27 March 2000
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Macromedia has begun shipping the Macromedia Director 8 Shockwave Studio. The company also announced its new Fireworks Import Xtra, which integrates Macromedia Fireworks graphics into the Director development environment. The studio has also been optimized to support platforms from Apple and Intel.
The Macromedia Director 8 Shockwave Studio, available for both Macintosh and Windows platforms, includes: Director 8 Shockwave Studio, Shockwave Multiuser Server 2, Fireworks 3, and sound editors BIAS Peak LE 2.1 for Macintosh or Sonic Foundry Sound Forge XP 4.5 for Windows.
Director 8 Shockwave Studio includes the Shockwave Multiuser Server, which lets developers create Web communities. According to a study by Jupiter Communications, 57 percent of what drives consumer traffic to Web sites is viral marketing or "word of mouth."
Online communities are growing at a rate of 20 percent per month, faster than the Web itself, according to research by the Forum One Communications Corporation. Multiuser content created with the Director 8 Shockwave Studio is said to be positioned to take advantage of this trend because developers can create communities of up to 1,000 simultaneous users right out of the box.
The free Fireworks Import Xtra is available at http://www.macromedia.com/software/fireworks/special/fireworksxtra/
Coolboard.com, a provider of Web-based discussion services, and MessageBay, Inc., a developer of voice-over-IP products, last week released Coolboard Version 4.0, an integrated text and voice message board service. Other new features include user profiles and enhanced moderation functionality.
MGI Software last week announced ZOOM Server 3.5, a performance-enhanced release of its Internet imaging server for e-commerce. The product will debut at Spring Internet World 2000 in Los Angeles, April 5 - 7.
The server, based on FlashPix images and IIP (Internet Imaging Protocol) formats, is designed to enable the transmission of high-resolution images over various bandwidths, so users can zoom in and closely examine items in fine detail. New features of ZOOM Server 3.5 include:
For information, contact MGI Software at: 1-877-733-9666.
Just out from Software Emancipation Technology (SET), a provider of software-development information systems, is its Software Quality Benchmark (SQB), priced at a mere $10,000.
SQB is produced from a database of individual Quality Assessment Reports (QARs)--detailed analytical studies of an application’s source code said to provide quantitative measures of the intrinsic quality of an organization’s software. Highlighted are actual defects that violate predefined programming rules, as well as areas of high-risk and maintainability issues. Companies represented in the SQB include the telecommunications, embedded, networking, financial and ISV markets.
The SQB includes a discussion about quality scores, trends, as well as areas of emphasis. It also includes summaries of project metrics, such as executable lines of code, functions, classes, structures, unions, and global variables relative to total lines of code. Quality scores are broken down by top-level categories including: programming standards, portability, globalization, and structure. The remainder of the benchmark scores contains a hierarchical quantitative analysis of the specific factors that contribute to the average total quality score.
Avaterra.com, Inc., a provider of Internet-based virtual world communities, last week released its Media Interface, a browser plug-in that adds streaming audio and video, electronic commerce, and other Web-enabled applications to a virtual world environment.
The Media Interface is the core of Avaterra.com's B2B, B2C, and C2C solutions. The interface provides multiple fixed windows that let consumers experience a variety of content simultaneously. While inside a virtual community, users can view a streaming video clip, view an advertiser's URL, and chat with other users' avatars (virtual selves) at the same time, on one screen. The Media Interface also has an active map, which allows for quick navigation when visiting a virtual world. Users can customize their environment by linking virtual objects to Web pages, Web sites, and anything else on the Web.
GlobalSCAPE Inc., a owned subsidiary of American TeleSource International Inc., last week released CuteFTP 4.0, the latest version of its File Transfer Protocol (FTP) software. CuteFTP combines command-line FTP functionality with a Windows interface. It lets users transfer files between corporate offices, upload Web pages to Internet servers and download digital music, software and graphic files.
New features in CuteFTP 4.0 include:
Newly available from Cycore is Cult3D 5.0, which can insert 3D graphics into Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat (PDF) documents. Additional enhancements in the new release include:
The Cult3D viewer can be used with Netscape 2.0 (and higher) or Internet Explorer 4.0 (and higher) and the following operating systems: Windows 95, 98, and NT; MacOS (PowerPC); UNIX (Linux, HP/UX, AIX, Sun); and BeOS.
The Cult3D 5.0 Designer and Viewer can be downloaded for free at www.cycore.com. A licensing fee of $3,600 is charged for Cult3D objects once they are posted to a commercial Web site or Web store. Cycore also offers a free art license for 3D modelers who wish to showcase their work on the Web for potential employers or customers. For more information about pricing, go to www.cult3d.com/order/index.html.
What's her secret? New from Utah-based Zygote Media Group is Victoria, a photorealistic female model for Poser 4. Features include:
DisplayWear Inc. of San Carlos, Calif., is developing a new "Real World Imaging Engine" (RWIE) said to be capable of handling any size image and surrounding it with an "open view auto roaming technology" that affords the user smooth texture tiling/palletting and zooming capabilities.
Once embedded into OpenGL-capable software, the user can complete a "virtual fly-by" of an image, in any image format, effectively viewing uninterrupted and smooth-scrolling tiles without the jitters and hesitations previously found in other software.
Applications include G.I.S., online shopping, and personal photo image handling.
POPcast Communications last week announced the beta 2.1 release of their POPcaster digital video encoding and conversion software for PCs. The new software, a free 1.3-megabyte download, lets users capture video through a variety of capture devices and convert files from AVI, MPEG and WAV formats to Microsoft's Advanced Streaming Format (ASF).
Meerkat, an open wire service designed to keep developers on top of technology news, has been launched on the O'Reilly Network. Meerkat organizes information, drawn from a wide variety of sites, by channel, category and date.
The site is an aggregator of information from sites that support RSS (Rich Site Summary), an XML format that supplies the title, description and URL for stories created on the site. RSS was developed by Netscape in 1999 as a way of drawing in content from the Web for use in its My Netscape Network portal. It was later extended by Netscape and Dave Winer of Userland. RSS is becoming increasingly popular as technology sites share headlines with other sites to draw traffic, and use RSS feeds to link to related information.
We wouldn't normally run an item like this in Spectrum, but being a gadget fan as well as newly single, it caught our eye: Arizona-based Interactive Digital Corporation last week launched its MatchUp system of hardware and software to match time-constrained singles with potential mates of similar interests and attitudes. The Singles Smart Card uses infra-red beams to exchange information from cardholder to cardholder and arrive at a compatibility score. The company claims even one card does the trick by itself.
"I've worked on singles-matching technology in various formats for ten years," says Ed White, technology entrepreneur and happily married man. "The questionnaire that provides the insight into whether people will relate well was developed in collaboration with a University of Oklahoma psychology professor who specializes in marital compatibility. Transferring the information to a smart card that can be carried in your pocket is the technological breakthrough."
The user installs the MatchUp software on a computer, answers a series of questions about habits, achievements, interests, beliefs, family and romance, and transfers the results to a one-ounce smart card.
Take the card to a party, where you beam your results to other cardholders. Score 90 or more, and you're off to the mating races. Score in the 60s, and don't even bother with small talk. Even if the other person doesn't have the card, you can give them the questionnaire and tabulate the results. (There's an ice-breaker!)
Interactive Digital is marketing the cards individually at $29.99 from the Web site, www.matchupsingles.com. Soon, visitors will be able to log on to the site and take a free compatibility test with a friend or lover.
Just out from Belgium's Wilco Publishing is Airport 2000 Volume 2, with new scenery for Microsoft Flight Sim 2000 and 98. The new edition offers seven new airports, night lighting effects, 10 new adventures with interactive ATC, and improved graphics using Flight Sim 2000’s Z-buffer technology.
The airports are London Heathrow, Barcelona, Nice Côte d’Azur, Schiphol Amsterdam, Boston Logan, Miami International and Chicago O’Hare, with the actual hangars, maintenance buildings and taxiways outside as well as the real restaurants, gates, departure screens, lounges and shops inside each airport. There are also nine new airplanes with instrument panels.
Airport 2000 Volume 2 also delivers seven different flight paths from airport to airport, plus three special adventures for owners of Volume 1 that link airports between the two editions. Users follow flight procedures to bring passengers to their destinations, down to triggering the seatbelt and no-smoking signs and calling the cabin crew. They also battle engine fires and tire blowouts, and hear all communication from tower to ground and departure control.
MAX Masters is a new series of tutorials designed for Discreet's 3D Studio Max animation software. Based on Adobe Acrobat, each tutorial is 10 to 20 pages in length with illustrations. All files necessary to build each project are also included. MAX Masters is produced by MTP Grafx, an animation company owned by Michael Todd Peterson, who has authored or co-authored 12 books on 3D Studio MAX.
MAX Masters is offered initially as a subscription service at a cost of $25 per month, charged to the user’s credit card. On the last day of each month, starting April 30, the service emails to each subscriber a username and password to access the collection of tutorials and materials for that month via FTP. Each month's collection includes 5 to 10 tutorials along with a Guru’s Corner, which contains tips and tricks for MAX users of all levels, and updates on happenings in the MAX and 3D graphics industry.
Microsoft Corp. plans to adopt NVIDIA's technology for Volume Texture Compression Format (VTC) for Microsoft DirectX APIs. The format organizes 3D volume texture data to take advantage of the 3D nature of the data, said to increase the effective texture bandwidth. NVIDIA has developed a proprietary method to reorder the three-dimensional data within a volumetric image cube to account for the linear accessing required for the optimal use of the memory system of a typical computer system.
Ten people just threw up on the roller coaster. There are twenty screaming kids waiting for a bathroom. On top of that the Dino Bounce just broke down! It's just another day of managing the park's front office when playing SimTheme Park. Electronic Arts and Bullfrog Productions last week released SimTheme Park, a new 3D simulation game for the PlayStation game console system.
Players can create and operate amusement parks as well as ride their creations and experience them from a first-person perspective. In addition, the PlayStation version offers a redesigned interface to take advantage of the PlayStation controls and several fun "mini-games" that can be enjoyed throughout the park. Players can take time out and try their hand at Dino Racing, the Strength Test, Smash 'Em, Shooting Gallery, Fortune Teller, Giant Puzzle and Coconut Shy.
Players construct their parks based on one of four different themes: Space Zone, The Lost Kingdom, Land of Wonders and Halloween, each with its own selection of rides and other attractions. Players can create roller coasters and log flumes with the track-building interface, as well as go-kart tracks and water-rapids with crossovers, jumps and tunnels.
Players must also keep their park visitors happy in a number of other ways. They need to make sure admission prices cover operating expenses, staffing is adequate, restroom facilities are sufficient and that rides aren't too intense to be enjoyed - - all while staying on budget. To supplement park income, players can build shops and kiosks and set up sideshows.
Doubtless you weren't looking, but Thief II: The Metal Age, the sequel to Looking Glass Studio's Thief: The Dark Project, snuck into stores last week. The PC-CD from publisher Eidos Interactive is a first-person 3D action adventure is said to feature improved artificial intelligence, technical upgrades, and new back-story content.
Players once again assume the role of Garrett, a cynical, world-weary master thief living in an ancient city where magic and primitive technology uneasily coexist. Garrett, who never met an object he couldn't grab, must elude Sheriff Gorman Truart, who sweeps the streets of the poor and indigent as his corrupt guards chase Garrett with a directive to bring him down permanently. The player's mission is to keep Garrett alive long enough to discover the true reasons behind the sheriff's vendetta.
The missions focus on the core gameplay of the original "first-person sneaker." Players jump from rooftop to rooftop, eavesdrop on conversations, break into a high-security bank vault, and face a variety of other challenges. Technical enhancements include high-color textures, colored lighting, and variable translucency. Graphical and gameplay enhancements include weather effects such as fog, rain, and snow. Garrett's new tools of the trade include a remote camera for scouting out areas before moving in, new potions to safely drop down high walls, and new arrows to create a route back up to the top.
Coming from Electronic Arts late this year is a Nintendo 64 version of the James Bond interactive game title, The World is Not Enough. Features include:
The Nintendo 64 version is being developed by UK-based Eurocom,.
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and Lucent Technologies last week announced three projects involving a collaboration between scientists and artists. The Arts in Multimedia (AIM) project, a joint effort between Lucent and BAM, provides artists access to multimedia and networking technology and to scientists at Bell Labs, Lucent's research and development arm. The first three collaborations are:
"These projects demonstrate the kinds of synergies possible between art and science," said Sudhir Ahuja, director of Bell Labs' Multimedia Communications Research Laboratory. "These collaborations allow us to creatively explore the human experience with multimedia interaction and the new opportunities communication over broadband networks opens up."
The participating artists were selected by a committee of art and new-media experts. The projects are expected to be completed early this summer. The program is being
coordinated by Wayne Ashley, Ph.D., BAM's manager of New Media, and Marah Rosenberg at Bell Labs.
The Digital Imaging Group(DIG) will host a technical forum on the Future of Internet Imaging at Spring Internet World 2000 in Los Angeles, April 6 from 8:30am-1:30pm. The event will cover a broad range of topics including new formats, metadata, transport and more. See the agenda below for more information.
LuraTech's CEO, Michael Thierschmann will hold a session on the features and functionality of JPEG2000, the coming wavelet-based image standard along with Scott Houchin of Eastman Kodak & Chair of the DIG2000 initiative, as well as Scott Foshee, Ph.D. of Adobe Systems.
Also, special guest speaker Anthony Gross of NASA will talk about how Internet imaging projects are enhancing the NASA imaging programs, and Philippe Kahn, CEO of Lightsurf Technologies, will discuss instant wireless imaging.
RealNetworks' Real Conference 2000 will be held at the San Jose Convention Center, May 22-26, 2000. The company expects 6,000 conference and exhibition attendees and more than 100 exhibiting partners.
The Macromedia Web World Conference 2000 will be held at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, June 19-23. The conference will present techniques for building interactive sites as well as next-generation personalized, dynamic Web sites for effective e-commerce, e-business, and e-branding.
Macromedia Web World will feature five events: The Flash Conference, the Dreamweaver Conference, the Shockwave Summit, Fireworks Focus Day, and Macromedia e-business 2000. The conference will offer 58 conference sessions, 35 speakers, and hands-on training sessions. Keynote presenters will include Rob Burgess, Macromedia chairman and CEO; Kevin Lynch, Macromedia executive vice president and chief technology officer; and Roger Black, chief creative officer, Circle.com.
Speakers include: Hillman Curtis, Flash and motion-graphics designer and principal of hillmancurtis.com; Joe Sparks, Shockwave developer and creator of numerous multimedia titles; Joseph Lowery, author of Dreamweaver Bible; David Emberton, author of Flash 4 Magic; Todd Purgason, creative director of Juxt Interactive; Dave Humphreys, senior content engineer for Organic, Inc.; and Sandee Cohen, author of the Fireworks Visual Quickstart Guide and FreeHand Visual Quickstart Guide.
At the conference, Macromedia will demonstrate Macromedia ARIA and Macromedia LikeMinds, which provide Web site analysis and personalization respectively. Macromedia will also show developers how to build business logic into their content at the authoring level to reduce time to market with its larger e-business solutions, how Macromedia products can be integrated with BroadVision and other e-commerce application server software, and when it is best to use Shockwave or Macromedia Flash for delivering interactive content.
Other activities include: a hands-on training lab where users can attend free classes and try out techniques learned during the sessions; an opening night bash; product feedback sessions with members of Macromedia's product teams; sneak previews of future technologies; and a chance to test skills in a Web design contest. In addition, there will be a product pavilion where all the latest products will be demonstrated throughout the show.
Spectrum is an independent news service published every Monday for the interactive media professional community by Motion Blur Media. Spectrum covers the tools and technologies used to create interactive multimedia applications and infrastructure for business, education, and entertainment; and the interactive media industry scene. We love to receive interactive media and online development tools and CD-ROMs for review.
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