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Macworld Expo NYC Superlatives

In keeping with our tradition of recognizing and reporting the best and worst from each Macworld Expo, here's this year's installment.

Best Slogan -- Apple Computer takes this award home for the "I think, therefore iMac" adage. The slogan was a bit corny, but Apple's 120-foot banner stole the show. The phrase appeared throughout the Expo, just as iMacs themselves graced many vendors' booths. It's nice to see some clever marketing and advertising coming from Apple after so many years of the tepid and banal. [ACE]

Most Omnipresent -- The iMac. Apple has done a good job of fanning the excitement about this new Mac. We saw dozens of iMacs on the Expo floor, and not just at Apple's booth, although several were there for people to play with, pick up, and examine closely. Connectix had an iMac hooked up to a USB QuickCam, Momentum had PalmPilot/iMac connectors, and there were iMacs in evidence at other booths, too. Talk around the show was that people have figured out that iMac won't just be for casual home users, but also for businesses that need a few dozen simple workstations, classrooms, power users' parents, and so on. [MHA]


Just Stuff It -- With apologies to Aladdin Systems, who used this slogan years back on StuffIt Deluxe bumper stickers, this award goes to Steve Jobs, who silenced hecklers who hissed after he spoke positively about Internet Explorer. "Hey - I use it and I like it," Jobs said brusquely, and the naysayers shut up. Netscape Communications was conspicuously absent from the show, although I noticed that a number of Netscape engineers attended June's MacHack developer conference. Evangelizing developers probably makes more sense than exhibiting at Macworld for Netscape these days. [ACE]

Best System Utility Upgrade -- This award goes to Casady & Greene for the upcoming release of Conflict Catcher 8.0. Conflict Catcher is adding four to its version number to turn 8.0, mostly because Casady & Greene was having trouble convincing people that a 4.x product was compatible with Mac OS 8. (The same rationale apparently applies to Connectix's newly rechristened RAM Doubler 8.) Conflict Catcher 8.0 includes many subtle improvements and new features, such as the capability to explain what an extension is if you click its icon during startup, but what makes it a compelling upgrade is its new Clean System Merge feature. The Clean System Merge should vastly speed up and simplify the process of moving (or copying) old extensions, preferences, and other files from an old System Folder into a new one. Conflict Catcher 8.0 will cost $79.95 and include a $30 rebate good through 30-Sep-98. [ACE]


Most Unsung -- Vimage Corporation says its Vpower PowerPC G3 upgrades for a wide range of Power Macs and recent PowerBook models are better, faster, and cheaper than Newer Technology's offerings. They include a fan on the desktop models, claim a better architecture, and point out that their upgrade cards are in good supply while Newer's are back-ordered. We would have asked Newer Technologies to comment, but they skipped this year's Expo. [MHA]


Most Lust-inducing Technology -- Perhaps I'm alone in this, but I was stunned by the advances in the digital camera market, what with new digital still cameras, digital video cameras, and photo printers. I'd love to present individual awards to some of the products I saw, but it wasn't possible to compare or evaluate them on the floor. I had an interesting conversation with an Olympus representative, who said that computer people are generally being fooled when they compare digital still cameras by the raw number of pixels captured by the CCD. In his opinion, three important variables relate directly to final image quality: the number of pixels; the "line pair" resolution of the lens (basically, the quality of the lens optics); and the camera subsystems that handle things like focus, exposure, and flash. The only way to judge digital cameras fairly is to compare them in terms of image quality and features, and that's a difficult task. Those interested in the topic might read the two-part TidBITS discussion that ran in TidBITS-407 and TidBITS-408. [ACE]


Smartest Marketing -- "Everyone" knows that mail order is the way to go these days. Apple's online store has taken off, and Dell and Gateway 2000 have built their entire businesses on mail order. "Why not printers?" was GCC Technologies' question. Why not, indeed? The company has offered its products via direct sales almost as long as Macs have been connecting to printers, so GCC's newly refurbished online store makes sense. To sweeten the online ordering experience, GCC is offering its new overnight replacement policy (also known as "Platinum Exchange warranty") free for the first year to mail order printer buyers. Definitely worth a look if you live and die by your printer. [MHA]


Most Popular Upgrade -- Expo attendees flocked to the Golive Systems booth to ask questions and see demonstrations of GoLive's popular visual HTML design tool CyberStudio, which is now shipping in professional and personal versions. (See "CyberStudio 3 Goes Live" in TidBITS-430 and "GoLive CyberStudio Gets Personal" in TidBITS-433.)


At the show, GoLive released CyberStudio 3.1 Professional Edition, which adds fixes and new features to the well-received version 3.0, and is compatible with the forthcoming Mac OS 8.5. The upgrade, which is available at no charge to registered users of version 3.0, adds the capability to open and edit QuickTime movies; for example, Web authors can open the QuickTime 3.0 HREF track in order to link movie frames to URLs such that while a movie plays in one frame of a browser window, the page showing in another frame can change. Other big changes include ColorSync support and more JavaScript actions. [ACE]


Brightest Tchotchkes -- Cool giveaways were in limited supply, but Multi-Ad Services lit up the place with squeezable tchotchkes in the shape of light bulbs. We've already found them useful in meetings for lightening the atmosphere and tossing around ideas. Multi-Ad Services was demonstrating Multi-Ad Creator2, version 1.1.1, a layout tool for creating advertising. The award for the most useful tchotchke goes to Newer RAM, on hand with stack after stack of GURU floppies. The handy free utility answers the age-old question, "What type of memory do I need for my Mac?" Naturally, Newer RAM will be happy to sell you the upgrade after GURU tells you what you need. [MHA]


Best Effort at a SiteMill Killer -- Wootech, a relative newcomer in the Web authoring field, demonstrated Voyager Professional Edition, version 2.5, the first seriously commercial version of the company's Web site management tool. Voyager acts as a sort of uber-tool that integrates with Web authoring programs, so you can use Voyager to make one Web site where pages are created in, for instance, BBEdit and Visual Page. Voyager provides services to Web authoring software, most notably master pages, and also stores elements such as graphics and table cells whose contents repeat throughout a site. If you change a repeating element once in Voyager, it updates automatically through the site. Although it lacks a spider's eye view, Voyager provides an outline view and can check for broken links. Once you are done creating the components of a site, Voyager generates the final HTML, though this version lacks FTP capabilities. Although Voyager looks promising (and as a 1.0 product it would look particularly promising), it's hard to imagine Web authors clamoring for the product, given its $269 suggested retail price. [ACE]


Best Doubler Software -- Although Connectix announced the $45 RAM Doubler 8.0 at the show, the award for best doubler goes to Maxum Development for WebDoubler. WebDoubler makes it easier for a group of computers to share limited Internet bandwidth by acting as a proxy server and handling all Web page requests from client computers on a network. If, for example, twenty users request the same page at once (as might happen in a classroom), WebDoubler fetches the page from the Internet and then makes it available to all the client computers. Using a clever caching scheme created by Clearway Technologies, WebDoubler stores requested Web pages in a local cache, thus speeding future requests for the same page. WebDoubler also offers PICS-based filtering, which enables server administrators to filter Web pages based on lists of undesirable sites or words, or PICS ratings.

WebDoubler runs on any PowerPC-based Macintosh, though Maxum recommends a low-end G3-based computer, preferably running as a dedicated server, though it can also run other software such as AppleShare IP, or Web and email servers. Maxum plans to ship WebDoubler in early September, and a beta should be available online this week. Maxum has yet to set final pricing but estimates that WebDoubler will retail for about $850, $650 for educational usage. Site licenses for multiple servers will also be available. [ACE]


Longest-Awaited Fix -- I've been using Scott Gruby's NotifyMail off and on for years, and I'm delighted that, at its new home with Imagina Internet Solutions, NotifyMail 3.1 eliminates the problem PowerBook users had when waking their computers without a network connection active. Turn on NotifyMail's smart Ethernet feature, and PowerPC users with Open Transport need no longer worry about those pesky hangs. [MHA]


Funkiest Hotel -- We're a bit offended at paying high rates to stay in hotels whose beige rooms are the nadir of ticky-tack chic. This year we happened on the Paramount Hotel in New York City, which is best described as "aggressively hip." It's at 235 West 46th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues - a relevant detail since the outside of the hotel lacks any indication of the name or street number. The best external landmark was the group of "well-hewn" (to quote a female friend's approving appraisal) doormen wearing natty, dark grey, double-breasted wool suits. Once inside, the lobby contains a forest of chairs, no two alike and many only superficially comfortable. The somewhat disconcerting lobby bathrooms were completely mirrored, and that shock came after you figured out how to open the appropriate barely marked frosted glass door. Four baroque elevators served the 19 stories, each lit by colored lights. We consistently found ourselves in the purple elevator; the others were orange, green, and red, though we never got the red elevator. The rooms were similarly odd, with a low white bed crested with a huge picture frame headboard. Our room featured a Rembrandt reproduction on padded vinyl in the frame; other rooms had different images or just the frames. If standard hotels bore you silly, try the Paramount next time you need to stay in New York City. [ACE]

Best Party -- CalComp cops this award for their party at the Whitney Museum. If the organizers hadn't read my party recommendations (see "Macworld Geek Party Guide" in TidBITS-415), they came to many of the same conclusions. The venue was interesting (including museum tours), the food was great, tables and chairs were provided, the staff were low-key about the product (CalComp's inexpensive Creation Station graphics tablets), and if the music was a little loud, at least it was jazz. In stark contrast, Apple's iMac party the next night was overly loud, crowded, and confusing. A bunch of us gave up trying to talk and relocated to a Ben & Jerry's for ice cream instead. [ACE]


Best Contract Requirement -- IDG Expo Management became our friend this year by outlawing the noisy clickers that Iomega used at Macworld San Francisco in January to promote the company's Clik drives (which might or might not ship sometime this year). Mixing the clickers with a New York crowd might have resulted in violence. [ACE]


Pithiest Shirt -- In honor of its new product, PhoneWatcher, Mark/Space Softworks had t-shirts with the pixelated picture of a 1950's telephone operator above the pixilated words "I Like To Watch." PhoneWatcher enables you to report, log, and respond to incoming calls, using your modem and caller ID. So if you've ever wanted to hang up automatically on specific callers, be paged when a certain person calls, or log phone calls, PhoneWatcher is worth a look. [ACE]



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