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MacEdition Pro News : February 28, 2003

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All new and improved

HyperCard redux?

Those who cut their animating teeth drawing out HyperCard stacks all those eons ago will doubtless be cheered by news that a similar stop-motion animation application is hitting the hard drive.

As appropriate for the new age of digital everything, this new application will not require users to draw out every picture on their computer. Instead the program will allow users to assemble still pictures and animate them in a process known as stop-motion, a technique that was cutting-edge in Hollywood special effects decades ago.

GeBE Computer & Peripherie developed iStopMotion to allow people to develop their own claymation classics from stills captured through their digital cameras.

The world of stop-motion animation (also called claymation) now comes to Mac OS X with iStopMotion. Used by educators, professional and amateur film makers all over the world to create astonishing work, iStopMotion is the tool of choice for this fascinating technique.

It’s a very interesting and fun technique. Set up your scene, take a picture, move the characters in your scene a tiny little bit, take the next picture, move things again, take another picture, and so on until you have a moving scene.

iStopMotion is available via an email form. All the developer seems to be looking for is a US$10 donation to support its development efforts.

Home theater know-how

Those wanting to use their Mac as the hub of the latest things to hit home electronics might want to check out the Home Theater Macintosh User Group, a newly formed online community which aims to help people make their Mac the heart of their home entertainment system.

Home Theater Macintosh Users Group is a forum designed to facilitate the easy exchange of information on the topic as well as serves as a consolidated “suggestion box” for Apple Computer. Until now, the support for the Macintosh as a Home Theater device has been almost nonexistent as the PC has dominated the Home Theater area. HTMUG plans to give PC users one more reason to switch.

Those interested in dropping in on the group can point their browsers to the organization’s home page.

Return of the Mask

Extensis has pushed Mask Pro to Version 3, giving the time-honored Photoshop plug-in a finer degree of control and Mac OS X support.

A pioneer in the plug-in arena, Extensis has once again redefined masking and selecting capabilities in Adobe Photoshop. Key features of this latest release include new color decontamination technology and color selection tools, as well as a more robust and intuitive toolset. The foundation of this major revision is an entirely new masking engine, allowing users to flawlessly handle the most complex masking jobs.

“Masking challenges, especially those involving complex edges with semitransparent objects like smoke, glass and hair, are limitless,” said Lisa McCormack, product manager, Extensis. “Mask Pro has been fully updated to offer an entire suite of powerful new tools to address any masking challenge and to facilitate creation of flawless, real life masks.”

The new version should be hitting retailers’ shelves any time now and will carry a retail sticker of US$199.99, or US$99 for those upgrading from older versions.

Quark offers a sneaky peak

Quark Inc. is starting to lay the groundwork for an upcoming release campaign built around a future release of Quark Xpress 6, the version that will finally bring the king of desktop publishing’s flagship product to Mac OS X.

Quark is posting Aqua-based screenshots of the forthcoming release and opening the kimono to display some of the features that will make users want to forgive the company for the path of trepidation that was the Quark 4 upgrade process.

The preview is the first of a series of peekie-boos that will be running in advance of the as-yet-undisclosed release date. Quark 6 is expected to be a Mac OS X-only product and versions also are planned for Windows 2000 and XP.

Put that in your books

Snowmint Creative Solutions put a few new touches to Budget, its personal financial planning and management software, and broke out the planning aspect as a stand-alone product.

The newest version of Budget simplifies the date entry process, adds searchable help, provides a new multiple transaction feature and squashes a handful of bugs.

The new application, Budget Planner, allows users to plan for longer-term financial goals like buying a new car, saving up for college or putting together enough cash for a healthy retirement fund. Budget Planner, which is rolled into Budget, costs US$12.95 to register.

Barking at the air

Dog Park Software has updated a couple of its ham radio offerings. Most recently, the company updated MacLogger DX, adding Internet call sign lookup and tossing in driver support for the Yaesu FT-990 transceiver.

Also getting a rework was MacDopplerPRO, the company’s satellite tracking software. MacDopplerPRO 1.8.5 got speed increases in 3D rendering and satellite prediction dialogue windows. Data on the MA, Squint and passband for the AO-40 has been added and Moon psuedo-keps table has been updated for 2003.

Hooking up

Zik Software tweaked the beta of its iLink browser bookmarking software. The latest version of the software improves the importing of bookmarks from iCab, Internet Explorer, Mozilla/Netscape, OmniWeb and Safari. The update improves the program’s support of uncommon characters in URLs and addresses some minor bugs.

Looking up

August Software did a major revamp of ODBCRouter, its database connectivity software which allows computers to hook up to databases using the Open Database Connectivity standard on servers running any major operating system.

The revamped version of ODBCRouter leverages the suite of OBDC built into Mac OS X 10.2 and FileMakerPro in addition to speed improvements the company made to its middleware. August Software also improved its network database browser and added support for applications that pass images as SQL queries.

Aimin’ to be an injun killer

4D Inc. has retooled its WebStar server suite and taken dead aim at Apache, the open-source darling of the Web server set.

4D wheeled out v5.2.4 of WebStar V proclaiming it to be not only easier to administrate, but also faster when running on Mac OS X. The update also rolls in support for SOAP-based WebServices, adds new administration options and gives 4D WebMail Pro a significant upgrade by improving reliability and compatibility with various email clients.

The update is free to owners of the WebStar V suite.

An organized notepad

MacChampion issued a new update for Alepin, the company’s notepad/scrapbook application. The update gives the program the ability to contain nested or hierarchal files and folders, adds drag and drop support for URLs, and gives users a greater degree of customization.

The update for the $10 shareware application is located at MacChampion’s product page.

Get yer clips together

Inventive Inc. fine-tuned its iClip clipboard/scrapbook utility giving the utility an auto-save feature and putting management of the number of clip bins into the hands of the user. Inventive also added other clip management features to the program and made it easier to view and identify the contents of each bin.

Online report card

izi4u Software Solutions refined its izi-Course online training software to allow instructors to set up individual assignments for each enrolled student, score the tests and grade the students.

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