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MacWorld Expo Notes

Another MacWorld Expo has come and gone, and I was heartened by some changes from previous years. First, and pleasant for those attendees who don’t hail from the tropics, both the temperature and humidity were reasonable for most of the week. More important was the fact that the show had more energy to it than previous years, and it had more products that might interest a large proportion of Macintosh users.

PageMill and SiteMill — The software product names on everyone’s lips were PageMill and SiteMill from Ceneca Software (see Tonya’s article in this issue for more information). The $195 PageMill is a WYSIWYG HTML editor that works as it should, without relying on any codes or much knowledge of HTML itself. The more expensive SiteMill, although priced out of the range of the individual at about $795, enables you to easily manage an entire Web site.

SpeedDoubler from Connectix also garnered some attention with its claim to significantly improve the performance of emulated applications on Power Macs. It includes some features for 68K Macs, intelligent disk caching and faster copying and trashing code, but the impressive feat is speeding up performance of emulated applications. Connectix claims that the $99 SpeedDoubler (street price of about $60) outperforms even the new 68K emulator included in the Power Mac 9500 and its more recent brethren. Connectix also showed a tape loop of the movies that won their QuickCam contest – some of them are hilarious and may show up on the Web soon.

Connectix — 800/950-5880 — 415/571-5100 —
415/571-5195 (fax) — <[email protected]>

Digital cameras have become increasingly popular, and we give the $750 Casio QV-10 digital camera (available soon at major electronics stores) honors for coolest hardware toy at the show, thanks to its active-matrix, full-motion display and other innovative features. Electronic images are great, but sometimes you just have to print them for the set of grandparents you haven’t yet turned on to the Internet, and for that Fargo’s $500 ($400 at the show) FotoFun printer would be perfect, since it’s a 4" by 6" dye-sublimation color printer. Several companies were shipping lenses and accessories for the QuickTake, including a tripod accessory that simplifies the process of taking pictures at the set angles necessary for creating QuickTime VR movies.

Fargo — 800/327-4694 — 612/941-9470

I.R.I.S DataPen — A close second to the Casio camera for neatest hardware device of the show was the I.R.I.S. DataPen, which scans and performs OCR on single lines of text. It’s shaped like a bulky pen, and you have to be careful to move the pen over the line of text without varying too much and at a constant speed, but it enters the text into any Mac application where you’d normally type. The recognition isn’t perfect, especially on strange fonts or small text (and the DataPen can’t do text larger than its scanning head), but for certain data entry operations (say, stock quotes or census figures), the DataPen could be your friend.

IRIS — 408/255-7190

MailKeeper — Along with the native version of Nisus Writer 4.1, Nisus Software shipped a neat little utility called MailKeeper. Although aimed at email, MailKeeper looks as though it will be the "textbase" program that I’ve wanted for so long now. You can easily capture any text selection and send it to MailKeeper, where MailKeeper automatically categorizes the information, recognizing special elements like email addresses and URLs. You can drag URLs from MailKeeper into Netscape, and it’s extremely easy to narrow the set of items stored in MailKeeper in order to find what you want. A full review of MailKeeper is definitely forthcoming.

Nisus Software — 800/890-3030 — 619/481-1477 — 619/481-6154 (fax) — <[email protected]>

You’ve Heard It A Thousand Times — If in future issues you notice the titles and jokes in TidBITS becoming more of a punishing experience, it will be because we plan to test drive Eccentric Software’s A Zillion Kajillion Rhymes and Cliches. A Zillion Kajillion Rhymes has been around for a while, but it now has 20 percent more rhymes, a new interface, and comes with a new Cliches feature. Type in most any word, and the program offers a list of cliches and catch phrases that include the word. The program lists for $49.95, and Eccentric Software sells it for $39.95.

Eccentric Software — 800/436-6758 — 206/628-2687 — 206/628-2681 (fax) — <[email protected]>

Retrospect 3.0 — Dantz Development showed pre-release versions of their new Retrospect and Retrospect Remote 3.0 backup software. New features stem from a rethinking of how users actually back up information, resulting in EasyScript, which asks users a few questions and then creates a custom backup script for them; Backup Server, which uses guidelines established by a network administrator to adapt to changing network configurations (such as PowerBooks appearing and disappearing); and finally, the concept of Groups, which enables easy backup of certain sets of machines on the network.

Dantz — 510/253-3000 — 510/253-9099 (fax) — <[email protected]>

SoftWindows 2.0 — Insignia Solutions released SoftWindows 2.0, the much-awaited Power Mac-only upgrade to its PC emulator. Speed is still the main limitation, with performance claims of 486SX speeds, but SoftWindows 2.0 now emulates a 486 CPU rather than the 286 chip emulated in 1.0. This change allows programs which require Windows Enhanced mode to run under SoftWindows, something not previously possible.

Insignia — 415/335-7100 — 415/335-7105 (fax) — <[email protected]>

Windows 95 Absent — Windows 95 demos were conspicuously absent from Microsoft’s spacious booth, although Windows 95 was reportedly running on Orange Micro DOS cards. A friend who was working at the Microsoft booth said that a number of people had come up and asked to see it but that (a) the people working at the Microsoft booth were Mac folks and (b) they didn’t want to be tarred and feathered, an activity of some historical note in Boston.

MacWEEK Every Day — MacWEEK editors were in short supply on the show floor, since they were holed up at the Four Seasons Hotel putting out eight-page, daily versions of the industry weekly. We heard that even with an impromptu Ethernet network of rented Macs and various cool hardware on loan for the show (such as a pricey Nikon digital camera), the task of meeting daily deadlines on top of the usual weekly deadline was a major challenge. MacWEEK takes a good bit of flak (with nicknames like "MacLeak"), but it’s one of our favorite publications and we enjoyed the daily versions. [I’d like to say it’s one of my favorite publications too; unfortunately, Ziff-Davis has spent the last ten months messing up my subscription. -Geoff]

Netscape and Apple — Flush with money from its record-breaking IPO (initial public offering), the new billion dollar baby Netscape Communications and Apple announced plans for a future version of Netscape Navigator to support Apple’s QuickTime VR. What with support for Adobe’s Acrobat PDF format, Macromedia’s Shockwave technology, and the Java programming language from Sun, it’s going to take Netscape a while to incorporate code from all these strategic alliances. Apple also announced the Apple Internet Connection Kit, a $59 package reminiscent of my Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh disk, although Apple includes Netscape and an Internet-only version of Emailer instead of MacWeb and Eudora. More important differences include Apple Guide information, a dialer application that uses Netscape’s Internet registration service with only a few national providers, and a lot less Internet documentation.

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