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Apr 95 Newsbits
Volume Number:11
Issue Number:4
Column Tag:Newsbits


By Scott T Boyd, Editor

New NeoLogic

NeoLogic Systems announced the release of NeoAccess 3.1, an update of NeoLogic’s cross-platform object database engine. This latest release includes full support for all Unix platforms in addition to the Windows, Macintosh and DOS support provided in previous releases.

NeoAccess 3.1’s new features include full support for all Unix platforms, enhancements to the metaclass facility (including the ability to add members), improved support for dynamically adding and removing indices from a class, improvements in consolidated index support, and even more powerful object iterator support.

The NeoAccess Developer’s Toolkit sells for $749 per developer (no runtime licensing fees). It includes full source code, sample applications, 450+ pages of docs, and 30 days of online technical support.

Credit card orders (800) 799-4737. Save an additional $100 if you purchase the product off the Internet (, Metrowerks’ CodeWarrior or Symantec’s Developers Advantage CD-ROMs.

NeoLogic Systems 1450 Fourth St., Suite 12 Berkeley, CA 94710 (510) 524-5897 voice, (510) 524-4501 

Version Control

Barking Dog Software Co. has released “Version Control” for both PowerMac and 68K Macintosh systems. “Version Control” is a stand-alone program for source code and document revision control and release management. It allows users to recover past versions of single files or easily extract entire releases composed of hundreds of files using a snapshot feature. The software allows easy tracking of who made file changes, when the changes were made, and why the changes were made. A complete audit trail of the file history is available for bug tracking, specific version source reconstruction and change management. “Version Control” utilizes Drag & Drop for check-ins.

A single user license of “Version Control” is $199, 2 users $249, 3-5 users $349, and 6-10 users $499.

Barking Dog Software Co., 4822 Santa Monica Ave., Suite 179, San Diego, CA 92107. (619) 222-8361,

Mercutio - Powerful, Cheap MDEF

Digital Alchemy announces the release of version 1.2 of the Mercutio, available from any info-mac site, including

The Mercutio MDEF allows developers to easily extend the power of their application menus. Menus may have multiple-modifier key-equivalents (e.g. shift-command-C), custom icons, item callbacks, and other goodies. Mercutio includes System 7’s Balloon Help and True Gray, Color menus, Small and large icons, SICNs in hierarchical menu items, and 99% compatible with the standard MDEF.

Major feature additions and changes since 1.1.5 are:

- Support for non-printing keys (function keys, page up/down, arrow keys, etc)

- Support for icon suites

- Support for all 4 modifier keys (command, shift, option, control)

- Removed command-key requirement

- User-definable style mapping: developer determines which style bits are used as feature flags

- Dynamic items: items whose contents change depending on what modifier keys are being held down (e.g. when the option key is held down, Save becomes Save All).

- Application callback routine to let you decide on the fly what the item contents should be.

The Mercutio MDEF works with System 6.0.4 or later, with or without Color QuickDraw. Mercutio is fully compatible with System 7, and supports all the features of the System MDEF. Integrating the MDEF into your program shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.

The documentation for Mercutio is in Adobe’s Acrobat format. To obtain a free Acrobat reader application, FTP from:

Developers may use Mercutio free of charge as long as they give credit in the About box and documentation, and send a copy of the final program (including future upgrades for as long as they use the MDEF). Other licensing terms are available.

ShareWare Authors Take Note

CompuServe offers a Shareware Registration service (GO SWREG) as part of its basic services. CompuServe provides a convenient, secure distribution and support environment for both shareware developers and users. Nearly 4,000 authors participate in the registration service.

CompuServe members simply look up the software online that they want to register and follow on-screen instructions. The cost of the product appears on their next CompuServe bill. CompuServe offers developers a convenient way to track registrations. The developer interface permits varied shipping & handling pricing based on the user’s location. Developers can edit and update their product descriptions as needed.

CompuServe members often help with the development process as beta testers. The Shareware Beta Forum (GO SWBETA) allows shareware authors to test applications prior to release. The Association of Shareware Professionals (ASP) manages a forum on CompuServe. A number of authors use the shareware registration service to get access to sales they might not have made otherwise.

MacTech Magazine Seen On the Web

Get1Resource, Carl Haynes’ Web ’zine for Mac programmers, included the following tidbit, “The January issue of MacTech Magazine included CDs to encourage developing of parts for both OpenDoc from CIL, and OLE from Microsoft. I poked around a little with the OpenDoc stuff, and like probably 90% of the readers threw my OLE disk into my pile of CDs that I’ll never look at again.”

EFF Fights for Cryptography Rights

In a move aimed at expanding the growth and spread of privacy and security technologies, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is sponsoring a federal lawsuit seeking to bar the government from restricting publication of cryptographic documents and software. EFF argues that the export-control laws, both on their face and as applied to users of cryptographic materials, are unconstitutional.

EFF believes that cryptography is central to the preservation of privacy and security in an increasingly computerized and networked world. Many of the privacy and security violations alleged in the Kevin Mitnick case, such as the theft of credit card numbers, the reading of other people’s electronic mail, and the hijacking of other peoples’ computer accounts, could have been prevented by widespread deployment of this technology. The U.S. government has opposed such deployment, fearing that its citizens will be private and secure from the government as well as from other vandals.

The plaintiff in the suit is a graduate student in the Department of Mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley named Daniel J Bernstein. Bernstein developed an encryption equation, or algorithm, and wishes to publish the algorithm, a mathematical paper that describes and explains the algorithm, and a computer program that runs the algorithm. Bernstein also wishes to discuss these items at mathematical conferences and other open, public meetings.

The problem is that the government currently treats cryptographic software as if it were a physical weapon and highly regulates its dissemination. Any individual or company who wants to export such software - or to publish on the Internet any “technical data” such as papers describing encryption software or algorithms - must first obtain a license from the State Department. Under the terms of this license, each recipient of the licensed software or information must be tracked and reported to the government. Penalties can be pretty stiff - ten years in jail, a million dollar criminal fine, plus civil fines. This legal scheme effectively prevents individuals from engaging in otherwise legal communications about encryption.

The lawsuit challenges the export-control scheme as an “impermissible prior restraint on speech, in violation of the First Amendment.” Software and its associated documentation, the plaintiff contends, are published, not manufactured; they are Constitutionally protected works of human-to-human communication, like a movie, a book, or a telephone conversation. These communications cannot be suppressed by the government except under very narrow conditions - conditions that are not met by the vague and overbroad export-control laws. In denying people the right to publish such information freely, these laws, regulations, and procedures unconstitutionally abridge the right to speak, to publish, to associate with others, and to engage in academic inquiry and study. They also have the effect of restricting the availability of a means for individuals to protect their privacy, which is also a Constitutionally protected interest.

More specifically, the current export control process:

• allows bureaucrats to restrict publication without ever going to court;

• provides too few procedural safeguards for First Amendment rights;

• requires publishers to register with the government, creating in effect a “licensed press”;

• disallows general publication by requiring recipients to be individually identified;

• is sufficiently vague that ordinary people cannot know what conduct is allowed and what conduct is prohibited;

• is overbroad because it prohibits conduct that is clearly protected (such as speaking to foreigners within the US);

• is applied overbroadly, by prohibiting export of software that contains no cryptography, on the theory that cryptography could be added to it later;

• egregiously violates the First Amendment by prohibiting private speech on cryptography because the government wishes its own opinions on cryptography to guide the public instead; and

• exceeds the authority granted by Congress in the export control laws, as well as exceeding the authority granted by the Constitution.

If this suit is successful in its challenge of the export-control laws, it will clear the way for cryptographic software to be treated like any other kind of software. This will allow companies to build high-quality security and privacy protection into their operating systems. It will also allow computer and network users, including those who use the Internet, much more freedom to build and exchange their own solutions to these problems, such as the freely available PGP encryption program. And it will enable the next generation of Internet protocols to come with built-in cryptographic security and privacy, replacing a sagging part of today’s Internet infrastructure.

Civil Action No. C95-0582-MHP was filed in Federal District Court for the Northern District of California. EFF anticipates that the case will take several years to win. If the past is any guide, the government will use every trick and every procedural delaying tactic available to avoid having a court look at the real issues. Nevertheless, EFF remains firmly committed to this long term project. Once a court examines the issues on the merits, the government will be shown to be violating the Constitution, and that its attempts to restrict both freedom of speech and privacy will be shown to have no place in an open society.

Full text of the lawsuit and other paperwork filed in the case is available from the EFF’s online archives. The exhibits which contain cryptographic information are not available online, because making them publicly available on the Internet could be considered an illegal export until the law is struck down. See


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