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Jul 94 Editor's Page
Volume Number:10
Issue Number:7
Column Tag:The Editor's Page

What’s Up With That Cover?

By Scott T Boyd, Editor

What’s up with that cover?

By now you’ve probably heard about the USgovernment’s efforts to maintain the ability to tap into communications, even as technology makes doing so ever more challenging. The FBIis sponsoring laws requiring a government backdoor on telecommunications equipment, including phones and networks (even LANs), while the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) is promoting an encryption chip known as Clipper. They would have device manufacturers build the chip into their phone switches, telephones, network routers, and so forth. It would offer low-cost, ubiquitous encryption, while leaving a backdoor for court-authorized decrypting for law enforcement purposes.

So what’s the problem? Can you imagine serious criminals, the technologically-savvy ones the legislation is purportedly aimed at, using Clipper devices? Perhaps more problematic, the encryption techniques that Clipper use are not public (yet). Every other self-respecting technique has been subjected to the efforts of the encryption community to see just how much effort it takes to crack any given method. By not opening Clipper to this kind of scrutiny, it gives rise to the suspicion that there may be another backdoor, one which does not require a court order to get the two “key escrow” government agencies to release the two parts of the key needed to do a legitimate decryption.

It’s a far more complicated issue than I’ve described here. Nevertheless, George Orwell would be proud. Whether or not it’s a conspiracy, it’s clear that the widespread adoption of Clipper could have some far-reaching consequences, and the thought of this has kicked up quite a ruckus on the Net. Some of the most insidious government intrusions have come about as a result of governments trying to be helpful.

One outcome of the furor on the Net is the t-shirt pictured on the cover. Just gotta have one? The shirts are XL and black only, and the creators of the shirt accept COD orders at iplus1hope@aol.com ($14.50) and check orders ($12.50) at PO Box 59152 Renton, WA 98058.

What’s up with apple?

Last week was filled with lots of developers, lots of new technologies, and enough hot air to fill an armada of hot air balloons. Yes, that’s right, WWDC, Apple’s annual gathering of the faithful at the San Jose Convention Center. Over $1000 worth of fun, festivities, and vegan meals.

The conference in a nutshell? Based on reports from those who were there: Three new systems coming: 7.5, Copland (microkernel, new user interface), Gershwin (memory protection, preemption, more interface). Dylan alpha in Q3. PCI in 1995. No ATG night. Games session. OpenDoc, OpenDoc, OpenDoc. Exhibits. Gordon Biersch parties. Metrowerks vs. Symantec. No Taligent.

Apparently, Taligent was positioned as “any other 3rd party developer”, albeit one which might ship a “personality” toolbox for Macs (and other boxes) one day. It’s pretty disappointing seeing it slip away rather than become the next-generation Macintosh.

There were plenty of OpenDoc sessions. The first demos didn’t go so well, and had plenty of good-natured jokes flying about certain résumés getting polished up, but attendees tell us that they were impressed, it’s real, and it’s looking good. We’ll be bringing you in-depth coverage of OpenDoc soon.

Games developers take heart - Apple not only said that games were a fine thing to write, but that they want to help you! Should we all duck for cover, or take them up on their offer? While we’re on the subject, check out develop #17 for Brigham Stevens’ Ten Tips for Game Developers, as well as the Game Development Discussion on AppleLink.

There may be big opportunities coming up in helping people write device drivers. Why? Because 1995 will see the introduction of the PCIbus in Macs of all flavors, from the top to the bottom of the line (not all at once, and not all in 95). Hardware vendors will be scrambling to bring their PCI devices to the Mac, and there’s precious little experience making PCI devices work with Macs out there at the moment.

Holy Wars

There’s nothing quite like the topic of language preferences to get the letters flowing in. Several of our readers have written to complain that MacTech Magazine has caved in and is now attempting to help spread the adoption of C and C++ as the language standard for Macintosh. What languages would they like to see us cover? Pascal. Lisp. Smalltalk. Dylan. Here’s just one of many letters:

You asked us to let you know if we, MacTech subscribers, were interested in coverage of languages such as Lisp, Dylan, and Smalltalk. The answer here is absolutely yes!

I have been a subscriber since Issue #3 (1984!). It boggles my mind that anyone would program the Mac on low level languages like C, C++, or Pascal (except for the people who write Lisp systems!).

[Dylan] sounds hot to me. I hope you guys are on it.

- John sotos@camis.stanford.edu

There’s no denying that C and C++have grabbed their share of the developer market. It reminds me somewhat of a large company in the Pacific Northwest which did something similar with a technology that many people believe is inferior to other available technologies.

Nevertheless, we’ll continue to cover C and C++. That’s most of you seem to use to make your living. That’s reality. However, that’s not to say that we believe that they are the be-all/end-all languages. How could they be? Even the fastest C++compiler is no match for a dynamic, incremental compilation, interactive environment like the ones you can find in Macintosh Common Lisp, SmalltalkAgents, and others.

As noted here last month, WWDC did indeed offer some coverage of Dylan. The future is looking bright for dynamic, object-oriented languages and their interactive development environments. It seems that Dylan sessions at the conference captivated standing-room-only audiences for hours. One Dylan team member claims a six-fold productivity increase when he builds user interfaces over any other environment he’s ever used. That’s a little hard to believe, but it’s also mighty hard to ignore. Count on us to expand our coverage of OODLs, dynamic languages, et al over the next few months.

Quotable

“You know, I’ve already got A/UX 2.0” - [wished to remain anonymous for some reason], heard after a future OSsession.

“When they said, ‘And this is the larger area where OpenDoc will impact on,’ Ihad a vision of a large smoking crater.” - Marshall Clow

“Zero is at the bottom; that’s the way God draws memory.” - Russell Williams, Apple employee with the biggest hair, coolest bow tie, and most excellent tie-dye dress shirt.

And what would the conference be without a reference from the far distant past about getting up to ask a question at the microphone, “You’re not a yogurt-head, though ” - David Shayer

Food for thought

About Apple supposedly profiteering off of developers: “This is not true. This absolutely is not true. Don’t believe what you read [in various publications].” About Apple not investing in developers, Apple spends $50 million per year on developers. “We think you’re worth it. We think it’s money well spent.” - Ike Nassi, VP of Development Products, Apple

 
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