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Series: Macworld Superlatives
The best (and worst) from Macworld Expos since 1992
Article 1 of 16 in series
At a trade show with thousands of products, it's impossible to see everything, or even all the important things. If you missed some of these products, or if you missed the Expo entirely, please contact the companies mentioned below and tell them you read about their products in TidBITSShow full article
At a trade show with thousands of products, it's impossible to see everything, or even all the important things. If you missed some of these products, or if you missed the Expo entirely, please contact the companies mentioned below and tell them you read about their products in TidBITS. Some of these products will receive more in-depth coverage later on, but we wanted to get some of the juicy details to you right away.
Best CD-ROM -- In an age where CD-ROM drives are becoming less and less expensive, and may even become standard equipment on future Macs, it's not easy to produce a CD-ROM that stands out. Macworld had many impressive CD-ROMs, but in my opinion the Macintosh Product Registry, by Redgate Communications, rates as the most impressive. Redgate publishes a useful periodical catalog containing categorized lists of Mac products and vendors, and they've outdone themselves by putting this information on CD. Volume 2 is up to date through mid-July. The combination of a well-designed stack to access the information and an invaluable compendium of data make for a great product that should be on every Mac manager's or reseller's desk.
Redgate -- 800/333-8760 -- 407/231-6904
Snazzy, if Simple -- Okay, so having a computer phone another computer and pass along a short text message is nothing new. Combine that with the latest in 1990's pager technology, though, and you've got Notify! from Ex Machina. Notify! allows users to send messages to personal pagers by calling a central computer offering paging services, such as SkyTel and MobileComm. In addition to the basic software, Ex Machina showed pre-release versions of a network package that allows users to send pages through a single modem, a QuickMail gateway for sending pages from a QuickMail window, and a Microsoft Mail add-on that can forward email to a pager based on urgency or even key words within the message.
Ex Machina -- 718/965-0309
Biggest Disappointment -- I don't like to say negative things when I can avoid it, but I've been looking forward to seeing a revamped Microsoft Works 3.0, and it just ain't there. Rumors that Microsoft scrapped an early version of 3.0 and reworked it from the ground up in response to other integrated offerings are clearly untrue, as Works 3.0, which Microsoft exhibited in "late beta" form, is merely an incremental upgrade to their existing product. Don't get me wrong; Works 3.0 includes a vast number of good improvements in feature set and interface, but it just doesn't take the quantum leap in concept that's required of any serious player in the current integrated software market. ClarisWorks and BeagleWorks, unless Claris and Beagle Bros. do something foolish, will undoubtedly walk away with the ever-growing market.
Microsoft -- 206/882-8080
Silliest Costume -- Without a doubt the silliest costume award goes to SuperMac Technology for its yellow-clad superhero, who stood outside the booth the entire duration of the Expo, handing out literature and drawing in customers. Another company had people dressed all in black wearing face paint, but these folks looked so uninterested in being there that I wasn't even curious enough to go see which company they represented.
SuperMac -- 408/245-2202
Most Musical -- Macworld Expos have often been graced with an assortment of would-be musicians, electronic instruments, and sound compilation products, but it took Prosonus to do it right. They offer collections of great sounds that work with SoundMaster and other sound utilities, but most importantly, they now have a CD-ROM called MusicBytes that gives the budding multimedia mogul a collection of "clip music" and sound effects for use in presentations, QuickTime movies, etc. The material on the disc is license-free, and features music performed by artists such as Pink Floyd's Scott Page and Steely Dan's Jeff Baxter, who were both on hand to perform live for attendees. The disc includes Media Librarian, a HyperCard stack that makes selecting and using the clips a breeze.
Prosonus -- 800/999-6191 -- 818/766-5221
Handiest Handout -- Giveaways were fewer and farther between each year, it seems, but vendors were still creative when it came to deciding what to give attendees. The best by far was an Expo guide from Portfolio Systems, publisher of the Dynodex contact management software. The guide, sized just right for the average pocket, contained a complete list of exhibiting companies and their booth numbers, along with a map of Boston and a brief list of local service businesses, restaurants, and hotels. If Portfolio doesn't elect to provide this service again, Mitch Hall and Associates (Macworld Expo's organizers) would do well to provide something similar as a companion to the standard bulky program guide.
Portfolio Systems -- 800/729-3966 -- 408/252-0420
Best PowerBook Product -- Considering the number of PowerBook notebook computers Apple has sold since the product's introduction last October, it's little wonder that just about every other booth had something for PowerBook owners. These ranged from external display solutions to alternative battery chargers (and other power options), but among the specialized software offerings we found one clear winner. Connectix PowerBook Utilities, or CPU, is a compact collection of utilities and controls that no PowerBook user should miss. As they did with Virtual and MODE32, Connectix has created a product that should have come from Apple's engineers but didn't. Among the features are improved power management, security mode, larger cursor, screen saver, and keyboard shortcuts.
Connectix -- 800/950-5880 -- 415/571-5100
Most Evident -- If you stopped by the World Trade Center half of the Expo you couldn't help but notice Focus, a new company that ensured exposure by hiring a battalion of local kids to hand out plastic bags, catalogs, and brochures at the doors to the exhibit hall. My first guess was that this company wasn't actually exhibiting, but a closer look proved that they in fact had a large booth over at the Bayside Expo Center. Focus formed last fall as a direct-sales vendor that promises quality, service, support, and value to customers. Focus avoids going through dealers that president Thomas Massie feels are overloaded and can't support today's vast range of products. While I know some dealers who do just fine supporting their product lines, I can certainly see the value of direct vendor support and a strong line of products. Focus offers a growing line of networking and storage hardware products, including network connectors and hubs acquired from NuvoTech late last year. If their products and support are as good as Massie suggests, then not just dealers, but run-of-the-mill mail order suppliers will need to watch out.
Focus -- 617/938-8088
For the Wealthy -- Speaking of products for PowerBooks, a couple of vendors had users drooling over color LCD flat-panel displays for the user on the move. Unfortunately, this technology isn't ready for the mainstream - Envisio's display, for example, retails for $5495. Apple is rumored to be working on color versions of the PowerBook line as well, and it's likely that someone offer a color product closer to most users' pocketbooks within the next couple of Macworld Expos. In the meantime, the technology is available to those who really need it and have lots of money to spare.
Envisio -- 612/339-1008
Most Daring -- Electronic pornography has come a long way since the days not so long ago when bored college students would print out dirty pictures made up of line after line of text characters on mainframe printers across campus. MacPaint and inexpensive digitizers popularized the distribution of scanned pictures, both R- and X-rated, and the last few years have seen an explosion of adult GIF collections, thanks to the popular universal graphics file format invented by CompuServe. Well, electroporn has entered the '90s, with a series of CD-ROM products from Romulus Entertainment and other vendors. Their latest products are full-length QuickTime feature films, digitized from video tape for your computing pleasure. "House of Dreams" is one of the most popular; it's a 76-minute X-rated film from Caballero Home Video that's simply been digitized in 16-bit color and stereo sound. The included Digital Ecstasy QuickTime viewer seems well designed, if no more functional than Apple's Simple Player, and prospective purchasers should note that, like all high-resolution high-depth QuickTime movies, this one works best in 16-bit or 24-bit color modes, on as fast a machine as possible. On an '020 machine like the LC or Mac II, or a slow '030 machine, QuickTime is unlikely to keep up all of the time.
Romulus Entertainment -- 310/453-5068
You Were Saying? -- For a while now, industry journalists have seen automatic compression software as a bad idea and have said that we should wait until compression is implemented in the hardware or the device drivers. I disagree that automatic compression software is a bad idea (utilities like AutoDoubler and StuffIt SpaceSaver seem to do just fine), but Golden Triangle is about to enter the compression market with Times Two, a driver that can be installed on almost any storage device and does the compression and decompression work at a level where conflicts theoretically can't occur. The driver replaces the standard driver from Apple or your third-party drive's manufacturer, much the way Silverlining and HDToolkit do. Golden Triangle has been in the storage market for a while, and undoubtedly has the expertise required to create such a universal driver. Some storage experts remain skeptics, but if Golden Triangle's shipping product is stable, it would be a boon to storage-poor computer users.
Golden Triangle -- 619/279-2100
The Final Frontier -- Last in our gathering of notables from the Expo is the Star Trek Collection of After Dark screen-saver modules from Berkeley Systems, Inc. Berkeley, who last summer introduced the More After Dark add-on for their popular screen-saver software, has now teamed up with Paramount to offer a group of fun modules that range from animated scenes (complete with stereotypical Trek dialog) to USS Enterprise schematics that match the ones seen on viewscreens in the episodes and movies. As a Mac user, I can't help but think that's silly -- but as a Star Trek fan, I can't wait to see the final product! :-)
Berkeley Systems -- 510/540-5535
Article 2 of 16 in series
At a trade show with thousands of products, it's impossible to see everything, or even all the important things. If you missed some of these products, or if you missed Macworld Boston entirely, please contact the companies mentioned below and tell them you read about their products in TidBITSShow full article
At a trade show with thousands of products, it's impossible to see everything, or even all the important things. If you missed some of these products, or if you missed Macworld Boston entirely, please contact the companies mentioned below and tell them you read about their products in TidBITS. Some of these products may receive more in-depth coverage later on, but we wanted to get some of the juicy details to you right away.
Sensible Color Output -- If you want to spend many thousands of dollars, buy one of the fancy Tektronix or SuperMac dye sublimation printers that takes forever to spit out a photo-realistic page. If all you need photo realism, however, consider Nikon's new CoolPrint. It's a $1,995 small-format dye sublimation printer that's perfect for printing photos and color proofs.
Nikon -- 516/547-4200 -- 516/547-0305 (fax)
Lamest Booth Staff -- When you can wander around a booth looking interested in the products, then talk out loud about competing products while two salespeople chatter away to each other, something's wrong. Asante Technologies needs train its sales staff before the next trade show to learn how to strike up conversations with potential customers.
Asante -- 800/662-9686 -- 408/752-8388
Growth Property -- A brand-new, small company called VST received our "Best Battery" award at last August's Macworld Expo, so we're pleased to see they have grown enormously since then. Their large booth showcased a wide variety of laptop batteries, chargers, and related products. Good for them. /P>
VST -- 508/287-4600 -- 508/287-4068 (fax)<
Cable Marathon -- Do you wish SCSI cable chains weren't so limited in length? Add ATTO Technology's Silicon Express 4D NuBus card to your Mac and you can string your devices up to 81 feet away from the computer. Sounds great for secure installations or rooms where you'd rather not have loud devices. [We have a friend who pursues quiet by keeping his Macintosh IIfx on one side of a wall and his monitors, mouse, floppy drive, and keyboard on the other. -Tonya]
ATTO --716/ 688-4259
Mixed Feelings -- CE Software's new QuickMail 3.0 looks good, and we want to be impressed, but evidence suggests the MailManager feature (see TidBITS-237) won't be as useful for real-life use. For MailManager to process incoming messages, your computer must stay on, and your connection to QuickMail must stay active. Such features would be best implemented at the server.
CE -- 800/523-7638 -- 515/224-1995
Best Connectivity -- One reason ISDN hasn't caught on as strongly as it could have is the variety of non-compatible hardware on the market. 4-Sight L.C. (previously CommFORCE) offers ISDN management software that bridges the gap not only among different ISDN services and cards, but between ISDN and such otherwise-incompatible services as Switched 56.
4-Sight -- email@example.com -- 515/221-2100 --800/448-3299 (fax) -- +44 (0) 202 764401 (UK) -- +44 (0) 202 761666 (UK fax)
Biggest Shame -- Dayna Communications was among the vendors showing wireless network solutions, including a PCMCIA LocalTalk card. Pity the card won't work on a Newton MessagePad! According to Dayna, the MessagePad can't supply enough power to PCMCIA devices, even when the devices don't try to draw more than the PCMCIA design allows for. Meanwhile, a wireless PCMCIA LocalTalk card could come in handy for 500-series PowerBook users.
Dayna -- 800/531-0600 --801/531-0600
Best Paging Software -- As has been customary the last few years, many vendors demonstrated software designed to send text messages to electronic pagers. Congrats to Desktop Paging Software for its NeuroPage product, which automates a schedule of messages for dozens of individual recipients. Originally designed to remind patients to take their medicines, the software could also work wonders for disorganized executives.
Desktop Paging Software -- 716/634-9010 -- 716/634-9003 (fax) -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Bundle of Joy -- Ex Machina is understandably pleased; their paging MSAM (a personal gateway extension for Apple's PowerTalk messaging software) has been licensed by Apple to be included in all CD-ROM copies of System 7.5 retail packages. Anyone with System 7.5 will be able to send pages to electronic paging service subscribers with no further software. (A modem is required.) Diskette packages of 7.5 won't include this, or the variety of other tools included on the CD.
Ex Machina -- 718/965-0309
PostScript Big & Fast -- Xante Corporation made a name for itself by offering accelerated, high-resolution PostScript-compatible printer controllers to replace the aging logic boards in Apple's and Hewlett-Packard's older printer models. More recently, the company started selling its own complete printers. This year, they took advantage of the lower price of real Adobe PostScript Level 2 and built it into their latest printer, the Accel-a-Writer 8200. It's an 11 x 17 inch 1,200 dot per inch printer that can even print 11 x 25 at lower resolutions.
Xante -- 205/476-8189 -- 205/476-9421 (fax)
Cutest Feature Name -- Fractal Design Painter 3.0 is impressive for so very many reasons, but it gets this award for its "image hose" feature. Just create a variety of images of a type of object (for example, nineteen discreet images of clover) then use the image hose to paint with that object; it randomly scatters the different versions. Instant clover field! No more laborious cutting and pasting to get the desired montage effect.
Fractal Design -- 408/688-8800
Happy Anniversary! -- Hewlett-Packard had its usual array of printers on display at Macworld, but what's most noteworthy is that they're celebrating ten years in the printer market, going back to the original LaserJet (and five years to the first DeskWriter, a major breakthrough in the low-end Macintosh printing arena). Other players in the field have been selling printers longer (Apple and Epson are two easy examples) but HP has come a long way, offering great laser, inkjet, and color solutions at both low- and high-end prices.
HP -- 800/752-0900 -- 301/670-4300
If You Can't Beat 'Em -- Bravo to Iomega Corp. for snapping up Nomai's SyQuest-compatible 44 and 88 MB cartridges and getting past the legal red tape to bring them to market. The company claims they're much more reliable than SyQuest's own product, but either way the product alternative will be good for the market and good for the end user's wallet.
Iomega -- 800/947-0928 -- 801/778-3000 -- 801/778-3748 (fax)
Best Drive for Video -- Doing a lot of video processing? Want to show high-resolution video presentations at their best? Don't get a general-purpose hard drive. The latest 2 and 4 GB AV-model drives from Micropolis seem to far outstrip the competition when it comes to sustained data transfer rate, which is critical for continuous video display.
Micropolis -- 818/709-3300
Why Didn't I Think of That? -- If you live in the area from Boston north to Concord, NH, and from Route 495 to the Atlantic, you needn't ever worry about your laser printers again if you subscribe to the Page After Page service. Subscribers simply call the service when their low-toner lights become worrisome. Within an hour or so, a technician will arrive, remove your old cartridge, thoroughly clean the printer, and insert a new cartridge, all for a bit less than you're paying for your toner cartridges now. Saves time and eliminates the need to keep cartridges on hand. How do they do it? The New Hampshire-based company imports toner "by the ton, literally" and makes its own cartridges. Since each remanufactured cartridge has a brand-new drum, we're not as concerned as we are with most rebuilt and refilled cartridges.
Page After Page -- 800/441-0539 -- 603/595-2522 -- 603/598-4277 (fax)
Can I Play? -- Parsoft and ThrustMaster get the award for most compelling game setup, complete with a fighter plane's ejector seat set in front of three large-screen monitors in a row. The wide-angle flight simulator display (created simply by dragging the window to cover all three monitors) was stupendous. Add to that ThrustMaster's foot-pedal rudder game controller, its joystick controller, and weapons pod, and you've got a serious looking game machine.
ThrustMaster -- 503/639-3200 -- 503/620-8094 (fax)
Get It There Now -- When you copying files, you want them copied now. That's the idea behind such copy accelerators as CopyDoubler. RAD Unlimited Networking (RUN) Inc. takes super-fast copying a step further by accelerating file copies over a network (and opening/saving of three specific file formats over a network). The company's upcoming RunShare product watches your network and lobs extra packets into spaces in the data stream, which is rarely close to full. (Apple's protocols are too polite when it comes to point-to-point traffic.)
RUN -- 408/353-8423 -- 408/353-8984 (fax)
Nifty Storage Product -- SyQuest makes up for its sour-grapes attitude towards Iomega with an upcoming PCMCIA storage product. The device, a type III PCMCIA card (which will work in stacked type II slots), is a complete removable-cartridge drive. It uses SyQuest's 1.8 inch 80 MB cartridges, which look just like the company's 5.25 inch cartridges - except much, much smaller. The PCMCIA card won't work on a MessagePad (which has just one type II slot), but we see tremendous potential for 500-series PowerBooks and DOS-compatible laptops. Imagine mailing a few hundred megabytes in a business-sized envelope.
SyQuest -- 510/226-4000 -- 510/226-4102 (fax)
Best Text Tool -- Word processors keep getting bigger and bigger, but some people just need to write and edit ordinary text. For those folks, BBEdit from Bare Bones Software, is right up on top. In the words of one user, the new version 3.0 "still doesn't suck." Among the ways it doesn't suck are good support for such System 7.5 features as AppleScript and PowerTalk, PowerPC native code in many time-consuming components, and quite a bit of extensibility, which make it great for programmers or managers of World-Wide Web sites.
Bare Bones -- 508/651-3561 -- 508/651-7584 (fax) --email@example.com
Most Exciting Revival -- Only long-time Mac fanatics are likely to remember Dark Castle and Beyond Dark Castle. Delta Tao Software, Inc., the company that brought us Color MacCheese and Spaceward Ho! among other nifty programs, has just acquired these games from Aldus and is working on color versions that'll run on Macs of the '90s. Delta Tao showed Dark Castle '95 at the Expo, and it looked great!
Delta Tao -- 800/827-9316 -- 408/730-9336 -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Article 3 of 16 in series
Mark Anbinder started our tradition of an article awarding some tongue-in-cheek awards (and some serious ones) to various companies, products, and events at the showShow full article
Mark Anbinder started our tradition of an article awarding some tongue-in-cheek awards (and some serious ones) to various companies, products, and events at the show. Mark wasn't able to make it to San Francisco, so we tried to pick up the slack.
Most Connected T-shirt -- Outland gets this award for their t-shirt, which, aside from having a nice design, had a URL emblazoned on it. Next thing you know, URLs will be on cereal boxes.
Classic Microsoft -- Microsoft gave "Windows 95 for Macintosh Developers" seminars and passed out t-shirts with the witty slogan, "Windows 95 Sucks Less." Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell them that Apple had "System 7.5 Sucks Less" t-shirts at Macworld Boston this past August, so once again, Microsoft had to settle for copying Apple after the fact. Plus, the t-shirts made one wonder if Microsoft was saying Windows 95 sucked less than the Mac, a distinctly unpopular sentiment at a Mac trade show.
Neatest Utility -- Natural Intelligence enthusiastically demonstrated a utility, called DragStrip, that enables you to create sets of launcher tiles, much like the freeware Malph, but with numerous enhancements, such as the ability to attach recently used documents to an application launcher tile, and hotspots that bring your strips to the foreground. DragStrip takes the genre to its peak for the moment, and supports its own DragStrip Additions (for changing monitor depth, sound volume, and so on) and Control Strip modules, which were previously only accessible on a desktop Mac with Desktop Strip. DragStrip also comes with a separate Control Panel called Bail, (also released separately by Christopher Evans <email@example.com>) that lets you cancel the launch of an application, a useful capability if you keep both Word 5 and Word 6 on your hard disk. Check out the DragStrip demo if you're interested.
Natural Intelligence -- <firstname.lastname@example.org> -- 617/876-4876 -- 617/492-7425 (fax)
Fishiest Product -- This award easily goes to Aquazone, an aquarium simulator that even had one of its developers stumped when we walked by (he couldn't figure out why all of his fish were dying suddenly). Aquazone isn't a game: you add, remove, and name your fish, feed them, take care of them, control the water temperature, clean the filter, and even tap on the glass. What's more, you can watch your fish grow, lay eggs, and give birth to new fish. Of course, your fish can get sick (and Aquazone comes with a lot of information on piscine diseases!) or even die. You can control the rate at which time passes (typical is 50x normal time) to make things happen faster. Aquazone gives you digital pets, and wins kudos from aquarium owners and fish enthusiasts. In future versions, they plan to add environments and creatures, plus use artificial life techniques to give your ecosystems emergent behaviors and interactions.
Tecsys Computers -- 714/955-4968 -- 714/955-4963 (fax)
Best Booth Display -- DriveSavers, a company that specializes in data recovery, had the most interesting booth display, titled "Museum of Bizarre Disk-asters." Museum-style glass cases displayed several seriously messed up Macs (from which they had recovered hard disk data) in simulations of the original accidents, which included a PowerBook 100 that spent two days in the Amazon river, a PowerBook 140 run over by a Boston Macworld shuttle bus, and a Macintosh that the booth representatives had trouble identifying, but which looked well-scorched.
Drive Savers -- 415/883-4232 -- 415/883-0780 (fax)
Best Deal -- Deneba Software was offering a steep discount on a good bundle: Canvas 3.5, Pixar Typestry 2.0 and DeltaGraph Pro for $159. If you believed the signs on the booth, this was a $900 value, but in terms of street prices it still added up to about 50 percent off. Considering that the upgrade price for Canvas 3.5 alone was over $100, the deal amounted to quite a steal.
Deneba Software -- <email@example.com> -- 305/596-5644.
Most Frequent Buys -- The two products that everyone rushed around trying to buy were Marathon, from Bungie Software, and Route 66, from Geographic Information Systems. We'll look more closely at Route 66 in a future issue, but it looks like a promising application for people who need road maps and also want specific driving directions, complete with PowerPC native code, Apple Guide, and AppleScript abilities. Geographic Information Systems has some U.S. maps available, but they are a Dutch company, so they also have a number of European maps for sale.
Bungie Software -- <firstname.lastname@example.org> -- 312/563-6200 -- 312/563-0545 (fax)
Geographic Information Systems -- 415/957-0666 -- 415/957-1644 (fax)
Best Tongue-in-Cheek Booth -- Dell Computer, one of the main PC clone vendors, had a booth in the Developer Central section of the show floor. I never saw what they were demonstrating, but they had prepared for the worst by piling sandbags around their booth for protection. We're not that mean of a crowd, are we?
Interesting Retreat -- A few months ago, Mitch Hall Associates sent out a press release announcing they had banned all vendors of erotic software from future shows. I was surprised, then, to run into Penthouse Interactive and a couple of similar companies. Rumor had it that after that press release, Penthouse used the "speak softly and wave a big lawyer" technique, and Mitch Hall Associates rescinded the ban rather than fight it in court.
Coolest Gimmick -- Touch-It Paper unveiled Living Paper, a line of heat-sensitive paper products, which come in six different colors in a paint wash look. The trick is that as they heat, they change from their original color to white, and then, relatively quickly, right back again as they cool off. You can print on the paper with a laser printer, and Touch-It's president claimed the paper's color-change capability was more or less permanent. Sure, it's a gimmick, but it's fun, and the world needs more fun.
Touch-It Paper -- 801/786-1000 -- 801/786-1400 (fax)
Neatest Emulator -- Digital Eclipse gets this award for their emulation software that enables them to license and run the code from original classic arcade games, including Defender, Joust, and Robotron, on a Power Mac. Their booth had the original game cabinets with the guts ripped out and replaced with Macs. As they say, the only thing missing is the sticky buttons.
Digital Eclipse -- 510/450-1740 -- 800/289-3374
Best New Hardware -- Iomega and Visioneer share this award since we couldn't decide whether Iomega's purple Zip drives were neater than Visioneer's PaperPort personal scanner. The Mac and DOS/Windows-compatible Zip drive costs about $200 and stores 100 MB on a single $20 Zip disk (it doesn't read or write normal 1.4 MB floppies). The under-$400 PaperPort has OCR software, turns on when you insert a page (and off when it's done), and can scan a page in about six seconds. In fact, we don't have to decide which is best, since Iomega and Visioneer collaborated to create The Electronic Filing Cabinet, which includes a Zip drive and a PaperMax personal scanner (which, as far as I can tell is the same as the PaperPort).
Iomega -- 800/777-6654 -- 801/778-1000 -- 801/778-3748 (fax)
Visioneer -- 800/787-7007 -- 415/812-6400 -- 415/855-9750 (fax)
Best Bumper Sticker -- Pentium Happens.
Article 4 of 16 in series
At a trade show with thousands of products, it's impossible to see everything - or even all the important things. Some of these products may receive more in-depth coverage in future TidBITS issues, but we figured you'd want to hear about them sooner rather than later. Neat Paging Software -- Isn't it nice when a company tops itself? Ex Machina has done so, adding to its line of paging software with Reach Me!, a customizable utility pager users can give their friends and clientsShow full article
At a trade show with thousands of products, it's impossible to see everything - or even all the important things. Some of these products may receive more in-depth coverage in future TidBITS issues, but we figured you'd want to hear about them sooner rather than later.
Neat Paging Software -- Isn't it nice when a company tops itself? Ex Machina has done so, adding to its line of paging software with Reach Me!, a customizable utility pager users can give their friends and clients. Purchased in sets of ten or fifty diskettes (for Mac or Windows), Reach Me! lets the friend or client send a message to the pager owner with a minimum of fuss or muss. The software has your pager's phone number and ID code pre-entered, and it automatically configures itself to the user's modem.
Ex Machina -- 212/843-0000 -- <email@example.com>
More is Better -- A year or so ago, Radius sold the Pivot product line back to Portrait Display Labs, which had developed the concept originally. Now PDL has introduced a 17-inch version of its flexible color monitor, which operates in portrait or landscape mode. This model won't trigger the Mac to redraw the screen automatically, as would previous Pivot monitors; a representative explained that implementing that feature and supporting the new PCI video cards at the same time was an insurmountable challenge. Still, not having that feature may not phase experienced Pivot users, who often found it caused more problems than it solved.
Portrait Display Labs -- 510/227-2700 -- <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Less is Better -- Technosystems USA, developers of Chagall, don't think Photoshop users need to switch to their program, but they're happy to provide a less-expensive, smaller, snappier alternative to new buyers. The $299 Chagall handles most popular graphics file formats, runs fine in as little as 750K of RAM, and even supports Photoshop plug-ins. Its drawing and painting tools are clever and intuitive, and a native Power Mac version is available. (And yes, converted Photoshop users are welcome.)
Technosystems USA -- 800/417-0108 -- 502/351-0108
A Magical Experience -- By far the coolest CD-ROM I ran into in Boston last week was Broderbund's new Learn the Art of Magic. On the CD, professional magician Jay Alexander gives an interactive video-clip tour of the art's history, some of its most important practitioners, and dozens of fun tricks. The demonstrations help kids or adults learn some impressive prestidigitation to amaze friends and relatives, or even go into the business.
Broderbund Software -- 415/382-4400 -- 415/382-4582 (fax)
Tame Those Fonts! Impossible Software's Type-Tamer goes the traditional font-menu utility one better, showing the kind of font (TrueType, PostScript, or bitmap only) as a miniature icon in the Font menu. It also offers a full display of the font's character set right from the Font menu of just about any program, and can tell you what fonts are used in your current document.
Impossible Software -- 714/470-4800 -- <email@example.com>
At It Again -- We're almost, but not quite, tired of commenting that a new Connectix product offers what Apple software engineers ought to have provided all along. The new Speed Doubler replaces Apple's 68LC040 emulator built into every Power Macintosh with a souped-up emulator that compiles on the fly, significantly improving the performance of non-native software. (We've all got some, despite our best efforts.) As a bonus, Speed Doubler replaces Apple's disk cache function with a faster one, and speeds up Finder copying and deleting while letting you move it to the background. 68K Mac owners will see some speed improvements from the disk caching, but Power Mac owners will see their emulated software fly, although there have been sporadic reports of less-than-miraculous performance improvements from Speed Doubler. [It's not miraculous, but as a Power Mac owner, count me as a satisfied Speed Doubler user. -Tonya]
Connectix -- 800/950-5880 -- 415/571-5100 -- <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tongue-in-Cheek T -- Frank Imburgia is a familiar face outside Boston's World Trade Center, where he's sold clever T-shirts to Mac fanatics each August for years. (His dogcow shirts are priceless.) This year's best? A new version of the "This is your brain... this is your brain on drugs" cliche, with an Apple logo under the first phrase and a Windows logo under the second. No, it's not too late to get yours.
The Yankee Group -- 617/367-1000 -- <email@example.com>
Cool Gadget -- Macworld always has its share of nifty peripherals, but this one is small enough you might have missed it. Alps now sells a GlidePoint pointing device, just like the flat-surface Trackpad in Apple's 500 series PowerBooks, but the star of their show was the GlidePoint Keypad, a combination numeric keypad and pointing device scheduled to ship for both Mac and PC platforms any day now. Ever wonder why you couldn't simply tap on a PowerBook's Trackpad to click, instead of reaching for one of the buttons? Alps wondered, too, so the GlidePoint products let you tap right on the pointing surface. The buttons are there, too, and can be programmed for double-clicks, keystrokes, etc.
Alps Electric (USA) -- 800/825-2577 -- 408/432-6000
Too Obvious? Until now, every single developer of telecommunications software has had to cope with a daunting array of different ways that people need to dial the phone. Software needs to handle local and long-distance calls, phone credit cards, authorization codes, and access digits. The problem is compounded for roving users whose PowerBooks need to dial the phone differently each day. Now, Cypress Research offers MegaDial, an inexpensive utility that intercepts any program's attempt to dial with your modem, and handles all of these concerns. MegaDial even knows the local access numbers worldwide for popular commercial online services, and switches for you. Just tell MegaDial where you are.
Cypress Research -- 408/752-2700 -- 408/752-2735 (fax) -- <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Missed By That Much -- CE Software was almost, but not quite, ready to ship QuickMail 3.5 at Macworld. (The release, planned for this August, should be ready in early September.) As promised, the update supports styled text, drag and drop, server-based mail processing, an America Online gateway, and a non-modal QuickConference chat feature. The company has managed to eliminate the need for any extensions in QuickMail, so the software should be cleaner to run, but the resulting three-application architecture (including an always-running QuickMailHub background application) may prove cumbersome.
CE Software -- 800/523-7638 -- 515/221-1801 -- <email@example.com>
Utterly Non-Mac -- One of the niftiest products at the show has nothing to do with Macs. VideoGuide is a television set-top unit that receives its information through MobileComm's nationwide radio pager network. The remote-controlled unit has always-up-to-date TV program schedules for your area, complete with descriptions, movie casts, and local programming. The box is under $100 and works with any TV in the continental US, with or without cable. There's a low monthly charge for the basic data, and a small optional monthly charge if you also want the unit to show you the latest sports and news info on-screen.
VideoGuide -- 617/276-8800 -- 617/276-8878 (fax)
How... Nice -- On Technology is very proud of the email integration feature in the new Meeting Maker XP 3.0, but I'm less impressed by the company's decision to support only Microsoft's MAPI technology for email. The much-touted Internet support in the program inexplicably doesn't include email, though I'd hate to downplay the cool ability to connect to your calendar server from anywhere on the Internet (including via PPP or SLIP). Support for SMTP should be a given, and adding support for other LAN-based email technologies such as SoftArc's FirstClass or CE's QuickMail would help in the workgroup environments Meeting Maker calls home.
On Technology -- 800/548-8871 -- 617/374-1400
Turnabout Revisited -- I like Here & Now from Software Architects better than Insignia's utility for reading Mac disks on DOS/Windows computers; you can read not only Mac-formatted floppies, but also SCSI devices such as Bernoulli and SyQuest cartridges, optical discs, and even hard drives. Here & Now supports the Mac's 31-character filenames, and links Mac file types to appropriate Windows applications.
Software Architects -- 206/487-0122 -- <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Best PCI Device -- It's not that I don't like the new PCI Local Bus expansion technology Apple has adopted for its new line of Power Macs, just that some devices can be hard to find on PCI at this point. Add one of Second Wave's Xpanse PN units to your PCI-based Mac, and you can use two, four, or eight NuBus cards with your system, although it's not exactly an inexpensive alternative.
Second Wave -- 512/329-9283 -- 512/329-9299 (fax)
We'd Hate to See "Complex" -- Claris now offers the Claris Card, a calling card "created to simplify your life." As far as we can tell, it just simplifies Claris's ability to charge for technical support that many companies still offer free of charge. (Either pay-as-you-go, starting at $19.95 for the first ten minutes, or annual subscriptions for $129 and up.) The company promises the card will zip you past its phone support line's "complicated" menu system. You can use it as a phone calling card for long distance calls, too. So, um... this is simple?
Claris -- 800/234-4750
Neat Giveaway -- Gone are the days of tchotchkes at every other booth, but the clever folks at Digitool, Inc. were spreading the word about their new Power Mac native version of Macintosh Common Lisp (formerly an Apple product) by giving out postcards complete with a postage stamp. Tell your friends.
Digitool -- 617/441-5000 -- <email@example.com>
Article 5 of 16 in series
Every year we try to do some sort of a superlatives article - the people, booths, products, and events at Macworld that in some way struck us as especially good, bad, interesting, insipid, or somehow out-of-the-ordinaryShow full article
Every year we try to do some sort of a superlatives article - the people, booths, products, and events at Macworld that in some way struck us as especially good, bad, interesting, insipid, or somehow out-of-the-ordinary. Here then, is this year's installment.
Biggest Button Bonanza -- Iomega, makers of the popular Zip and Jaz removable hard drives, easily won the award for most creative button advertising. Iomega reps constantly handed out large yellow buttons with a variety of slogans on them, and some show-goers virtually armor-plated themselves with the buttons. The slogans were great, and I recorded most of them, along with some comments in parentheses.
I am creative (so why are you wearing an advertising button?)
I am easy (potentially dangerous for those of the female persuasion)
I am graphic (isn't that illegal in some states?)
I am loaded (downright stupid, especially on the streets of San Francisco)
I am protected (from what?)
I am smart (sure, buddy)
I am the walrus (Paul is dead)
I do WYSIWYG (but not Windows)
I feel bitmapped (me too)
I give As (no wonder we have problems with education)
I got lucky at Macworld (hmm, multiple interpretations here)
I got Quarked (does that hurt much?)
I like Apples (now if only Wall Street did)
I like recess (you never fell from the monkey bars)
I surf (far out, dude!)
I was recovered from Mac HD (with only a little data fork corruption)
Biggest No-Show -- Where was WordPerfect? They've had one of the most well-attended booths at Macworld Expos for several years, but it appears that the company's fortunes have turned on them after being held up for sale by Novell (see TidBITS-302). An article in Friday's Wall Street Journal talked about the corporate culture clash between WordPerfect and Novell and the damage done to WordPerfect. Apparently, Novell is still shopping WordPerfect's remnants around, but has yet to find a taker.
Best Teaser -- This award goes to a product we can't name that acts as a bidirectional gateway between HyperCard and WebSTAR. In other words, it enables you to publish HyperCard stacks on the Web, displaying the contents in both text and graphical forms. Geoff and I were wowed by how cool this baby is, even given its extremely early status. We'll keep you posted when we can say more about it, but I think this product may go a long way toward differentiating the Mac as a Web server, given all the HyperCard stacks out there. It might even help revitalize HyperCard.
Best Tchotchkes -- StarNine, working on being called Quarterdeck, cops this prize for their foam brains inscribed with the StarNine URL and the phrase "Blow Your Mind." Apparently, David Thompson, StarNine's Director of Marketing, came up with the idea (undoubtedly affected at a subconscious level by the name of Chuck Shotton's company when WebSTAR was still MacHTTP - the name was BIAP Systems, and BIAP stands for Brain In A Pan). StarNine then called a company in Berkeley that provides all sorts of tchotchkes, and asked for a foam brain. That company didn't have any (who stocks foam brains, I'm asking?), but apparently there's a world wide database of tchotchke companies, and there's one company in Taiwan that made a foam brain, originally for a meeting of the America Neurological Association. The tangled webs we weave... .
Softest Floor -- We have to hand it to Microsoft - the company really knows how to rent thick carpet pads. After a hard day of moseying around Macworld, the next best thing to sitting was checking out the Microsoft Home CDs like Cinemania, Music Central, Wine Guide, and the more staid Bookshelf and Encarta. Let's face it, Word and Excel just don't set the heart aflutter any more, not that I personally have ever experienced much in the way of Microsoft palpitations.
Coolest Digital Camera -- Kodak wins this award hands down for the Kodak DC 50, which takes the basic feature set of the DC 40 (which in turn is an enhancement of Apple's QuickTake digital camera) and adds features like a 3x motorized zoom with a close-up mode for shots within 19 inches. Most important, based on comments during my digital camera articles this summer, the DC 50 can either download images via a serial cable or store them on a Type I or Type II PC Card that you can then insert into a PC Card reader attached to the Mac. The Kodak staff weren't particularly helpful, but other basic specs are 756 x 504 pixels of resolution, 24-bit color, three levels of compression (7 pictures per MB, 11 per MB, and 22 per MB), and a price around $1,000. I'm fond of my QuickTake, but I might consider moving up if the price was right.
Monitor Lust -- The coolest monitor (perhaps literally) that I saw at the show was a 20-inch color gas plasma display from Nishiden that was about two inches thick. It only ran at 640 x 480, and I don't know what bit depth it was at, but for $6,000, I decided that my curiosity could be put on hold for a few more years.
Most Geeks Per Square Foot -- Jean-Louis Gassee's new company, Be, wins this award, which was especially interesting given that the BeBox isn't even Mac-compatible. Even still, I never managed to push through the crowds to check out the BeBox close up (I don't know if I'm quite enough of a geek to qualify, since I haven't the foggiest idea with what I'd do with the special 37-pin GeekPort. [I had no trouble pushing through - I think they were scared of my hair. -Geoff] Be was handing out "We be geeks" pocket protectors for their tchotchke, and a sign on the otherwise standard booth read: "Surgeon General's Warning: Unfit for consumption by human beings." And just in case you didn't get the message, it said (or I assume it said) the same thing in French.
Best Booth Furniture -- Hayden Books and Metrowerks share this award for their use of extremely comfortable leather couches. It's bad enough that you have to spend most of the show standing and walking, but when you do get to a chair, they're often the uncomfortable industrial sorts. Nothing beats being able to sink down into a cozy couch and chat for a while, or in the case of the Hayden booth (which attempted to imitate a Borders bookstore) read a book for a while.
Most Ubiquitous Programmer's Toy -- Nearly everywhere you looked, developers were using Troy Gaul's excellent Infinity Windoid to create palettes, toolbars, status windows, pop-up windows, online help, and more. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but I think seeing your name in the credits of dozens of new programs must be equally gratifying. Congratulations, Troy!
Best New Solution for Old Problems -- How many people do you know using overpowered spreadsheet programs to calculate loan payments, or merely average a column of numbers? A forthcoming program from Casady & Greene called C+G Solutions offers a visual, easy to use approach for flexibly integrating data and calculations. Operations are tied to data by dragging operators off toolbars and drawing relationships between them, and the data and relationships can be changed or added to at any time. Once an operation is set up the way you like, it can be "crunched" down and used as a single operator elsewhere in the program. C+G Solutions offers a new paradigm for performing both straightforward and sophisticated calculations, although it is (perhaps unfortunately) being billed as the first spreadsheet innovation in 10 years. C+G Solutions is expected to be available this spring.
Article 6 of 16 in series
[We don't have room for every comment we received about Macworld Expo, but we just had to make an exception for this list. -Adam] You'll read about the "important" stuff in all the trade rags and online 'zinesShow full article
[We don't have room for every comment we received about Macworld Expo, but we just had to make an exception for this list. -Adam]
You'll read about the "important" stuff in all the trade rags and online 'zines. Here's some of what really happened at Macworld Expo a few weeks back.
Biggest Presence on the Show Floor -- Power Computing. Many, if not most, of the machines on the floor were theirs, not to mention the big, loud, video wall. Next year's buy-out rumor will probably be Power Computing buying Apple.
Hottest Party -- Dantz. Literally, the hottest party. Held at the Cartoon Art Museum, this packed event overwhelmed whatever air conditioning there may have been. If not for the great food, refreshments and conversation, I'd have left. Glad I didn't.
Other Biggest Presence on the Show Floor -- The Web. Every vendor was hawking its application as a Web tool. "Known us for years as a [database / spreadsheet / word processor / graphics application / floor wax]? Well, surprise, we're really a Web site builder!"
Best Deal -- Fujitsu. The company offered formatted 128 MB optical disks for $5 each. That's about four cents per megabyte. I bought ten, or 1.25 GB, for $50.
Best Party -- NEC. (The MetaTools party, while impressive, was a little too hip for its own good, and the free mixed drinks inspired many meaningful but incoherent conversations. I found the free shuttle buses a nice touch, though.) The NEC party hit on all counts: Great food (hors d'oeuvres, chili dogs, gelato, and more), great drinks (free beer, wine, soft drinks, and coffee), great location (the Gift Center Pavilion atrium), great music (D' Cuckoo), great t-shirts, great lighting and sound, and even a great cause (NEC awarded Shriners Hospitals $25,000 at the event). About the only thing missing was sex. Which brings us to...
Best Breakfast -- Well, actually, it was the only industry breakfast I attended - English company Dorling Kindersley's introduction of their latest CD-ROM, Anne Hooper's Ultimate Sex Guide. Appropriately, eggs and sausages were served. Or, as the British say, bangers.
Best Demo -- Global Village, Friday, 11:25. The demo consisted of the demo guy and an actor who played, at various times during the demo, a Deadhead, a computer nerd, and an artsy French person. What made this particular session amazing was the audience. First, a guy stepped up and juggled the spongy globes Global Village was tossing to (and at) the crowd. Then, the demo guy got a snappy dialog going with a man in the audience. (Demo Guy: "The hottest thing going right now is the Internet. You, sir, you look like an Internet user. What to you use it for?" Man: "To waste time.") But the demo turned into hilarious improv when the woman pulled from the crowd to help with the demo turned and kissed the actor portraying the nerd. Both of the presenters barely recovered enough to finish. But recover they did, and brilliantly, weaving in and out of the prepared script. Major kudos to the presenters.
Personally, this was the best Macworld ever for me. Best people, most fun, best food, best ride (stretch limo to North Beach), most centrally located hotel. Oh yeah, I spent less money than my last three visits, and I even lost five pounds walking around. (Or maybe I just sweated them off at the Dantz party). I was thoroughly and joyfully exhausted.
Must have been the sex breakfast.
Article 7 of 16 in series
by Tonya Engst
Fueled by a melange of Internet-related software, this year's Macworld Expo had plenty of enthusiastic crowds and product announcements. We'll cover more of these products in future issues, but in this semi-annual Macworld Expo superlatives article, I chronicle companies whose gimmicks particularly stood out or whose offerings caught my eye. Slimmed Down Approach -- The Aladdin Systems booth wasn't new, but space-constrained attendees enjoyed the StuffIt t-shirts, which set a new standard for sartorial compressionShow full article
Fueled by a melange of Internet-related software, this year's Macworld Expo had plenty of enthusiastic crowds and product announcements. We'll cover more of these products in future issues, but in this semi-annual Macworld Expo superlatives article, I chronicle companies whose gimmicks particularly stood out or whose offerings caught my eye.
Slimmed Down Approach -- The Aladdin Systems booth wasn't new, but space-constrained attendees enjoyed the StuffIt t-shirts, which set a new standard for sartorial compression. The shirts, distributed in shrink wrap, were compressed with 50 tons of pressure to the size of a large bar of soap. Aladdin also announced an agreement with Netscape Communications to bundle StuffIt Expander with Netscape Navigator, which will mean that Netscape Navigator will finally be able to handle MacBinary files without the user needing to download another application.
Tower of Marketing Power -- Never one to sit quietly in a crowd, Power Computing made quite a display with an assortment of games and marketing pitches that attracted the largest, most enthusiastic crowds of the show. The height of the action, though, took place just outside, where Power Computing offered bungie jumping from a 225 foot tower. Power Computing's marketing firm must have had a good time with the promotional boxes being handed out at the MacWEEK Volume Buyers meeting the day before the show: the box looked like the face of a Power Tower, and when you opened the cover a small sound chip screamed as a paper doll flopped from a rubber band. Attached to the bottom of the box with a bungie cord was a t-shirt proclaiming, "We're fighting back for the Mac." Power was (of course) showing off its latest models (see TidBITS-337 and TidBITS-339), and as with the last few major Macworld Expos, Power Computing dotted the entire exposition scene, with many vendors showing their wares on Power Computing machines.
Buggiest Product -- Pulse Entertainment gave out realistic looking plastic cockroaches and showcased Bad Mojo, a dark, gritty, CD-ROM game where you play the role of a scientist who won a grant to complete research to wipe out cockroaches. Early on in the game, you are dealt a Kafka-esque hand of "bad mojo" and transmographied into a roach. Your mission is to collect information while interacting with objects and other animals, and eventually to gain enough insight to return to a human state, although there are several possible endings. What makes this game stand out is its real-life images and careful attention to interactions and detail. Bad Mojo's creators crafted a highly realistic environment by researching how roaches move and how surfaces become dirty. Pulse has made a 4 MB demo version available through its Web site.
Most Interactive -- MacUser, MacWEEK, and ZDNet teamed up with The Winners' Club, a series of games which culminated with each player putting on protective eye goggles and entering a small, transparent booth the size of a shower stall with coupons and dollar bills on the floor. The goal was to grab as many of those coupons and dollars as possible while a fan blew them around. When your time was up, you exchanged the coupons for software and hardware prizes, though the people I watched only won the default prize, a t-shirt.
Best Way to Make Money on the Net? Realizing that few companies are making much money from Internet content, but that plenty of companies make money selling physical objects, such as books, via the Internet, Wolff New Media was showcasing its NetBooks series. A NetBook reviews Web sites about specific topics, such as using the Internet to find a job or to follow the next U.S. presidential election. A representative described the company as having a "newsroom atmosphere," with some 50 editors writing books and updating books online with fresh reviews. The company plans to publish one new book every three weeks. You can check out their Web site, which reportedly holds reviews of some 50,000 sites.
Stock up on Stock -- As electronic transactions and record keeping become increasingly common, stock certificates have become increasingly uncommon, despite their often interesting typography and graphic design. Operating under the theory that actual certificates could become valuable collectors items (or at least well-loved wall decorations), One Share of Stock, Inc. sells framed stock certificates. You could pick any stock, but One Share of Stock featured Apple stock at the show. The company offered all comers the chance to spend $89 for a share of $21 Apple stock, delivered as a framed certificate. Considering the commission, certificate, and framing fee, $89 doesn't seem utterly unreasonable.
Staying Alive -- Live Objects, components that take advantage of OpenDoc technology, showed up here and there on the Expo floor. Some, like Bare Bones Software's BBEdit Lite for OpenDoc 1.0 module, are due for imminent release; others, like Nisus Writer 5.0, are still a few months from shipping. I didn't get to see them, but I heard glowing reports about upcoming Live Objects from Quebec-based Adrenaline Software - Adrenaline Numbers, a spreadsheet part that should import Excel spreadsheets and offers 149 functions, and Adrenaline Charts, for making 2-D, 3-D, and even animated graphs.
Handiest Product -- GBM design showcased mobile wrist supports called the Comfort Point and the Comfortype. You move the supports by resting your wrists on their "contour paddles" while you use a mouse, trackball, or keyboard. You can adjust the paddle to three different angles. The Comfort Point attaches to the back of a mouse (or trackball); the Comfortype looks much like a pair of Comfort Points mounted on a track installed in front of a keyboard. Adam bought a $20 (show special) Comfort Point, and we'll see how he likes it.
Loudest Party -- It's hard to give this award to any one party because it seems that all the parties we went to this year at Macworld were way too loud. These are geek parties, and what we geeks want to do when we get together is talk. We don't want to listen to music, and we certainly don't want to listen to music played so loud that we have to resort to screaming to carry on conversations. The worst offenders this year were the Apple party at the Roxy on Tuesday night before the show and the Mac the Knife party on Thursday night of the show. It took days after each for my voice to recover from trying to scream over the deafening decibels. If you're planning a party for a future Mac show, ditch the music and let people talk to one another.
Serious Font Management -- I don't do much with fonts these days, but I was extremely impressed with FontReserve, a new font-management tool from DiamondSoft. What's important about FontReserve is that it has a powerful database at its core. The database manages all your font files and stores information about the font names, font IDs, foundry information, version information, and location on your hard disk. Once you have all your fonts in FontReserve's database, you can easily create and manipulate hierarchical sets of fonts and even do things like create a Finder folder containing copies of all the fonts in a specific set for use by a service bureau. FontReserve supports all font formats, matches outlines and bitmap fonts, removes duplicate fonts (after comparing name and version information), checks for font corruption, classifies fonts according to a proposed ISO standard for font categorization, and organizes your fonts by type, foundry, and family.
Article 8 of 16 in series
Macworld Expo brings out not just the best and the worst in the Macintosh industry, but also the strangest. Besides, after four days of walking around the cavernous Moscone Center, surrounded by 70,000 Macintosh fans, it's hard to keep a firm grip on realityShow full article
Macworld Expo brings out not just the best and the worst in the Macintosh industry, but also the strangest. Besides, after four days of walking around the cavernous Moscone Center, surrounded by 70,000 Macintosh fans, it's hard to keep a firm grip on reality. Here then are some of the products, booths, announcements, and miscellany that particularly caught our attention.
Best Kids' Software -- Apple's Cocoa, a wonderful tool for kids of all ages for creating game and simulation worlds (written with Prograph, no less) has gone into free DR1 release and is available for download. It makes stand-alone applications or can be played on the Internet using a Netscape plug-in. Already some kids calling themselves Tenadar Software have marketed a game written with it; being shown a demo by munchkins is somewhat unnerving, but I guess I will have to have to get used to it. [MN]
Most Expensive Giveaway -- Symantec gave a free copy of the $99 Visual Page to anyone who sat through a demo of any of their products. It's yet another WYSIWYG Web page builder, but I didn't own one and it works just fine. I suspect they gave it away because (a) there were minor errors with the CD pressing, (b) the program has slightly rough edges, (c) HTML has evolved somewhat beyond the program, and (d) they needed to get into step with Adobe PageMill which is being given away left, right, and center. Symantec won't lose out because they'll hook a lot of users and then be able to charge them for future updates. [MN]
Get Thee to REI -- This award goes to Adaptec, a company that makes relatively dull-looking SCSI and network adapter cards. They increased the visual appeal of their booth by including of a 25-foot high fake mountain, reminiscent of the much larger indoor climbing wall (reportedly the world's largest) that Seattle's Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) recently installed in their flagship store. Apparently someone came by the Adaptec booth and offered to install a climbing wall - too bad the rock-colored foam wouldn't have supported crampons. [ACE]
Saddest Words of Tongue or Pen -- "PowerPC Only." This increasingly popular mantra was especially prominent with visual Java creation tools, including Symantec Visual Cafe and RandomNoise Coda (the exception was WebBurst, from Power Production Software). I knew this was going to happen but my 68K Mac and I are having trouble accepting it. [MN]
Coolest External Technology -- My vote for coolest external technology goes to SMART Board, from SMART Technologies Inc. It's a whiteboard which you attach to your computer through the serial port. You can write on it with colored markers, and whatever you write can be captured into the computer as a graphic; or (this part is even cooler) you can project your computer's screen onto the whiteboard, and then touching the whiteboard with your finger is just like mousing there to control the computer. Plus, you can "write" on the picture with virtual colored markers whose traces are actually projected. How I wish I'd had this when I was teaching! [MN]
Runner-up for Coolest External Technology -- The Wireless Modem, from Metricom. Already, I picture myself with my PowerBook, sitting in a yuppie cafe, connected to the Internet through the antenna of this cool-looking black box. Now if only Metricom would complete their receiver infrastructure; they have to attach receivers to streetlight poles all over your city before you can use the modem, and so far they've only done a few major cities. Besides, I can't afford a seat at a yuppie cafe. [MN]
Neatest Utility -- PreFab Text Machine, an ingenious program by the same folks who brought us PreFab Player, is a search-and-replace engine using an English-like GREP which in some ways is even better than Nisus Writer's! This could bring powerful text-manipulation to any program that can interact with TextMachine via AppleScript or Frontier, or that can use TextMachine as an OpenDoc part. So far it's in alpha only, but, as someone once prophesied of the Wright brothers, "These boys will bear watching." [MN]
Safest Email -- Belgian developer Highware showed a beta version of Pretty Safe Mail, which uses PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) to encrypt and decrypt files, folders, email messages, or even parts of email messages, all by choosing a command from a system-wide menu. Pretty Safe Mail also supports digital signatures and is the simple implementation of strong cryptography software that I've been waiting for. [ACE]
Most Boring Vaporware -- Apple takes this prize, with Mac OS 7.6. It hasn't even appeared yet and already everyone's wondering what all the fuss is about. [MN]
People That Most Closely Resemble Their Software -- The employees of Alien Skin Software, makers of the Photoshop filter package Eye Candy 3.0 (formerly known as Black Box), dyed their hair fluorescent colors, presumably to show off their Hairdresser plug-in for Photoshop. [ACE]
Best Way to Watch the Show at the Show -- Rearden Technologies set up several video cameras around the show floor using MacWebCam, which captured either static images every so often or streamed live video. You can even build time-lapse QuickTime movies with MacWebCam. New at the show was a pan/tilt unit that you could control from your Web browser to check out different sights around the camera. [ACE]
Best Potential HyperCard-beater -- Despite my desperate loyalty to HyperCard, I was strongly shaken by the demo of Allegiant's SuperCard 3.0, which looks like HyperCard done right (helpful palettes, true integrated color, vector-based graphics, easier "automatic" scripting) and can already operate across the Internet in Web pages by means of a Netscape plug-in called Roadster. [MN]
Best Program for Sun Worshippers or Cube Dwellers -- Sundial, from John Neil & Associates, replaces your desktop pattern with one of ten professionally photographed California landscapes. What's cool is that the image is actually a 288-frame, 24-hour QuickTime movie that changes slowly during the day to match the progress of the sun. Sundial even synchronizes with sunrise and sunset in your part of the world. Just imagine the non-scenic possibilities for future Sundial movies - "A Day in the Life of Sarajevo," "Living on the Street," or "Hotel Lobby." Sundial can theoretically use any 288-frame QuickTime movie, and John Neil & Associates is sponsoring a contest for new ideas. Imagine what it could be like if they add support (it's theoretically already there) for the sound track in QuickTime and/or QuickTime VR. [ACE]
Scariest Support -- Casady & Greene featured an extremely large man dressed up as a genie at their booth, calling him the Answer Genie (he was reportedly a member of the tech support staff). Unfortunately, he was so imposing that one show-goer, when prompted to direct a technical question to the Answer Genie instead of a more diminutive marketing person, looked quickly at the hulking genie and declared firmly, "No, I don't think so."
It's About Time -- Long-time Internet developer InterCon Systems has come up with a product that tons of people have wanted for years - MacVPA (VPA stands for Virtual Private AppleTalk). Basically, MacVPA provides AppleTalk access for people who only have a PPP-based Internet connection. So, if you're travelling, MacVPA enables you to dial any Internet provider and get AppleTalk access to your Internet-connected network back at the office, all without needing to run your own dial-in servers (or make long-distance telephone calls). [ACE]
Neatest Ergonomic Aid -- The No Hands Mouse, by Hunter Digital, isn't a mouse, and it doesn't even sit on your desk. It's actually a pair of foot pedals; the right one controls mouse movement with a joystick-like action, while the left pedal controls mouse clicking (rock forward to click, back to double-click). I had trouble moving the cursor around, and found myself unconsciously grabbing for a nonexistent mouse, but others I talked to liked the feel. I assume you'd get used to it fairly quickly. [JLC]
Most Dissonant Booths -- This award goes to all the RAM vendors at the show who had large, elaborate booths that stood in stark contrast to the small size of the almost identical products they sell. RAM is small, all SIMMs and DIMMs look the same, and RAM doesn't exactly provide much demo fodder. On the other hand, you can never have too much of it. [ACE]
Our Favorite Button -- "Email Rules", from StarNine. How true.
Coolest Computer Case -- Apple's four pound eMate Newton, which will be available shortly for the education market and for the rest of us in the middle of 1997, features an integral handle and (in the unit we saw) a murky green translucent plastic case. The handle has prompted some to label it the "Power Purse," but overall, I was extremely impressed. The keyboard was obviously designed for small hands, but was usable by adults. The Newton operating system worked well and the applications included a functional word processor, spreadsheet, drawing program, graphing calculator, address book, and calendar. I've been waiting for a Newton with a keyboard and larger screen (480 x 320) for a while. One neat feature I haven't seen before was a tripod mount on the bottom - a tripod would be an excellent way to use the eMate in the field. [ACE]
Best Tchotchkes -- Drive Savers, the folks who can recover hard drives from PowerBooks run over by buses or dropped in lakes, gave out Roomerangs, little foam four-pronged boomerang-like toys designed for tossing indoors. If you need to use DriveSavers' services, you're definitely going to be up for throwing something, so why not make it a Roomerang? [JLC]
Article 9 of 16 in series
by Jeff Carlson
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Macworld Expo is looking for items, products, and events that draw attention for unusual reasons. My search this year was rewarded with several that were out of the ordinary. Most Creative Use of a Pickle -- David Pogue, hawking his book, The Weird Wide Web, made a pickle glow and flash using a contraption he made from a wood frame, two nails to skewer the pickle, and a power cord from an old lampShow full article
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Macworld Expo is looking for items, products, and events that draw attention for unusual reasons. My search this year was rewarded with several that were out of the ordinary.
Most Creative Use of a Pickle -- David Pogue, hawking his book, The Weird Wide Web, made a pickle glow and flash using a contraption he made from a wood frame, two nails to skewer the pickle, and a power cord from an old lamp. The electricity activates the salt used to cure the pickle. When people started laughing, he justified the show by exclaiming, "Please, this is science!"
Cool-But-Underwhelming Attraction -- Power Computing made its mark last year with its Power Tower, a tall rig where brave show-goers could bungee jump over the Boston Harbor. Power brought the Power Tower back, but in a shorter, less exciting version: the Power Zip Line, where you strapped yourself into a harness and slid down an angled cable towards the ground. Although it looked fun, it wasn't quite the same as plummeting headfirst at the harbor.
Best Entertainment -- I unfortunately missed this one, but many people told me that this year's best party act was at the Mac OS 8 rollout. Soul godfather James Brown entertained the crowd with a rousing two-hour set.
Most Unfortunate Costume -- Every Expo there seems to be one company that delights in dressing up an employee in a costume. This show's winner belonged to the folks at Hitachi, who created an MPEG Cam costume to accompany the release of their cool new digital camera. The only problem was that the costume was made of cloth and foam, so the sleek camera ended up looking like a squishy Star Wars droid.
Best Floor Entertainment -- This award is presented hands-down to magician Joel Bauer, whose pitches for Motorola's StarMax line of Mac compatible systems drew a crowd of people that consistently blocked the aisle in front of the booth. Not only was he a good magician, he knew his information thoroughly and performed without a script. So even if you'd seen his act before, the next show was guaranteed to be different. It's no trick: he was the real deal.
Most Useful Tchotchke -- Motorola gave out sturdy nylon show bags to anyone who would listen to its presentation, easily besting some of the other companies' bags that were usually torn by the second day.
Best Tchotchke -- Although this Expo seemed a little short on free goodies, I was particularly taken by the rubber aliens given out by the folks at Alien Skin Software. Not only were they an interesting mixture of cute and gross, the colors often matched the hair colors of the employees handing them out.
Best Little-Mentioned Addition to the Show -- Tucked deep into Apple's pavilion, a line of companies featuring Rhapsody applications proved that the next generation operating system is moving along nicely. Although Apple is currently drawing attention away from Rhapsody in favor of selling millions of copies of Mac OS 8, when the next-generation OS arrives, there will be software to take advantage of it. Attendees were able to play with functional programs running under pre-release versions of Rhapsody.
Article 10 of 16 in series
In 1992, our long-time contributing editor Mark Anbinder suggested a post-Macworld article of "superlatives" - products, companies, booths, events, or anything else that struck us as intriguingShow full article
In 1992, our long-time contributing editor Mark Anbinder suggested a post-Macworld article of "superlatives" - products, companies, booths, events, or anything else that struck us as intriguing. Since then, we've published a superlatives article after almost every Macworld Expo; it's illuminating to look back to see what we thought was worth mentioning.
This year, we almost cancelled this superlatives article because Apple's iBook consumer portable and AirPort wireless networking dominated the Expo. TidBITS readers at the show said the same thing - many products were of a high quality, but didn't knock your socks off because of the hubbub surrounding Apple. Nonetheless, Macworld sported many worthy exhibitors we haven't yet mentioned, and the following items caught our eyes.
Most Amazing Graphics Application -- I'm not a graphics professional, but I was stunned by Synthetik Software's new $295 Studio Artist. It's hard to describe, since it can "simulate natural art materials," "automatically paint and draw based on intelligent visual perception modules," and "autopaint or rotoscope QuickTime video frame by frame automatically." I'm also intrigued by its capability to "warp, stretch, and mutilate images in real-time." Studio Artist's demo at the Macworld Town Meeting had everyone's jaw firmly ensconced on the floor. Don't rely on my poor description, though: download a free 8.2 MB demo. [ACE]
Best T-Shirts -- Tchotchkes were almost non-existent at this year's Expo, but Cyrusoft International, makers of the Mulberry IMAP email program, came through with a t-shirt that neatly summarized existence: "Email is my life." Apple also won points for a shirt playing off the classic "I <heart> New York" phrase, replacing the heart with a red Apple logo. [ACE]
Best Bargain -- 999software.com is an online software discounter and clearinghouse. We're used to seeing such deep discounts at trade shows, but these folks do it all year long, online. All of their software titles cost $9.99, plus shipping. Their catalog leans heavily toward software for kids and last year's games, but they have some relatively new items, and some gems like StuffIt Deluxe 4.5. We were curious about upgrade policies for such purchases, but Aladdin assured us these copies of StuffIt Deluxe were as eligible for upgrades as any others. [MHA]
Best USB Product -- Dozens of vendors were showing off USB-related gizmos, but Entrega blew us away with their $150 Mac USB Dock, a one-stop solution for users of USB-only Macs who mourn the absence of SCSI and serial ports. The Entrega Mac USB Dock builds upon the company's USB-to-SCSI and serial converters, offering two USB ports, an 8-pin serial port, and a Mac-standard DB-25 SCSI port. The Mac USB Dock should ship this month. [MHA]
Rethinking CDs -- If you've been frustrated using a networked CD-ROM jukebox for sharing CD-ROMs in an office, check out LaCie's NetBox, a stand-alone 10/100Base-T network appliance that stores up to 54 650 MB CD-ROMs (or more smaller CD-ROMs) on an internal 36 GB hard disk. Just insert a CD into the NetBox and it transfers an image of the CD to the hard disk for network access. NetBox offers access times about 15 times faster than a jukebox, holds more CDs, and has no fragile robotic arms, all for about $2,000. You can add additional CD-ROM and DVD drives, as well as more hard disks. The only downside is that the NetBox may not be able to create valid disk images of copy-protected CD-ROMs.
LaCie also showed their $1,040 Dupli-121 CD duplicator - put a CD-ROM in the CD-ROM drive and a blank CD in the CD-R drive, and the Dupli-121 makes an exact copy. Although the Dupli-121 is a SCSI device and includes software so you can use it a CD-ROM drive and as a CD-R drive, you can also disconnect it entirely for speedy stand-alone duplication - duplicating a full CD takes only nine minutes. If you need to duplicate many CDs quickly and can't afford to tie up a Mac, take a look at the Dupli-121. [ACE]
Help for Orphans -- The PowerPC revolution happened years ago, and folks with older computers are finding they can no longer run current software. Sonnet Technologies has come to the rescue with the $300 Presto PPC, a processor upgrade card for the wide range of 68040-based desktop Macs, including the Quadra and Centris lines, plus selected Performa 400, 500, and 600 series machines. Impressively, these accelerated computers are even compatible with Mac OS 8.5.1 and may support newer operating systems. The Presto PPC carries a 100 MHz 601 processor, which just squeaks these machines into the PowerPC category. [MHA]
Least Visible Mail Server -- Frustrated by retrieving your office's email over a slow Internet connection or from your ISP's overloaded mail server? RockFord Systems MailProxy is a email server designed to deal with intermittent connections. Using MailProxy, email moves to and from your email client at the speed of your local network, not the speed of your Internet connection, which saves time as you use your primary Macintosh. MailProxy does require a Mac with a static IP address, which isn't true of most dialup modem Internet connections, but which can apply to many ISDN, DSL, and cable modem connections. MailProxy will cost $300 when it becomes available this month; you can download a 1.0 MB demo now. [ACE]
Smallest Firewall -- The growing availability of high-speed permanent Internet connections to the home via DSL or cable modems means individuals need to think more about personal network security than ever before. But firewalls are generally expensive and difficult to configure (see Chris Pepper's "What's a Firewall, and Why Should You Care?" in TidBITS-468). Now there's NetBarrier, a personal firewall from Intego that's inexpensive ($75, through 30-Sep-99, then $150) and easy to set up. If you have a single Mac with a permanent Internet connection, check out NetBarrier for protection from a wide variety of Internet attacks. [ACE]
Next PIM to Check Out -- We've used Now Up-to-Date and Now Contact for years; although the products were just picked up by Power On Software, they languished at Now, then Qualcomm, and their extensions aren't particularly compatible with current versions of the Mac OS. In the meantime, I plan to check out the $60 Chronos Consultant. The only missing feature I want is a client/server architecture (currently, if you take a PowerBook off your network, you must take a copy of the Consultant file with you and throw it away when you return). The forthcoming Office Consultant will enable you to work off the network and have changes synchronized when you reconnect. It's worth a look, particularly if you need multiple user network access and PalmPilot synchronization. A free 2.8 MB demo is available. [ACE]
About Time -- Graphic designers sometimes complain that they can't draw on their screens, seeing their artwork take shape beneath their fingers. Graphics tablets are a good halfway solution, replacing the mouse for finer control, and touch screens have been good only for information kiosks. Enter Wacom's PL-300 and PL-400 Display Tablets, which combine a graphics tablet and with a flat-screen LCD panel. Someone should have done this sooner, but flat-screen displays of any useful size have only recently dropped to a reasonable price point. Wacom's Display Tablets start at about $1,800, which is a lot of money, but reasonable when you consider the prices of similar flat-screen displays (such as Apple's Studio Display 15) and existing high-quality graphics tablets. It might seem odd to draw on a horizontal (or tilted) monitor, but the sharp, bright displays and superior pen drawing technology will make these products winners. [MHA]
Article 11 of 16 in series
As has become our custom, we once again present you with the superlatives - the best, worst, and weirdest - of Macworld Expo. Best Gotcha -- Olympus takes home the award for the best gotcha for their fake film canistersShow full article
As has become our custom, we once again present you with the superlatives - the best, worst, and weirdest - of Macworld Expo.
Best Gotcha -- Olympus takes home the award for the best gotcha for their fake film canisters. They look real, but the film leader strip says "Pull." Doing so reveals that Olympus doesn't sell film, and encourages you to visit the Olympus booth to check out their digital cameras. It got us.
Worst Tchotchke -- Iomega picks this one up for the tremendously annoying clickers they gave out to advertise their forthcoming Clik! drive (which sounds fairly cool). Everyone we spoke with found it incredibly irritating to have people clicking these things throughout the entire show, and the Iomega booth during a Clik! demonstration sounded like a plague of locusts. My thought was that Iomega's competitor, SyQuest, should have given out blow guns with tranquilizer darts. In fact, we couldn't figure out the overall thrust of Iomega's numerous giveaways and booth decor: in addition to the clickers, Iomega featured the yellow buttons with often-pointless sayings (they were fun the first time, several years ago), temporary tattoos, and latex-suited models (see below).
Best Costumes -- Human Computing, makers of the ComicBase Encyclopedia of Comics CD-ROM (reviewed in TidBITS-266), didn't have to leap over a tall building for this award, but the company did dress up some booth staff as superheroes, including Batman (who needed a slightly smaller costume), Batgirl, and Supergirl.
Worst Costumes for No Reason -- Iomega cops this award for dressing Kate Moss-thin models in skin-tight latex body suits (complete with black wigs, dark glasses, and high-heeled black boots) and having them pose around the Iomega booth. Tonya asked two of the Iomega folks what the product tie-in was and was told that there was none, but that the models were "attracting attention." Lame, very lame.
Best Performance -- Although it was difficult to beat Ms. Day-Glo Green Perky at the ATI booth, the best performance goes to the two Ullanta performance robots that mixed with the crowds and recorded QuickTime VR movies. Attended by Ullanta Performance Robotics director Barry Brian Werger, we met the two robots in the Apple pavilion. The first robot was about six feet tall and had a digital camera for a head. Its camera was connected to a Newton MessagePad 2000, which in turn was connected to a wireless modem. Every so often, it would spin around, taking pictures that the Newton then uploaded to a Web site to be turned into a QuickTime VR movie. The second, smaller robot tried to follow the first robot, making for extremely cute scenes as the pair trundled around, interacting politely with show goers.
Coolest Low-Tech Device -- The AlphaSmart keyboard wins this one for being a cheap ($250), hardy (it's designed for kids), electronic keyboard that can store 64 pages of text in its 128K memory. Ports enable it to connect to either a Mac or a PC and download text by sending it as keystrokes to any application. While connected, it can also act as a normal keyboard. Its LCD screen may be small (4 lines of 40 characters), but at two pounds it's a great device for kids or note-taking journalists. It can store eight "files," can search for text in any of them, and has basic spell checking features. Battery life is 300 hours on 3 AA batteries, and it's easy enough to use that the directions fit on the back of the unit.<http://www.alphasmart.com/>
Best of Show, Sometime Soon -- Our developer friends who have pre-releases of Mac OS 8.1 were raving over Alsoft's PlusMaker utility, which converts an existing hard disk to HFS+, Apple's new disk format that saves space by reducing block size. PlusMaker received a "Best of Show" award, which seems a wee bit premature, given than Mac OS 8.1 isn't out yet. We're looking forward to seeing both HFS+ and PlusMaker soon, along with PlusMaximizer, another utility from Alsoft that changes Mac OS 8.1's default block size from 4K to 512 bytes, saving even more space in exchange for somewhat increased fragmentation.
Best Business Card -- This award goes to Fabian Ramirez, who we ran into randomly at the show. We'd known Fabian years ago from the Info-Mac mailing list. At the time he was working for SuperMac; he subsequently quit to become a police officer, and now he has fabulous baseball card-style cards that picture him looking official on a police bicycle and have a brief biography on the back. Next thing you know, we'll have Mac trading cards. (I'll trade you four Gil Amelios, an Ellen Hancock, and my T-Maker Heidi Roizen for a Henry Norr and a Steve Jobs without the beard.)
The "You've Got to Be Kidding" Award -- Apple's recruiting desk in the corner of the Apple pavilion wins this one. Given Apple's history of laying off employees, the "Work Different" slogan over the desk could have been expanded to "Work Fast, Work Different, Work Elsewhere" to comply with truth-in-advertising laws.
Best New Word -- Thanks to Mark Kriegsman for telling us that the word for our habit of starting at one end of a hall and systematically working our way up and down aisles so we don't miss much is "boustrophedon." Extra thanks to TidBITS Contributing Editor Matt Neuburg, (who was Adam's Classics professor in a previous life) for explaining that the word comes from the Greek words "bou," meaning "ox," and "strophe," meaning "to turn." And at first we thought Mark just was trying to make a yoke.
Article 12 of 16 in series
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" adageShow full article
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.)
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]
Article 13 of 16 in series
Attending years' worth of Macworld Expos, we've learned the simple mantra repeated throughout the show: "What have you seen that's cool?" Here are some of the products, events, and oddities that deserve mention. Biggest Buzz Generator -- Connectix Virtual Game StationShow full article
Attending years' worth of Macworld Expos, we've learned the simple mantra repeated throughout the show: "What have you seen that's cool?" Here are some of the products, events, and oddities that deserve mention.
Biggest Buzz Generator -- Connectix Virtual Game Station. Built by the company that brought us Virtual PC, this latest emulator allows Sony PlayStation games to run on the Mac. Games figured heavily in Steve Jobs' keynote address and had a large area to themselves on the Expo floor, so the announcement caused a palpable stir. The word was to buy a copy on the spot if you wanted it, in part because Connectix didn't have retail units together yet, but also because of persistent rumors Sony was contemplating legal action to stop distribution of the product. I wouldn't worry much about a lawsuit - if any company does their legal homework regarding emulators, it's Connectix. Nonetheless, Virtual Game Station sold out at the Expo, even though Connectix tried to have more copies on hand than they thought they could possibly sell during show hours. [MAN]
Nichiest Niche Product -- iMacButton. It appears that on the first few thousand iMacs you can't restart in case of a freeze or crash using the traditional "three-finger salute" of Control-Command-Power. Instead, you must push a recessed button which can be reached only with a paper clip or a pin. To save you the trouble, this $10 item is a pin embedded in a plastic button, like a thumbtack with a spring in it. You just insert the pin into the hole and leave the button on your iMac; now you (or your cat) can restart your iMac at will. [MAN]
Most Nostalgic Demo -- Gemulator Pro, from Emulators Inc. If you have an Intel-based machine, this program (together with a bank of ROMs you install) lets you emulate any of several Atari machines as well as a Mac Plus, a Mac SE, a Mac II, or a number of other 68K-based Macs. You switch between emulated machines without restarting or even quitting the program. One moment we were playing Centipede, the next moment we were running Word 4 on a Mac Plus - all inside a PC running Windows NT. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. Don't joke about running Gemulator Pro using Virtual PC: they've heard that one already. [MAN]
Most Unexpected Technology Focus -- Not too long ago, talking about 3D acceleration chips suggested you were a high-end multimedia creator or a hard-core gamer. Now that the ATI's Rage 128 graphics accelerator has been rolled into each new Power Macintosh G3, Macworld attendees suddenly seemed to crave hardware they never knew they've never needed. It would be easy to chalk this up to mere marketing, but the benefits of built-in acceleration - from 3D display in games to faster 2D graphics redrawing - have made the Rage chip the hardware to have, beating the performance of the popular Voodoo2 graphics controller for PCs. [JLC]
Best Tchotchke (and Longest-Running Vaporware) -- Castlewood's Orb. The Orb is a removable hard drive that holds 2.2 GB on small, slim, inexpensive single-platter cartridges. Castlewood was at last year's Expo with a non-working model. This year the company (made up of ex-SyQuest execs and other hard drive industry veterans) was back with a more elaborate non-working model plus an elaborate booth, an elaborate presentation, and some elaborate promises. I exaggerate, though; the truth is, I'm starting to believe the Orb will ship soon, and when it does I might even want one. Meanwhile, they were handing out fake cartridges that play a little fanfare when you press a button - imprinted with a stern warning not to insert them into an Orb drive. With SyQuest kaput and Iomega gorging on its remains, more competition in the removable storage market is a good thing. [MAN]
Most Creative Ergonomics -- A game's graphics may be the best you've seen, but you're still watching them from a typical office chair. To add a level of immersion, try the Intensor chair. With five built-in speakers, you'll not only hear the game's sounds surrounding you, but also feel the vibrations caused by the chair's subwoofers. If you usually play console devices (such as Nintendo or Sony gaming machines) that connect to a television, you can remove the chair leg assembly to rock and swivel in the chair on the floor. Another surprise is a headphone jack, so you can blast aliens in private without activating the external speakers (and still get some of the chair's vibrational feedback). [JLC]
Best Beta -- This is a tie between Stagecast Software's Stagecast Creator and Power On's Action Menus. Stagecast is the successor to Cocoa, a children's sprite-world creation kit developed at Apple by David Smith and Allen Cypher using Sk8, and later Prograph. With another former Apple notable Larry Tesler, they've formed a corporation to port it once more, this time to cross-platform Java, expanding and refining it in the process. I've played with the beta and it's delightful, Java notwithstanding; I anxiously await the final release and hope for its commercial success. Action Menus is Power On's Mac OS 8.5-compatible replacement for Now Menus; judging from the demo, the latter would be no match for Power On's upcoming version even if Now Software were still selling it. I need this so badly I break out in a sweat thinking of it. [MAN]
Best Slogan -- The people manning Alien Skin Software's booth usually get attention for the brightly dyed hair colors that match the varied effects produced by their suite of Photoshop plug-ins. But this year, the company's slogan stood out higher than their multicolored split ends: "Saturate the Industry with Freaks". [JLC]
Best Party -- We aspire to report on all aspects of the Expo, including the parties. Usually there's a clear winner, but this year's evening scene was a toss-up. The Mac the Knife party, held at a bar called The Stud, was the most party-like, though it failed in the TidBITS party test by being overly crowded, incredibly loud, and somewhat smoky despite California's anti-smoking law. MetaCreations deserves praise for holding the Kai's Power Tools 5 launch at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art; honestly, I wasn't as interested in seeing design doyen Kai Krause, but I did get to see the first floor of SFMOMA for the first time, which was worth the trip. Apple's party was huge, spanning a large section of Moscone Center with lots of people, vast amounts of decent food, and multiple live bands. However, I think Dantz takes the best party award: it was crowded and loud, but at acceptable levels, featured great food, and a good downstairs area to talk with the people we only see each year at events like this. Even better were the one-off black and white posters Dantz made of famous people drinking, each emblazoned with the party's motto: Drink Different. [JLC]
Article 14 of 16 in series
Since Macworld Expo Boston 1992, we've shared our thoughts on the most notable and noteworthy products, companies, booths, events, or just about anything else, from nearly every Macworld Expo. Just as with last year's Macworld New York, Apple nearly stole the show with new hardware announcements during Steve Jobs's keynote addressShow full article
Since Macworld Expo Boston 1992, we've shared our thoughts on the most notable and noteworthy products, companies, booths, events, or just about anything else, from nearly every Macworld Expo.
Just as with last year's Macworld New York, Apple nearly stole the show with new hardware announcements during Steve Jobs's keynote address. We were pleased to discover a number of other pieces of hardware worth mentioning, too.
Best Thing to Stick to the Wall -- If you're one of those people who brainstorms everything on a whiteboard, you must check out Virtual Ink's Mimio, a $500 whiteboard capture device. Unlike Smart Technologies' Smart Board (which we noted at the Jan-97 Macworld Expo), the Mimio is a meter long bar that attaches to the edge of any normal whiteboard with suction cups, and connects via USB to a Mac or PC. Standard dry-erase markers fit into special pen holders, and the system uses a combination of ultrasound and infrared to translate pen or eraser strokes on the whiteboard to the virtual whiteboard in Mimio's software. The software also lets you record an entire whiteboard presentation for later playback, and remap the pen colors to match hues other than the standard red, green, blue, and black (it comes with those four holders and you can buy more). Still lacking in the Macintosh version is the capability to transmit whiteboard presentations live over the Internet. [ACE]
A Clear Case for New Speakers -- Except for people who are serious about gaming or MP3s, most of us either don't much think about computer speakers, or have some random set of "multimedia" speakers that are better than a computer's built-in speakers, but don't set the ears to tingling. Harman Kardon is changing that, first with the crystal clear iSub subwoofer they introduced at Macworld Expo in San Francisco in January, and now with the equally transparent SoundSticks speakers they were selling in a $200 bundle with the iSub. Plus, Apple tapped Harman Kardon for the round speakers included with Apple's slick new Power Mac G4 Cube. [ACE]
First and Goal for USB Servers -- We swear by the little devices that can restart crashed Mac servers automatically - Sophisticated Circuit's PowerKey Pro and Rebound, Neuron Data Systems' MacCoach, and Kernel Productions' Lazarus (see "The Battle of the Bouncers" beginning in TidBITS-439 for comparisons). But all of those rely on ADB to communicate with the Mac, so they don't work with modern USB-only Macs. Worse, USB itself is usually taken out in a crash, preventing Command-Control-Power from restarting the machine. Luckily, Sophisticated Circuits has just released Kickoff, which toggles power to the Mac whenever the Mac stops responding to Kickoff's periodic tickles over USB. The football-shaped translucent graphite Kickoff costs $179 - more than the ADB-only Rebound and equivalent to the PowerKey Pro - thanks to needing a separate power supply. [ACE]
Best Replacement for 3D Glasses -- 3D Scan takes the prize for the coolest scanner add-on with their $300 Lightshow, a hood that fits over most scanners and enables you to scan three dimensional objects. The hood is almost entirely mirrored inside and has special lights that match the color spectrum of most scanners (contact 3D Scan for a list of incompatible scanners). The resulting scans start off being two-dimensional, although the addition of a program called Canoma lets you perform some 3D modeling, and you can also rotate an object and stitch multiple scans together into a QuickTime VR movie. Although the Lightshow works with most scanners, its operation varies with different scanners, depending on how high above the surface the scanner can focus. A digital camera could produce similar images, but the beauty of Lightshow scans is that they are high quality and include just the scanned object, with no background. [ACE]
The Need for Speed -- Apple introduced its new Power Mac G4 minitower computers with built-in gigabit Ethernet at Macworld, and TidBITS sponsor Farallon Communications was ready with the first in its series of new "Gigabit Over Copper" products. Shipping in August are the Fast Starlet Gig Switch/4T, a four-port switch designed to handle 100Base-T or 1000Base-T (gigabit) connections; and the NetLINE Gigabit PCI card, an add-on card to bring gigabit Ethernet into existing desktop machines. If you now have a 100Base-T network, even putting just your server on a gigabit connection can dramatically improve client connections, as they'll no longer be sharing a single 100 Mbps pipe to the server. Naturally, you can link these switches to one another, and switches with more ports are expected soon. Through the end of the year (or while supplies last) Farallon will include two or more Timbuktu Pro licenses (from their old friends at Netopia) with each gigabit product purchased. [MHA]
Article 15 of 16 in series
Along with the numerous cool bits of hardware we saw at the show, plenty of software stood out as well. Excel-lent Recognition of Reality -- Everybody knows Microsoft Excel is a powerful spreadsheet tool with an unimaginable number of features that confound the numerically disinclinedShow full article
Along with the numerous cool bits of hardware we saw at the show, plenty of software stood out as well.
Excel-lent Recognition of Reality -- Everybody knows Microsoft Excel is a powerful spreadsheet tool with an unimaginable number of features that confound the numerically disinclined. But lots of people continue to use Excel for less taxing tasks, such as averaging a set of numbers or even making grid-based schedule signs. When Microsoft researched how people use Excel, they found that 60 percent of users rely on the program to manage simple lists of information. Even though a database might be a better tool for the job, Excel's built-in grid of columns and rows maps to the way people think about lists, so Microsoft added and exposed features in Excel 2001 (due in October, with the rest of the Microsoft Office 2001 suite) that make list management much easier (see the Web page below for an interface preview). Like many of the other new features and interfaces that Microsoft showed in Microsoft Office 2001 at Macworld Expo, Excel's List Manager will appear initially in the Macintosh version of Office - even if the Windows version of Office copies it, it's great to see the Macintosh design sensibility leading the way. [ACE]
Most Compelling Preview -- Power On Software was showing an early version of Rewind, a utility that tracks all changes to your hard disk in the background while you work and enables you to "rewind" your hard disk (or just individual files) to some point in the past, reversing all changes no matter how serious or damaging. Deleting files, overwriting files, virus infection, system corruption - it doesn't matter. You can even rewind past changes that make the Mac incapable of booting. Power On hopes to ship Rewind in the fourth quarter of 2000, and although it demoed extremely well at the show, a utility that works at such a low level needs extensive reliability testing. [ACE]
Best Head-to-Head Combat -- The age of computer speech recognition is upon us, and the thrill of the Expo for me was the competition between IBM and MacSpeech in the realm of dictation software, where the computer types as you speak. IBM released ViaVoice at the previous Expo, and this time the company released the $150 ViaVoice for Macintosh, Enhanced Edition, works with USB microphones, ameliorates a number of interface infelicities, and now lets you dictate directly into a few other applications besides the supplied SpeakPad. Most important, when you correct an error, ViaVoice adjusts its acoustic model (previously, it adjusted only its linguistic model). Meanwhile, although release of their long-anticipated iListen is probably still several months away, MacSpeech was handing out free previews on CD at the show (which you can order online for $10 shipping and handling); there's no command-and-control or correction yet, but after you train the program you can dictate into any application. Stay tuned for further developments. [MAN]
Most Welcome Transmogrified Upgrade -- Speed Doubler fans take note - Connectix has released CopyAgent, a $40 Mac OS 9-compatible program that incorporates the advanced copying and keyboard acceleration features of Speed Doubler, while dropping the alternate 68K emulator and disk caching aspects of the program. Improvements over Speed Doubler include a Smart Replace that copies only changed files and a limited macro feature that types text strings in response to keyboard shortcut hotkeys. [ACE]
Most Fun Combination of Technologies -- Believe it or not, the uses of computers have not been exhausted. Now that they're getting faster, they can also be smarter, and I particularly love when diverse technologies are married in interesting ways. The $400 SmartScore, from Musitek, puts together OCR, graphics, and MIDI. Basically, you put a piece of printed sheet music into your scanner, and SmartScore decodes it before rendering it beautifully on screen. Now you can make adjustments to the score (because SmartScore is also music editing software), print it out, and even have your computer play it. In other words, not only does SmartScore translate between MIDI and printed score formats, it literally reads music! As someone who frequently plays music from score (by hand) into a MIDI sequencer program so I can play duets with myself, this is something I can really use. [MAN]
Catastrophe Waiting to Happen? Micromat is enormously pleased about having added virus protection to version 3 of its popular $100 TechTool Pro (upgrades are $50). We're alarmed to see, though, that the virus protection ignores the important field of document macro viruses, the pesky viruses that typically travel within Microsoft Word or Excel documents. Although these are far more serious on Windows machines than on Macs, macro viruses are far more common than resource viruses that infect the Mac OS itself, and we feel claiming to offer virus protection without scanning for macro viruses does the user a tremendous disservice. This is the key issue that led Disinfectant developer John Norstad to retire his software, rather than lull users into a false sense of security. Micromat says a later version of TechTool Pro will address macro viruses, but couldn't say when. [MHA]
Stealth Web Product -- Strider Software, Inc. was showing off version 3.5 of the venerable TypeStyler software. The $120 (download) to $150 (boxed) TypeStyler 3 provides a well-implemented set of features for video production, print media, and Web designers, such as automatically creating rollover effects or animated text, along with the necessary HTML markup to display it all on the Web. Strider also added lots of new effects, such as glows, bevels, embossing, and more. [MHA]
Article 16 of 16 in series
In addition to notable hardware and software products, there were a number of superlatives that just don't fit into standard categories - interesting booths, Web resources seen at the show, noteworthy events, or inspired handouts. Best Font Resource -- Since almost everything I do is online, I enjoy the aesthetics of fonts more than I actually use them, but I'm still impressed with MyFonts.com, a Web site devoted to fonts that's clearly done by font aficionadosShow full article
In addition to notable hardware and software products, there were a number of superlatives that just don't fit into standard categories - interesting booths, Web resources seen at the show, noteworthy events, or inspired handouts.
Best Font Resource -- Since almost everything I do is online, I enjoy the aesthetics of fonts more than I actually use them, but I'm still impressed with MyFonts.com, a Web site devoted to fonts that's clearly done by font aficionados. You can use the TypeXplorer tool to browse MyFonts.com's 10,000-font database by adjusting thickness, width, height, and other font variables. When you find a font, MyFonts.com displays a graphic preview, and clicking the "testdrive" link lets you type in your own text and see it in the selected font at the size you choose. Although I haven't tried it, the Identafont Tool also sounds neat - if you see a font that you can't identify, you can scan in a sample, upload it and Identafont tells you the closest matches in the MyFonts.com database. You can browse by font styles, font names, font designers, or font foundries, and whenever you find a font, MyFonts.com can show you fonts from the same designer, foundry, or that just look similar. And of course, many of the fonts you find at MyFonts.com are available for sale so you can add them to your collection. [ACE]
Most Valuable Free Handout -- Tekserve, a New York City Mac repair shop on West 23rd Street, was giving away a 25-page booklet answering some common and not-so-common Mac questions. It was literate, well-organized, clear, and remarkably technical and comprehensive, covering a number of topics that have arisen recently on TidBITS Talk, such as the various keys you can hold down at startup (which was also a TidBITS quiz subject), and the difference between the several flavors of SCSI. You can't pack up your Mac and send it to Tekserve; they accept only walk-ins (no appointment needed). This almost made me wish I still lived in the Big Apple; readers who do might want to give them a look. [MAN]
Adding Insult to Injury -- Shortly before Steve Jobs's Macworld keynote address began, I realized I'd been lied to earlier, when I asked if the auditorium I'd found, with podium, colored lights, and massive video screens, was the site of the keynote, and the IDG World Expo staff member at the door had said "Yes." Watching the keynote by video wasn't as much fun as seeing it live, but I figured I'd survive, although I was annoyed that I'd arrived early enough to get to the keynote itself, had the woman at the door simply been honest.) I regretted my decision when the audio from the main auditorium kept cutting out, but I was stunned when Jobs announced everyone at the keynote would get a free Apple Pro Mouse. Giving a free Apple Pro Mouse to the people who attended the keynote was a great way of apologizing for the widely disparaged hockey puck mouse. Unfortunately, Jobs didn't actually mean "everyone" - unlike the 4,000 people in the main auditorium, the 3,000 people in the overflow room didn't have little tickets attached underneath their seats that they could trade in for a mouse, and were appalled to be told, "You can only have a mouse if you went to the keynote," when they had. Apple thoroughly and unnecessarily irritated these people, when, with a little planning, it could all have been avoided. Even a change as simple as Jobs saying "Everyone in this room gets a mouse" would at least have made the distinction clear, but as it was, a great PR stunt was blunted by a foolish mistake. [MHA]
Best Toddler Tchotchke -- SanDisk, makers of those amazingly small Compact Flash and Smart Media memory cards, took this one hands down with the Laser Balls they were judiciously giving out to interested show goers. Trade show giveaways make great toddler toys, and the high-bouncing Laser Ball proved popular for the flashing LED and alarm-like sounds it made upon contact with the floor. I'd had little experience with SanDisk's memory cards until MacHack, when projector problems forced me to transfer my presentation to a friend's machine using his Nikon 990 digital camera's 64 MB Compact Flash card with a PC Card cage as a removable RAM disk. The Compact Flash cards come in sizes from 8 to 192 MB, and the even smaller Smart Media cards range from 8 to 32 MB. [ACE]
Big... Really Big -- They don't have William Shatner, but dealmac does have an army of staff and users who prowl the net for the best deals on Mac-related bargains. The company's new "mydealmac" service lets you subscribe to a custom email notification service that lets you know when there's a great deal to be had on something you're looking for. We knew these guys were worth checking out when we spotted long-time TidBITS sponsor Small Dog Electronics prominently featured as a vendor. [MHA]
Booth Most Likely to Rook You In -- The French company Intego wins this award for their giant inflatable castle tower that looked like one of Godzilla's chess pieces as it towered to the ceiling in the Javits Convention Center. Around the base of the tower Intego showed off their personal firewall NetBarrier and a new anti-virus program called VirusBarrier. VirusBarrier features background scanning, automatic repairs, automatic updates via the Internet to address new viruses, and an elegant interface. Unfortunately, we were unable to confirm at the show or on Intego's Web site if VirusBarrier could handle macro viruses (the virus library included listed only resource viruses), and Intego folks couldn't tell us about the source of VirusBarrier's virus library or its repair methods. [ACE]
Most Hypnotic Sales Spiel -- When I first heard about Nisus Email, my reaction was: "What are they smoking over at Nisus Software?" It's an email program with essentially no interface; instead of giving you a place to type and read messages (and instead of storing your mail itself), it sends and receives mail as ordinary text files organized in designated folders. In other words, you create a text file, including headers, using an ordinary word processor; you save it into a certain folder; and Nisus Email sees it, parses it, and sends it out. In spite of my skepticism, I was utterly enchanted with the presentation by Nisus's Mark Hurvitz, who really had me thinking this was a brilliant new paradigm for doing email and the greatest thing since sliced bread. Then as soon as I walked away, the thought struck me: "But why?!" - and I was a skeptic again. But don't let my waffling stop you from trying the free demo. [MAN]
Most Serious Bugs -- As a PR stunt, Jason Whong, who used to work for game developer Ambrosia Software, vowed to eat live bugs if any bugs were found in any Ambrosia products released during from the third quarter of 1999 to the second quarter of 2000. Bugs were found, and even though Jason had moved on to another job at Green Dragon Creations, he still showed up at the 3dfx Interactive (makers of high-end video cards for gaming) booth to debug a number of hissing cockroaches, tarantulas, mealworms, and other crunchy critters (see the Ambrosia link below for a full list, including recipes). I'd say that eating the bugs took guts, but Jason ate those too. Bleh. And for those of you who just can't resist, check out Utterer.com's photo galleries for pictures of Jason and the bugs (and for those of you with sharp eyes, a picture of me that I'll explain at some future date). [ACE]