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By David E. Smith, Editor & Publisher, MacTutor
Object Oriented Compilers
TML Pascal II Compiler
The most exciting news at Boston this year is the arrival of object oriented compilers from Symantec and TML. Tom Leonard of TML showed off his new TML Pascal II compiler, which is an MPW tool that uses the MPW linker, and compiles object pascal. It also supports MacApp. But the best thing about it is that the low price of $99 includes MPW! This is by far the cheapest way to get into MPW and we expect it will greatly expand the number of MPW users. It includes a custom user-friendly front end called the project manager that Tom added to make MPW more palatable to those of us who think line oriented operating systems are a dirty word. In fact, a lot of interest was expressed in getting Tom to release this project manager as a separate product. It really is much better than Apples brain damaged commando hack. The new TML Pascal II compiler and MPW shell and linker are available from MacTutors mail order store or direct from TML.
Thinks Lightspeed Pascal 2.0
Think has finally announced their long awaited upgrade version 2.0 and this baby is really worth the wait. Like the new TML version, this one also supports object pascal but the full MacApp support will have to wait for the next release. A good friend of mine is working on the MacApp problem so I know its coming, but apparently there is a conflict over the linking order and segmentation of MacApp that may require a change in the way Lightspeeds linker works. Presently, the Lightspeed linker cannot create two different code segments within the same physical source code file. And changing this is a major effort. However, the sentiment at the MacApp Users Group Meeting was that Think had better make this change if they want any MacApp members to take them seriously.
Probably the most important change in version 2.0 is that the code size and speed are now said to be equal or better to the code size and speed of the MPW Pascal compiler. The product is now a two-pass optimizing compiler. The 68020 and 68881 chips are now supported. Some of the code restrictions have been fixed so large programs can be created, and variables are no longer constrained to 32K. The built-in debugger has been expanded even more so that now it acts like a mini-MacNosey in displaying Macintosh data structures on the heap. The product is now in beta test. A friend of mine managed to crash it a couple of times so they still have some work to do. More on this product when it completes beta testing. The upgrade costs $50.
Lightspeed C has also been upgraded and the new version has been shipping for a month or two. But the product is getting a lot of flack over the fact that it needs two megs of memory or more to use the source-level debugger! With Apple encouraging developers to get a refund and shop elsewhere for memory, getting two megs in your Mac is a major headache. Both the C and Pascal support multi-segmented DAs.
Apple & DataCopy Scanners
Apple did release one new thing at the show: a new scanner but it only does 16 gray scale levels. It appears Apple is purposely not positioning this product as an aggressive price/performance leader. They only want it so they can open the doors of large accounts that demand an Apple label product line.
DataCopy is one example of a company going beyond 16 gray levels. Their 830 scanner is 300 dpi with 64 gray scale levels. A new image processing software program called MacImage 2.0 allows extensive grayscale image-processing including gamma correction and full halftone contrast. They also have text scanning software called MacOCR that can scan text and create MacWrite documents. If youve got the money and the memory, you can go to their 840 scanner which handles 400 dpi with 8 bits or 256 gray scale levels! DataCopy is a Mountain View, California company.
Now that color is available on the Mac, there remains one important hole. In order for color to be useful, you have to be able to print it. And that requires color separations. One shot color prints are only useful for verification, admittedly an important task. But the really vital step is creating 4-color separations so that the color image can be re-produced by the printer.
LaserPaint Color II
LaserWare has introduced a new version of their LaserPaint program that does full PANTONE 24 bit color separations for a 4-color process. This requires a Mac II and the RasterOps TrueColor 24 bit color board. The image processing capabilities and color separation available from this product look very impressive. The only drawback is that it is copy protected, which could cause problems with Apples changing system software. However, a company spokesman informs me that an unprotected disk is available to registered users. An added feature is that the fantastic Sharp JX-450 color scanner can be driven directly from LaserPaint. We would love to hear from any of our readers who have had direct experience with the color separation ability of this product. LaserWare is a San Rafael, California company.
The Real Backup Solution
Removable Hard Disks
After you shell out the big bucks for your RasterOps color board, you can move on to Mass Microsystems new removable hard disk product. Weve tried Apples tape drive and got burned. We backed up our hard disk to tape, reformatted the disk and guess what? When we tried to recover from tape, the software program we were using turned out to be buggy and wouldnt restore our disk! A trip to the company in question recovered about half the contents. In exchange for helping me, I promised not to reveal the company name until they have the next version ready. In any case, Im pretty fed up with tape drives so if you are not planning on buying Irwin Magnetics new 80 meg tape drive, you might take a look at this new removable hard disk technology. Mass Micro has several configurations, but the dual disk unit seems ideal. It has two removable 45 meg disk drives. You take out the cartridge and store it away. The safety of a tape system with the speed of a hard disk system. The cartridges hold a single hard disk platter. Another advantage of this system over tape is that you can check the results of the copy by looking at the finder desktop! You know at once if the copy was successful. The cartridges are reportedly $100 each, which is not bad considering you get 45 megs of high speed disk space. Mass Microsystems is a Sunnyvale, California company.
Tape Drive Done Right
If you must have a tape drive, the only one that looks like it was done right is Irwin Magnetics new 80 meg tape drive. Doug Houseman of MacHack fame is one of the principles on the project and he showed off the software they created for the drive. Im convinced this unit is solid, and fast. Doug is one of the good guys, and hes got some great developer pricing so give him a call before you buy a tape drive. Irwin Magnetics is located in Ann Arbor, MI.
Handy Dandy Plotter DA
For those of you who like to plot equations, as I do, a neat little DA caught my eye. Spectra Blue of Tucson AZ has a nifty daMath program that plots and computes functions of up to three variables. Data can be imported or exported from spreadsheets and the plots can be cut and pasted to layout programs. It will also do families of equations on a single plot. This one looks very handy and only $50.
If you are looking for a more powerful equation solver, Paracomp of San Francisco, CA has what they call a WYSIWYG mathematics processor named MILO. This program provides complete text editing, equation solving and plotting capability using a smart piece of paper methodology. Paracomp also has some other impressive engineering software including a 3D modeling program and a VLSI chip layout program for designing CMOS custom chips. The program supports the CIF format used in Carver Meads book on VLSI design. This is particularly impressive to me because Ive always wanted to design such a program.
If you go back far enough to remember the great equation solver from Software Arts, you might be interested in Borlands new Eureka equation solver. This looks like a great re-implementation of the old Dan Bricklin program. Funny thing, but Borland didnt even bother to show up at Boston. Anybody know why? I was hoping to find out about Turbo Pascals next update and their Reflex Plus Database. When a company as big as Borland misses a show as important as MacWord Expo, you have to wonder whats going on.
WriteNow Goes to 2.0
My favorite word processor has been upgraded to 2.0. As their advertising says, Andy Hertzfeld and I both have something in common: WriteNow is our favorite word processor! The biggest change is that text and MacWrite formats can be imported and exported directly without the use of the translator program. However it still doesnt import Word 3 files directly. Those have to be saved from Word in either RTF format or MacWrite format. The most useful feature for those of us who use Pagemaker is that the leading of WriteNow is easily set and is recognized by Pagemaker. This feature alone makes WriteNow the word processor of choice for use with Pagemaker. In contrast to Word, WriteNow wins converts by its simplicity. There are no bonehead design decisions like making you type shift-command-B to get bold printing. Just try doing that quickly with one hand, I dare you! Did Microsoft and Aldus really test that feature with real people? Like MacPaint, WriteNow is an obvious tool with an uncluttered design. And it even does columns on screen! WriteNow is published by T/Maker Company of Mountain View, CA.
If you thought the Lisa was dead, you didnt see Sun Remarketings booth. They had Lisas all over the wall! Is there life after death for old computers? After talking to the people at Sun, Im beginning to think so. Looks like they have bought up every Lisa still in existence and have upgraded and restored them to full functionality. A new version of MacWorks has been created that is fully HFS and MultiFinder compatible. Sun also sells parts, disk drives and everything else needed to support the old machines. If you have a $10,000 doorstop sitting in your room, you might give them a call and see if you can restore your Lisa or Mac XL to a useful computer again. Sun is a Logan, Utah company.
Present Yourself Right
If youre in the habit of giving presentations to colleagues, symposiums, meetings, etc., then Aldus seems to have a good presentation tool kit for you. Aldus Persuasion is for those people who are called on short notice to give a presentation. Rather than cranking out a few notes on a word processor, Aldus Persuasion lets you choose a template and gets you started on writing up the outline of your ideas. Then this application takes those notes and automatically creates slides which you can further revise.
There is a complete set of tools for adding logos, diagrams, and special effects. With Persuasion, you can import a variety of formats including PICT, PICT2, EPS, WKS, and so forth. This means you can bring in your spreadsheet data from Excel, graphics from Adobe Illustrator, diagrams from MacDraw, and your text files from your favorite word processor (which can be spelling checked in Persuasion). There is support for 35mm slides, laser printers, and film recorders so you can produce notes, handouts, and slides.
More Room For Junk
Are you like me? My office tends to get cluttered rather quickly with tech books, manuals, press releases, disks, and so forth. It seems this is the curse of the developer. Youve got your favorite reference books out for development work plus all your other papers, reports, and so on that you need to run your business all on you desk. The clutter is even infecting my home as my desk has become a toxic waste dump for reoprts and listings. Sound familiar?
Well, if you think it is bad now, just wait a minute. Ergotron of Eagan, MN has come up with a terrific product called the Mac II Workstation. This little baby looks like something NASA or George Lucas developed. What youve got are two long legs that attach to a shelf to put your processor on above your work area. Then an arm that can swivel comes down to eye level to place your monitor on. This arm can hold a 12" to a 19" monitor and can rotate 360° and tilted ±10°. It looks and feels high tech like a product should be for developers of our standing. Good work, Ergotron!
Ergotron also has a line of accessories to make your developer life better. But Im not to sure about that. I can see this little baby will empty a space on my desk, but nature abhors a vacuum. So what will go there? More junk.
A Step Beyond Scanners
I love optical scanners! They are great for scanning those pictures and articles you want. They just seem to be lacking one aspect - page recognition. Page recognition would give your scanned document some meaning. Taking a snapshot of your grandmothers life history that she cranked out on a typewriter is nice. But what if you want to edit it? You were forced to sit down by your keyboard and type it up again. Now there is salvation.
OmniPage by Caere Corporation of Los Gatos, CA has come to the rescue! This little application lets you read your scanned image. Now you can scan those favorite articles of yours and keep a computerized version of it on file - both text and graphics! It will handle multiple columns, different point sizes, kearned characters, different styles, and so on.
This seems to be a natural for those data entry clerks and desktop publishers who quake pull their hair out when given some published material to enter. Beware, though, all you plagiarists and pirates. Illicit duplication is illegal. Still, that personal database of articles is very attractive to me.
Shellie Hunt & Alice Thompson
Shellie & Alice wanted to share some of the highlights from the MacWorld Expo/Boston, so here they are:
Alice is still trying to figure out why Roy would bring a raincoat to the BMUG party. Not wishing to be left out, Ramie brought his too!
We want to thank the Bayside Exposition Center for insufficient air conditioning, making possible the impromptu wet T-Shirt contest at the MacTutor booth.
We want to thank Alan Wootton for escorting us to the HyperCard birthday party. The kitchen excursion was a little worrisome. We have never seen a suit move that way before!
Chris Derossi, we like your new image! Thank you and the Apple people. We had a great time at the Comedy Store. Were still laughing!
Special thanks to James Plamondon who made a fashion statement; Paul Sniveley for his dancing moves; Mark Marlow, thanks for a good time at the Micro-D party; and Phil Lipetz just for being you.
Fred Stauder, the pahty coordinator. What happened to those tickets?
All in all it was a great show, we hope to see you all in San Francisco in January!