Professional Composer ($495, from Mark of the Unicorn Inc., 222 3rd Ave., Cambridge, MA 02142, 617-576-2760), is a premium grade program aimed at the professional composer, arranger, copyist, and serious amateur musician. Its high quality graphics yield an impeccable printed score. A serious musician with Professional Composer and a 512K Mac with external disk drive could become immediate friends.
The 128 pages of documentation are divided into Introduction, Tutorial, and Reference sections in a plush embossed binder and dust cover. The manual's format bears a reassuring resemblance to Apple's instruction books, with wide margins, high-gloss card stock, precise text with careful compartmentalization of ideas, and occasional screen dumps to disperse doubt. The documentation is patient with the beginner. Cut, Copy, Paste, erase by backspacing, dragging or double clicking to select music or text for copying, and size and close boxes are identical to MacWrite, so I was at home immediately. I began by writing sixteen bars of melody and left-hand piano accompaniment before opening the documentation to discover shortcuts. The ever-appreciated Undo command recovered material too hastily excised.
A disk fills up with just Professional Composer version 2.0 (211KB), a System file (166KB), and a familiar J. S. Bach C minor Fugue for demonstration. On a backup disk, you might delete the fugue (four voices in 31 measures requiring 99 seconds to play) to free up another 4KB. Without a hard disk, you'll have to keep Professional Composer and the System file on separate floppies in order to leave room for music files on the application disk. Without the external drive, each of the disks must be inserted six times to boot, and calling up any desk accessory (such as the Control Panel to set volume) requires swapping, leaving you on the System disk with no obvious way to return to the work disk. If you click Save and proceed to return to Professional Composer, you'll receive a message explaining that your music was lost. Mark of the Unicorn should have pointed out that clicking on About Professional Composer ejects the System disk, allowing you to save your work on the application disk. Obviously, a second disk drive is a requirement. If you boot up with a backup disk, copy protection will require you to insert the original disk before proceeding.
The Professional Composer menu bar offers Basics, Symbols, Variations, Extras, and Groupings. When selecting staves with the Basics menu, you can choose multiple G clef staves for an orchestration, or a G clef for solo plus a G clef and a bass F clef stave pair for piano, but you cannot have two pairs of G and F clef staves for a piano duet.
Also in the Basics menu are Key Signature, Meter, Tempo, Metronome Marking, and Measure Numbering. Each calls up a dialog box with scads of technical terms with which to grace your manuscript.
The Notes, Rests, Clefs, Dynamics, Ornaments, Articulations, and Special options in the Symbols menu display palettes down the left edge of the screen for choosing various notations. Palettes may be put away after selections are made. Professional Composer consistently makes good use of the screen area and generates printed copy with even greater efficiency than the screen layout. The program supports lyrics in many fonts. The Title Page option in the Extras menu requests various information, and with minimal direction Professional Composer then prints a handsome masthead.
Click on Meter, and you are presented with a choice of six standard timings, or you can devise what you want, such as 9/4 time for Tschaikovsky's4th or 5/4 for Stan Kenton's Take Ten. Click on Tempo, and you have eleven choices from Adagio to Vivace, or you can type in your own. Unfortunately, the labels don't affect playback speed, for which there are only three fixed choices.
In the Variations menu are Transpose (by Parts, by Key, or by Interval), Rebar, Change Rhythm, and Merge Staves. In transposition, the program knows what to do with a B-flat saxophone that reads in one key and sounds in another. For orchestral arrangements, you label each staff with the instrument (the Extras option offers eleven) that will play it. Check Range knows the frequency span of each instrument, so you cannot get away with writing bass notes for a flute.
The Groupings menu has eighteen choices, including Beaming, Ties, Slurs, Trills, Turns, Accents, Grace Notes, Decrescendos, and so on, enough to keep a music student delirious for months.
Triplets and tuplets are handled well. Select a run of 8th, 16th, or 32nd notes by dragging and then click on Beam, and they are instantly connected by a bar across their stem ends. Five, six, or seven notes can be selected, and the Mac can be instructed to play the tuplet in the more usual time of 4. The beam is labeled accordingly. You can flip stems up or down for better readability. You cannot have both up and down stems on the same note when it is shared by two voices.
As convenient references for ensemble practice, you may number measures at every 5th, 10th, All, or at the beginning of each line. Since themes are written in multiples of eight bars, better choices might have been at every 8th, 16th, or All.
To write by mouse, position the insertion point through the staff by clicking and dragging. Drag the small cross hair up and down the insertion point until it is on the desired line or space. Select an eighth note by clicking on the palette at the left edge of screen. The note then appears where the insertion point was.
You may work by chords, rather than voices as in Hayden's MusicWorks, but there is nothing to prevent writing an entire melody and then filling in the harmony. You can Copy and Paste chords, measures, or entire phrases with a great saving of time. Notes also have keyboard equivalents, as an alternative to selecting from the palette. For fast, accurate transcription, Mark of the Unicorn's John Mavraides suggests holding down a key (such as C for the quarter note), moving the cross hair up or down the insertion point until it's accurately positioned, and then releasing the mouse. Cleverly, shifting while selecting a note by keystroke will get you the equivalent rest. Mark of the Unicorn thoughtfully included a paper fold-up chart of keystrokes. This all worked well for copying a one-note melody from a page, but when I then tried to type in the harmony to form chords, I found that the insertion point did not advance, but instead jumped backward after each choice. I couldn't work just from the keyboard to form chords without first carefully clicking on their desired locations. Using the go-left (U) and go-right (P) keys caused the insertion point to jump between existing notes.
Writing music by computer in itself is not fast. The advantages lie in the Cut, Copy, Paste, Undo, and Print commands. Oh, before you print, choose Check Rhythm, and the program highlights any measures containing timing errors.
The horizontal scroll bar across the bottom of the screen gives quick access to different parts of the score. The scroll box should index measure numbers the same way recent versions of MacWrite index page numbers.
To discover the program's strengths and weaknesses, I attempted to transcribe nine piano pieces. On first try, Onward, Christian Soldiers, the splendid four-voiced hymn, was copied in fifty minutes. About 90% of it went onto the screen flawlessly. Then I copied four quarter notes onto the top line of the bass staff. When I attempted to put two half notes under them, the program insisted upon changing these to quarter notes and appending them to the stems of the quarter notes above to form chords. I finally gave in and wrote four quarter note diads. This limitation in its many variations prevented faithful transcription of all nine pieces I attempted.
Similarly, Richard Rogers and Fritz Lowe piano arrangements have the melody in right hand, accompaniment in left, and counter-melody shared between them. The counter-melody is played during sustained notes held by either hand. The above limitation in Professional Composer largely forecloses piano music.
In Dave Rose's Our Waltz, some slurs passed through the stems of interim notes, even obscuring dotted values.
In Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto, the left hand has great rushes of notes up into the treble staff. Unfortunately, they cannot be continued from bass into the treble staff like the original, since melody already there displaces them. They can be written as musically unreadable extensions above the bass staff, until you necessarily try to go above middle B. Then they automatically revert to the octave below. The only solution is to write the treble part on the bass staff with an 8va sign over it. This is almost unreadable, and the printed score is far from faithful to the original. In the Grieg, the program impressively handled five against four and six against four, both in notation and in playback.
DeBussy'sClair de Lune has sextuplets in which the first note is held and is shown as a dotted quarter note with double stem, the top stem belonging to the sextuplet. That is not allowed by the program. Rachmaninoff's Eighteenth Variation and a Grieg Nocturne were simply impossible due to the same limitation. Orchestral instruments commonly play only one note at a time, so transcriptions for combos and even large orchestras work well.
Fixing errors is bothersome. To type music, you can write a note by clicking the desired location, depressing a key with the left hand, and then striking the Enter key. If wrong, you cannot reposition the note. You must select it and backspace to remove it. An error thus more than doubles your work by requiring erasure and another choice. In Hayden's MusicWorks, dragging to reposition an errant note is an intuitive and easier thing to do.
The wraparound problem so oppressive in MusicWorks is also evident in Professional Composer. However, removal of an entire chord is necessary before all of the following chords on that staff come rushing in from the east, breaking alignments with chords on the other staff. Something like the Page Break in MacWrite (a Phrase Break?) would help.
If the first note in a treble measure is a grace note, then the first note written in the bass measure below will be automatically converted to a grace note. This is undesirable.
Aberrations in the original version of Professional Composer included invisible notes, an occasional inability to select a note or phrase, and sometimes no response at the insertion point at all. At one point I had stems tying chords in treble and bass together into one big chord, and a succession of them, at that! An insertion point placed correctly to position the second note of a chord would persistently result in two separate notes, with no amount of fiddling able to generate a diad. I finally encountered a system bomb that lost the work altogether. Version 2.0 has remedied most of this, but unresponsiveness of the insertion point continues at times. This is a program which is obviously improving, but still needs work. The features I identify as deficiencies are:
* Choices of only three speeds, not true variability.
* Inability to play four quarter notes in the third voice against two half notes in the fourth voice, and the many variations of this problem.
* Inability to scroll music as it is being played. (One solution: print and read from paper.)
* No option to begin playback at the beginning of a piece while viewing later measures.
* No pedal line.
* Slur lines pass through note stems, sometimes hiding dotted values.
* When stems are up, accent marks are forced below.
* Unlike MusicWorks, no auxiliary display shows the pitch of the note (such as 6C#) to confirm cursor position and reduce errors before entry, especially well above or below a staff.
* No way to write four staves (two pairs of G and F clefs) for piano duets.
* No scroll index number to locate a measure on first try. That was inconvenient when copying phrases.
* Occasional lack of response of the insertion point.
* Triplets which lose their timed value when copied.
Despite the problems described, this program has a lot going for it. It is no child's toy, unless the child is Amadeus. Unlike MusicWorks, Professional Composer does not play Mac's four voices with the great versatility of sythesized instruments, and playback lacks a continuously variable speed control, so what Mark of the Unicorn is selling relates more to orchestrating capability (good) and printing (excellent).
As an experiment, I copied Professional Composer's symbols into MacPaint. A set of staves and a catalog of hand-drawn symbols saved in the Scrapbook, while far slower to create, allowed me to write unhesitatingly the problematical measures which Professional Composer refused to accept or insisted upon modifying. MacPaint has no custom features for writing music, and certainly will not playback sound, but the Cut-Copy-Paste-Undo commands save as much time as when using Professional Composer, there is nothing that it cannot write, and MacPaint never refuses to accept legitimate notations. With much greater effort, the printout is as good.
The prodigious power of Professional Composer easily manages the multiple staves of an elaborate orchestration, dedicating each staff to an instrument and then monitoring it for correct tonal range and timing. Notation offered is complete in the extreme, and the strikingly superior printed score when done by LaserWriter is camera-ready for publishing. A manuscript can even be entered into MacPaint for further enhancement. The tonal playback is helpful and adequate in composition. Professional Composer is suitable for orchestrating the music of many single-pitch instruments in harmony and yields printed copy which is above reproach. Therein lie the true strengths of the program.
Subscriber Interests And Activities
David Stovall, Excelsior, MN: I use my Macintosh in my architecture business for everything I can. I currently use MacWrite, MacPaint, Multiplan, MacDraw, MacProject, MacPublisher and Thunderscan. All correspondence, transmittals, forms, letterheads, calling cards, and so on are produced on the Mac. Multiplan is used for accounting, cost estimating and listing. I use all the programs to create promotional brochures and I have been producing construction drawings for timber frame houses on MacDraw combined with MacPaint via Switcher. Thunderscan has been super in being able to include my clients' logos or letterheads on drawing titles for quite a personal touch. The most exciting thing I am doing is putting together a program with two other architects, one in Minneapolis and one in New York City, to network our operations together, via modems, to design and draw several small retail stores that will be built in enclosed shopping malls around the country. Our client (formerly an all-IBM office) and his construction manager will also be connected into our network. At this time, the stores are small enough to enable us to do all our drawings with MacDraw and print on a 15" Imagewriter. The Mac should work great because the repeatability of details from store to store will greatly reduce our drawing time. Working directly with architects around the country will reduce travel and administrative time for the widely dispersed projects. Hopefully, we will progress to more powerful CAD software and plotter output on large sheets in the future and put all our work on the Mac.
Johanna L. Chalgian, Ann Arbor, MI: I use a 512K Macintosh at home and at work, which is as a micro-computer newsletter editor at the Computing Center at the University of Michigan.
Daniel Chaucer, Middle Village, NY: I use my Mac mostly for word processing and spreadsheets. I am a consulting engineer and find it indispensable for reports which include large data sheets and drawings. I recently added ClickOn Worksheet and, despite some limitations, I expect that it will be well worth the limited investment. I have used Microsoft Word, but for most work I still prefer MacWrite.
George Beekman, Corvallis, OR: I've just completed The Macintosh Home Companion, the first complete guide to home use of the Macintosh. I wrote the book using MacWrite, Word, ThinkTank, and MacPaint.
Hugh Miller, Golden, CO: We currently have fifty-four 512K Macs in US Department of Energy offices ranging from administration and engineering to construction management.
Gregory J. Jalbert, Middletown, CT: I plan on porting some 3D drawing/manipulation software that I have developed on VAX 11/780 and IBM PC/XT computer systems. I also have a strong interest in computer music and plan on developing some music software.
Harry M. Randel, Scotch Plains, NJ: I teach in two elementary schools in addition to doing all the training at an Apple dealership. An Apple IIe sees constant usage in preparing on-hands training for my students, whereas a Mac sees constant usage in preparing the written text that becomes their textbook and workbook, since no commercial publications are used in either school with regards to computer literacy.
John R. Llamas, Oakland, CA: Utilization of my Mac is predominantly for business in word processing and graphics presentations for project plans and presentations. My wife, who until I got the Mac wouldn't even touch a computer, now spends a fair amount of time with it. I may have to move it to my office to get any work done.
Michael L. Johnson, Trenton, OH: I am a chemist for the EPA and work with high tech continuous gas phase analysis equipment in the parts/billion range, which can rapidly turn into random number generators.
Karen Kaufman, Columbus, OH: I am an associate producer/writer in the Marketing/Promotion department of WBNS TV (a CBS affiliate) in Columbus, Ohio. Thank goodness a previous boss had the foresight to purchase a Lisa exclusively for our office. I love it! I maintain an active list of our on-air promos (commercials for our locally owned and produced shows) for both news and entertainment. Of course, we use it for the day-to-day word processing. I've created teleprompter paper for when we shoot promos using the studio cameras (our printer looks much clearer than the newsroom's computer, and is much easier for talent to read.) I've created sales sheets for our sales department (saves them money instead of getting the sheets typeset), and am currently working on putting together a station newsletter. We use our modem to talk to Arbitron (one of the TV rating companies) to get back ratings when new books come out. Our department budget will soon be kept on our Lisa. Transposing ratings numbers into graphs on LisaGraph makes it much easier for the station's clients to understand ratings. LisaList would be a great tool for our film editing department in keeping a film library, although at the present time they don't use it. I recently upgraded to 7/7 and have considered buying MacWorks to expand our capabilities.
William S. Guion, Laurel, MD: My Mac is used primarily for word processing and spreadsheets. My children do a lot of their homework on the Mac.
Rick Smolan, New York, NY: I am the director of a publishing company which purchased 135 Macintosh systems as part of a project called "A Day in the Life of Japan". The project involved 100 of the world's leading photographers who all flew to Japan from twenty countries in order to photograph a single 24-hour period on Friday, June 7, 1985. We also flew leading picture editors to Japan to edit the 150,000 pictures shot. We paid the photographers and editors for working on the project by giving each of them a free Mac.
Michael O. Perlman, Hollywood, FL: I am currently using my Macintosh as a word processor for writing my doctoral dissertation in Chemistry.
Mark Strayer, Stone Mountain, GA: I have a Mac both at home and at work. I am an industrial designer and use my Mac at work primarily in preparing feasibility study reports concerning product development in various manufacturing processes, primarily blow molding. I use MacPaint in my reports to produce illustrations and MacWrite for the text. My Mac at home is used for fun. I enjoy adventure games and also keeping track of my home finances.
Jeremy E. M. Norgren, Wanganui, New Zealand: We are programming in MacModula-2 from the Modula Corporation, and are finding the language difficult to learn.
Wiley Sanders, Austin, TX: I am author of MacRumors, the Macintosh column for StarText, the electronic edition of the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
Jeff Brown, Juneau, AK: This Mac keeps track of the hundreds of volunteers, musicians, and events involved with the Alaska Folk Festival, coming up to its twelfth year. MacPublisher is used for the newsletter, Habadex for lists, and Paint and Write for most everything else. Maybe Smoothtalker will be our accompanist next year! Habadex is also great for keeping track of even more volunteers at KTOO-FM (TV), public broadcasting for Alaska's capital. Joe Gorilla (dressed appropriately) also used the Mac to manage his campaign for the City Assembly, capturing the highest number of write-in votes (20).
Richard D. Norling, Washington, DC: During the last year, I used MacWrite under MacWorks to write a book published by Osborne/McGraw-Hill. I also coauthored StatWorks, the first truly Mac-like statistics package to start shipping for the Macintosh. Now I'm finishing up a full-featured icon editor, and working on a graphics package.
Amy L. Buck, Santa Clara, CA: My particular application for the Macintosh is as a writing tool. I have a consulting business writing computer user and reference manuals and various publications. I also am a "network manager" for two Laserwriters, eight 512K Macs and a Corvus 45MB hard disk.
R. Clifton Bailey, McLean, VA: I have a 512K Mac which I use at home for word processing, statistical calculations and everything from inventories to entertainment. Last semester I taught statistics at George Mason University and found the Mac a valuable adjunct to my teaching effort. I hope to program some statistical routines as time permits.
R. R. Johnson, Franklin, MI: I use the Mac for word processing and am also currently using Helix to manage the data on my orchard of 1,000 fruit trees. My wife uses the Mac as a word processor and fancy printer for her music businesses. She would like to use it as a data base system to organize a sheet music library of over 3,000 compositions from the Middle Ages, a summer workshop for players, and a data base of organizations and individuals for whom her peforming groups have played.
Joseph van den Heuvel, Tavistock, Canada: We use a 512K Macintosh (self upgraded) with two drives and the Manx C compiler to track breeding lines on our farm.
A Free-Form Super Note Pad
by Charles L. Martin
Factfinder ($150, from Forethought Inc., 1973 Landings Dr., Mountain View, CA 94043, 415-961-4720) is a free-form database program that functions as an electronic card file. Or, as the manual that comes with the program puts it, an electronic desk drawer. The program allows you to enter notes in text form, as with a simple word processor, and to index the notes a number of ways.
Factfinder is packaged in an attractive box containing a single disk and an 80 page manual with a four page index. I tested a pre-release version (1.045) of the then about-to-be-released version 1.1. Version 1.045 was copy-protected, but I was told by a product manager that version 1.1 would not be. Version 1.1 also improves on version 1.0 by increasing its speed on a 512 Mac, and by adding the ability to sort.
The About... window greets you when you open Factfinder. Factfinder calls a database file a stack, and each record in the stack a factsheet. A record consists of one field for free-form notes, and a variable number of indexed fields. When you select the Open A Stack command from the File menu, you get the familiar mini-finder. When you select a stack to open, or create a new stack, four relocatable windows appear on the screen. The left half of the screen contains the window in which you type the text of your factsheet. This window can be resized in the usual way, and also by a Zoom Out/Zoom Back button, which alternately expands the text window to full-screen size, and shrinks it to one-half width, wrapping words to fill the visible window. The right half of the screen contains three windows: Keys, Find, and Names Found. The Keys window shows the dates of creation and last change to the displayed factsheet, and allows you to add and delete indexed words. The Find window is where you type searching and sorting criteria. The Names Found window shows the date and time and a list of the factsheets found on your last search, and allows you to display any factsheet you chose.
To begin creating your database, you simply type notes into the Factsheet window, similar to creating text with other Macintosh tools. I did not test the program to find the maximum length of a factsheet because the program is not terribly useful as a word processor. Its primary purpose is to aid in accessing short notes. There is no provision for finding arbitrary information within a long factsheet, so there is good reason to keep the factsheets short. As already described, Zooming is a great way to see more text quickly while maintaining the ability to effortlessly return to a fixed size window, but because of the automatic word wrap it does not preserve the format of text. So if you want text to appear in columns, for example, you will have to enter and view them in the same viewing mode.
Factfinder automatically indexes a factsheet by its name (which is entered when you save the page) and by the dates of creation and last modification (taken from the clock). You can enter your own index references, or keys, several ways. While typing text into a factsheet, you can index the last word you typed by typing Command-M. You can create a key by selecting a word or phrase with the mouse, and index it by typing Command-M or by choosing Mark from the Keys menu. You can also index a sheet by typing a keyword into the Keys window. Therefore, a key does not have to appear in the text. Dates are recognized as date keys if entered in mm/dd/yy format. You can create automatic keys, which are entered in a special window. Once you enter automatic keys, you can switch them on and off to automatically add or not add them to new factsheets you create. This feature would only be useful if you were creating a series of factsheets that have the same keys, or if you had several keys that frequently recur.
As you enter your text into individual factsheets, Factfinder organizes the sheets into a stack. These stacks are organized as a stack of paper would be. That is, the first factsheet created goes on the "bottom" and each new one goes on top of the previous one, in order of creation. The Factsheet window has browse buttons that let you flip through the stack in either direction. When you get to the first or last factsheet in the stack and press a browse button again, you get an error message informing you that you have reached the end of the stack in that direction. I found this annoying, and would have preferred the stack start over at the beginning, but in some situations the dead end approach might be better.
Factfinder allows you to copy stacks to and from text files, to allow merging of stacks and to move factsheets into other applications that support text files. Text files have to be formatted with special codes needed by Factfinder before they can be "loaded in". The codes include the name of each factsheet, the dates of creation and last modification, and any keys for indexing. Once you have created your factsheets, you can search through them to extract relevant ones, and exercise various viewing and printing options. Searches are carried out by entering search criteria in the Find window. When you open a stack, the default value of Find is "All". This returns the entire stack of factsheets and allows you to browse through them in the order of their creation. To retrieve selected factsheets, you can use "and", "or", "to" (for a range), and a wild card ("?"). Priorities for search criteria are established using parentheses. Subsequent stepped searches are possible by using the "found" operator, which returns all factsheets previously found.
Entry of search criteria is simplified by the Index window, which displays all words and dates marked as keys, and all search operators except "found" and "?". The Index window allows you to scroll through the alphabetized keys using the scroll bar, or aided by tabs, which are buttons that take you to various areas of the Index in a fashion similar to hitting a keycap while in the mini-finder. You can enter search criteria entirely with the mouse by selecting a key or a search operator and clicking on the Move button. This moves the key or search operator to the Find window. You can repeat the select-and-move sequence as many times as necessary to get the search criteria you want. You can also type your search criteria directly into the Find window. When your search criteria appears in the Find window, you select the Find Factsheets command from the Stack menu, or type Command-F. During the search, a dialog box appears telling you a search is in progress and allowing you to cancel the search. After the search is completed, the Names Found window shows the names of all factsheets meeting the criteria, and the Factsheet window shows the top factsheet in the stack. The Names Found window also gives a record count after each search.
You can display individual factsheets by browsing through the stack one at a time, or by selecting a name from the Names Found window. If the sheet you want is not among those in the found stack, you can enter "all" in the Find window and select Find Factsheets from the Stack menu, or you can enter the name or a keyword you are searching for instead.
The sorting function was added to Factfinder while I was writing this review. The sorting command is typed into the Find window by adding the word "sort" to the beginning of the search criteria, and by adding a range for the sorted item. For example, you would sort all references to elephants by author by typing "sort elephant? by Author-A to Author-Z", provided you typed in and indexed your authors uniformly, with each author typed with a last name preceded by "Author-". The ability to define the search criteria and the range separately should allow you to record your phone calls in a stack, and later retrieve all those for the past two months that had "Appointment" as a key, by using "sort Appointment by created: 9/1/85 to created: 11/31/85". Unfortunately, there apparently is no way to sort in descending order. Nevertheless, this is a powerful tool, provided the proper keys were attached to the relevant factsheets (you can add keys at any time, so this should not be a major limitation), and provided you can live with ascending order only.
The Factfinder program utilizes the Macintosh user interface as extensively as any program I have used. After the textual factsheets are entered, your searches can be done entirely without the keyboard. They can also be done by a combination of keyboard and mouse. Although extensive use is made of keyboard equivalents, the mouse is indispensable.
Factfinder was easy to learn and to use. Included with the program is a special file of help screens that can be chosen from a Help menu that appears on the menu bar whenever the Help file is on the same disk as the program. The help screens make the user's manual almost superfluous. When you no longer need them, you can delete the help screens from your disk, or move them to another disk, and reclaim the space they use.
Another feature I liked was that the Names Found window always displays the time and date. The About... window shows memory and disk space usage, although this feature was buggy on my XL.
Although I generally liked Factfinder, it does have flaws, and is most certainly not for everyone. For example, there is no way to search for words that are not indexed. So, if you never dreamed that you might want to find the factsheets on all accountants on the company payroll whose wives have the same name as your wife, you will have to read each factsheet and individually mark each name for indexing. This means you need to do careful planning before you start to work on your database, which is usually not such a bad idea anyway. The same applies to utilizing sorts on factsheets. Unless you carefully create sorting keys that are compatible with Factfinder's sorting methods, the sorting function is barely usable. However, those problems are a compromise for Factfinder's main advantage, which is a deliberate lack of structure.
The About... window is on the screen any time no window is open. It gets a little annoying when you want to close one file and open another. You have to wait for the screen to redraw the About... window before you can give a command to open a new file or quit. It's a minor problem I found I could get around by keeping a desk accessory open.
I appreciate the ability to combine the search and sort commands, and the ability to search by a range of keys, but I would like to see an easier way to do simple sorts, and I think descending sorts are worth adding. For example, I would like to be able to sort the stack in ascending order by the name of the factsheets by giving the command "Sort Name +". Or better yet, type "Name", then select Sort from the Stack menu. It could be easier still if the special keywords, such as "Name" and "[date] Created", could be selected from the buttons in the Index window.
It is not hard to come up with uses for this program. When I was a college student, I had a job in a university's public relations department as an assistant photographer and darkroom technician. My job was to fill orders for images that met certain formulas. I might have gotten (and often did) an order for a picture of a couple of students enjoying the annual watermelon cutting, or a student in discussion with a professor or studying in a library. It did not take me long to discover that many of those assignments were repeated from year to year, and being the lazy person I am, I set about to remedy the situation. I started a file and indexing system for each roll of film I shot. When I finished developing a roll of film, I would index the roll number and negative number under as many subjects as I could think of. The next time I got an assignment for a picture of the science building to illustrate the honors program, I could pick out my "Science Building" card and compare it to my "Students Studying" card, find a couple of photos indexed on both, and pull the negatives from the number. Factfinder program would have been ideal for that task.
The new version is significantly faster than version 1.0 on a Fat Mac. I alternately assigned 512K and 128K to Factfinder under Switcher 2.895 on a Lisa, and it did many fewer disk accesses with 512K than with 128K. Be warned, however, that a hard disk is very desirable for searching large files, because the number of disk reads is still great.
I tested this program using Macworks 3.0 on a 2MB Lisa. While moving windows around the screen, I moved the Factsheet window off the top of the screen. After releasing the mouse, the title bar was hidden by the menu bar, and I could no longer move the factsheet. Very inconvenient. Most applications refuse to let you move the title bar off the screen, or they cancel the drag if the cursor is in the menu bar when the mouse is released. If Factfinder's problem is not due to Macworks, it is a bug which must be fixed.
One problem which is very likely the fault of Macworks rather than Factfinder is its startling tendency to crash with an irretrievable system error . It happened as I was writing this review and tried to open a stack. It has happened many times when I opened the About... window to see how much memory was free. This is probably not a problem unless you use an XL. Just be sure to Save frequently until you have a chance to test Factfinder out on your own Mac.
Factfinder is a valuable tool for people who need to keep many short records, and to find individual ones quickly. The sorting feature which was added to the current version appears to be most useful with the automatic date keys. For many simple databases, the free-form nature of data entry will outweigh the disadvantages of Factfinder. For researchers who need rapid access to short notes in a large data file, it would be ideal. Professionals who make many telephone calls, most of which they can forget but a few of which they will have to refer to later, will find Factfinder valuable for taking notes. In short, anyone who needs to keep a file of contacts, sources, ideas, and similar resources will find this program invaluable.
Factfinder is not for everyone, though. It will not be useful to those who need a complicated sort, or to those who need to assemble detailed summaries of their database. It is not a text editor, nor is it a substitute for a hierarchical database. It is a super note pad for quick referral to short notes of any type.
Received, But Not Yet Reviewed
This list is not compiled from press releases, but only from real products that have actually arrived at our office.
Icon Review, quarterly catalog of Macintosh products and reviews. $2.50 ($7/year), Mindwork Enterprises Inc., Box 2566, Monterey, CA 93942, (800) 228-8910 or 824-8175.
Supermac, a book by Danny Goodman. $16.95, ISBN 0-671-49256-X, Simon & Schuster Inc., 1230 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10020, (212) 245-6400.
MacPoint, a "pointer publication" to sources of information about the Macintosh, and a forum for "complete material". $15/six issues, MacPoint, 5704 Harper #201, Chicago, IL 60637.
The Blue Chip Challenge, a teacher's guide to the Millionaire, Baron and Tycoon economic simulation products. $8.95, Blue Chip Software Inc., 6740 Eton Ave., Canoga Park, CA 91303, (818) 346-0730.
Dr. TOM's Reference Decks and Database (sample disk), portions of card decks and a Microsoft File index and cross-reference to the Macintosh ROM. TOM Programs, 1500 Massachusetts Ave. NW #34, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 223-6813.
Painter's Helper #1, an aid for making drawings that are too large or difficult for MacPaint. $23 (shareware), Reas'nable Software, 779 11th St., Idaho Falls, ID 83401, (208) 529-0378.
VideoWorks, 24-channel animation software for the Macintosh. Hayden Software, 600 Suffolk St., Lowell, MA 01854, (800) 343-1218.
PageMaker, publication layout software for the 512K Macintosh. Aldus Corp., 616 1st Ave. #400, Seattle, WA 98104, (206) 467-8165.
XL/Serve, software to allow Macintoshes to simultaneously share an XL's hard disk and printer on an AppleTalk network. $195, Infosphere Inc., 4730 SW Macadam Ave., Portland, OR 97201, (503) 226-3620.
MacPDS, a newsletter and catalog of Macintosh public domain software. $12/year (free sample with self-addressed stamped envelope), MacPDS, Box 85097, Seattle, WA 98105, (206) 547-4772.
Mac Edge II, eight Macintosh math and reading programs for ages 4 to 14. Think Educational Software Inc., Box 466, Potsdam, NY 13676, (315) 265-5636.
Personal Accountant, accounting software for the Macintosh. $89.95, Softsync Inc., 162 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016, (212) 685-2080.
Mac-Fair, country fair arcade games for the Macintosh and Microsoft BASIC. $39.95, Brownbag Software, 8208 N. University St., Peoria, IL 61615, (309) 692-7786.
Macatalog, mail order catalog of Macintosh products. The Bottom Line, Box 423, Milford, NH 03055-0423, (603) 881-9855.
MacInTouch, a monthly publication for Macintosh users. $48/year, Ford-LePage Inc., Box 786, Framingham, MA 01701, (617) 527-5808.
Crunch (Trial Size), a demo version (saving files is disabled) of a spreadsheet for the 512K Macintosh. Free to user groups. Paladin Software Corp., 3255 Scott Blvd. #7C, Santa Clara, CA 95054, (408) 946-9000.
The Great International Paper Airplane Construction Kit, a book and Macintosh clip art disk by Neosoft Inc. $39.95, ISBN 0-671-55297-X, Simon & Schuster Inc., 1230 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10020, (212) 245-6400.
Dynamics of Jazz, a book by Don Beil. $19.95, Don Beil, 330 Brooklawn Dr., Rochester, NY 14618, (716) 461-4954.
1985 Winter Catalog, a mail order catalog of Macintosh products. Gemini Software, 315 Arneill Rd. #211, Camarillo, CA 93010, (805) 388-0690.
The Complete Macintosh Sourcebook, a book by Pat Ryall and Doug Clapp. $24.95, ISBN 0-931137-03-9, InfoBooks, Box 1018, Santa Monica, CA 90406, (213) 470-6786.
Grid Wars, an arcade game for the Macintosh. Ann Arbor Softworks Inc., 308-1/2 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104, (313) 996-3838.
Copy II Mac Version 4.2, software for copying protected programs. Central Point Software Inc., 9700 SW Capitol Hwy. #100, Portland, OR 97219, (503) 244-5782.
Macintosh Graphics in Modula-2, a book by Russell L. Schnapp. $19.95, ISBN 0-13-542309-0, Prentice-Hall Inc., Rt. 59 at Brook Hill Dr., W. Nyack, NY 10994.
Desktop Publishing, a bimonthly magazine. $24/year, User Publications Inc., Box 5245, Redwood City, CA 94063, (415) 364-0108.
Personal Publishing, the monthly "magazine of electronic page creation". $30/year, The Renegade Co., 549 Hawthorn, Bartlett, IL 60103, (312) 837-8088.
The Mac Art Dept., a book and Macintosh clip art disk by Thomas Christopher. $39.95, ISBN 0-671-54317-2, Simon & Schuster Inc., 1230 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10020, (212) 245-6400.
Helix 2.0, an updated version of the Helix data-based information management and decision support system. Free to registered Helix owners. Odesta Corp., 4084 Commercial Ave., Northbrook, IL 60062, (312) 498-5615.
The Mac Times Newsletter, a periodical for Macintosh users. Mac Times, 615 Shartle Cir., Houston, TX 77024.
The LisaTalk Report (sample mailer), a quarterly publication for Lisa and Mac XL users. $42/year, The NetWorkers, 3500 Market St. #103, San Francisco, CA 94131, (415) 550-1710.
Twelve-C (demonstration version), a Macintosh desk accessory emulating the Hewlett-Packard 12C financial calculator. Dreams of the Phoenix, Box 10273, Jacksonville, FL 32247, (904) 396-6952.
Winter Games, Temple of Apshai Trilogy, and Rogue, three games for the Macintosh. Epyx Inc., 1043 Kiel Ct., Sunnyvale, CA 94089.
The PDE Collection of Macintosh Public Domain Software, a catalog. $3, The Public Domain Exchange, 673 Hermitage Pl., San Jose, CA 95134, (408) 942-0309.
FlashFinder, an alternative to the Macintosh desktop and MiniFinder. $39.95, Unicom Software Development Group, 297 Elmwood Ave., Providence, RI 02907, (401) 467-5600.
PageMaker 1.1, a free upgrade kit for registered users. Aldus Corp., 616 1st Ave. #400, Seattle, WA 98104, (206) 441-8666.
The Macintosh Buyer's Guide (Fall 1985), a quarterly directory of available products. $5 ($10/year), Redgate Publishing Co., 3381 Ocean Dr., Vero Beach, FL 32963, (305) 231-6904.
MacCalendar, a 1986 calendar that looks like a Macintosh. $4.95, MacPDS, Box 85097, Seattle, WA 98105, (206) 742-4360.
The Crimson Crown, an adventure game for the Macintosh. $39.95, Penguin Software, Box 311, Geneva, IL 60134, (312) 232-1984.
WillWriter, a book and companion software for generating personal wills on the Macintosh (Apple II version received). $39.95, ISBN 0-917316-98-3, Nolo Press, 950 Parker St., Berkeley, CA 94710, (415) 549-1976.
The Desktop Publisher, a newsletter for PageMaker users. Aldus Corp., 616 1st Ave. #400, Seattle, WA 98104, (206) 441-8666.
Fat Mac Nameplate, a self-adhesive nameplate for the 512K Macintosh. $2.49, MacPDS, Box 85097, Seattle, WA 98105, (206) 742-4360.
Record Holder, a data manager for the Macintosh. $49.95, Software Discoveries Inc., 99 Crestwood Rd., Tolland, CT 06084, (203) 872-1024.
Kangaroo Disk Jacket Pocket ($6.95/25), Numbered Disk Labels ($5.95/25 pair), Color-Coded Disk Jackets ($6.80/25), Color-Coded Disk Labels ($4.50/120). Weber's DiskOrganized Systems, Box 104, Adelphia, NJ 07710, (800) 225-0044.
MacBooster vs. TurboCharger
by James Bierman and Eli Hollander
As we were writing our review of TurboCharger for Semaphore Signal #24, Mainstay (28611B Canwood St., Aguora Hills, CA 91301, 818-991-6540) announced that their new disk cache program called MacBooster was about to appear. Mainstay assured us that their product would be twice as fast as TurboCharger at half the price.
Now that MacBooster is on the market, that promise has been only partly fulfilled. At $50, it is a little more than half the price of TurboCharger, but extensive testing has not proved it to be any faster. In fact, none of the benchmarks we recorded varied more than a half a second from the results published in our review of TurboCharger.
If price and speed were all that was involved, MacBooster would be worth the money, but sadly it comes shackled with a copy protection scheme that makes it awkward to use. Unless you use your Macintosh for long sessions, the copy protection negates any time advantage the cache was intended to gain.
MacBooster installs only in memory. It must be activated every time you boot up or reset your machine, and its effects are lost every time you power down or reset. Disk swapping is frequently required in order to install MacBooster for each session (especially if you own a Macintosh with a single disk drive), resulting in extra time and inconvenience.
While its documentation claims that MacBooster can be copied to unprotected disks (using a special copying application that's included), that is not quite the case. Initially, we were unable to install MacBooster on MacWrite, MacPaint, or Microsoft Word disks. The latter was understandable since Word is protected, but the first two cases puzzled us. When we contacted Mainstay, they informed us that MacBooster lays claim to the entire 78th track on a disk, and if that track has any information on it, MacBooster cannot be copied onto that disk. They explained that we could correct this situation on unprotected disks by first reformatting a disk, then adding the application we intended to use, then copying MacBooster to it using the special copying program, and then copying the system folder and other applications or files we wanted. That's a merry little dance to repeat for several disks.
Since most of our disks are either protected, or will not easily accommodate the MacBooster application (short of the above absurd procedure), we most frequently took the option of installing MacBooster from its master disk. With a two-drive system, this can be done without disk swapping by booting up with a given application disk (MacBooster comes without a system folder) and then inserting the MacBooster master in the other drive. If you use the minifinder, too bad: the minifinder is rendered useless since you have to find your way back to the desktop before you can install MacBooster. This may be interpreted as a limitation of the minifinder, but if you are a minifinder user, you will find the procedure troublesome.
The MacBooster master disk contains the icon which installs the disk cache in memory upon opening. It displays a selection box that informs you how much memory is available and allows you to select the size of the cache buffer by typing in a number. As with TurboCharger, it takes some experimentation to get the optimum cache size.
MacBooster also provides the option of using the cache buffer for one, two, or even three drives. This means that it could be possible to use MacBooster with a RAM disk (although we fail to see any advantage in doing so).
A final option available in the MacBooster selection box allows you to skip the process of resetting the buffer size each time the application is used, and eliminates the selection box on future installations. Since different applications require different cache sizes, this option is of use only in those instances when you succeed in copying MacBooster to your application disk. Although it eliminates the selection box, it does not obviate the need to install MacBooster each time before it can be used.
In addition to not being able to reside on many copy protected disks, MacBooster is itself copy protected. Without its own copying program, it cannot be moved onto another disk. Moreover, the copying utility is also copy protected, and once MacBooster has been copied to another disk, that disk cannot be copied without abolishing MacBooster in the process, making it impossible to duplicate a disk with the MacBooster application still on it.
Unfortunately, a disk cache application has to be easy to move and be automatic in its installation in order to provide the convenience for which it was designed. In trying to protect their software, Mainstay has sabotaged what might otherwise have been a valuable enhancement to the Macintosh. In comparison with TurboCharger, it lacks transparency and ease of use, and the saving in price is more than offset by the additional inconvenience of using MacBooster.
Publications Received For The First Time
The Active Window, $28/membership, Boston Computer Society Macintosh Users Group, 1 Center Plaza, Boston, MA 02108, (617) 367-8080.
Get Info, $25/first year, Club Mac Midwest, 6904 Hopkins Rd., Des Moines, IA 50322, (515) 276-2345.
The Harvest, $29/first year, Northern Illinois Apple Users Group, 1015 S. Ridge Ave., Arlington Hts., IL 60005, (312) 392-7735.
Mac News, Empire Macintosh Users Group, 33418 Rosemond, Yucaipa, CA 92399, (714) 795-8500.
Mac1, $25/year, Upstate Macintosh User Support Group, 12 Oakwood Ave., Taylors, SC 29687.
maCruzers, Santa Cruz Macintosh Users Group, 740 Front St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060.
MacDesert Connection, $30/year, Box 2714, Palm Springs, CA 92263, (619) 320-4003.
MacTechnics News, $20/year, MacTechnics User's Group, Box 4063, Ann Arbor, MI 48106.
The Mouse Times, $14/year, South Coast Macintosh Users Group, Box 2035, Goleta, CA 93118, (805) 968-6565.
MouseClick, Macintosh Apple Corps of Wilmington, 814 Pine Forest Rd., Wilmington, NC 28403, (919) 799-3886.
The MUDslinger, $24/year, Macintosh Users of Delaware, Box 161, Rockland, DE 19732, (302) 998-2742.
PMUG Mouse Tracks, $10/year, Portland Macintosh Users Group, Box 8895, Portland, OR 97201, (503) 233-4606.
SMUG Newsletter, Sequim Area Mac Users Group, 248 Silberhorn Rd. E., Sequim, WA 98382, (206) 683-7464.
What AMUG, Anchorage Macintosh Users Group, 200 W. 34th Ave. #202, Anchorage, AK 99503, (907) 344-6465.
Old Friends Keeping In Touch
BETA Macs News, $15/year, Beautiful East Texas Area Mac Users, 1601 Cindy Lou, Henderson, TX 75652.
FatBits, $23/year, Conejo-Ventura Macintosh Users Group, Box 7118, Thousand Oaks, CA 91359, (805) 499-2824.
GD Infonet Newsletter, General Dynamics, Box 85808 MZ V1-5250, San Diego, CA 92138.
Known Users, $20/year, Sequoia Macintosh Users Group, Box 4623, Arcata, CA 95521, (707) 822-3578.
á LA Mac, $15/subscription, á LA Mac Club, Box 27429, Los Angeles, CA 90027, (213) 462-2860.
MacDigest, $15/year for students, $25 otherwise, Los Angeles Macintosh Group, 12021 Wilshire Blvd. #349, Los Angeles, CA 90025, (213) 278-5264.
Mac News, $15/year, Eugene Macintosh Group, Box 10988, Eugene, OR 97440, (503) 683-5565.
Mac'n'Talk, $1 (Canadian)/issue, Victoria's Macintosh Users Group, Box 7075-D, Victoria, BC V9B 4Z2, Canada.
MacCountry, $10/year, North Coast Mac User's Group, 503 Marylyn Cir., Petaluma, CA 94952, (707) 763-1124.
MacNuggets, $24/year, Carnegie-Mellon Macintosh Users' Group, Skibo 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
MacVisions, $12/year, Hawaii Macintosh Users Group, Box 75537, Honolulu, HI 96836, (808) 235-4609.
Mini'app'les, $17/first year, Minnesota Apple Computer Users' Group Inc., Box 796, Hopkins, MN 55343, (612) 544-4505.
NOMUG, $24/year, New Orleans Macintosh Users Group, 5812 Parkaire Dr., Metairie, LA 70003, (504) 834-2968.
Penn Printout, University of Pennsylvania Computing Resource Center, 1202 Blockley Hall/S1, Philadelphia, PA 19104, (215) 898-1780.
Resources, $15/year, San Diego Macintosh User Group, Box 12561, La Jolla, CA 92037.
Scrumpy Newsletter, $20/year, Orange Apple Computer Club, 25422 Trabuco Rd. Bldg. 105 #251, El Toro, CA 92630, (714) 770-1865.
Windows, $20/membership, Mac Orange Users Group, Box 2178, Huntington
Beach, CA 92647, (714) 842-0518.
If your club isn't listed above, send its newsletter to: Signal, 207 Granada Drive, Aptos, CA 95003.
Quicksetting A Messy Desk
by Brian Jay Wu
Quickset, published by EnterSet Inc. (410 Townsend St., San Francisco, CA 94107, 415-543-7644), is a $99.95 collection of seven programs intended to complement the Macintosh desktop environment. The programs are the Desk, Calculator, Calendar, Cardex, Encryptor, Notefiler, and Installer.
Each program can be run from the Finder via the expected double-click. The Desk program is rather cute. It is a minifinder of sorts, and paints an image of a desktop containing various icons corresponding to the Calculator, Calendar, Cardex, Encryptor, and Notefiler tools. By clicking on the appropriate icon, the tool may be invoked. Since the Desk itself may be installed as a desk accessory by the Installer program, it provides a rather clever means of extending the possible number of desk accessories: first invoke the Desk as an accessory, then invoke the other programs as needed.
The Desk also tantalizingly shows icons for a pile of diskettes and a telephone, which unfortunately do nothing when clicked.
The five tools are interesting in themselves, but show little if any integration between them. Calendar presents and manipulates a (I assume) perpetual calendar, Encryptor will encrypt and decrypt files, Notefiler is a very intriguing "structured" notepad, Calculator computes, and Cardex acts as a card file.
What makes the Quickset tools interesting is the use of a small set of twelve to fourteen icons provided within each tool except for Encryptor. The icons are used to ease the task of scheduling or writing notes. In the case of Notefiler and Cardex, the icons are used strictly as a form of "keyword" index. You can associate an icon or a set of icons with a note, and later find the note referenced by the icon.
The icon mechanism also works very well in the Calendar tool. A daily detailed schedule pad is shown for any day that is double-clicked on the month display. By using the appropriate icon, you can schedule common events without ever typing, although in actual practice you would probably enter more detailed notes anyway.
As an example, you might want to schedule a meeting for a particular day at a particular time. Double-click the day, and you can scroll through the hours of the day in 24-hour format. Click a particular time zone, and drag to indicate the full number of half-hour slots needed by the meeting. Then click the icon that represents meeting. Automatically, the word "meeting" is placed into the calendar. You can then enter more detailed notes via the usual text editing mechanisms. Unfortunately, there is no integration with the Notefiler, which would have been the ideal mechanism for taking more detailed notes.
The next thing to do is to save a reminder that there is at least one meeting that day. This is done at the month level. Under the Commands menu, select Schedule. Then scroll through the icons until you reach the one for meetings. Merely point and click at the day to insert that icon in that day. The calendar dutifully holds more than one icon per day. However, the Schedule option is really a kind of mode, so if you don't remember you're in the Schedule mode, you can easily mess up your calendar.
I'm not sure I can understand or forgive the rest of the calendar. There are several problems. First, it is very easy to destroy an entire month or day of events, by picking a Purge option. That command really should query the user first, since it causes entire months to be wiped clean. And I couldn't figure out how the Show Icons options worked. It's supposed to be a mechanism for showing all meetings in the month, or showing all vacations, or the like, but it's too confusing for me to use.
There is no automatic notification of events. The alarm clock doesn't ring, nor does the screen flash when a particular event is supposed to occur.
Probably the worst thing about the Calendar is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to change to another date. Suppose you want to schedule something four years from now, like a graduation date. With Quickset's Calendar, you have to go through a very laborious menu selection sequence. Two selections are needed for moving to next year and a different month, then you have to keep making menu selections to advance each year. A better interface would be to place the day, month, and year selectors on the window instead of inside a menu. An edit box would also be good for directly entering the date desired.
The Calendar is nicely done, but needs more polish, especially the date selection mechanism, which needs replacement. But I really like those icons! I wish I could customize some of them, in a fashion similar to Filevision's. I'd definitely add some flying blood and guts to the meeting icon.
There isn't much to report about the encryption tool except to say that it appears to work. I say "appears" because to actually crack it is probably possible, but not worth it. This tool is very straightforward. Unfortunately, you must explicitly decrypt and encrypt files. Since it doesn't happen automatically, the average user will probably quickly stop using it (except for really important files), especially if a Mac is being used only as a personal computer.I like the rolodex-like Cardex tool. It is oriented around names and addresses, and again offers the icon mechanism as a means for indexing the cards. There are simple ways to search quickly through the card file by name or other string. And each card allows for extensive notes to be taken. But again, there is no connection at all with the structured Notefiler tool, another example in which EnterSet failed to make a possible integration occur.
The Cardex, Calendar, and Notefiler use regular files stored on the disk. This means that the amount of data that can be stored by a tool is limited by disk space (as far as I know), and also that you may specify a different data file in order to create a different Calendar or Cardex. Thus, using the same program, two different people can keep track of their own personal information without clashing, with even a third set of files tracking common information.
I am neither statistically nor financially oriented, but the Calculators offered by Quickset are. They certainly appear to be full functioning, and half of the documentation is devoted to the Calculator, so if you are heavily involved in statistical and/or financial calculations, the entire Quickset package will probably be equivalently more appealing.
The standard Macintosh notepad is simply too small to satisfy heavy notepad users. The Quickset Notefiler will satisfy any note taker, since it offers more capacity than anyone could really use, as well as adding "structure" to the hodge-podge of notes you might take.
You may choose any notepad file, so you can have as many notepads as you see fit. For each notepad file, you may store fourteen notes, each note can have ten items, and each item can have twelve lines, for a grand total of over 1,600 lines per notepad. Each line is about forty characters long.As expected, Notefiler also has icons used as an indexing tool. I couldn't change the titles of my notes after I entered them, but I'm not sure if that is a bug or a feature.
I don't understand why EnterSet didn't provide for more integration between the various tools. For instance, Notefiler could be the central filing tool for the Calendar and the Cardex files. With all data under the Notefiler, you could then use all three tools to manipulate the same data in different ways. Or why not allow the Notefiler to be used under the Calendar and Cardex when more extensive notes need to be attached? I can see some hints of what might have been. Quickset begins to approach an integrated desktop, but doesn't make it.
The unclickable phone icon should provide for phone utilities. One of the more disappointing aspects of the standard Macintosh desk accessory kit is the lack of any phone management tools. Phone management is a necessary part of any desktop environment, since the phone is in real life a necessary part of any desk. A mechanism in the Cardex for dialing a selected person would have been the most appropriate phone feature. The technology to do that is out there, so why not include it in any desktop organizer?
I see some very strong points offered by Quickset. I like the choice of invocation as either a desk accessory or as stand alone programs. I like the use of icons throughout the Calendar and (to a lesser degree) the Notefiler and Cardex. And the Calculators appear to offer everything a statistical or financial person could want.
But I also see some problems. The Calendar can be difficult to use. The tools are not integrated. There is no phone management at all. As a result, the two main reasons for a desk organizer (time and phone management) are respectively flawed and missing outright.
Root Canal Relapse
A letter in Signal #23 mentioned Layered's ad in Signal #21,
showing a root canal for Steve Jobs. I have thoroughly reviewed Signal
#21, but I cannot find an ad or cartoon showing a root canal. Do you
publish more than one edition? Am I looking in the wrong place?
--- Warren Waswo, Oklahoma City, OK
Carefully read the Macintosh screen in Layered's ad on that issue's back cover. -Editors
ClickArt Effects Isn't Unstable... Or Is It?
We were pleased to see the coverage for ClickArt Effects in Signal #24.
However, we were surprised and disappointed to see that the review was
titled ClickArt Effects Useful But Unstable. With over 10,000 copies
shipped, we have yet to hear of anyone crashing ClickArt Effects aside from
yourselves. Prior to release, it was thoroughly tested on all different
hardware configurations with different versions of MacPaint. We want to assure
your readers that ClickArt Effects is useful and stable. After all,
10,000 satisfied users can't be wrong.
--- Bill Parkhurst, ClickArt Effects Author, Mountain View, CA
We couldn't get ClickArt Effects to crash again, and were all set to give you the benefit of the doubt, when the following letter arrived... -Editors
In your Signal #24 review, you mentioned that T/Maker's ClickArt Effects crashed. I suspect that it matters which version of MacPaint you use. My ClickArt Effects worked fine with MacPaint 1.4, but when I installed it in MacPaint 1.5, the Macintosh "froze" when I selected the ClickArt desk accessory. This also happened when I used it with my Bernoulli Box disk, even with MacPaint 1.4.
I wrote to T/Maker, insisting that they had an obligation to send me a version
that worked. One week after I mailed the letter I received a new disk from
T/Maker that works both with MacPaint 1.5 and with the Bernoulli Box.
--- Louis Gross, Arlington, MA
MacPublisher Ups And Downs
Aren't the disks of all programs with the same name and all computers of the same model alike? I bought the MacPublisher program. It bombed several times, and I had to restart, losing material each time. Finally, after about perhaps two hours of work, the program crashed. I couldn't restart it after a bomb warning. My Macintosh told me it couldn't recognize the disk. MacPublisher is copy protected. All I could do was send the disk back to Boston Software. They immediately sent me another. That one also bombed several times and crashed in about two hours. Again, all I could do was send it back. I'm afraid to use my third copy of MacPublisher. I lost a lot of work each time, and I don't feel like taking the (very good chance) of losing more.
Both Macworld and A+ did articles on publishing with the
Macintosh that considered, among other programs, MacPublisher. I would think
that they were using the same program that was sent to me three times. They
were, of course, using the same machine. Why didn't they report any trouble?
Is it possible that magazines that earn a lot of income from ads don't report
--- Michael Kirby, New York, NY
A lot of articles seem like reviews (because they mention specific products and features), but they're really product announcements or previews. They're easier to generate than reviews, and yes, the advertisers like to see them. Some publications (such as Byte) now do a good job of declaring which articles are reviews, and which are previews. Since very few products are perfect, any article than doesn't mention problems should be taken with a grain of salt. -Editors
I read with interest the comments made in Signal #24 by Philip Russell concerning MacPublisher vs. ReadySetGo. I have Version 1.25 of MacPublisher, which I have used to lay out four issues of a newsletter, and I encountered few of the problems described in Mr. Russell's letter.
One of the reasons the MacPublisher manual fails to tell the user how to clip an article that extends deeper than a screenful is that it assumes the user is already familiar with scrolling the Mac window. Also, the MacPublisher ruler can be used to automatically clip articles in any line length desired, up to the full depth of the page. Simply lay the ruler over the layout, point to the line length (or inch or pixel length) you want, and click once to activate the ruler, then click again to tell it to measure and cut the article. This can be done with either the standard pointer or with the scissors. Subheads do not need to be done as separate articles, but can be embedded in the article text and then created as a separate "carry-over".
Earlier versions of MacPublisher that I used did display the problems Mr. Russell described. I was sent a beta version, which worked after a fashion. The first update sent out by the program's developers failed to work at all, having a fatal bug in it that caused the Mac to completely erase and unformat the program disk. Version 1.25 works the best of all, but you must be satisfied to work within its limitations.
Those limitations can be time-consuming. For one thing, you cannot vary type styles, fonts or point sizes in a single line of text. This, I gather, is because MacPublisher saves stories as unformatted text-only files. Also, on the 128K Mac you cannot practically work with more than four pages at a time, so if you want long newsletters you must work in signatures of four pages. Another undesirable point is that operations tend to bomb frequently. It is for that reason, I believe, that an automatic save feature was written into the program to keep any data from being lost when it bombs. Moreover, the bomb alert will occasionally occur during printing. This is usually surmountable by restarting the program and selecting the Print Page command rather than Print Issue.
Practically speaking, I find it simpler to use a combination of Word, MacPublisher, MacPaint, and MacDraw for designing and laying out pages. There is a nifty little desk accessory available called Art Thief which allows you to be working in Word or MacWrite and at the same time view a MacPaint document at full screen size, with scrolling. That's a great boon to creating and cutting and pasting MacPaint files that are larger than Paint's 3.5 inch easel.
Thus far it appears that the only decent electronic page layout program going
is PageMaker. But at $500, few of us are going to be able to afford it.
--- Gene Van Troyer, Portland, OR
Pagemaker is easily justified by professionals, because time saved equates to money saved.
We've heard that MacPublisher, like most software, continues to improve with each new release. -Editors
I have only seen hints in the various computer publications (including your own) about Apple's software developer tools. Being interested in developing serious software for the Mac, I thought it would be very beneficial for me to acquire those tools. I fought with myself for a very long time deciding whether or not I should invest $100 to get the tools, without having even the slightest idea of what (or how many) programs I would get.
As it turns out, to my good fortune, I acquired the tools through the Boston Computer Society (and a helpful friend), but I thought an article describing the tools or, at the very least, a listing of them, would be a perfect subject for your publication. I guess what I'm getting at is I'd like to see more articles directed toward those of us who aren't fortunate enough to be Apple certified developers, but who want to develop serious software for the Mac.
I'd also like to tell you about a shareware application called Fedit. The
program lets you have direct access to the Mac disks for both reading and
updating. It is powerful, easy to use, and intended for the average to highly
technical user. I haven't stressed it to its fullest yet, but I've already
paid my money to the developer because I knew within minutes of starting the
program that it was well worth its $30 price. Interested parties can write to
John Mitchell, 939 E. El Camino Real #122, Sunnyvale, CA 94087 for more
--- Elliot Gould, S. Burlington, VT
Documentation (and even a trial copy of Fedit) is one of the things you would have gotten if you had paid Apple the $100. Apple has had many special support programs for developers, and everyone seems to agree you get more than your money back, if only in floppy disks alone! To "develop serious software", we recommend that you be a serious developer and deal directly with Apple. You miss too much by relying on second hand sources. - Editors
Lisa to Mac Migration
I was surprised to read in the latest Signal that you haven't heard from anybody who has used "Lisa to Macintosh". Having a copy of version 0.5 for more than two months (given to me by an Apple representative from Cupertino, at a demonstration), I think I can help you.
The package has been nearly flawless, as has all the Lisa software. First you open the Lisa document you want to transfer, then Select All, and Copy. You may then Save & Put Away the document. When the Lisa to Macintosh program is first opened, it will give you instructions on how to use it. It can be used many times without closing. Having previously copied text or graphics to the clipboard, a simple Paste and a Transfer will bring up a dialog box asking what you want to name this new Macintosh document, with your choice of storing it on a Macintosh formatted disk or on your MacWorks hard disk, much like a Macintosh Save As... menu option. Type the name and hit the return key, and in a few disk whirs the transfer is complete.
I have only been unable to transfer one LisaDraw document from Lisa 7/7 3.1 compared to about three dozen that I have successfully transferred. I suspect that the fault is in what I have done, such as leaving an embedded backspace in the document (Apple had a problem with that in LisaDraw 2.0).
Not only have I transferred LisaDraw to MacDraw (even to pre-release versions), but I have transferred LisaWrite and LisaList documents to MacWrite with no hitches other than minor and easy to correct font and page placement changes.
When transferring from LisaDraw to MacDraw, remember that LisaDraw lets you access an 8.5" x 11" page, while MacDraw currently is limited to an 8" x10" page. If you use the whole page on the Lisa, you'll want to Select All when you get into MacDraw and rescale everything or crop the edges. Rescaling has worked well for me, though scaling has affected text in such a way that I had to readjust it separately.
When you transfer text to the Mac, it becomes a MacWrite <3.86 document (not the disk based version). Upon opening it with MacWrite 3.9x or 4.0, you will be asked how MacWrite should handle Lisa's carriage returns. Normally you will want to reply "end of paragraph". Also, you may experience some font, margin, and tab changes. Embedded graphics do not transfer, only text.
LisaWrite or LisaList text to Microsoft Word is probably the slickest transfer option, as Word will take your document "as is". Word also allows wide margins up to 21 inches that will handle most LisaList documents. As I recall, transferring LisaList to LisaWrite inserts a tab at the beginning of each line. Word will do the same. That may be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on how you're going to use the information. The last several times I've done it, I have found that this "new column" has come in handy for inserting one more set of items in existing lists.
A LisaList document can be easily transferred to Word for use in making mailing lists and/or labels. After transferring the list to the Mac, Open your new document with Word, then reformat it using LisaList's tabs as field separators. Using the ruler will simplify the procedure. You end up with what might be called a mailing list.
To make mailing labels, you'll want to first give your columns labels such as <<NAME>> <<ADR>> <<ZIP>> in the "header record" (see pages 177-179 in your Microsoft Word manual under "Creating a Merge Document"). Be careful of embedded commas or quotes, as they are now special characters.
Close this document and Open a new document. You could skip the Close, since Word will handle up to four open windows, but any reformatting of the new page will affect the old page as well. Begin the new document with <<DATA (followed by the name of the document you previously created)>>.
For standard three-up 2-3/4" x 7/8" labels on 8-1/2" x 12" sheets, you'll want to make your page 8-1/2" wide and select a 10 point font for the rest of the document. Follow the DATA line with two blank lines (carriage returns), then enter <<NAME>>, carriage return, <<ADR>>, return, <<ZIP>>, return, <<NEXT>>, return. Selecting Page Setup in the File menu will allow you to set up a page with .12" margins and no gutter. Select international fan-fold to get the right paper size. Go to the Document menu and select Division Layout. Again select .12" margins (top, bottom, left), and three columns. Before printing, you'll want to check page alignment. Repaginate so you can insert or delete extra lines (carriage returns) as needed.
You'll print six lines per label on eleven of the twelve vertical labels on
each sheet. I suspect you could print on all twelve labels, but I haven't as
yet tried adjusting all margins to zero. I'm now getting three more labels per
page than I used to when I used LisaCalc to rearrange LisaList into labels.
--- John M. Kohlenberger, Moreno Valley, CA
Apple sent Migration Kit order forms to registered Lisa owners last month. We ordered ours right away, but it hasn't arrived yet.
The $30 kit consists of three disks, doesn't work if you installed Apple's XL screen modification, and supports LisaWrite to MacWrite, LisaWrite to Word, LisaDraw to MacDraw, LisaProject to MacProject, and LisaCalc to Excel and Jazz migration paths. To convert from LisaList and LisaGraph, you first cut and paste into LisaCalc, LisaWrite, or LisaDraw, then migrate.
For $450, Apple will also sell you the kit with Jazz, or the kit with Word, Excel, File, and MacTerminal. All offers are valid until May 31st or while supplies last, and require an original 7/7 System Disk 2. -Editors
Our RSVP Wasn't Enough
Rarely have I been as disappointed with a publication as I am with Semaphore Signal. As you may recall, our company, The NetWorkers, organized an event in cooperation with the Peninsula Lisa Users Group of San Francisco, which was held on June 19th and called LisaTalk. LisaTalk was a special "electronic conference" designed to offer Lisa users around the country an opportunity to focus their concerns regarding the discontinuation of the Lisa/Mac XL product line, while on-line simultaneously.
Various individuals were invited to participate in this event. Invited participants included Apple Computer, Lisa users, Lisa user groups, third party developers and members of the press. Of all the members of the press who were invited, including Macworld, Icon, John Dvorak, and Personal Computing, Semaphore Signal was the only publication to decline. Your declination to participate was not as disappointing as your reason for declining, however. To consider the issue at hand as, in your words, "beating a dead horse" is a blatant disrespect towards the many Lisa users around the country who have supported your publication and have assisted you in establishing your now valuable mailing list.
This attitude exemplifies poor journalism and unprofessional standards of
conduct within the industry. You can be sure that I personally will not
support your publication and will advise others not to support Semaphore
Signal. I dare you to print this.
--- Lewis Guice, San Francisco, CA
Yes, we declined to participate, but the reasons we gave your co-worker who originally called us must have gotten lost in translation.
First of all, we're not going to join something simply because everyone else is.
Second, there was too much marketing hype from The Networkers about how this was going to be some kind of historic "event". Your company seemed caught up in the gee-whiz aspect of staging an electronic conference. We find such conferences slow, boring, awkward, and inefficient compared to a simple conference call.
Third, we saw Apple being set up not so much as a participant, but as a kind of target for the other participants, as though everyone was going to try and gang up and win concessions from Apple to make up for Lisa's demise. Whatever the focus, we guessed that Apple wouldn't be affected much by the conference one way or the other, and would probably not make any kind of off-the-cuff policy decisions, so it was Apple we called a dead horse. To us, Lisa going out of production was simply water under the bridge, not "an issue at hand".
Fourth, and most importantly, your caller could never really tell us the point of the conference. What was to be gained? After much prodding, she suggested we could ask Apple to state a policy for software bug fixes and future hardware support. We then asked her that if Apple immediately replied that Lisa software is frozen, that they'll fix no bugs, and that spare parts will be available for 18 months, then what? Would the conference be over? Would there be more to discuss? She didn't have an answer, so we decided to decline the invitation. -Editors
IGES to Macintosh Migration
I would like to transfer files from a CAD/CAM system and, ideally, save them
as MacDraw documents. The system supports IGES 3.0, so that seems a clearcut
route, if the Mac also supports this format. Do you know if it does? The
ultimate goal is to be able to electronically paste drawings generated on the
CAD/CAM system into Word documents. It would be desirable to use MacDraw to
add callouts. Do you have any suggestions?
--- Judy Wolff, Acton, MA
You'll probably be stuck having to make your system create PICT files so that MacDraw can read your data in a format it supports. PICT files are documented in the as yet unreleased Macintosh Technical Note #27. If you ask Apple, they might give you a preliminary copy. - Editors
It's Lonely In Oregon
I would like to suggest you review Mac user groups to help isolated users
determine which ones would be most helpful to belong to by mail (you know,
regular mail, with stamps and all that). I am a half day drive from attending
any group meeting in person. I am a two hour drive from the nearest Apple
dealer (the only other Mac user that I know). If I did have a phone, there are
no Mac owners in my local calling area, let alone user groups. I only have
access to a couple hundred other phones with a local call, and my neighborhood
is still waiting for access to alternative long distance service. I'd
appreciate your assistance in finding an alternative to learning everything by
trial-and-error. My specialty interest is in maps and map-like graphics.
--- Tyler Groo, Paulina, OR
Sounds like you're lucky to have an outlet to plug your Mac into.
We don't review groups because the quality of their efforts (especially newsletters) changes so drastically from month to month, and because almost every group we know is usually happy to send a free sample of their newsletter to let you decide for yourself about joining them (especially if you send them a stamped, self-addressed envelope). -Editors
More Words on Word
It's great that your publication is free. As a result of reading your review, I purchased Copy Mac II, and let the advertiser know that I saw their ad in Semaphore Signal.
It's been mentioned that Word doesn't toggle on Bold, Plain, Underline, and so
on. I have discovered that if the Resource Editor is used on those key
definitions, two convenient changes can be made: they toggle on and off, and
you don't have to use that nuisance Shift key.
--- Bill Jastram, Tualatin, OR
We appreciate you plugging us. Signal will remain free, but only if our advertisers hear from our readers.
Aren't the unshifted commands already reserved for other Word functions? -Editors
Find Me A Group
Are there any user groups in my area for Lisa?
--- Bruce Anderson, Santa Clara, CA
Try the Apple 32 Users at Box 634, Santa Clara, CA 95052, (408) 988-5594. -Editors