Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News

10 January 2005
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
For editorial/subscription inquiries, send mailto:spectrum1@broadviewnet.net
Search the Spectrum archives at http://www.3dlinks.com/spectrum

Today's Headlines (details below)

--4D Ships WebSTAR V and Mail v5.4
--Gigablast Unveils Custom Topic Search Tool
--Web Crossing Releases New User-to-User Support Site Tools

--eMagin Unveils Z800 3D Visor
--Opticality Introduces Glasses-Free 3D Displays
--Softimage Expands Game Development Suite with New 'Mod' Tool
--Torque Shows New Art Pipeline Tool

--O'Reilly Launches the Designer's Notebook Series
--java.net Online Books Launches

--DreamCatcher Games to Publish Aerial Strike
--Square Enix to Ship Fullmetal Alchemist
--Sony Announces PSP RPG

--xplorer² Wins SharewareJunkies.com Award
--Paul Hazen Joins Alias Board

--About Spectrum



4D Ships WebSTAR V and Mail v5.4

4D, Inc. recently released 4D WebSTAR V v5.4, an upgrade to 4D WebSTAR Server Suite, including 4D Mail. This version delivers ClamAV email scanning support, a ClamAV installation option, and automatic server testing and recovery for ensuring Web, FTP and Mail service availability. The 5.4 upgrade includes other improvements and is now available.

The new version also includes a one-click whitelisting feature that modifies 4D Mail's Spam Filter to allow authenticated users to send email without inadvertently triggering rules for banned keywords. This whitelisting feature provides convenience without sacrificing security, especially when combined with the IP address whitelisting feature introduced in v5.3.3, which can bypass DNS Blacklist checks as well as Spam Filter rules.

ClamAV, an open-source virus scanning software package, is an addition to the list of virus-scanning products 4D Mail supports. ClamAV offers daily automatic virus definition updates and claims better performance than other products. The 4D WebSTAR V Installer also includes a ClamAV distribution, so customers can immediately install and start using ClamAV to filter email messages.

The new integrated service testing and recovery feature adds checks for responsiveness to 4D WebSTAR Server Suite's automatic server recovery mechanism. Web, FTP, SMTP, POP, and IMAP services are all tested periodically, and if for any reason a service becomes unresponsive, the appropriate server is stopped and relaunched without the need for administrator intervention.

4D WebSTAR V customers can upgrade for $99, a promotional rate that will expire January 31, 2005. New purchases of 4D WebSTAR V with 4D Mail and 100 4D Mail user accounts are priced at $399. During the promotional period, 4D is also offering the 4D Mail unlimited user account expansion pack for only $499, a $1,000 savings.



Gigablast Unveils Custom Topic Search Tool

Gigablast Inc., an Internet search engine corporation, recently unveiled its "Custom Topic Search" (CTS) tool. The new tool offers Webmasters the ability to tailor their Website's search to a custom topic. The topic can be defined by a list of hundreds of arbitrary Websites. These Websites are entered into the search tool by the Webmaster and are often related to an area of interest. Gigablast searches all pages of the Websites in the list. Webmasters can deploy the new tool onto their Websites now, free of charge.

Adding this new feature to a Website is a simple process. Instructions and the HTML code needed for implementation are on Gigablast's homepage, www.gigablast.com. Gigablast suggests that Webmasters build their list of Websites by harvesting Websites from an online directory service such as www.dmoz.org or www.yahoo.com.


Web Crossing Releases New User-to-User Support Site Tools

Web Crossing, Inc. last week announced new tools for its user-to-user support site customers. Companies using Web Crossing as a message board and online customer support site now have an Easy FAQ Builder application and enhanced File Downloads Library capabilities.

Known for its scalability and extensibility, Web Crossing is an Internet message board and collaboration tools server used by numerous companies for providing online support, resources and 24/7 customer-to-customer support. Beta programs and other access-sensitive situations can also incorporate Web Crossing's access controls with the new Easy FAQ Builder application and enhanced File Download Library.

The new tool lets administrators streamline the creation of FAQs from directly within the user-discussion area. Customer questions can be added to FAQ folders with point-and-click ease. Sysops and hosts viewing the question can designate a question for FAQ inclusion with a button click, edit the question and the answer, then add it to the appropriate FAQ folder in their support site. Administrators set each FAQ folder's access control, if appropriate.

The File Downloads Library has also now been enhanced with the ability to add file content-based keywords to the index, and take advantage of inclusion with Web Crossing's indexed search. Administrators who view the file prior to uploading it can establish its keyword metadata, thus ensuring the contents of the file are represented in the searchable index.

Available now for free, the Easy FAQ and enhanced File Downloads Library is compatible with all Web Crossing installations. Additional information can be found at http://www.Webcrossing.com/Home/products/usertouser.html.



eMagin Unveils Z800 3D Visor

At CES last week eMagin Corporation, a manufacturer of OLED (organic light-emitting diode) microdisplays, introduced its personal display system, which combines OLED technology with head-tracking and 3D stereovision. The Z800 3D Visor incorporates two eMagin SVGA 3D OLED displays (800 x 3 x 600 pixels per display) said to provide a view equivalent to a 105-inch screen at 12 feet, and uses head tracking to permit 360-degree viewing.

The Z800 3D Visor draws power from a standard USB port. Designed for computer gaming, the visor also supports PC-based DVD entertainment, as well as simulation, graphics, and design programs. It can be used as the primary display or as an extended dual-monitor with a laptop.

eMagin's active matrix OLED displays are said to deliver high-speed, high-resolution, high-color imagery for near-eye applications. Because OLED materials emit light, the displays are thinner and lighter than conventional LCDs, and they also require less power, permitting this product to be created without a need for added battery packs or power adapters. eMagin says OLED displays offer higher contrast and a wider dispersion of light, making them more comfortable to view and usable for near-eye applications.

The eMagin Z800 3D Visor will be available in the second quarter of this year. List price is anticipated to be $899 USD. The company is also intending to make the Z800 available for customization by OEMs. For more information on eMagin and its products, visit http://www.emagin.com and http://www.3dvisor.com.


Opticality Introduces Glasses-Free 3D Displays

Opticality Corporation (formerly X3D Technologies Corp.) last week unveiled a line of 3D digital displays ranging in size from 17" to 50" that it says make images appear to hover in mid-air without the need for special 3D viewing glasses. The displays can be used as a platform for arcade games, medical and scientific imaging, advertising, and digital broadcasting on both PCs and TVs.

Opticality says its displays present 3D images that float deep within and as much as six feet in front of LCD and plasma screens, utilizing proprietary technology that has been successfully tested in over 1,000 venues around the world. Images can be seen in a wide 120-degree field for simultaneous viewing by multiple people in retail stores, malls, airports, hotels, casinos, sports arenas, trade shows, exhibition halls and other high-traffic environments of any kind.

Some models can also support both 2D and 3D content, making it possible to mix existing 2D messages with newer 3D ads.

Opticality also offers a toolset for easy and flexible deployment, including:



Softimage Expands Game Development Suite with New 'Mod' Tool

Avid Technology, Inc. last week announced the Softimage|XSI Mod Tool, a free version of its 3D animation software designed for gamers who are interested in modifying the content of popular video games. The Mod Tool is available from the Softimage Website (www.softimage.com), and lets users generate material for Half-Life 2 by Valve. Gamers and enthusiasts can use the tool with Valve's Source Software Development Kit (SDK) to create props, characters, environment models and output their content directly into Half-Life 2 and other Valve Source engine-powered titles. Through the use of additional plug-ins, the Mod Tool can also be used with other leading interactive game titles.

Building on the Softimage|XSI Exp for Half-Life 2, which was released at the 2004 Game Developer's Conference and has been downloaded by over 100,000 users, the Softimage|XSI Mod Tool is based on the same professional architecture as Softimage|XSI software. The tool includes multiple toolsets for creating, texturing and animating props and characters, designing and previewing real-time effects, and outputting the results. It also includes the next-generation normal-mapping features found in Softimage|XSI 4.2.


Torque Shows New Art Pipeline Tool

GarageGames recently announced its new Torque ShowTool Pro (TST Pro) for viewing and understanding Torque Game Engine DTS files on Windows and Mac OS X.

TST Pro reportedly improves production work-flow efficiency by letting modelers, animators, and texture artists view their art in the Torque Game Engine environment without having to wait for their game to load.

The Torque ShowTool Pro full retail version is available on a 30 day trial basis at http://www.garagegames.com/tstpro and retails for $34.95.



O'Reilly Launches the Designer's Notebook Series

The success of an artist relies on talent, hard work, inspiration, and a healthy appetite for learning new techniques. All too often, however, the hard work leaves little time for learning, much less learning from a selection of leading experts in one's field. With that in mind, the new "Designer's Notebook" series from O'Reilly presents a collection of lessons designed to inspire and instruct illustrators, graphic designers, photographers, and all professionals who create images, whether still or animated. Reflecting the best in the world of digitally created images, the books are at once eye-candy, artistic inspiration, and technical guidance.

French artists share their digital creations in the first two releases in the series, "Photo Retouching with Photoshop: A Designer's Notebook" and "Illustrations with Photoshop: A Designer's Notebook," (O'Reilly, US $24.95) both first-time English translations of the French editions. In each, the authors share their secrets in workshops that demonstrate the step-by-step creation of their work. Unlike any other titles available, these full-color books offer professionals the creative license and technical know-how they need to create digital images using Photoshop.

"Photo Retouching with Photoshop: A Designer's Notebook" How can you digitally restore old images, improve your holiday photographs, work with a colorimeter, retouch a subject's face, blend together several images, or simply enhance images that you've created? By using Photoshop to retouch your photographs. The authors--freelance photographers and photo retouching agents--present succinct, step-by-step lessons in the use of their techniques. These experts take you through all the stages of photo retouching, from reviewing the initial order, to collaborating with an artistic director, to choosing the format, to presenting the type of impression the image should create.

"Illustrations with Photoshop: A Designer's Notebook" In this full-color collection, nine French graphic artists are turned loose with Photoshop. Their creations range from advertising to children's book illustration, science fiction to settings for graphic novels and role-playing games. The notebook leads the reader into the heart of each author's artistic approach, describing the inception and making of nine images that spring from widely varying sources of inspiration.



java.net Online Books Launches

java.net, the Java developer site sponsored by Sun Microsystems and produced by O'Reilly Media and CollabNet, has added java.net Online Books to the site's mix of community resources. Built on the Safari platform, the online book service from O'Reilly and the Pearson Technology Group, java.net Online Books offers a searchable virtual library of more than 2500 technical books from publishers including O'Reilly, Sun Press, Addison-Wesley, and Prentice Hall. Developers can sign up for a free two-week preview at http://safari.java.net, and choose either the Quick-Start Java Bookshelf or to build their own customized personal bookshelf.

java.net Online Books is the latest in a series of services built on the Safari platform that are available through java.net. The site also hosts two Safari plug-ins that take advantage of the Safari public APIs to provide Safari search windows inside the NetBeans and Eclipse development environments. With the Safari Search Plug-in for NetBeans (https://safari-netbeans.dev.java.net), a joint project of Safari and Sun Microsystems Inc., developers can search the thousands of titles in Safari without leaving the NetBeans IDE. The Safari Search Plug-in for Eclipse (https://safarieclipse.dev.java.net), created by Safari and CIGNEX Technologies, Inc., offers the same service within the Eclipse IDE.

java.net also offers access to SafariU, the new custom publishing service for educators and trainers offered by O'Reilly and the Pearson Technology Group. java.net users can sign up for the SafariU beta program at https://safari-u.dev.java.net/.



DreamCatcher Games to Publish Aerial Strike

DreamCatcher Games will publish Aerial Strike: The Yager Missions, a futuristic aerial 3D combat/action game, for Windows in North America.

Despite all of the superior technological advancements of the future, security on Earth remains at risk. In Aerial Strike: The Yager Missions, players assume the role of Magnus Tide, pilot of one of the deadliest machines in the galaxy: the fighter ship Sagittarius. Taking control of Sagittarius' multiple weapons and capabilities, players enter a world of extreme fighter pilot action, forcing futuristic rivals to pay the ultimate price in a daring quest to save the world.

The action game offers aerial combat with a combination of dogfighting missions and ground-attack objectives. Players will soar through 22 levels, adapting their strategies around multi-faceted terrains, including deep canyons and enormous mountains. They will maneuver a range of crafts, from agile fighters to battleships and carriers. When outside the Sagittarius, players can get behind the controls of a gun turret for a more hands-on approach at fending off an onslaught of enemies.

Aerial Strike: The Yager Missions is developed by Yager Development. The $20 title has an anticipated ESRB rating of 'T' for Teen and will ship in North America on January 27. For more information visit www.dreamcatchergames.com.


Square Enix to Ship Fullmetal Alchemist

Square Enix, Inc. will ship Fullmetal Alchemist and the Broken Angel for PlayStation2 to retailers on January 18, 2005. The action role-playing game expands the story in the anime series, which airs on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming. The tale follows the adventures of brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric on their quest to make right the mistakes of their past.

In a forbidden act of alchemy, Edward and Alphonse tried to raise their mother from the dead and lost their left leg and entire body, respectively. Immediately after the accident, Ed sacrificed his right arm to save Alphonse's soul and transplanted him into a suit of armor. The action begins as the two brothers head towards Central City in search of the "Philosopher's Stone," the only object that can return them to their natural states.

The game lets players "alchemize" objects for use in battle. The story takes place in a lost chapter from the anime series during the Elric brothers' journey to Central. With animated cut scenes and in-game graphics said to be of the same quality as the TV series, the game ties in seamlessly with its anime counterpart. The key to gameplay depends on how well the player utilizes the battle system. Over 50 transmutable objects ranging from trees to trash cans populate the landscape, allowing the practice of alchemy to have unlimited potential. In addition to controlling Ed, players can also equip the sub-character Alphonse and call him to aid during heated battles.

Established in 1995, developer Racjin Co., Ltd is based in Osaka, Japan.



Sony Announces PSP RPG

Sony Online Entertainment last week announced a new launch title for the PSP handheld entertainment system: Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade. Developed and published by SOE, the title will be one of the few original titles developed in North America, and the only multiplayer action role-playing game (RPG) available at the system's launch.

The game offers four customizable playable races: an original storyline; cooperative multiplayer gameplay via the PSP handheld system's WiFi feature; simplified controls; and beautiful, vibrant environments that take advantage of the PSP handheld system's technical capabilities. Other features include hack/slash action, randomly generated environments, monsters and items, 3D graphics, and wireless cooperative multiplayer gameplay.

Journey to a world beyond the realms of imagination and engage in battles to save Aven, a timeless city of safe haven and the last remaining stronghold of Good in a world of Evil. As a dark threat looms and a gathering of unknown forces grows stronger, heroes have been called and the Brotherhood of the Blade has been formed. It is up to you and your chosen brothers to unravel the mysteries of this looming peril.




xplorer² Wins SharewareJunkies.com Award

xplorer², a Windows Explorer replacement, has won Best Program of the Year honors in the 2005 SharewareJunkies.com Awards. xplorer² was also named Best Windows Program in the ninth annual awards, sponsored by the Web site SharewareJunkies.com (http://www.sharewarejunkies.com).

The SharewareJunkies.com Awards were voted on by software enthusiasts who cast their ballots online during November and December for the best programs in the Windows, Macintosh, and freeware categories. Special awards were also bestowed to individuals and online entities who have contributed to the state of Internet commerce and commentary.

The winners of the 2005 SharewareJunkies.com Awards are:

* Best Program of the Year and Best Windows Program: xplorer². This file and information manager adheres to the philosophy of "efficiency through simplicity" by integrating the best features of Windows' shell architecture into a smaller, resource-efficient package. Produced by Nikos Bozinis of London, England. http://www.zabkat.com

* Best Macintosh Program: Tux Paint. This free multi-platform children's drawing program is produced by a worldwide collection of volunteer programs. From New Breed Software, Mountain View, California. http://www.newbreedsoftware.com/tuxpaint/

* Best Freeware Program: Irfran View. Winning this category for the second year in a row is this Image & Multimedia Viewer/Converter, a graphics utility for everyday quick work. From Irfan Skiljan Fürth, Jajce, Bosnia. http://www.irfanview.com/

* Industry Achievement Award: The Independent Software Developers Forum (ISDEF), for its contribution to the improvement of the process of development and introduction of software. http://www.isdef.org/en/

* Distinguished Netizen Award: John Stewart Socha for his work in high-tech journalism and computer education. http://www.acpress.com

* Cultural Achievement Award: Dustin Putman and TheMovieBoy.com, for leadership in the field of online film journalism. http://www.themovieboy.com

* Literary Achievement Award: PulpLit.com, for online commentary and creative expression. http://www.pulplit.com

For more information, e-mail info@sharewarejunkies.com or visit SharewareJunkies.com at http://www.sharewarejunkies.com.


Paul Hazen Joins Alias Board

Alias, a provider of 3D graphics technology and services for the film, video games, Web, interactive media, automotive, industrial design, education and visualization markets, announced last week that Paul Hazen, chairman of Accel-KKR, a technology-focused private equity firm, has joined the board of directors of Alias. Alias was acquired by Accel-KKR, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Alias management from SGI in June 2004.

Hazen, who was chairman of Wells Fargo & Company from June 1999 to April 2001, and CEO of Wells Fargo from January 1995 to November 1998, will serve as the fifth member of Alias' Board and, together with the other board members, provide strategic direction and oversight to the company.

In addition to his position as chairman of Accel-KKR, Mr. Hazen currently serves as deputy chairman of the board and lead independent director of Vodafone, plc, and lead director of Safeway, Inc. He is also chairman of KKR Financial Corporation, a private real estate investment trust, and a special advisor to KKR, a leading private equity firm. Mr. Hazen holds a B.S. in Finance from the University of Arizona and an M.B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.

The other members of the board of Alias include Tom Barnds, Managing Director of Accel-KKR; Ben Bisconti, Managing Director of Accel-KKR; Rosemary Zigrossi of The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan; and Doug Walker, president of Alias.



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/online-development tools and end product for review.

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