WebShocker 2.2 (MAC)
WebShocker 2.2 is, according to its publisher, "The world's most powerful and comprehensive Web Animation production tool." It's long list of features certainly makes it a prime candidate for such a distinction, since the program incorporates just about every capability that would be considered useful for Web-based animation production.
Animations from 1 to 24 bits, and in sizes up to 800 x 800 pixels can be created. The user has access to powerful and easy-to-use image editing tools that rival those of standalone paint programs. The animation process includes onion skinning, and several painting tool options, such as a brush shape editor. As well as creating original art from within the program, the user can import a wide variety of file formats, including Photoshop, PICT, GIF, GIF Animation, JPEG, BMP, AVI, MPEG, and others. Images can also be imported directly from scanners and digital cameras using the File>Scanner/Camera>Acquire menu selection. Completed animations are exported using the Animation Export Assistant, which provides control over every aspect of the export process, and supports GIF animation, QuickTime, and Java Animation. The user can optimize the export to achieve the smallest and most optimal file size. $49
Contact: RecoSoft Corp., Utsubo-Hommachi 2-9-11, Nish-Ku, Osaka, Japan 550, 81 6 644-0015, http://www.recosoft.com, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 81 6 6443-1458.
File Management Reviews
Macintosh Explorer (MAC)
Macintosh Explorer is a shareware program that provides a full-featured file browser. It simplifies the process of locating one or more files held on any number of hard drives (including viewing invisible files) and managing them, i.e. copying, deleting, archiving, displaying information, viewing or playing (images, movies, text), etc. $15
Contact: Rage Software, http://www.ragesw.com, e-mail: email@example.com.
DAVE for Mac OS X provides a complete solution for sharing and printing files on a PC network. The software enables bidirectional file sharing between Windows and Macintosh computers, including files in excess of 2GB, and files with names longer than 31 characters. The start-up requires only that the user install DAVE on their Macintosh. It supports connections to Windows NT 4 or later, and Windows 95, 98, 2000, Me, and XP, as well as other CIFS compliant servers. Both PostScript and inkjet printers can be shared. $149
Contact: Thursby Software Systems, Inc., 5840 W. Interstate 20, Arlington, TX 76017, 817 478-5070, WWW: http://www.thursby.com, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 817 561-2313.
eComm PRO (WIN )
eComm PRO is a complete turn-key e-commerce solution that enables a user's Web site to conduct business 24/7, with secure order management, credit card processing, an easily created and maintained product database (containing images, descriptions, shipping information, etc.), predefined and custom design styles, incorporation with existing sites, and more. The user need not possess programming skills or access to CGIs. Unlike other products, the software works with any Web host and Internet Service Provider. The PRO version does not require monthly fees. The eComm Store version for $39.95 requires a monthly fee of $15. The PRO version is $395.
eMedia Guitar Method 1 (version 2) (MAC/WIN)
With version 2 of its flagship Guitar Method CD-ROM, eMedia has taken a large step closer to perfecting computer-assisted guitar instruction. The new CD-ROM focuses on two facets of guitar instruction that commonly challenge beginners -- mapping a displayed fretboard onto one's own guitar and keeping up with a recorded song when learning it for the first time. The animated fretboard that has always been a part of eMedia's products can now be reversed (simulating an instructor facing the user), or turned upside-down (creating a mirror image of the user's guitar). The more than 70 included songs can be played at various speeds, allowing users to start with a slow rendition and graduate to full speed.
Additionally, the new version contains updated lessons and a few new topics. As always, the product offers an excellent and complete introduction to the guitar. (SJK) $59.95
Contact: eMedia Music Corp., 664 NE Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98105, 206 329-5657, http://www.emediamusic.com.
Marc Saltzman's Top 250 Games for Palm OS (PILOT)
Marc Saltzman's Top 250 Games for Palm OS is a hand-selected collection of games for Palm OS handheld devices in the following categories: action/arcade; puzzle, word and trivia; sports and racing; card and casino; adventure and role-playing; and strategy. Included are trial versions, demos, shareware, and freeware software. $20
Smart Layout v1.0 (MAC)
Smart Layout v1.0 is a plug-in for Adobe InDesign that can increase the productivity of users whose layouts consist of multiple frames, or multiple columns per article. Typically these users are newspapers, magazines, and catalog and database publishers.
The program adds the Article Concept to InDesign, wherein several elements common to an article, such as the head, intro, and body are dealt with as a unit, rather than separately, as they typically are in InDesign. The software adds the Smart Layout Tool to the InDesign toolbox. The tool allows the designer to draw frames that intelligently interact with existing page design, so that new items flow around those already on the page, leaving a gutter of space horizontally, and a baseline vertically. Any Smart Layout frame can have both a Smart Border and fill.
Elements (including images) that are placed inside a Smart Layout frame become part of the Smart Layout...when the frame is moved, they move with it. Smart Layout items, or frames, reform when elements are added or removed. Because the elements move within their the Smart Layout item, they can be resized easily, moving, for example, from a two column layout to three. Individual columns can also be interactively resized. The program also incorporates a Smart Grid so that the grid used within a Smart Layout can be different than that used on the InDesign page.
The Smart Tagging feature enables automatic formatting and the use of XML. The meta data that is attached to elements inside an item, such as the head, intro, and body, can be used in combination with WoodWing's Smart Styles to easily reformat the appearance of any item. The program also has additional features. $429
Contact: WoodWing Software, Dijkven 27, 1504 DB Zaandam, The Netherlands, +31 63 16 27 966, http://www.woodwing.com, e-mail: email@example.com, fax: +31 20 86 70 350. In U.S.: 888 563-3427, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sapphire Brushes Vol. 2 (MAC/WIN)
Sapphire Brushes Vol. 2 is a set of 1400 brushes for Photoshop. Described by its publisher as a collection consisting of "...dotty, spirals, starry, shimmering, smudges, wet edged, sharp, fuzzy, paintlike brushes, scratchy, wired, layered, warped brushes...." Price not listed.
Contact: Sapphire Innovations/Terrapin Mail Order, PO Box 21870, Fulham, London, SW6 2FL, United Kingdom, (0044) 0207 795-2714, e-mail: email@example.com, http://www.sapphire-innovations.com.
Reference Source Reviews
Encyclopedia Britannica 2002 (MAC/WIN)
The Encyclopedia Britannica 2002 DVD is an expanded edition containing the 32-volume set of books, the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th Edition with 200,000 definitions), a world atlas, and more. The encyclopedia, the world standard since 1768, contains over 80,000 articles, 55 million words, 16,400 photos and maps, and over seven hours of video and audio. One year of updates, delivered over the Internet, is included. The DVD is a magnificent example of multimedia publishing, with multiple search facilities, over 300,000 related Web links, and so much more. $69.95
Monitor Calibration and Testing Reviews
DisplayMate Multimedia Edition (WIN )
DisplayMate Multimedia Edition is a part of a family of products that have become the industry standard for evaluating image and picture quality on computer monitors and displays. The user is provided with a collection of proprietary patterns (300 test patterns and 200 additional test pattern variations) that can be used to test CRTs, analog and digital LCDs and plasma displays, video projectors, TVs and HDTVs, NTSC/PAL television encoders and decoders, video boards, and color printers. The user can customize, control and automate the software using its command scripts. $495
Contact: DisplayMate Technologies Corp., POB 550, Amherst, NH 03031, 800 932-6362, 603 672-8500, http://www.displaymate.com, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 603 672-8640.
Lynn Kyle's Macromedia Dreamweaver Training Course (MAC/WIN)
Lynn Kyle's Macromedia Dreamweaver Training Course is a training program on CD-ROM consisting of 62 video demonstrations of techniques that will inform both the novice and professional. Within the three hour course the student will learn about working with text and images, creating tables, using layers, hand-coding HTML, using CSS to control layouts, managing a site, and much more. The course includes an electronic version of Essential Macromedia Dreamweaver 4 for Web Professionals. A printed course guide is included. ISBN: 0-13-042832-9. $69.99
Contact: Prentice Hall PTR, One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458, http://www.prenhall.com.
Storage Device Reviews
LaCie 32x10x40 CD-RW (MAC/WIN)
The LaCie 32x10x40 is the fastest CD-RW on the market. It is a FireWire/USB device, providing hot-swappability so that the host computer need not be shut down, or turned off when the drive is added or removed. The drive incorporates BURN-Proof(tm) (Buffer Under Run) protection, which eliminates the possibility of buffer overruns which can ruin a recording session and render the CD-R media unusable. The technology, which LaCie was among the first to provide to the market, ensures that the drive can record at its highest rated speed. The drive supports CD-R, CD-RW, CD-ROM, CD-I, CD-Audio, CD-ROM XA, CD-DA, Photo CD, CD-G, CD-Text, CD-Extra, Video CD. Recording software is included. $269
Contact: LaCie, 22985 NW Evergreen Parkway, Hillsboro, OR 97124, 503 844 4500, http://www.lacie.com, fax: 503 844 4508.
Design Volume 8 (MAC/WIN)
Fonthead Design Volume 8 is a new collection of innovative and original typeface designs provided in both PostScript and TrueType formats for Macintosh and Windows. The typeface selections consist of a variety of designs that run the gamut from decidedly old (Old Glory), to futuristic (Fighter Pilot), to casually cursive (French Roast), to informally fun (ButterFinger). The entire volume is modestly priced at $30, and the full Fonthead colle ction, which is worth a close look, is only $199.
Contact: Fonthead Design, 306 Prospect Ave., Wilmington, DE 19803-1827, http://www.fonthead.com, e-mail: email@example.com, fax: 419 735-2207.
Fireworks 4 (MAC/WIN)
Fireworks 4 is the latest version of the first application produced specifically for the creation of Web graphics. The original version dealt with the problems inherent in the Web page production workflow, i.e., building image maps, slicing graphics and creating HTML tables to rejoin them, compressing images, creating rollovers, and optimizing images. Over time the program has matured into a professional Web graphics design and production tool.
Fireworks 4 incorporates sophisticated tools for both bitmap and vector graphics that support the creation, editing, and animation of graphics as well as the addition of interactivity, and the implementation of efficient image optimization. It works seamlessly with other Macromedia applications, the most important of which, in a Web publishing workflow, is Dreamweaver.
The program supports the importation of graphics from popular applications, such as Photoshop, FreeHand or Illustrator, as well as from image capture devices such as digital cameras and scanners. The user is provided with a complete image editing environment and codeless button and menu creation capability. Among the other key features in this upgrade are: incorporation of a consistent Macromedia user interface; an enhanced masking and layers panel; a refined Photoshop import/export functionality; improved controls for creating live animations; a step-by-step Batch Processing Wizard; roundtrip table editing with Dreamweaver; and selective compression of various portions of the same JPEG image. $299
Dreamweaver 4 (MAC/WIN)
Dreamweaver 4 is the newest version of this venerable and trusted Web authoring application. Dreamweaver's fame comes in part from its multimodal viewing of both the design and code view of each page's content. Users can create pages codelessly using the WYSIWYG design window, write code in the HTML code window, or move seamlessly between them. This latest version has a Code View which provides access to the new integrated Text Editor, with syntax coloring, tag balancing, and auto indenting. Users can also use the new Split View, in which both the code and design views are displayed at the same time.
In addition, the new Layout View incorporates some of the page layout functionality of desktop publishing applications, such as drawing directly on the screen and combining table elements. Users can also maintain, manage and access all of the media assets associated with a particular site using the new Asset Panel. The graphics and HTML editing process has been streamlined through the use of roundtrip graphics editing between Dreamweaver and Fireworks.
As the Web authoring process has matured and grown in sophistication, so has the knowledge base required for its effective use. To address this need, Dreamweaver 4 now contains content derived from O'Reilly Publications' Definitive DHTML Reference book. The code reference provides complete and immediate information in the Integrated O'Reilly Code Reference.
Dreamweaver users also benefit from the Macromedia Exchange, an on-line clearing house for userful program extensions for Dreamweaver, Flash and Fireworks. $299
Dreamweaver UltraDev 4 (MAC/WIN)
Dreamweaver UltraDev 4 is an application that extends the Web authoring functionality of Dreamweaver (see review in this issue) to include the rapid development of Web pages that can connect to databases. It simplifies the deployment of ASP, JSP and CFML sites. Web developers can use the Live Data Preview to see live data directly in the workspace, and connect to databases on the user's Web server using Remote Database Connectivity. $599
SubmitWolf Pro (WIN )
SubmitWolf Pro is a full-featured Web site promotion program that automates the process of making a Web site users' pages visible to Internet search engines. The program is capable of registering a user's site with thousands of search engines and directories in addition to over 500,000 link pages. It helps a user to increase traffic to their site by making their site more visible in the places where potential visitors are likely to search. The program extracts necessary information from the target site, and helps to build a profile that can be used for registering the site with a wide variety of engines and links. The program returns a status report showing the listing status at each target. The program provides suggestions for increasing site visibility, building metatags, and the option to ensure higher visibility by paying for a Priority Submission Service. $95
SiteMapper (WIN )
SiteMapper, as the name implies, is a program that creates a detailed map of a user's site showing all associated resources by page and category. As it builds its map it checks links and locates any that are broken. It is a handy program for presenting a visual picture of a site of any complexity. $45
Trellian Button Factory (WIN )
Trellian Button Factory is a complete environment for creating custom buttons, banners, icons, and logos for Web sites, multimedia projects, and printed matter, such as letterheads and business cards. The program provides extensive image and shape libraries whose art that can be modified in style, size, shape and color. In addition, the user can import images from other sources, and incorporate them in new designs. The flexibility of the program makes it useful for creating presentations, slides, flow charts, image maps, menus, and other graphic arrangements. $45
DeBabilizer Pro 5 for Mac OS X (MAC)
DeBabilizer Pro 5 for Mac OS X is the standard for processing digital assets for cross-media publishing. It is the essential application for preparing images, animations and digital video for use in almost any form of mediaprint, Web, multimedia, wireless, and game development. Its strength is in its automation of file format conversions, which relieves the user of repetitive and time-consuming editing, optimization and file translation.
DeBabilizer provides an end-to-end solution, from image acquisition to conversion. Images and video frames can be acquired from practically any source: a digital camera, scanner, FTP site, CD-ROM, HTML file (extracting the graphics), etc. Any of its vast editing operations can be applied automatically to any number of images, animations, or digital videos. After modifications have been applied, such as scaling, flipping, rotating, trimming, resizing; or changing the intensity, contrast, gamma, hue, saturation, and brightness; the files are optimized for their target platform, applying any of dozens of built-in palettes and four dithering options. The processed files are then converted to any of over 100 different file formats. The workflow can also include outputting separated CMYK files.
This latest version capitalizes on the strengths of the Mac OS X environment, taking advantage of its speed, and applying its scripting features for executing sophisticated image conversion operations. With the addition of pre-scripted hot folders, onto which a user can drag and drop any number of files, the program has become a powerful digital workflow tool, providing unrivaled batch processing. Experienced users can apply AppleScript to initiate complex workflows.
Among the program's unique features is Superpalette(tm) technology which allows artists and image specialists to create an optimized color palette that can be applied to a series of images automatically. This provides users with unprecidented control over color depth and palette optimization, and results in the smallest size, yet best looking, graphics obtainable for any given method of delivery.
Users also benefit from a rich set of features that include: the automatic generation of Web catalog pages; the automatic embedding of Digimarc(R) watermarks; blue screen removal on entire videos or animations; multiple options for automating the entire conversion process (hot folders, ProScripts Wizard, WatchMe, and more); and numerous other capabilities. A Windows version is also available. $699.95
Contact: Equilibrium, 1101 Fifth Ave., Suite 200, San Rafael, CA 94901, http://www.equilibrium.com, fax: 415 259-0726.
FreeHand 10 (MAC/WIN)
FreeHand 10 is the latest version of the program introduced in 1988. This version reflects the trend among FreeHand users to produce graphics for the Web. In a recent survey, Macromedia found that 70-80 percent of traditional print designers are producing images for Web publishing. FreeHand 10 incorporates new tools that extend the digital workflow to include Web production. Macromedia describes these individuals as "multi-publishing professionals."
FreeHand 10 uses Master Pages and its unique "infinite workspace" to create multiple-page documents. With the use of the FreeHand 10 URL Editor, the user can add hyperlinks and hot spots to multiple pages within a document. All of the popular Web standards, including HTML, PNG, GIF and JPEG are supported.
FreeHand 10 creations can be utilized for print, the Web, and new electronic communication devices. Output from FreeHand can be imported into Macromedia Flash 5, preserving layer information and master pages, and enhancing the file with additional animation, interactivity, and sound.
Among the most significant new features in this release are: true contour gradients (to create depth and highlights); symbol-based brush and spray strokes; embedded fonts in Mac and Windows EPS files; a Flash Player window for instant review of movies within FreeHand; industry-standard IPTC header file support for cataloging information; enhanced support for PDF, HTML and .SWF export; new Web page sizes; and much more. $399
After Effects 5.0 (MAC/WIN)
After Effects 5.0 is considered the standard desktop application for the creation of special visual effects and motion graphics for use in film and video, dynamic Web publishing, and multimedia productions. This version provides the user with unprecedented controls for importing and manipulating images; creating masks (using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator paths as masks or animations paths); converting 2D layers to 3D; controlling layer position, camera angles, and lighting; applying more than 80 effects plug-ins; and much more. $649
Contact: Adobe Systems Inc., 345 Park Ave., San Jose, CA 95110-2704, 408 536-6000, http://www.adobe.com, fax: 408 537-6000.
Image Collection Reviews
The Big Box of Art (MAC/WIN)
The Big Box of Art contains an extraordinary collection of wholly owned royalty-free digital image content (215,000 images for Macintosh, 350,000 for Windows). Content consists of vector and raster clipart, illustrations, professional black-and-white and color stock photos, Web graphics, animations, textured photos, Hemera(tm) Photo-Objects(tm), and more. Photo-Objects are high-quality photographs that have had their backgrounds removed, and function like clipart, providing the opportunity for easy compositing.
Items in the collection can be selected using either the printed image catalog (750 pages included with the Macintosh edition) or the Hemera award-winning search engine.
A unique feature of the package is the inclusion of the PhotoFont Maker, a program that enables the user to add photo-realistic textures to their fonts. 500 PhotoFont textures are provided. The Windows version also includes the CD Designs Creator and Greeting Card Creator. The Windows version is $29.95, and the Macintosh version is $69.95.
Contact: Hemera Technologies, 490 St. Joseph Blvd., Hull, Quebec, Canada J8Y 3Y7, 819 772-8200, http://www.hemera.com, fax: 819 778-6252.
Making Awesome iMovies (MAC)
Making Awesome iMovies is a CD-ROM-based course that details the entire process of making a digital video production. Using Apple's free iMovie application, a DV camcorder, and an Apple Macintosh, a user has all of the components of an all digital desktop movie studio.
The CD is a well-staged, covering all of the operations inherent in planning a production, operating the camcorder, staging the shoot, and arranging lighting and sound. The instruction is clear, concise and entertaining. It is the best introductory program on this subject that we've seen. It is obvious that the producers are talented and knowledgeable.
The CD shows the planning and execution of an actual video production, which is then used as the content for a 45 minute tutorial on the use of Apple iMovie. Viewers see how the production is assembled, with the use of professional editing techniques. The example includes the use of titles, filters, special effects, transitions, music and sound effects. The modest price is one of the best investments an aspiring movie producer can make. $29.95
Final Cut Pro PowerStart 2 (MAC)
Final Cut Pro PowerStart 2 is a two CD-ROM training course aimed at educating the beginner, and refining the skills of the professional. It uses a unique training method in which each defined skill element is presented as a \"chunk\" of information. This Chunkalized(tm) (patent pending) approach makes it much easier for the learner to control the flow of information, and work at their own pace. There is also a live link from the learner's desktop classroom to DVcreators.net instructors for asking questions. The course is considered to be the equivalent of a 5-day hands-on workshop, but of course, can be stretched or compressed to suit the learner, and replayed indefinitely.
The instruction takes place while the user works within his or her own Final Cut Pro environment. The learner can move easily between the instruction and the application. The content is quite thorough, beginning with the process of setting up the editing environment, and moving through the entire post-production process, with an emphasis on Hollywood editing aesthetics. It is a highly professional course in every respect. It is very reasonably priced at $79.95
Secrets of Final Cut Pro, Vol. 1 (MAC)
Secrets of Final Cut Pro, Vol. 1 is a CD-ROM-based collection of 20 eye-catching, professional digital video effects. It is aimed at both professionals and less-experienced video editors who want to add visual punch to their productions.
Each effect is shown in the disc's "table of contents," and is supported with a comprehensive tutorial that leads the learner, step-by-step, through its creation. The process is Chunkalized (tm), DVcreators' patent-pending learning process by which the learner controls every aspect of their instruction. According to DVcreators: "your virtual instructor doesn't move on until you're ready."
The effects that are presented are useful for a wide range of projects, and include several titling and Hollywood-style effects. $79.95
FAXstf X (MAC)
FAXstf X provides an integrated solution for faxing from within Mac OS X. Virtually any application that can print, can fax. The software works with the Mac OS X Address Book, making it unnecessary to maintain multiple contact lists. The user simply drags and drops addresses from the Mac OS X Address Book into the FAXstf Print Dialog Address pane. Among the key features of the program are: viewing faxes at 10% up to 1600%, support for up to 256 shades of gray, viewing current faxing status from the Dock, viewing and managing faxes from the Fax Browser, and more. $89.95
Contact: Smith Micro Software, 51 Columbia, Aliso Viejo, CA 92626, 800 700-1299, http://www.smithmicro.com.
Suitcase 10 (MAC)
Suitcase 10 , now OS X compatible, is a complete font management program supporting the use of thousands of fonts. It provides control over fonts regardless of whether the user is working in OSX or Classic mode. Font format support has been expanded to include Open Type, Windows TrueType, and the new dfont (Apple-only) format.
Among the most significant new features are: Auto Activation, which turns on fonts when documents containing them are opened; automatic or manual font conflict handling; access to font sets using either the OS X dock or OS 9 Control Strip rather than the Suitcase application; font collection for output; Live Font Reviews of active and inactive fonts singly or in a group in a variety of formats (paragraph, alphabet, waterfall, or QuickType(tm) (user input text); inclusion of LemkeSoft Fontbook for printing attractive font sample pages; font sorting by name, foundry, suitcase, or alpha order; MenuFonts for customizing the appearance of font menus; and more. $99.95
Contact: Creative Pro.com, Extensis Products Group, 1800 S.W. First Ave., Suite 500, Portland, OR 97201, 800 796-9798, 503 274-2020, http://www.creativepro.com, http://www.extensis.com, fax: 503 274-0530.
SplashWallet Suite for Palm OS (PILOT)
SplashWallet Suite for Palm OS is the digital equivalent of a wallet, containing the valuable papers (information), financial information, and family photos usually stored in an individual's wallet. The software consists of three parts: SplashID, for input of personal identification information such as user names, passwords, and PIN numbers; SplashMoney, for recording and tracking personal finances (with uploads from Quicken and MS Money); and SplashPhoto, for the storage and display of photos. $29.95
Internet Cleanup 2.0 (WIN )
Internet Cleanup 2.0 provides the tools necessary for removing Internet-related data that reflects an individual's Web use. The software simplifies the process for removing browser history, cache, unwanted cookies, spyware, recent lists, hidden references, ActiveX controls and plug-ins, downloaded files, etc. The removal of these files reduces or eliminates the possibility of co-workers, family members, and others from snooping at an individual's Web browsing activities. $29.95
Contact: Ontrack Computer Systems, Inc., 6321 Bury Dr., Eden Prairie, MN 55346, 800 752-1333, fax: 612 937-5815, BBS: 612 937-0860, WWW: http://www.ontrack.com.
Ontrack System Suite 4.0 (WIN )
Ontrack System Suite 4.0 is a collection of seven highly useful productivity tools that address issues related to system maintenance and security. The package includes seven applications, also sold separately, as well as several bonuses consisting of PowerDesk 4 Pro file manager, WinBench 99 system benchmark, Emergency Response Manual, rescue diskette, and a bootable rescue CD.
The suite is composed of Fix-It Utilities, for improved system performance by diagnosing and fixing system-related problems including defragmentation; VirusScanner Pro, for automatic or on-demand virus scanning; CrashProof, which interrupts system crashes, providing an opportunity to save work in progress; EasyUninstall, to remove unwanted software and, if required, to move it to another drive or computer; Crisis Center, for recovering lost data; NetDefense, for implementing a personal firewall; and DataEraser, for permanently removing data from a hard drive. $59.95
Contact: Ontrack Data International, Inc., 3030 Sterling Circle, Boulder, CO 80301, 800 645-3649, 303 245-8000, http://www.ontrack.com, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ontrack Fix-It Utilities 4.0 (WIN )
Ontrack Fix-It Utilities 4.0 consists of a set of system maintenance applications that work to keep a PC running properly. Tools are provided that perform these tasks: diagnose system problems; detect hard drive motor problems; detect and report on system hardware; scan system and record and report system statistics; record all errors in a message log; defragment hard drives; fix, edit, clean and optimize the Windows Registry; retrieve deleted files; synchronize the computer system clock; detect and remove viruses; and more. Also included is a free copy of the PowerDesk 4 Pro file manager. $49.95
Diskeeper 7.0 (WIN )
Diskeeper 7.0 is rated as the fastest application of its kind for network defragmentation, with the highest level of certification for Windows (including XP). The new version of the program not only runs significantly faster, but can be installed by network administrators using \"PushInstall(tm)\" technology, requiring little time and effort regardless of the size of the network. This ease of installation is significant because research has shown that it costs an average of $25 or more per machine to deploy and install new software.
Executive Software has been the frontrunner in defragmentation technology, having developed many innovations such as the "Set It and Forget It" disk defragmenter, Frag Guard(tm) the only fragmentation prevention technology for Windows NT/2000/XP, and SmartScheduling(tm) which adjusts each machine's defragmentation schedule on an "as needed" basis.
A full-featured 30-day trialware version of the program is available for all Windows platforms at http://www.diskeeper.com. Single licenses are $49.95, a single server license is $259.95.
Contact: Executive Software, 7590 North Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank, CA 91504, 818 771-1600, http://www.executive.com, fax: 818 252-5516.
System Commander 7 (WIN )
System Commander 7 allows a Windows user to install more than one operating system on their system (with no speed degradation), and choose, at boot time, which one to use. Having sold over 1,000,000 copies, the program has clearly established itself as a valuable tool, supporting every PC-compatible operating system. Taking only 5MB of hard drive space, and using no resident memory, the software acts in an almost stealth fashion, and converts partitions between FAT and FAT32, and from NTFS to FAT, including compressed NTFS volumes. Partitions can be created, resized, moved, copied, and converted.
The software is very useful to digital publishers and service providers who are required to deal with many versions of software. Using System Commander 7 they can install multiple OSes, as well as safely add a new OS without abandoning an older, reliable one. New OSes can be installed manually, or using the OS Wizard, which sets up the system automatically. Included with the software is a free copy of Partition Commander 6, a $39.95 value. $59.95 for the digital download, $69.95 for the physical product.
Contact: V Communications, Inc., 2290 North First St., Suite 101, San Jose, CA 95131, 801 229-2300, http://www.v-com.com, e-mail: email@example.com, fax: (801) 229-1111
MacDrive 5 (WIN )
MacDrive 5 is the premiere product for cross-platform file sharing between Macintosh and Windows computers. The software, which installs in a PC, and is compatible with Microsoft Windows Me, 95, 98, NT 4.0, 2000, and XP, allows PC users to open, mount, read, and write (if the media supports it) on practically any Macintosh media. Unlike its competition, it supports multisession CD-ROM, MacBinary file encoding/decoding, BinHex file decoding, extension map editing, and much more.
Once installed the program is essentially transparent, recognizing the introduction of any form of Macintosh media. When media has been inserted or attached, it looks just like a standard PC disk, although the desktop icon includes the overlay of a red apple. Users achieve true cross-platform compatibility, and can even format a Macintosh disk from within Windows. $49.95 for digital delivery, $59.95 for boxed media.
Contact: Mediafour Corporation, 2800 University Ave., Suite #101, West Des Moines, IA 50266-1258, 800 528-7440, 515 225-7409, http://www.mediafour.com, fax: 515 225-6370.
Eudora Archiver (MAC)
Eudora Archiver is an easy-to-use software utility that simplifies the process of archiving Eudora e-mail and/or attachments. The user has three options: saving e-mails and/or attachments in structured folders; saving all e-mail in a single text file; or saving e-mail text in a single tab-delimited file that can be imported into a database.
The user opens both Eudora and Eudora Archiver and selects a source and a destination folder. The destination settings determine how the archive will be created. $20
Contact: Softobe, http://www.softobe.com, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
LapLink Gold 11.0 (WIN )
LapLink Gold 11.0 is considered to be among the most capable file transfer and remote control software products available. Among its new features is LapLink Surf Up, which provides secure access to files on a user's remote computer by using any Web browser. Files can be copied to or from the remote computer. LapLink's patented SpeedSync technology transfers only the portions of files that have changed, instead of the entire file, saving a considerable amount of time.
Using the supplied serial cable the user can Push Install LapLink Gold onto a second computer. This is especially useful if the second computer doesn't have a CD-ROMdrive. Using the optional USB cable the user can use the Auto Detection Wizard to initiate a fast connection.
To guard against hackers the program provides firewall support, with secure double password authentication, and the capability to assign a personally selected TCP port. It also incorporates Multi-Level Encryption, transmission encryption, folder-level lock-out, case-sensitive password protection, and more.
The remote control feature of the program provides users with the capability to run applications on remote computers, copy files, synchronize folders, conduct remote meetings, provide field support, and print files on distant printers. Connectivity can be accomplished using the Internet, dial-up networking, modem, infrared, VPN, wireless, and network TCP/IP and IPX. An optional USB high-speed network cable can be purchased for $19.95, providing local transfer speeds of up to 5 Mbps.
Both a serial and parallel cable are included in the box. $179.95
Contact: Laplink.com, 18702 North Creek Parkway, Bothell, WA 98011-8026, 425 487-5452, http://www.laplink.com, fax: 425 487-1284.
Digital Imaging Reviews
ArcSoft PhotoStudio (MAC/WIN)
ArcSoft PhotoStudio is a low-cost yet full-featured digital image-editing program. It provides the variety of tools that have come to define what a complete digital editing application is, including layers, multiple Undo/Redo, image management, re-editable text, and multiple file support. Features include: managing images from the Album Palette; creating a panoramic (stitched) photo; adding effects to text (shadow, gradient, etc.); and more. $99.99
Contact: ArcSoft, Inc., 46601 Fremont Blvd., Fremont, CA 94538, 510 440-9901, 800 762-8657, http://www.arcsoft.com, http://www.zipshot.com, fax: 510 440-1270.
Vue d'Esprit 4 (MAC/WIN)
Vue d'Esprit 4 is a powerful tool for creating photorealistic 3D scenery. The program is unique for its blend of ease-of-use and the dramatic quality of its output. Its user interface has been designed to be approachable and manageable for the novice, yet complete and robust enough for the professional. This has been achieved, and is evident by the short (15-25 minute) tutorial that introduces the new user to the basic elements of the application.
The interface, like that of other 3D applications, provides the standard four-layout view. The user can easily move from view to view, and select one view to fill the screen. Objects are easily created on screen through the use of accessible primatives and preformed objects. After an object has been selected and placed, it can be manipulated in the three-dimensional space in any imaginable way. The properties associated with any selected object also appear displayed in the Object Properties Panel, wherein they can be modified. When multiple objects have been selected, their common attributes can be changed en masse.
A global view of the materials applied to objects can be seen in the Summary of Materials panel, wherein a specific material can be selected, and the objects using that material can be identified. The assignment of a material to one or more objects can be changed here.
The composed scene is rendered in real-time in the Camera Control Center, where the user can interactively adjust the camera position and angle. Rendering is among the fastest available thanks both to the pure ray-tracing engine and its capability to take advantage of multi-processor computers.
The rendering quality is truly spectacular, with \"volumetric atmospheres and clouds that simulate the interactions of light and air;\" vegetation synthesis that shows color variations between adjacent plants; terrain modeling that supports direct painting on their surfaces; dozens of material options including lens flares, random rocks, and rainbows; an import filter for Poser scenes; and more. Several 2D, 3D and animation import/export filters are included.
The program provides layer control, managed in the World Browser. Just as in a page layout or illustration program, objects can be assigned to layers, and layers can be locked, reordered, or hidden. The program includes hundreds of 3D models. $199
Contact: e-on software, P.O. Box 1997, Beaverton, OR 97075-1997, 877 972-7345, http://www.e-onsoftware.com, e-mail: email@example.com, fax: 503 643-9877; e-on software europe, 33 1 43 14 28 15, BP 394, 75 526 Paris, Cedex 11, France, fax: 33 1 43 55 36 71.
Digi Pen - II (WIN )
The Digi Pen - II (CD57FG) is a pocket-sized digital camera capable of holding up to 80 VGA-quality images (fewer at a raw resolution of 1.3Mpixel), and as many as 400 images at QVGA (320 x 240) in its 8MB flash memory. The camera has a swivel head, allowing its base to serve as a stand which lies flat on a computer monitor or other surface. Despite its small size and low price, it incorporates a high-quality four-element glass lens.
The camera can serve as a still image device, a Web cam (with 30fps JPEG compression), a digital camcorder (with 120 seconds of recording time), or a security camera (with auto motion detection).
The camera is not a substitute for a standard full-size multi-megapixel digicam, however it provides unprecedented convenience in terms of its size, weight, and ease-of-use. It is appropriate for capturing images that serve as reminders or to document an event, rather than to capture images for printed reproduction. $99.95
Contact: America OPCOM, Inc., 717 Brea Canyon Rd., Suite 11, Walnut, CA 91789, 909 444-111, http://www.opcom.com, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 909 444-1171.
Macintosh Bible, 8th Edition, The
Colby, Clifford; Marty Cortinas, et al
This book has enough information about enough subjects to be of practical use to every Macintosh user. It is a treasure trove of valuable information, tips and tricks, hardware and software reviews, and solid advice about troubleshooting. The companion Web site at http://www.macbible.com contains updated information and news.
020170899X 944 pp. $34.99
Contact: Peachpit Press, 1249 8th St., Berkeley, CA 94710, 800 283-9444, http://www.peachpit.com, fax: 510 524-2221.
Database Processing, Eighth Edition
Kroenke, David M.
A complete, up-to-date text covering database processing technology as the infrastructure of a business or other form of enterprise, and for distributing and collecting data on-line. The book contains many illustrations and examples, and serves as a concise course on current database processing methods. The companion Web site at http://www.prenhall.com/kroenke, provides exercise, study guide questions, and more.
Available for on-line ordering at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=thekleperreporto&path=ISBN%3D0130648396
0130648396 671 pp. $96
Contact: Prentice Hall, PTR, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458, http://www.phptr.com.
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