Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News

8 December 1997

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

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 mailto:duberman@dnai.com, or telephone 510-549-2894 during West Coast business hours. - David Duberman

Today's Headlines (details below)

WEBMEISTER
--Parable Releases "Things"--Multimedia Web Objects
--First QuickTime 3.0 Product Released: LightningDraw/Web
--BulletProof Announces JDesignerPro 2.32 - Enhanced Java Development System
--Big Picture Multimedia Ships Mortar 2.0
--Communications Firm Offers Free Domain Name Pre-Registration
--Astound Pushes WebCast Pro Out the Door
--Riada Offers Free Web Form-maker
--Apple Announces WebObjects 3.5 

DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX
--Apple Delivers Public QuickTime 3.0 Developer Preview Release
--FRAX Announces MPEGCAM-Compatible Version of Video Spec
--SiteTrak Offers Instant Software Submissions Across the Internet
--Microsoft Ships DirectX 5.1 SDK

IN THE INFOGROOVE
--Communications Review Predicts Big Telecom/Datacom Changes
--digitalNATION Lowers Price Barriers for RealAudio/Video Hosting 

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING
--NewTek Announces LightWave 3D 5.5/Film Grain Bundle
--Viewpoint Adds Texture Maps, OpenFlight Format in Interchange
--Aesthetics Solutions Releases World Visions VRML Authoring Tool
--Spike 1.5 Adds New Datarate Algorithms WEBSIGHTINGS
--Green Travel Network: Adventure Traveler's Resource
--Web Site Promotes Health and "Gentle Fitness"
--Softimage Launches Talent Bank 

CONSUMER CHANNEL
--TMM Ships Graceland Interactive CD-ROM 

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER
--Jupiter, NFO Jointly to Explore Consumer Internet Use
--O'Reilly Offers Be Developer's Guide
--Microsoft Launches Mastering Web Site Fundamentals 

DEALS
--GT Interactive, Microprose Merger Falls Through
--Activision Purchases European Distributors
--Discreet Logic to Take Over Lightscape Technologies
--Byron Preiss Acquires Educational Software Firms
--Westwood Picks Up Computer Design Firm

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
--Sierra/Impressions Releases Lords of Magic
--QUAKE II Due This Week

NUMBEROLOGY
--3Dfx Anticipates Rapid Growth 

F.Y.I.
--About Spectrum

WEBMEISTER

Parable Releases "Things"--Multimedia Web Objects

Just out from Parable is Things, self-contained multimedia "objects" that designers can use to add sound, motion, animation and more to Web sites to make their pages come alive with sound, motion, animation and more. Things can be animations, banner ads, interactive games, navigation buttons and more. To view Things, your browser requires yet another plug-in, available at http://www.thingworld.com.

People can:
· see and interact with Things on Web pages
· share or get free Things - those which have not been "protected" by their original creator - for use on their own Web pages by taking them from ThingWorld or anywhere else they're found

Things can carry copyright and biographical information that gives credit where credit is due--to the person or company responsible for creating the Things. In addition, Things can be fully or partially locked, giving makers the ability to protect and control how others share, change or reuse their Things.

Things are made with Parable's $99 multimedia authoring tool, ThingMaker, which is available for download at ThingWorld (http://www.thingworld.com). Media created with proprietary products can be imported directly into ThingMaker or converted into ThingMaker with ThingConverter, an Xtra which allows advanced users to convert their Macromedia Director content into Things. ThingMaker Trial Version, a free version of the software that allows users to experiment with the product before buying, is also available.
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First QuickTime 3.0 Product Released: LightningDraw/Web

Lari Software Inc. last week released the first QuickTime 3.0 product. LightningDraw/WEB 1.1 ($99) reportedly lets Mac-based Web designers create fast-downloading, low-bandwidth QuickTime 3.0 graphics--including the ability to smooth edges, scale to any size without increase in file size, and a choice of quality options.

Graphics created in LightningDraw/WEB, or brought in from other products, can be saved directly as slim QuickTime 3.0 vector graphics. The software also lets Web designers save illustrations as GIF and JPEG images. The new version of LightningDraw/WEB incorporates an integrated GIF export feature. Palette options include the standard "Web-safe" 216-color, gray scale, and optimized for a specific number of colors. Additional options include transparency, preview (interlacing), and color simulation (dithering).

LightningDraw/WEB is distributed electronically from Lari Software's Website ( http://www.larisoftware.com ) and will soon be available from various online resellers. Users can download a free, fully-featured 30-day trial version.
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BulletProof Announces JDesignerPro 2.32 - Enhanced Java Development System

BulletProof Corporation has released JDesignerPro 2.32, with expanded support for Sun Microsystems' JDBC standard for Java database connectivity. JDesignerPro 2.32 has built-in wizards to facilitate access to all major databases via JDBC. The product is available for free download at http://www.bulletproof.com/.
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Big Picture Multimedia Ships Mortar 2.0

Big Picture Multimedia ( http://www.bigpic.com ), a Canadian provider of Web development software, announces the release of Mortar 2.0 ($399.95 U.S.). Mortar is touted as a customizable development tool that helps build and manage Web sites for intermediate to advanced Webmasters.

According to Big Picture, Mortar's claim to fame is its open architecture and modular design, which allow for unlimited plug-ins, ensuring that evolving Web standards can be seamlessly integrated into Mortar.

And here's the feature list: · Integration with Java 1.1
· Site Grabber and Mapper let developers to grab any existing Web site, and create a local working copy that can be updated
· the ability to verify all external links, graphics, and style sheets for their existence and correctness
· visual editor for cascading style sheets.
· support for Dynamic HTML.
· integrated FTP client allows Web site changes to be automatically updated to the server
· Compiler allows reuse of HTML elements to template your Web site, add relative information to individual pages, and create visual effects. The Compiler also allows developers to generate multiple documents based on a single input document.

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Communications Firm Offers Free Domain Name Pre-Registration

IDT Corporation has been selected as a new top-level Internet domain name registrar. As an incentive to spark interest in this new development in the Internet industry, the company is offering free domain name pre-registration so that users worldwide can secure their sites. To pre-register, visit http://nic.idt.net

This new privilege will allow IDT to register domain names in the following new hierarchies: · .firm for businesses, or firms
· .shop for businesses offering goods to purchase
· .Web for entities emphasizing activities related to the World Wide Web
· .arts for entities emphasizing cultural and entertainment activities
· .rec for entities emphasizing recreation/entertainment activities
· .info for entities providing information services
· .nom for those wishing individual or personal nomenclature

IDT was selected with two dozen U.S. companies and fewer than 100 companies worldwide as part of the as part of the IANA (Internet Assigned Number Authority) -sponsored expansion of the Internet Domain Name System. The IANA is the central coordinator for the assignment of unique parameter values for Internet protocols, and formed CORE (Council of Registrars), a committee formed to become the successor to the Internic, who formerly conducted all domain name registrations.
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Astound Pushes WebCast Pro Out the Door

WebCast Professional, said to be the first push product to support Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0, Netscape Communicator and Dynamic HTML, is now shipping from Palo Alto-based Astound.

The program uses a drag-and-drop environment to let users create DHTML-driven channel content for both IE 4.0 and Communicator without scripting or programming. Program features reportedly include drop-in installation, a user-friendly interface and a template-driven WYSIWeb creation tool. In addition, WebCast Professional includes a centralized channel-updating module that runs on NT servers.

WebCast Professional consists of three components:
· Astound WebCast Studio: The authoring tool that allows the channel author to create the look and feel of the channel. Features Channel View, Browser View, Template View.
· Astound WebCast Server: The WebCast Server acquires changing information and places it into the channel.
· Client Player: Channels can be viewed through Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0, Netscape Communicator or Astound WebCast Live Player.

For more information, contact Astound at 415/845-6200 or visit http://www.astound.com.
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Riada Offers Free Web Form-maker

Melbourne, Australia-based Riada announces the release of RiadaForm, a Java-based Web tool for designing Web forms without Java or CGI programming.

Using RiadaForm's Windows-based interface, the developer inserts the fields that are to appear in the form, and specifies an email address the data will be submitted to. A confirmation email can be sent to the visitor who fills out the form.

Fields to choose from include labels, text, buttons, check boxes, and lists. Text fields can contain simple validations, such as email, monetary and credit card numbers, which help ensure the data has been entered correctly.

RiadaForm is free and displays embedded Riada messages and a Riada button.To remove these features, RiadaForm can be purchased for $24AUD (approx.$16US). RiadaForm's design environment requires Windows 95, 8 Mb RAM and 3 Mb free hard disk space. Projects produced with RiadaForm require a Java enabled browser.

Additional information is available at: http://www.riada.com/form.html (US) http://www.riada.com.au/form.html (Australia)
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Apple Announces WebObjects 3.5

Apple Computer announces WebObjects 3.5, the latest enhancement to Apple's Web application development platform. The new version reportedly enhances ease of use with "Direct-to-Web" technology, and improves Java support.

Direct-to-Web features include:
· a turnkey template application for developers incorporating database functionality
· Live Assistant, an interactive guide for developers which allows them to create and modify applications running against real data sources and systems
· a framework of open APIs for the creation of customized third-party templates and interactive guides

Increased Java functionality includes:
· robust objects and components are exposed as a set of Java frameworks
· all developer tools and utilities bundled within WebObjects, such as ProjectBuilder, the WebObjects Builder, and the Enterprise Objects Modeler (EOM)
· allows developers to choose the language or hybrid of languages best suited to the performance needs of their application, be it 100 percent pure Java, or Java with a compiled language
· supports Sun's Java Developer Kit 1.1.3.

Contact Russell Brady of Apple Computer, 408-974-6877 or mailto:brady2@apple.com
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DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX

Apple Delivers Public QuickTime 3.0 Developer Preview Release

Apple Computer has unleashed the QuickTime 3.0 Developer Preview Release, available for download at: http://www.quicktime.apple.com/preview/.

QuickTime 3.0 supports the playback, editing and integration of major video file formats, providing a high levels of video interoperability in the market. Formats include QuickTime Movie, comprising over 50 percent of video content found on the Internet according to New Media Magazine; AVI, a common Windows video format; and DV, an emerging digital video standard for consumer video cameras. QuickTime 3.0 also supports industry standard still image file formats, such as Photoshop, for content creators; TIFF, for digital print publishing; JPEG, image compression for still pictures on the Internet; and PNG, an emerging Internet standard.

QuickTime 3.0 also supports many digital audio, animation, and MIDI formats. In addition, it has a real-time special-effects architecture with over 150 transitions, filters and special effects.

QuickTime 3.0 is expected to be available January 1998.
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FRAX Announces MPEGCAM-Compatible Version of Video Spec

FRAX Inc. last week announced Version 1.3 of Video Spec, its video based training system, for Windows 95 and Windows NT platforms. Video Spec allows use of video and image files directly copied from Hitachi's MPEGCAM digital video camera to quickly and easily create multimedia training.

In Video Spec, pre-defined page types are selected from a sidebar and dropped with automatic outline numbering into a flow line. The video and image files from MPEGCAM are then selected for use in each page, with optional text and audio files. Text can be typed or pasted in from other documents. Content can be loaded for multiple languages in each document.

For more information, visit http://www.frax.com or call 800/FRAX-INC.
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SiteTrak Offers Instant Software Submissions Across the Internet

Lincoln Beach Software announces SiteTrak, a Windows program designed to provide software developers with the means to submit their software to multiple Web sites. Using SiteTrak, software developers can reportedly send uniform, consistent submissions.

SiteTrak contains a list of over 100 Internet sites that accept software submissions, and a detailed database of which sites were contacted, allowing immediate access to data for follow-ups or additional contacts.

SiteTrak's importer program reads the submissions emailed in from SiteTrak and automatically formats them into the HTML code needed to paste the programs into their Web sites.

SiteTrak requires Windows 95 or NT and is available for $49.99. For more information, contact Lincoln Beach Software, P.O. Box 1554, Ballwin, MO 63022, tel. (314) 861-1500, or via http://www.lincolnbeach.com or info@lincolnbeach.com.
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Microsoft Ships DirectX 5.1 SDK

Microsoft Corp. last week released the Microsoft DirectX Media 5.1 Software Development Kit (SDK), a set of high-level application programming interfaces (APIs) and run times designed for the Intel architecture. Microsoft claims the SDK combines with low-level DirectX Foundation APIs to provide a unified API set with multimedia functionality from the chip level to high-level run-time engines on the Windows operating system.

DirectX Media 5.1 run times are integrated into Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 software and are scheduled to be included in the Windows 98 and Windows NT 5.0 operating systems, providing developers with a broad target audience that will experience the full impact of multimedia capabilities and rich interactive features in applications powered by DirectX Media 5.1.

The SDK contains the following:
· DirectShow, a universal media streaming architecture
· DirectAnimation, an media integration and run-time API that provides an interface for dealing with and integrating 2D vector graphics, sprites, 3D geometry, Dynamic HTML, video and audio, along with a uniform time and event model that enables user interactivity and interaction between different media types
· Direct3D Retained Mode, a 3D scene graph manager
· DirectPlay for creating multiplayer online games

The DirectX 5.1 SDK is available now on CD-ROM or at Microsoft's Web site http://www.microsoft.com/directx/.
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IN THE INFOGROOVE

Communications Review Predicts Big Telecom/Datacom Changes

According to the latest edition of the Annual Review of Communications, the Web as we know it today is only a shadow of things to come.

By the year 2010, existing market structures will be increasingly replaced by electronic markets, and existing distribution networks for products and commodities will be re-designed to serve the electronic interaction of buyers and sellers. Direct access between producer and consumers via the Web will compress the value chain, displace intermediaries and yield saving to consumers of up to 60 percent, on even the most mundane products.

The Review reports that within the same time frame, regional holding companies, GTE and the long-distance providers will be heavily involved in electronic commerce, as well as in cable, entertainment, content, and long-distance/local services. For example, a typical phone company will make less than 50 percent of its total revenues from wireline voice service, compared with more than 80 percent today.

The Review also contains a section of essays and reports authored by chief executive officers from 32 information industry corporations.

For more information, contact the International Engineering Consortium Publications Department at 312/559-3730 (phone) or via mailto:publications@iec.org. The IEC's Web site is at http://www.iec.org.
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digitalNATION Lowers Price Barriers for RealAudio/Video Hosting

digitalNATION ( http://www.dn.net ), a provider of turnkey Internet services based in Northern Virginia's emerging "Silicon Alley," has begun offering RealAudio and RealVideo hosting services at less than $9 per stream, with no additional bandwidth surcharges. Average pricing in the industry is said to hover around $20 per stream.

In February 1998, digitalNATION will unveil the dN Streaming Studio, an "on-'Net" facility for the production, recording and distribution of Internet-based media events. The facility will include digital audio and video recording equipment, as well as blue screen, and talk show style call in facilities.
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GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

NewTek Announces LightWave 3D 5.5/Film Grain Bundle

NewTek Partners announces an upgrade bundle available for a limited time to LightWave 3D 4.0 and 5.0 registered users. The package includes a complete version of NewTek's LightWave 3D 5.5 3D animation software and NewTek's brand new Film Grain Plug-In, a $150.00 value, included for free.

LightWave 3D 5.5 includes functions for modeling, animation and rendering.
Among the over 100 new features and functions are:
· enhanced user interface
· user-definable keyboard commands
· non-modal panels
· new shaded modes with real-time, interactive texture placement and viewing as well as user-selectable background color
· Morph gizmo for character animation and lip-sync
· volumetric renderer and particle system for creating light beams, fire, smoke, dust and multi-layered fog with fractal turbulence
· Super Cel Shader for making 3D images look like they were hand drawn
· multi-threaded rendering
· L-Script to write your own plug-ins for both Layout and Modeler

NewTek's Film Grain Plug-In for LightWave 3D helps 3D animations look more film-like and blend more smoothly with film backgrounds. Specifically, it enables animators to both remove film grain from old film footage and add grain to newly rendered images, making it possible to match computer-generated animations with existing film in graininess.

LightWave 3D 5.5/Film Grain upgrade bundle from LightWave 3D 4.0 to 5.5 is priced at $695.00 and from LightWave 3D 5.0 to 5.5 is $495.00 and is available now for Intel-based systems running Windows NT/95 and DEC Alpha-based machines running Windows NT.

Also new from NewTek is the Motion Pack plug-ins set for LightWave, with:
· Cyclist, for matching object movements, such as making a car wheel rotate the correct amount for the distance it's traveling
· Serpent, for conforming an object to its motion path
· Follower, for mirroring actions and creating group motions
· Oscillator, for swinging doors etc.
· Gravity, for bouncing objects

Contact NewTek at 8200 IH-10 West, San Antonio, TX 78230 (210) 370-8000.
FAX (210) 370-8001. http://www.newtek.com.
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Viewpoint Adds Texture Maps, OpenFlight Format in Interchange

Viewpoint DataLabs International Inc. announces file translation support for MultiGen OpenFlight real-time model format in its 3D data-translation software product, Interchange. Interchange imports up to MultiGen OpenFlight v.15.4, and exports to OpenFlight v.15.4 or v.11. Interchange version 4.5 will be available for license beginning December 15.

Files translated with Interchange retain colors, UV coordinates, texture map references and parent-child hierarchy. The program supports over 40 other popular software file formats, including Coryphaeus, 3D Studio, Alias|Wavefront, Softimage, LightWave and many others.

Viewpoint can be reached by calling 801/229-3000 or by visiting its Web site at http://www.viewpoint.com .

The company also announces that texture maps are now available for license with the models in its Premier Catalog. When licensing texture maps with Viewpoint models, customers will receive the model geometry, UV coordinates and image files applied to the geometry. Image files can be modified with photo editing tools, allowing users to customize the textures, and any accompanying layers, for their specific needs.

To see samples of textured models available for license, visit http://www.viewpoint.com/textures/index.html . --------------------------------------------------

Aesthetics Solutions Releases World Visions VRML Authoring Tool

Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Aesthetic Solutions Inc. is announcing Aesthetic World Visions, a $129.95 VRML-compatible authoring tool for Windows 95/NT that utilizes a point-and-click, drag-and-drop format for building VR worlds.

The program provides a library of ready-made components, and no programming or 3D graphics expertise is required. Using the World Visions toolbar menus and functions lets users assign details such as positioning, size, orientation, state and behavior. Additional features such as lights (type, position, orientation, intensity and color), navigation paths, and environmental parameters (fog and ambient lighting), are also controlled this way.

The company invites developers who use Component Visions to build reusable objects to submit their work to the company for possible inclusion in the Aesthetic Visions predefined component libraries.

Aesthetic World Visions can be downloaded at: http://www.aesthetic.com.
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Spike 1.5 Adds New Datarate Algorithms

YAV Interactive Media ( http://www.yav.com ) announces the release of version 1.5 of Spike, its batch-processing QuickTime data-spike detection and analysis tool. This free upgrade introduces new and more precise datarate algorithms while adding enhancements for QuickTime movies originating from NTSC and PAL sources. The new version will not expire, although the maximum number of files per batch has been reduced for unregistered users.

Spike is designed to solve the stutter and glitch playback problems of CD-ROM and Web-based QuickTime files. Given a batch of QuickTime movies, Spike determines which among them will provide optimal playability from a range of deployment platforms and media. Spike offers options for controlling the detection of data-rate spikes. Other features include detailed datarate graphs, "Spike Alerts" and reports in frames-per-second and SMPTE, several preview options, and batch processing.

The "lite" version of Spike is available for download from http://www.yav.com/docs/SpikeDL.html

For a tutorial, docs, and screen shots, visit http://www.yav.com/docs/Spike.html
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WEBSIGHTINGS

Green Travel Network: Adventure Traveler's Resource

Had it with mousing, and sick of cussing out your software? Wouldn't you rather be sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez, biking the backroads of New Zealand, eco touring the rainforests of Latin America, or climbing peaks in Nepal? Planning an active vacation is now easier, thanks to Green Travel Network's new online resource for the adventure traveler. Created by travelers for travelers, GTN's Web site <http://www.greentravel.com> provides a forum for information sharing. It is a virtual community where active travelers can research and contribute advice, ideas, and stories.
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Web Site Promotes Health and "Gentle Fitness"

Catherine MacRae, a teacher of aquatics and fitness and a multiple sclerosis victim, has developed Gentle Fitness with medical and chiropractic doctors, rehab therapists and wellness professionals. According to MacRae, the self-help video and television program can help those with multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, arthritis pain, tension headaches, poor circulation and other maladies. Information on the exercise program, plus links to online health and wellness resources, are available at http://www.gentlefitness.com.
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Softimage Launches Talent Bank

Now available on the Softimage Web site is a new service, Softimage Talent Bank. This service was brought to life from Softimage discussion groups in order to help talented Softimage users find jobs. Interested users need to log on to the site and post their resumes. Artists that have been trained through a Softimage ATC (Authorized Training Center) will be highlighted with a star.

Phase two of the program will roll out shortly after the new year and will provide client-side job postings.

Softimage users who would like to post their information should use the following URL: http://www.softimage.com/core/talentbank.
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CONSUMER CHANNEL

TMM Ships Graceland Interactive CD-ROM

If you can't get enough of the king, you'll be pleased to know about the new CD-ROM interactive tour of the Elvis Graceland Estate, now available at your local software chain store. The two-CD set includes a complete tour of the Graceland mansion, over 350 stories about Elvis and Graceland as told by friends, Elvis home movies and photographs, and a tour of Elvis' car museum. The product also features classic Elvis music, a complete song and movie list and previously unreleased materials from the Elvis Presley Estate.

The disc allows the users to tour 18 areas of the house, many of which are not accessible in the existing tour provided at the Graceland estate in Memphis. Users can shoot pool at Elvis' table in the famous pool room, play Elvis' guitar and piano and watch live performances. --------------------------------------------------

 

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

Jupiter, NFO Jointly to Explore Consumer Internet Use

Jupiter Communications and NFO Interactive, a division of NFO Worldwide, have allied to provide businesses with research and analyses on the online market. Combining NFO's consumer research know-how with Jupiter's understanding of the emerging Net marketplace, the alliance will offer customers a combination of national sampling, online panel research, and business-critical analyses.

At the core of the agreement is a benchmarking study that will be updated every six months. Based on quarterly survey data from NFO's 525,000 U.S. households, 120,000 interactive homes, and 1.4 million consumers overall, the report will be designed and published by Jupiter analysts to provide insight into the behavior, attitudes and spending habits of consumers. NFO will offer value added online panel inquiries, as well as customized data runs for those customers that desire greater detail. The report will be released both as a stand-alone product, and as a core offering to Jupiter's Strategic Planning Services clients.

The first publicly available report will be released in March 1998.
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O'Reilly Offers Be Developer's Guide

Jean-Louis Gassee's Be, Inc. is betting that developers working with the Web, CD-ROM, and print publishing are ready for a new operating system. The Be operating system (BeOS) is said to be the first OS built to wring the maximum from the multimedia, threading, and multiprocessing capabilities of today's computers. According to company hype, it's the ideal platform for high-end graphics and multimedia, featuring Silicon Graphics workstation performance on commodity desktop hardware.

O'Reilly & Associates, the official publisher of technical documentation for the BeOS, has published a BeOS programmer's reference manual: the Be Developer's Guide (946 pages, ISBN: 1-56592-287-5, $49.95).

The "Be Developer's Guide" provides developers with access to the internals of the BeOS, describing all the foundation kits in the operating system and how to use them.

Topics include:
· The Application Kit: the kit that gets you started
· The Storage Kit: an interface to the file system
· The Interface Kit: includes windows, buttons, controls and other GUI elements
· The Kernel Kit: provides access to the lowest programmable level of the BeOS
· The Support Kit: a catchall for common functionality and definitions

The "Be Developer's Guide" also includes a CD-ROM containing the entire BeOS.
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Microsoft Launches Mastering Web Site Fundamentals

Microsoft Corp. released today the Mastering Web Site Fundamentals CD-ROM ($99.95) on its Site Builder Network Web site. The self-paced training tool is designed to teach the creation of Dynamic HTML pages using Microsoft tools such as the FrontPage 98 Web site creation and management tool and technologies such as those in Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0.

Visit the Site Builder Network at http://www.microsoft.com/sbnmember/info/mastering/mastering.asp for a free online preview of the CD-ROM and a downloadable sample.
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DEALS

GT Interactive, Microprose Merger Falls Through

MicroProse, Inc. and GT Interactive Software Corp. announced Friday that both companies' boards of directors have agreed to terminate the definitive merger agreement, announced on October 5. Without disclosing reasons, both managements said that the time is not right for combining the two businesses. However, GT Interactive will continue distribution of MicroProse products in some major mass market chains in the U.S. as well as that of Macintosh versions of MicroProse products, under prior agreements. GT also holds PC budget rights to the MicroProse back catalog.
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Activision Purchases European Distributors

Fast-growing Activision has completed two acquisitions that boost its international operations and serve as the foundation for expansion of its pan-European publishing and distribution business.

The company has acquired CentreSoft Limited, an independent distributor of interactive entertainment software in the United Kingdom, and NBG Distribution, a German-based distributor of entertainment software products.

By combining Activision's existing UK and German operations with the infrastructure, operating histories and retail channel relations of CentreSoft and NBG, the company says it has established an integrated European publishing operation and a world class distribution network.

Activision's World Wide Web site is located at http://www.activision.com.
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Discreet Logic to Take Over Lightscape Technologies

Montreal-based Discreet Logic has signed a definitive agreement to acquire privately-held San Jose, Calif.-based Lightscape Technologies Inc., a developer of Windows-based visualization and lighting software tools for professionals in the design and entertainment industries. The aggregate purchase price for Lightscape includes the assumption of approximately U.S. $4.5 million of net liabilities of which approximately U.S. $3.0 million will be paid at closing, and up to U.S. $6.8 million in contingent consideration only if certain revenue objectives are achieved in calendar 1998 and 1999.

Lightscape's flagship product, Lightscape, produces realistic computer-generated environments and images by accurately simulating the behavior of light and materials. Lightscape is the first application to integrate the computer graphic technologies of radiosity and ray tracing with physically based lighting. Digital artists and designers use Lightscape to light and visualise digital sets and synthetic environments, enabling them to deliver film, broadcast television, interactive games and Web-based virtual productions of startling realism.

Lightscape's technology complements Discreet Logic's production systems comprised of real-time 3D broadcast graphics and virtual studio systems for the creation of synthetic scenes and characters for films, virtual sets for broadcast television, and interactive content for games and the web.

For more information, contact Discreet Logic Corporate Headquarters: 10 Duke, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3C 2L7. Tel: 514.393.1616. Fax: 514.393.0110. mailto:info@discreet.com. Web: http://www.discreet.com.
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Byron Preiss Acquires Educational Software Firms

Byron Preiss Multimedia Company, citing its continued emphasis on the sale of educational software to schools and libraries, last week completed previously disclosed plans to acquire Multi Dimensional Communications, Inc., doing business as Orange Cherry and operated by Nicholas Vazzana and New Media Schoolhouse, Inc. operated by Elaine Vazzana.

Orange Cherry titles for the K-12 marketplace include the Rainforest Explorer and Time Traveler CD-ROMs. Among other big plans, Byron Preiss intends to introduce a series of new Orange Cherry Special Titles," including the next disk in the John Steinbeck Library, "The Grapes of Wrath."

For more info, check out http://www.byronpreiss.com
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Westwood Picks Up Computer Design Firm

Las Vegas-based Westwood Studios has acquired Titusville, New Jersey-based Panoptic Imaging, LLC. Panoptic provides Westwood with additional graphic design talent for work on the company's future computer game titles.

Under terms of the agreement, all current Panoptic staff remain intact and the company will continue to operate out of their Titusville offices. Panoptic was formed in 1992 and has a previous relationship with Westwood, having provided extensive graphic elements for Blade Runner.

For more information, contact Westwood at 702/228-4040 or visit http://www.westwood.com.
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GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Sierra/Impressions Releases Lords of Magic

Impressions Software, a division of Sierra On-line, has released Lords of Magic ($49.99). The new title follows in the tradition of the Lords of the Realm family of strategy games for the PC, combining real-time combat with resource management in a turn-based campaign set in a fantasy world.

The game occurs in a magical world populated by humans, elves, dwarves, barbarians, dark elves, gnomes, fairies, and lizardman. There are eight types of magic, paired up as opposites: fire & water, earth & air, life & death, order & chaos. The world is currently under threat from the evil lord Balkoth who has discovered a source of great power, and he is attempting to overthrow all other leaders and rule the world.

The game player adopts the role of a lord of a race, and with six potential allies, battles against the evil overlord for the freedom of Urak - the fantasy world. The character and race develop in a series of battles and invasions as the world is explored, cities are managed, and alliances created. Players can interact with over 100 different creatures, research and cast up to 160 unique spells and trade everything from creatures, artifacts, spells, even gold mines as they compete for glory. Additionally, players can choose to play as the evil lord Balkoth himself, against all others.

Find more at http://www.sierra.com
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QUAKE II Due This Week

id Software's highly anticipated sequel QUAKE II, published by Activision, is expected to be available in stores in the United States and Canada on Tuesday, December 9.

Armed with an arsenal of high-tech weapons, QUAKE II gamers devastate, annihilate and cremate monsters throughout more than 30 levels of complex missions. The aggressive and intelligent enemies execute sophisticated tactical maneuvers, absorb thunderous damage, and evade attacks by ducking and raising energy shields.

QUAKE II will be available for Windows 95 and Windows NT, and will carry a suggested retail price of $54.95.
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NUMBEROLOGY

3Dfx Anticipates Rapid Growth San Jose, Calif.-based 3Dfx Interactive announced that based on strong sales of both its Voodoo Graphics and Voodoo Rush products, the company anticipates that its fourth quarter sales will increase by at least double the company's earlier estimate of 40 percent revenue growth over the third quarter sales of $10,018,000. 3Dfx's stock jumped by over a third on Friday. This increase in anticipated sales is the direct result of wafer supply exceeding management's original expectations. The Company had previously indicated that such supply was the principal factor affecting sales in the 4th quarter as the Company's backlog then exceeded available fabrication capacity. This continues to be the case in the 4th quarter, but at a higher level of supply. Further, management believes that the supply constraint will ease substantially in the first quarter of 1998. Visit the company on the Web at http://www.3dfx.com.
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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.

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