3 April 2000
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Macromedia, Inc. and Blue World Communications, Inc., maker of the Web Data Engine, have announced Lasso Studio 1.5 for Macromedia Dreamweaver 3. Blue World will showcase this update at this week's Internet World Expo in Los Angeles. The companies also announced a tutorial on the integration between the Blue World Lasso Web Data Engine and Macromedia Flash.
Lasso Studio 1.5 for Dreamweaver, which will be available as a free update to Lasso Studio beginning in April, will provide Lasso customers with new wizards, palettes, and performance enhancements. Lasso Studio for Dreamweaver introduces a visual, structured development environment for building database-driven Web applications for the Lasso Web Data Engine.
A tutorial for integrating Lasso with Flash, entitled "Building a Data-Driven Message Board Using Lasso and Macromedia Flash," includes a set of format files and sample database templates for an interactive message board. The tutorial is free at http://www.blueworld.com/blueworld/articles/.
ActiveState, a supplier of products and services supporting Open Source Software, announced last week that ActivePerl 5.6 is now available for download. ActivePerl 5.6 is ActiveState's binary distribution of Perl for the Windows, Linux and Solaris operating systems.
New features include:
Copies can be downloaded free from http://www.ActiveState.com.
BeatWare, Inc.'s recent integration of its Web graphics software--e-Picture 2.0--with Macromedia Dreamweaver lets users create Web animation graphics in e-Picture, export them as a Flash file, then "drag and drop" the file into Dreamweaver. When modifications are required, the user double-clicks the graphic in Dreamweaver, automatically launching e-Picture, makes the change, and re-exports as a Flash file.
e-Picture 2.0, for Windows and Mac, lets artists create Web graphics that can be exported to Macromedia Flash, Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), animated GIF, and a number of video file formats including QuickTime, RealNetworks' G2, AVI and Microsoft Windows Media.
San Francisco-based Burst.Com, Inc. last week launched a service to host multimedia content linked to clients' Websites. Burst Hosting Service employs burst.com's "Faster- Than-Real-Time" technology, said to overcome obstacles that previously prevented video from being implemented widely over networks. The technology is designed to isolate end-users from network latency and congestion.
San Francisco-based Abvent recently announced Katabounga 3 ($495), a new version of its multimedia authoring software for Macintosh computers (Windows runtime available). Features include:
Newly available and free from Macromedia are two software development kits (SDKs) that enable third-party developers to add Macromedia Flash export to authoring applications and Macromedia Flash playback to platforms and devices. Macromedia Flash is a de facto standard for creating vector-based Web sites that deliver motion, sound, interactivity, and graphics.
The Macromedia Flash Player source code SDK lets developers incorporate Macromedia Flash playback into emerging Web-enabled platforms and devices. Macromedia is providing a version of the C++ source code of the Flash player, as well as documentation designed to help a third-party software or hardware developer easily port the player to any platform or device. The Macromedia Flash Player is being ported to the Symbian platform for wireless devices, the Microsoft WinCE platform, and various set-top boxes.
For operating system vendors and device manufacturers, a business model exists for building the Macromedia Flash Player into new platforms.
Macromedia made the Flash file format available to the development community two years ago. The new Macromedia Flash file format (SWF) SDK details the file format, provides new export code, and includes improved documentation for developers.
The file format SDK can be downloaded from http://www.macromedia.com/software/flash/open/licensing/fileformat/ by any interested parties that agree to the licensing terms. The player source code SDK will be made available to developers approved by Macromedia. For more information, visit http://www.macromedia.com/software/flash/open/licensing/sourcecode/.
Newly available from Be Incorporated is a new version of its digital-media operating system, BeOS 5. The Personal Edition of the operating system, designed for rich-media handling and aimed at first-time or casual users, is now available at no charge, via the Web at http://free.be.com. Additionally, BeOS 5 Pro Edition for audio and video applications, has also been made available to third-party publishers in North and South America, Asia, and soon to follow, Europe.
With the new release, Be is offering a programmers development kit (BeIDE, or Be Integrated Development Environment) and a library of demonstration applications at no charge. Additionally, Be is opening access to its desktop, known as Tracker, and its taskbar, known as Deskbar, by publishing a software developers kit (SDK) along with the source code.
BeOS 5 Personal Edition resides on the disk as a single file that can be moved or deleted like any Windows file. When it is opened, it switches control from Windows to BeOS. Personal Edition is compatible with Intel-based PCs and includes HTML-based documentation. It handles supports IDE and SCSI drives as well as PCMCIA and USB, including digital camera and IEEE 1394 FireWire video support. BeOS can read most major audio and video format as well as produce output that can be processed by most applications and devices. Dial-up and LAN-based TCP/IP networking is available and the OS comes with an Internet browser, an ftp and telnet server, and AppleTalk support.
The professional edition can be installed on both Intel- and Power PC-based machines and has the ability to handle terabytes of data. It offers new encoding support for Cinepak, Indeo 5, raw audio, P-JPEG, and MP3. Twenty six applications, many multimedia oriented, are bundled with BeOS 5 Pro Edition.
BeOS 5 Pro Edition will be available in the Americas through Gobe Software, in Asia via Hitachi, and should be available in Europe through Apacabar, and Koch. Each publisher will price BeOS 5 Pro Edition independently and based on other bundled components. Publishers are also responsible for setting the upgrade policy for existing BeOS users in their territory.
Just out from InstallShield Software Corporation is DemoShield 6.5, the latest version of its product designed to let users create interactive, multimedia software demos, tutorials, and CD browsers for distribution via CD-ROM, diskette, and the Internet.
New features include:
Also, DemoShield 6.5 reportedly incorporates a more intuitive, point-and-click user interface that, without the need for any scripting, provides quick manipulation of objects like buttons, text, quizzes, and hotspots, as well as their multiple properties such as actions, life, and colors. Additionally,
Coming later this year but available now as a technical trial is the Microsoft Windows Media Player 7. Features include:
New research on user interaction with Internet Web sites is underway by WebCriteria, Inc., developer of Max, a behavior-based browsing agent.. The month-long study includes 60 participants and is designed to investigate the browsing patterns of various user segments. The research, conducted by Design Technologies, will focus on various demographics, including age, gender and the Web browsing experience level of users, to understand the impact of these factors on Web-browsing behavior and to further refine Max.
The collected data will help WebCriteria researchers quantify different profiles of Web users by understanding how a user's Web experience level affects site navigation and browsing behavior. A percentage of those tested will participate in tasks using laser eye-tracking devices, which follow and record eye movements when reading, to expand WebCriteria's intimate understanding of human perception and cognition.
These test results will be used by WebCriteria to refine Max, which will in turn be further validated with additional testing. Since Internet users continually grow in computer literacy and Web browsing experience, Max's programmed parameters of reading, comprehension, and motor skills must continue to evolve to ensure a valid, statistically accurate proxy for human behavior. Results of this testing will be published in mid-2000 to help broaden industry understanding of effective Web site usability.
WebSpace is a sort of super-browser from Giage, Inc.--it lets users organize info by storing bookmarks, text and graphics, email, Web pages stored locally, and other types of local data in custom folders. The company recently released WebSpace Professional ($179), which adds integration with Outlook and Digital Dashboard, both from Microsoft. Giage says this lets users share and collaborate on group projects within WebSpace, and to send original projects to others via email. The pro edition also offers integrated file viewing/management, letting users access, save, and work with information from most applications on their computers.
This is actually a pretty useful application. The company's Website seems to go offline regularly, but when it's up you can get a trial version at http://www.giage.com.
MetaCreations subsidiary Metastream Corporation last week launched Metastream 3.0 (MTS 3), a new version f its 3D visualization technology. Metastream also announced strategic partnerships with America Online, Nike, Adobe, iPIX, Autodesk division Discreet (formerly Kinetix), Grey Interactive, Rare Medium and FCB Worldwide among others. At the same time, Metastream also unveiled its new corporate image and opened the doors to New York City headquarters.
MTS 3 provides interactive 3D models, the ability to explore colors, textures and features of products and to personally configure choices in a compressed streaming file format said to enable virtually instant viewing and interaction regardless of computer processing power or connection speeds. For online marketers, MTS3 includes a component that keeps track of aggregate user interaction with MTS3 content over time.
Nothing Real is now shipping Version 2.2 of its Shake product line. The release features a new timeline-based compositing workspace, multiprocessor support, and tracking/stabilizing tools for added functionality. Shake 2.2 is available on the Windows NT and IRIX platforms.
Other new features include:
Shake Version 2.2 is currently available directly from Nothing Real through the internet. The software is priced at $9,900. Additional render-only network licenses are available at $3,900. An evaluation copy of Shake 2.2 can be downloaded at http://www.nothingreal.com.
Under a new agreement between Revit Technology Corporation, creator of a parametric building modeler, and Robert McNeel & Associates, makers of Rhino and AccuRender 3, AccuRender 3 will be embedded into Revit to provide photo-realistic 3D drawings created in the parametric design modeler. Using the raytracing and radiosity technologies included in AccuRender, Revit users will be able to create images that include lights, shadows, reflections, texture, materials, plants and more.
Draco Systems has released Elastic Dreams, morphing and motion-effects software for the Casablanca nonlinear video editor. The $299 product creates warp effects, funhouse-style stretched or distorted images, images that "morph" from one to another and animation effects such as talking animals or objects.
Elastic Dreams was created for the Casablanca by MotionStudios, of Bremen, Germany. It includes Warp, an image processing function, and three transitions: Draw, FX and Morph. Each provides a range of effects, such as "Wave," "Sine," "Twirl" and "Sculpt," plus multiple projects and archived clips. It is compatible with any version of the Casablanca running System Software 3 or higher.
The Elastic Dreams software is the latest in a series of third-party add-ons for the Casablanca. Other recent entries include the new Monument Deluxe Titler, with texture-mapped fonts and fly-in/fly-out effects; Akaba Paint program, with keyframing for image changes that follow the footage; Spice Rack image processing and transition effects; and PC Link for transferring a wide variety of files between the Casablanca and a computer.
David Biedny's IDIG, Inc. (Interactive Digital Intelligence Group) last week released Photoshop 5.5 for the Web, a new video in its Photoshop Inside & Out learning series. Mastering the World Wide Web as an artistic and communications medium requires an understanding of Web-safe colors and the technical side of preparing graphics for use on the Internet. Knowing how to strike the best balance between file size and image quality makes an artist's work stand out from the crowd and brings clients back for more.
On the tape, Photoshop maven Biedny provides techniques for creating and processing images efficiently for Web delivery. Every Web-centric enhancement in Photoshop 5.5 and its companion product, ImageReady 2.0, is covered in detail. Topics include GIF vs. JPEG, Indexed Color, Advanced Dithering Techniques, Transparency Issues, Image Slicing, Custom Rollovers, The "Web-Safe" Palette, Animated GIFs.
The majority of U.S. households--approximately 60%--will have personal Internet access in the year 2000, predicts Cahners In-Stat Group, a high-tech market research firm. This increase in residential consumers will ultimately spur ISP revenue growth, resulting in an additional $2.2 billion from dial access subscribers, alone.
In-Stat also reports that PC manufacturers will reap the benefits of the residential subscriber increase, as approximately 43% of the 14 million planning to buy Internet access plan to purchase a new PC.
The obstacles to Internet access, price and technology, have fallen, and for the most part, those who want it, have it. According to Kate von Goeler, Industry Analyst for In-Stat's Internet Strategies Group, "the nagging question is, when will the Internet become a must-have technology? For most educated consumers, that time has come. Others will need to be convinced."
In a recent, $3,000 report, In-Stat outlines the results of research conducted with 1,500 U.S. consumers on their home Internet usage, access technologies, and ISP preferences. The survey revealed some of the following conclusions:
The report, Residential ISP Buying Behavior and Internet Usage Trends: A Survey of U.S. Consumers, #IS0001SP, examines consumer buying and usage behavior for Internet access. Broken down by gender, income, age and education, this report identifies plans for obtaining Internet access, ISP selection criteria, how much time is spent online, and how that time is spent. To purchase this report or for more information about In-Stat research, call Matt Woods at 617.630.2139; mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.instat.com/catalog/cat-ia.htm
The North Bay Multimedia Association will hold its fourth annual Best of the North Bay Exposition and Awards Ceremony on June 17 at the new Buck Center for Research in Aging in Novato.
Artists are invited to compete for this year's awards by entering multimedia projects into any of these categories:
Projects must have been produced in Marin, Sonoma or Napa counties, or by an NBMA member.
MUSE Technologies, Inc., a developer and marketer of visualization and collaboration software, has purchased theVRsource.com, an e-commerce site for visualization and virtual-reality hardware. The site markets peripheral devices from manufacturers including Polhemus, Ascension, FakeSpace, Virtual Technologies, Sony and Virtual Research. Customers of the site include Disney, Industrial Light & Magic, Boeing, Lockheed, Ericsson, ITT, MIT, Rockwell and NASA as well as other corporations, government agencies and educational institutions.
For more information on MUSE Technologies, call (800) 711-3899 or (505) 843-6873, or visit http://www.musetech.com.
Microsoft last week commenced its server spawn program for Allegiance, a new multiplayer space combat game, by releasing the stand-alone server code for the game as a free download. The server code, a self-extracting executable, allows a PC or server to host free multiplayer games of Allegiance. The server code will also be included in the retail shipping version of Allegiance, which is expected to hit store shelves later this week. The game combines furious space combat with the social challenge of squadron-based combat in a 3D universe.
By executing the Allegiance Server Code, sites will be automatically listed among the worldwide free-play servers for Allegiance on the MSN Gaming Zone (http://www.zone.com/allegiance/). Gamers who are interested in hosting an Allegiance free-play server can download the free file and support manual at:
Sierra Attractions last week announced You Don't Know Jack Louder! Faster! Funnier!, a new pop-culture trivia game created by Jellyvision, Inc. The title contains 1,000 questions from You Don't Know Jack the Net Show in a new episodic format: dozens of individual games, each asking 15 trivia questions. Most of the episodes are theme-related, such as the popular "All-Nude" episode. It also showcases a new specialty question type called "Wendithap'n" and new "Pissed-About-a-Question" questions inspired by player feedback.
Gauntlet Legends is newly available from publisher and developer Midway Home Entertainment for the PlayStation game console. The game, which mixes role-playing and simultaneous two-player action, pits a small band of young heroes against the demon Skorne and his hordes of minions. By discovering the locations of the hidden Rune stones, achieved by successfully completing numerous quests and puzzles, players are able to throw back the mantle of evil and rescue their land from certain darkness.
Sierra Studios and Rick Goodman's Stainless Steel Studios, Inc. last week announced a new real-time strategy game in development, called Empire Earth. This is the first title from Stainless Steel Studios, but not the first for Rick Goodman, lead designer for the strategy game Age of Empires. Empire Earth is scheduled to ship in the first half of 2001.
Building on Age of Empires, Empire Earth covers a broader spectrum of time (500,000 years) and incorporates more advanced 3D technology. It also has several new features and gameplay elements that will deliver a more robust experience to the devoted real-time strategy gamer.
VTechSoft’s Uncle Albert’s Magical Album, an interactive logic, science and problem-solving CD-ROM for children ages 9 and up, was awarded the Bologna New Media Prize last week at the opening ceremony of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Five winning titles were selected out of the 715 submissions from 20 countries that were received by the review jury.
Uncle Albert’s Magical Album was chosen for Best General Learning Simulation. Other winners include Alphabet – by NHK (Japan), EMME (France) and Tivola (Germany), Intel Play Me2Cam Activity System with Fun Fair CD-ROM by Mattel Media (USA), Pit Droids – Lucas Learning (USA), and Redbeard’s Pirate Quest – Zowie Intertainment (USA).
Developed by EMME and Lexis Numerique and published by VTechSoft, Uncle Albert's Magical Album is an edutainment title focuses on teaching children how to think, not what to think. The game of logic, science and mystery utilizes "living creatures," infinite navigation paths and multiple solutions to challenge children to think through riddles and solve mysteries using their own reasoning. "Intelligent" animals that adapt to their environments within the album provide a source of observation and study, while helping children to obtain their goal.
Spectrum is an independent news service published every Monday for the interactive media professional community by Motion Blur Media. Spectrum covers the tools and technologies used to create interactive multimedia applications and infrastructure for business, education, and entertainment; and the interactive media industry scene. We love to receive interactive media and online development tools and CD-ROMs for review.
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