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

MacFamilyTree 9.0.12 - Create and explor...
MacFamilyTree gives genealogy a facelift: modern, interactive, convenient and fast. Explore your family tree and your family history in a way generations of chroniclers before you would have loved.... Read more
ffWorks 2.0.4 - Convert multimedia files...
ffWorks, focused on simplicity, brings a fresh approach to the use of FFmpeg, allowing you to create ultra-high-quality movies without the need to write a single line of code on the command-line.... Read more
Apple Pages 10.0 - Apple's word pro...
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
Numbers 10.0 - Apple's spreadsheet...
With Apple Numbers, sophisticated spreadsheets are just the start. The whole sheet is your canvas. Just add dramatic interactive charts, tables, and images that paint a revealing picture of your data... Read more
Keynote 10.0 - Apple's presentation...
Easily create gorgeous presentations with the all-new Keynote, featuring powerful yet easy-to-use tools and dazzling effects that will make you a very hard act to follow. The Theme Chooser lets you... Read more
Carbon Copy Cloner 5.1.16 - Easy-to-use...
Carbon Copy Cloner backups are better than ordinary backups. Suppose the unthinkable happens while you're under deadline to finish a project: your Mac is unresponsive and all you hear is an ominous,... Read more
PDFpenPro 11.2.2 - Advanced PDF toolkit...
PDFpenPro allows users to edit PDF's easily. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Create fillable forms and tables of content... Read more
PDFpen 11.2.2 - Edit and annotate PDFs w...
PDFpen allows users to easily edit PDF's. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Features... Read more
ScreenFlow 9.0.3 - Create screen recordi...
ScreenFlow is powerful, easy-to-use screencasting software for the Mac. With ScreenFlow you can record the contents of your entire monitor while also capturing your video camera, microphone and your... Read more
Amazon Chime 4.30.7537 - Communications...
Amazon Chime is a communications service that transforms online meetings with a secure, easy-to-use application that you can trust. Amazon Chime works seamlessly across your devices so that you can... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Same Room Games is a great collection of...
Staying at home under lockdown kinda sucks. Totally necessary, yes, but also more than a little anxiety-inducing and often boring. Thankfully, we've got lots of great multiplayer games to play with friends and keep us sane, the latest of which,... | Read more »
Bark Park is a joyfully silly multiplaye...
Bark Park is a charming, good-humoured game about competing against other players to claim as much territory as possible by peeing on nearby trees. Did I mention that everyone is playing as a dog? Makes things a little less weird. [Read more] | Read more »
The 5 Best Games Like Grindstone
Apple Arcade made a splash when it first launched, granting access to over 50 games as soon as it became available. Of those titles, the one that seemed to grab most people’s attention was Grindstone, a matching puzzle game from Capy Games. [Read... | Read more »
Awarding-winning puzzler Make One is now...
Make One is a game with a simple concept that it executes with flair and impressive levels of polish. It comes to us from developer Brazle and publisher PiG, and it's just landed this week for Android. At its core, Make One is a logic-based... | Read more »
Marvel Contest of Champions' latest...
Kabam's Marvel Contest of Champions has now teased some of the latest characters heading to the Battlerealm next month. Here's your chance to watch the new motion comic embedded below, Barons' War, before I spoil the surprise. [Read more] | Read more »
Why Calibria: Crystal Guardians is the p...
We could all use escapism right now, something to focus on and a project to feel part of during these times of social isolation. If you’re one of the many who’s turned to gaming to fill the lockdown void, Calibria: Crystal Guardians should be on... | Read more »
Mini Tank: Fire is a Worms-like, turn-ba...
Mini Tank: Fire is an online multiplayer game that takes a few cues from the likes of Worms and Shell Shock Live. It will feature 5v5 turn-based battles and is available now for both iOS and Android as a free-to-play game. [Read more] | Read more »
Poly is an endless runner for iOS where...
Poly is an endless runner from solo developer Denis Kakacka that's available now for iOS as a free-to-play game. It aims to bring a slight twist to the standard running formula by mixing up what you're actually controlling. [Read more] | Read more »
Reflex Unit 2 brings intense PvP battles...
Reflex Unit 2 will see players engaging in mech-based warfare, fending off waves and waves of autonomous robots that are threatening to destroy the planet. It's available now for iOS and Android. | Read more »
Snake Core is a modern take on a mobile...
Snake Core, from acclaimed indie developer Orangepixel, is a modern take a mobile classic: Snake. The idea is that you'll command a small army of troops as they go about attempting to take down a horde of invading aliens. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple offers Certified Refurbished iPhone XS...
Apple has Certified Refurbished iPhone XS models available for up to $350 off MSRP, with prices starting at $699. Each iPhone is unlocked and comes with Apple’s standard one-year warranty and a new... Read more
Siri, Apple’s AI-Powered Virtual Assistant, N...
FEATURE: 04.01.20- Apple’s virtual assistant powered by AI (artificial intelligence), Siri, can answer almost any question you throw at it, from asking for today’s weather forecast to where the... Read more
Buy Apple’s 16″ 2.6GHz 6-Core MacBook Pro for...
Apple reseller DataVision has new 16″ 2.6GHz 6-Core MacBook Pros on sale for up to $170 off MSRP, each including free shipping. DataVision charges sales tax for NY, NJ, PA, and CA residents only. In... Read more
Boost Mobile 1-day Flash Sale: $100 off all A...
Boost Mobile is offering Apple’s 2019 iPhone 11 and 11 Pro models for $100 off MSRP. Boost is also offering the same $100 discount on new previous-generation iPhone XS, XR, X, 8, and 7 models. For... Read more
In stock! Apple’s new Mac Pro for $5995 with...
Apple reseller DataVision has the new 2019 Apple Mac Pro in stock today for $5995 ($5 off MSRP) including free shipping. DataVision charges sales tax for NY, NJ, PA, and CA residents only. If you don... Read more
Apple Sources Confirm Spring Media Event Canc...
NEWES: 03.31.20- A previously planned Apple media event scheduled to take place sometime this Spring that was rumored and widely expected to be held today, March 31, were confirmed by anonymous... Read more
Apple restocks 2017 13″ Dual-Core non-Touch B...
Apple has restocked a limited number of Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ 2.3GHz Dual-Core non-Touch Bar MacBook Pros starting at $1019. An standard Apple one-year warranty is included with each model,... Read more
Save $300 on the 13″ 2.4GHz MacBook Pro with...
Apple has a full line of Certified Refurbished 2019 13″ 2.4GHz 4-Core Touch Bar MacBook Pros available starting at $1529 and up to $300 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, shipping is... Read more
Just in! Apple’s new 2020 4-Core Mac mini $10...
B&H Photo has Apple’s new 2020 4-Core Mac mini in stock and on sale today for only $699 including free overnight delivery for many US addresses. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest... Read more
New 2020 13″ Space Gray MacBook Airs on sale...
B&H Photo has Apple’s new 2020 13″ Space Gray MacBook Airs on sale today for $50 off Apple’s MSRP. While they don’t have stock today, preorders are accepted at this discount. Overnight shipping... Read more

Jobs Board

Sephora Merchandise/Operations Supervisor -...
Sephora Merchandise/Operations Supervisor - Apple Blossom Mall Location:Winchester, VA, United States- Apple Blossom Mall 1850 Apple Blossom Dr Job Read more
Sales Supervisor - *Apple* Blossom Mall - J...
Sales Supervisor - Apple Blossom Mall Location:Winchester, VA, United States- Apple Blossom Mall 1850 Apple Blossom Dr Job ID:1083621Store Hourly Positions Read more
*Apple* Mac Product Engineer - Barclays (Uni...
Apple Mac Engineer Whippany, NJ Support the development and delivery of solutions, products, and capabilities into the Barclays environment working across technical Read more
Essbase Developer - *Apple* - Theorem, LLC...
Job Summary Apple is seeking an experienced, detail-minded Essbase developer to join our worldwide business development and strategy team. If you are someone who Read more
Senior Software Engineer @ *Apple* - Theore...
Job Summary Apple is looking for a seasoned senior software engineer to join our worldwide business development and strategy team. This is an opportunity to lead a Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.