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.

 
AAPL
$100.58
Apple Inc.
+0.01
MSFT
$45.22
Microsoft Corpora
+0.27
GOOG
$583.37
Google Inc.
-1.12

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Pages 5.2.2 - Apple's word processo...
Apple Pages is a powerful word processor that gives you everything you need to create documents that look beautiful. And read beautifully. It lets you work seamlessly between Mac and iOS devices. And... Read more
Quicken 2015 2.0.1 - Complete personal f...
The new Quicken 2015 helps you manage all your personal finances in one place, so you can see where you're spending and where you can save. Quicken automatically categorizes your financial... Read more
CleanMyMac 2.2.7 - Delete files that was...
CleanMyMac makes space for the things you love. Sporting a range of ingenious new features, CleanMyMac 2 lets you safely and intelligently scan and clean your entire system, delete large, unused... Read more
MacFamilyTree 7.2.4 - Create and explore...
MacFamilyTree gives genealogy a facelift: it's modern, interactive, incredibly fast, and easy to use. We're convinced that generations of chroniclers would have loved to trade in their genealogy... Read more
Videobox 4.1.1 - Download Flash video th...
Videobox allows you to quickly and easily download Flash video from most all of the popular video sites on the internet. Videobox will convert the video into a native Quicktime format so it's ready... Read more
Web Snapper 3.3.5 - Capture entire Web p...
Web Snapper lets you capture Web pages exactly as they appear in your browser. You can send them to a file as images or vector-based, multi-page PDFs. It captures the whole Web page - eliminating... Read more
Picasa 3.9.138 - Organize, edit, and sha...
Picasa and Picasa Web Albums allows you to organize, edit, and upload your photos to the Web from your computer in quick, simple steps. Arrange your photos into folders and albums and erase their... Read more
Tidy Up 3.0.15.0 - Find duplicate files...
Tidy Up is a complete duplicate finder and disk-tidiness utility. With Tidy Up you can search for duplicate files and packages by the owner application, content, type, creator, extension, time... Read more
Parallels Desktop 10.0 - Run Windows app...
Parallels Desktop is simply the world's bestselling, top-rated, and most trusted solution for running Windows applications on your Mac. With Parallels Desktop for Mac, you can seamlessly run both... Read more
Apple Final Cut Pro X 10.1.3 - Professio...
Apple Final Cut Pro X is a professional video editing solution.Completely redesigned from the ground up, Final Cut Pro adds extraordinary speed, quality, and flexibility to every part of the post-... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

DotEmu Summer Sale Cuts Several Games’ P...
DotEmu Summer Sale Cuts Several Games’ Prices to $0.99 Posted by Ellis Spice on August 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
King Announces its Newest “Saga” – Diamo...
King Announces its Newest “Saga” – Diamond Digger Saga Posted by Jessica Fisher on August 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] Diamond Digger Saga, by King Digital Entertainment, promises to be another addictive, adorable game in the “Saga” | Read more »
Spacetime Studios’ Greg Mueller Tells Al...
| Read more »
TourStar Review
TourStar Review By Rob Thomas on August 21st, 2014 Our Rating: :: BORING TOURINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad When The Ramones sang “Touring, touring/It’s never boring,” they clearly weren’t referring to TourStar.... | Read more »
Track Your Pregnancy with Glow Nurture
Track Your Pregnancy with Glow Nurture Posted by Jessica Fisher on August 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad | Read more »
Outcast Odyssey – An Interview with the...
At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, fans got the chance to meet and mingle with several of the artists behind Magic Pixel Games and Namco Bandai’s upcoming card battler, Outcast Odyssey. Considering many of these artists have worked on comics in the... | Read more »
BoxPop Review
BoxPop Review By Jennifer Allen on August 21st, 2014 Our Rating: :: UNTAXING PUZZLESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Move from tile to tile to clear the board in this slightly too simple and easy puzzle game.   | Read more »
Breakdown Buddy Review
Breakdown Buddy Review By Jennifer Allen on August 21st, 2014 Our Rating: :: FLAWED CONCEPTiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad There’s a good idea here, but Breakdown Buddy isn’t as useful as it tries to... | Read more »
jamstik, the Guitar You Can Take Everywh...
jamstik, the Guitar You Can Take Everywhere, is Now Available for Purchase Posted by Jessica Fisher on August 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] Zivix has announced that their guitar-in-your-pocket, | Read more »
Star Walk 2 - Guide to the Sky Day and N...
Star Walk 2 - Guide to the Sky Day and Night 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: The next generation of the best-selling Star Walk, winner of Apple Design Award, used by... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

21-inch iMacs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ iMacs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software: - 21″ 2.7GHz iMac: $... Read more
27-inch 3.2GHz iMac on sale for $1698, save $...
Abt has the 27″ 3.2GHz iMac on sale for $1698 including free shipping. Their price is $101 off MSRP. Read more
Mac Backup Guru 2.0 Drive Backup/Cloneing Uti...
Mac Backup Guru developer MacDaddy has released Mac Backup Guru 2.0, offering new and enhanced advanced features, such as bootable backups, synchronised volumes and folders, and a Snapshot mode that... Read more
Operate GE’s New Free-Standing KItchen Range...
Think you accidentally left the oven on? Switch it off while on the go. The new free-standing Profile™ Series gas and electric ranges are GE’s second cooking appliances, following their wall oven, to... Read more
Parallels Announces Parallels Desktop 10 for...
The no. 1-selling software for running Windows applications on a Mac becomes an even easier choice for millions of consumers and IT professionals worldwide with the launch of the most powerful... Read more
Apple now offering certified refurbished 2014...
 The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs for up to $180 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is... Read more
Best Buy’s College Student Deals: $100 off Ma...
Take an additional $100 off all MacBooks and iMacs, $50 off iPad Airs and iPad minis, at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through September 6th. Anyone with a valid .... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP, free...
B&H Photo has three 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They also include free copies of Parallels Desktop and LoJack for Laptops... Read more
Razer Taipan Mouse For Gamers And Non-Gamers...
If you’re a serious gamer on either Mac or Windows PCs, a serious gaming mouse is a necessity for first-tier performance. However, even if like me you’re not much of a gamer, there’s still a strong... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $1899,...
Adorama has the new 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1899 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** As more and more people discover Apple , they visit our stores seeking ways to incorporate our products into their lives. It's your job, as a Store Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…Summary** As a Specialist, you help create the energy and excitement around Apple products, providing the right solutions and getting products into customers' hands. You Read more
Project Manager, *Apple* Financial Services...
**Job Summary** Apple Financial Services (AFS) offers consumers, businesses and educational institutions ways to finance Apple purchases. We work with national and Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC)- Retail S...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.