Initially I felt Macworld 1992 was less busy than in past years, but on the second day I revised my opinion when I could not even see the booths through the people at the World Trade Center. Upon arriving at the Bayside Exposition Hall on the next day, an audio-visual assault confronted me. It was loud, hot, and many booths had their own flavor of music (isn't multimedia wonderful), none of which complemented each other. No rest for the weary in this building! Overall, I felt that the show, although lacking in hoopla such as the WingZ exhibit in 1990, was a crowded success.
Due the large size of the show, I decided to write about new products that were announced and shipping at the show. I skimmed the press packages to find those few gems, and, interestingly, found only one company who had their press information in disk format. So much for the paperless office. As it turns out, few new products were actually announced and shipping, and some of those we've already covered. Here are some notes on several more.
Voyaging Onward -- My vote for the most interesting and entertaining product goes to the Voyager Company for an entertainment CD ROM for adults, called Rodney's Wonder Window. Rodney's Wonder Window's creator, Rodney Alan Greenblat, calls his artistic work an interactive gallery exhibit. He created 23 interactive modules offering animation, whimsical stories, QuickTime vignettes and just plain mindless fun. Greenblat's humorous art draws from and reflects such varied sources as vaudeville, PeeWee Herman, Saturday Night Live, and Yellow Submarine. I found it thoroughly entertaining.
Too many CD-ROMs are a compendium of unrelated art with tinny electronic music and boring snippets of marketing material, such as the Macworld ExpoCD given out free at the show. In contrast, Rodney's Wonder Window, as one user said, is the first art-form on CD-ROM which is one man's talented vision. It has unity of purpose (fun), focus (art), and it worked correctly. The only bugs in this product are Greenblat's creations. The $39 CD-ROM officially requires 4 MB of RAM; System 6.0.7 or later; and a 13", 256-color monitor (or better). However, I ran into screen redraw problems on a 4 MB Mac and had to add 4 MB more RAM to run it without any problems - so make sure you have at least 4 MB free when using Rodney's Wonder Window.
Voyager had a few other announcements, including their $295 Expanded Book Toolkit, which allows Mac users to produce their own multimedia books. The Expanded Book Toolkit will ship this month, and we hope to bring you more detailed information about it in a later issue.
[Those of you on the Internet might want to try this with some of the electronic texts from Project Gutenberg. You can subscribe to the Gutenberg LISTSERV by sending email to LISTSERV@UIUCVMD.BITNET with this line in the body of the mailfile: "SUBSCRIBE GUTNBERG your full name" For those you wanting to try this on the cheap, there is a freeware stack called BookBuilder available via FTP on <ftp.apple.com> in the /ftp/alug/hypercard directory. No guarantees - I haven't even downloaded it. -Adam]
Voyager shipped four new Expanded Books, which are designed to be read on the PowerBooks, but can be read any large screen Mac. Voyager's most recent Expanded Books are Ken Kesey's "Sailor Song," and William Gibson's cyberpunk trilogy "Neuromancer," "Count Zero," and "Mona Lisa Overdrive."
Voyager has available two new music related CD-ROMs. "Richard Strauss: Three Tone Poems" and Volume 1 of So I've Heard. So I've Heard is music critic Alan Rich's five volume series of the history of music. Volume 1, "Bach and Before" covers musical history from ancient Greece to the mid-18th century in a nine-part essay with 48 music samplings. The Strauss CD is a nine-part HyperCard program, allowing users to explore Strauss's music in-depth.
The Voyager Company -- 310-451-1383 -- 310/394-2156 (fax)
A Varied Line from Casady & Greene -- Casady & Greene, makers of QuickDEX, announced six new products at the show, including font collections, games, and system enhancement utilities. Casady & Greene upgraded Fluent Laser Fonts, an exceptional font package, to Fluent Laser Fonts Library 2, adding 40 typefaces to the original 80-font library. Fluent Laser Fonts Library 2 now offers the fonts in PostScript or TrueType. Owners of Fluent Laser Fonts can upgrade to the new package for $30 for one type of font or $50 for both packages. Otherwise, the package retails for $179.
In September Casady & Greene will release two other font collections: The Glasnost Cyrillic Library 2 and the Eastern European Library. Apple and Microsoft have unfortunately standardized on slightly different character sets for these libraries. Consequently, the Mac version of these fonts will include the Windows standard for offices which use both platforms. Casady & Greene will also release a library of Hebrew fonts later this year.
Game enthusiasts will appreciate Casady & Greene's new Pararena 2.0, an upgraded version of a shareware offering. I can't quite describe the play action - it's something of a soccer/rollerball sports simulation. You play against the computer or another player on a network. Pararena 2.0 adds color graphics, six new players, and more skill levels to the smooth animation and challenging play of the original. I'm not partial to this type of game, but it impressed me nonetheless. With practice, the game should appeal to those who like (and are good at) arcade-style games.
Casady & Greene has just contributed Innovative Utilities to the burgeoning field of bundled utilities. Innovative Utilities includes four System 6- and System 7-compatible utilities - Conflict Catcher, Color Coordinator, Whiz-Bang Window Accelerator, and HotDA. A fifth utility, Memory Maxer, only works under System 7.
Conflict Catcher, the flagship utility, is a diagnostic tool and system extension manager. As the name implies, it helps diagnose extension and control panel conflicts at startup. I particularly like the system extension manager because it creates a disabled folder, much like Extension Manager 1.6 does [as will Now Startup Manager 4.0, I believe -Adam]. Conflict Catcher also lets you change the loading order of all extensions and control panels, no matter where in the System Folder they reside, and will also make sure the startup icons wrap neatly into two or more rows as necessary. No telling how well it diagnoses conflicts just yet, but it seems to automate the process of loading startup documents one by one to identify conflicts, although it's also somehow tracing code after startup. Casady & Greene will also make a Conflict Catcher Key Lock version available as a stand-alone product for developers and software publishers to include with their products. This version will allow tech support people to give users a code to enable Conflict Catcher for three days, theoretically helping to track down odd extension conflicts.
Michael Greene of Casady & Greene posted on CompuServe recently, saying:
Conflict Catcher can catch crashes caused by INIT X and INIT Y running unless INIT Z is running. It even found a bug in my own QuickDEX that required Adobe Type Reunion 1.3 AND Suitcase 2.1.1 to be running. Any other versions of either INIT, there wasn't a problem. QuickDEX is a DA so the crash was coming well after INIT load time but was influenced by the presence of the two INITs. During beta testing, we found five way conflicts that literally required five specific INITs running to cause a problem. Drop any one of the INITs and the problem went away. Of course the user would think on adding the fifth INIT to his mix "Gee things were going just fine until I added this INIT, so it MUST be this INIT's fault." Depending on which hapless INIT was the fifth one in, it was the one blamed. You can image what a headache that would be to find by hand.
Color Coordinator allows you to link different monitor bit-depths to different applications, so you can have the Mac automatically switch to black and white for a certain application, and when you switch back out to another program, change back to 256 colors, something which freely-distributable utilities do manually, but not automatically. Whiz-Bang Window Accelerator supposedly speeds up drawing of the zoom rectangles, though frankly, if you're concerned about zoom rectangle speed, you can easily shut them off entirely with ResEdit. See TidBITS-099/Finder_Fun for the instructions.
Casady & Greene claim that HotDA allows you to open any DA with a hotkey, which may be useful to users who need limited automation, but is better accomplished with the more powerful QuicKeys from CE Software
The remaining System 7-specific utility, Memory Maxer, holds somewhat more interest for the power user. It allows an application to request all the available memory under System 7 no matter what you have set its memory partition to in the Get Info... box. Memory Maxer can also optionally quit the Finder, freeing up another 300K or so for applications. These features are useful, especially for users of RAM hogs like Photoshop, but the shareware AppSizer provides the same memory setting abilities, and other shareware or freeware applications allow you to quit and restart the Finder.
On first look, it appears that Innovative Utilities will appeal to users who dislike using multiple freely-distributable utilities or the similar and heavily entrenched Now Utilities, soon to be updated to version 4.0 (I own Now Utilities, but have never really liked it [unlike us :-) -Adam & Tonya].), or who deal with extension conflicts constantly, since only Conflict Catcher provides innovative features completely unavailable elsewhere. Of course, such commercially bundled utilities usually share similar interfaces and are far less likely to conflict with each other.
Casady & Greene is selling the software direct to users without the packaging for 50% off the list price of $79. I don't know if the offer will continue once the packaging is ready to ship, so don't delay if this product appeals to you.
Casady & Greene -- 408/484-9228 -- 408/484-9218 (fax)
Casady & Greene propaganda
Michael Greene -- firstname.lastname@example.org