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Print2Pict; Wacom Pen Partner

Print2Pict appears as a printer driver in the Chooser, allowing you to output from a graphics program to a PICT file.Print2Pict appears as a printer driver in the Chooser, allowing you to output from a graphics program to a PICT file.

Martin Russ finds that pitfalls await innocent readers wanting to print out their scores, and also extols the virtues of an alternative to the ubiquitous mouse.

Printers. Even though the world is supposedly becoming 'paperless', it's surprising how much most computer users depend on hard copy. Cue Apple Notes reader Calvin Palmer, who contacted me via SOS to pass on his experience with printing out scores from the QuickScribe notation part of MOTU's Performer and Digital Performer. Apparently, his Epson Stylus printer refuses to print these scores correctly, the most obvious symptom being non‑appearing dotted notes. This, it would appear is caused by problems with Epsom's implementation of the QuickDraw standard for printer output which QuickScribe uses. Not unsuprisingly, Epson are very concerned about this problem, as are MOTU, and it is being actively worked on by Epson (and may be solved by the time you read this). MOTU's web page ( highlights the problem, but I'm not sure that I've ever looked at the problem page for anything before I bought it. When you buy a printer, you don't think to enquire about any potential incompatibities these days, because a printer should just work, and a fault as obscure as this isn't something you consider.

There are two possible workarounds for those affected by this problem: sadly, however, the first is likely to be expensive, while the second compromises print quality. QuickDraw files, like PostScript files, are 'resolution‑independent', meaning that they are made up of a series of instructions, rather than bitmaps (patterns of dots). The advantage of this is that a QuickDraw file should be able to be printed on any printer, to the best quality that printer can produce, whereas the quality of a bitmap is fixed by the resolution at which it is stored and cannot be improved. Storing an image in a resolution‑independent format also usually results in a much smaller file than storing the same image as a high‑resolution bitmap. The problem with MOTU's notation software, however, is that Epson's drivers don't fully understand the QuickDraw instructions output by Performer.

The first solution, which MOTU themselves suggest, is to use an RIP (Raster Image Processor) utility to convert from the output of the QuickScribe notation to another resolution‑independent format which the Stylus can handle without problems. Unfortunately RIP utilities can be expensive, since they are normally targetted at the professional print industry — MOTU recommend an application called PowerRIP from Birmy ( — though there is at least one web site which offers free RIP conversion ( For high‑quality score printouts, then, this is the right approach.

For more mundane use, such as the printouts I need to make, there is an alternative. Print2Pict is a printer driver that lets you 'print', but instead of going directly to a printer, creates a PICT file, which you then print out separately. What this does, effectively, is convert your QuickDraw scores (which won't print out properly on the Stylus) to PICT files, which will. The problem, however, is that PICT is not a resolution‑independent format, but a simple bitmap format — so you can either end up with a blocky‑looking score, or a huge PICT file which can take a long time to print, depending on the resolution you choose to 'print' at. Print2Pict is only $10 shareware, and is one of two alternative 'printers' that I use — the other is eDoc, which is a way of printing to a stand‑alone document.

Expo Report

A graphics tablet like the Wacom Pen Partner can provide more sophisticated and subtle control than a mouse in many contexts.A graphics tablet like the Wacom Pen Partner can provide more sophisticated and subtle control than a mouse in many contexts.

This year's 'Exhibition formerly known as Apple Expo' was interesting. Every year I try to get some feel for a theme, and this year I was struck by the large number of 3D‑related applications. I definitely wasn't struck by the 'Music and MIDI' content, because I didn't actually find anything noteworthy. The food, from the Covent Garden Soup Company was excellent as ever, and there were one or two show bargains to be had. The roof leaked a bit in places...

Not that I'm groping for words here (You are! — Ed), but the lack of an Apple stand seemed to result in much of the focus and glitz (and many attendees) evaporating from the event. Everthing fitted on to the floor of the hall, and it all felt a bit open and spacious! iMacs were everywhere, absolutely everywhere, which did prompt the observation that with an iMac you have a very standard demo machine — if it works on the iMac at the show then it should work on your iMac back at base because there aren't any variants. But as soon as I thought that, then Rev B iMacs, with their extra video RAM and incompatibility with the warranty‑busting ADB socket 'solder it on yourself' web‑tip, were just bound to appear, and they have.

The 2000 Limit

Pitch‑bend curves can be drawn much more easily using the Pen Partner than with a mouse.Pitch‑bend curves can be drawn much more easily using the Pen Partner than with a mouse.

Mac owners have for some time been quietly smug about the relative immunity of their platform from Year 2000 problems. Recently, however, I found an intriguing, if minor, problem concerning the number (though not the year) 2000 with MacOS 7.6.1, which I'm currently using as my base system. As part of the preparation for the CD‑ROM add‑on for my Sound Synthesis & Sampling book (see for details), I've been working with a large number of audio and picture files, and one or two folders began to accumulate quite a few incremental files...

Everything proceeded well until I did some tidying up, and brought all of one type of file together into one place so that I could spool it off on to a CD‑R as a backup. All of a sudden, I had a folder with about three and a half thousand files in it. Adding files to it worked perfectly fine, but opening the folder to look at the contents was a little slow, and when I attempted to scroll down the window, the Mac appeared to freeze up. It hadn't actually crashed, but it had transmogified from my sleek, responsive co‑worker into a tortoise‑like sloth doing a couch‑potato impression. Selecting some files and moving them to another folder took almost half an hour, but I finally managed to get the number of files below 2000. With less than 2000 files in the folder, things worked almost as quickly as normal.

Because I'm a curious person, I then put some files back to take the folder back over the 2000 mark. Do I walk into these things, or what? Yes, it slowed down again just as badly, and it took ages to remove the files and get things working at speed again. I think the moral of this is that if you are working with digital audio software where each operation can produce files in a default folder on your hard disk, then beware of assuming that having a few Gb of storage on‑line means that you are immune from potential problems. Admittedly, two thousand files in one folder is a little extreme, but now you know where the limits are. As for me, I'm very unlikely to forget!

Apple News In Brief

  • Quick Stream

The one area where Apple's excellent QuickTime 3 has any real weakness is in its lack of any true streaming technology. Although the FastStart feature does mean that you can play a movie as it arrives over the Internet, it still isn't streaming because if you use up all of the black part of the scroll bar, then playback stops until the rest of the movie has arrived. But the next version of QuickTime, version 3.5, will incoporate IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) standardised streaming technology — the RTSP Real‑Time Streaming Protocol will be used for QuickTime Streaming (QTS). This should make QuickTime's combination of cross‑platform support, flexibility and power even more compelling and essential.


After many years of making removables hard drives (I've got two 44Mb SyQuest drives myself), SyQuest have filed for bankruptcy following several years without making a profit. However, assets like the key patents and manufacturing equipment have been sold, and if the usual trend in the computer industry is followed, support for existing drives and cartidges will continue via the new owner.

Tip Of The Month: Get A Pen

I've been mousing for so long now that I've completely fogotten what it was like when I first started to use one — and I just can't believe that it ever felt as awkward as using the trackball in my PowerBook! Familiar though they are, however, mice are not always the most efficient choice of control tool.

I've always toyed with the idea of buying a graphics tablet so that I could actually try out some of the fancy art software that needs delicate pressure sensitivity rather than mouse‑clumsiness, but the price and size has always put me off. So it was quite a surprise to find Wacom's 'Pen Partner' at the Expo. This tiny A6‑sized tablet hooks into the ADB port alongside your existing mouse, and the pen is light and easy to use. At a price only slightly more than a couple of mice, this was affordable — and I bought one.

Once back in the studio, I very quickly realised that having the entire screen rigidly mapped to a postcard‑sized rectangle of about 15 by 10 centimetres was very different to the unmapped, and looser 'lift and move' mouse‑to‑screen relationship. Being able to put the pen at the top left to get at the menu bar, and have it repeatably in the same physical place on the tablet, very quickly began to undo years of mousing. I also expected the positioning resolution to be coarse — and it wasn't. Before I knew it, I was in Vision DSP and trying out the Pulse Edit window, then drawing in pitchbends in an Edit window, and it all went very fast and very easily. Because vertical movement of the pen can be used to indicate a mouse click, the little switch on the side of the pen allows you additional control possibilities that you don't get on a single‑button Mac mouse. (Though my spies tell me that a two‑button Mac mouse may well appear soon!) I soon realised that having a one‑to‑one relationship between where something was on the screen and where it was on the tablet meant that I could avoid the lifting and moving that I was doing with the mouse, and so not only was I not wearing my mouse out, but I could do things significantly quicker. The pen works very well in the photo‑retouch and the MIDI/digital audio environments. Well worth a try.