Jul 92 Letters
By Neil Ticktin, Editor
Refreshing Media doubt
Congratulations on your fine magazine. I find MacTutor to be a valuable resource. I read your editorial in the June 1992 issue on the LA riots, and you are the first person in the media to cast any doubt on the politically correct opinion. As it happens, I attneded a course last year given by a policeman who also works as an expert witness in self defense cases. He predicted that the LA police officers would be acquited because of evidence which was not part of that juicy tape. When the riots broke out I could not help but think that the media had inflamed public opinion to the extent that they were culpable in the crimes committed.
I realize that MacTutor is not an appropriate forum for such issues, but when youre the editor and something has you really angry, thats what the printing presses are for. [Obviously, I agree. Thanks for the support. -Ed.]
- Philip Gleason, Boca Raton, FL
Comments on issue #1
Great first issue. There is a definite need for a magazine like MacTutor that hasn't been addressed with the other two 'fluff' magazines. I cancelled my subscription to the other magazines when the pages of advertisment was greater than the pages of articles.
Here's what I would like to see in MacTutor v: 2.0. A section for "beginners". I don't believe I've ever seen a MacTutor article on "How to set up your data structures for easy window scrolling", "Proper use of the 'other' numeric data types", or "So you bought (an application generator program like AppMaker) - now what?". Figuring out how to scroll a window can be an exersize in frustration for the beginner. An article or two on tips and hints for scrolling would be of value to the readers. In Pascal, there are Comp, Extended, Extended96 numeric types. An article on when to use these other numeric types would be helpful as well as an article on what to expect when using programs like AppMaker. It does a lot for "me," now what do I have to do and where are the pitfalls. These are areas that would be helpfull to the beginner and intermediate programmer.
For the more advanced, how about articles on mixing SANE and '881 extended data types in the same application. Or how about an article on installing your own Gestalt selectors. [Authors: are you listening? - Ed.]
I like the idea of the "Tips & Hints", but the first one of forcing the Finder to quit to re-build your desktop, well Some how pulling the rug from under the Finder is an easy way to say goodbye to the disk's directory. [Actually, it doesnt cause a problem. - Ed.]
Looking forward to the next issue
- John Cebasek, Ottawa, Ontario
Name Sharing cdev
In your "Tips and Tidbits" question from Dave Mark, he spoke about wanting a cdev that would allow you to change the name of the machine. There is a cdev in System 7, and it's called "Sharing Setup". Encouraging developers to hack with system resources directly may be fun, but it doesn't help maintain compatability, it polite to the user to modify them underneath.
[As Lincoln Lydick from Littleton, Colorado found out, getting to these resources is easy, but making them behave the way you want to is tough. Hats off to Lincoln for the fatest turnaround on a tidbit request weve ever seen. But as we all know now, System 7s sharing setup does a good job already.]
- Bill Hofmann, Flashpoint
More Pascal Code
As a budding Macintosh programmer, I'm glad to see that MacTutor is back in print. But there is one thing that I would like to see included in future issues: MORE PASCAL CODE!
I realize that C is the language of choice for most professionals, but as a beginning programmer I decided to stick with the language used a standard throughout the Inside Macintosh books. Also, I've been told it is better to learn the structured discipline of Pascal before learning C.
As it was, there wasn't anything in the April/May issue that was helpful for me. How about some more general purpose programs in the Pascal Workshop department. I don't have SuperPaint, or give a flip about airbrush masks. Please print some source code I can use. [Look beyond the airbrushes at code segments and the general concept of plug-ins. Isnt that interesting to you? - Ed.]
One more thing: I have "The Macintosh Pascal Programming Primer, vol.1" by Mark and Reed, and vol.2 is mentioned throughout the book; in fact, I think I've even seen it. How come it isn't mentioned in the bio on Dave Mark?
So I'm glad your back in print, I just hope future issues will help me out a little more.
- Dan Rolander
On the spine
I was just reading some back issues of mactutor and as a result I have a suggestion. It's nice to have the theme or main article for the issue on the spine so you can quickly locate topics. I realize that not all articles could be displayed but even one would be nice. For example I can glance over at my back issues and tell that volume 5 no 7 covers network printing. [Your suggestion was heard and implemented. Look on the spine of this issue. -Ed.]
- Tom Trinkos
More Good Programming Books
Dave Mark's column in the April/May '92 issue was great with one glaring exception. I find it hard to accept his recommendation that your readers "...wait until June..." to be able to buy a book that features System 7 C sources (his book, naturally); especially since a major publisher is already shipping a System 7 C-based programming book and has been shipping it for quite some time.
"Programming for System 7" has been available since last November and it should be in all of the major bookstores. It's published by Addison-Wesley as part of their "Macintosh Inside Out" series and the entire book is focused on System 7 (not just part of the book). If local bookstores don't stock it, APDA does (1-800-282-2732).
"Programming for System 7" is the first "code-level" System 7 book based on C and is the only currently available alternative to Inside Mac, volume VI.
- Tim Swihart, co-author, "Programming for System 7"
Get Rid of Tools
I've been a reader (on and off) for the past 5 years. I used to get magazines that had soft covers. And to boot, I have the first three volumes of MacTutor.
I'm very happy you're back. My withdrawal symtoms were severe. I would like to see CODE, CODE, CODE. And explanations thereof. I find that if a magazine has more that 10% of "Tools of the trade" stuff it hits the garbage. God forbid there should be user oriented stuff in the "Tools of the trade" column (or anywhere else!). I think the old format is fine. Forth is not used very much by me or any mac programmers I know. So take that as a NO vote on Forth. I don't know anybody who programs in fortran (or will admit to it)...Another NO.
I find that this magazine is a perfect vehicle for purely programmer oriented stuff like in Dr. Dobbs. How to write a compiler for the Mac (oh WOW!) or how does the MPW linker differ from the THINK one. How to write something like RTPatch for the Mac. Why is there nothing like that on the Mac (hint... the Data/Resource forks).
I hope my rambling gives you some insights into a nutty Mac programmer's wishes.. Keep up the good work.
[I hear you. The tools of the trade are a must for many people and will remain. Articles provide information to people, but a product review that addresses a product that does what you want can be FAR more useful to a person. The bit on Fortran and Forth addresses many of the institutional, educational and scientific readers.
Remember, that MacTutor is a lot of things to a lot of people. Tell me what you want, instead of what you don't want. That way, I can try to get what YOU want in the magazine. The things you don't want to read, you don't have to, but usually even those articles that dont seem appropriate on the surface, have useful information inside for you. Give even the languages you dont use a chance, the algorithm is what is important. - Ed.]
- Steven Woolgar
Table of Contents Cover
Bring back the table-of-contents front cover. That was a cover that said, This is a programming journal. We mean business. Casually interested Mac users and PC programmers need not apply. [I too remember those covers way back when. There are two problems with them. First, is that they dont sell as many newsstand copies of the magazine. Second, is that the cover of the magazine is produced at a different time from the rest of the magazine which limits our flexibility. - Ed.]
Lose the vertically split pages (e.g.: the MacForth/LS FORTRAN articles.) [Already done. In the future, if we did another split page, it would only be the first page of the article. - Ed.]
- Carl J. Manaster, Globe, AZ