Essays: 1993 Archives
Virus Protection on the Mac is Simple But Necessary
“Protecting yourself from Mac virus infection is easy; it’s a wonder there are people who don’t do it,” said Ben Liberman, independent Macintosh consultant in Chicago. There are several good anti-viral software packages, both commercial and free, designed to protect your Mac from attack.
There are two types of anti-viral software: protective and detective. The commercial virus-prevention software packages -Central Point Software Inc.’s Central Point Anti-Virus for Macintosh 2.0, Symantec Corp.’s Symantec Anti-Virus for Macintosh 3.5 and Datawatch Corp.’s Virex 4.1 – support both protective and detective protection. There are two freeware virus-protection programs: Disinfectant, which takes a detective approach, and GateKeeper, which takes a protective approach. Both programs are available on most bulletin board systems and on-line services…
Macs Prove Their Worth as High-End Lab Assistants
Abundance of software, ease of use make Macs the tool of choice for researchers
Macs are used extensively in the sciences. Not just for writing research papers and creating presentation graphics but also for instrument control, data acquisition and analysis, and scientific simulation. There are many scientific applications available on the Macintosh – commercial, free and custom-built – and scientists all over the world are taking advantage of them.
The Mac is also commonly used in the sciences as a front end to high-end workstations. Data collected and numbers crunched on workstations are often brought over to the Mac for final manipulation and presentation…
Mac Development Tools Get With the Program
A computer platform is only as good as the software developed to run on it. To create good software, programmers need flexible development tools that take advantage of evolving hardware and operating systems.
Apple’s interests lie in keeping development tools current so programmers will continue to develop for its Mac, Newton and PowerPC platforms. It has often received criticism from developers for delays and outdated tools.
Mac tools are keeping pace with those on other platforms with help from companies, such as Symantec Corp., that are releasing new languages, environments and class libraries for in-house developers…
Automatic Disk Compression Stirring Debate Among Users
Automatic disk compression programs promise to effectively transparently double the storage space on your hard drive. Although most can live up to this claim, several factors, including performance and reliability problems, have sullied the images of these products.
Given the prevalence of cheap disk drives, some doubt the wisdom of using these products at all. Many users report no problems, however, and have come to rely on automatic disk compression to squeeze every last byte out of their storage devices.
There are two types of background compression products: file-level and driver-level. File-level compression programs compress files during idle periods and uncompress previously compressed files as they are read from disk. Driver-level compression programs replace or supplement a drive’s SCSI controller and automatically compress all files as they are written and uncompress them as they are read…
Emergency Recovery Tools: Raising Data from the Dead
Any user who has suffered a disk failure can attest to the importance of regular backups. No matter how vigilant a backup program you implement, however, a disk crash between backups can still destroy valuable data.
“You stress backups, but in most cases people don’t do them,” said Mark Goldenberg, senior development engineer at Hughes Aircraft Co. of Fullerton, Calif. “Or the file they destroyed or deleted is one they created that day.” In situations such as this, emergency disk recovery tools can prove invaluable.
Several Macintosh utility bundles include tools that can resurrect lost data and take measures to keep catastrophic crashes at bay. Symantec Corp.’s Norton Utilities for Macintosh, Central Point Software Inc.’s MacTools Deluxe, Fifth Generation Systems Inc.’s Public Utilities and Datawatch Corp.’s 911 Utilities (sold in a package called SuperSet Utilities) all include tools to diagnose and repair crashed hard drives, recover deleted files, and optimize drive performance. The differences among the optimization and recovery tools in these packages are subtle, and each contains other utilities, so choosing among them can often be a matter of personal taste…
Clipper Gives Big Brother Far Too Much Power
In April, the Clinton administration, cleaning up business left over from the Bush administration, introduced a cryptography initiative that gives government the ability to conduct electronic surveillance. The first fruit of this initiative is Clipper, a National Security Agency (NSA)-designed, tamper-resistant VLSI chip. The stated purpose of this chip is to secure telecommunications.
Clipper uses a classified encryption algorithm. Each Clipper chip has a special key, not needed for messages, that is used only to encrypt a copy of each user’s message key. Anyone who knows the key can decrypt wiretapped communications protected with this chip. The claim is that only the government will know this key and will use it only when authorized to do so by a court…
Everything's Coming up Packets
Public Switched Systems Are Becoming the Leading Edge in Wide-Area Networks
For many years, the only way for distant computers to communicate over the public telephone system was via a voice-quality link, either a dialup line or a point-to-point leased line. Big companies needed better connections, and several data communications standards, such as X.25, were developed to provide them on these lines. As networks expanded and applications required speedier transmission rates, time-division multiplexing (TDM) technologies stepped in to provide cheaper and faster data transfers on large-bandwidth circuits, often making it cheaper to lease a dedicated T1 line than to run several low-speed lines…
Security problems have become almost as commonplace as desktop computers. A disgruntled city employee, trying to get back at the boss, digs into the mayor’s personal files and sends damaging information to the press. A woman asks her computer-expert husband to recover an accidentally deleted budget file; he recovers not only that file, but purposely deleted letters to an illicit lover. Or a major corporation loses critical financial data to an industrial spy who dialed in to a company file server.
Most of us have some computer-security vulnerability. Fortunately, software solutions can address mild concern through outright paranoia. Some security products will keep your kid brother from reading your files. Others will prevent a Mac guru from reading your files. Still others will bar the best Macintosh programmers in the industry from reading your files. Finally, some software will probably keep the spy agencies of large nations or the industrial spies of multinational corporations from reading our files…
Inside the PCMCIA Storage Standard
Originally a nonvolatile storage standard, PCMCIA has grown to be a much more versatile interface. With its small size and low power draw, it has gotten a lot of attention from computer developers looking to reduce both bulk and power on their portable products.
Apple is evaluating PCMCIA for its PowerBook line, and Newton will ship with a PCMCIA slot; the slot also will support an Apple-proprietary 32-bit bus called TrimBus. Using PCMCIA, users can plug in cards containing everything from interactive maps to network connectors.
A PCMCIA card is a removable device about the size of a credit card (2.126 by 3.37 inches). It has a 68-pin interface along the short edge that works with eight- and 16-bit computer buses and supports physical access of up to 64 Mbytes of memory. (Apple’s 32-bit TrimBus can address up to 256 Mbytes on a single card.)…
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.