to have gotten through the exhibits faster this year, not because
it was less crowded, but because it was less interesting.  The place
was packed with people, even right after the doors opened the first
day.  And trying to get food during the meal hours was an adventure.
With a wide selection of entrees, either hot dogs or hot dogs, after
waiting in line for more than half an hour, I opted for both.  The
bigger displays were in Moscone Center, the area where exhibitors who
have appeared numerous times in the past get first shot.  The rest were
in Brooks Hall.

The show continues to mature, or at least grows up...or is it just
getting stodgy?  I found very little "wow" factor at the show.  Almost
entirely gone are the days of rampant "gee-whiz" booths, where every
booth has a new and inventive product for the Mac junkie.  Most of the
new and interesting things this year were found at Brooks Hall.  Mac
users are not so much customers as they are cult enthusiasts or
religious converts.  Some call it a cult, but in any case they love
their Mac and want new toys, programs, and utilities for it.  This year
saw an increasing number of big ticket items with price tags up at the
nose-bleed altitude.  With the advent of the high-powered color Mac II
line and its expansion slots, there were a number of video cards,
accelerators, etc.  You saw fewer Fans and more Suits.  However, many
of the booths' personnel wore matching polo-style shirts with their
company's name tastefully emblazoned on their chest.  Another
interesting exception was that all the Apple people at the Apple Altar
in the center of the show at Moscone Center were not wearing three
piece suits, but mod black turtleneck shirts with artsy designs and a
quote on the back from Apple Chairman John Sculley saying that the
company's goal "...is to put Macintosh computers in the hands of as
many people as possible."  The quote was also on the cover of Apple's
annual report.


- What's Hot

-- CD-ROM

This year there were a wealth of interesting products both in new
CD-ROM products and in CD drives, some of which came bundled with
software.

CD-ROM, just as a distribution medium alone offers a number of
advantages over either floppies or tape.  It has much higher capacity
in a smaller volume, and is more error free because each one is
manufactured, rather than magnetically duplicated.  But beyond its use
as a distribution medium, you can execute off it directly, unlike
tape.  And because it is a file system rather than a streamed media
like tape, it can be used as a removable file system.  This makes it
ideal for multimedia uses including text, graphics, and audio.  Apple
has shipped A/UX 2.0 and beta versions of System 7.0 on CD-ROM.  A
number of other companies have seen the benefits of CD-ROM and are
using it for software release.  Sun Microsystems, for example, has
committed to releasing all its software on CD-ROM.

CD-ROM can be a chicken and egg situation.  People don't buy CD-ROM
drives until their are sufficient applications available on them.
Developers are hesitant to release product on CD-ROM until they are
confident that there are enough CD-ROM drives in the installed base.
What helps accelerate the population of CD-ROM drives is the
availability of exciting software products that are only available on
CD-ROM, and take advantage of CD-ROM's unique capabilities.

There are some applications that can sell CD-ROM drives.  Some of those
mentioned below do that, others do not.  The first one is one is an
example of a most compelling reason to buy a CD-ROM drive.

The Voyager Company

While this is not a new product, it has been out for about a year, the
Beethoven Symphony No. 9 CD Companion was one of the first of its
kind.  It combines a five-part HyperCard stack with a commercial audio
recording of Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt conducting the Vienna State Opera
and the Vienna Philharmonic.  Included is a witty commentary by UCLA
music historian Prof.  Robert Winter.  It contains "The Pocket Guide,"
"Beethoven's World," "The Art of Listening," "A Close Reading," and
"The Ninth Game."

This is an example of leveraging CD-ROM technology.  It is not just an
audio CD with text, it is an interactive
listening/music-appreciation/learning experience.  One can see the
score and the structure of the piece.  If you are interested is one
part, you can get a short description of the section and examples of
other parts of the 9th using the same motif.  This is an excellent
way to learn about Beethoven, his history, and music appreciation in
general. Voyager has an AudioStack Toolkit, so you could create the
same kind of experience around another piece of music.  Imagine
creating an interactive experience around "Tommy" by the WHO, as a
study of British class consciousness!

At a price of $99.95 it is not unusual for a CD-ROM, but is a bit steep
for people used to buying audio CD-ROMs.

Warner New Media

Mozart's Magic Flute, Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14,  and the
"coming soon" A German Requiem by Brahms are similar products.  The
Requiem Map provides access to any part of music including themes and
their transformations with in-depth information.  With an illustrated
biographical, historical, and musical notes, you can go on 50 side
journeys.  Other Requiems can be compared with the Requiem Timeline and
there is an explanation of Harmony and Romanticism.

Cosmic Osmo

On a hard disk, this HyperCard game takes up over 4 MB.  My children
love it.  It is an easy to play interactive adventure game with
animation and digitized sound.  With CD-ROM, Activision has been able
to increase the game many times in size and add more places to visit,
more animation, more sound, and games within the game.

Spaceship Warlock

This CD-ROM is new from Mike Saenz, one of the first Macintosh comic
book artist.  Michael used to do work for First Comics, and "Shatter"
was one of the first comic books produced on a Macintosh.  He is also
responsible for MacPlaymate, a program that got the MacWORLD Expo a
visit from the police a few years ago because of the graphic sexuality
portrayed.  Last year he showed Virtual Valerie, a full-color,
full-screen program with sampled sounds and music... all on a CD-ROM.
This year he showed Spaceship Warlock, an interactive movie CD-ROM.
With 256 color 3D interactive animation, you get to lead a pirate crew,
visit distant worlds, lead a planetary raid, traverse uncharted space,
and explore mysterious realms.  What more could you want!

Talking Dictionary

For $199.95, you can get the Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary
on CD-ROM that will talk to you.  The folks at Merriam-Webster got a
professional radio announcer to pronounce over 160,000 entries on this
600 megabyte disc.  It also includes all the graphics that you'd expect
in the printed version and choice of font size.

LingaROM

This disc uses Apple's HyperCard to display a number of HyperGlot
language tutor lessons, including Spanish, Russian, Italian, Japanese,
French, German and Chinese.  With digitized sounds, you can actually
hear the words you're learning.

US History on CD-ROM

This is an example of a product that only takes advantage of a few of
CD-ROM's capabilities: large capacity and limited hypertext links.  One
of the newest products brought over from the PC to the Macintosh is the
US History on CD-ROM ($395), a compilation of 107 books on US history.
Having done my undergraduate and graduate work in history, I couldn't
wait to give it a try.  Of the top of my head I did a search on
Jonathan Edwards, famous preacher, teacher, theologian and Puritan
leader of the American Great Awakening.  Big disappointment!  There was
only one entry, and not only was it not about him, but it was
inaccurate.  There was only a reference to "Aaron Burr, grandson of the
fiery (sic) theologian Jonathan Edwards and son of the first president
of Princeton."  I guess it just goes to show, CD-ROM is a higher
quality media, but it doesn't increase the quality of what you put on
it!  As I said, the product was ported over from the PC and it shows.
There is none of the magic added value that a Macintosh product should
show.  This same deficiency was seen also on the next disc.

New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia

At $395, you can get the 21 volume encyclopedia on CD-ROM.  It offers
Boolean searches and two-and three-word search combinations, as well as
allowing the user to set the specifications to narrow or broaden
searches to articles or paragraphs.  It provides a notebook to store
data while conducting research, bookmarks to save and retrieve
references, and hyper-text links.

CD-ROM drives

This year showed new drives and updates on older drives.  Most of them
seemed to be based on Toshiba or NEC technology.  There was a large
megabooth with several CD-ROM related companies there.  Pioneer was
showing its 6 Disc Changer for under $1000.  One particularly popular
CD-ROM drive seems to be the CD Porta-Drive from CD Technology.  It is
recommended by Lotus and Microsoft for use with their CD-ROM products.
It is one of the smallest, lightest and fastest drives on the market.
List priced at $895 ($595 through mail order catalogs), it is
competitive with Apple's CD-ROM drive list price ($650 educational
price), but it uses a Toshiba drive mechanism, rather than Apple's
SONY.  It has an external power supply and is available with an
optional battery-pack.  It has been upgraded and has now added a pair
of RCA pre-amp jacks  and a busy light.  It comes with discount coupons
for CD-ROM software.

-- Rats

This year saw a variety of new input devices, not just keyboards and
rodents, but some non-traditional beasts.  I have been using a
trackball on my Macintosh for about 4 years now.  I have the
Assimilation Trackball (later acquired by Kensington).  It took me a
few days to get used to it originally, but once I did, I gave up my
mouse and never went back!

Logitech

This Fremont-based company offers both a 3-button mouse and trackball.
MouseMan ($129) has a Control Panel device (cdev) that allows you to
reprogram the additional buttons for other functions in different
applications.  The TrackMan ($149) is a stationary 3-button trackball
that uses a thumb rollerball and the same button reprogramability.
This reprogramming functionality is not unique to Logitech, and is
offered by other manufacturers,  like Kensington - although the
Kensington Trackball requires dipswitch reprogramming. The Logitech
input devices are also available for Sun Microsystems computers.

What I did not see at the show was the new radio controlled mice.
Instead of an infrared device, like the one below, it uses radio waves
that can transmit up to 11 feet away.  They also will come in different
sizes.

Spark International

I asked them if they had had any problem with their name being so close
to "SPARC International."  The person at the booth had never heard of
it.  This company makes a cordless infrared mouse ($170) and trackball
($180).  The trackball seemed rather large and clumsy.

Curtis

Curtis Manufacturing Company sells a number of accessories for the
Mac.  The also produce a trackball that looks rather like a small
bathroom scale, complete with raised bumps.  It has three large buttons
that surround the ball, and offers reprogramming of the keys through a
cdev.

MicroSpeed

While MicroSpeed was not at the show, I think they are the ones to
watch.  They were picked by MacUser Magazine as Honorable Mention in
category of Best Input Device.  Although they've been in the business a
few years, their new ergonomic design and low cost could make a big
splash.  They offer a three button mouse for the Mac, Amiga, and PC.
They also will be offering their new design for Sun Microsystems
computers as well.  The design offers a slanting leading edge, rather
than the raised lip of most trackballs.  Ergonomics and workplace ease
were emphasized by a number of vendors at the show this year.  The
MicroSpeed MacTRAC trackball offers two large buttons on either side of
the ball, and one button above the ball that acts as a click-lock.
While the Macintosh is essentially a one button machine, I am looking
forward to trying this three button tool on my Sun workstation, which
uses a three-button input device.  The MicroSpeed trackball can be
obtained from many mail order companies for around $65, much less
expensively than its competitors.  One difference I notice though, is
that its ball is not set as high as some of the other new trackballs,
meaning that the range of movement is more limited (but the ball is not
going to fall out either).  The Mac Plus version does not offer any
custom Control Panel device to modify the tracking, and you must use
the Mouse cdev that Apple supplies with the Mac.

-- Dynamac

One of the early Macintosh "clones," if you will, was from Dynamac.
They made one of the first portable Macs available.  This year they
introduced the LCDisplay, a thin flat panel display which complements
the new Macintosh LC from Apple.  It is a back-lit 9.5 inch super
doubletwist "page white" LCD display with a 640 by 480 pixel
resolution.  The controller board which fits in the "pizza box" Mac LC
can take a 16 MHz 68030 and a 68882 math coprocessor.  You can even get
a battery powered version.

The Dynamac IIsf is a leather encased portable.  Packed with either a
68020 or a 68030, it comes with an "Unmouse" touchpad pointing device,
an integral microphone, 2-10 MB of memory, 40-120 MB hard disk, and
either a 2400 or 9600 baud FAX modem.  It is priced at close to $5000
dollars and has a 3 hour battery life, or up to 9 hours with an
external battery pack.

-- Mac Upgrades

Apple's long awaited System 7.0 promises virtual memory support, if you
have a Motorola 68030 CPU or a 68020 with a PMMU.  For that reason,
there are lots of upgrades being offered.  There were offerings from
Dove Computer, the MaraThon 030; Daystar 030 upgrades from 25mhz to
50mhz;  and the Magic RailGun 030 upgrades (I think it is required that
you have a capital letter in the middle of the word).

One different approach is offered by Brainstorm.  It accelerates a
simple 68000 by using a 16mhz and re-configures the Macintosh bus to
run at 16mhz.  At less than $250, this is different than the usual
replacement with a 68020 or 68030, and suggests triple graphics
performance and almost the same with calculations due in part to the
acceleration of the Macintosh bus, which most accelerators don't
increase beyond its 8mhz clock rate.

-- The Scramble for RAM

There were lots of SIMM (Single Inline Memory Modules) for sale - right
on the show floor!  It is not that this is like money changers in the
Temple, but it wasn't too long ago that memory was very expensive.
There were booths selling SIMMs in little baggies.  I saw 80ns 1MB
SIMMs for $49 each!  A couple of years ago they were a couple hundred
each.

-- Video Toaster

The most entertaining booth was NewTek's Video Toaster.  They releases
this "revolutionary all-in-one broadcast studio" to Macs by selling it
with a modified Amiga.  How much would you pay?  Don't answer, it's
only $1595.  It is a computer-on-a-card that fits into the video slot
of an Amiga 2000 or 2500 and brings the machine up to full television
color and resolution to perform real-time video manipulation... for
real "desktop television studio."  It is a 4 input production switcher
with digital video effects, 3D animation, character generation, dual
frame buffers, frame grabber, frame store, ChromaFX color processing...
it slices and dices.  What really brought the crowds around though was
a hilarious video by Penn and Teller, showing you how you could use
this product to produce your own really bad music videos.


- Name Dropping

John Sculley

While I was in the Apple Altar, I had a chance to see John Sculley
himself walk by.  I figure that at his salary, for the few seconds I
saw him, I was seeing about $10-15 of his time.

Jean-Louis Gassee

The former heir apparent was walking around the Apple Altar, incognito,
which is French for "without his earing."  When I greeted him in
French, he asked me, "What I was doing now?"  I imagine he though I was
an Apple employee (do all Apple employees speak French?).  I told him,
"I am working for a small computer company called Sun Microsystems,
perhaps you've heard of it?"

Donald Brown

Donald Brown is well respected as the creator of much of CE Software's
software.  He was quite enthusiastic about his products and is very
articulate in expressing his opinions.  He said that he wanted to show
some of his System 7.0 products, but was not able to.  But then he said
that the beta versions are changing so much that perhaps it was just as
well.


- Apple Announcements

Much has been said elsewhere in the way of the recent announcements
from Apple.  I will confine my comments to the implications of just a
few of them.  Notable by its absence was the announcement about the new
laptop from Apple.  Being listed as one of the products to be unveiled
at the show, it was expected that Apple would announce a new smaller
and lighter Mac Portable.  But it didn't happen at this show.  This
gave portable companies like Outbound and Dynamac more opportunity to
show their offerings.  But on to what Apple did announce.

X Window System 2.1 for A/UX

This upgrade to the windowing system offers both X11 and MacX.  X11 is
a native X Window System environment for developers and provides X
programming libraries, X Toolkit intrinsics, and the Athena Widget Set.
It is expected to ship the end of January with an Open Windows version
to ship in 2 months.

X Window System 2.1 for A/UX is for any Mac II or the SE/30 with a
minimum 4 MB memory, 80 MB hard disk, and A/UX 2.0 or later.  The X
Window System 2.1 for A/UX is $350, plus $55 for a right to copy, $200
for the manuals and $4,000 for a full site license.

MacX 1.1

This update to the original MacX offers an X Window System display
server for both the MacOS and Apple's A/UX operating systems.  You can
access X client applications from other computers, including
DECwindows.  This version is compliant with MIT's X Version 11, Release
4 standard and runs on all Macs that have 2MB of memory.  I was told
that it was 10-1000% faster than the previous version of MacX, and is
available as a free upgrade for any one who bought the old version
since version 1.1 was announced.

MacX 1.1 needs a Mac with 2 MB, at least two floppy drives or a hard
disk and Mac System 6.0.4 or later at $300 for MacX for MacOS.  Upgrade
from MacX 1.0 is about $150.

A/UX 2.0.1

Expected to ship at the end of the quarter, this was originally slated
to be just an upgrade to 2.0 to support the Macintosh IIsi.  As usually
happens with system software releases a number feature enhancements
crept in, and 2.0.1 adds some things not seen in 2.0.  Of interest to
me was my favorite shell, tcsh.


- Product Reviews

With hundreds of booths, it was hard to see it all, let alone comment
on it all.  Here are some of the more interesting ones that caught my
eye.

-- Frame

The hot workstation publishing tool, FrameMaker make its debut last
year on the Macintosh.  A powerful, yet easy to use full-featured
document processor, FrameMaker is best known for its prevalence on the
Sun workstation.  FrameMaker 2.1 is now available on the Macintosh.  It
is available for less than $1,000 and supports color.  It is expected
to be available in Open Look for the Sun in the second quarter of this
year, after beta testing in the end of February.

-- Games

Riddler

Threshold Publishing introduces Riddler, a 5 game approach to the same
questions.  It offers an Arcade, Matrix, Risk & Reward, Flash, and
Test.  You can play with 6 different people, and set timeouts and sound
levels.  A color game, it provides a variety of different subjects and
can be used by children who can read.  While it is beyond my 5 year
old, it is (almost) within the reach of my 7 year old.  The "Children"
section offers challenging questions on a variety of topics, with
ecology appearing conspicuously.

It's limitations are noticeable almost immediately.  It is too modal,
having too many screens that come up without asking - like number of
players, high scores, scoring options, etc.  You cannot start the game
without selecting a quiz file, which must be selected via an open
dialog.  This can be too much for a young child.  It could have been
offered as an integrated screen button.  The sound levels and timer
selections cannot be permanently configured, and must be reset each
time the game begins.  Completely unacceptable is the fact that the
game screen does not completely fit into my Mac Plus screen.  The
bottom of some of the buttons are chopped off.

While the copy protection scheme is annoying - you have to type in
something in the manual each time you start the game - it is
forgivable.  What is not is that you cannot save a game.  While this
might upset scoring in the Test mode, not all games are scored the same
way.  You cannot return to a game where you are doing well.

When you answer a question correctly you get a positive response from
the game (reward) and an incorrect answer gives a chide (punishment?).
However , I found the responses to be either mean spirited, or
sarcastic - the things I'd expect to hear on the junior high
playground.  Sample responses to incorrect answers: "Wasting away again
in Ignoramusville," "A mind is such an easy thing to waste."  The
encouragement for correct answers was little better, "In 10 minutes
you'll forget this answer again," "You got it, can I have it too?",
"Pulled THAT one out of thin air, didn't you?".

The interface is interesting and innovative.  Also available is a game
editor, so you can put in your own questions along with your own
imported pictures.  However, it is priced at more than 130% the price
of the original game, which I think is too expensive.  The novelty of
the game could soon wear off, and an easy and inexpensive editor would
make this a game that would be played over and over again.  Indeed, it
could be used as a training tool for school children.

Earthquest

Another product with an ecological slant to it is from Earthquest Inc.
It is really much more than a game, it is HyperCard educational
stackware with a variety of information on earth and its inhabitants.
At $79.95 it contains animation, five interactive games, samples of
languages and music from several countries, and 43 maps.  It has
several charts and tables, and 100 suggestions on how to save the
environment.  The user can look at the information through four views:
Earth, Journey, Environment, and World Tour.  I was a bit disappointed
by its history charts.  In its survey of religions, it shows the birth
of Jesus to be 3 B.C.  This is not likely, as Herod the Great, who
killed all the babies in Bethlehem, died in 4 B.C. and he was very much
alive when Jesus was born.  Most authorities put the date at 4-7 B.C.
When I asked I was told that the person who supplied the information
had found this date in a book.

Tesserae

From Inline Design comes Tesserae, a mosaic game of strategy.
Reminiscent
of Roman mosaic tiles, this deceptively simple game combines colors and
symbols as tiles move over and on top of each other combining or
removing elements.  The object is to be left with only one tile in the
fewest moves.  There are a variety of game layouts of tiles to "jump."
It combines the ease of Checkers with the strategy of Chess, or at
least that's what the developer told me.

Great Wave Software

One of the earlier makers of games for the Mac, Great Wave was showing
off ReadingMaze and NumberMaze.  They even had an upgrade to KidsTime,
one of the better games for young children.  This version supports
color, can be installed on a hard disk, and has configurable puzzles.
Additionally, there is greater control over settings than before.

-- INIT sequencers

With the proliferation of INITs, those nifty little programs that load
at system startup time, there needs to be a way to manage them.
Sometimes the order in which they load is important to their
functioning or conflicting with each other.  They can patch and trap
parts of the operating system, and end up patch each other.  So INIT
managers have become necessary for those who use more than few... I use
31.

INIT Picker from Microseeds was the first popular one, allowing you to
change the order of loading INITs (and cdevs), create "sets" of
different INITs, and disable conflicting INITs.  It is the benchmark
against which competitors are usually matched.  There are a few
however, that are showing some promise.  One area that they show
improvement seems to be speed.  This is probably because INIT Picker
uses a proprietary way of renaming INITs to disable them for example.
Both of the following two contenders rename the resource so the system
will not load them.

StartUp Manager, part of Now Utilities, offers much the same, but adds
a few extra things.  It will wrap the icon display at startup around to
the next line, as you can often have more than one screen-width of
INITs loading.  Also, it allows you to specify the amount of system
heap to reserve AFTER all the INITs have loaded, thereby reducing the
possibility of crashes.

INIT Manager, from Baseline Software is another contender.  While it
does not offer the system heap adjustment yet, it does offer a few
other features.  It can "learn" about new INITs  and allow you to add
them to those installed (enabled).  You can also create "sets" although
the interface is not as simple or elegant as the previous two.  It has
a nice "bomb protection" that notifies you of previously "disabled"
INITs , (for reasons of conflict or other) and allows you to try
again.  It does offer a few features that the others do not.  You can
open INITs and cdevs from folders other than the System Folder.  It can
do some nice analysis of how your INITs  load, much of which can only
be read my a rocket scientist.  A friend of mine though could not get
INIT Manager to work correctly with the Virtual '030 INIT.

-- Thunder 7

Baseline Software has taken the respected spellchecker Thunder II and
upgraded it to Thunder 7.  It works in many word processors, and text
editor DA's, and just about any other application you can think of.  It
has a very simple and uncluttered user interface, an allows you to use
a variety of dictionaries and glossaries.  The glossaries allow you to
automatically have your misspellings corrected by the program.  It has
an interactive mode that checks while you type, as well as a batch
mode.  Corrections are easy to make, and additions can be added to
specialized dictionaries, which can be configured to different
applications.  Thunder now comes with a thesaurus as well, which is
just as easy to access.  The only problem that I have encountered with
it, compared to Thunder II is that it doesn't work correctly with my
version of Vantage DA (version 1.5 and 1.5.1), my favorite text editor
DA.  It flags simple words like "the" as incorrect in interactive mode,
thinking I have typed "teh."

-- Vantage

Preferred Publishers is talking about a 2.0 upgrade to Vantage that I
am looking forward to seeing .  I use Vantage for most of my editing,
and find it to be quite flexible with its multiple windows, macros,
powerful text manipulation and window statistics.  The new version is
purported to support interactive spell checking and macros that work in
the background.  As I had not gotten my upgrade in the mail at the time
of this writing, I could not confirm this.

-- CE Software

This company enjoys a reputation of putting out "must have" software,
including DiskTop, QuickMail, and QuicKeys.  This year, in addition to
a significant upgrade to QuicKeys, QuicKeys 2, they introduced Tiles.
Tiles, coauthored by Marsh Gosnell, is a desktop organizer, project
manager, short cutter, and reminder, among other things.  This could be
the next "Swiss Army Knife" software for the Mac.  It was not available
yet though, and expects to be shipping in the first quarter of 1991.

-- ALSoft

The company known for its pioneering disk defragmenter DiskExpress is
talking about upgrading its DiskExpress II.  There are now other disk
defragmenters and optimizers on the market like S.U.M. II and Norton
Utilities, but DiskExpress II is different.  It works in the background
automatically.  It can log all file activity to ascertain the optimum
file placement priority on the disk and then groups frequently used
files together to increase disk performance.  Other optimizers can
prioritize file placement, but usually by simply placing applications
at the front in a batch process.  DiskExpress II monitors activity in
idle system time and is will instantly interrupt itself when the user
resumes any activity.  After 5 days of studying file usage, it begins
to optimize, in the background.  ALSoft is talking about upgrading the
current 2.04 version with a feature that will allow different
prioritization sectors.  Currently the oldest files will be prioritized
at the "end" of the disk, with newer files placed first and freespace
behind that.  Should you delete one of these older files, rather than a
newer file, there will be freespace in an infrequently accessed section
of the disk, which might not be able to be fully exploited.  The
improved version would split these up.  This is one improvement worth
looking forward to.

-- StuffIt Deluxe

One of the most popular and widely used shareware programs was
StuffIt.  It became the default standard used in private and public
bulletin boards (CompuServe, GEnie) and electronic mail systems for
making files smaller for transmission.  It replaced the earlier PackIt
program and is best recognized by the ".sit" signature that it affixes
to filenames that it has compressed.  This program was written by the
young Raymond Lau, who is now a student at M.I.T.

I got a chance to see Raymond who is now marketing his products through
Aladdin Systems, Inc., of Aptos CA.  The new StuffIt Deluxe, the next
generation of archiving came out last year.  This year, version 2.0 was
demoed.  This year there are more specialized optimizers that improve
compression for specific types of files.  One interesting optimizer is
the JPEG "lossy" compression optimizer.  Lossy is a process that
compresses files by permanently eliminating portions of the file data.
This is acceptable where information would not be diminished by having
small details omitted.  This is frequently the case with certain
graphics files where a bit here or there would not be missed.

Before I had even received version 2.0 in the mail, there was an
upgrade posted to the various on-line services to bring it up to
2.0.1.  Evidently there was a bug which didn't convert 1.5.1 archives
correctly.  The new version included a 23-page "StuffIt Deluxe 2.0
Addendum" explaining the new features.  The new version comes with a
converter tool, to change the old version archives to new ones.  There
are a number of new compression styles, some of which make smaller
archives.  Converting old archives to new ones could save space.  But
it can also take a long time, as it first uncompresses them and them
recompresses them with the new style.  New too is a way to add self
uncompressing code to an archive, so you can distribute it without the
application.  The package comes with extensions to be added to
HyperCard, QuicKeys 2, and White Knight.  This comes in real handy in
White Knight, the telecommunications product.  After downloading an
archive from an on-line service, StuffIt Deluxe will automatically
unStuffIt

StuffIt Deluxe has been loosing market share to some of the other
compressor products.  There are a number of things that should be
considered in evaluating compressor utilities, but I think the most
important ones are speed, size of compressed file, and user interface.
Compactor, a shareware product, makes smaller compressed files, but
it's user interface leaves something to be desired.  And DiskDoubler is
faster and easier to use.

-- DiskDoubler

Following fast on StuffIt Deluxe's heals is DiskDoubler from Salient of
Palo Alto, CA.  It offers a couple of advantages over StuffIt Deluxe.
It preserves the original filenames and revision dates of a compressed
file, where StuffIt Deluxe will change the filename to filename.sit."
It will automatically open a file after it has been expanded, and
launch the application that created the file, even if the application
has been compressed.  And with version 3.1, it has more than just one
generic icon (StuffIt Deluxe has just one).  There are now about 40
different application icons supported.  When a file is compressed, it
can retain its original icon, with a small DD at the lower left
corner.  The interface is wonderfully simple.  It has an INIT that
loads DD in the menu bar.  You just select a file, and pull down the DD
menu to Compress.

DiskDoubler now supports multiple files in a single archive.  It does
not have the ability though to remove a single file from this archive,
as StuffIt Deluxe does (and with a Finder-like interface).  The creator
of DiskDoubler believes that this archive should not be a permanent
situation, although I believe that providing this functionality would
prove to be quite an attractive advantage for this product.
DiskDoubler was sharing the booth with a "lossless" hardware
accelerator called DoubleUp that makes for some blindingly fast
compresses.  Aladdin Software showed me a hardware accelerator as well,
although they are not sure they will market it and have no announcement
date scheduled.  The upgrade from DiskDoubler 2.0 to 3.0 is $15.  The
upgrade from 3.0 to 3.1 is free.

I have been quite impressed with this product.  Apparently Apple was
too, as they obtained a world-wide site license for it.  It is one of
the top selling products from the MacConnection mail order house.  I
had some free time and decided to use this on my hard disk.  With very
little trouble, I was able to reclaim back 11 megabytes of space,
without deleting any files.  And the new version will not only open the
compressed file upon expansion, but will recompress it after you are
done.  It supports extensions to HyperCard, Microphone II, QuicKeys 2,
and HandOff II.

-- WordPerfect Office

Best known for their word processor product, WordPerfect was showing a
suite of office productivity programs.  With Macs becoming increasingly
more often networked with other Macs and PCs, there is a growing need
for these tools.  These include Mail, Calendar, Notebook, File Manager
and Forms Maker.  It was the Calendar program though that caught my
eye.  It is a combination calendar, scheduler, and to-do list.  You can
schedule meetings and reserve rooms and resources with other people on
the network and they are notified electronically.  They can then
confirm their attendance at planned meetings.  With the programs comes
a connection program and gateway software for connection with other
WordPerfect Office platforms.

-- On Technology

The first eagerly awaited product from On Technology, a company
started by Mitch Kapor, was On Location.  Introduced last year, it is a
very powerful search and retrieval program for the Mac Plus and above.
You can search for either filenames or text in files, and does so as
you type, matching as much as you have typed.  This year's offering is
Meeting Maker, a sophisticated networked scheduler.  It is billed as a
"precision scheduling for groups."  Calling it precision scheduling is
like calling a pencil a precision drawing instrument.  When I asked the
demoer, an "Inside Sales Manager" why it was called "precision," he
said he didn't know.  It looked like marketing hype to me.  This is not
to take away from the product, which has some innovative twists to it,
but it is not head and shoulders above it competitors.  It has a clean
interface, and ON seems to have dropped its affectatious NeXT-esque
interface that it sported with On Location.  A nice program, made
better with marketing!

-- WORD Processors

The last word in this review is not about word processors, but a
processor for the Word.

This year's show saw some improvements to the HyperBible from Beacon
Technology.  It places the entire Thompson Chain-reference Bible in a
series of HyperCard stacks.  As such it used to be is very large, 15
megabytes.  One new change is that the Bible text has been removed from
HyperCard and made an external indexed file.  It is now much smaller,
about 9 megabytes and can be searched much more quickly.  I includes a
boolean search builder for rapid searches, with OR and AND logic within
a passage.  It does not offer, however, a proximity search, ie. find
occurrences of "God" within 3 words of "light."  The Thompson
Chain-reference Bible is recognized as one of the very best study
Bibles for the layman.  It has chains that link over 4,000 themes and
8,000 words and phrases through the entire Bible.  This was a printed
version of hypertext before the computer came along and originally took
Dr. Thompson almost 40 years to do by hand.  With the HyperCard links,
this allows you to follow these links with the click of a mouse.
Additionally, there are unique animated maps of the various travels of
Biblical characters and the wealth of other study helps that can only
come with the Thompson Chain-reference Bible.  It is available in
either the King James Version or the New International Version, but not
yet my favorite, the New American Standard Version.


Bill Petro

[ Permission to reprint in newsletters available upon request ]
--
     Bill Petro  {decwrl,hplabs,ucbvax}!sun!Eng!rock
"UNIX for the sake of the kingdom of heaven"  Matthew 19:12