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The Internet SIG


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The Internet SIG (Special Interest Group) is associated with The Rest of US (TRoU), the Chicago-area Macintosh User's Group. The SIG meets on the second Thursday of the month.


Next Meeting:

Thursday, 10 July 1997 at the Interactive Bean. 1137 West Belmont, just east of Racine.

Bring your best Web finds to the Bean! If you have any ideas/requests/questions/suggestions for discussion topics, please email Martha Stevens directly. Any volunteers who wish to give presentations are welcome.

Hope to see you (and your friends) there!

The Interactive Bean is located at 1137 West Belmont
(a couple blocks west of the Belmont El Station) in Chicago. Here's a map.
The phone number is 773.528.2881

June Meeting Highlights

13 June Meeting

Thanks again to Interactive Bean ("The Bean" to those in the know) for being such a gracious host for the Internet SIG. The atmosphere is inviting, the snacks and coffee are great, and the people are helpful and friendly. And the connection is fast!

Meeting Topic

The topic for this evening's meeting was Email clients, particularly comparisons between the two market leaders, Qualcomm's Eudora and Claris Emailer (which is actually written by Fog City Software). These are programs that run as clients on your Mac to retrieve your E-mail from a mail server. Specifically, they are clients for the most popular type of Internet mail server, Post Office Protocol version 3 (POP3), although Emailer has the additional ability to act as a mail client for the most popular commercial online services, as well.

Eudora is the old war horse of Mac email programs. It has been the most popular email client on the Mac for many reasons, not the least of which were that it was well-written and used to be completely free!

Qualcomm brought out a commercial version of Eudora now called Eudora Pro, but the freeware version is also still available as Eudora Light. The only difference between the two products was that the pro version supported message filtering and spell checking.

For a while, however, Eudora Pro was sort of languishing at version 2.x. Qualcomm added some small subversion features and fixes, but it badly needed an overhaul--it didn't support System 7.5 features like Drag-and-Drop, split messages larger than 32K, and its interface wasn't very accessible, especially to new users. Until Emailer came along, it didn't have any real competition, but it seems to have answered the challenge--Now Eudora Version 3 (available in public beta at June's meeting), feature-wise, may catching up and even surpassing Emailer in some areas.

Emailer is a relative newcomer to the E-mail scene, but it has gained a quick foothold. It has a more modern interface look and feel, supports recent System technologies like Drag-and-Drop, and supports messages over 32K in size as single messages. It quickly won a following among former Eudora users.

The most notable distinction from Eudora is that Emailer can also fetch mail from CompuServe, America Online, RadioMail, and Eworld (when it existed), allowing you to have a single in-box for all of your mail.

Strengths:

Both packages are clean, stable, and well-written. Both packages are PowerMac native, so both run fast on PowerPC Macs. Both have powerful automated sorting and processing of incoming mail (called "Mail Actions" in Emailer and "Filters" in Eudora.
Emailer supports Internet Config. Unlike Eudora, it can access other (non-POP3) mail services. It has Claris' traditional great ease-of-use, simple menus, and is easy for a new user to configure. The authors are very active in Emailer mailing lists and the comp.sys.mac.comm newsgroup, and are very responsive to user concerns and questions. It is also Open Transport native, which should enhance speed and compatibility with Apple's new networking architecture (which is replacing MacTCP).
Eudora is extremely customizable, and supports hierarchical mailbox-filing (sub folders). Status flags (read, sent, replied-to, etc.) are visible in all mailboxes, as well as priority and label (color) flags. Eudora can directly read standard Unix mailbox files. Mailboxes are stored as single disk files, mimizing overhead. It supports Drag-and-Drop for text editing and also for moving messages among mailboxes. It supports Return Receipts, which allows you to tell if a message has been received and/or read by the recipient (depends on the recipient's mail server). The Find function is a very powerful tool for searching large volume of mail. The author and original creator of Eudora, Steve Dorner, has always been very active and responsive to questions on comp.sys.mac.comm, and the new authors for Version 3.0, Scott "Notify Mail" Gruby and Pete "Network Time" Resnick are old-time Mac internet tool programmers as well, and are especially active in the Macintosh Eudora Newsgroup, comp.mail.eudora.mac.

Weaknesses:

Emailer stores each e-mail message as a separate file, creating a lot of disk-space overhead (this is because even a 1K message must reserve an entire hard-disk File Allocation Block, which may be 30K in size on larger disks--this adds up fast). Single (tabbed) window mailbox access is awkward. No support for hierarchical mailbox organization (single-level File Cabinet) Status flags only available for In and Out boxes, not for filed mail.
Eudora support of Internet Config is not well integrated (and it is not clear which settings it affects when it is turned on). Multitude of setting options not clear for inexperienced users. Not Open Transport native; and (perhaps because of this) Eudora doesn't automatically open FreePPP 2.5 properly (you need to the connection manually before telling Eudora to check mail--I wrote a QuicKey to do it for me).

Demo Versions

Of course, no Web page or Internet SIG demo can substitute for using and living with a software product every day, so here are demo versions of Emailer and Eudora Lite. (Emailer is a full-featured demo that expires after 30 days; Eudora Light is freeware, but it doesn't support filtering and some other features in the commercial version. There is also a version of Emailer Lite available with the Apple Internet Connection Kit that only supports POP3 and lacks mail actions (filters).

Surfing

Here are some sites we checked out at the June meeting:

Good places to start.

Elections are coming up!

Other "creative" sites:

Some TV-related links




May 9 Meeting

Thanks again to Interactive Bean ("The Bean" to those in the know) for being such a gracious host for the Internet SIG. The atmosphere is inviting, the snacks and coffee are great, and the people are helpful and friendly.

Meeting Topic

The topic for this evening's meeting was Netscape Plug-Ins. These are programs which use Netscape's built-in programming "hooks" to extend and enhance Netscape's abilities. They work in a similar way to Photoshop plug-ins and system extensions, which add abilities and functions to Photoshop and your Mac system, respectively. SIG Coordinator David Sperling found a great page of links about Plug-ins at http://www.zdnet.com/macweek/plugins.html. After pumping up Netscape with these plug-ins, we set out to see how they work by visiting sites that used them, including those listed below:

We went to the Three toad Multimedia site, where their Web pages require a lot of cutting-edge Netscape plug-ins. They also provide links to the necessary plug-ins.

Speech Plug-Ins

The Talker plug-in uses speech synthesis via Apple's Text-to-Speech technology to speak Web-page text. Their site also includes information on how to add speech to your own Web pages. Only downside--the page is distractingly peppered with advertisements and pitches for the company's commercial product, Retrieve It 2.0.

There are also a couple of plug-ins that allow you to navigate the Web using speech recognition in conjunction with Apple's Speech Recognition software. Bill Noon's ListenUp Netscape plug-in and Digital Dream's ShockTalk (a ShockWave plug-in). Like text-to-speech, these plug-ins also require embedding special script links in the Web page HTML code.

Multimedia (Video and Sound)

There are several plug-ins that handle multimedia, particularly sound and video. One of these is the MovieStar plug-in from Intelligence at Large, which supports streaming QuickTime (this means that the movie can start playing before the entire download has been completed.) Another, more whimsical plug-in is the MacZilla multi-media plug-in. It supports movies in QuickTime format, and also in AVI and MPEG, as well as audio in au, wav, midi, aiff, and mp2. It also plays an animation of a Godzilla-like monster that stomps and screeches around your screen while you are waiting for these items to download! It really puts the "B" in "subtle." You can also play games during download waits.
Of course, the most hyped plug-in of all is the Macromedia Shockwave plug-in, which plays embedded Macromedia Director files and FreeHand vector drawings within Netscape. This allows you to play surprisingly small (in file-size) multimedia animations over the Web. One site that has a large collection of Shockwave animations available for public use is the Shockwave Bauble site. The sample animation on the right is only 11K (that's right, eleven kilobytes) in size! Go ahead and start up the Mac, then pull down some menus.
This bauble is provided by David Shaw.

Miscellaneous Other Stuff

Here is a netscape page that allows you to generate your own home page.

MacSense is an excellent source of Mac and Internet-related information. You can construct your own custom Mac news and information Web page by checking off the topics you want to read.




Suggested topic for future meeting:

If you have any recommendations, please drop Martha a line with your thoughts.

Member Home Pages



Past Meetings

Please see the Archives.


[Made With Macintosh

Last Updated:
Saturday, April 12, 1997
at 2:44 PM by JCR
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