2 October 2000
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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2netFX, a developer of media-streaming technology, will announce its ThunderCast/IP Server version 3.0 at Booth # 1031 at Streaming Media Europe 2000, October 10-12. The new server software delivers rich media content for multicast and video-on-demand applications.
Features includes remote management and scheduling, group and user targeting, datacasting integration, multiple live encoder support, FlashVideo "auto play" broadcasting, and EasyProducer controls. It also offers streaming support for MPEG-1, 2 and 4. It also includes integrated support for Microsoft's MPEG-4 Advanced Streaming Format (ASF) which can allow Internet streaming to users with dial-up connections as low as 28 Kbps.
Its MPEG-2 multi-encoder supports up to six live encoders to be controlled simultaneously from one server, lowering multiple stream delivery costs. It also supports multiserver/multithreaded operations and multiprocessor platforms.
2netFX claims ThunderCast's 2Stream technology virtually eliminates packet loss, video jitter, and high latency. With typical interjected latency of less than one second, buffer management issues associated with high-latency Internet-based streaming technologies in less than optimal satellite and WAN environments reportedly disappear.
If you enjoy how everybody's running and driving around talking into their cell phones nowadays, you'll love Conversa's newly enabled support for speech recognition and text-to-speech on the Microsoft Windows CE Pocket PC platform.
Conversa's solution for Pocket PC provides automated speech recognition and text-to-speech for command and control and application control. Web developers looking to offer speech-enhanced content on the Pocket PC platform can use the Conversa Web Conversation Development Kit (CDK) today, to speech-enable their Pocket PC-ready Web sites and test their applications. Developers can also use Conversa Web or Web Express as a simulation environment for speech-enhanced Pocket PC.
Both Conversa Web Express and the CDK can be downloaded at http://www.conversa.com.
Equilibrium last week introduced the MediaRich Publishing Platform, its server-based platform that automates the entire media publishing process for the Web. Rather than handle and process each image individually, MediaRich uses a scripting language (MediaScript) to modify original images at the server level, so that thousands of images can be generated and deployed automatically and on the fly, reportedly enabling vast content changes to be achieved with minimal effort.
Widevine Technologies (formerly Internet Direct Media) says its new Cypher product provides security for Internet distribution of digital streaming media-with minimal impact to content distributors and consumers.
Veon of San Francisco and Israel last week launched of VeonSuite 4.0, the latest version of its interactive rich-media assembly suite. Functions include creation, deployment, management and measuring the effectiveness of interactive programming.
VeonSuite 4.0 features:
The current buzz around peer-to-peer (P2P) services like Napster is dangerously distorted, says Tim O'Reilly, CEO of technical information firm O'Reilly & Associates. According to O'Reilly, "The music industry is positioning peer-to-peer as if it were an attack on copyright, when in fact, it's a technical approach that is fundamental to the architecture of the Internet, and a key component of many innovative new applications."
O'Reilly hosted a group of 20 leaders of the emerging P2P industry in an examination of the technology's promise and limitations at a day-long Peer-to-Peer Summit in San Francisco on September 19.
Participants agreed that peer-to-peer is much more than file sharing--it's a range of technologies that unlock the latent power of the network and make more effective use of Internet resouces. Summit participants are building this new network-powered paradigm through distributed computing (i.e. SETI@Home, Popular Power), Web services (Eazel, SOAP, and Microsoft .NET), content syndication (Meerkat), pervasive computing via internet enabled devices (Sun, Intel, Red Hat), and instant messaging (Jabber).
O'Reilly is following the Summit with the O'Reilly Peer-to-Peer Conference, February 14-16 at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco (http://conferences.oreilly.com/p2p), and "Peer-to-Peer: The Disruptive Potential of Collaborative Networking," a book of essays by peer-to-peer leaders on projects including Gnutella, InfraSearch, Jabber, Freenet, Popular Power, MojoNation, Publius, FreeHaven, Red Rover, and SETI@Home.
"Peer-to-Peer" editor Andy Oram reports on the Summit in "Peer-to-Peer Makes the Internet Interesting Again" on the O'Reilly Network (http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/linux/2000/09/22/p2psummit.html).
Summit participant and Byte.com columnist Jon Udell offers his perspective in "Peering: Remaking The P2P Meme: It's Not Just About Napster And Piracy" (http://www.byte.com/column/BYT20000922S0001).
Mailshell.com, free service to stop junk email, last week unveiled additional new features including an anonymous peer-to-peer sharing system for email content. Dubbed Mailshell Users Picks, the service lets users find, gather and trade online content via email, while allowing each party to remain private, anonymous and secure from junk email.
Mailshell creates a new, separate, spam-filtered, and anonymous email address - a mail shell - for each content channel users request and reveals only what the user has explicitly given permission to reveal. Much like the old person-to-person phone call, the system uses the mail shell address to match and authenticate the identity of the sender and recipient, rather than just the recipient's as with traditional email systems.
Last week's agreement between the 3D portal 3Dup.com and DeEspona Infografica (DeEspona.com) resulted in free distribution at http://3dup.com/highmodels of nine high-quality three-dimensional models from DeEspona Infografica. Examples include a 145 Kpoly lab rat and a 133-Kpoly seahorse, available in DXF and 3D Studio formats. These are some of the best-looking free meshes we've seen.
LuraTech Inc. last week announced the integration of its wavelet compression technology into IrfanView version 3.25, freeware for viewing digital graphics for Windows. The 32-bit viewer can now display and edit LuraTech's file formats LuraWave and LuraDocument. IrfanView 3.25 can be downloaded at: http://softwarecenter.net/irfanview/english.htm. The plug-ins folder for IrfanView can be downloaded at: http://softwarecenter.net/irfanview/plugins.html.
When viewing LuraWave images in IrfanView or in Internet browsers, users can zoom, rotate, and specify the amount of image data to view. Other features include password protection, progressive data loading, and thumbnail image preview.
Vizacom Inc.'s Harvard Graphics Advanced Presentations is a new version of its flagship Harvard Graphics presentation software product that brings several new features in presentation design to corporate business users.
New features include:
shockwave.com last week announced its new fall lineup, including Tim Burton's animated series "Stainboy." Additional fall content includes the game BLiX; a Shockwave single from Madonna; and episode 4 of "Radiskull and Devil Doll."
BLiX combines techno music and ambient sound with a puzzle design and rave-like aesthetic. Named after the astronaut BLiX, the game is deceptively simple, as players use skill and strategy to ricochet pong-like balls into a cup before time runs out. Winner of the Best Audio at the Game Developers Conference's 2000 Independent Games Festival, BLiX was designed and produced by the New York City-based gameLab exclusively for shockwave.com. The first 100 levels will be released this October, with hundreds more levels expected to appear on the site in coming weeks.
Science fiction? You might think so. But the O'Reilly Network's article on Computer Vision will open your eyes to some amazing technology developments.
Program Your Computer to See
by Chris Halsall
Computer Vision has been in development for 30 years. Now, thanks to improvements in computing performance, memory size, and camera technology, some of what used to be confined to the labs or the writer's imagination is becoming practical for the home or office. The applications possible with Computer Vision are literally limitless-- they're already successfully using it with OCR, handwriting interpretation, gesture recognition, face tracking, and security.
On Sept. 13, Intel made its Open Source Computer Vision Library available for the Linux platform -- a move that should accelerate CV development.
Chris Halsall introduces you to CV and its applications in this article, as well as the one listed below. As Chris writes, "None of it is magic; it just seems that way at first."
Also of interest:
How the CamCal Program Works By Chris Halsall http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/linux/2000/09/22/camcal.html
What may be the definitive work on 3D technology on the Web was recently published by Prentice Hall. In Core Web3D's 1,100 pages, authors Aaron E. Walsh and Mikael Bourges-Sevenier cover VRML97, Java 3D, and the new MPEG-4 and X3D technologies in great detail. This is primarily a programmer's book, but it also offers great overviews for those wishing to learn about the topic and compare the various technologies. Because it's core oriented, it doesn't really address the issue of streaming 3D, but that's probably worth a book in itself. Included are forewords by VRML pioneers Mark Pesce and Tony Parisi.
Coming soon from book publisher Charles River Media are the following 3D graphics titles:
Charles River also informs us that, unfortunately, Sanford Kennedy's book project Photo Realistic Character Animation has been cancelled.
Evans Data Corporation's recently released Linux Developers Survey shows a 75% increase in XML usage among Linux developers over the past six months.
This survey, released last week, is the second volume of EDC's continuing Linux Developers Survey series, a study of over 300 Linux Developers interviewed in August 2000.
The survey shows that over 28% of respondents are using XML today compared to only 16% last spring. In addition, forecasts for future XML use have increased 20% over the last 6 months.
The study found that more Linux developers use XML than the general developer community as seen in the continuing North American Developers Survey series (April 2000). In addition to a higher current use of XML, Linux developers also showed more enthusiasm towards the future of XML than that seen among general developers.
The survey contains data on the percentage of time developers spend using each language. These results reveal that 27% of Linux developers use XML up to half of their time. Developers expect an increase next year, when 36% expect to use it up to half of their time.
Further, results show that Java usage is also rising among Linux developers. Today, 54% use Java compared to 48% last spring. Respondents were also more enthusiastic about their expectations to use Java next year -- comparison of the two Linux surveys show over 10% increase in projected use over the last 6 months.
The Linux Developer Survey research series focuses exclusively on Linux developers and is conducted twice a year. With 140 pages and 10 chapters, it presents more data on Linux developers than ever before available. Research analysis and commentary is by Albion Butters. For the complete table of contents, see http://www.evansdata.com/Linux2TOC.html
The Internet privacy issue is hotter than ever and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future, as Internet users, online companies and lawmakers look for the right balance of law, self-regulation and technology tools to enhance user control and protect privacy.
In response to this growing interest, the non-profit Center for Democracy and Technology has expanded its Guide to Online Privacy. The Privacy Guide includes:
The expanded guide is at http://www.cdt.org/privacy/guide/
In addition to the Guide, the CDT Privacy Pages have been reorganized, expanded and updated. Detailed information is now more easily available concerning privacy issues for children, medical privacy, financial privacy, online profiling, legislation, as well as a history of past privacy issues such as the Lexis-Nexis P-Track controversy.
Macromedia last week filed counterclaims in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware against Adobe Systems, Inc. for infringement of several Macromedia patents. This action was taken in direct response to Adobe's initiation of a lawsuit against Macromedia for allegedly infringing two Adobe patents. Macromedia believes that the claims made in the Adobe lawsuit are without merit.
Specifically, Macromedia counterclaimed against Adobe for infringing three Macromedia patents:
Adobe's complaint, initially filed on August 10, alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,546,528 by tabbed palette features of certain Macromedia products. On September 18, Adobe amended its complaint to include an additional claim of infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,084,597 by image rendering features of Macromedia Dreamweaver and Macromedia Flash products.
Macromedia reaffirmed its denial of patent infringement claims in its answer to Adobe's amended complaint, which was filed with Macromedia's counterclaims.
Just out from Activision and developer Raven Software is the PC action game Star Trek: Voyager Elite Force. Powered by the Quake III: Arena engine, the game puts players on the front lines as a member of a new elite fighting force - The Hazard Team. Charged with saving Voyager, her crew and the Delta Quadrant from a threatening alien enemy, gamers must battle against both new and familiar enemies, including the Borg, Klingons, Hirogen and more.
Star Trek: Voyager Elite Force puts players in the role of Ensign Munro, second in command of Voyager's elite Hazard Team security force and challenges them to battle through eight missions that span over 40 levels.
We've been playing the game, and have to say that it brings new life to the dusty first-person shooter genre with its depiction of conflict among the crew, level of excitement, and authentic recreation of the Voyager and other ships. I mean, haven't you ever wanted to wander around a Borg cube? Sure, there's not a lot you can interact with, but the designers did a great job of making you feel like you're really there, plus nice touches like the ability to zoom in on enemy targets and switch weapons with the mouse scroll wheel. Bottom line: It's good, addictive fun.
Sony Computer Entertainment America had good news and bad news for potential PlayStation 2 owners last week. The bad news, blamed on component supply shortages, was that retailers would get only 500,000 units for sale by the launch date of October 26; half the original estimate. On the other hand, Sony promises 100,000 a week thereafter per week through the holiday season. By Christmas, Sony says it will have shipped a total of 1.3 million PS2s into the North American Market.
The good news was that Sony and its third-party publishers are on track to ship 26 software titles for PS2 at launch, with over 50 (total) promised in time for the holidays. Sony also said that 270 titles are currently in development, and 301 content developers have signed up to create titles for the system. Following is a list of titles Sony and others announced last week, with projected ship date, publisher, developer (if available), and a brief description:
Newly available from Microsoft is Midtown Madness 2, with more racing challenges, two new locations -- London and San Francisco -- and 10 new urban roadsters. The sequel also features the new single-player Crash Course Mission mode where budding drivers can learn and improve their skills by racing as a Hollywood stunt driver on location at a San Francisco movie set or as a trainee at the Imperial Cabbie Academy in London.
The campy new urban roadsters include the Audi TT and a cherry-red Freightliner fire truck and the enhanced physics engine allows racing on two wheels and mastering the hand brake, power slides and more. In addition, damage modeling has been improved, allowing breakaway parts and better damage detail.
Tiny North Carolina-based indie publishing outfit GarageDeveloper International has announced new game titles developed by independent developers worldwide. Aimed at the value sector, GarageDeveloper International's games operate on Microsoft Windows platforms and utilize Microsoft's Direct X graphics technology. The games are priced in the $9.99 to $39.99 range.
The lineup includes:
Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer is one of 14 games that Activision currently has in development for the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system. Slater is working with Activision to develop the title and is also a spokesperson for the game.
The game lets players ride down huge wave faces and into barreling tubes as they surf as Kelly Slater or one of eight pro surfers pulling off insane moves in exotic real-world locations. Features include changing wave conditions and multiple modes of play including Career Mode, Special Events, and Surf Trip. A variety of real surf moves, tricks, and events, licensed boards, wetsuits and clothing and a top music soundtrack add to the game's authenticity.
The company also says it is in development on two X-MEN titles for the new platform, a fighting game and an action-RPG.
Midway Games last week shipped "Destruction Derby Raw" for the PlayStation game console. Developed by Studio 33 Ltd., "Destruction Derby Raw" maintains the heritage of the original, million-selling "Destruction Derby" while implementing new features like customizable vehicles, new game modes like the Skyscraper mode and multiplayer games. Other features include 31 tracks, 19 customizable vehicles, and an enhanced collision system with spins, flips and rolls.
Skyscraper mode lets racers to shove opponents from rooftops or get shoved off; Destruction mode allows racers to incinerate opponents' cars; Assault mode allows racers to battle it out head-to-head; and Crazy Tracks allows racers to perform death-defying stunts.
THQ Inc. and Disney Interactive last week released "Disney's The Little Mermaid II" for the PlayStation game console. The game combines the stories of both "Disney's The Little Mermaid" and the new direct-to-video "The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea" movie in addition to featuring more than 30 minutes of movie footage. Joining original characters Ariel, Flounder, Ursula, Sebastian and Triton are newly introduced Melody, Ariel's daughter, and Morgana, Ursula's evil sister.
Players can assume the role of either Ariel or Melody. The game features 15 3D underwater and land-based levels with secret areas to explore, puzzles to solve, treasures to collect, enemies to avoid, characters to interact with, and bonus mini-games.
New Zealand-based Deep Video Imaging Limited (DVI) has won an international research and development (R&D100) award for its 3D liquid crystal display (LCD) screens.
Coined "The Oscars of Invention" by the Chicago Tribune, R&D 100 awards are issued to the 100 most technologically significant new products of the year by R&D Magazine.
Utilizing multiple layers of LCD screens, DVI reportedly displays images at "actual depth of field" (?) to deliver a 3D effect at virtually any viewing angle without the need for special glasses or head-tracking devices.
Richard Landry, CEO and editor in chief of NewMedia.com, announced that Will Wright, chief designer and co-founder of Maxis, will be presented with the Invisionary Award at this year's NewMedia Invision 2000 Festival. Each year, an Invisionary Award is given to three people who have pushed the limits of digital media to realize their creative vision and, in the process, have revolutionized the way digital content is created, packaged, and delivered.
"With The Sims series, Will Wright created an entirely new genre of interactive entertainment, where the user directs the storyline and has ultimate control over the experience," Landry said.
The other two recipients will be Robert M. Greenberg, chairman and chief creative officer of R/GA Digital Studios, a design and production company specializing in new media and the creative integration of film, video, and computer-imaging techniques, and Norm Meyrowitz, president of Macromedia Ventures, a business designed to incubate and fund Web digital media and broadband Internet startups.
The NewMedia Invision Festival (http://www.newmedia.com/invision) takes place November 1-3 at the Sheraton Palace Hotel in San Francisco. The Festival incorporates a series of information and networking events, including the NewMedia INVISION Awards gala, where digital media projects are honored, and the INVISION Conference, three days of keynotes, panel discussions, interviews, and debates for senior-level digital media professionals.
If you hurry, you can still get to the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose, Calif., where at this very moment folks are checking out the latest developments in XML technology. It's a four-day technical program and a two-day expo, with sessions covering topics including XML schemas, XLink, XSLT, messaging, stylesheets, B2B XML, XML enterprise development, and XML & EDI.
IMX is the nation’s largest interactive music conference and exposition that caters to the artists and musicians while incorporating labels, studios and technology executives. It takes this week at the L.A. Convention Center, October 3-4.
Over 15,000 streaming media professionals and enthusiasts will be in attendance at the Streaming Media West 2000 conference to be held in San Jose's McEnery Convention Center, December 12-14. The convention provides information and exhibits on the latest in streaming technology, the Broadband Content Marketplace presenting a gallery of streaming content, six keynote speakers, and over 200 panelists.
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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