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MacWorld Exposition: Boston 1995
Cool stuff. Cool like us.
Tom Carrolan
"Macintosh: The Features of Windows 95... Since 1984"

  Except for a few tee shirt slogans, like the one above from MacToday, Windows 95 -- Bill Gates' homage to the Mac -- was a non-issue at MacWorld Expo in August. The other pre-show buzz -- Power Computing clones -- drew no crowds as they had no show floor booth. The show was about new stuff for Macintosh users and there were surprises: some big, others pleasant.  

Prior to Expo, Best of Show winners displayed our award with their Mac advertisements in the likes of MacWorld, MacUser, MacWeek, Wired, and Internet World magazines. BCS·Mac "Best of Show" awards from Boston '94 and San Francisco '95 were on display all around World Trade Center and over at Bayside. It's our job to recognize innovation, avoid novelty, and find Mac-greatness wherever it may exist.

And now the adventure continues...


Head and Shoulders Above the Rest

The big big news was Ceneca Software's PageMill. Web page construction is now completely Mac-like and affordable at $195 list. Drag and drop pictures, text, and background colors or patterns onto your future web page. Resize graphics or clear their backgrounds for that cool look of a transparent illustration all using this one application plus your mouse and all without knowing or caring what HTML code looks like. While the next and next generations of HTML editors are making code writing easier, the alien beings from planet Ceneca have landed, set up an office in California, and delivered the future of web page design to us Earthlings. Clearly they hail from a superior civilization, these Cenecans. And sorry Windows users, you'll have to wait for your version... but you're used to it.


"Redmond, We Have a Problem..."

SpeedDoubler from Connectix and FutureWave's SmartSketch are great examples of what "Mac-like" has meant since 1984: if it's simple on the surface and downright fun to use, there's a lot of hard work under that hood!

Speed Doubler comes in three parts. Speed Access provides intelligent disk caching using your physical RAM and you'll notice the bump. Speed Copy includes lightning-fast copying and deleting in the background with statistics on performance; the delete adds features if you have the "warn before emptying" turned on [the System 7 default]. Access and Copy automatically replace Apple's stock disk cache and copy/delete functions. Speed Emulator is the only part that's exclusively for PPC users and it doubles the emulated application and system processing. Like its older sister, RamDoubler, SpeedDoubler is pure breakthrough and all Macintosh.

Remember IntelliDraw? Vaguely? IntelliDraw was a good idea for an easy to use alternative to Illustrator and Freehand spun into a head-scratching mess by committee. Or so say the developers of SmartSketch, and they ought to know since IntelliDraw was their baby for awhile. With SmartSketch, they kept development under their control and created a simple yet powerful drawing tool that acts like it's a paint program. You can sketch something and then command it to "straighten" or "smooth" the lines and close off the ends. Text manipulation works just like in the major leagues: type it, then reshape it by pulling and tugging on it. Editing eps clip art was always a matter of determining was constitutes an object, SmartSketch does it differently simply working within bounded areas with a fill inside command and eraser tool that cauterizes the ends as you remove unwanted areas of art! Art lovers, you've got to spring for this one.

Still head and shoulders above the rest, the Zip drive and Jaz drive from Iomega prove there's something for everyone in removable disk storage. The Zip drive is the storage device that fits into anyone's budget. Zip's sleek little drive will run you $199 and the 100 meg cartridges go for $19.95 each.

"Toy," you say; "slow," you mutter? Well, your next must-have storage device is named Jaz. You feed this $499 bulldog block ONE GIG disks that cost $99... that's what the 90 and 230 meg Bernoulli disks cost now The speed is hard disk class. Dropping 15 mb onto a Jaz drive happens in about the same time it took Mike Tyson to drop Peter McNeeley [that was about eighty-nine seconds]. Who's Peter McNeeley... who's Syquest?

Freestyle from Mark of the Unicorn in Cambridge MA makes music the Mac way. Play it on your keyboard [the black and white one] and the notes appear on you computer in piano roll and notation formats. Drag a selection with the mouse to hear it or move it. Arrangements are created and edited in a spreadsheet-like window much the way a multimedia presentation is constructed. The software makes playing and writing songs so easy you'll want to share the billing. [$199/$169 with or w/o a MIDI interface].


"They're Ba-ack!"

Surprise surprise, Adobe PageMaker 6.0 is getting more Quark-like. In addition to adding multiple master pages, true grouping and locking, plus more color control for output, Adobe has included something to please every current PageMaker user. Version 6 supports Adobe Photoshop Effects and will create HTML and PDF exports for web pages. Importing Excel spreadsheets is a first for either layout leader. For those looking at desktop publishing for the first time, the choice between PageMaker or QuarkXPress just got tougher.

Rick Smolan's Alice to Ocean CD quickly became a milestone in form and function for multimedia. When Rick gathered 70 award-winning photojournalists for a Passage to Vietnam another stunning visual journey was in the making. Presented in over 400 color photos, interviews, and video we make that journey too.
War often freezes time making it hard for us to see the people of that place in any light other that the darkness of wartime, Rick Smolan's Passage to Vietnam CD [Buy it here]illuminates a pastoral country, shows the changes brought about by exposure to war and western culture, and shares the healing process begun on both sides of our world.
 


In Living Color

  Color is finally affordable and MacWorld Boston '95 was the place for three great deals. Fargo's FotoFun prints out Kodak-style color photographs from your Mac using the high quality dye sublimation process. You get to add text and special effects to your pictures with whatever kind of image editing software you have. Then, print them out as pictures, postcards or reverse stencils for coffee mugs. The little FotoFun printster goes for $399.

Having seen the output from the $550 Hewlett Packard HP850/855c I will never again disparage HP with the words "low end ink jet" to describe their color printers! The 600x600 dpi text produced by this new printer is impossible to tell from laser. Sure you can see the dithering in any color photograph short of dye sublimation but HP's new technology and high resolution output is better than any printer at twice the price.

Back to the pure quality of 16.7 million colors, Primera Pro, again from Fargo, provides superb dye sublimation printing at around $1500. This is the lowest priced, high end desk top printer around. The footprint is tiny; the output unbelievable. You'll pay more for speedier devices but the quality won't get any better than this!



Internet and Mulitmedia Revisited

San Francisco was the beginning of the Internet and multimedia revolution for the rest of us. The affordable, Mac-like stuff had its moments in Boston too.

Any artist or designer worth their weight in Macintoshes needs an electronic portfolio, don't you think? Something that does out by disk or over the Internet in a one to 1.5 megabyte package, yes? And that Work de Mac needs to stand alone and run with a mere double click, agreed? E-magine's ProView puts your photographs, video, any other kind of Mac art, plus sound and text into the hands of the decision makers through a Director-like little program for $69.95 [no licensing or any other costs]. Is this a great country or what!

Boris of Brookline himself proudly showed off his Boris Effects at Expo. This is the first video special effects generator add-on giving you the same tools as the big boys and girls use on network television. Those tumbling, spinning objects with transparent text box overlays comes priced at a hundred bucks, perfect for the home or small business operation wanting to look large. Currently it works with Media 100 and Adobe Premiere but Boris says it will soon work with Best of Show winner Avid Videoshop and other products.

On the Internet front we have CU-SeeMe and Claris Em@iler to cheer about.
The Cornell University [CU] Internet video freeware [see me] has gone commercial courtesy of New Hampshire's White Pine Software. How is this good news, since you're going to have to pay for it? Well, White Pine is making major improvements and the changes effect both the small and big user! On the home front, CU-SeeMe will be optimized for a 28.8 PPP connection whereas before you needed a SLIP firehose of a connection to see any movement. On the big business side, video group conferencing will become a reality over the Internet with CU-SeeMe Reflector software [a video server application]. Using Connectix QuickCams, this video conferencing will be accessible to schools and all manner of smaller users, as well as corporations. That home PPP connection just got interesting, didn't it?!

Okay, so Claris Em@iler is a real pretty boy just like its dad Guy Kawasaki but is there anything else going on? Definitely yes, for Claris Em@iler and, yes again for Guy [see Mac Unplugged below].
Claris Em@iler has a great Mac look and feel. Drag and drop is such a way of life with this application that when you're not working with your email, you'll miss its features in other programs. You drag and drop selected text, email addresses get parsed via drag and drop, and enclosures can be dragged coming and going from messages [compression and decompression happens without you doing anything special]. What you don't drag and drop happens via smart typing, buttons, and pop up menus.

Mail filing can be done manually to any number of custom folders ["Mail from Mom," "Best of Show Correspondence," etc.] or through "mail action" macros you define ahead of time. Claris Em@iler also automates your mail collections and deliveries for CompuServe, eWorld, America Online, and the Internet. And since Apple's Internet Connection Kit contains a little version of Claris Em@iler, everyone will be using this newcomer in no time.



Mac Unplugged

So, there Guy's new book. There's Guy's new annointed Apple Fellowshp and Expo keynote status. There's Guy's new product - Claris Em@iler - from his new company, Fog City Software. Plus you can still read the same old Guy every month in the back of MacWorld.

Guy Kawasaki has always been a MacPlayer. How to Drive Your Competition Crazy is his latest book and it again demonstrates his approach to business: keep it direct, keep it simple, adjust, and have some fun. Guy does not write the thick book or talk the thick talk but he makes sense. He also makes you chuckle by making business analogies to dating and other topics the rest of us have actual experience with -- or wish we did -- and that's the kind of guruism that works.

 The Wacom and Fractal Design Digital Art Show presents a wonderful collection of compositions at each Expo and I'm afraid most purchase-oriented show goers miss it. You'll find watercolors, oils, colorful etchings and collages. Transport these panels into a Back Bay gallery and their patrons would be hard pressed to identify the common thread that links all this art... the fact that it's computer generated!

 

The History of Macintosh Advertising was another little display tucked away next to the rest rooms and idle booth dividers. But there was a lot of memories and clever ideas on display about our favorite computer.

THE COOLEST shirt at the show was, of course, the BCS·Mac "Macintosh Forever" take-off on the summer's caped crusader flick designed by Andy Ihnatko. But running a close second was the summer apparel collection from Metrowerks who also make some programming software named CodeWarrior. Their "GeekWare XXL" tee shirts, hats, and Hawaiian shirts were oh so trendy, even non-geeks would play geek-for-the-day by donning CodeWarrior threads.




Kid Stuff

In San Francisco, Big Top Productions came out the blue with two great products for the young and the young at heart to capture Best of Show: The Groove Thing and Felix the Cat.

At Expo Boston, it was another new company, Theatrix Interactive scoring with a foursome of learning computer adventure CD's for kids. Bumptz Science Carnival, Snootz Math Trek, Hollywood, and Juilliard Music Adventure all boast colorful heroes and great scenery. More importantly, the plan for each learning experience is very clear: first, the game goal is fun and engaging while each has a very well thought out teaching approach involving an element of problem solving. The math and science CD's are geared for young learners, ages 6-10 [although I'd recommend them for a bright 4 or 5 year old]. The creative writing program [Hollywood] and the music package are intended for youngsters nine and up. It's really hard to describe just how superior in concept and execution all the Theatrix Interactive products are to some of the other stuff that passes for children's learning software... but boy are they!



Adults Only

Casady and Greene has such a great track record for little programs including QuickDex/InfoGenie and Conflict Catcher. Until their SnapMail 2.0 came along, small business email was an option requiring a bank loan. Now you can install 5 or 10 electronic mail stops in you office for under $200 with no additional costs and no dedicated server needed. Do you sacrifice features? I don't think so. SnapMail 2.0 includes: automatic return receipts, enclosures, Apple Remote Access support, and Internet mail. You can chat with others if you like, on the other hand, SnapMail 2.0 holds your mail when your Mac is off or out of the office!

It was not a pretty picture back in 1988 when ESRI first developed a digital base map application for tracking natural and manmade features. Now with version 2.1 of their ArcView software we see a colorful Mac version with a covey of floating palettes for adding resources and labels to detailed underlying maps of cities and landscapes.

Maps were originally devised for conquest of peoples and of nature. For those working for goals other than conquest, GIS [geographic information system] software leader ArcView is available for schools and non-profits at $250/450 for an individual or site license and therefore, priced to make a difference.



Where Are They Now

There's plenty of news to report from recent Best of Show winners...

Juicy upgrade for Color QuickCam... ArtPad II with eraser and contact sensitive in WP and Word Joe VP also SmartSketch bundle... Email on Demand now part of ListServ... Missing in action from Expo Boston 95: Berkeley Systems makers of AfterDark... WorldPerfect 3.5 supports HTML and boasts other improvements... Software Ventures makers of Snatcher, introduced a suite named Internet Valet... Xerox TextBridge 3.0 debuted adding improved OCR.




Best of Show agents and operatives: Jim Hoyt, David Drucker, Adrienne Giovino, Jeff Kane, M.D. and Andy Ihnatko. Thanks.

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