Signal 11, April 1984

Mac Success Freezes Lisa

Ed Paynter, an Indianapolis Lisa Toolkit developer, was the first person earlier this month who let us know Apple had informed him that software development for the Lisa was winding down and would be frozen after the next release of the Office System. Our subsequent checks with various Apple personnel supported the news.

Apparently the success of the Macintosh has convinced Apple to move all development efforts over to that product, which has its own version of the desktop metaphor. A forthcoming release of the Lisa desktop will feature a number of improvements to existing Lisa applications, but then Apple will consider Lisa software "complete" and will only provide a minimum of support, such as bug fixes. New applications software will have to come from independent developers, of which there seem to be very few for Lisa.

Lisa users should probably expect that most future software for their machine will actually be designed for the Mac desktop, and will therefore only run on a Lisa using the MacWorks environment. Lisa seems destined to primarily become a "big Mac", especially once MacTerminal, MacDraw and similar applications are all available, thereby duplicating Lisa's software capabilities and overcoming any particular advantages in Lisa's own Office System. How Apple will solve the discrepancy between the two machines' CRT aspect ratios (72 pixels/inch on Mac, 60/inch vertical and 90/inch horizontal on Lisa) remains to be seen.

Free Another 17K Of Disk

A number of Mac users, such as Michael Cleveland of Greensboro, NC, have sent us letters describing how they delete or move unnecessary files and data in order to leave as much free disk space as possible. Creating separate MacPaint and MacWrite work disks is a popular technique.

Many users mistakenly assume that the Imagewriter icon in the System folder must be present before the printer will work. In fact, this is only true for MacWrite. The icon can be trashed on a MacPaint disk and documents will still print.

Can You Type A Robot?

A number of undocumented characters can be typed on a Macintosh by holding down the Shift and Option keys and hitting the tilde key in the upper left corner of the keyboard. Different fonts and sizes will usually generate different special characters (hearts, robots, rabbits, and so on). Since the symbols are just like any other text characters, they can be enhanced with style options such as outline or shadow. The leaves and boxes in Toronto and the Monaco stripes make nice borders when consecutively typed in a long row.

Lisa Upgrade Ups And Downs

Just as last month's Signal was being printed, our free Lisa upgrade kit arrived.

We were pleased to find the kit included LisaTerminal, which we had always wanted to try but couldn't justify buying because the Transfer utility in the Workshop already met our needs. Unfortunately, a LisaTerminal manual is not included in the upgrade kit.

Interestingly, Larry Sprowls of Computer Technology Associates in Englewood, CO wrote and mentioned his dealer "demanded" that he give up the LisaTerminal disk from his upgrade kit since he had not previously purchased LisaTerminal on floppies!

On our first glance through the kit, we noticed the new bezel drops the Lisa logo. Also, the "fingertip hole" in the bezel slot for the disk is on the right end of the slot (like on the Mac), as though right-handed users are assumed. Not only is this awkward for left-handed users, but wouldn't disks slide in more easily if the slot was widest at its center (to encourage us to grasp a disk at the middle instead of at the corner)?

The kit includes a new Owner's Guide. We like the format of the old Owner's Guide much better.

The upgrade instructions mention counting pins or checking part numbers in order to identify chips, but the part numbers listed and the number of pins in the illustration are both wrong! Fortunately, the whole process is simple enough that it's difficult to get too confused.

We found it much easier and quicker to do the upgrade by leaving the I/O board plugged in. Removing it was only really necessary on older upgrades when the CPU board also needed to be modified.

Be sure you have plenty of 400K microdisks for all your documents before doing the upgrade. The first time we tried to install the new Office System after loading our Profile with all our documents as instructed, we had less than 500 free blocks left, which turned out not to be enough.

Unfortunately, we didn't find that out until part way through the installation procedure after the floppy disks had been replaced, making it very difficult to recover. The instructions should really indicate how many free blocks are necessary. (Thanks to Tom Pennello at Metaware for bailing us out on that one.)

Another thing the instructions don't warn about is the incredibly long time the new Office System takes the first time it boots up, apparently as it converts every old file to the new 2.0 format. This can take so long that you may easily be fooled into thinking the system has hung.

In general, our upgraded system runs fine, but there have been a few minor disappointments: the system aborts the first time a document is opened after a backup; low print resolution is now the default for all our old documents; the Workshop conversion trick mentioned in Signal #3 no longer seems to work. Larry Sprowls also reported that LisaWrite underlining now no longer prints in landscape mode.

Art Dept. Correction

In last issue's review of Art Department, we complained about individual states not being selectable on the U.S. map. At the urging of Cathy Betz of Business & Professional Software, we tried again, only to discover we were mistaken, and that individual states can indeed be selected from the map. Our apologies.

This Month's Mailbag

David Morris of Montgomery, AL pointed out to us that the Locked check box in a document's Get Info window on the Macintosh really doesn't provide that much protection, since a locked document can still be edited and changed, just not disposed of or replaced.

Joseph Serdakowski, a chemical engineer in East Greenwich, RI, uses his Lisa to quickly prepare small models of industrial chemical processes with LisaCalc, and to draw graphic operating procedures for "people who can't read very well". He is currently searching for a FORTRAN compiler for Lisa.

Joseph Osborne of Computer Link in Carlisle, PA is a dealer looking for anyone who has a TV camera interface to Lisa or Macintosh, to aid in "preparing advertising".

In our last issue, we mentioned that Bill Stanley and the Computer Shoppe in Greensboro, NC was looking for help in attaching plotters to a Lisa. Since then, Bill has sent us a note saying they now "have LisaDraw documents driving a Hewlett-Packard plotter from the desktop". They are plotting in multiple colors, which are selected via the line thickness pull-down menu!

Dave Redhed of A.P.P.L.E. in Seattle, who discovered the problem with large fonts printing too wide in LisaDraw as we first reported in Signal #8, wrote and explained that he forgot to mention that the bug only shows up when printing in landscape format.