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MacEdition Pro News : November 20, 2002, Ballmer be damned! It’s developers, developers, developers for the rest of us

by MacEdition Staff (feedback)

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Script kiddies work quick

The wrapping is barely off Apple’s newly released OS X.II.II and already the script kiddies have whipped up a new GUI hook into one of the more anticipated elements of the update.

In a mere matter of days, If Then Software slapped together Journalizer 1.0, using AppleScript Studio, to create a graphical widget to let regular Mac users activate the file journal system buried in the Unix guts of Mac OS 10.2.2. Without this wee beastie, the user must access journaling through Terminal and make with the geek speak to access the feature he seeks.

Journaling allows the user to track changes to file system and discover which files or programs caused the operating system to go south when the OS dies. Journaling also allows the user to return the system to the last known good state, and thus recover a system configuration without reformatting and reloading the drive. A little more detailed information is available from the Mothership, although the reader must use her imagination to extrapolate the salient data from the verbiage.

Journalizer features a transparency setting and is donation-ware, meaning that the user is expected to pass his good fortune along in some other form to the rest of the world. Otherwise, the beings in charge of bad karma will make your life miserable. And, we don’t want to wind up like dear old Auggie, do we?

Why stick to the official script?

Scripting aficionados working within Cocoa will no doubt celebrate the arrival of F-script, an open-source scripting environment designed to work with Cocoa frameworks and Objective-C elements.

F-Script is based on Smalltalk syntax and concepts and uses the Cocoa object model. F-Script provides interactive and scripting access to Cocoa objects.

F-Script also introduces a brand new model for high level object oriented programming (including sophisticated object query capacities), based on an advanced integration between object techniques and array technology.

Finally, F-Script sports an innovative object browser for graphical interactions with Cocoa objects: interactively invoke methods on Cocoa objects, or on your own custom Objective-C objects, without writing a line of code.

Programmers interested in hooking up with F-script 1.2.3 can find further information at Philippe Mougin’s release notes page and the freeware tools can also be downloaded.

Dialoging made easy

FileMaker developers might want to make note of a new offering from 24U Software, which has updated its SimpleDialog plug-in for better FileMaker integration and more flexible customization for dialogue screens within FileMaker-based programs.

24U SimpleDialog Plug-In is a dialog-showing plug-in for FileMaker Pro 4.0 or newer. As easy as the standard Show Message and Status(CurrentMessageChoice) but much more powerful! In comparison with standard functions of FileMaker Pro 6 offers the benefits as follows:

  • Up to 5 buttons in custom dialog
  • Unlimited number of input fields
  • Input fields of the type text, password, checkbox, radio button, pop-up menu
  • Compatibility with FileMaker Pro 4.0 - 6.0
  • Optimization of the displayed dialogs appearance
  • Validation of credit cards numbers, social security numbers, social insurance numbers

More detailed information is available from 24U’s site, as well as the downloadable plug-in.

ASCII and you shall receive

Any developer who has had to do a hexadecimal conversion of a text string has probably turned her eyes skywards and muttered for divine intervention to get the correct interpretation of the numbering convention.

Thanks to Trinfinity Software, those programmer prayers have been answered in the form of ASCII Tools Pro 1.0.

ASCII Tools Pro, like its freeware predecessor ASCII Tools, contains a table that allows developers to convert a character to it’s ASCII value in decimal and in hexadecimal. ASCII Tools Pro is much more advanced. ASCII Tools Pro’s table contains character, decimal, hexadecimal, octal, and binary values plus HTML Entities and keyboard combinations. Press a key on the keyboard while in the table and the table automatically scrolls to the entry for that key. Double click on a selection in the table and the data is copied to the clipboard.

The ASCII table is only one of the many useful features of ASCII Tools Pro. In the “Convert” tab, you can enter the character value in any format (i.e. binary, octal, etc.) and ASCII Tools Pro will display all of the other formats for that character.

The “Extract” tab allows you to load a file and extract the ASCII values by selecting a character in the file.

The US$10 program is available at Trinfinity’s download site and is good for those working in Classic and Carbon. The download has a 30-day evaluation period.

Aimed at Captain Canada

It’s the true North, strong and free! Well, thanks to Alex Wilson Studios, the North and free parts apply anyway, now that the graphical artist has applied his talents to creating a handful of Internet Explorer toolbar icons that link to sites of specific interest to our northern cousins. In his press release Alexander hints that the Canadian series is the first of many other international flavors of toolbar icons.

Version 3.5 of the icon set includes the new category: “International Flavors: Canada” with Canadian-specific links (such as, Apple Canada, and The Weather Network), which were among the most requested since the last update. For future “International Flavors,” Alexander Wilson Studios is now soliciting favorite UK, French, and Germany sites for which Mac users would like to have toolbar icons.

The studio has updated some of its other flavors of toolbar icons to reduce the footprint and added some new sites, such as Ric Ford’s MacInTouch. Those interested in procuring the new toolbar icons can point their browsers to the relevant site and start surfing.

PS: Alex, take a hint: You aren’t a real red-blooded Canadian hoser until you know where the picture shown in this link is! What good is life without a ray of SUNshine every now and then?

Converting in a good way

Every graphics pro has come across a situation where scaling a bitmap file just doesn’t work and a simple conversion to a vector format just isn’t at hand.

If you’ve ever been stuck in that situation then you’ll want tip the hat to Free Soft S.A. who has created a plug-in called Silhouette for Adobe Illustrator.

This plug-in allows you to convert bitmap images to vector images with unique correction tools.
Unique features:

  • rights a logo that was badly oriented in the scanner.
  • sharpens rounded or truncated corners.
  • deletes useless points.
  • converts flat curves into straight lines.
  • aligns segments of straight lines on the same axis.
  • smoothes curves.
  • simplifies curves while keeping their appearance.

The plug-in works in Illustrator 8 and newer, and is compatible only with the Macintosh versions of the program (like any serious graphics pro would be using Windows, anyway).

Update City

In no particular order of importance, we’d like to flag you to updates of various programs already featured in older ProNews articles. So without further adieu…

Parker Software has moved its freeware Archer viewer to Version 2.3.1 and in the process fixed bugs that prevented certain file types from being viewed properly. The new version of the software is available here.

OpenOSX has updated its GRASS 5 GIS package to include TCL/TK 8.4.1 support and crush a number of undisclosed bugs fixes. The update may be grabbed from the company’s server.

Transmit 2.0 has been updated to add MS-DOS file listing, eradicate visible passwords, eliminate phantom items, improve AppleScript support and improve compatibility with BBEdit. The update can be downloaded from Panic’s Web Site.

Parker Software has updated its ArcherPro Multimedia viewer to version 3.0 and included panning options, the ability to tag an image, rendering improvements in a=addition to a host of other minor improvements to the application. Those interested in updating can point their browsers to the update.

Feline Entertainment has updated its uDev 2002 entry, The Belt, to Version 1.0.2 which also fixes a number of minor bugs with the program. The update may be obtained from the Web.

Glucose updated Impasse to Version 1.2.5 to make the software firewall compatible with OS 10.2. The software offers users the ability to view packets in real-time either being accepted or rejected. This is a feature not offered by the built-in firewall software contained in the Jaguar release. The update is available at the Glucose site.

Just too cool for school

Yes, we couldn’t close this edition of ProNews without passing on this tidbit about the success of of one of the pieces of software we’ve mentioned in past ProNews articles. It seems the folks at Drauger Research wired up 33 Xserve units at Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) to crank out 217 billion floating point operations per second using their Pooch software.

The Xserve, widely publicized as Apple Computer’s entry into server and large-scale scientific computing markets, has finally been used successfully for a large numeric ally-intensive calculation. Among the codes executed on the cluster, the AltiVec Fractal Carbon demo was one that achieved over 1/5 of a teraflop (1 TF = 1000 GF = one trillion floating-point operations per second). This result is the largest calculation yet performed on an Xserve cluster.

The software used to obtain this impressive result is Pooch and MacMPI_X, the latest incarnation of AppleSeed, a project begun by physics researchers at UCLA in 1998. For four years and counting, their software is being used worldwide to transform Macintoshes into easy-to-use, numeric ally-intensive parallel computers. Complementing a benchmark performed using 76 Power Macintoshes at the University of Southern California (USC) in December 2001, this most recent calculation demonstrates the potential scalability and computational power of clusters based on the Xserve.

All we can say to that is if we can get our hands on this unit, we’re gonna do some serious fraggin’ once UT 2003 comes out on our platform.

No news like old news

This item, although a tad dated, bodes well for fans of Nisus, which bought out the assets of Okito Software about a moth ago. It seems the lead developer from Okito opted to join the development team of Nisus Writer and aid in the process of folding in key technologies from Okito Composer and Okito Thesaurus into a forthcoming release of Nisus Writer.

“When Okito Software approached us, it was very gratifying to see how well matched in features and philosophy the two products were. This provided a wonderful opportunity for us to join forces, creating a stronger and better product and enabling us to exploit together the strengths and special features of OS X” said Jerzy Lewak, President and CEO of Nisus Software, Inc. “We are very excited to have the Okito team join us to implement our mission of developing software which enhances the user’s creativity.”

Users of current versions of Okito Composer will be updated to the next version of Nisus Writer at no cost to them.

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