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ATPM 12.10
October 2006



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FileMaker 8.5

You mention that FileMaker 8.5 is a universal binary release for Macs early in your review, but neglect this important fact in your conclusions about whether or not the upgrade is worthwhile.

Also, attendees at this year’s developer conference saw that the Web viewer is much more than a portal to Web sites (such as Google Maps) but can be used to extend FileMaker in very interesting ways when combined with Java, Flash, or other Web technologies. Check out iSolutions’ ICE product, for example.

—Scott Newton

Honestly, I don’t consider it that important a feature. It’s nice, but the extra speed is only of interest to those with Intel Macs. It still seems to me that the reasons for upgrading will depend on the other new features available, most noteably the Web viewer.

I’ll check the product you mention regarding the increased usefulness of the Web viewer when combined with other technologies.

—Charles Ross

• • •

No doubt the big thing with 8.5 is that it is now Universal, which means a very signifcant speed increase on Intel Macs.

However, on PowerPC Macs, there is also an observable performance boost. I am seeing 50% faster sorts and recalcs in our solutions. Not that this would make me run out and upgrade an office full of FileMakers, however it is noteworthy.

—Rob Russell

iMac Core Duo

Having purchased a 20″ iMac Core Duo with 1 GB of memory and 500 GB storage, plus a better 3D video card upgrade. I felt pretty smug in moving away from my three G3s and PC notebooks. Alas! Such was not to be as I found myself running all five computers with various tasks. I just could not let go of my favorite hobby of running all computers while listening to the iPod and the TV. I guess one could say it has never been an either-or proposition with me but an all-or-nothing mind set.

In any event, the new iMac is by far the best home computer on the market, and nobody who has any understanding of all the others should ever consider anything else. This is my very experienced opinion having worked with various computers and makes and systems since 1968. Of course, I have no intention of down playing the new Mac Pros here, but they appear to be far more machine than I require for my operations.

—Ron Cowden

Running Classic Software on an Intel Mac

This is amazing. And excellent to be able to do. Thanks for sharing it!

—Catherine Wiles

• • •

I have been holding off on getting an Intel Mac because HyperCard is still a must-have application for me. Of the three emulators you installed, is there a clear performance leader in terms of speed and stability? Thanks.

—Tim Selander

Interesting question. I didn’t really test for speed, but the truth is that each of them was very responsive. I would say that any of them would work well. I have been using SheepShaver most of all because it’s running the most recent OS (8.5) of those emulated.

Perhaps it’s because these OSes are less complex than Windows XP, but none of these emulations were lagging in speed. Whenever I used to run XP under Virtual PC on my PowerBook G4, it was always too slow to do anything but a quick check of software I wrote. With these, the responsiveness was always good.

I did have a few crashes, but I honestly don’t remember which they occurred in. It was either SheepShaver or Basillisk II, but Mini vMac may not run the software you need.

My recommendation would be to try SheepShaver first. These don’t take too long to set up, so it’s cheap to try them out and test to see if the performance and stability are satisfactory for you.

—Charles Ross

• • •

Absolutely! HyperCard is why I’m a Mac user. I’m not a programmer, but HyperCard lets me build pretty much any little utility application I need. Why be a slave to software that does what someone else thinks I need? Using HyperCard, I’ve automated sub-titling on our TV program, automated a radio station, made a system to track our viewers and listeners, kick out invoices, manage our stock, and more. The computer does what I want it to. What a shame Apple let it die—absolutely the most foward-thinking, useful piece of software Apple ever made.

—Tim Selander

WriteRoom Review

I’ve been using Ulysses, which has a full-screen mode as well, for quite a while. I definitely prefer it to any other text editor when focus is an absolute must.

—Daniel Matarazzp

• • •

The freeware application Journler has full-screen mode too, plus many other journaling and formatting features.


• • •

I’ve been using WriteRoom for about three months now and love it. Since the majority of my text is for the Web, the lack of formatting options are not a problem. For that I rely on Markdown.

I’m of two minds about adding features. It might be nice to be able to use TextEdit’s formatting, but the pure simplicity of plain text is freeing. I’ve tried demos of Ulysses, CopyWrite, and Jer’s Novel Writer, which all offer full screen composing too, but I found that the bells and whistles distracted me. Yes, I’m easily distracted. That’s why WriteRoom is so helpful.

—Michael McKee

• • •

Why not just use NANO, or VI if you insist on basic operation? They’re already installed and free. There is a multitude of options to run them full screen such as, Single User Mode, > Console, full screening the terminal, or an adjustment to X11. Heck, you could even full-screen BBEdit with the application available at the previously referenced URL.

—Scott Park

The great thing about WriteRoom is that it’s sort of like having a fenced-in backyard. That backyard is always right outside your door, and whenever you need it, it’s there. But if you have to go back inside, the effort required is minimal.

In WriteRoom, pressing Esc gets you that backyard, separated from all the distractions of home. But as soon as something calls, or just to go back in and check your e-mail, all you have to do is press Esc again.

It strikes me as the best combination of isolation and ease of leaving that isolation.

When I first switched to the Mac, I kept my Linux desktop sitting on my desk at home, ready for me to use whenever I needed to find a way to get some work done. (I had always dropped to console mode to work.) That way, all I had to do was rotate my chair between the two workstations.

Anyway, WriteRoom has that kind of combination, while allowing you to stay in the OS. It has an ease of use that quitting distracting applications and maximizing a window, say, or rebooting into Linux just can’t give you. That’s what I like about WriteRoom.

—Wes Meltzer

• • •

I write almost every day for my site,, and WriteRoom has rapidly become my writing tool of choice. I use Textpander to insert my commonly used tags so I can just do a Select All, Copy, and Paste into WordPress. I also use BBEdit, Textwrangler, Word, and some others, but WriteRoom is the best thing for me since MacWrite.

Prettying things up is just a distraction. My need is to capture keystrokes into a text file as easily and simply as possible. Now, if there were a battery powered keyboard à la the Radio Shack 100 of 20 years ago, I’d be set.

—Robin Harris


I stumbled on ATPM as I was surfing around in preparation for upgrading to a new MacBook Pro and thinking about what bag I would get with it. I appreciated reading opinion from real Mac users and, with them, found my way to the right rig. Thanks for the effort.

—Michael Chamberlain

• • •

I just came across your publication through a mention at Hog Bay Software that you were discussing some of their products. All I can say is, where have you guys been all my life? I know that is more my problem and not yours, but I find the Web site very readable, full of good content (if you’re a Mac fan as I am), and very well organized. I wish I knew about this place earlier. Thanks for the good read.

—R.K. Foster

We’re happy you found us and enjoy what you see. Remember, you can go back and read any past issue all the way back to the first in the Archives link at the top of our pages. —Ed.

New Business Models

Excellent article, and I’d second all the points made. Sorry I wasn’t able to respond in time as I’d hoped but I’m buried in WriteRoom development (actually documentation now for the new 1.1 release due soon).

I came to Hog Bay Software for the products (WriteRoom was exactly what I was looking for at the time), but it was Jesse, his own insight and creativity, and what I see as the fundamentally progressive nature of his business model and method (especially as I’ve seen it from the inside out now) that kept me around, and has led to my direct and significant participation in my favorite product.

Not only is user-directed software development good for the users, but it’s great for the software, as I hope will be shown when our latest releases show forth later this quarter.

—Jeff Alexander

• • •

Thanks for this article, I hope we get some good feedback and ideas on how to make Hog Bay Software work better.

I want to mention one last aspect of “user powered” software. I started working on these ideas soon after reading The E-Myth Revisted, a buisness book that focuses on building your buisness as if you were building a franchise. (Make processes repeatable.)

One of my goals with “user powered” software is to make it easy for other Mac developers to develop software this way. At some point down the road I would like to have a “template Mac shareware company” downlaod. That would include a template application built on Blocks; code for a Web site to handle forums, feature voting, and software store; and a set of documented processes for how to run the company.

That goal is still a long ways from completion. But if there are any developers out there who think they would like to develop software this way, please contact me. I’d be happy to share Web site code and give tips on how best to make use of the Blocks framework.

Long term I think it would be really cool to have a bunch of small Mac companies working this way. All sharing the same underlying Blocks framework and Web site code. That way we could focus most of our energy into developing cool apps instead of all the extra stuff that gets in the way.

—Jesse Grosjean

RapidWeaver and Web Accessibility

I think you are misisng the point of RapidWeaver. It is not written primarily for people who already know HTML and XHTML. It is written primarily for people like me who know nothing about Web programming. RapidWeaver allows me, the complete novice, to build Web sites. That is its value. And without the Edit View I would be totally lost! So while your comments may be valid to someone who already knows how to code Web pages, your comments are totally off base for someone like myself who is a happy and very satisfied user of RapidWeaver. I think the powerful aspect of RapidWeaver is that it works for someone like me, but also has enough flexibility to make it attractive to real HTML and XHTML coders. If you spend anytime at all reading through the user forums, you will find that coders have found all sorts of creative ways to modify/access features within the various RapidWeaver templates. Just something for you to consider.

—Jeff Boice

Since RapidWeaver and similar applications are not written primarily for people who already know HTML, that’s exactly why they should create accessible HTML automatically. The fact that you were happy and satisfied before you knew about the accessibility issues just underscores the point that RapidWeaver should “do the right thing” so that novices needn’t be concerned with this stuff.

—Michael Tsai

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Reader Comments (1)

Ronald Flores · October 2, 2006 - 14:19 EST #1
I also have been using Macs since the IIe and have owned just about every model. I currently have the iMac Duo with an extra Cinema 20" (and I am in love with Aperture! )
My problem is that I tried placing the second monitor vertical so that I can work on long documents in MS Word, but Word won't let me drag the document to make use of all the real estate on the screen. Can you suggest a solution?

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