Miscellaneous Ramblings

Short Takes

Charles Moore - 20 Oct. 1999 - Tip Jar

Not as Large a Variety of USB CardBus Adapters as We Thought?

Miscellaneous Ramblings reader Mark Taylor writes:

Charles,

Saw your web page about PowerBook USB CardBus adapters. I personally own the Global Paragon adapter and it works great. But I thought you might be interested to know that the card is visually identical to the USB Cable illustration! (I went to their web site to make sure.) In addition, the part number on my box and in the user manual is UH-276, which matches the MacAlly part number, and I believe I actually bought this from MacAlly earlier this summer (when they said they would sell the card but without support.) I'm guessing that the MacAlly card looks different now because they plan to start slapping their own sticker on it. And you pointed out on your web page that the Hi-Val card is probably the same as the MacAlly.

So I believe that all four products are one and the same, at least as far as the actual hardware, and that this one card is the only dongle-type card being readied for the Mac market. Interestingly enough, nowhere in the user manual or on the card itself can you find an actual company name or product name other than "UH-276". The box I have says "Made in Taiwan" with both the name of the Taiwanese firm ("Global Paragon Technology Co., Ltd.") and the U.S. branch ("Paragon Technology Inc."). It seems likely that the card and the manual were specifically designed in a generic way for "badge-engineering", as you call it.

- Mark

Less than Encouraging News about Prospects for PowerBook 1400 Upgrades

The latest communique from Dave Manning of UpgradeStuff.com has some disappointing news for those who are hoping for renewed availability of G3 upgrade cards for their PowerBook 1400s, but there is still a scintilla of hope.

Dave writes:

Folks:

I wanted to update all of you as soon as I found out. Like the subject says, we have good news and bad news.

First, to bring everyone up to date, the only possible 1400 G3 upgrade we're looking to have Newer build at this time is the 250MHz G3 with 1MB backside cache. We've talked about faster G3s, and even G4s, but the consensus is that sticking with a design that works won't overly complicate what's turned into a complex process!

Since many of you have asked about memory, let me cover it as well - there's currently a 64MB limit on the amount of physical RAM the 1400 can accept. This will not change by adding a G3 upgrade, unfortunately.

So on to the bad news. At this time, Newer Technology's manufacturing partner for the 1400 (and 2400) upgrades - IBM Japan - has given the final "NO" on the project. They don't have the interest, apparently, in doing a small (2000 pieces or less) production run. As many of you know from my past announcements, IBM Japan was integral in proving Newer's concept for these cards.

However, there is good news. Newer Technology has another manufacturing partner, Tri-M. According to my sources at Newer, this partner is interested and excited about these upgrades, and are looking at the plans to see if they can produce the NUpowr upgrades. If they can build them, our best possible delivery date would be around Christmas, and I'll keep you informed!

Thanks again, and please let me know if there's anything we can do for you!

Dave Manning,
Chief Scientist
http://UpgradeStuff.com

NetCopter Keeps An Eye On Web Performance

If you're finding Web performance sluggish or troublesome, and wondering whether to blame your ISP or even your own system, first check Clear Ink's NetCopter web page,which tracks the current health of the Internet.

NetCopter notes that their page is not to be interpreted as an indication that one Internet Service Provider is superior to another. Rather, it is an indication of Internet health from the perspective of their connection at Clear Ink at a given moment.

Embossed Image on iBook Battery Cover Intentional

Responding to speculation that the odd-looking image embossed on the iBook's battery cover might be a defect or heat damage, Apple has released TIL article 58478 contradicting the rumors. As Apple notes:

"The iBook battery cover looks different from the other colored plastics on iBook due to an image being embossed onto the underside. This image may appear to be heat damage though it is not.

"When you lift the battery cover up, it may appear that there is damage to the plastics. This is not the case, it is simply the underside of the image silkscreened on the cover and is no cause for alarm.

"If you look closely at the battery cover, you will see a small representation of the desktop pattern that is on the iBook screen. The other colored plastics have no image behind them. This is normal, we wanted to give the battery cover a unique appearance from the rest of the plastics."

The article includes images of the battery cover.

ZipIt 1.4 For Macintosh

While the Stuffit file compression paradigm reigns supreme in the Macintosh world, PKZip is more or less the standard in the Wintel orbit. If you need to share compressed files with PC users, being able to create zip compatible archives will prove convenient.

ZipIt 1.4 is a Macintosh program that zips and unzips archives in a format fully compatible with PKZip for the IBM and zip implementations on other systems.

ZipIt features a complete Macintosh interface, based on the interface provided by Bill Goodman's Compact Pro, which old Mac hands will remember well. If you can use Compact Pro, you already know how to use ZipIt. If you are new to the Macintosh, ZipIt's interface should still be easy to figure out; and in any event an extensive manual that explains how to use all of its features is included.

A zip archive is any file that ends with the extension '.zip'. The zip format due to its popularity on PCs, is widely used as an interplatform compression format. In addition, ZipIt can compress Macintosh applications and documents without losing any of their data. ZipIt is best used when transferring compressed documents to and from other computer types. Some examples are: text files, TIFF pictures, Excel databases, and QWK message packets. Note that files that end in '.Z' or '.gz' are not ZipIt files, even though Netscape may give them a ZipIt icon.

ZipIt is fully compatible with all versions of PKZip on the IBM, Info-ZIP on Unix, and zip implementations on other platforms.

In addition to being able to unzip files created by any version of PKZip or a similar zip utility, and being able to zip files in a format compatible with any version of PKUnzip or a compatible unzip utility, ZipIt also offers a number of special features:

  • Full support for Macintosh files. ZipIt allows you to store Macintosh files without losing any information, by encoding them in a standard format called MacBinary. If you select this option, then ZipIt will add special information that allows it to reconstruct everything the Macintosh needs to know about a file. However, this extra information will confuse other unzipping programs, so if you intend for your zip archive to be transmitted to a PC, Unix, or other machine, you should not use MacBinary.
  • Folder structure support. You can maintain full directory structure information with ZipIt. This directory structure will carry over when you unzip your archive on another machine, and if you create your archive on another machine, ZipIt will recognize the directory structure if that information is included in the archive. In other words, you can have folders within folders, without restriction.
  • Extension mapping. On machines other than the Macintosh, a file's type is often determined by a one to three letter extension at the end of the name. For instance, the file hello.txt would be interpreted as a text file. ZipIt recognizes the most common extensions, and maps them to Macintosh file types and creators. You can easily modify ZipIt's extension mappings, using InternetConfig if you have it, or ZipIt's own dialog box if you do not.
  • Encryption. In versions of ZipIt registered inside the United States and Canada, you may use ZipIt's encryption feature to encrypt files stored within your archive. ZipIt's encryption is, again, compatible with PKZip's, so you can transmit encrypted material to and from IBM-compatible machines. Unfortunately, at this time, ZipIt does not support encryption outside the US and Canada, due to United States export laws. Also note that the encryption techniques used by ZipIt and PKZip are not invincible, and can be circumvented by a determined expert.
  • Segmenting. ZipIt version 1.3 and later supports multi-file segments. That means that, if an archive is too large to fit on one floppy disk, it will be split across more than one disk. Make sure that you have the latest version of Zipit before attempting segmenting operations, as there have been a number of bugs that have been fixed. You may wish to download the latest beta version to ensure that your version has the most recent fixes.
  • AppleEvent and AppleScript support. ZipIt is fully scriptable, using AppleEvents and AppleScript.
  • Drag and Drop. ZipIt fully supports Macintosh Drag and Drop. You can unzip files simply by dragging them to the desktop, and zip files by dragging them from the desktop to an archive window.

ZipIt is $15 shareware, and author Tom Brown encourages users to try it out before paying. All features are available in the unregistered version, with the exception, due to US export laws, of encryption. Once you register, you will receive a password that will cause the seven-second registration screen to stop appearing. In addition, if you register from the United States or Canada, your password will enable the encryption capabilities of ZipIt.

You can download ZipIt from <ftp://ftp.amug.org/pub/mirrors/info-mac/cmp/zip-it-14.hqx>.

OT/PPP Strip 1.0.5 Control Strip Module Upgraded for OS 9 Compatibility

I try to keep my system heap as small and lean as possible but one non-Apple add-on that I wouldn't want to be without is the little freeware OT/PPP Control Strip module, which allows you to dial up or disconnect from your ISP without opening the Remote Access Control Panel each time.

The latest version 1.0.5 version of OT/PPP Strip has been upgraded for compatibility with Mac OS 9.

OT/PPP Strip is a module for Apple's Control Strip that does several useful things in conjunction with Open Transport/PPP or Apple Remote Access 3.0. You can use OT/PPP Strip to:

  • Connect and Disconnect from your Internet service provider
  • Open the PPP Control Panel or Remote Access Control Panel
  • Switch configurations quickly and easily
  • Monitor network link activity while connected (optionally)
  • Display your connect speed and elapsed time connected for the current connection (optionally)

To download a copy of OT/PPP Strip, go to <http://home.ici.net/~djw/software/otpppstrip.html>.

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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