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December 1st, 1999

[4:45 PM] Macromedia's CourseBuilder Makes Building Online Courses Easier
by Staff

Macromedia announced a new product designed to make designing online courses easy. The new product is called CourseBuilder and works with Dreamweaver 3. Dreamweaver is Macromedia's popular HTML layout editor. According to Macromedia:

Macromedia, Inc. (Nasdaq: MACR) today announced Macromedia(R) CourseBuilder for Dreamweaver(TM), a powerful extension application to Dreamweaver 3 for creating interactive Web-based learning applications. CourseBuilder enables professional Web developers and subject matter experts to quickly and cost-effectively author engaging training content in a visual environment, without requiring programming knowledge.

Dreamweaver is Macromedia's market-leading professional Web authoring environment. CourseBuilder, formerly Attain Objects for Dreamweaver, extends the functionality of Dreamweaver with more than 40 pre-built learning interactions including easily editable multiple choice, true or false and fill-in-the-blank questions and answers. As an extension application, CourseBuilder benefits from Dreamweaver 3's visual programming interface, open architecture, and support for Web standards. The CourseBuilder interactions, built using HTML and JavaScript, create Web-native content which allows courses to be delivered in most browsers on both Windows and Macintosh platforms.

CourseBuilder empowers non-technical subject matter experts to focus on their area of expertise, rather than programming. Web developers can also use CourseBuilder to quickly add various types of surveys and user interaction to their Web sites. In addition to the pre-built interactions, CourseBuilder also includes Action Manager and Knowledge Track features. The Action Manager provides a visual interface for adding interactivity and sophisticated logic to learning content. Knowledge Track enables a variety of information, including student progress and test scores, to be sent directly to an instructional management system, such as the Lotus Pathware learning management system. For developers designing distance learning courses, building in tracking of students' interactions provides a critical link between students' activities and their instructors.

Lotus Development Corp. purchased the Pathware system from Macromedia in July and both companies are jointly developing, marketing and distributing technologies for Web-based learning. As part of the agreement, Lotus distributes Macromedia's industry-leading Authorware, Director, CourseBuilder for Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Flash authoring products. In addition, Lotus licensed Macromedia's Shockwave, Flash, and Authorware Web Player technology for use with Lotus and IBM products. Lotus will make CourseBuilder available as part of Lotus' Professional Authoring and Web Authoring Suites.

You can find more information on the product at Macromedia's web site. CourseBuilder is priced at US$199 and the company is offering a bundle with DreamWeaver for US$499.


[4:30 PM] SysQuake: Science, Not Gamers
by Staff

Calerga has announced an update to SysQuake, bringing the scientific software to version 1.1. SysQuake is designed to help users work in Math, Physics, and engineering. The new version brings performance enhancements and other improvements to the software.

Calerga announces today SysQuake 1.1 for Macintosh and Windows computers, a new version of the application which helps understanding mathematics, physics and engineering and enables improving easily the performance of technical systems. SysQuake 1.1 is a free upgrade for licensees of SysQuake 1.0.

SysQuake 1.1 improves even further the interactivity with increased speed and more ways to provide visual clues about the objects which can be manipulated interactively. Several benign bugs have been fixed. The user interface of the Macintosh version has been made more modern, to be in phase with the latest operating system release, Mac OS 9.

SysQuake Viewer 1.0.1, the free application for viewing live interactive graphics, is also replaced with a new version. SysQuake Viewer 1.1 is based on the same code as SysQuake 1.1. It is available for Macintosh and Windows computers, and as a prerelease version for GNU/Linux Intel computers.

SysQuake is a groundbreaking application for understanding and designing complex systems by the use of interactive graphics. Interactivity lets the user manipulate graphics, observe how phenomena are related, and change parameters to improve the design of a technical device. Understanding how initial conditions affect a simulation or how the parameters of a feedback controller determine the behavior of a dynamic system is made much easier than with the static graphics created by existing software.

SysQuake's powerful, yet easy-to-program computer language opens it to any kind of application; SysQuake handles the user interface itself, letting the developer concentrate on the specifics of his or her problem. It is shipped with sample applications in the fields of automatic control, analog and digital filters, model identification, physics, and finance. SysQuake is not only useful for research and development--its ability to help really understand the system beyond the graphics makes it the ideal tool for teaching.

SysQuake Viewer can load "SQ files" (programs for SysQuake) processed by SysQuake Signer. It offers interactive graphics which help tremendously understand what the graphics represent and how they are related together. It can be used as a helper application for World Wide Web browsers such as Netscape Communicator; when a link to an SQ file is clicked in an hypertext document, the SQ file is downloaded and opened automatically in SysQuake Viewer.

You can find more information and download links for the product at the company's web site. Pricing for the product if offered in Francs, but Calerga is offering a free demo. The update is free to registered owners.


[4:15 PM] Apple Stock Watch: Apple Finally Does It, Closes Over 100 For The First Time
by Wes George

For the first time in history Apple ends the trading session above the psychologically significant century mark, as some technology stocks staged a come back after yesterday's profit taking.

After flirting all week with the $100 level Apple advanced strongly, soaring 5 3/16 or 5.30% to close at 103 1/16 on a volume of 5.5 million shares traded.

The Dow moved ahead 120 points (1.11%) to close at 10998 on a volume of 874 million shares traded. Oil service stocks, HMOs, apparel makers and electronic firms led the way higher.

The Nasdaq gained 17.55 points (0.53%) to end the session at 3353.71. Volume was, as usual, heavy at 1.4 billions shares traded. The Internet and the semiconductor sectors gained.

Even after the Nasdaq's 2.5% sell-off yesterday, its largest one day retracement since October 15th, the Nasdaq was up 16% for November with 15 new record high closings for the month. Average volume of shares traded in November increased to 1.3 billion, up 25% from October, while NYSE volume declined slightly.

The S&P 500 recovered 8.81 points today (0.63%) to close at 1397.72. This was helped, in part, by the addition of Yahoo! to the Index. Yahoo! rose 10 1/8 to close at 228 7/8.

30-year Treasury bond was down 4/32 to close at 97 21/32, the yield rose to 6.30% from 6.29% yesterday. Key to the bond market moving forward is the November employment numbers to be released on Friday.

The National Association of Purchasing Management (NAPM) Index for November declined to 56.2. Analysts had forecast 58.0, while last month's NAPM came in at 56.6. This measure of US manufacturing strength indicates that the economy may not be overheating after all and caused a small rally in bonds which lost steam late in the day.

It wasn't a good day for Apple related stocks. Gravity caught up with Akamai today, down 19 3/8 points to 217 5/8. While Adobe lost 2 1/8, after yesterday's 2 7/8 lost, to end 66 9/16. Macromedia got clobbered again, down 4 dollars after yesterday's trouncing of minus 3 5/8, to close at 61 3/4. Symantec lost 2 1/2 to close at 44 3/16.

Apple's Power PC partners were both up , IBM gained 11/16 to close at 103 3/4, while Motorola gained a fraction to end at 116 15/16.

Apple's competitors ended mixed. Gateway was down another 1 5/8, after losing 2 3/4 in yesterday's sell off, to close at 74 3/4. Microsoft continued to climb, up 2 9/64 to 93 3/16, on hopes of a settlement with the DOJ. Compaq, Dell and Hewlett Packard also ended in positive territory. But Intel lost 3/8 to close at 76 5/16.

For full quotes on all the companies mentioned in this article, we have assembled this set of quotes at Yahoo! for your reference. We also have many of these same quotes reported live (20 minute delay) on our home page. For other stories regarding Apple's stock activity, visit our Apple Stock Watch Special Report.


[3:30 PM] Dell, Gateway: Finally, A PC Maker Designs Different (With Pics)
by Staff

Gateway and Dell have both introduced new machines that depart from traditional PC form factors. Dell has introduced a new PC called the webpc (lower case) while Gateway has a new product called the Profile 2. Both of these computers follow similar design paths, but what is truly interesting is that neither follow the path of the iMac.

The Dell webpc

The Gateway Profile 2

Both models follow a stylized base with a flat panel monitor and are effectively all-in-one designs. The webpc is priced at US$2349. Dell has set up a nice Flash presentation that includes a 360 degree view of the webpc. The Profile 2 is priced at US$1999. The picture of the Profile 2 we have included in this article is the best one we could fin on Gateway's site.

The Mac Observer Spin: Some Mac journalists have expressed negative feelings on the design of the webpc. Indeed, the company offers a less expensive model with a CRT that is unbelievably ugly. However, the model with the flat panel display is at least different from typical PC fare we have seen in the last 18 months. The Gateway Profile 2 is nothing short of sexy looking, especially when viewed from profile which Gateway's TV commercials for the product do. On the other hand, Gateway's CRT-based al-in-one is also fundamentally unpleasant looking. Apple defenders should not confuse their (our) love for the Mac with a hatred of all things PC. In the case of these two products, the PC world has actually delivered a legitimate offering.

It has been more than 18 months since Apple first introduced the iMac, and 15 months since the product actually shipped. Gateway and Dell deserve kudos for finally introducing a truly different form factor that does not borrow from the iMac.

What is perhaps the most interesting is that the price points on these systems is well above even then midrange Power Mac G4, let alone the consumer priced iMac. In our opinion, even the iMac will not get much competition from these new PCs. Instead, more mindless Suits and upwardly mobile executive lemmings will be the ones to flock to these beasts.

With Apple surely planning a flat panel all-in-one for the next 18 months, it will be interesting to see how they approach the subject now that they have beaten to market.

And lest it need to be said, neither of these products holds a candle to Apple's offerings.

What do you think? Talk back at The Mac Observer Forums.

Dell - - Gateway

[2:45 PM] Running Windows On Your Mac (With VPC) Just Got Better
by Staff

The good people at AuctionMac Software have announced an upgrade to their excellent utility, VPC Helper. Virtual PC is a product from Connectix that emulates a Pentium system and allows you to run Windows on your Mac. VPC Helper works to make that process more efficient and works directly with Virtual PC itself. The new version includes performance increases. According to AuctionMac Software:

AuctionMac Software has released VPC Helper v1.2, a major upgrade to the hot new utility aimed at users of Connectix' award-winning Virtual PC Windows emulation software. What's new? We've added more support for new RAM-saving methods! Now, users can easily configure and reset disk cache settings (Mac OS 9 is needed for this feature), saving several megs of precious RAM. Furthermore, VPC Helper now offers features to re-launch your quit background apps after you are finished using Virtual PC... No restart needed!

Emulating a Windows PC on a Mac stresses every system resource, making large amounts of RAM and processor cycles required commodities. Up to now, freeing up RAM and processor speed for Virtual PC has been tedious, time-consuming, and irritating. Now, VPC Helper offers tried-and-true methods of safely freeing up resources for maximum Virtual PC performance. Some features are exclusive to VPC Helper.

VPC Helper v1.2 offers several features... VPC Helper will quickly prepare your Mac for Virtual PC use and allow one-click configuration and return. VPC Helper will set your Virtual Memory and Disk Cache settings (Mac OS 9 is needed for this feature), set extension/control panel startup sets, quit the Finder, quit 'hidden' background apps and processes, and restart your Mac (if needed) in direct preparation for maximum Virtual PC use! And VPC Helper quickly configures and reconfigures settings with a click of the button! It will even re-launch those quit background processes without the need to restart!

A 64MB G3 can run a stable Windows 98 OS without the drawbacks of using Virtual Memory (VPC Helper works with any version of Virtual PC)! VPC Helper will safely and easily free as many resources as possible to help you get the most out of Virtual PC. In our tests, VPC Helper methods dramatically improved both CPU and disk-intensive processes! (A complete performance comparison chart is available on the web site.)

You can find more information on the product at the company's web site. The update is free to registered owners, while the full version is priced at US$8.99.

AuctionMac Software

[1:30 PM] Meta Tag Manager Updated
by Staff

YAV Interactive has released a new version of their utility Meta TAg Manager. Meta Tag Manager does just what it sounds like, it helps you manage your Meta Tags in HTML documents. The new version brings Mac OS 9 compatibilities and other improvements. According to YAV Interactive:

YAV Interactive Media ( today announced the upgrade of Meta Tag Manager to version 2.0.1. Meta Tag Manager is the first and only software of its kind for the Macintosh. It is the ultimate tool for fine-tuning and optimizing a document's meta tags. This process can enhance a page's search engine relevancy ranking and assure that queries that should find a particular page, do in fact find that page. Anyone creating webpages should be using Meta Tag Manager.

Version 2.0.1 sports a new interface, OS9 compatibility, and new defaults. Support for more file types, more meta tags, drag-and-drop, and several new menus have been added. All user requests have been addressed. The restrictions for unregistered copies of the program have been somewhat relaxed. The key restriction is that unregistered users cannot use the batch-processing features. The price remains unchanged at $30.

Meta tags are usually not visible in a browser but are used by search engine "spiders" to index and rank a website or homepage. Every search engine has its own approach to handling on-line documents and even their utilization of meta tags varies widely. Rather than leave the fate of a meticulously crafted web presence to a spider's often overly generalized methods, Meta Tag Manager lets the individual take control. With dozens of options to automate the management of meta tags, Meta Tag Manager makes it easy to analyze and maximize the important meta tags of an entire website or a single html document.

Meta Tag Manager provides ongoing feedback about how a document's meta tags will be treated by up to ten search engines (including the top seven). Meta Tag Manager generates custom advice in easy-to-understand English. One click of the "Update" button can add twelve meta tags auto-formatted in optimum syntax to a document. And Meta Tag Manager can conditionally add, append, prepend, or merge tags to a whole group of files with a single press of the "Batch" button. Collect all keywords from a website. Analyze the interaction between keywords, headings, and body text. Designate often used material to be added automatically to important tags. "Carry over" tags from one file to another. Strip unwanted meta tags. Create "Tag Reports" and much more.

You can find more information on the product at the company's web site.

YAV Interactive

[11:30 AM] Holiday Gift Suggestion Of The Day: Make That Mac Gamer Happy!
by Staff

We are providing a Holiday Gift Suggestion of the Day for Mac users looking for the perfect gift for their loved one. For those not celebrating any holidays, treat yourself. :-) Today, we tackle the tough issue of finding a gift for the Mac gamer in your life. For other Gift Suggestions, check out the Full List.

Product: Connectix Virtual Game Station

Manufacturer: Connectix

Description: Now you can play many popular PlayStation games right on your Macintosh computer with Connectix Virtual Game Station. Enjoy these great games - even if you don't yet have a Sony PlayStation console. And, if you already own one, Connectix Virtual Game Station gives you the option to run many of your PlayStation games on your G3 Macintosh.

Easy-to-Use! Connectix Virtual Game Station is simple to install and easy to use. You are guided through the installation process, and within seconds, your Mac is ready to run Connectix Virtual Game Station. Any time you want to play a PlayStation game, just launch by double-clicking the icon, and insert your game CD!

Note: Connectix Virtual Game Station will not perform adequately on a Macintosh that has been upgraded to a G3 by an upgrade card.

Price: US$19.95

This Gift Is Perfect For: Mac gamers with an iMac, PowerMac G3, or PowerMac G4 who have a penchant for playing PlayStation titles.

Buy It Now: US$19.95 at

Product: Madden NFL 2000

Manufacturer: Aspyr

Description: Madden NFL 2000 is a 3D rendered football simulation with far more features than we can list here, but a partial list includes: Multi-Player Franchise Mode, Full Internet Play, All New Interface, New Player Editor, Custom Teams in Custom Seasons, Career Stats and Record Tracking, Revolutionary Polygon Player Models, New Madden Challenge, Tons of New Animations, Play-by-Play Commentary, Plus 200 Teams. This game has been a huge hit on the Mac and the PC and was just released last month for the Mac.

System Requirements:

System 7.5.3 or later
4X CD-ROM Drive
603e PowerPC
180 Mhz CPU or faster
System 7.6.1 or later
8X CD-ROM Drive
603e PowerPC
200 Mhz CPU or faster
Quicktime 3.0 or later (included)
Supports ATI 3D accelerators (Rage Pro or 128, 4MB VRAM minimum) and 3Dfx (VooDoo 1,2,3)

Price: US$44.95

This Gift Is Perfect For: Mac gamers who are football fans (duh!) We recommend 3D hardware acceleration and a fast machine for the best play.

Buy It Now: US$44.95 at

If you have a Gift Suggestion we should post, tell us about it!

Holiday Gift Suggestion Of The Day: The Full List

[Column] Computing With Bifocals - CopyPaste: A Godsend For Power Users & Novices Alike

[8:30 AM] Descent 3 For Mac Shipping!
by Staff

Mac game fans can rejoice as the latest version of the Descent Empire is now shipping. Graphsim has announced that Descent 3 is now shipping and expects the title to be available in retail locations as early as this week. According to Graphsim:

Descent 3 for Mac is now shipping! Wednesday afternoon at about 3pm the first P.T.M.C. Pyro GL ship to come off of the assembly line burst out of the Graphic Simulations' office front door and headed for the shelves of Mac software retailers worldwide. By midweek, Descent 3 units will be available at your favorite retail stores.

Descent 3 is the pinnacle of the revolutionary Descent series that pioneered multiplayer gaming. Descent 3 for Mac features complete cross-platform multiplayer gaming allowing you to blast your PC (or Mac) brethren into oblivion. Mac gamers experience not only the same frenzied, subterranean shooting action, but also the thrill of flying out of the mines into the planetary atmosphere. Players soar above the surface of the planet, engage in combat with enemy air and ground forces, and use ten new, lethal weapons to obliterate the most sophisticated robots to date! From the innovative 360-degree, 3D technology to the new Fusion Engine, gamers face a new challenge as they attempt to conquer a new way to play first-person action games. Descent 3 for Mac requires hardware graphics support found in all current iMac and G3 computers (RagePro or greater graphics with 6 MB of video RAM, 64MB of RAM and 200MB of hard drive space).

You can find more information on Descent 3 at the company's web site. The title is priced at US$45.


[8:30 AM] MusicMath Updated, French Version Introduced
by Staff

Laurent Colson has released a new version of Music Math. Music Math is a product that assists with music composition, transposition, and many other mathematical aspects of music. The new version, 2.2, adds new features and other enhancements, as well as a French version. According to Laurent Colson:

New in Music Math 2.2

  • Freq module mixed with Delay module.
  • Samples module added to convert BPM in Samples or Samples in BPM (from Kevan and Bubu suggestions).
  • French version available.
  • Bug fix on French system with real values and decimal point (error between ".' and "," interpretation).

You can find more information and download links for the product at the company's web site. MusicMath is freeware.


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