Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 18 August 1997

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman for editorial/ subscription inquiries, send mailto:duberman@dnai.com

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Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Following is an amendment to last week's special SIGGRAPH report, provided by report co-author Jeff Abouaf:

Among those contributing to Bliss.com are co-creator Celia Pearce, who co-wrote along with Jan Mallis, and did character direction, renowned interactive artist Jim Ludtke, who designed Bliss' world; Bay Raitt, who used Nichimen Software to design and build Bliss; Margo de la Cruz, who produced the project, sound designer Tom Kosh and composer Paul Godwin, who created the audio and special effects, including Bliss's theme music, Protozoa's ALIVE real-time performance animation system is used to animate Bliss.




Today's Headlines (details below)

--InfoSquare Introduces Web Content Management Tool

--NetObjects Drops Fusion Price, Unveils Team-Based Authoring Direction

--Radnet Ships WebShare Mobile 2.1

--USWK Offers Developers Kit for Protecting Internet Distributed Software and Files

--Ashley Laurent Releases VPCOM Beta

--FCC Asked to Block Electronic Surveillance Proposal

--Sven Introduces 3D Texture Mapping Aid

--Ligos Announces VRML Detector, Software MPEG Encoder

--Hitachi America, SENSE8 Partner for NT 3D Graphics

--Mapquest Launches Relocation Site

--Digital Illusion Book Published

--Ubi Soft to Publish Criterion Games

--Sierra Announces Gabriel Knight 3, Launches Promo Site

--Rendition Receives $22 Million Financing

--JavaWorld Announces Editors' Choice Awards Finalists

--Perl Conference Reveals New Developments

--About Spectrum



InfoSquare Introduces Web Content Management Tool

InfoSquare of Santa Clara, California introduced InfoSquare I, a Web site content management system at last week's Windows NT Intranet Solutions Show at Moscone Center.

"Our product is part of a new category: Web Content Management Systems," explained Luigi Gallo, InfoSquare's VP of Business Development. "InfoSquare I [is for] Web site managers who need to integrate content from multiple authors."

InfoSquare I is designed to let Webmasters to design templates and rules by which authors can be responsible for posting their changes directly to the site. The software is now installed at a number of beta sites in the U.S.

and Europe. Revenue shipments will begin in October, 1997.




NetObjects Drops Fusion Price, Unveils Team-Based Authoring Direction

Redwood City, Calif.-based NetObjects, Inc. announced a significant reduction in the price of its flagship Web site building product NetObjects Fusion 2.0 and unveiled plans for a new site team-authoring solution.

NetObjects has reduced the estimated U.S. street price of NetObjects Fusion 2.0 from $495 to $295 and is offering a limited-time competitive upgrade of $195. In addition, the company disclosed that it is working on a new site team-based solution that streamlines the process of people working together to create compelling Web sites. This news follows the prior announcement of NetObjects Fusion Personal Edition (PE), a slimmed-down product aimed at first-time site builders that is distributed exclusively through partners.

Users who registered NetObjects Fusion either on or prior to July 11, 1997 will receive a $200 rebate certificate in the mail that is good for the purchase of any existing or upcoming NetObjects products and services. End users who bought the product between July 12, 1997 and August 10, 1997 are eligible for a refund of up to $200.

For additional information on eligibility criteria, rules and procedures on the program and mechanisms for receiving the rebate, visit http://www.netobjects.com and then call 1-888-449-6400.

The company also announced the NetObjects Site Team Open Architecture, the foundation of a planned product solution that will allow Web teams to work together to design, build and update dynamic Web sites and then deploy them on any standard Web server, database server and browser platforms.

NetObjects expects to deliver its Site Team solution by the end of calendar year 1997. Details on product, pricing and availability will be provided at that time.




Radnet Ships WebShare Mobile 2.1

Newly available from Cambridge, Mass.-based Radnet, Inc. is WebShare Mobile 2.1, software designed to let users to replicate their Web-based collaborative applications from their network to their personal laptops.

WebShare Mobile primises bi-directional data replication from a connected WebShare server to a disconnected PC running Mobile. This allows a Mobile laptop user to "selectively replicate" the data pertinent to them from the network application server down to their personal laptop for disconnected usage. When they reconnect to the network, they can replicate back up to the network application server any new information they created while off-line. WebShare provides conflict management to ensure that information from one Mobile user is not over-written by another.

New features include:

*Browser-based replication - bi-directional replication for collaborative applications through standard Web browsers.

*Open environment - a WebShare Mobile application is not tied to any specific database type.

*Application-level replication - developers can build replication as an integral part of an application including full security support tied to application roles.

*Selective replication and conflict management.

Additional information can be found at http://www.radnet.com




USWK Offers Free Developers Kit for Protecting Internet Distributed Software and Files

USWK (Universal Software Key) Co. announces a free developers kit for protecting programs and music/video files distributed over the Internet.

Based on a patent pending process, this developers kit allows programmers to protect copyrighted programs and files while making it easy and unobtrusive for the general public to use. Now available for immediate download at: http://www.uswk.com

For more information, contact John Willsey at mailto:jw@uswk.com or phone 214-692-8335.




Ashley Laurent Releases VPCOM Beta

Ashley Laurent Inc. (http://www.osgroup.com) has released the beta version of VPCOM, which lets companies create their own virtual private networks within the Internet.

VPCOM, which runs under Windows NT, adds encryption, compression, authentication, and key management to public data networks like the Internet. This ensures the privacy, integrity, and authenticity of corporate data without compromising the performance or cost of the underlying network.

VPCOM (Virtual Private COMmunications) automatically compresses and encrypts data before transmitting it. VPCOM supports all important encryption industry standards, including the DES and Triple DES cryptographic standards and Simple Keys for IP (SKIP), a proposed Internet Protocol Security (IPSEC) key management standard..

Bulk data encryption secures the privacy of the data stream through a combination of cryptographic algorithms and keys. Real-time compression eliminates the packet fragmentation commonly associated with encryption, producing fewer, smaller packets. For added security between sites, VPCOM periodically generates unique session keys for each transmission. It also assures the authenticity of data by rejecting altered or forged packets using standard MD5 hashing.

The complete VPCOM system also includes VPCOMMremote, client software which transforms any Windows 95 PC into a secure local access point for VPCOM virtual private networks. This means telecommuters and salesmen in hotel rooms can get the same secure access to your private network as workers at their desks. With VPCOM, you no longer have to make a trade-off among security, costs, and performance.



FCC Asked to Block Electronic Surveillance Proposal

The Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation last week filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission to block the FBI from using the 1994 "Digital Telephony" law to expand government surveillance powers.

The law, officially known as the "Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act" (CALEA), was intended to preserve law enforcement wiretapping ability in the face of changes in communications technologies.

In their filing, CDT and EFF argue that the FBI has tried to use CALEA to expand its surveillance capabilities by forcing telephone companies to install intrusive and expensive surveillance features that threaten privacy and violate the scope of the law.

The CDT/EFF petition follows a July 16 petition by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), which asked the FCC to intervene in the implementation of CALEA. Under a provision of CALEA designed to ensure public accountability over law enforcement surveillance ability, CDT and EFF urged the Commission to accept the CTIA request and expand its inquiry to cover privacy issues.

CALEA specifically prevents law enforcement from dictating the design of telecommunications networks. Instead, CALEA created a public process for developing technical standards through industry standards bodies. However, since CALEA was enacted, the FBI has sought to force industry to agree to standards that would dramatically expand law enforcement surveillance power.

The full text of the CDT/EFF petition, links to the CTIA petition, as well as background on the debate over CALEA implementation, are available online at http://www.cdt.org/digi_tele/




Sven Introduces 3D Texture Mapping Aid

Sven Technologies, Inc, a Palo Alto-based company, announces the public release of SurfaceSuite MAX Version 1.0 for Windows 95/NT ($995).

Using Sven's proprietary adaptive image-based surface texturing (AIST) technology, SurfaceSuite MAX lets users of 3D Studio MAX map one or more photographs and other 2D textures onto 3D objects, regardless of their complexity or topology. At the same time, SurfaceSuite MAX's "association point"-based interface REPORTEDLY simplifies the manipulation and animation of textures, and thus decreases the time and labor currently required to create 3D images.

"SurfaceSuite MAX provides the ability to stitch, blend and wrap images into a very realistic result that is perfect for challenges such as lifelike faces," said Phillip Miller, Product Manager for 3D Studio MAX at Kinetix. "You would need to spend hours in a paint package to achieve what Sven's tool does within 3DS MAX in just minutes."

SurfaceSuite MAX is an integrated system consisting of three 3D Studio MAX plug-ins: Texturizer, Multi-Mask, and Gaussian Map. The product is designed to let graphics professionals overcome the inflexibility of standard UV-mapping techniques and the common problems of texture seaming, streaking, tearing, and misalignment. SurfaceSuite MAX also automatically blends multiple textures, greatly simplifying the end-users' work.

SurfaceSuite MAX also serves as a bridge between popular photo editing applications, such as Photoshop, and 3D graphics. Users can now take images directly from those applications and effortlessly apply them to their 3D models.

When we asked the Sven folks about the compatibility of SurfaceSuite MAX's output with VRML 2.0, where it would obviously be useful, we were told it's not, because of VRML's limitations. Hopefully this will be resolved in a future version of VRML.

Contact Isaac Kato, chief operating officer of Sven Technologies, at 650-852-9242, or visit http://www.sven-tech.com



Ligos Announces VRML Detector, Software MPEG Encoder

VRML Detector, a code-set formulated to confirm the existence and type of VRML viewer available on a client system and deliver the appropriate content, is now available on the Ligos Web site ( http://www.ligos.com ) for free download.

VRML Detector is an HTML and JavaScript code set designed to be used when embedding VRML content in standard Web pages. It automatically determines the browser type and version running on any visiting client, and then determines the VRML viewer type and version, providing Webmasters with an automatic content switch for systems unable to view VRML content.

Systems running a VRML-enabled browser will get the VRML content.

Systems without viewers will get an alternate image such as an animated GIF.

Ligos is making VRML Detector available to content developers at no cost.

The download consists of a white paper, including the source code, and instructions for implementation. The Ligos Web site also contains examples of VRML content, in the form of banner-style advertisements, which demonstrate VRML's superiority over other forms of Web media.

Also, Ligos' LSX-MPEG Encoder is a software encoder that provide video compression for both MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 video. It began shipping last week.

The encoder allows for variable compression ratios, providing users with the ability to generate low data rate suitable for transfer over the Internet. Users can also output high-end multimedia content for broadcast applications. It also allows users to custom tailor their applications by letting them choose video stream frame rate and data rate, as well as audio output in stereo, dual channel or joint stereo.

The $99 LSX-MPEG Encoder is available directly from Ligos through the company's secure Web site at http://www.ligos.com. The company can also be reached toll-free at (888) 464-8765.

LSX's motion estimation algorithm is also available for licensing and can be applied to software and hardware (DSP or special processors) for videoconferencing, video encoding (MPEG and other video), image recognition and any other application that requires efficient motion estimation. For more information on licensing LSX's innovative technology, contact Ligos at mailto:mpeg@ligos.com or (415) 437-6137.



Hitachi America, SENSE8 Partner for NT 3D Graphics

The Brisbane, Calif.-based Computer Division of Hitachi America, Ltd. and SENSE8 Corporation (Mill Valley, Calif.) will combine Hitachi's SPHERIX high performance Windows NT-hosted 3D graphics subsystem with the latter's 3D/Virtual Reality (3D/VR) applications development platform. SENSE8 is now an authorized SPHERIX reseller, and the company will bundle its WorldToolKit or World Up software with every subsystem sold. Hitachi America will also have the right to bundle SENSE8 software with SPHERIX products sold through other authorized resellers.

The partnership will reportedly deliver workstation-class, real-time graphics performance to the Windows NT environment. SPHERIX is said to run industry-standard OpenGL graphics applications at a performance level that supports real-time rendering of complex textures, shading, fog and light source effects.

SPHERIX promises drawing rates of up to 3 million polygons per second and maximum texture fill rates of 320 million pixels per second, using up to four geometry processors and up to four rendering managers, all connected to the host system through a dedicated PCI interface. The geometry cards are based on Digital's Alpha microprocessors, while the rendering managers utilize a Hitachi-designed custom LSI chip.

WorldToolKit is a cross-platform application development system that includes visual simulation, 3D/VR and GUI (graphical user interface) function libraries, plus powerful end-user productivity tools.

Built on top of WorldToolKit, World Up is a complete integrated development and delivery environment for building interactive 3D/VR applications.

For more information about SENSE8, visit http://www.sense8.com




Mapquest Launches Relocation Site

Moving? MapQuest Publishing Group, a business unit of GeoSystems Global Corp. and creators of the MapQuest (http://www.mapquest.com) site, unveiled MoveQuest (http://www.movequest.com), a relocation resource designed to guide consumers through researching, planning and completing a successful move.

For prospective home buyers and renters, MoveQuest provides access to real estate listings, integrated with a directory of local community information. It includes neighborhood demographics, school reports and a local business and school finder with live links to school Web sites. It also offers planning tools such as an interactive move planning calendar and various calculators for making financial decisions. In addition, MoveQuest features interactive maps and advice on topics like financing, insurance, home buying and selling, and selecting a real estate agent.




Digital Illusion Book Published

One of the more interesting items received by Spectrum this past week was Digital Illusion, a new book edited by Clark Dodsworth and published Addison Wesley. Subtitled Entertaining the Future with High Technology, the book is a compilation of original articles by some of the brightest lights in the interactive media community. We haven't had a chance to review it yet, but didn't want to delay getting word of its availability to you.

Here's an overview of a small part of the contents:

· Part 1, entitled Context: Evolution of the Tools, contains chapters by Daniel J. Sandin on VR, David Rokeby on Interface as Content, and Walt Bransford on World's Fairs.

· Part 2 on Infrastructure, includes chapters by Don Brutzman on Graphics Internetworking, Farid Mamaghani on Interactive Simulation, and VRML co-creator Tony Parisi on his baby.

· Part 3, Content Design, provides chapters by Brenda Laurel and others on Virtual Environments, Celia Pearce speaking out against violent games, and Chris Crawford on Networked Games.

This is just scratching the surface. Suffice to say, the book's 526 pages comprise a treasure trove of invaluable information for folks involved in interactive entertainment, and should be considered must reading by anyone with even a peripheral interest in this most promising of all media.




Ubi Soft to Publish Criterion Games

Ubi Soft Entertainment has signed a three-year agreement with Criterion Studios, a UK-based game development house, under which Ubi Soft will publish Criterion titles in all global markets except Japan.

The first title to be released under the agreement will be Sub Culture, a 3D action adventure game for PC CD-ROM. Set in a miniature underwater world, gamers maneuver a one-man submarine through realistic aquatic environments to bring peace between two warring factions and ultimately save their subterranean home from human pollution.

Criterion is best known for developing RenderWare, a library for real-time 3D graphics development on PC. The company's first game, Scorched Planet, was released in 1996. Criterion Studios is a division of Criterion Software. Criterion Software is a division of Canon Inc. The company is based in Guildford, UK.

For more information, call Ubi Soft at 415/547-4000 or visit http://www.ubisoft.com/subculture




Sierra Announces Gabriel Knight 3, Launches Promo Site

Sierra On-Line last week launched the official Web site for Gabriel Knight III: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned, the next installment in the Gabriel Knight adventure game series, slated for release in Summer 1998.

Located at http://www.sierra.com/titles/gk3 , Web surfers can look at the early stages of development of the game by viewing concept art, in-game screen shots, downloadable AVI video trailers of actual early gameplay footage and interviews with writer and designer Jane Jensen.

The game is set in a small village in rural Europe, home of a currently dethroned royal scion who has asked Gabriel Knight to help uncover the answers to recent bizarre, possibly supernatural events taking place inside the family's close circles.

Mysteriously concerned with the safety of his newborn son, the scion's nightmares become a reality when a kidnapper snatches his son, apparently the key to the century-old enigma surrounding the royal family. The mystery that surrounds the Prince's family and the mystery of this ancient little town are not only connected, but involve both current political agendas and ancient secrets.

Gabriel Knight III is set in an 3D virtual world, in which players have unlimited exploratory control. Featuring a reportedly advanced character AI (artificial intelligence) system, characters living in the world act independently from the player. This means that, whether or not the player is present, events such as conversations between non-player characters will take place throughout the world in real time. And although a main plot scenario exists, players can pursue side quests and follow and learn about minor characters' agendas.

Introducing Sierra's G-Engine technology, a 3D engine custom built for the game, Gabriel Knight III is said to let players to interact with intelligent, lifelike characters that have fluid animations never before seen in a real-time game.

The title will be available on CD-ROM for Windows '95. System requirements and pricing information are yet to be determined.




Rendition Receives $22 Million Financing

Mountain View, Calif.­based Rendition, Inc., a developer of 2D/3D graphics accelerators for PCs, announces the completion of $22 million of private equity financing from a consortium of venture capital firms, including Patricof & Co., CIT Group, CSK Venture Capital, Velocity Capital and existing investors Matrix Partners, InterWest Partners, Enterprise Partners, Unterberg Harris, Sigma Partners and Mitsubishi Electric. Paul Vais, vice president at Patricof & Co., joins the company as a director.

Hambrecht and Quist LLC served as placement agent for the company.

Visit Rendition on the World Wide Web at http://www.rendition.com




JavaWorld Announces Editors' Choice Awards Finalists

JavaWorld, an online publication for Java developers and enthusiasts, announced the finalists in the first JavaWorld Editors' Choice Awards--the first Java-specific awards bestowed by an independent publication.

Additionally, JavaWorld named James Gosling, creator of Java, the first inductee to the JavaWorld Hall of Fame.

Three finalists were selected in each of 12 categories, ranging from IDE Development Tools to Most Valuable Company. The finalists will be honored with trophies at an awards ceremony Tuesday, August 26, during the Java Internet Business Expo in New York.

At the ceremony, a single winner for each category also will be named and honored.


Most Valuable Company

IBM Corp.

Netscape Corp.

Sun Microsystems/JavaSoft


Most Valuable Product

Castanet, Marimba Inc.

Java Development Kit (JDK), Sun Microsystems/JavaSoft JGL: Generic Collections for Java, ObjectSpace Inc.

Best Java Application

Corel Office for Java, Corel Corp.

HotJava Browser, Sun Microsystems

JavaSoft Jigsaw, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

Testing Tools

DeepCover for Java, Reliable Software Technologies Corp.

SunTest Suite, Sun Microsystems Inc.

TCAT for Java, Software Research Inc.


GUI Class Libraries

JClass BWT, KL Group Inc.

JWidgets, Rogue Wave Software Inc.

NetCharts, NetFactory Inc.


System-Level Class Libraries

J/Crypto, Baltimore Technologies

JGL: Generic Collections for Java, ObjectSpace Inc.

OrbixWeb, IONA Technologies


Database Middleware

dbANYWHERE, Symantec Corp.

jdbcKona, WebLogic Inc.

ObjectStore PSE for Java, Object Design Inc.


Database Tools

Fresco, Infoscape Inc.

NetDynamics, NetDynamics Inc.

Sapphire/Web, Bluestone Software Inc.


Training Aids

Java in a Nutshell, David Flanagan/O'Reilly & Associates The Java Tutorial: Object-Oriented Programming for the Internet (Java Series), Mary Campione and Kathy Walrath/Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.

The MindQ Java Series (CD-ROMs), MindQ Publishing Inc.


Web Authoring Tools

Coda, RandomNoise Inc.

Liquid Motion Pro, Dimension X

Microsoft NetObjects Fusion, NetObjects Inc.



Applet Designer, TV Objects

Mocha decompiler, Hanpeter van Vliet

WingDis, WingSoft Corp.


IDE Development Tools

SuperCede, SuperCede Inc.

VisualAge for Java, IBM Corp.

Visual Cafe Pro, Symantec Corp.





Perl Conference Reveals New Developments

The first annual Perl Conference will be held August 19-21 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, CA. Presented by technical book and software publisher O'Reilly & Associates, the Perl Conference spotlights new developments and directions for the Perl programming language.

Says O'Reilly chief Tim O'Reilly, "We expect close to 1000 developers to attend. Perl has long been the language of choice for UNIX system administration. In recent years, it has become the dominant language for active Web pages via such interfaces as CGI, ASP and close integration with the core of the Apache Web server."

Among the announcements expected at the conference are:

* Larry Wall's Java enhancements to the Perl compiler created by Malcolm Beattie.

* Plans for the integration of ActiveState's Perl for Win32 port with the standard UNIX Perl distribution.

* Addition of multithreading to the next release of Perl.

* A new release of the Perl modules for the Apache Web server.

* Techniques for integrating Perl and Java applications.

Conference presenters include Perl developers Tom Christiansen, Dick Hardt, Randal Schwartz, and Jon Orwant. Sessions will address developments in the core Perl language and "industrial-strength" uses of Perl for Web and NT administration at leading companies. The conference also includes tutorials for both beginning and advanced users. Conference keynotes by Perl creator Larry Wall and software industry pundit Andrew Schulman will address the importance of a vibrant free software development community for the health and further development of the Internet.

Information on the Perl Conference is available at http://www.oreilly.com/perlconference





About Spectrum

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.

Send your interactive multimedia business, product, people, event, or technology news to: duberman@dnai.com. We prefer to receive news by email but if you must, telephone breaking news to 510-549-2894. Send review product and press kits by mail to David Duberman, 1609 Addison St. #6, Berkeley, CA 94703.

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(c)Copyright 1997 Motion Blur Media. All rights reserved. No reproduction in any for-profit or revenue-generating venue in any form without written permission from the publisher.