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Apr 92 Editorial
Volume Number:8
Issue Number:1
Column Tag:The Editor's Page

XPLAIN CORP Announced MacTutor Version 2.0!

By By Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief

Xplain Corporation acquired the rights to publish MacTutor Magazine, and since I am president of Xplain, I made myself editor. In response to this burst of ego, my partner, David Williams, made himself publisher. Then, with the really big decisions handled, we sat down to answer the only remaining question - Now what do we do?

Where’s my magazine?

We decided to ask the “what do we do now” question of MacTutor subscribers. Fortunately, all the subscribers who called were unanimous in wanting one thing right away - their magazine, without any missed issues. So, here it is. The last issue of version 1.0 was sent out late last year. This April/May edition is the first of version 2.0. There was nothing in between, so you’re current. Every subscription has been automatically extended to account for the missed issues. Check your mailing label. You should know that although this issue covers two months, MacTutor will remain a monthly periodical.

Who’s Xplain?

The next question subscribers asked was “Who is this?”. We’re Xplain Corporation, a software development and documentation company. We write documentation for software - both end-user and programming tools. We provide development and update services for existing software packages, and we produce original programming tool software. I have been a Macintosh developer since 1985, have been an Apple Partner for about 5 years, and have worked for Apple.


Once we realized the urgency of getting out the first issue, our publisher said that it appeared to him that what needed to be done next was “editorial” in nature and looked like a lot of hard work, so he left to go skiing. I understand the snow is melting fast, which explains (Xplains?) why his column has shown up. While he’s been gone, I’ve started the process of transforming this magazine into what it ought to be. We have tightened the editorial standards, including requiring more quality writing in addition to technical wizardry. We have increased print quality and improved layout and appearance.

Where do we go from here?

I have a lot of ideas for the future direction of the magazine, but I don’t intend to shove any of them down your throats. My ideas are described below. It’s up to you to send in your ideas. We promise to read and consider every idea. There are some ground rules, however:

1. Please tell us everything you want, rather than the few things you don’t.

2. Please reserve judgement of this first issue. We are already implementing changes for the next issue.

3. If you are wondering about past article submissions, all articles are being reviewed and organized. Once that is done, letters will be sent out. This will take some time, so be patient.

What Does the Editor Think?

I would like to see the magazine remain primarily a technical resource, but I would like to broaden its spectrum. For example, in this first issue, you will see a column by Dave Mark called “Getting Started...” which is directed at those new to Macintosh programming. I would like to see a limited number of reviews of programming tools and other products aimed at making developers more efficient, but I do not want this to become a product review magazine. I would like to cut down on the amount of “ancillary code” printed. In other words, the actual code that does whatever trick the author is writing about should be printed, the other 5,000 lines should not.

I would like to use this newly available space as a forum for discussion regarding policy and strategy, including interviews and guest articles by those who decide what we’ll be programming on next. As programmers in this age of Taligent, PowerBooks, and cross-platform libraries, we’ve all got a lot to think about. The question is, what do you want to talk about?

So, Now What?

If you know about a subject, we would like to see articles from you. In the past, many of you have said that you don’t have time to write full length articles. Now you have no excuse - write a short item for our “Tips and Tidbits” column. So where do we go from here? We keep publishing, and you tell us what you want. The sooner, the better. It’s very important that you send your thoughts in ASAP, because our publisher has been suggesting things like nude centerfolds and a swimsuit issue. So, unless you want to see a picture of a Quadra 950 in a G-string, use that modem (or pen) NOW!

Neil Ticktin

The Publisher's Column

a.k.a. Tales of the Computer Idiot

By David Williams, Publisher

Neil made me publish his magazine. It wasn’t my idea. He asked me if I liked computers - I said yes, but knew nothing about them, being sort of a computer idiot. He asked if I liked Macs - I said I’d never really used one but that I had a trackball and Windows on my PC, a 486-33. He threw up, then he made me buy a Quadra 900 with every available gizmo. Looking at the cost, I asked if Quadra meant I was paying for four computers.

Next, he told me I should take over publication of this magazine with him. Again, looking at the cost, I wonder why I ever listen to Neil. All readers should tell everyone they know to subscribe - printing costs make the Quadra look cheap.

Neil said that my new Mac would do absolutely anything my PC could do, better, and asked what was important to me. I’m a tax attorney/CPA, so I said Excel, Word, and Computax. Neil said that for Computax, there were two programs called SoftAT and SoftNode that could make my Quadra behave exactly like a 286. I asked if I could pay more and have it behave like a 486 or some other civilized computer. He said I was being greedy.

It turned out that these programs couldn’t run Computax easily. We called Insignia, the developer, and they patiently listened to our questions and said they would call us right back. They never have, but it doesn’t matter. Knowing nothing about computers in general, I, the computer idiot, reasoned that I’d have to do the same modifications to SoftAT as I did to my real PC to run Computax. Neil and Donny (our technical editor) said that I was naive, and that there was less than a 1% chance of all that working - they tried to tell me you can’t turn a Macintosh into a PC just by using NETBIOS to remove its inate prejudice. Knowing no better, I tried it anyway. It works fine.

It is my hope that this magazine works as well as my Quadra. I would like to welcome all of our new and existing readers to the new magazine, and to express our thanks for waiting while we learned how to produce a readable product. Neil intends to be as responsive as possible to reader suggestions, and I’d like to throw in a cautionary note: If you don’t tell us what you want, we’ll wind up responding only to the other letters (you know, the ones that you don’t agree with) and you’ll wind up unhappy, and thinking that the computer idiot has been put in charge of editorial.

So, here I am, the computer idiot, writing on my new Quadra my first column for our new computer magazine. I have to admit that in Word, it does seem to work almost identically to the PC, better in many respects. I particularly like the “On” switch on the keyboard. So, I’m left with only one problem - How do I turn it off?

Neil? Oh Neil


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