Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 24 Aug 98

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman for editorial/ subscription inquiries, send duberman@dnai.com
New!!! Check out Spectrum on the Web at http://www.3dlinks.com/spectrum

Today's Headlines (details below)

WEBMEISTER --Macromedia Ships Generator --Net.Dreams Ships MailAgent Pro with Encryption, Attachment Support --Macromedia, Allaire Announce New Cold Fusion Objects for Dreamweaver DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX -- RTIME Updates Multiplayer Gaming Engine IN THE INFOGROOVE --Excite Establishes Community-building Program --Agents Technologies Updates Copernic Search Tool --Brilliant Creates Internet-Ready Digital Projector, 3D Streaming Tech --Scour.Net Offers Multimedia Search Engine, Guide --Digerati to Judge Mud Brick Awards GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING --Adobe Announces Illustrator 8.0 --Radius Ships MotoDV for Windows --Vertigo Updates HotText 3D Text Effects for Photoshop --Ultimatte Ships KnockOut Masking Tool --Voodoo2 Price Point Hits New Low WEBSIGHTINGS --Information Please Announces Www.Infoplease.Com CONSUMER CHANNEL --Kurzweil Print-to-Speech Software Helps Kids Read THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER --Silicon Valley Web Sites Fail to Walk the Talk --O'Reilly Ships Perl Resource Kit - Win32 Edition DEALS --Autodesk to Acquire Discreet Logic, Merge with Kinetix --EA to Buy Westwood from Virgin GAMES PEOPLE PLAY --Motocross Madness Ships, Demo Hits Web --Interplay Backs Wild 9 with $4 Million Marketing Scheme --Activision Acquires Rights to Space Invaders HAPPENINGS --User Interface 98 in Cambridge F.Y.I. --About Spectrum --------------------------------------------------

WEBMEISTER

Macromedia Ships Generator Just out from Macromedia is Generator, server-based software that uses templates created in Flash 3 to create Web graphics on the fly with dynamic data. The Generator product line includes the Developer's Studio for authoring graphic templates, and the Generator Graphics Server for delivering real-time Web graphics. Generator is now available directly from Macromedia at http://www.macromedia.com/generator. Generator is designed for data-driven sites with frequently changing graphical content, including: * News and Information Sites, which need to display live information, such as graphical sports scores, headlines, weather maps, response graphs, or event listings. To see examples of news and information Web sites that are powered by Macromedia Generator, visit E*Trade (http://us-flash.etrade.com), Internet Business Magazine (http://www.ibmag.co.uk), and Philadelphia Online (http://www.phillynews.com). * Corporate and Commerce Sites that dynamically generate promotional information, real-time advertising, charts and schematics. Visit Chevron (http://chevroncars.com), Hewlett Packard (http://www.hp.com/kayak), and NCompass Labs (http://www.ncompasslabs.com) for examples. * Destination Sites that require personalization and customization of the interface for each user, as well as branded, promotional content. American Greetings (http://flash.americangreetings.com) and Fans Only (http://www.fansonly.com) are among Internet destinations using Generator. * Design and Creative Firms that want to provide engaging and compelling dynamic content for their clients. Design and creative firms using Generator include Darwin Digital (http://www.saatchisf.com/darwin), ISL (http://www.islco.com), K-Web (http://www.k-Web.net), Matinee (http://www.matinee.co.uk/lottery/lottery.htm), Organic Online (http://www.edam.organic.com/flashdemo), RareMedium (http://www.rarekids.com/buddymaker/), RazorFish (http://www.razorfish.com), Smashing Ideas (http://www.smashingideas.com), Think Inc. (http://www.i-book.thinkinc.com), and White Shark (http://www.whiteshark.com). Macromedia recently announced partnerships with Netscape and Microsoft ensuring that the Flash player is included with every Netscape browser and comes pre-installed with the Windows 98 operating system. And in an attempt to establish Flash as the Web standard for vector graphics and animation, Macromedia recently published the popular Flash file format (.swf) as an open Internet binary standard. For more information, visit http://www.flash.com. To learn more, visit http://www.flash.com/generator. -------------------------------------------------- Net.Dreams Ships MailAgent Pro with Encryption, Attachment Support Net.Dreams last week announced the availability of MailAgent Pro for sending email from Mac-based Web sites, with new integrated attachment handling capabilities and PGP encryption. Compatible with email readers on all platforms, MailAgent Pro is a Web-to-email plug-in for W*API-compatible Web servers such as WebSTAR, WebTen, and Quid Pro. MailAgent Pro uses the most widely-adopted standard for adding public key cryptography to electronic mail -- Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). The server administrator keeps a list of public keys, or "keyring," of any potential recipients' key. When a message is sent via MailAgent Pro a header can be added invoking the PGP encryption technology. Since MailAgent Pro has the recipient's public key on the keyring, the message is automatically encrypted without further action from the end-user. Also, the program persistently attempts to send messages until it succeeds, even with attachments, even after a server crash. If an email is completely invalid, MailAgent Pro saves it in a designated folder. MailAgent Pro sends multiple attachments to Web-generated email with the same reliability as email without files attached. Both MailAgent Pro and MailAgent Lite were designed to work with other Web development tools to expand their technical possibilities, and integrate with WebSTAR SSI 3.0, FlexMail, Tango, Frontier, and WebFM among others. Any plug-in or CGI that supports AppleEvents or the plug-in cross-over standard (PIXO) can integrate with MailAgent. MailAgent Pro is available for $249 from Net.Dreams' Web site at <http://www.netdreams.com/>. Current users of MailAgent Lite can upgrade to MailAgent Pro for $199. A demonstration version of MailAgent Lite is available at <http://www.netdreams.com/mailagent/>. MailAgent Lite users can update their software to version 1.1 for free. -------------------------------------------------- Macromedia, Allaire Announce New Cold Fusion Objects for Dreamweaver Macromedia and Allaire Corporation last week announced an enhanced level of integration between Macromedia Dreamweaver and Allaire Cold Fusion through a new set of Cold Fusion objects for Dreamweaver. The new objects are designed to let Dreamweaver users incorporate dynamic data into their Web sites and build Web applications without complicated programming. The new objects extend the Dreamweaver environment to support the creation of database-driven Web pages and Web applications delivered with Cold Fusion Application Server. Utilizing the extensible architecture in Dreamweaver 1.2, the new objects support integration with database servers and e-mail servers, as well as control over dynamic page generation. With these objects, Web developers can combine the Dreamweaver Web authoring capabilities with the application deployment services of Cold Fusion to create interactive Web sites for content publishing, e-commerce and other applications. The new Cold Fusion objects for Dreamweaver will be available this month as a free download from the Dreamweaver Web site at http://www.dreamweaver.com, and the Allaire Web site at http://www.allaire.com. --------------------------------------------------

DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX

RTIME Updates Multiplayer Gaming Engine Seattle-based RTIME, Inc. last week shipped V3.0 of the RTIME Interactive Networking Engine, a scalable, client/server networking solution for realtime, multiplayer gaming over both the Internet and Local Area Networks (LANs). The new release, built on top of a re-architected core engine, is currently being integrated into several featured titles set for delivery this fall, including Acclaim Entertainment's "Turok 2: Seeds of Evil" and Ripcord Games' "SpecOps: Rangers Lead the Way". Some of the new features include: * Flexible Game Play on the Internet and LANs - prior to now, RTIME-enabled games required a dedicated server to act as a host. With the RTIME Integrated Server, a client application can now link directly with a local server library that services all other connected gamers. By eliminating the need for an extra server, gamers are able to play RTIME-enabled games on the LAN right out of the box, and game developers can now write to a single API to support both LAN and Internet runtime options. * Enhanced Transport Directives - offer granular control of realtime information sharing. Now, all object classes that broadcast to remote clients can use Inactive, Filtered, Child, On-Request, Directed and Broadcast protocols. These new transport directives offer game developers fine-grained control of realtime information sharing, plus reduced bandwidth requirements. * Parallel WorldMasters - in V3.0, the WorldMaster (a server-side, "super-client" that is used to drive inanimate objects, provide server-based authority and security checking, maintain scores, etc.) has been extended to enable multiple copies to run in parallel. Each one can be used to control different simulations in the virtual world. In addition, a single WorldMaster can now control more than one game on a single server. * Private and Public Objects - a client can now specify restriction information on an object-by-object basis. Public objects can be updated by any and all authorized applications, while private objects can be updated only by their owner. * Streamlined Object-Level API - based on customer feedback, RTIME has streamlined its object-level API using rigorously defined naming conventions. The simplified API enables new RTIME developers to more quickly come up to speed on the product. * Distributed Timebase Manager - on the Internet, latency varies widely both on different networks and over the course of time during a game play session. RTIME's Distributed Timebase Manager keeps a global time synchronization that dynamically adjusts for each player as his or her latency goes up and down, and makes realtime decisions about data distribution and object placement to account for variable latency. * Realtime Filter Manager - players moving within 3D worlds require rapid updates of other players and objects in their virtual space, but only information that is relevant to their sphere of interest. RTIME's Realtime Filter Manager uses affinity-based data distribution to determine the appropriate information to send to each player in realtime. Affinities can be prioritized based on location, object type, etc., and they can be automatically adjusted at runtime - on each client - for optimized playability and bandwidth management. * Intelligent Update Manager - RTIME has implemented a series of protocol-level functions to ensure that the smallest amount of data is sent over the wire, and that updates occur only when necessary. RTIME supports TCP, and has developed a reliable layer around UDP. * Server-to-Server Communications - massively multiplayer "worlds" require much larger user populations to interact in the same shared space. To achieve this, servers must be interconnected and able to share information that is relevant for each connected gamer. RTIME has developed a server-to-server architecture that is independent of the game development effort, allowing additional servers to be plugged in with no additional programming. The RTIME Client runs on Windows 95, Windows NT, SGI and Solaris. The RTIME Server runs on SGI, Solaris, and Windows NT. A development-only version is available for Windows 95. To learn more, join the RTIME Developers Group at the company's Web site, http://rtimeinc.com. --------------------------------------------------

IN THE INFOGROOVE

Excite Establishes Community-building Program Portal service Excite, Inc. last week announced Excite Communities, a new free service that lets consumers create customized Internet communities. The beta program for early adopters who want to build personal communities on the People & Chat channel is available at http://www.excite.com. The full service will launch with populated communities for viewing and joining later this fall. Tools for building Excite Communities include: * Community welcome page -- Every time a user enters a community as a member, s/he is greeted with a welcome page that gives an update on what's going on in the community. * Announcements -- Community area where individuals can post notices to the group. * Calendar -- Each community hosts a common group calendar that lets members of the community publish events and happenings. * Photos -- Each community has a group photo area where people can create photo albums. Everyone can contribute. Around each photo, members of the community can post comments about the photo. * Contact List -- A group address book for each community lets its members store names and addresses online and look up names within the community. * Members -- A posting area where members can browse the member list and view profiles of any individual member and learn about others in their community. * Discussions -- Every community has a discussion area, where members of the community can have posted, running discussions. These discussions are permanent, and a member of a community who visits can read all past discussions. * Chat -- Every community will have its own private chat area for members to discuss topics of interest. These chats are live and are not maintained permanently. * What's New for You -- The service will recognize every time an individual enters the community and will highlight all areas that have new content since the last time that individual visited. * My Messages -- A personal message board where private messages can be sent to other members of the community. * Bookmarks -- Place where the group can publish and share their favorite Web sites and URLs. -------------------------------------------------- Agents Technologies Updates Copernic Search Tool Quebec-based Agents Technologies Corp. announces the availability of Copernic 98 version 2.5. The upgrade includes an improved interface, said to ease the task of finding and managing online information, plus a search wizard to help users through the search creation process. Sharing search results by e-mail can now be done by pressing a button on the toolbar. The ability to export search results has also been enhanced: Results can now be exported and saved in HTML, XML, text and DBF file formats. Agents claims the document relevancy estimation algorithm has been improved, and a customizable channel set bar has been added. The software has the capacity to simultaneously search different engines and directories on the Web, such as AltaVista, Excite, HotBot, Infoseek, Lycos and Yahoo. As it searches, Copernic eliminates the repetition of results found on multiple engines and scores each match, as a percentage or graphically, for relevancy and timeliness. Searches are done in real-time, rather than using cached search databases common on Web-based search aggregation sites. Saving searches also means they can be viewed off-line and updated later without initiating a completely new search. The software is available for free download at http://www.copernic.com. -------------------------------------------------- Brilliant Creates Internet-Ready Digital Projector, 3D Streaming Tech Brilliant Digital Entertainment announces the availability of two new versions of its client-side technology. The downloadable Digital Projector, with a pay-to-view system and the Internet-enhanced system for use with Microsoft Explorer and Netscape Navigator, allows for 3D animated Multipath Movie viewing in real time on a PC. Users can reportedly view 3D movies or Multipath Movie content at full screen resolution at up to 60 frames per second, depending on the speed of their PC. Previously, frame rates for full screen images delivered via the Internet have been solely dependent on the speed of the Internet connection. Multipath Movie CD-ROM titles will be supplemented with new episodes or "Webisodes" that can be streamed and viewed in real time via the Internet using the Company's new Digital Projector, said to have the look and feel of an onscreen television with a remote control. "Webisodes" are interactive, 30-minute Multipath Movie episodes with up to three hours of extended viewing time, that are delivered to a user's PC via the Internet. Each Webisode will provide viewers with an interactive experience featuring new story lines, characters, plot twists and turns. The Digital Projector is the consumer component of Brilliant's proprietary 3D editor, database management and compression tool suite, which automatically compresses and separates graphics, animation and audio files, to facilitate their distribution over the Internet. The new technology (previously supplied only as a standalone Windows 95/98/NT program) enables the Digital Projector to operate within Web browsers via Microsoft's Active-X, an advance expected to significantly expand the market potential and usability of Brilliant's products and software tools. Microsoft Internet Explorer is currently supported and Netscape Navigator browsers will reportedly be supported from September 1998. Brilliant's Web site at http://www.bde3d.com uses the new technology to present its Multipath Movie content and characters. -------------------------------------------------- Scour.Net Offers Multimedia Search Engine, Guide Looking for that special image? Scour, Inc., an Internet start-up founded by five UCLA computer science students, announces the availability of Scour.Net, a search engine and guide for finding audio, video and images on the Internet. The Web site, located at http://www.scour.net, is designed to let users find pictures, movie scenes, music clips, concerts, sporting events and more. Scour.Net's core service is a search engine that scans the Internet exclusively for audio, video and images. Enhancements over traditional search engines include an image index with over one million thumbnails. Scour.Net also offers a guide to multimedia on the Internet, where users can: * navigate a hierarchical directory of multimedia-rich Web sites * view a daily showcase of multimedia on the Web * read music and entertainment news * learn how to install and configure the latest audio and video players -------------------------------------------------- Digerati to Judge Mud Brick Awards NetStudio Corp.'s Mud Brick Awards for the world's ugliest Web sites have become a whole lot dirtier now that industry pundits and humorists -- Esther Dyson, David Coursey, John C. Dvorak and Lincoln Spector -- will be judging the event. Due to the "staggering" volume of nominations from around the world, Mud Brick winners will now be dishonored at Fall Internet World, October 5-9 in New York. The Muddies are open to anyone who uses the Web, and winners will receive prizes including a free copy of NetStudio 1.0, a Web picture processor that lets Microsoft Office assemble Web graphics for the Internet and intranets. A true Mud Brick Web site winner must contain at least one of the following problems: * unprofessional graphics * poor graphical consistency * weak branding * poor navigability * poor overall usability Mud Bricks will be awarded in several categories including: * large organizations * small organizations * personal Web sites To nominate a Web site for the Mud Brick Awards, visit http://www.netstudio.com/muddies. --------------------------------------------------

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

Adobe Announces Illustrator 8.0 Illustrator 8.0, the latest version of Adobe Systems' vector-graphics software, is expected to ship in North America in September for an estimated street price of $375. Among the new features: * Uniform UI, features: Adobe has designed its professional graphics products to work smoothly together by offering common tools, menus, palettes, and keyboard shortcuts. Illustrator 8.0 reinforces this integration by incorporating "Adobe Original" features such as the Actions Palette, the Navigator Palette, Free Transform, and the Links Palette. For example, Illustrator 8.0 software can now preserve layers when exporting to Photoshop, allowing users to enhance and manipulate these layers in Photoshop, ImageReady, or Adobe After Effects. * In addition to implementing more than 100 productivity enhancements in response to customer requests, Illustrator 8.0 has several major new features like the Actions palette, the Text Eyedropper tool, and Smart Guides designed to offer productivity gains. * New creativity tools include four types of live brushes--Art, Scatter, Calligraphic, and Pattern brushes--which stretch and scatter art and calligraphic strokes along editable paths control. Users can begin working immediately with approximately 800 professionally designed brushes that will ship with the product, or they can create their own. * The new Gradient Mesh tool lets users blend multiple colors in multiple directions and achieve painterly shading effects not previously possible using illustration software. * The Pencil tool lets users draw paths onscreen as with pencil on paper. Curves are smoother than previously, and editing paths is similar to drawing a line. Bounding Box editing and new Smooth and Erase tools help users edit their work. French and German versions of Adobe Illustrator 8.0 are expected to ship within 15 days of the initial release. A Japanese version is in development and is expected to ship in the fourth quarter of 1998. For more information, call Adobe at (800) 649-3875 or visit http://www.adobe.com/. -------------------------------------------------- Radius Ships MotoDV for Windows MotoDV, Radius Inc.'s $499 video transfer solution for DV camcorder users, has just begun shipping on Windows 95 and 98 platforms. The product, which includes hardware and software, lets users transfer digital video between a DV camcorder or tape desk equipped with a DV FireWire port (IEEE 1394 standard) and a Windows-based personal computer. Once captured, the clips can be edited and composited in editing applications such as Adobe Premiere 5.0. MotoDV consists of three primary components: video capture and tape deck control, the Radius SoftDV software codec, and the Radius DVPlayer for video playback and recording. The video capture feature transfers the digital DV data stream from a camcorder to a user's hard disk. As clips are captured, they are automatically converted to QuickTime movies -- complete with a separate audio track. Clips can be captured as either real-time or time-lapse movies. The capture application includes deck controls such as seek to clip, fast forward, step-frame, etc. The Radius SoftDV codec is optimized to render titles, effects, graphics and transitions to the DV format. It also allows playback of DV clips and movies on a computer monitor and supports 16:9 wide-screen video. The DV Player included in MotoDV enables users to play back DV streams at full size and in full motion with accurate audio synchronization, recording them to DV tapes if desired. Radius can be reached at (650) 404-6000 or http://www.radius.com. -------------------------------------------------- Vertigo Updates HotText 3D Text Effects for Photoshop Vertigo HotText 1.5 for Windows and Macintosh is an upgrade to Canada-based Vertigo Technology Inc.'s 3D text creation tool for Adobe Photoshop. This latest release combines new functionality with feature improvements, more compatibility and a lower price. Users can create 3D text and 3D paths inside their designs, add color, textures and customized lighting for eye-catching, leap-off-the-page 3D effects. Vertigo HotText is available for an estimated street price US$79. Contact Vertigo at 1-888-4-VERTIGO or http://www.vertigo3d.com, where free try-out versions are also available for download. -------------------------------------------------- Ultimatte Ships KnockOut Masking Tool Just out from Ultimatte Corporation is Ultimatte KnockOut ($395) for image masking. Users select the object(s) that they wish to mask by drawing selection lines that define the inner and outer boundaries of the object. The program outputs a processed foreground (the object with the background colors removed) and a grayscale alpha channel. The product's claim to masking fame is that it reportedly recognizes that "There are no edges. There are only transitions." Even the sharpest object has a transition where at least one pixel is a mixture of the color of the foreground subject and whatever color is behind it. Ultimatte claims that KnockOut will reproduce the soft transitions of foreground edges, however wide or variable in density, while removing any trace of the visible background in that transition. Applications include masking of fine wisps of hair, blurred or out-of-focus edges, smoke, glass, shadows and other transparent or translucent objects. Website: http://www.ultimatte.com -------------------------------------------------- Voodoo2 Price Point Hits New Low Guillemot International (GI) last week lowered the price of its 12MB Maxi Gamer 3D2 graphics accelerator board to $159.99. The Maxi Gamer 3D2 uses Voodoo2 technology from 3Dfx Interactive to render 3D graphics up to three times faster than accelerators based on the original Voodoo technology. The card works alongside existing SVGA video cards to create 3D worlds at 1024 x 768-pixel screen resolution. Maxi Gamer 3D2 supports the current 3D APIs including Glide, Microsoft Direct3D, and Open GL. Find more info at http://www.guillemot.com or by phoning 888/893-2648. --------------------------------------------------

WEBSIGHTINGS

Information Please Announces Www.Infoplease.Com Trivia freaks rejoice! Information Please LLC last week launched www.infoplease.com, a free, one-stop reference site that offers millions of up-to-the-minute facts and statistics covering just about everything. The site integrates the various Information Please Almanacs on sports, entertainment and general knowledge with the Random House Webster's College Dictionary and The Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition, into a single reference source. Getcher red-hot info at http://www.infoplease.com. --------------------------------------------------

CONSUMER CHANNEL

Kurzweil Print-to-Speech Software Helps Kids Read "Back to School" commotion is just around the corner, and many children may already feel angst about the idea of reading textbooks. Some children even dread reading pleasure books, such as Judy Blume's "Superfudge," and claim they "hate to read," because it is hard for them. Using Kurzweil 3000, a new $249 Win95-based print-to-speech program from Ray Kurzweil, children can independently read magazines and books, participate in chat rooms, understand their e-mail, conduct research, read textbooks, and complete homework assignments. Users can hear and read text from the Internet, CD-ROM or any other programs already installed on the computer. Features include a Flex Talk control panel, which reads aloud in one of 14 different voices, a dual-highlighting system, which highlights the word being read in one color, and the rest of the sentence in another color, and a 175,000-word oral dictionary and word syllabification. Other versions allow users to scan in newspapers, books, and other print materials. Contact: Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc. http://www.kurzweiledu.com, 1-800-894-KESI, mailto:read@kurzweiledu.com --------------------------------------------------

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

Silicon Valley Web Sites Fail to Walk the Talk Missing Links in Silicon Valley, a new study by Shelley Taylor & Associates to be released Aug. 25, concludes that in spite of their access to recent innovations in Web tools, software and hardware, surprisingly few Silicon Valley Web sites utilize available navigational aids or provide sufficient content for their three key external users: customers, investors and potential employees. The study demonstrates that Web sites mirror and amplify organizational integrity. In fact, they render the executive corridor naked to all site visitors. Any corporate dysfunction is broadcast to all who visit the site. Companies that ranked highest in the study--Autodesk, Sun Microsystems and Cisco Systems--reflect a high degree of cross-functional integration which is visible in their Web sites. All three of these companies provide comprehensive content to key stakeholders and navigation which enables them to find this information. "Many of the Silicon Valley companies are responsible for the birth of the Internet revolution, so it follows that their Web sites should be the best. But many of these sites are only sheep in wolves' clothing. They look effective at first glance, but they do not provide sufficient content for the audiences they are designed to serve. "In fact, many do not reflect the business strategies of the companies that create them," contends Shelley Taylor, managing director and author of the report. "The research highlights the disconnect between the boardroom and those responsible for Web design and content." Missing Links in Silicon Valley presents the analysis of the Web sites of 50 Silicon Valley companies, representing software, semiconductor, semiconductor equipment, computer and computer equipment, Internet and networking companies. Sites are evaluated on the basis of 180 proprietary evaluation criteria -- content, organization and navigation. Key findings of the study are as follows: * Although there is tremendous competition for the best brains in Silicon Valley, 25 percent of sites have no "Jobs" link on their home page and 46 percent of these sites do not make online application available * Investors are the most ignored of the key external audiences -- 48 percent of sites do not provide an "Investor" link on their home page and 70 percent of sites omit the name of the investor relations contact * Companies tend to discourage direct contact from key external audiences -- only four companies give the name of any customer contact person on their sites; ten provide some form of online communication with marketing staff * Only three companies in the study -- Autodesk, VLSI and Pointcast -- provide global, local and context navigation on their sites and overall site navigation breaks down on the third level of 50 percent of Silicon Valley sites Missing Links in Silicon Valley will be released on Aug. 25 at a breakfast briefing in Palo Alto. It is available for purchase from the Palo Alto office, 650/473-6514. -------------------------------------------------- O'Reilly Ships Perl Resource Kit - Win32 Edition The $149.95 Perl Resource Kit-Win32 Edition (ISBN: 1-56592-409-6), featuring more than 1,800 pages of documentation and a collection of Win32 modules for Perl, shipped last week from publisher O'Reilly & Associates. The kit is a compilation of books, commercial software, Perl modules and the latest release of Perl, version 5.005. The package includes the complete distribution of Perl 5.005, which contains new features such as the ability to run threads, if the operating system supports them. Version 5.005 also includes the integration of Win32 Perl with core Perl. This integration means that Perl users will have just one distribution of Perl, avoiding fragmentation and multiple builds for different platforms. The kit also includes a number of new Win32 Perl tools from ActiveState Tool Corp. Their graphical user interface (GUI) Perl Debugger enables locating bugs and verification of scripts. Visual Package Manager enhances installation of hundreds of Perl modules that run on Win32. PerlCOM enables access to Perl scripts as Component Object Modeling (COM) objects. PerlCtrl turns a Perl script into an ActiveX control, and pl2exe turns a Perl script into an executable. The Perl Resource Kit includes four books unavailable outside the Kit. Perl Module Reference, a two-volume compilation edited by David Futato, covers hundreds of Perl modules that run on Win32. Significant modules that are documented in the Reference include: database modules, by Tim Bunce and others, which make it significantly easier to interface with large bodies of data in common database formats like Oracle and Sybase; a CGI module by Lincoln Stein which allows programmers to make Web forms and parse their contents easily; the Perl TK module, by Nick Ing-Simmons and others, which enables GUI programming with Perl using the popular Tk program. Tk makes it possible to create complex interfaces with little effort in the Tcl environment. The Kit also includes Programming with Perl Modules by Erik Olson and Perl Utilities Guide by Brian Jepsen. For more information on the new version of Perl and how to download it, check out http://www.perl.com/ and http://www.perl.com/CPAN-local/authors/Gurusamy_Sarathy/perl5.005.announce --------------------------------------------------

DEALS

Autodesk to Acquire Discreet Logic, Merge with Kinetix Autodesk last week entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Discreet Logic, a Canada-based producer of digital-video content-creation tools. The transaction will combine Discreet's technology and brand name with Autodesk's new media division, Kinetix, a producer of PC-based 3D content-creation tools. The announcement, made after last Thursday's market close, triggered a slight increase in both companies' stocks in after-hours trading, followed by a sell-off in Friday that resulted in both stocks' values falling by about 20 percent. Autodesk executives attributed the price drops and concomitant analyst downgrades to "confusion in the near term," as well as traders' sorting through the abundance of news, including Autodesk's quarterly report that indicated net revenues for the second quarter ended July 31, 1998 of $186.6 million compared to $154.1 million for the same quarter in the previous fiscal year. Discreet recently reported record revenues of $152 million for its fiscal year ended June 30, 1998 while revenues from Kinetix totaled $40 million for the same period. This market is comprised of turnkey systems and software tools for animation and modeling, visual effects, and compositing, editing and production, used in the broadcast, films, gaming and Web markets. Discreet's 350 employees and its product families will be integrated with Kinetix and become Discreet, a division of Autodesk. The combined entity will be headquartered in Montreal and managed by Richard Szalwinski, Discreet's current president, reporting to Eric Herr, Autodesk President and Chief Operating Officer. In San Francisco, Kinetix' Vice President Jim Guerard will join Discreet's senior management team and head up the New Media Group which will be comprised of products from both Kinetix and Discreet. -------------------------------------------------- EA to Buy Westwood from Virgin Someday, when the definitive history of the computer game business in the twentieth century is written, the mighty attempt and resultant failure of Virgin Interactive Entertainment to penetrate the market will make for a fascinating chapter. But the story ended last week as Electronic Arts agreed to purchase all outstanding stock of sole remaining VIE profit center Westwood Studios, Inc., and other VIE studio assets. The cash transaction is valued at $122.5 million. Subject to customary conditions, the acquisition of Westwood is expected to close at the end of September. Founded in 1985 by Brett Sperry and Louis Castle, the Las Vegas-based company is known for the best-selling franchise Command & Conquer, which has been one of the most successful PC games ever, and the critically acclaimed Lands of Lore and Dune series. Sperry and Castle have signed five-year employment contracts. --------------------------------------------------

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Motocross Madness Ships, Demo Hits Web Microsoft's new Motocross Madness, a stunt driving and racing game developed by Rainbow Studios, is now available at retail. The title, said to be the first motorcycle racing game that features separate driver/bike physics models, offers a variety of racing and stunt environments, including indoors and outdoors stadiums, quarry and long distance Baja courses. The retail version of Motocross Madness is playable for free matchmaking over the Internet Gaming Zone, at http://www.zone.com. More info and a trial version are available at http://www.microsoft.com/games/motocross/ The trial version contains the following features: * two tracks (one National style, one Stunt quarry) * rider and bike skin selections * tournament, practice and single race options * multiplayer capability * all options - full graphics, sound and game customizations * 3D profiling * high score recording -------------------------------------------------- Interplay Backs Wild 9 with $4 Million Marketing Scheme It's getting serious, folks. Interplay Productions is backing Wild 9, its new single-player save-the-universe PlayStation action game from Shiny Entertainment, with $4 million in marketing support--reportedly the largest PlayStation marketing campaign in Interplay's history.. The title is being touted as the first ever action game that allows players to actually torture their enemies and is scheduled to hit retail shelves September 29, 1998. Interplay plans to invest $3 million in a television campaign scheduled to air starting the end of September. The marketing team also created four Wild 9 print campaigns that have run throughout game development. Additional marketing support includes publicity efforts, partnerships with Sony with a demo of the game packed into PlayStation game consoles, in-store customized P.O.P., and a "huge" direct mail campaign. The gameplay: As Wex Major, a 21st-century earthling teenager lost in the midst of another universe playing host to a galactic war, Wild 9 players will venture through nine wild worlds in search of the evil Karn. Accompanying him on his voyage are a band of other ragtag teenager aliens whose homes and families have been destroyed by the evil Karn and his tyrannical organization of LEGM (Little, Evil, Green Men) bent on universal destruction. Gamers will pole-vault walls and chasms, float on air currents, launch a kaleidoscope of flashing hoops of fire and explosions and burn their enemies to a crisp using The Rig (the ultimate torture weapon). Find more info at http://www.interplay.com. -------------------------------------------------- Activision Acquires Rights to Space Invaders They're back! Activision, Inc. has acquired the rights to develop and produce interactive games based on Taito Corporation's classic arcade hit Space Invaders. Under the terms of the agreement, Activision has acquired the publishing rights for the PC, PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and Nintendo Gameboy systems worldwide, excluding Japan. Additionally, Activision will license its Space Invaders games to Taito for publishing in Japan. Activision plans to update the title with "cutting-edge technology" and "explosive" graphics. More information is located at http://www.activision.com. --------------------------------------------------

HAPPENINGS

User Interface 98 in Cambridge Thanks to online info-retrieval guru Josh Duberman <mailto:pivotalinfo@usa.net> for this hot tip: User Interface 98 will be held October 5-7 at the Cambridge Marriott in Cambridge, Mass. If you respond before August 27, you'll qualify for a special discount that won't be available to the general public. The conference has day-long seminars and featured talks on topics such as: * Web Design: Beyond the Page Toward the Network Economy * Conceptual Design * Successful Strategies for Selling Usability * Field Studies: The Personal Touch * Designing with the Mind in Mind * Designing for Day-One Performance * Practical Usability Methods in Web Site Design * Usage-Centered Web Design: Model-Driven Techniques for the Web They've lined up some world-renowned experts as speakers including Jakob Nielsen, Gloria Gery, Kathy Potosnak, Larry Constantine, Lucy Lockwood, Sarah Bloomer, Kate Gomoll, Eric Bond, Tom Hewett, Tom Brinck, Darren Gergle, and Bruce Tognazzini. To get information about User Interface 98 and the early-bird special offer, send mailto:UI98INFO@UIE.COM with the words SEND DETAILS in the subject field. The Web site at http://www.ui98.com doesn't have any info on the discount. --------------------------------------------------

F.Y.I.

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. If you contact companies or organizations mentioned here, please tell them you saw the news in Spectrum. Thanks. -------------------------------------------------- Please send address changes (with old and new addresses), subscribe and unsubscribe requests etc. to the above address. If you use the Reply function, please do _not_ echo an entire issue of Spectrum with your message. -------------------------------------------------- Publisher's note: We are now accepting limited advertising. If you'd like to offer your company's products or services to Spectrum's elite audience of Internet and multimedia professionals, send an email query to duberman@dnai.com, or telephone 510-549-2894 during West Coast business hours. - David Duberman -------------------------------------------------- ┬ęCopyright 1998 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.
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