LIPSERVICE

Software forever

I am concerned about the delays in shipping NeXTSTEP '486. Has anyone actually seen it? NeXTWORLD's purpose is obviously to report the news there is, but perhaps you should also report the news there isn't. The main problem for NeXT is that sooner or later Windows NT is going to arrive. AT&T has already released Destiny (its fledgling PC UNIX). If NeXT is to survive the next 18 months, it has got to take development and promotion of NeXTSTEP '486 very seriously.

Brian Leake

Houston

See our cover story in this issue for our first impressions of NeXTSTEP '486. NW

Hardware dies hard

In "Sleeping with the Enemy," in the February/March issue of NeXT-WORLD, Simson Garfinkel expressed the opinion that NeXT's "mother of all competitors" is Microsoft and not Sun Microsystems. I agree. But the nature of that competition has to be clarified. Microsoft software is successful primarily because of IBM PC clones. The expansive features and low cost of these machines makes them attractive regardless of the deficiencies of DOS and its offspring.

At this stage, I doubt that NeXTSTEP '486 can have much of an impact on Microsoft's dominance. Where NeXT can make a difference is in the hardware arena. In other words, NeXT hardware must drive NeXTSTEP rather than the other way around. How so? IBM PC clones are ubiquitous. So too must low-cost NeXT clones be ubiquitous.

If, as Steve Jobs has stated, his goal is to create a new PC standard, then he must allow that standard to propagate in the open market. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Without a low-cost NeXT clone, NeXTSTEP will whither.

Dave Erickson

Los Angeles

For six months, I've been reading in NeXTWORLD and elsewhere that NeXT is losing its edge on hardware production and focusing primarily on software. Well, I don't think NeXT should be a "software company that happens to make good hardware"; it should make both!

The reason I fell in love with NeXT is because it squeezed more standards and innovation into the black box than any other desktop-computer manufacturer. NeXT made bold moves when it included the DSP and the optical drive as standard equipment. The only reason a PC is worth anything is because of the Intel chip inside. To have great software like NeXTSTEP, you need great hardware to run it on!

Mark Ericksen

Tacoma,

Washington

Reality check

The claim in "Perception and Reality" (NeXTWORLD, February/March) that "3D Reality is a polygon-based renderer" is misleading. Photo-Realistic RenderMan and Quick RenderMan are environments for rendering descriptions of 3-D Geometry and visual attributes into images for either interactive use or final production. 3-D Geometries are collections of primitives consisting of polygons, curved surface patches, or NURBs (Non-Uniform Rational B-splines). Any of these can be combined to form new, more complex geometries, and these can be modified by procedural or texture-based shading.

Also, the article failed to explain that shaders can be more than simple patterns mapped to the surface of an object they can also provide light sources, shadows, reflections, displacement mapping, or even volume shading. We acknowledge that it would be extremely useful to have some sort of indication of progress being made on rendering jobs, as suggested in the review. At this point in time, the 3DKit (and the underlying Photo-Realistic Rendering engine prman) provide no means for this. We are addressing the problem and should have a solution soon.

However, we believe that the other criticisms are the price that one pays for working with extremely new technology. The ad-vantages to using the 3DKit far outweigh the ramifications of not using it. By building 3D Reality on top of the 3DKit (and the rest of the tools that NeXTSTEP provides), we feel we have built the most extensible and flexible 3-D graphics tool on any platform.

Andrew Stone and Bill Bumgarner

Stone Design

Albuquerque,

New Mexico

Due to a production error, cube ratings for two products were incorrect in the February/March issue. Stone Design's 3D Reality should have had 2.5 cubes, while Adamation's What's Happeing? should have had 3.5 cubes. NW

Nix on IXKit?

In John Perry Barlow's column ("Vanishing Point," February/March), kudzu seems to be taking some liberty as well as revenge. He writes, "Unfortunately, in allocating re-sources to NeXTSTEP '486, NeXT has dropped support for the in-dexing tool kit, the engine that drives DataPhile."

This is incorrect. NeXT has invested several man-months in bug-fixing the IXKit for 3.1 and porting it to '486. The kit is central to the operation of Help, Librarian, Webster, BuildDisk, Installer, and Upgrader, as well as several internal and future products.

Jack Greenfield

NeXT Computer

Redwood City, California

At the time Barlow wrote his column, the IXKit was in peril of becoming a victim of resource limitations. After consultation with several large customers and commercial developers, NeXT reconsidered its decision and has since completed the fix for IXKit. NW

Mail fraud

This is an open letter to all software vendors who advertise in NeXTWORLD and to the magazine's editors. I notice a lot of companies running ads without e-mail addresses and I read reviews where only phone numbers and snail mail addresses are listed. For people like me who hate the phone, e-mail addresses would be a saving grace.

Rob Wyatt

Los Angeles

For the record

In our article "Just the Fax," in the Winter 1992 issue, we reviewed and showed a photograph of the ZyXEL 1496S modem, which includes an LCD front-panel display. We have discovered that B&W Software's bundled price of $600 includes the 1496E modem, not the 1496S. While the two modems function the same with B&W's NXFax software, the 1496E is physically smaller and does not include the two-line LCD display found on the 1496S. Users who want the LCD display can purchase the 1496S modem bundled with B&W's NXFax software for $800.

In the February/March "New in Shrinkwrap," we described BOSS Document Manager 2.0 incorrectly. The program is designed for full document life-cycle management, including revision control and security.

In "Scanning the Landscape," NeXTWORLD February/March, the prices and resolution of HSD scanners were incorrect. Its color scanner is $1995; the grayscale costs $1495; and the maximum resolution of both is 2400 dpi.

NeXTWORLD welcomes your comments. Please send them to Letters at NeXTWORLD, 501 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94107; or e-mail: letters@nextworld.com.