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Expo Report
Volume Number:3
Issue Number:3
Column Tag:Expo Report

Expo Report

By David E. Smith

Award Winner!

MacTutor won two awards recently. Bruce Webster in his According to Webster Byte column named MacTutor as the 1986 Fritzie winner for Best Publication Other than Byte (naturally), in the January '87 issue of Byte magazine. Bruce had lots of good things to say about us so please pick up a copy of Byte and read his nice remarks. On top of the Fritzie award, Redgate's Macintosh Buyer's Guide voted MacTutor one of the top 100 Macintosh products of 1986. The only other two magazines so chosen were MacWorld and Mac User. We were presented a nice award at a fancy party hosted by John Sculley and other Apple and industry big-wigs at the Expo. Our Mona Crompton stood right next to Bill Gates of Microsoft, but was too shy to introduce herself! The MacTutor girls (Mona, Shelley and Laura) were the hit of the party list, at least the parties that had dancing!

Expo Review

The MacWorld Expo held in San Francisco in January was a smashing success and really provided a forum for Apple's John Sculley to tell the world "I told you so" as the number of people and products broke new records for a single computer vendor show. The energy and industry excitement proved that 1987 will be the Year of the Mac. Apple people said more about the new Mac computers without actually mentioning them than I thought possible. This is truly the world's most announced unannounced computer of all time! Sculley also defended the 68000 family as the best decision Apple ever made and he made it clear that Apple and Motorola will continue to work closely together to bring the new -20, -30, and 78000 chips into future Mac hardware, which Apple apparently has planned out well into the 1990's. I believe this show proves we are entering the Golden Age of the Macintosh. Apple even made the cover of Business Week Magazine as the darling of Wallstreet again! Here is my view of the show.

Pagemaker fell from grace as the number one page layout program as version 2.0 was delayed another month while Aldus Corp. brings out the PC version. The current Pagemaker 1.2 remains buggy and crashes when trying to edit large numbers of disjointed text items. It seems that the internal design is based on resources and makes heavy use of the resource manager. This resulted in several versions of the system file as Aldus uncovered bugs in Apple's resource manager. But the resource design apparently still cannot cope with text editing properly and so Aldus has ripped out the resource base and re-designed the text editing in version 2.0 to eliminate the bugs. The new boy on the block is now Ready Set Go 3, from Manhattan Graphics, which has all the features Pagemaker is saving for version 2.0, including the placement of postscript files. Other features of Ready Set Go 3 not yet included in Pagemaker are hyphenation, kerning, and text placement around arbitrarily shapped graphics. The manual for Ready Set Go 3 was written by David Kater, an old school buddy of mine. It is done in the form of a magazine and appears more than adequate.

The politics of desktop publishing were evident at the show as Letraset proved it is a company with money to burn. It seems that Letraset bought the rights to Boston Publishing System's MacPublisher II and planned to introduce a version of it as their own LetraPage software. But when they saw Ready Set Go 3, they decided that product was better so they dumped MacPublisher and bought up the marketing rights to Ready Set Go 3! This left Boston Publishing without a product, so they have taken back the marketing rights and had a small booth at the show advertising MacPublisher III, along with a plea for dealers to make themselves known so they could re-create their customer base. Which still leaves the question of what exactly is Letraset going to do for Ready Set Go 3? Word has it that they will bump up the price from $295 to $395. Will Manhattan Graphics regret the day they sold out? We think so. Stay tuned for more in the continuing saga of Under the Desktop!

Having trouble with your power supply? One solution is to reduce the power drain of the Mac by increasing the memory from one meg to four megs. Does that sound like a contradiction? Dove Computer Corp. has introduced MacSnap Plus 4H simm modules that use low power 1 meg dynamic ram chips which actually lower the total power drain of the Mac because the chips use less power than the present 256K chips in the Mac. Truly a case of "get more for less"! The simm modules simply plug in and replace the present four Mac simm modules in a Mac Plus. This looks like a good way to both upgrade and reduce the margin for error on the touchy Mac analog board. We just paid for our second analog board swap in six months here at MacTutor so you can bet we will be calling: (919) 763-7918.

MacMemory had a cute idea. They advertised the price difference between the Prodigy 68020 upgrade and their own TurboMax 68000 board, which doubles the clock speed from 8 mHz to 16 mHz. They said you could buy Excel (the software) and Excel (the car) for the price of a Prodigy and still have enough left for the TurboMax. They even had a car in their booth to illustrate it! Problem is, the price of the Prodigy was reduced at the show so the ad was no longer true. No problem. They ran over to Jim Fitzsimmon's Mac America booth, and printed out a fine print addition: slightly used Excel (the car). Another cute trick: they had two Macs running from a single mouse so they could show the speed difference with the same programs running on both. It was impressive, but I want a 68020 chip in mine.

Microtek introduced a flat bed scanner that allows books to be scanned much like a copy machine. Model MSF-300 supports half tones and line art at 300 dpi with eight half tone screens producing up to 64 gray levels. The new scanner is a much nicer looking package than the older model MS 300, which looked like the Abatron unit. Also, new Mac software called VersaScan Plus is said to further position the Microtek unit out in front over the Abatron scanner in the battle for scanner supremacy. (213) 321-2121.

Layout Programs

Postscript is replacing Quickdraw as the fundamental graphics definition on the Macintosh and many new postscript based drawing programs were introduced at the show. The advantage of using Postscript is that it speeds up printing on the LaserWriter and allows access to the full power of the printer, which is much greater than that available through Quickdraw. Cricket Draw from Cricket Software was one of the first of these new postscript based draw programs. It allows you to create postscript files from a Mac drawing environment or edit postscript text. With the new Ready Set Go 3 and the not-yet-available Pagemaker 2.0, you can place the postscript output of Cricket Draw in your page layout software. (215) 387-7955.

Another postscript tool is PostHaste from Micro Dynamics, Ltd. This inexpensive utility provides a postscript editor and LaserWriter downloader for Appletalk. (301) 589-6300. (See their ad in this issue.)

LaserPaint from LaserWare is another drawing/editing program that creates postscript output. The drawing portion supports arcs and spirals, filling with screens, custom dashed lines and line widths from hairline to 99 pixel widths. The painting portion has AirBrushing and full resolution Bitmaps up to the limit of the LaserWriter. The text portion supports full leading, kerning, text on any defined path, and runaround text justifying inside or around any picture. Another neat feature is that this program allows full color separations for ad copy work! LaserWare also markets a Laser Font maker called LaserWorks 1.2, which is similar to Fontographer. Unfortunately, it is copy protected. (415) 453-9500.

For the dedicated typesetter, MacTex from FTL Systems may be the most powerful postscript based typesetting software available for the Mac. The kerning, leading and hyphenation are said to be far superior to that available in either Pagemaker or JustText. The program is more traditional but now includes a preview mode that shows what the printed page will look like. This baby is expensive at $750. FTL is located in Toronto, Canada (416) 487-2142.

Adobe has also jumped into the desktop publishing race with it's first user application. The makers of Postscript announced the Adobe Illustrator, a drawing and paint program designed from the ground up around Postscript. What is really exciting about this product is that you can scan documents, then use that scan as a postscript template, and dump the bit map jumbo for a fine art postscript rendition of the scanned image. This should be a must tool for anyone using scanners. (415) 852-0271.

$10,000 Phototypesetter?

One thing missing from all this desktop publishing activity is a low cost phototypesetter. I discussed that problem with the people at the National Association of Desktop Publishers and we agreed that such a product could be built. The specifications we decided on were: 1200 dpi phototypesetter with postscript and Appletalk compatibility for under $10,000 or about one third the cost of the Allied Linotype L-100, which is presently the only Mac phototypesetter available. The postscript RIP is available from Adobe. All we have to do is find a marking engine of that resolution that can stop and start in the middle of a page as information is received from the postscript engine. Anyone wishing to help in the design and/or construction of such a prototype are invited to contact MacTutor at (714) 630-3730 or the NADP at (617) 437-6472.

New Hardware

The hard disk wars are heating up again. The favorite configuration at the show was a 40 meg hard disk with a 40 meg tape unit. Such 40/40 units were introduced by Mirror Technologies and SuperMac Technology. SuperMac is also marketing a stand alone tape unit for those of us who already have Data Frame (or other brand) hard disks. Just last week I was complaining that my 20 meg disk was too full. Now, one week after the show, my 40 meg disk is up to 32 megs! What is a body supposed to do? Anyone make a good reliable 90 meg drive? Now if I can just avoid a fatal crash until the tape units are ready to ship

An alternative to disk and tape is a new bernoulli drive from Bering. Nicknamed Totem, this box is much nicer than the previous bernoulli drives. The removable bernoulli disks look just like Mac disks only bigger. They each hold 20 megs in a 51/4 inch configuration. The most popular configuration will probably be the 20/20 where you get two removable 20 meg bernoulli disks. The only problem with this design is that the ease of backing up will mean you'll want to use lots of bernoulli disks and at $120 per disk, that could quickly cost as much as the drive itself!

If you want to learn about networking, get a hold of the Kinetics catalog. That's right, their catalog of networking products has lots of useful information about the problem of networking computers together. The principle products include solutions to the Appletalk to Ethernet, Appletalk to VAX/ VMS and Appletalk to Unix networks. The VMS solution is provided by Alisa Systems AlisaTalk written by Bob Denny. This is a true file server that turns the VAX machine into a Macintosh disk icon on the desktop. The catalog discusses a number of third party networking products and how they work with the Kinetics FastPath hardware that provides an Appletalk to Ethernet gateway. Considering how little there is on networking in general, this catalog is a great service to anyone needing to connect Mac to the real world of big computers. Call (415) 947-0998.

That does it for the Expo. It was truly the best one yet and really showed that Macintosh has arrived as an accepted product in all areas of the marketplace, especially business. In fact, there were so many three piece suits walking around, you had to pinch yourself to remember this was a Mac show! If only Jim Warren would come back on his roller skates again like the old West Coast Computer Faires. Now those were the days the style of MacTutor was made for!

 

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