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The three Ps

Drivers, drivers, my kingdom for some drivers!

I'm running NEXTSTEP 3.1 for Intel on a high-end '486 DX2/66, 525MB SCSI disk, and an S3 local-bus video board, but I cannot talk to our corporate network, nor can I run in anything more than 640-by-480 grayscale mode despite the fact that I'm using a 3COM Etherlink III and an S3-805 local-bus video card. Both of these devices have drivers in 3.1, but they both don't work.

Here, in my opinion, is what NeXT needs to do in a hurry:

Having said all that, I firmly believe NeXT's future is assured, provided that it partners, ports, and positions furiously in the next 12 months.

John Eduard Venema

North Sydney, Australia

Driver license?

After impatiently awaiting NEXT-STEP for Intel, I was totally disappointed after seeing it and reading the hardware list. NeXT needs to at least triple the number of drivers it provides. My suggestion: Sell the developer's version for the price of a run-time system if the purchaser delivers a driver within eight weeks.

Thyl Engelhardt

Tbingen, Germany

NEXTSTEP for Intel is a very fine product. Now, if only I could make it work with my hardware. I have a Sound Blaster Pro sound card, but I don't have a driver for NEXTSTEP. It goes the same for my Telepath fax-modem that I cannot use under NEXTSTEP because of the lack of drivers. I can't even use my HP4 printer in non-PostScript standard mode.

Jacques Garbi

Lausanne, Switzerland

Support needed

When I returned from NeXTWORLD Expo and attempted to install 3.1 on my Dell PC, I could not get past the boot floppy disk with my ATI Ultra Pro video card installed. This card is listed in hardware-compatibility guides as being supported. I made several calls to NeXT, Dell, and ATI. While everyone that I spoke to was interested in my problem and offered suggestions, I have installed NEXTSTEP 11 times and still don't have 1024-by-768 color.

Ultimately, what decides the success or failure of NeXT will not be the pricing of its OS or a lack of applications, but how it responds to problems like mine.

Barry Vinson

New Iberia, Louisiana

Trickle-down technology

Dan Ruby's claim that Jim Opfer "introduced e-mail, portable com-puters, and video- conferencing systems" to the Reagan White House "long before the rest of the world discovered these technologies" is hard to believe, considering the stories that have come out this year about the antiquated state of White House information technology. E-mail seems to have been most popular among the NSC types in the Reagan White House, who used it for a textbook demonstration of why not to use information systems that isolate you from real-world contextual information: Bud McFarlane and Ollie North used the PROFS e-mail system to egg each other on to the Iran-contra scandal.

Fred Zimmerman

Ann Arbor, Michigan

You're right that the White House didn't keep the technology train rolling after its initial installation of a "closed" e-mail system. But if you think back to 1982, there were few, if any, corporations on any e-mail system, much less connected openly to the rest of the world. Those of us in the White House at that time were the second corporate account in the world that had PROFS; we literally helped IBM design it.

Similarly, who in 1982-83 was doing cross-country video conferencing? Not many, because the video codecs (compressors/decompressors) and communications lines were too ex-pensive only those who could justify the expense used them.

The Bush White House merely followed what the Reagan administration had done and did not move to modernize the White House for the '90s. It took a new administration of young turks to wake everyone up. Jim Opfer

Emulator's new clothes

After reading the April/May "Windows Dressing" article, I wonder what kind of NeXT you were using. It seems like it had to be one of those mythical 40MHz Nitro '040s. I have a NeXTstation Turbo Color with 32MB of RAM at home and a 20MHz '386 Compaq at work. So when I installed SoftPC with Windows 3.1 on my NeXT, I expected performance only slightly worse than my office Deskpro. I got an abysmally slow PC in a window. The screen redraw and mouse-action functions were sluggish beyond belief.

So what does "as fast as a '386/16" really mean? Does it mean messing with system buggers in the ROM monitor as the SoftPC Read Me file suggests? Or fiddling with color settings somewhere? All this reminds me too much of my real PC. Until now, no NeXT app has recommended editing low-level configuration data (and in the monitor of all places). Indeed, maybe SoftPC has emulated the PC experience all too well.

David L. Neumann

Exxon Production Research

Houston, Texas

Our reviewer tested SoftPC on several NeXTstations, including a never-released Nitro. On a stock Turbo, he found performance to be sluggish but acceptable. Now, we are looking forward to NEXTSTEP 3.2 to discover how SoftPC performs on Intel hardware. NW

Ask and receive

From my point of view, you can earn your entire year's subscription price with some good reviews of the Intel platforms certified to run NEXT-STEP. In particular, some serious benchmarking of the machines should be done. Do you have plans along these lines?

Bill Brown

Hollis, New Hampshire

We take our first shot in this issue at testing developer boxes. We plan to expand our evaluation criteria in the future as we continue to review NEXTSTEP PCs. NW

Color blind

NeXTWORLD has gone overboard in the color and font department.

In the June/July issue, the article titled "Pyromania!" has one virtually unreadable figure caption, since the text is as black as the underlying picture of the burning Cube. Another not-so-great choice of colors appears in the NEXTSTEP PCs article. Red figure captions over orange images are highly unreadable. In the same article, one figure uses white text too bad it's over light-colored areas in the figure.

Alvin Jee

Santa Cruz, California

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