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MacEdition Pro News : July 4, 2002: Political footballs, PowerMate updates and the little Mac that CAN

by MacEdition Staff (feedback)

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Sadly, this ProNews addition has no “Independence Day” angle we can play, not even a little bit. Oh well, maybe next year.

The right-to-left political football

In the previous ProNews segment we mentioned Opera’s recent commitment to support right-to-left languages (and others, like Russian) in future versions of its Web browser. At the time of writing, we were not aware of the extent of the massive bunfight this issue had become. The Register has been chronicling this saga in great detail (check out the links in the sidebar on the right).

Having waded through all the claims, counterclaims and general fingerpointing, MacEdition is going to do something a little unorthodox; we’re going to stick up for the MBU. At MacEdition, we’re no fans of the Redmond mothership, but we feel obliged to stick up for the MBU when things are blown out of proportion. Stepping back from this bunfight for a moment to take a few deep breaths and count to ten, the following should be noted:

  1. We applaud Opera’s commitment to support right-to-left languages in future versions of its browser. Opera’s support for cultural diversity, like all the values in its mission statement, is something to strive for.

  2. However, shipping is a product feature. Press releases and platitudes are essentially meaningless until there is a tangible product on the table. At the time of writing it must be noted that Opera Version 6 for Windows does not yet support right-to-left languages while IE Version 6 for Windows does.

  3. If anybody must be blamed (and we’re not saying they must) for the state of right-to-left language support on the Mac, it’s Apple first and foremost. Mac OS X is still a very young and evolving operating system. The priority Apple assigns to “non-key elements” of the OS may at times seem questionable when compared to the bells, whistles and chrome tailfins that are Aqua. While some of the Mac press hailed it as a boon, Universal Access was only added to Mac OS X 10.1 as a hasty afterthought (read here for a candid assessment of Apple’s commitment to accessibility). Support for right-to-left languages in OS X will not be implemented until the release of Jaguar in “late summer.” As frustrating as it is to say it, it is a matter of time and resources, and some features (not just Aqua) take greater priority. However, until this support is fully implemented, developers relying on this built-in feature effectively have their hands tied.

  4. The feedback to the Register on its original story shows (anecdotal) evidence of strong demand for localising to right-to-left languages of all flavors. If Apple delivers the goods with Jaguar, other developers ship stable products and Microsoft still hasn’t done anything, then it is perhaps time to point fingers in that direction.

And we’ll happily join in.

Stay tuned, a more in-depth look at support for right-to-left and other “non-Western” languages will be coming to MacEdition soon.

PowerMate updates, no price gouging

We’ve mentioned the PowerMate, Griffin’s spiffy USB multimedia input device, previously, but Griffin has recently released updates to both the Mac and PC versions of its software drivers. The new PowerMate drivers are free – as it should be for any company wishing to stay in business – unlike silly, greedy Umax.

Nashville, TN - June 27, 2002. Griffin Technology, Inc. has released updates to all versions of their PowerMate software. This brings Mac OS 9 and OS X versions to 1.1.1 and all Windows version to 1.4. Most importantly, these updates bring convergence to both Mac and PC versions of PowerMate allowing users to switch between platforms and retain the exact same functionality and list of features.

PowerMate software Version 1.1.1 for Mac OS 9 and OS X includes many bug fixes and feature improvements. Of note is a much-improved installer that retains all previous settings when upgrading. Other improvements include a labeled Sensitivity and Key Repeat Rate slider - making its function much clearer and intuitive.

They’re available immediately for download at: http://www.griffintechnology.com/ftp/index.html

The little Mac that CAN

The folks at eXtend Computer & Instrument may have the solution with macCAN, a product that allows Macs to plug into Controller Area Networks, often used in industrial applications. The press release throws a few technical buzzwords around, so we’ll reprint it in full to save confusion:

WALLED LAKE, MICHIGAN, JUNE, 2002 – eXtend Computer & Instrument, a company that specializes in electronics for mobile applications, introduces macCAN. macCAN is a software and hardware package which allows Macintosh users to interface with standard Controller Area Networks (CAN) commonly used in automotive and industrial applications. macCAN works with all PowerPC Macintosh computers using either a serial or USB port running OS 8 through OS X.

macCAN supports both standard 11 bit and extended 29 bit CAN message IDs with data rates up to 1 Mbps. All CAN timing parameters are user programmable including propagation time, synchronization jump width and bit phase times. The macCAN interface has 120 ohm user selectable termination and CAN connections to the interface are easily made through standard instrumentation banana jacks or via a standard 3-pin header (both provided).

macCAN software uses a 100uS resolution clock to sequence all transmitted messages and log received messages. Transmitted messages may be programmed with 0 to 8 data bytes and all data bytes are easily programmed by the user. Every transmit message can be manually sent at any time, scheduled to be sent at a specific time or sent at a fixed periodic rate. macCAN monitors all messages present on the CAN bus. Messages specified by ID are displayed in the macCAN Message Activity Window when received. Messages may also be selectively logged at the time of reception or transmission and saved in either a comma separated value (CSV) or tab delineated text file format.

The macCAN software is available with either a USB or serial CAN interface for Macintosh. The USB interface powers itself directly from the USB port. The serial interface requires external power provided by an included AC adapter (12 volt auto adapter cord is optional).

US and International orders may be placed today exclusively through eXtend Computer & Instrument. The macCAN software and hardware package is priced at $349 and will begin shipping in August of 2002. To purchase macCAN, visit the company’s on-line store at: www.eXtendComputer.com or contact us at 248-960-0772.

General Motor’s factory line being controlled by a Dalmation iMac? Heaven forbid ...

Looking for old ProNews segments? Check out our index at http://old.macedition.com/news/. Do you have news releases or tidbits of interest to the Macintosh professional? Send them to pronewsnotes@macedition.com.

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