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Aug 96 Newsbits
Volume Number:12
Issue Number:8
Column Tag:Newsbits


By John Kawakami

Free Education on the Web

In ancient Greece, young aspiring philosophers would organize themselves into gangs, find the local know-it-all, and offer gifts and money in exchange for edification. This tradition of unaccredited, self-organized education continues on the computer networks, where newbie programmers clamor for advice from wiser, more experienced developers. Lately, however, online education has started to organize itself more formally.

Here and there on the Web and on the online services, established educational institutions have implemented accredited “distance learning” projects, with varying degrees of success. At the other end of the educational spectrum, numerous independent writers and editors have created the “canon” of online self-education: online tutorials, online books, and numerous FAQs. Somewhere between these two extremes, a handful of active users have organized interested people to seek out an education online, or get assistance to educate themselves.

Last year, Stephen Jovanovic set up the PowerPlant Dream Team, organizing dozens of programmers into groups to study and then develop in the PowerPlant framework. This project has grown into a new project: the CodeWarrior User Group, which has been officially recognized by Metrowerks. Part of the group’s mission is to organize “Dream Teams” to study Java, C++, ODF/OpenDoc and PowerPlant. The aim of the Dream Teams is to foster learning in a collaborative, fun environment, and to help small groups of programmers produce new applications.

The CodeWarrior User Group is seeking volunteers and sponsors. For more information, contact Steve Jovanovic at

radar pangean [yes, that’s his name - jk] has been developing a Web-based service called “The MOST”, where mentors will help neophytes learn aspects of Macintosh programming. The MOST is more like a school than the Dream Team, because there is a prescribed course of study, and each group has a leader who acts as a mentor.

As their Web page describes it, the MOST Web site and services are the gifts of altruistic Macintosh professionals and amateurs to anyone - high school or college student, other platform developer, current Mac OS developer - who wants convenient access to resources that will help her produce high quality Macintosh applications.

The MOST provides an umbrella non-organization which facilitates opportunities for its volunteer members to work together to provide free access to mentors, information resources, self-study courses, and net-based, mentored classes. The courses and classes which The MOST produces will cover as many aspects of programming for the Mac OS as can be created (and then supported) in the volunteers’ “spare time”. The MOST makes its information and services available at no charge.

The MOST is seeking volunteers and sponsors. For more information, contact radar pangean at

The online services have also run ongoing classes teaching programming. America Online has an extensive archive of C programming course material. CompuServe is running classes on, among other things, Java. For more information about these programs, contact your online service provider.

Conceptual Design Releases EightyRez Editor for AppleScript Dictionaries

Gary McGath, dba Conceptual Design, is releasing a new Macintosh application, EightyRez, for developers of scriptable software. This application allows easy editing of 'aete' and 'aeut' resources, also known as AppleScript dictionaries.

Until now, there have been no full-featured tools for editing AppleScript dictionaries. Various freeware tools have been developed, but all have drawbacks. EightyRez is a supported, commercial product to edit dictionary resources.

Features of EightyRez include:

• Viewing resources as collapsible outlines

• Stationery files for common suites

• Cutting and pasting whole suites or individual elements

• Exporting dictionary listings and Rez source files

• Pop-up menus for selecting commonly used values

• Printed documentation and Apple Guide help

• E-mail support

EightyRez requires Mac OS 7.0 or higher and a 68020 or higher processor. Eight megabytes of memory are recommended.

The purchase price is US$40, plus US$2 shipping within the U.S. and Canada, or US$10 shipping elsewhere or for second-day air delivery in the U.S. EightyRez is not for sale to the U.S. government or its agencies, in view of its ongoing hostility to our liberties, particularly the Communications Decency Act and restrictions on cryptographic software [their comments, not mine - jk]. Site licenses are negotiable. A demo is available at the Web site below.


Maxum Development Corp. has released the MaxumPack 1.0, an application bundle to make your Macintosh Web site dynamic, interactive, reliable, secure and fast. Included in the bundle are current versions of all Maxum’s shipping products: NetCloak, NetForms, PageSentry, WebLock and RushHour.

NetCloak 2.0 extends the capabilities of a Macintosh-based Web server by adding a total of 45 commands for use in World Wide Web pages. It executes these commands “on-the-fly” as the Web pages are sent to the client. Web authors can customize their pages by the following values: client domain, time, date, browser, referrer, username, password, access count, any client-entered information, and a random number. NetCloak dynamically serves graphics, text, hyperlinks and other HTML elements and includes advanced features like macros and high-performance caching.

NetForms is a Web server “back-end” that allows Webmasters to easily process information contributed by visitors to create completely interactive Web sites. NetForms can take user-submitted information and create a new HTML page, send an e-mail message, insert text into an existing page, and store the data for later processing by virtually any application (including databases, spreadsheets, text-processors, etc.). The Webmaster is in control of how the page is formatted, how the menus are kept, and what words or phrases will be linked automatically.

PageSentry 1.1 will monitor any page, on any server, anywhere on the Internet. PageSentry allows the Webmaster to create “sentries” that perform complete HTTP file transfers. The files are checked for valid content and, in the case of a failure, the Webmaster is notified. By performing real HTTP transfers, PageSentry verifies that all parts of the Web server are functioning, including the operating system, the TCP/IP stack, the Web server itself, and even CGI applications.

WebLock is a performance and security utility incorporating RAM-based file caching and security based on the Mac OS built-in File Sharing and Users and Groups. Unlike security schemes based on realms, which require complex naming conventions and can have undesirable side-effects, WebLock allows you to protect folders with a simple click.

RushHour is a software-based Web server graphics accelerator for the Macintosh which eliminates performance bottlenecks that typically are responsible for significant server slow-downs. RushHour runs in conjunction with your existing Web server software and allows you to improve dramatically the overall throughput at your site, even on extremely busy sites that serve large files. As graphics comprise the majority of most Web server traffic, RushHour may return a “three- to ten-fold” improvement in performance.

The MaxumPack carries a list price of US$695 with a special introductory price of US$595 through July 31, 1996. Maxum Development. Tel: (708) 830-1113.


FairCom Corporation announced the release of its new Developer CD, which features the new c-tree Plus version 6.6A and FairCom Macintosh Server release 6.06.26B. The FairCom Developer CD also gives the developer fully functional FairCom database servers for over 25 supported environments. In addition, the CD offers full on-line documentation with complete search capabilities.

“FairCom supplies efficient and stable code that I can count on when I need to port it to a new compiler variant,” said H. Tom Thomas, President of Tetra Systems, Santa Fe, New Mexico, which provides conference abstract management for companies like Monsanto. “With compilers getting updated every four months, it’s nice to know making c-tree work won’t be a problem. For example, porting c-tree to the latest Microsoft cross-compiler for Macintosh was simple,” Thomas explained.

The CD also supports development on Windows 3.1, Windows 95, and Windows NT with new automatic windows instance logic, native NT support for the Dec Alpha and NEC MIPS CPUs, and a native Windows 95 Server.

Other c-tree Plus File Handler features include a low level file flush function for flushing file caches, a special configuration function providing pertinent information about the c-tree Plus application, new memory allocation tracking abilities, and many other functional enhancements. FairCom Server enhancements include executing user applications during Server startup and shutdown, a complete system administration API which allows developers to perform system administrator duties from within C programs, additional control and flexibility over the Server automatic recovery process, server speed enhancements due to reductions in network traffic, and additional memory control options.

The FairCom Developer CD with c-tree Plus V6.6A is priced at US$895 with full C source code, no royalties, 25+ free development Servers. Licenses are sold per-developer. FairCom. U.S. tel: (800) 234-8180; Europe tel: (039) 35-773-464; Japan tel: (0592) 29-7504.


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