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MacEdition Pro News : January 22, 2003: Can we communicate?

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Canadian media guru Marshall McLuhan once remarked that every form of media starts out mimicking the forms that preceded it before creating its own unique identity and reshaping the world around it.

One can only wonder how McLuhan would have looked upon the evolving entity that is the Internet, with its combination of passive and active user experiences, cottage industries of high-tech software and melding and morphing of other means of communication.

A new version of channel surfing

In, perhaps, an unwitting endorsement of McLuhan’s philosophy is the recent open-source release of a server-based product which breaks up the Internet into various channels for people to surf.

Rainjul LLC released Aizai Open Channel Server, a unique app which organizes content into virtual television channels. The software conforms to a newly established Web standard which allows it to manage a channel by deep linking to other content elsewhere on the Web.

“Aizai has been called the next step in Web publishing and surfing and we’re committed to opening this amazing technology. The Aizai Open Channel Server is available for free download starting today,” said Steven W. Schuldt, creator of Aizai, “we’re giving developers an entirely new platform on which to build next-generation products and services.”

Aizai runs on Mac OS X 10.2 Server and is built around WebObjects. Aizai carries a US$29.95 registration fee and Rainjul has posted a fully functional demo on its Web site.

Hello out there

Ham radio buffs have a new toy to play with thanks to the newly launched MacLogger from Dog Park Software.

The software tracks other ham radio operators and logs contacts and call signals and searches for other contacts while the operator is tuned into a SWL, DX Net, or W1AW broadcast. It supports connections to various radio sets through a serial connection or a USB-to-serial adapter and runs on both OS 9 and OS X.

The software can be downloaded from the Dog Park site, but requires the payment of US$70 in order to work for more than 10 minutes. The payment is made through Kagi.

Macromedia steps into online education

Macromedia has added a sophisticated e-learning product to the company’s lineup with its recent acquisition of Presidia Inc.

The acquired company makes Presidia Express, a multimedia authoring system that converts materials, such as PowerPoint presentations, into a Web-hosted training solution that can be accessed by pretty much any browser. The Presidia product also makes extensive use of Macromedia’s Flash Player.

“Express leverages the ubiquity of Macromedia Flash Player,” said Norm Meyrowitz, president of products, Macromedia. “This presentation and deployment solution enables companies to seamlessly deliver their corporate communications and e-learning materials on the broadest range of Internet-connected computers and, in the near future, PDAs and wireless devices such as cell phones.”

“Express enables companies to simplify traditionally time-consuming and hugely expensive tasks, like educating 1,000 sales reps on a new product, in a short timeframe and at a fraction of the cost of other training options,” said Kevin M. Lynch, president and CEO, Presedia. “Macromedia, already a leader in the mainstream e-learning market, is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the growing rapid e-learning market.”

Macromedia will be selling Express directly rather than through the dealer channel. Pricing information on Presidia express was not available.

Time to trade in the old beater?

Driving the old rig around town can seem a bit blasé compared to the shiny new set of wheels Mercedes-Benz is showing off at various car shows in Europe and Japan these days.

The German automaker has teamed up with NEC and Siemens Mobile to build an S-Class sedan with a built-in 3G-UTMS receiver, which makes it possible for drivers and passengers to access data at up to 384kBit/sec.

The 3G standard is a next-generation mobile phone standard based on Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA). The partners involved in rolling out the technology can foresee a day when drivers can access interactive city guides, traffic observation cameras, international radio broadcasts, the Internet or conduct video-conferencing sessions while driving.

Mercedes-Benz equipped the UMTS test vehicle with the appropriate operating units and monitors, the link to the car infrastructure and the specification of the UMTS services. “The UMTS test vehicle already created huge public interest at its first presentation in Berlin some months ago. It helps us today to create the necessary expertise to satisfy the demand of our customers for mobile UMTS services of the future,” said Frank Messer, President & CEO of DaimlerChrysler South East Asia.

While Mercedes-Benz has no immediate plans to sell the vehicle to the public, NEC and Siemens have been establishing 3G-UMTS test networks with some mobile phone operators in various locations around the world since 2001 with a view to bring the technology to market in the not too distant future.

The test vehicle features two 15″ TFT monitors mounted in the back of the front seats and utilizes wireless keyboards for access. Passengers in the front of the car can access a touchscreen which shuts off once the vehicle is traveling faster than six kilometers per hour (about four mph).

Buddy can you spare a dime

Financial wizards and those trying to figure out how much their next loan is going to cost them might want to turn their eye toward Max Programming’s latest release: Loan Calc.

Loan Calc is an easy-to-use tool intended to calculate loans and mortgages repayments in a very simple way. Loan Calc calculates repayments amount, monthly and total interest, total repayments and generates a full repayment list from a start date. Loan Calc is currency-independent so it can be used with Dollars, Francs, Marks, Pounds,…or whatever you like. Just use a dot or a comma for decimals depending on your system settings.

The amortization program also lets the user see the impact of various payment schedules and the data generated by the program is exportable to an Excel spreadsheet. Max Programing has both a classic version and an OS X version posted on their website.

The company also announced an update to its eMail Bounce Handler, an organizational tool aimed at those who send bulk email. The tool allows the issuer to either resend the mail or remove the bounced address from their mailing list. It can also be set up to address unsubscribe messages as well.

May the force be with you

Logitech has stepped to the front of the Mac force feedback field in announcing six products that are compatible with the technology that’s buried deep within Mac OS X 10.2.3.

Current Logitech products that will be supported on the Macintosh platform include the Logitech MOMO Racing wheel and WingMan Formula Force GP racing wheel, WingMan RumblePad and WingMan Cordless RumblePad gamepads and the WingMan Strike Force 3D and WingMan Force 3D joysticks. Initial games that feature force feedback support are NASCAR Racing 2002 Season from Aspyr Media and F1 Championship Season 2000 from Feral Interactive.

The device drivers for the compatible Logitech series of wheels, joysticks and gamepads were baked into Mac OS 10.2.3. All an eager gamer need do is buy the gaming device and plug it in.

The database is open

OpenOSX is shipping OpenDB, a collection of open source database products.

The OpenDB product was designed to empower users with a wide range of ready to use enterprise-level database tools as fast, conveniently and simply as possible. The OpenDB CD will install and fully configure a suite of popular server and client applications including: MySQL and PostgreSQL servers with ODBC connectivity, featuring Web-based graphical server administration which supports MySQL, PostgreSQL, SSL, Samba and more.

MySQL and PostgreSQL are popular full-featured relational database management systems, combined with phpMyAdmin and phpPgAdmin to administrate and utilize them. iODBC and MyODBC enable ODBC connectivity which are standard application programming interfaces (APIs) for accessing information from different database systems and storage formats.

The OpenDB CD sells for $30 with an upgrade subscription selling for an additional $80. The database CD can be purchased through the OpenOSX site.

Update City

Mireth Technologies has released an update to fix a full screen menu problem found in its MacVCD X player as a result of Apple’s QuickTime 6.1 release. The player supports VCD and Super VCD formats in addition to QuickTime movies. The update can be found at Mireth’s download page.

Publicspace.net has updated A Better Finder Rename adding a feature which convert Macintosh file names to legal Windows file names for Windows 95 through XP. The new version of the program can be downloaded from its product page.

Colourfull Creations released an incremental update to Simple Weather, a desktop utility that puts basic weather conditions in a small palette. The new version can be obtained from Colourfull’s product page.

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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