TweetFollow Us on Twitter

MacHack '92
Volume Number:8
Issue Number:4
Column Tag:From the Field

MacHack Conference Report

What happened at the techiest of all conferences

By Neil Ticktin, MacTutor Editor-in-Chief

MacHack ‘92, the Seventh Annual Macintosh Technical Conference, lived up to it’s reputation - especially, the “Best Hax” contest and of course, the lightning. This year, the conference was held June 17-19 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

What is MacHack?

For those of you that don’t know, MacHack is the annual conference that is put on by Expotech, Inc.. Originally, this conference came about because the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor wanted it so. To date, the University has a part in this conference.

I had never been to MacHack, and frankly did not know what to expect. What I found was a mixture of professionals, Apple employees, and of course, classic hackers. I haven’t seen such a group since my days in the computer room at UCLA.

There are a number of different things going on at MacHack. First, individuals give presentations of papers on a variety of topics. Next, there are panel discussions that take place each day of the conference. In addition, there are business sessions, roundtables, code clinics, and of course, the machine room.

The machine room holds the heart of the conference. Here you will find Macintoshes and other toys to play with. It is open 24 hours a day for the entire conference. This room has some of the most serious hacking ever to be seen.

The KeyNote

This year, MacHack was fortunate enough to have Steve Weyl, the Director of Apple’s Developer Tools organization as the keynote speaker. Steve said a lot of things, the most important of which were his comments on the future of MacApp. In a nutshell, Steve said that if you develop using MacApp, you will have code that you will be able to port to Windows. MacApp will be available for Windows next year. [See the Editor’s page regarding the joint efforts of Apple and Symantec in regards to this topic. - Ed.] What Steve said was that MacApp is not yet available for Windows, but that it will be. The idea is that any efforts that you make using MacApp will be portable to Windows next year.

In addition to his MacApp comments, Steve acknowledged that it is too difficult and too time consuming to develop using existing programming tools on the Macintosh. He promised that we would see better tools, reference materials and even support in the future. Given what we now know about Bedrock (see Editor’s page) and about the new Inside Macintosh about to come out, it looks like Steve (and Apple) will be delivering on at least two out of three promises.

The Tornado

At every show, techie or fuzzy, there is always something buzzing in the air. This year was no different except that the buzz had nothing to do with the conference. At one point, attendees were asked to move to one side of the hotel while waiting for the tornado to pass by. During this time, lightning struck a nearby tree. Several times throughout the conference, sessions were interrupted and equipment had to be turned off because of electrical storm warnings. Something this California boy was not accustomed to.

Microsoft and OLE

Microsoft was the company making the biggest splash. They have now announced Microsoft’s Object Linking and Embedding protocol, OLE Version 2.0. This protocol will give users the ability to access the full capabilities of one program from within another program. This new version of the protocol will be integrated into future Microsoft products. Microsoft also said that they would make the protocol available to other developers.

To the user, this protocol provides a way to deal with embedded documents and objects. For example, if you had an OLE 2.0 compatible drawing program, and then embedded an object from that program into a Microsoft Word document, you could double click on the object to edit it. This would bring up the drawing program’s menus (and floating window palettes if it had them). When this happens, the word processing menus disappear. The user can then edit the image within the word processor as if they were in the drawing program to begin with.

According to Ben Waldman, Manager of Macintosh Technology at Microsoft, the new OLE is supposed to offer new conveniences to Macintosh users. In addition, it is/will be designed to reduce the amount of effort that programmer’s make adding code to every program to support new technologies. Microsoft declined to say when their applications which integrate OLE 2.0 would be released.

Apple Showing Off

Apple took advantage of the situation at MacHack to show off and talk about some its new technologies under development. Included in this list were QuickDraw GX, and upcoming system software. QuickDraw GX is evidently seen not as a replacement for QuickDraw, but an extension of it. The essential idea behind the package is to bring QuickDraw into the nineties. This includes making QuickDraw do all the things that Apple promised years ago would be in System 7, but to date have not made it. For example, with QuickDraw GX, developers will be able to easily write printer drivers instead of taking 47 man years. In addition, QuickDraw GX will become substantially more competitive with Display PostScript™. Most important is that GX will not be a problem for everything you’ve already coded to date.

System 7.1 will be the next major release of Macintosh system software. The idea behind 7.1 is to (a) clean up a bunch of things in System 7 and (b) have the first “World-Ready” Macintosh system software. This version of the operating system will accommodate all users in all languages around the world. To customize an installation with a particular language, extensions will be available to drop in the System Folder. This will give each Macintosh the language the user wants. Unfortunately, during the Apple Bashing section of the conference, we heard a lot of this is “not a priority” responses to suggestions on the System Software. To be fair, we also heard a lot of “it will be done in 7.1” responses as well. Actually, to be completely fair, it did sound like Apple was doing a good deal of user testing and refinements to their system software. We did hear a lot of answers that included such phrases as “we tried that, but users couldn’t figure that out”. This gave me the unusual feeling that Apple was actually listening hmmm well maybe it’s just a phase they're going through.

6th Annual Hack Contest

Each year at MacHack, The MacHax™ Group is the proud sponsor of the Hack Contest. This is the heart and soul of MacHack, embodying all that hackers are about. Hackers from around the country come to MacHack to show off their best hack. The deadline for submissions was Thursday at midnight. Hackers started presenting their hacks at 1:00 a.m. on Friday morning and continued until 5:30 a.m. The next day, attendees voted on the “Best Hack” and awards were given out.

Tips for winning (as published by the infamous Scott and Greg) were as follows: “Looking and/or sounding good is the best, but it doesn’t hurt to actually have it running at the Hack Show. Useful software also helps to get votes Suck up to everybody in sight because they all get a vote. Show it off, talk it up, offer to hand out source if you win, give away lots of money It won’t necessarily help you win, but remember that big prizes await the winners. For example, several past winners are now Blue Meanies, and many are also proud owners of the Victor A-Trap plaque Remember, Scott and Greg make all the rules [so bribing them is a great way to increase votes]. Most important, have fun!”

Some of the hacks were quite incredible. The winner was an amazing hack from Mike Neil. His “IR Man” hack blew me away (and not because his name was Neil either). In essence, this combination of hardware and software allowed one to control his/her Macintosh with a SONY VCR remote. So, for example, you could move windows with the left, down, up and right arrows; you could press eject on the remote and the disk would eject; you could press the power key and the application would quit; and my favorite, the remote’s video speed “flyweel” would control the speed of a QuickTime movie. I‘ve asked Mike Neil to write us an article about how to do this, if you are interested in such an article, let us know (or bug Mike [nicely] to do it).

Brian Gaeke wrote some great PowerBook utilities that did such things as sensing whether an AppleTalk network was connected and automatically turning on and off the PowerBook’s AppleTalk connection as appropriate. Since AppleTalk helps to eat my battery for lunch (especially by keeping the PowerBook on when it should be asleep), I found this to be a godsend.

Marshall Clow wrote a hack called Procedure Call Log which through the debugger made a list of calls as they were made. In other words, if you crashed into MacsBug you would get a history of procedure calls made in MacsBug. Unfortunately, this hack only works under MPW. Eric Shapiro has said that he would work on a THINK version and write an article for MacTutor. For those of you interested in this, let us or Eric know.

There were large numbers of other hacks including QuickTime Movies in Balloon Help by Cameron Esfahani, SloppyCopy 1.0d0, by Steve Falkenburg, which makes the Finder do a background file copy so you can continue to use the Finder; HyperInitMaker by Tom Pittman which evidently allows for debugging at startup time (the Apple people were really worried here); PowerBook Pixels™ by Jon Watte which made your PowerBook display the minimum number of white pixels to qualify for a warranty replacement of the screen and many, many more.

We’ve asked a number of these hackers to write articles for MacTutor. If you are interested in any of these or know of other hacks, encourage them to write an article on the hack. If you would like to write to one of the hackers above, you can send it c/o Xplain.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

How to evolve Eevee in Pokemon GO
By now, almost everyone should be hip to how to evolve Pokemon in Pokemon GO (and if not, there's a guide for that). Just gather enough candy of the appropriate type, feed them all to the Pokemon, and evolution happens. It's a miracle that would... | Read more »
CSR Racing 2: Guide to all game modes
It might not seem like there are all that many ways to go fast in a straight line, but CSR Racing 2 begs to differ. [Read more] | Read more »
Bulb Boy (Games)
Bulb Boy 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Multi-award winning 2D point & click horror adventure about a boy with a glowing head. | Read more »
5 top free emoji keyboard apps
If we're not at peak emoji yet as a society, it feels like we definitely should be. The emoji concept has gone far beyond what anyone in Japan could have envisioned when the people there unleashed it on an unsuspecting world, but the West has... | Read more »
How to unlock more characters in Disney...
One of the big charms of Disney Emoji Blitz is seeing a wide variety of beloved Disney and Pixar characters transformed into smiling emojis. Even someone like the sneaky Randall from Monsters Inc., who probably never cracked a smile on film, is... | Read more »
Cubway (Games)
Cubway 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Cubway is a journey with an abstract story of lifecycle of rebirth, called Samsara. Guide the cube through the long way full of dangers... | Read more »
Colorcube (Games)
Colorcube 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Turn pieces and blend colours in this minimal yet visually stunning puzzler.Over 200 handcrafted and challenging levels. Features... | Read more »
Doodle God Griddlers (Games)
Doodle God Griddlers 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Crusader Kings: Chronicles (Games)
Crusader Kings: Chronicles 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Crusader Kings: Chronicles is an interactive text based game that puts you in the shoes of Guy de Rose as you make... | Read more »
Roads of Rome: New Generation (Games)
Roads of Rome: New Generation 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple price trackers, updated continuously
Scan our Apple Price Trackers for the latest information on sales, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers. We update the trackers continuously: - 15″... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (Apple refurbished...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros available for $829, or $270 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros... Read more
21-inch iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 3.1GHz iMac 4K: $1379 $120 off MSRP - 21″ 2.8GHz iMac: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP - 21″ 1... Read more
Charitybuzz Set to Auction Unique Apple-1 Com...
Offering an opportunity to own the computer that sparked a revolution, on Monday, July 25, leading online charity auction platform Charitybuzz will auction what is claimed to be the world’s most... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP
Amazon has 11″ and 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (sku MMGF2LL/A): $899.99 $100 off MSRP - 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB... Read more
Apple refurbished 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $270 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.7GHz... Read more
Apple refurbished 11-inch MacBook Airs availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 11″ MacBook Airs (the latest models), available for up to $170 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is... Read more
Apple iPad Pro Sales Far Outpacing Microsoft...
A report on Appleinsider notes that despite Microsoft Surface tablet PC sales growing by 9 percent year over year, revenues remained below $1 billion, and are down sequentially from the $1.1 billion... Read more
DEVONthink 2.9 Features Ultra-fast, Robust, A...
DEVONthink 2.9 allows users to keep databases synchronized using many means of transport. It transmits them between Macs on the local network or stores them in a syncable form on removable hard... Read more
12-inch WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for up t...
B&H Photo has 12″ WiFi iPad Pros on sale for up to $100 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 12″ Space Gray 32GB WiFi iPad Pro: $749 $50 off MSRP - 12″... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - APPLE (United...
Job Summary As an Apple Solutions Consultant, you'll be the link between our future customers and our products. You'll showcase your entrepreneurial spirit as you Read more
*Apple* Professional Learning Specialist - A...
Job Summary The Apple Professional Learning Specialist is a full-time position for one year with Apple in the Phoenix, AZ area. This position requires a high Read more
*Apple* Picker - Apple Hill Orchard (United...
Apple Hill Orchard, Co. Rte. 21,Whitehall, NY 9/7/16-10/228/16. Pick fresh market or processing apples Productivity of 60 boxes and 80 boxes processing fruit per Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - APPLE (United...
Job Summary As an Apple Solutions Consultant, you'll be the link between our future customers and our products. You'll showcase your entrepreneurial spirit as you Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.