28 May 2001
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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RSA Security Inc. recently joined the Sony Computer Entertainment's Tools and Middleware License program. As part of this program, RSA Security will offer security middleware for the development of software applications for PlayStation2, enabling developers to create secure, Internet-based gaming, content and commerce applications for the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system.
RSA Security will license both RSA BSAFE SSL-C and Crypto-C encryption software to PlayStation2 developers to enable compliance with Internet standards and to implement security for both communications and content software for PlayStation2. RSA Security also intends to make other RSA BSAFE solutions available for PlayStation2 title developers, including RSA BSAFE Cert-C encryption software, a PKI enabling tool, and RSA BSAFE IPSec-C encryption software, an IPSec security protocol tool.
Learnframe, the developer of KnowledgE-Commerce and e-Learning infrastructure technologies, last week released a new version of its learning management system, Pinnacle 4.3.
New features in Pinnacle 4.3 include enhanced functions in the Online Manager, Online Student and the Administrator Module such as course update, key word search, restriction settings and name display. The software meets the standards outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act section 508.
At the recent E3 convention for the interactive entertainment industry, Criterion Software's RenderWare Platform, middleware for game development, powered 20 games on PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. These games were as follows listed in alphabetical order of the developer/publisher:
RenderWare Platform provides game developers with 2D/3D graphics, audio and physics modules. The middleware solution is built on RenderWare Graphics, Criterion's multi-platform 2D/3D graphics toolkit, previously known as RenderWare3.
ANT Limited, a provider of embedded communication appliance software for consumer electronics and Internet appliances, and LSI Logic, a designer and manufacturer of communications and storage semiconductors, last week released LSI Logic's software development platform (SDP) for the SC2000 digital set-top box (STB) chip featuring ANT's embedded Fresco browser. The SDP illustrates how OEMs can create a Web-enabled set-top box.
"By combining the Fresco browser with the SC2000 chips for set-top boxes, we have created a … solution for broadcasters and their OEM suppliers," said Nicholas Dunn, product marketing manager for LSI Logic's DTV business unit. "According to IDC, global shipments of Internet appliances such as netTVs are projected to grow to a total value of $15.3 billion by 2002. With a working reference platform now available, LSI Logic and ANT customers can see how the joint solution can accelerate time to market and help them tap into this potentially huge market for Internet-enabled STBs."
LSI Logic's SC2000 set-top box product line integrates of the DVB transport and MPEG-2 A/V decoding, a 2D graphic engine, a multi-standard video encoder, audio DACs and a TinyRISC MIPS CPU into a single-chip solution.
Newly available from Microsoft Corp. is its Windows Media 7.1 Player for Pocket PC and a preview of a new wireless digital media guide for mobile users, WindowsMedia.com Mobile. Windows Media Player 7.1 for Pocket PC supports wireless access to digital audio and video for Pocket PC users, as well as playback of downloaded audio and video content. The player also includes Windows Media Audio and Video 8 codec technology. The new preview of WindowsMedia.com Mobile provides mobile users with access to Windows Media audio and video content, which can be streamed to a Pocket PC over high-speed wireless Internet access such as Metricom's Ricochet Network or 802.11 Wireless LANs.
Other improvements offered with Windows Media Player for Pocket PC include:
Arel Communications and Software Ltd., a provider of interactive distance learning (IDL) solutions, has formed a strategic alliance with SGI. The two companies are launching a joint learning-on-demand solution, continUlearn, which integrates SGI's servers and Kasenna MediaBase media-streaming software with the Ideal suite of e-learning solutions from Arel. In addition, SGI and Arel will provide services for the implementation of distributed e-learning networks.
ContinUlearn is a browser-based, on-demand learning solution that incorporates synchronized audio, video and multimedia learning capabilities.
Compression Engine Technologies Inc. has introduced PixFire for Web developers, said to speeds the downloading of images from Internet Web sites by up to five times faster than JPEG.
The PC-based image compression software is available for download for $99 at http://www.pixfire.com.
CET claims PixFire can reduce a 2MB BMP or TIFF file to 20 KB (a ratio of 100:1) or smaller while maintaining excellent image quality. A comparable quality JPEG file for the same image would be up to five times larger (around 100 KB) than a PixFire file. PixFire can reportedly compress some images at ratios of up to 200:1 while still maintaining acceptable image quality.
PixFire comes with plug-ins for Web authoring programs as well as PhotoShop. Visitors to the Web site need a free browser plug-in to view the PixFire images.
Maxon last week released Cinema 4D XL Release 7. New features include improved anti-aliasing, fast radiosity, multipass rendering, surface and volume caustics, new materials controls and the inclusion of bhodiNUT's Smells Like Almonds shaders.
Cinema 4D XL Release 7 is available for Windows 95/98/ME/2000/NT, Mac OS 7.6.1+ and Mac OS X. The full version retails for $1695. Current users of Release 6 can upgrade for $395.
Discreet, a division of Autodesk, Inc., recently announced licensing agreements with game developers Microsoft and Microids to include gmax consumer customization tools as part of their upcoming game titles. The agreements offer Microsoft and Microids the ability to create gmax game packs for multiple game titles, providing developers the ability to offer a customizable environment within the game where consumers can create, modify and trade content with fellow players. Gmax is designed to let consumers stylize levels, actions, characters and objects in simulation, sports and first-person shooter titles.
Microsoft signed an agreement to create, publish and distribute gmax for their upcoming simulation series product releases, including Flight Simulator 2002 Professional Edition. Microids, based in Vélizy, France, has also finalized an agreement with Discreet to ship a gmax game pack for the upcoming 2002 edition of its tennis-themed PC game title.
Cambridge Animation Systems last week announced Animo for Mac OS X, Apple's next-generation operating system. Animo integrates 2D and 3D animation for development of feature films, animated television series, commercials, games and multimedia projects.
New versions of Animo for Mac OS X will offer the same functionality as their counterparts running on Windows and IRIX operating systems. Users will be able to exchange files among Animo systems running on the three major computing platforms.
3Q inc. recently announced 3Qlabs, a character-animation solution for game developers. Through digital acquisition of the human form, 3Qlabs offers solutions said to:
3Qlabs also announced its relationship with French-based Technodigit, a software developer for 3-D point cloud meshing and 3-D model customization. The partnership represents complementary technologies to enable game developers to tune 3D models to fit specific requirements. In addition, Technodigit will provide 3Qlabs with the systems integration expertise needed for the French gaming market.
3Q inc. specializes in 3D human form personalization technology for the electronic entertainment industry. Through its Q-Clone Generator devices located in Seattle, San Jose and Dallas, gamers are able to capture and customize a 3D image of their face, build a 3D game clone and upload it at home into PC games such as Quake III Arena.
The Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), located in Lagoa Nova, Brazil, has inaugurated a Virtual Reality Laboratory for 3D visualization of geological data as a decision-making tool for exploration of oil reserves.
Featuring an SGI Reality Center 3300W visualization facility and a Silicon Graphics Onyx2 InfiniteReality3 workstation, the UFRN laboratory reportedly lets researchers reduce the amount of time needed to complete key oil research projects from several months to a matter of days. These SGI visualization tools enable researchers to attain a higher degree of accuracy in reservoir simulation, analysis and 3D visualization of subsurface data.
"These technologies allow UFRN researchers and students to re-create geological features in 3D while acquiring knowledge in other disciplines, such as mathematics, physics, geology, medicine and engineering," explains Jose Carlos Gouveia, SGI's manager for Brazil.
O'Reilly Network Linux expert Chris Halsall says for those who need only a simple PDA to handle this week's appointments, the Agenda is not quite ready for prime time. But for geeks and developers, the Agenda VR3, which runs X Windows and lets you run terminal sessions, is worth considering. Halsall's full review is now available on O'Reilly Network's Linux DevCenter.
The Agenda VR3: Real Linux in a PDA
by Chris Halsall * 05/18/2001
In This Series
Linux on Your PDA
by Chris Halsall * 05/11/2001
If you're interested in the latest in Web 3D, check out this list of virtual personalities from Pulse 3D. Virtual personalities on business sites are designed to deliver and disperse information, guide consumers through a Web site, solve problems and answer questions in a more compelling, interactive and customized format than previously possible on a standard text-based Web site.
www.genie.de - The infamous "Baby Fred", for British Telecom's Genie Internet site, is the ultimate host/companion exploring the site with you -- fully animated and interactive.
To view the site with Fred:
Press the Green Button beneath Fred ("Click here for Baby Fred to start"). Unless you speak German, you're just getting a feel for the potential of virtual personalities. If you hang out with him for a while you see he holds up the "ja" or "nein" signs: click "ja" (accepting Fred as your guide). This is where Fred comes alive, talking about the weather forecast and upcoming events, walking you through site registration.
www.shebaspeaks.com - Sheba the World's First Virtual Astrologer from Pulse and 3D Door.
www.nutrisystem.com/preview/trainer/ - Nutrisystem's virtual trainer helps users to gain strength and accuracy by providing a 3D example of how to perform targeted exercises
www.lipsinc.com/cgw/davesnote.htm - Computer Graphics World chose to guide users through its latest with Virtual Dave
www.pulse3D.com - Pulse's mascot, Kermit the Frog, points out the features of the Pulse page, directing visitors to the gallery, product information page, etc.
Intel Corporation last week introduced its first generation of the Intel Xeon processors based on the NetBurst architecture. The processors will initially target high-performance and mid-range, dual-processor enabled workstations and ship at frequencies up to 1.7 GHz.
Intel expects Xeon-based workstations to achieve performance increases between 30 and 90 percent over systems featuring the Pentium III Xeon processor, depending on applications and configurations. The company expects dual-processor server platforms based on the Xeon processor to be available in the second half of 2001.
A number of workstation manufacturers, including Compaq, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, are expected to start shipping platforms based on the new processor
this quarter. According to International Data Corporation, Intel-based workstations made up more than 70 percent of all workstation shipments in the fourth quarter of 2000.
Workstations based on the new processors use the Intel NetBurst microarchitecture to deliver processing power for video, audio and the latest Internet technologies and 3D graphics. The Intel Xeon processor platform is based on the Intel 860 Chipset. This chipset features dual RDRAM memory banks to complement the
Xeon's 400 MHz system bus, which provides up to 3.2 gigabytes of data per second.
The Xeon processor at 1.7 GHz is priced at $406, the 1.5 GHz version at $309 and the 1.4 GHz at $268 in 1,000-unit quantities. All have 256 KB level 2 Advanced
Just out from Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. is Cool Boarders 2001 for PlayStation2. Gamers can maneuver through more than 20 courses across nine events, including the Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding. In addition to the Trickmaster, CBX, Downhill Checkpoint, Big Air, Board Park, Downhill Gates and Half Pipe play modes, the all-new Challenge Mode allows players to take on pros and amateur riders at a specific event, and by winning these events, unlock additional pro boarders, increased attributes, new courses and special moves. The game incorporates a new physics engine, and includes participation from pro riders through facial scans, motion capture, voice recordings and consultation on course layouts and in-game boards and gear.
Nintendo last week announced the U.S. suggested retail price of $199.95 for
its new video game console, Gamecube, launching November 5. The launch will six unspecified exclusive Nintendo titles, each with a MSRP of $49.95. Upcoming games include Animal Forest, Disney's Mickey, Donkey Kong Racing, Eternal Darkness, Kameo: Elements of Power, The Legend of Zelda, Mario Kart, Metroid Prime, NBA Courtside 2002, Raven Blade, Star Fox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet, and Wave Race Blue Storm.
Gamecube is scheduled to launch in Japan on September 14 and in Europe in early 2002.
Eidos PR forwarded us the following message last week from Warren Spector, project director, Deus Ex, and studio director, ION Austin (and one of the brightest game designers in the biz):
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly rumors spread in this business and how willing people are to accept rumor as fact. Right now, there are rumors circulating on the net that Deus Ex 2 and Thief 3 will ship on console first, with PC "ports" coming later. That is simply not true. Let me assure you that we have no plans to release a console version of DX2 or T3 before a PC version or to compromise one version to accommodate the needs of any other version we might develop. Both DX2 and T3 are a ways off -- making immersive simulations takes time! -- and official announcements regarding these projects will be made in the future. Until then, let me just say that the members of the DX2 and T3 teams, many of whom helped create the original Thief and Deus Ex, are determined to meet and surpass your justifiably high expectations. Everyone in this studio is as committed to making games like Underworld, System Shock, Thief and Deus Ex as you are committed to playing them. The vehemence with which you've expressed your concern is ample evidence that you love these games as much as we do. All I ask is that you trust us now as you always have in the past. You won't be disappointed...
Macromedia, Inc. last week announced the Macromedia Developer Conference (DevCon 2001), aimed at letting developers extend their ColdFusion and JRun skill sets and expand their knowledge base. Developers can now register for the conference, being held October 21-24 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and take advantage of an early registration fee of $895 per person -- $100 off the regular price. To register, go to http://www.macromedia.com/go/devcon.
DevCon 2001 will feature more than 65 technical and training sessions covering Macromedia ColdFusion and JRun development, server management, user interface creation with Macromedia Flash and Dreamweaver UltraDev, and Web development solutions. There will be workshops, panel discussions, product demonstrations and exhibits that provide an introduction to the Macromedia product family.
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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