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Software at Macworld

This is by no means a definitive list of all the interesting software at Macworld, or even everything that I saw, but here are some of the products that caught my eye.

ThoughtPattern 2.0 — Bananafish Software showed a beta of the next version of ThoughtPattern, a personal information manager (PIM). PIM is one of those acronyms that doesn’t mean much, but I’m impressed with ThoughtPattern because it melds the standard calendar features of other programs with a full-featured database. Unlike most databases, though, ThoughtPattern excels at storing unformatted information such that which flows in from the nets. My main ThoughtPattern textbase is 1.3 MB in size, and 95% of that file came from the nets. I don’t use it every day, but periodically I find it extremely handy. We’ll review ThoughtPattern when 2.0 ships since it will be a significant upgrade from the current version (1.2.1).

Bananafish Software — 415/929-8135
[email protected]

InfoLog — Connectix is deciding on a final name for this database product, but I expect it will be popular. InfoLog has a specific purpose – helping you keep track of physical papers, especially if you have organized them with an unusual system. As a child collecting comic books, I filed my Spiderman comics under "P" for Peter Parker, Spidey’s real name, due to lack of space in "S". That was fine for me, but no one else would have guessed. You may know someone who files papers in an equally illogical order, or you may have three or four people who file things in subjective categories that other people have to find later. In either case, InfoLog can track those documents and their hiding places so that anyone can easily find them. InfoLog would also come in handy to track incoming faxes, which often aren’t easily categorized and which are often removed from the machine by someone other than the intended recipient. I don’t know how soon InfoLog will be out, but I suspect that people will find uses for its document tracking and locating abilities.

Connectix — 800/950-5880 — 415/571-5100
[email protected]

Compression Utilities — These guys never let up. Salient was shipping AutoDoubler, which is every bit as cool as promised and about as transparent and stable as possible. I’m pleased with how it came out. There’s not much we can add to our original article, other than that what we said then was right.

Aladdin was exhibiting, though not shipping StuffIt Deluxe 3.0 and SpaceSaver, the latter of which will be sold separately. I don’t know SpaceSaver as well as AutoDoubler, not having tested it yet, but it appears that the programs perform similar actions, with the main difference being that SpaceSaver is smart about file and folder names as well. So, if you want to create a StuffIt archive, just add ".sit" to the end. ".sea" will turn the file into a self-extracting archive, and other user-specified words will immediately compress or expand files and folders. StuffIt Deluxe 3.0 has a much improved interface and has dropped the umpteen zillion compression formats (though it still reads them) in favor of a single one that achieved incredible compression (over 70% on some files I saw) and amazing speed (approximately two seconds to expand a 130K document).

Alysis showed the new More Disk Space, which I somehow missed seeing, but which supposedly installs itself into the System file to ensure that it runs all the time. I prefer the way Salient and Aladdin ensure that you’ll be able to expand your files by including an application that can always expand compressed files, but I expect that Alysis’s solution does work.

The most interesting newcomer to the transparent compression world is DiskSpace from Golden Triangle. They’ve built compression directly into the hard disk driver, which means that everything on the disk is automatically compressed all the time, even the System and Finder, which no other programs touch. The disk appears to be twice as large as it is. Currently, you must reformat your hard disk to install DiskSpace, but Golden Triangle plans a version for the summer that will take over disks from other drivers. I was unable to find any holes in their implementation from talking to the programmer, but I, possibly like other people, am a little leery of anything that works at such a low level. In addition, I bought Silverlining for a reason (namely it’s a great disk formatting and diagnostic package), and I wouldn’t want to give it up just like that. Neat idea, though.

Salient — 415/321-5375
[email protected]
Aladdin — 408/761-6200
[email protected]
Alysis — 415/566-2263
[email protected]
Golden Triangle — 619/279-2100

Expanded Books — One of the most pleasant surprises at Macworld came from Voyager, who shipped the first three Expanded Books, designed especially for use on the PowerBook screens (but which will work on any screen 640 x 400 or larger. The three titles are Michael Crichton’s "Jurassic Park," "The Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams (a longtime Macintosh fan), and Martin Gardner’s "Annotated Alice." Written in HyperCard 2.1 (one of the few commercial programs to use HyperCard), the Expanded Books are designed for easy reading, browsing, and searching. You can add bookmarks, copy selected passages, add marginal notes, and mark passages for reference. I don’t know how hypertext-like the books are since they were originally written linearly, but short of the true hyperfiction that Eastgate publishes, this is as good as it gets. Voyager also has some fun CD-ROMs full of QuickTime movie clips, one of baseball’s greatest moments, another called "Poetry in Motion," with readings by famous poets, and two more that dig through America’s recent past. I really must get a fast CD-ROM drive soon.

Voyager — 310/451-1383
[email protected]

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