TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Feb 01 Viewpoint Volume Number: 17 (2001)
Issue Number: 2
Column Tag: Viewpoint

Viewpoint

By John C. Welch

Geeks In Toyland

Welcome

Well, MacWorld Expo in San Francisco is the traditional way for Mac users of all stripes to start the year off right, and this year's was exceptionally good. From the plethora of OSX announcements to the amazing attendance figures, (over 93,000, a record for any MacWorld anywhere), this was a show to remember. There were hardware and software announcements galore, and products to meet any Mac user's needs, including those of the network administrator. So let's start where any MacWorld starts; the Keynote.

Opening Keynote

A Steve Jobs keynote is something that we all look forward to, and this one was easily the equal of any expectations. Although the entire computer industry was eviscerated by one of the worst holiday quarters on record, as always, bad news from Apple is looked at with particular emphasis. Ignoring the industry downturns, and the first bad quarter in years, the familiar 'Will Apple survive' refrain was starting to show up again, requiring an exceptional keynote from Jobs to combat it, and that is what we got.

First of all, there was the contriteness regarding missing the boat on CD-R/W drives. No excuses, just an admission that Apple had messed up, but that they were going to fix that. Dovetailing in with the announcement that CD-R drives were going to be standard on almost all model of G4 tower was the announcements of the new G4 towers themselves. The new towers have CPU speeds of 466MHz, 533MHz, 667MHz, and 733MHz. So now, the slowest G4 will be almost as fast as the previous high end model. But as we will see, other non - CPU related improvements may actually make this model faster than the 500MHz previous high end. However, the changes to the CPUs in the towers are significant by themselves.

New G4s

The two lower end models of G4 tower appear to be using the MPC7410 from Motorola. The 7410 is almost identical to the previously used 7400, but with changes designed to allow it to be used in low heat/embedded situations. The 7410 drops the 7400's support for 3.3V interface voltage, for example. The 7410 is built on a .18µm CMOS process, an improvement on the .20µm that the 7400 is built on. The die size on the 7410 is smaller, 52mm2 down from the 83mm2 size of the 7410. The result of this is a chip that is capable of operating cooler than the 7400. But in most other ways, the 7410 is simply a 7400 that needs less power and emits less heat.

The two high end G4 towers are using the MPC7450, also from Motorola, and this is the chip that Mac users have been waiting quite some time for. Improvements to the 7450 include a pipeline increase from four to seven stages, allowing for the higher clock speeds, the addition of four new execution units, support for 4 instructions per clock cycle, up from the 7410's three, on-die 256K L2 cache, increasing the L1 cache bus from 128 to 256 bits, support for a faster system bus, and support for up to 2MB of L3 cache. The 7450 sports two more AltiVec units, making the total 4, and can fill two of them every clock cycle, again, an improvement from previous G4 implementations. (This is where things get tricky. For example, I can fill 256 bits worth of AltiVec unit every clock cycle. Each of those 128 bit instructions can be four 32 bit integer values in a packed data type. So, in a sense, I can actually run 8 integer ops per clock cycle. There's more to it than that, but things like this really make MHz comparisons quite simplistic.) In addition to the new AltiVec units the number of integer units has gone from 2 to 4, and this will give almost all applications better performance, not just the AltiVec - enabled ones. In short, the 7450 is a much more powerful chip than its predecessors, and with the new design, and an improved process, hopefully, we'll be seeing regular speed improvements from now on.

But there is more than just the CPU improvements to the new G4s. The system bus speed has been improved by a third, up to 133MHz from the previous 100MHz. The PCI subsystem, in addition to gaining a slot, for a total of four, also gets PCI Write Combining. This allows sequential write transactions, either Memory Write, or Memory Write and Invalidate commands, to be combined into a single PCI transaction. This give the G4 towers some long awaited PCI performance gains. The AGP bus goes from 2X to 4X, and we get nVidia GeForce 2 MX cards on all but the lowest end G4s, which will use the ATI Radeons. Finally, for those who need or want, the 533MHz model comes in an optional dual CPU multiprocessor model. According to Jobs, had Apple tried to initially offer the higher end models in MP configurations, he would have been introducing them in April. This candid admission that supplies of the new toys are going to be strained at first is unusual, but refreshing, and shows that Apple is trying to sooth its customers, and by extension, its investors that while the news this quarter may not be good, that's not a permanent feature.

Titanium

Well, it's not often you hear the CEO of a major computer company talking about how they want sex as well as power in a new product. It's even rarer to actually see them pull it off. But the PowerBook G4 is just that. Power is the MPC7410 that is running the laptop, and sex is everything else. What's even more amazing is how many segments of the laptop market this product is suited for. You're a CEO who wants something stylish, yet thin enough to fit in that oh-so stylish case? Titanium. You're a traveler who wants something light, with a big screen, yet not so tall that you can't use it on a plane? Titanium. You're a mobile media type who needs FireWire, USB, and a decent aspect ratio on your screen to see your work? Titanium. Really, about the only segments this doesn't appeal to are those who desperately need internal bays, and those who want a laptop not much bigger than a Newton. (Speaking as someone with a plethora of bay devices, I'll trade them in for what I would get out of a Titanium, in a heartbeat.) Judging by the frenzied cell phone orders I heard leaving the keynote, I think this will be a winner for Apple.

OS X

Of course, you can't have a MacWorld keynote without a demonstration of the latest versions of OS X. This time was no different. Steve was happily showing off the latest features of the OS, mostly those that had received the most number of comments. The Apple Menu, while not the same Apple Menu from the current Mac OS, is back where we are used to it, and it now has some spiffy new features that are available at all times, regardless of application, such as the Special Menu functions, Location Manager, etc. The Dock has been modified to allow for hierarchal popup menus from folders in the Dock, giving back a couple of missed features missing in the PB. Ctrl-clicking different items in the Dock now works as well, for things such as monitor resolution. So without simply jamming the current Apple Menu and Control Strip in the OS, Apple is still managing to restore much of that functionality in a coherent and integrated way. The speed of OS X seems to have been improved, and reports from other sources indicate that a lot of optimization work is definitely paying off.

In the end, it was a successful keynote, both for product and image. Steve showed that Apple is not just sitting on its keister, and is actively working to answer the criticism its been facing lately.

Microsoft Keynote

The second day of the show started with an unusual event: a non-Apple keynote. This was Microsoft's keynote, and although it was held in the Marriott instead of the Moscone, it was well attended and well received. There were two reasons for this. The first being the public unveiling of Outlook 2001, the Mac version of the Exchange client. Looking exactly like its Windows cousin, for once, Mac users on an Exchange server won't be feeling like a bad smell under the couch. Finally the calendaring and scheduling functions on the Mac are feature as feature complete as the Windows version, to the point where a Mac client can even alter a Windows client's calendar. The Mac version sports some UI improvements over the Windows version, most notably in simplifying the sometimes mind-numbing number of dialogues that some tasks can cause. There is also a new wizard that runs when you first install the application, that greatly simplifies the process of connecting to your Exchange server. With the short shrift that Mac users sometimes get from IS in the enterprise, Microsoft was smart to take the lead on this. Finally, in response to my query about how will the Mac version deal with Melissa, and other VBA - created virii, the response from Microsoft, was, "Easy, we don't support Visual Basic in the product, but we are going to try and have an excellent AppleScript implementation." They are quite aware of the AppleScript standard set by such products as Outlook Express and Entourage, and are using them as an idea of where Outlook 2001 should be.

The other half of the keynote was devoted to Office 2001, and specifically, demonstrating Office running as a Carbon application. Although obviously an early alpha, it was Office, it was Carbonized, and it was running. Evidently stung by recent criticism of Microsoft's commitment to the Mac OS, not only did we see the Office on X demo, but also some slides showing just how large an undertaking that Carbonizing Office is. Although, not surprisingly, no hard release date was given, Microsoft is saying Fall of 2001 as a release timeframe.

Like the Apple keynote from the day before, the Microsoft keynote managed to not only introduce new product, but also answer criticism, and show that Microsoft's commitment to the Mac OS continues unabated.

Other Non-Announcements

Quiet release and MacWorld Expo go together like Sodium and Water, but this show had at least two rather major products that just sort of showed up, with almost no fanfare. This first of these was Mac OS 9.1, the latest version of the current Mac OS. Although not a radical change, like OS 9.0 was, there are some rather major changes in this release.

The Finder as a number of new features, such as:

  • Not protesting bad memory settings in the Get Info window until you close it,
  • A context menu that allows you to open OS X packages as folders
  • A Window menu, that shows current Finder windows.
  • The Desktop folder can now be redirected to volumes other than the startup volume.
  • It is also now not possible to copy an alias file over a document file.
  • Share point names can be no longer than 27 characters
  • If you edit a file's name in the Get Info window and the lock it, the name change sticks
  • The 'Encrypt' command no longer works on aliases
  • You can't bless the Desktop folder by moving the System and Finder there
  • More intelligent identification of OS X packages
  • Custom Icon support for OS X packages
  • Apple Events issues with background windows have been fixed

There are a lot more fixes and features across the entire OS, and those are detailed in Technical Note 2010, available on Apple's developer site.

The second non-announcement was the showing of the Aqua-ized release of OS X Server. The most obvious change is the integration of OS X Server with Aqua, and the more modern underpinnings of OS X. But along with that come some features that network administrators will love just as much:

  • Native support for SMB/CIFS Windows networking
  • Support for SMB printing
  • Improved UI for management tasks
  • Better SLP support
  • OS X support with NetBoot and Macintosh Manager
  • Integrated LDAP support
  • A POP/IMAP mail server
  • Improved Apache support, such as WebDAV

This is also looking to be the version of OS X Server that acts as the integration between earlier versions of OS X Server and AppleShareIP, which will simplify the task of figuring out which server product to use. If the integration is done as well as Apple says it will be done, then this will be A Good Thing, but only time will tell.

Floor Products

This MacWorld was centered around one thing...OS X. Almost every product of interest to IS or corporate computing was showing off an OS X version, or an early beta of an OS X version, or something having to do with OS X. In fact, there were so many, I couldn't even come close to seeing them all. Among these were products I use as well, such as WebSTAR, FileMaker Pro, and other products, like 4D, Rewind, InterMapper, and QuickKeys.

One of the more heavily hyped products was AccountEdge, by MYOB. This product is MYOB's attempt to not only take care of existing QuickBooks customers abandoned by Intuit, but to bring back some of the small businesses that may have left the Mac because of QuickBooks. Currently available as a Classic Mac OS application, there is a Carbon version being developed, so that users of that OS will have an accounting solution as a native application. AccountEdge also features improved integration with Microsoft Office 2001, and looks to be a winner of a product.

Alsoft was selling the latest update to DiskWarrior, version 2.1, which, although not yet Carbonized, is able to fully repair a Mac OSX HFS+ disk. It also features quite a few upgrades for changes in Mac OS 9.1 as well. The directory comparison feature has been improved, and the report format changed to be more readable. Shortly after the Expo, Alsoft announced that the long awaited update to Disk Express Pro will be released as a native OSX and Classic Mac OS application, and will be free to all customers who owned DiskExpress Pro 3 when Mac OS 8.1 was released.

In addition to Alsoft, MicroMat was demonstrating Drive 10, a Mac OS X native application, that not only checks and repairs volume structures, but also runs other drive hardware diagnostics, and is able to interface with the SMART circuitry on those drives that have it. This allows Drive 10 to monitor issues like the quality of power being delivered to the drive, and other low level problems that can often appear as other errors. Having personally been bitten by a bad power supply, that Drive 10 could have possibly caught, I plan on getting a copy as soon as it is released.

Dantz was showing off the Carbonized version of Retrospect 4.3, along with the OS X - native backup agent. Both run natively under OS X, but the agent is a Cocoa application, and interestingly enough, by using Cocoa, Dantz says they get a 5x speed improvement over both the Windows and Mac OS agents. The first release of Retrospect will be a Carbon version of the current Mac OS server, so that network administrators have a native backup solution as quickly as possible. The next iteration of the server will take the lessons learned in creating the Windows server, and apply them to OS X's superior GUI and feature set, allowing it to leapfrog the Windows server.

Netopia, recently bought by Proxim, was showing the OS X versions of both Timbuktu Pro and netOctopus. Both are being pushed to OS X as fast as possible, although due to the nature of both of these applications, final development has to wait for the GM release of OS X. At the netOctopus User's Luncheon, Netopia presented a very detailed roadmap for netOctopus's future development, talking about the new features being planned for the product, and the integration with other network management products and systems.

Late Night Software was showing off the OS X native version of it's excellent AppleScript IDE, Script Debugger, a major product for those of us who use AppleScript on a daily basis.

Finally, WildPackets, formerly the AG Group, was demonstrating the OS X native version of EtherPeek, which, like many of the products I have talked about, may not be sexy, but is absolutely critical to most network managers.

Conclusions

For network managers, this was a major show indeed. We finally get to actually see the products we care about running in OS X, instead of the usual "Oh we'll have it ready real soon" promises. There is something reassuring about being able to see, and in most cases, actually use the products that we need to move to OS X. If this show was any indication, MacWorld in New York is going to be a network manager's toy store.


John Welch <jwelch@aer.com> is the Mac and PC Administrator for AER Inc., a weather and atmospheric science company in Cambridge, Mass. He has over fifteen years of experience at making computers work. His specialties are figuring out ways to make the Mac do what nobody thinks it can, and showing that the Mac is the superior administrative platform.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

calibre 3.1.1 - Complete e-book library...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
Sparkle Pro 2.2 - $79.99
Sparkle Pro will change your mind if you thought building websites wasn't for you. Sparkle is the intuitive site builder that lets you create sites for your online portfolio, team or band pages, or... Read more
Spotify 1.0.57.474. - Stream music, crea...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue puts... Read more
beaTunes 5.0.1 - Organize your music col...
beaTunes is a full-featured music player and organizational tool for music collections. How well organized is your music library? Are your artists always spelled the same way? Any R.E.M. vs REM?... Read more
LibreOffice 5.3.4.2 - Free, open-source...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
VOX 2.8.26 - Music player that supports...
VOX just sounds better! The beauty is in its simplicity, yet behind the minimal exterior lies a powerful music player with a ton of features and support for all audio formats you should ever need.... Read more
iFFmpeg 6.4.0 - Convert multimedia files...
iFFmpeg is a comprehensive media tool to convert movie, audio and media files between formats. The FFmpeg command line instructions can be very hard to master/understand, so iFFmpeg does all the hard... Read more
Beamer 3.3 - Stream any movie file from...
Beamer streams to your Apple TV.... Plays any movie file - Just like the popular desktop movie players, Beamer accepts all common formats, codecs and resolutions. AVI, MKV, MOV, MP4, WMV, FLV. To... Read more
jAlbum Pro 14.0 - Organize your digital...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. You can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly... Read more
Apple Remote Desktop Client 3.9.3 - Clie...
Apple Remote Desktop Client is the best way to manage the Mac computers on your network. Distribute software, provide real-time online help to end users, create detailed software and hardware reports... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

This War of Mine gets a new ending and m...
This War of Mine just got a big new update, featuring free DLC that adds a new ending to the game, among other exciting changes. The update is celebrating the game's two-year release anniversary. Apart from the new ending, which will be quite... | Read more »
Summon eight new heroes in Fire Emblem H...
Nintendo keeps coming at us with Fire Emblem Heroes updates, and it doesn't look like that trend is stopping anytime soon. The folks behind the game have just announced the new War of the Clerics Voting Gauntlet, expected to start next Tuesday. [... | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
iOS publishers are pulling out all the stops this week -- there's a huge number of seriously great games at discounted prices this week. Let's not waste any time and get right down to business. [Read more] | Read more »
The House of da Vinci (Games)
The House of da Vinci 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Enter The House of Da Vinci, a new must-try 3D puzzle adventure game. Solve mechanical puzzles, discover hidden... | Read more »
Solve the disappearance of history’s gre...
Blue Brain Games invites you to indulge in an immersive hands-on 3D puzzle adventure in similar vein to The Room series, with its debut release The House of Da Vinci. Set during the historic period of the Italian Renaissance (when Leonardo himself... | Read more »
Age of Rivals (Games)
Age of Rivals 3.3 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 3.3 (iTunes) Description: Deep civilization-building strategy in a fast-paced card game! | Read more »
Panthera Frontier (Games)
Panthera Frontier 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Angry Birds Evolution beginner's gu...
Angry Birds changes things up a fair bit in its latest iteration, Angry Birds Evolution. The familiar sling-shot physics mechanics are still there, but the game now features team-based gameplay, RPG elements, and a new top-down view. With all of... | Read more »
Sega Forever is for the retro game fans
Sega is launching a new retro games service titled Sega Forever, in a move that's sure to delight games enthusiasts with a bit of nostalgia. Sega's releasing five classic games for free. The titles include Sonic the Hedgehog, Phantasy Star II,... | Read more »
The Little Acre (Games)
The Little Acre 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

ABBYY TextGrabber 6 for iOS Implements Instan...
ABBYY has announced the release of TextGrabber 6.0.0, an important feature update to the company’s productivity app developed for iOS and Android devices. TextGrabber 6.0 now offers Real-Time... Read more
vPhone, First Smartphone That Can’t Be Lost,...
Austin, Texas based Hypori has introduced the vPhone, a virtual smartphone that affords every business user the benefits of separate work and personal phones, conveniently delivered on a single... Read more
Save this weekend with 2016 refurbished MacBo...
Apple has dropped prices on Certified Refurbished 2016 15″ and 13″ MacBook Pros by as much as $590 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: -... Read more
New 27-inch 3.4GHz iMac on sale for $1699, sa...
MacMall has the new 2017 27″ 3.4GHz iMac (MNE92LL/A) in stock and on sale for $1699 including free shipping. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Clearance 2016 MacBook Pros available for up...
B&H Photo has clearance 2016 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $400 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz... Read more
Apple Ranks 9th In comScore Top 50 U.S. Digit...
comScore, Inc. has released its monthly ranking of U.S. online activity at the top digital media properties for May 2017 based on data from comScore Media Metrix Multi-Platform. * Entity has... Read more
10.5-inch iPad Pros available for up to $20 o...
B&H Photo has the new 2017 10.5″ iPad Pros available for up to $20 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: - 64GB iPad Pro WiFi: $649 - 256GB iPad Pro WiFi: $749 - 512GB... Read more
Three Off-The-Beaten-Track iOS Apps That Dese...
One of the great things about using iPads and iPhones is the vast selection of apps available for most anything you want or need to do. The three outlined in this article have been in my core app... Read more
Apple No. 1 Spot In Gartner Top 100 Vendors i...
Gartner, Inc. has unveiled the top global 100 vendors in IT in 2016 based on their revenue across IT (excluding communication services) and component market segments. In the Gartner Global Top 100:... Read more
Clearance iMacs available for up to $300 off...
B&H Photo has clearance 21″ and 27″ Apple iMacs available starting at $949, each including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $1999 $300 off original MSRP - 27″... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* News Product Marketing Mgr., Publish...
…organizational consensus on strategy and vision for publisher tools, authoring, and Apple News Format.Carries this strategy and vision across the organization to Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Security Data Analyst - *Apple* Information...
…data sources need to be collected to allow Information Security to better protect Apple employees and customers from a wide range of threats.Act as the subject matter Read more
Lead *Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple I...
…integrity, and trust.Success Metrics/Key Performance Indicators:Quantitative* Year over Year growth in Apple Product and Beyond the Box sales in the assigned Point of Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant till v%u00E5r...
…ethics, integrity, and trust.Success Metrics/Key Performance Indicators:QuantitativeYear over Year growth in Apple Product and Beyond the Box sales in the assigned Point Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.