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MacEdition Pro News : December 12, 2002, Part 2: Smarter solutions abound all around

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Alliance forged to serve UK publishers

British magazine publishers now have a front-to-back workflow management solution to consider if they’re looking to move to speedier servers based on Mac OS X.

UK system integrator KnowledgeView Ltd. has teamed up with German software developer Softcare GmbH to offer magazine publishers a comprehensive software, service, support and training package built around Adobe’s InDesign and InCopy software.

KnowledgeView, which has an extensive history with the Fleet Street set, will provide system implementation, training and support for Softcare’s K4 Publishing System, which allows the backshop to lay out articles while the editor is still going over the copy. The K4 system also stores copy in XML, making the transition to Web-based delivery fairly seamless. K4 has already been deployed in publishing houses ranging from 12 to 250 users.

“Magazine publishers have been looking for ways to combine the creativity of Adobe’s state-of-the-art editorial and design tools with the productivity of a database-driven workflow system,” said KnowledgeView’s Managing Director, Ali Al-Assam. “K4 answers that need with a system that is both affordable and easy to use. We are delighted to be able to bring K4 to the British publishing community.”

With multilevel security controls and robust customization options, K4 supports transparent and secure production workflow for individual workgroups or entire publishing enterprises. K4 offers check-in and check-out of content, simultaneous workflow between layout and editorial, content and layout change alerting, status tracking, version control, galley or WYSIWYG editing mode, red lining, change tracking, and inline notes. Articles are stored in XML format and can be easily repurposed for use on the Web. K4 has been successfully implemented at magazine sites ranging in size from 12 to more than 250 users.

The newly formed alliance will be showcasing its wares as part of Adobe’s InDesign Publishing roadshow, which kicked off in London on Dec. 10. The Adobe show will make stops in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter and Dublin before winding its way back to London on Feb. 12. Parties interested in the roadshow should register for the events through Adobe’s event registration site.

Smarter software = better hardware?

That’s what the folks at FWB Software figure as they roll out their new SMART Toolkit, an OS X utility that warns the user about a potential hard drive failure before the tragic event strikes.

SMART Toolkit uses Self Monitoring And Reporting Technology, built into most IDE hard drives on the market these days. The technology monitors the performance of the drive every five minutes and then reports to the user whenever something is amiss. It will also create reports on drive performance, should the user choose that particular option.

“STK is the first OS X-exclusive utility from FWB Software. It uses the reporting technology of the drive to determine its overall reliability,” explained Marko Kostyrko, FWB’s Director of Product Development. He continued, “When a potential problem is detected, SMART Toolkit will alert the user on screen, with sound, email, or by updating their personal web server.”

FWB is also rolling out another new utility for both OS 9 and OS X called DriveTest which benchmarks drive performance under a variety of load conditions. The Carbon program will retail for US$19.95. SMART Toolkit will carry a US$34.95 retail sticker.

Building programs without code

Discovery Systems International has released a new cross-platform multimedia authoring tool which just might gladden the hearts of all those bemoaning the disappearance of Authorware from the Mac platform some years ago.

The Tennessee-based company released onViz, aiming the program at multimedia and e-learning developers who want to focus on content creation rather than wrestle with scripting languages or coding.

Creating a software program is as simple as drawing a line between graphical elements on a flowchart. onViz enables people to create interactive content without having to learn programming code or scripting languages, and includes dozens of features for creating software programs that run identically on Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows computers.

“onViz has significant value as a multimedia and e-learning authoring tool because it has been carefully designed and tested for ease of use, flexibility, reliability, and cost effectiveness,” said Janice Tocher, president of DSI. “Several customers that are using Microsoft Windows have purchased an Apple Macintosh computer and onViz simply because our product is easy to use, includes the features they need, and they find this approach less expensive than many alternatives.”

Discovery Systems intends to follow up this release of the Mac-based authoring software with an OS X version shortly. The program sells for US$599 with academic and non-profit versions selling for US$475. Owners of Discovery’s other product, CourseBuilder, can upgrade to onViz for US$299 until month’s end. An evaluation version of onViz is available from DSI’s download page. The only constraint built into the evaluation version is a limitation on file size.

This fits the budget

Snowmint Creative Solutions has acquired the rights to Budget, a personal finance planning program created by shareware developers Ron Hooper and Kyle Hammond. The company will rebrand the program and has chosen to drop the Mac OS 9 and Windows versions of the product in order to concentrate on the Mac OS X version of the five-year-old program.

“The acquisition of Budget is a strategic step in broadening the worldwide appeal of the software”, said Kyle Hammond, President of Snowmint. “In the next few weeks, we will be releasing a new version of Budget for Mac OS X. Budget has half a decade of real-world testing but has had relatively little exposure to the public. We are extremely excited to introduce our technology and the benefits it can offer to consumers”.

In its press release, Snowmint said the rebounded version of Budget will be updated to include QIF (Quicken) import compatibility, currency conversions and a dynamic future planner. The company is selling the current version of Budget, via Kagi, for $24.95.

Tear it up

Mireth Technology has released an OS X version of NetShred, its popular privacy utility that obliterates Web browser cache files, history files, email trash, download cache and Apple junk mail.

Anyone can look through your Web browser’s cache and history files and see what information you have accessed on the Web. Do you really want to risk having your private information read by anyone with access to your computer? NetShred X provides an easy, permanent way of securely deleting browser cache, history files, email trash and more. Permanent because it shreds (not just deletes) these files so the contents cannot be recovered. Easy because it runs automatically when you quit from your browser or email application.

Key features include:

  • the option to shred (not just delete) browser cache, history, email trash, IE download cache, Apple junk mail
  • runs automatically when you quit from your browser/email
  • supports several browser/email applications (IE, OmniWeb, Opera, iCab, Eudora, Apple Mail)
  • a “Confirm before shred” feature
  • compliant with US Department of Defense electronic document shredding standards
  • a configurable overwrite pattern and number of overwrites

NetShred X is available from the Mireth site for US$19.95 and upgrade offers and multi-user licence packs are available. A trial version of the program is available from the company.

Touching the future

Niemeijer Consult revealed plans to bring a new version of of its KeyStrokes on-screen keyboard next month.

In making its announcement, the Dutch specialty software maker said it will add a learning component to the upcoming version to make KeyStrokes 3 more able to predict what the user wants to do. It will also add a language-independent word prediction capability. The new features will compliment KeyStrokes’ system-wide dwell typing and clicking modes, multiple keyboard models and adjustable key spacing.

In addition, the company announced it will offer free upgrades to owners of the previous version, KeyStrokes 1.5, and hopefully ease the transition of impaired computer users to Mac OS X.

Many physically impaired Mac users have been hesitant to make the switch from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X. To support early adopters of Mac OS X we are offering a zero-upgrade fee to KeyStrokes 3.0 for anyone who has already purchased KeyStrokes 1.5 for Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X or does so now.

A trial version of Keystrokes is available from the company’s download page. A full version of the program will cost US$105 (Euro 220) once the new version is released.

Learning the lingo

A couple of well-known software vendors have given their programs more international appeal by adding support for additional languages. Active Software announced an Italian version of MacSpeech’s iListen voice dictation software. Meantime, Norwegian developer Opera Software released a new beta version of its forthcoming Opera 6 browser with support of German and Japanese. Opera Software said that it will attempt to roll in support for all 32 languages offered by the Windows version of the browser.

Dim the lights

Macintosh-based musicians will doubtless be distressed to learn that MacMusic.org will be striking the stage in February. The Web site explained in a press release a lack of advertising revenues made it impossible for the five-year-old site to carry on.

The technical and practical means necessary to have a continually accessible and updated tool represent an investment that can no longer be supported, particularly financially speaking. Server, host, contents management, etc... all involve ever growing expenditures of money and time, that are no longer within the team’s realm of possibility.

Hope springs eternal

Meanwhile, rumormongers and those who just can’t get enough of rumblings from beneath the “cone of silence” in Cupertino might be cheered to learn of a new Mac rumors site that has sprung up on the Web. Looprumors.com started posting earlier this month with the site’s press agent promising daily updates on upcoming hardware and software offerings from both Apple and third-party vendors.

Looking for old ProNews segments? Check out our index at http://old.macedition.com/news/. Do you have news releases or tidbits of interest to the Macintosh professional? Send them to pronewsnotes@macedition.com.

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