TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jan 95 Viewpoint
Volume Number:11
Issue Number:1
Column Tag:The Editor’s Page

The Editor’s Page

By Scott T Boyd, Editor

Twice As Much Booger Glue In This Issue

As you’ve no doubt already noticed, this issue contains both an OpenDoc and an OLE CD. That takes twice as much glue as we used in our August issue, which had just one CD. This continues our efforts to keep you abreast of developing technologies. We’ve thought about taking sides in this technology battle, but we’re not going to. First, we believe that you can decide which, if either, technology best suits your needs. Second, we don’t believe that it’s an either/or choice. Finally, both technologies have the backing of companies with the resources to assure their success. We believe that both OLE and OpenDoc will endure in the marketplace. Enjoy the CDs, and please let us hear from you about your experiences.

EvenBetterBusError Caveat

Some of you have reported some interesting experiences with EvenBetterBusError (EBBE) and PowerBooks. This is a well-understood phenomenon, and I should have mentioned it previously. The short of it is this - EBBE and PowerBooks may not get along. The long of it is this - PowerBooks have the ability to “sleep” the processor to save battery. Also known as power cycling or rest mode, the Power Manager shuts off the CPU for periods of inactivity, waking it up quickly when it sees signs of activity (e.g. mouse movement, keystrokes, and such). Without power, the CPU loses its state, so PowerBooks have code to store the CPU state on the stack. That’s fine, but how does it find the stack when power is reapplied to the CPU? The processor expects to find the SP and the PC at 0 and 4, respectively, so the Power Mgr writes those values there before shutting off the CPU.

Now, given that EBBE was written prior to the release of the first PowerBooks, and since it was written one floor up and about 100 feet away from where the PowerBook software was written, you might expect that PowerBooks would know about EBBE, and would save and restore the 8 bytes at zero around each sleep cycle, or even just the 4 bytes at zero. Well, sorry to say, but the PowerBook team hadn’t heard of it (I still vividly remember, “What’s EvenBetterBusError?”), so EBBE winds up reporting “Write to NIL” a lot on PowerBooks. (Quick reminder: that’s because EBBE watches the 32-bit value at 0 with a VBL task to see whether 0 has been changed from the value $50FF8001 that EBBE put there in the first place).

The ROMs were nearly final by the time we realized we had a problem, and it was only with a debugging tool, so they didn’t fix it. We considered a patch, but rejected it when it became clear that a patch could disturb the very carefully-timed wake up code and cause dropped incoming AppleTalk packets.

Bad news, right? Not as bad as it could be. You can turn off resting on PowerBooks. It chews up batteries, but lets you test your code, and that can often be done while plugged in.

It does raise a question, though - what kind of behavior does NIL-non-savvy software exhibit when it gets the value of the rest-time stack pointer out of location zero each time it dereferences NIL?

Strange Bedfellows

Who would have ever thought that Apple would willingly team up with IBM to sell machines? There was a time when many thought that droves of employees would walk right out the door should such a thing happen. But the Intel/Microsoft WinTel domination serves as a powerful motivator. It was enough to convince IBM, Apple, and Motorola to team up to build the PowerPC chip family, and now they’ve taken it one step further and agreed to design a family of PowerPC machines that they’ll build, sell, and run their operating systems on.

While the announcement covered hardware, almost nothing was said about software. IBM reportedly wants to reassure their OS/2 user base that they are solidly behind OS/2. Motorola seems to believe in Windows/NT. Apple continues to ride the Macintosh wave. All of these existing allegiances notwithstanding, keep your ears open for possible collaboration on the operating system front. With Apple’s plans to license Mac OS, the only licensee we don’t expect to see is Microsoft.

Unclear On The Concept - Next Topic

When you ship software to customers, do you ever intentionally put them at risk? Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Yet, that’s what at least two major software vendors have done recently by shipping software that relies on undocumented and unsupported features of Apple’s system software.

Apple’s programming interfaces don’t cover all the ground that Macintosh programmers need to cover. Most of the time programmers compensate by writing new code or reusing code from past projects, sample code, or a third-party source library.

Sometimes a programmer will say, “Hey, you know, Apple must have something like this in the system somewhere that they just haven’t documented. I’ll go figure out how they do it.”

Such a thing happened during the development of System 7.0. Apple determined that resource compression would make it possible to fit enough of 7.0 onto the Install 1 disk to be able to boot from the floppy. That’s pretty important to be able to do, so a few engineers sat down and solved Apple’s problem by building a mechanism to transparently decompress resources as they were loaded from disk. This mechanism became known as the dcmp mechanism because of the new resources of type dcmp which did the bulk of the work.

Inquisitive developers with similar needs (to squeeze lots of stuff into a little space), noticed what Apple was up to. One of these dropped me a note after figuring out how it all worked. He had even built his own decompressor to try his hand at beating Apple on size and speed.

We talked, and I pointed out that the workings of the mechanism were not public, nor supported. That’s because we (Apple) had done only enough testing to ensure that it worked for the things that we were using it for. We hadn’t done the testing that any public API necessarily goes through before publishing the interface. There wasn’t time, there wasn’t money, and we weren’t even sure that we liked the mechanism well enough to keep it beyond 7.0.

This developer decided, after mulling it over for a couple of days, that it was too risky to use dcmps in his software. If Apple changed things, his customers would be the ones with the problem - Apple might need to change it in the future, and it didn’t make sense to put technological handcuffs on Apple just for this. Besides, with a little thought, he had come up with a completely different mechanism, one which would work fine no matter what Apple chose to do for compressed resources.

Two years ago, while I was still on the system software team at Apple, this magazine ran an article by Justin Gray entitled Resource Compression - What it is, how it works, and how to use it in your own software. The article was based on his experiences using dcmps in some of his software. I called the Editor, and we had a little “talk”. He got an earful, and learned that publishing unpublished Apple internals was, shall we say, problematic. Neil says that his ears are still ringing from that “talk”. (Little did I know where that conversation might lead - I learned that I have to be careful what I complain about!)

It’s one thing to learn about how the Macintosh works. It’s quite another to expose customers to the risk that their software may crash when they upgrade systems simply because someone chose to use an unsupported internal mechanism when others were readily available. At the start of this tirade, I mentioned two companies which had recently shipped dcmp-dependent products. I spoke with one of them before they shipped. Here’s a message to them: “Shame on you! You had alternatives that were well-tested and immediately available, yet you chose not to use them. Will your customers understand when they crash?”

If anyone is looking for resource compression that works without relying on unpublished and unsupported code, e-mail me at editorial@xplain.com. If you have such a product available, let me know, and I’ll add you to the list of resource compression vendors that I send to those who ask.

Virtual Corporation Enabler

IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. If you’ve ever participated in an online group discussion, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the nature of irc. It runs on many servers on the Internet and maintains the illusion that each server participates in all of the many discussions. Tonight, for example, my irc server said, “There are 2876 users and 1931 invisible on 111 servers, 77 :operator(s) online, 1529 :channels formed, I have 139 clients and 1 servers.” I use Homer (available on your favorite info-mac mirror site) to join in with the few thousand folks online.

So you can go chat. Big deal, right? It can be if you’re one of the growing breed of work-at-home members of virtual corporations. Having my home office on the Internet lets me carry on conversations with coworkers in any of the virtual companies I’m a part of. It cuts phone costs, and is more interactive than e-mail. IRC also allows direct file transfers.

A few of us on a recent MacHack planning conference call used irc take one-on-one conversations off-line so we wouldn’t disrupt the meeting. It was also a great place to crack jokes.

It’s possible for others to listen in on your chats, so be forewarned. Much of the necessary communication between virtual coworkers runs towards the mundane, so the tool can still offer quite a bit of utility. If you’re already on the net, it’s a cheap and useful addition to your suite of net tools.

Food For Thought

Apple now has an infomercial. Microsoft is showing feel-good commercials. Neither shows an 800 number for taking orders.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Hopper Disassembler 4.3.10- - Binary dis...
Hopper Disassembler is a binary disassembler, decompiler, and debugger for 32- and 64-bit executables. It will let you disassemble any binary you want, and provide you all the information about its... Read more
Hopper Disassembler 4.3.10- - Binary dis...
Hopper Disassembler is a binary disassembler, decompiler, and debugger for 32- and 64-bit executables. It will let you disassemble any binary you want, and provide you all the information about its... Read more
Paparazzi! 1.0b7 - Make user-defined siz...
Paparazzi! is a small utility for OS X that makes screenshots of webpages. This very simple tool takes screenshots of websites which do not fit on one screen. You specify the desired width, minimal... Read more
Amadeus Pro 2.4.4 - Multitrack sound rec...
Amadeus Pro lets you use your Mac for any audio-related task, such as live audio recording, digitizing tapes and records, converting between a variety of sound formats, etc. Thanks to its outstanding... Read more
Google Chrome 63.0.3239.108 - Modern and...
Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more
Apple Configurator 2.6 - Configure and d...
Apple Configurator makes it easy to deploy iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Apple TV devices in your school or business. Use Apple Configurator to quickly configure large numbers of devices connected to... Read more
WhatRoute 2.0.26 - Geographically trace...
WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Mac to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the router... Read more
Remotix 5.0.4 - Access all your computer...
Remotix is a fast and powerful application to easily access multiple Macs (and PCs) from your own Mac. Features Complete Apple Screen Sharing support - including Mac OS X login, clipboard... Read more
WhatRoute 2.0.26 - Geographically trace...
WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Mac to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the router... Read more
Google Chrome 63.0.3239.108 - Modern and...
Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

WWE Mayhem guide - beginner tips and tri...
WWE Mayhem brings all of the familiar faces from your favorite wrestling league to mobile in this exciting new fighting game. Build up a team of your favorite WWE superstars and fight your way to the championship title, or battle against your... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
We've made it through another week, so let's treat ourselves to some of the best new games to launch in the past few days. It was another exciting week with some long-awaited indie games making their debut, and some big console titles making the... | Read more »
Match blocks to pull off dance moves in...
Ferdinand: Unstoppabull is a brand new match three puzzler based on the animated movie of (almost) the same name. As you can expect, you have to match blocks together to complete a bunch of puzzling levels and earn a high score. [Read more] | Read more »
Lineage 2: Revolution’s end of year upda...
Now available in 54 countries worldwide, Lineage 2: Revolution is continuing its global quest to be the most popular mobile MMORPG by launching a jam-packed end of year update. Complete with many subtle tweaks to help improve users’ online... | Read more »
The 5 best Star Wars games on iOS
The time has almost come.Star Wars: The Last Jedifinally hits theaters in the cinematic event that might be bigger than Christmas. To celebrate, we're taking a look at the best--and only the best--Star Warsmobile games to date. [Read more] | Read more »
Life Is Strange (Games)
Life Is Strange 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Life Is Strange is a five part episodic game that sets out to revolutionize story-based choice and consequence games by... | Read more »
Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty (Game...
Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $7.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** PLEASE NOTE: Requires 3.6GB free space to install. Runs at variable resolutions based on device capabilities.... | Read more »
Gorogoa (Games)
Gorogoa 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Gorogoa is an elegant evolution of the puzzle genre, told through a beautifully hand-drawn story designed and illustrated by Jason... | Read more »
Why Guns of Boom will be big for mobile...
Earlier this week, Game Insight, the minds that brought you Guns of Boom, revealed plans for an esports mode in the popular FPS title, with big implications for the game's future. Guns of Boom has been quite popular for some time now, so it's... | Read more »
The best mobile games to play on lazy ho...
With the holidays in full swing, there's hopefully going to be a lot of time off work lazing around the house. With all of that free time, it's a perfect opportunity to catch up on some mobile games that you might have missed out on earlier this... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

The lowest prices on Apple 13″ MacBook Pros t...
Save $300-$300 on the purchase of a 2017 13″ MacBook Pro this weekend with Certified Refurbished models at Apple. In many cases, Apple’s refurbished prices are the lowest available for each model... Read more
Lowest prices of the Holiday season: 15″ Appl...
Save $360-$420 on the purchase of a 2017 15″ MacBook Pro with Certified Refurbished models at Apple. In many cases, Apple’s refurbished prices are the lowest available for each model from any... Read more
Apple discounts Beats products by up to 30% t...
Apple has Beats by Dr. Dre (BeatsX, Powerbeats3 Wireless, and Beats Solo3 Wireless) on sale for up to 30% off their retail price from now until December 26th: – BeatsX: Was $149.95, now $99 –... Read more
Updated Price Trackers: Macs, iPads, iPhones,...
Scan our Apple Price Trackers for the latest information on sales, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers. We update the trackers continuously: – 15″... Read more
How to preorder a new iMac Pro and pay zero s...
B&H Photo and Adorama are accepting preorders on multiple configurations of the new Apple iMac Pro. Both resellers charge sales tax for residents of NY & NJ only, and shipping is free.... Read more
Apple Macs back in stock at Amazon with model...
Amazon has MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, MacBooks, and iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP as part of their Holiday/Christmas sale. Shipping is free. Note that stock of some Macs may come and go (and... Read more
Apple offering free overnight delivery on all...
Apple is now offering free overnight delivery on all in stock products until 3pm local time on December 22nd. This includes new as well as refurbished computers. Click here for more information. Read more
Beats Holiday sale at B&H, headphones and...
B&H Photo has Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, earphones, and speakers on sale for up to $80 off MSRP as part of their Holiday sale. Expedited shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax to NY... Read more
Holiday sale: Apple resellers offer 2017 15″...
MacMall has 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for $220-$300 off MSRP, each including free shipping: – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2179, $220 off MSRP – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Silver (... Read more
Holiday sale: Apple resellers offer 13″ MacBo...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook Pro (... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.