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View the documentMac software bugs

I wrote in V5 N13 about building word processors with disaster menus, just for fun. Well, freelance writer Frank Forencich says he's already got one. I apologize for bashing Microsoft -- the industry has plenty of bugs to go around -- but I like Frank's attitude of using lemons to make lemonade. He says that Word 6.0 for the Mac "is a master of the chaotic rhythm, a marvel of unpredictability. Just when you get your juiciest, most inspired thoughts down on the screen, it crashes. Every time I suffered a crash, I had to rewrite. To my surprise, this helped my to get into the process more completely, to write with increasing abandon. I turned off the auto-save (not that it worked) and just went for the flow, writing my pieces as if they were about to be yanked. Paradoxically, my movement began to improve. It remains to be seen whether this will ever be adopted as a modern writing technique." [, freelance, 4/6/95.]

("Look on MS Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" -- Bob Roberds , 3/95.)

I've often advocated WriteNow as a minimalist Mac editor. (Some PowerBook users stick to QuickDex or other note-taking programs for text entry. That's too rudimentary for me.) A couple of gripes about WriteNow: 1) Open a file and you lose whatever is in the clipboard. Always open a new file/window first, then go back to clip your selection -- unless you use MultiClip. Really dumb, and it should have been fixed between versions 2.0 and 4.0. 2) The Page Setup dialog for WriteNow -- and perhaps other editors -- offers a checkbox for "Fractional widths." Failing to check it can be a real gotcha for newbies. Leave fractional widths off to make screen text look better on low-res screens. But with a modern processor and high- res monitor, always turn fractional widths on to get the best print quality. Otherwise you can get mysterious spaces when you print, and underlines that are much longer than the things underlined.

I've finally characterized a bug in MultiClip Pro 3.1.3. As I've said, the Pro version is much slower than the original MultiClip. Well, don't switch windows before MultiClip has completed copying a selection to the clipboard. Clicking too soon in the new window wedges my Centris (under System 7.1). I still haven't pinned down another bug, which sometimes pastes the last item clipped instead of the first one in the queue -- thus losing the first one entirely. The original MultiClip was better, but maybe they'll get this one fixed soon.

One more bitch: RAMDoubler generally lives up to its advertising, but it needs a paged memory management unit (PMMU) and is incompatible with the TimesTwo disk doubler. (TimesTwo is more like "Times1.65" for my file mix, and even that space may not be available during a data transfer.) Unfortunately, RAMDoubler compresses all of your active data whether you need the free RAM or not. That slows down access when you switch windows, especially when you have a RAM-resident database such as Panorama. RAMDoubler is great if you really need 16MB on an 8MB machine, but slower than necessary if you just need 10MB. Apple's built-in virtual memory (on PMMU machines) works just as well, for my purposes.

Which leads me to appreciate the care with which Apple integrates its technologies. And HP, Sun, and other companies that insist on quality. I love add-ons developed by hackers, but they don't always work with add-ons from other hackers. It's worse in the PC world, where the hardware is so variable. I hope the new Mac clones won't create the same mess. [KIL, 4/19/95.] (I've just gotten Conflict Catcher, but haven't tried it out yet. Isn't it great that every problem creates a market for solutions? And then for upgrades? :-)

-- Ken