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December 9th, 1999

[5:00 PM] WebStar Gets Log Analyzer, Mac OS 9 Compatibility, & More
by Staff

StarNine Technologies, Inc. has updated the popular WebSTAR Server Suite to version 4.1. The new version includes enhanced search capabilities and included Funnel Web 3.6 for improved log report features. The new version is also fully compatible with OS 9. According to StarNine:

StarNine Technologies, Inc. today released WebSTAR Server Suite 4.1, now with dramatically enhanced search engine options, new Funnel Web 3.6 Lite for easy, detailed Web traffic analysis, and full Mac OS 9 compatibility . The new version 4.1 includes major additions to WebSTAR's search engine, such as advanced web-crawlercapabilities, searchable indexes created from multiple Web sites, and more extensive customization options for search results pages. WebSTAR Server Suite 4.1 has added a high-powered log analysis option with a new Funnel Web 3.6 Lite add-on application from industry-leading Active Concepts. Version 4.1 includes many 'under-the-hood' improvements to WebSTAR Mail and various plug-ins, and provides full compatibility with Mac OS 9.

WebSTAR Server Suite 4.1 is available for US$599. Registered users of version 4.0 may upgrade for free. There are also educational discounts available. You can visit the StarNine Technologies web site for more information.

StarNine Technologies

[5:00 PM] Name That Movie Or I'll Go AlphaNatix On You!
by Staff

Monkey Byte Development has released two new puzzle modules for the word challenge game, AlphaNatix. Joining the Urban Legends module are the Cult Movies and Wild Kingdom mods. According to Monkey Byte:

About AlphaNatix (Pronounced: Al-Fanatics):

Wind your way around a wicked word challenges. Rack up letters, avoid hazards and race to complete your word list before time runs out. Once you've a completed puzzle, go back and try to beat your own score. AlphaNatix is available for MacOS and Windows.

Urban Legends is steeped in the crazy American mythos. Heard about the pet dog that was really a sewer rat? Been warned about kidney thieves? Get the $650 cookie recipe? This Edition has 30 of your favorites--and every single one of them is true!

Cult Movies Edition taunts you with such greats as "Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Harold and Maude", and "Mad Max".

Wild Kingdom Edition will bend your brain with everything from ferocious beasts to harmless insects.

For a limited time, all three AlphaNatix games are available for US$34.95 as an electronic version, and US$39.95 for the CD version. You can find more information at the Monkey Byte Development web site.

Monkey Bytes Development

[5:00 PM] Washington Apple Pi Holding A Big Shindig This Weekend
by Staff

If you are in Capital Region of the United States, and are looking for that last minutes holiday gift for the Mac lover on your list, then remember that the Washington Apple Pi computer show is going to be held this Saturday, December 11th, from 9am - 2pm at the Northern Virgina Community College in Annandale, VA. The show will be one of the largest East Coast events of the year.

For more information, contact the Washington Apple Pi user group or visit their web site.

Washington Apple Pi

[5:00 PM] Mac OS 9.0 Mods: We're Not Talking Vespas & Parkas Here
by Staff

Jonathan Jacobs has released a set of OS 9 "mods" which change some of the functionality of your computer at the system resource level. By using Apple's Res Edit (NOT recommended by The Mac Observer unless you know what you are doing or are very brave) to add functionality to menus, change the name of the trash can, help maximize screen realesate, and a host of others. According to Mr. Jacob:

Mac OS 9.0 mods: NEW! A bit more has changed since the last time. The "Mac OS 9" in the startup picture is recolored, as well as in the "About This Computer" window. There is now a "SIZE" resource to give the Finder a bit more memory to work in. NEW: Change/remove the "Logout" key when in Multi-User mode. NEW2: Restored ability to "Windowshade" Sherlock 2 and QuickTime Player windows. NEW3: Remote Access' automatic connection window can now be sent to the background, letting other applications work in the foreground.

There is no information page, but you can download the OS 9 mods if you would like to give them a try.

[5:00 PM] Reminder Program Updated
by Staff

Frank Reiff has updated theMacintosh usage reminder program, MacBreakZ!, to version 2.0b1. MacBreakZ! reminds users when it is time to tear themselves away from their machines for a much need rest period. According to Mr. Reiff:

MacBreakZ! is a utility which reminds Macintosh users to take regular breaks.

Research has shown that taking regular breaks reduces the risk of computer related injuries, such as repetitive stress injuries, neck and back ache, eye strain, blurred vision, headaches, etc.

I am pleased to announce the release of version 2.0 beta 1 of "MacBreakZ!".

MacBreakZ! is a personal ergonomic assistant which monitors your keyboard and mouse activity and helps you structure your computer use in a healthy manner which prevents computer-related injuries from developing.

This new version is a complete rewrite introducing activity monitoring, ergonomic tips, stretching routines along with many other new features.

MacBreakZ! is available for US$10. For more information, please visit the MacBreakZ! web site.


[4:00 PM] Apple Stock Watch: Anxiety Rules as Wall Street Smacks Apple
by Wes George

Volatile profit taking on the Nasdaq couldn't stop VA Linux Systems, the IPO du jour, from setting a new first day performance record by soaring more than 700%. The broader tech markets didn't fair so well.

Nervous investors refused to commit before tomorrow's producer price index report, a key economic indicator that may give the market a clue which way the Fed will go with interest rates. Moreover, the general consensus that the Nasdaq is way over bought has many investors believing a correction is finally at hand.

Apple continued its steep sell-off, down 4 13/16 or 4.37% to close at 105 1/4 on heavy volume, after shedding 7 3/4 or 6.58% yesterday.

The Dow rallied 66 points (0.60%) to close at 11134. Ominously, the Transport index continued its downtrend in spite of the strong Dow performance.

The Nasdaq eked out a gain of 6.61 points, after being down as much as 71, to close at 3592.69 with 1.75 billion shares traded. It was the heaviest volume day in Nasdaq history, the second in a row.

The S&P 500 lost 4.23 points (04.23%) to close at 1408.11.

The bellwether 30-year Treasury bond gained 4/32 to close at 98 23/32, the yield dropped to 6.21% from 6.23% on Wednesday.

In Apple related businesses volatility was the norm. Adobe gave back 2 1/4 to end at 65 1/2. Macromedia lost 3 5/8 to close at 82 3/8. Symantec was down 3 3/4 to close at 59 15/16.

Apple's Power PC partners, IBM and Motorola both sold off today. IBM climbed to 122 1/8 early in the day as they went into a meeting with analysts. John Joyce, IBM's CFO, said that he expects sales to be weak due to a Y2K lock down among large corporate accounts. IBM ended the session down 4 5/16 to close at 113 9/16.

Motorola gain 1/16 to close at 130.

Apple's competitors ended the day mixed, Gateway came off it's recent lows, up 1 9/16 to close at 67 3/8. Dell, Compaq and Intel continued to downtrend. Hewlett Packard beat the trend to close up 3/4 at 110 9/16.

The Linux craze continued. Corel (CORL) soared 10 15/16 to close at 39 1/4. Corel is marketing a version of the Linux operating system. Redhat was up 15 to close at 286 1/4. Andover.Net (ANDN) climbed 14 to 77 1/2 after their IPO yesterday. Andover.Net Hosts a number of open source software web sites.

VA Linux Systems (LNUX) offered 4.4 million shares at $30 per share and quickly soared to 330 before settling at 250 up 220 dollars or 733% for the day.

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.


[1:30 PM] Develop Chat Rooms With Director
by Staff

Macromedia has released a new version of their Shockwave development tool, Shockwave Multiuser Server 2. Shockwave Multiuser 2 allows developers to develop multiuser online applications like chat rooms. The new version includes many improvements and other new features. According to Macromedia:

Macromedia, Inc. (Nasdaq: MACR) today announced the availability of the Shockwave(TM) Multiuser Server 2, the solution for delivering online multimedia communities and connected entertainment. The server enables Web users to collaborate and communicate in real-time through rich, dynamic Shockwave content created with Macromedia's Director(R) 7 Shockwave(TM) Internet Studio, the standard for creating and delivering powerful multimedia. The Shockwave Multiuser Server 2, which simplifies the deployment and extends the functionality of multiuser applications, is an update to the multiuser server that ships with the Director 7 Shockwave Internet Studio and is available as a free upgrade to registered users.

Director and the Shockwave Multiuser Server enable developers to create rich Web destinations that include collaborative features -- such as real-time messaging, chat rooms, white board discussions, auctions and multiplayer games. Macromedia's Shockwave Multiuser Server, included with the studio, makes it easy for developers to get started -- simply launching the application on an intranet enables development of 50-user applications right out of the box. Shockwave multiuser content can also be deployed to hundreds of thousands of users with HearMe's POP.X Shockwave Server. According to a recent NPD study, Shockwave content can be immediately viewed by a majority of Web users.

Shockwave Multiuser Server 2 includes new features that enable Shockwave applications to share data more efficiently with new server runtime attributes, as well as new server commands that provide easier scripting when creating multiuser Shockwave applications. New database objects allow storage of persistent data more efficiently, which can contain member profiles for personalization, high scores and other game state, or collaborative creations. In addition, no new version of Macromedia Director or the Shockwave Player is required to create or experience this enhanced multiuser functionality.

The Shockwave Multiuser Server 2 is more powerful than before, but retains the simplicity that allows developers to provide community applications that range from basic chat to connected multimedia experiences. Using Director 7 Shockwave Internet Studio, Web developers can now deliver chat applications on their Web sites that can be configured and customized far more rapidly and inexpensively than other widely used chat technologies. An example of a Shockwave multiuser chat room launched today at, which was developed by Macromedia and Construct. The source code for the chat room is available for download.

Macromedia and HearMe will provide a free hosting service to enable developers to immediately test their multiuser applications. HearMe's POP.X Shockwave Server targets large deployments of multiuser Shockwave content. The POP.X server handles all the system management details so Web site developers can focus on building the experience, instead of the underlying delivery system. More than 108 million Web users -- over 51 percent of people online -- can immediately view Shockwave content, according to a recent independent study. Macromedia Flash(TM) and Shockwave are the leading technologies for streaming, interactive media on the Web, according to an October 1999 survey conducted by NPD Online Research. Macromedia Shockwave and Flash Players are free Web players that work together to bring you the best content on the Web. Each has a distinct purpose. Flash Player delivers fast-loading, high-impact Web sites and user interfaces with graphics, sound, animation and interactivity. Shockwave Player delivers interactive multimedia product demos and training, e-merchandising applications, and rich-media multiuser games and destinations. Macromedia continues to expand the ubiquity of both the Shockwave Player and the Flash Player by making them free to download and redistribute on CD-ROMs and intranets. Developers who want more information about distributing the players can visit

The Shockwave Multiuser Server 2 ships with Director 7 Shockwave Internet Studio, and includes a license for developers to deploy applications that support up to 50 simultaneous users. Registered customers can download the new server for free from the Macromedia Web site. Additional licenses for 100, 500, or 1,000 users can also be purchased from Macromedia. Macromedia has also partnered with HearMe to extend the reach of multiuser Shockwave applications to hundreds of thousands of users using HearMe's POP.X Server.

You can find more information at Macromedia's web site. The product is priced at US$929.95 from Upgrade pricing is also available. For owners of Director 7 Internet Studio, an update can be downloaded from Macromedia.


[12:15 PM] Adobe Introduces GoLive Database Hooks
by Staff

Adobe has announced new modules for GoLive, their web development solution. The company has announced Adobe GoLive Dynamic Link for ASP and has announced future support of other database solutions as well. Adobe GoLive Dynamic Link for ASP allows users to directly interface with Active Server Pages, a Microsoft technology, thereby keeping HTML development to one application. According to Adobe:

Further extending its suite of integrated Web tools, Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq: ADBE) today announced a new set of powerful e-commerce and dynamic data modules for Adobe(R) GoLive(TM) 4.0 software, its award-winning professional Web design and publishing tool. Adobe GoLive Dynamic Link gives Web teams a powerful new tool to create visually rich data-driven sites for doing business on the Web.

Unlike existing solutions that require multiple tools, GoLive Dynamic Link enables both dynamic page design and database binding to be implemented directly within Adobe GoLive, allowing Web teams to focus valuable engineering resources on more complex programming tasks. GoLive Dynamic Link will support the leading e-commerce systems from Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Mercantec and Open Market.

Support for Microsoft's Active Server Pages

Adobe GoLive Dynamic Link for ASP, will deliver dynamic pages using Microsoft's Active Server Pages (ASP) technology. Active Server Pages technology is a mature, open and widely deployed Web page development environment. ASPs can access department to enterprise level databases such as, FileMaker Pro, Informix, Microsoft SQLServer, Microsoft Access, Oracle8i and Sybase. And as part of the Windows(R) DNA family, ASPs can be built and deployed to service virtually any Web client, on any system, while providing a stable Web application development environment and protecting huge enterprise software investments. GoLive will also write ASP code to interact with Microsoft Commerce Server, as well as allow programmers to craft their own custom e-commerce solutions.

Support for Sun Microsystem's JavaServer Pages(TM)

Adobe GoLive Dynamic Link for JSP, will deliver dynamic pages using Sun Microsystem's JavaServer Pages (JSP) technology, which enables a simplified, efficient way to create cross-platform, e-commerce Web applications using server-generated Web pages. JSP technology is the only openly developed, cross-server and cross-platform solution for combining content from almost any enterprise data source to create a dynamic Web experience for the e-commerce customer.

Support for Other Leading E-Commerce Solutions

Over the coming months, Adobe plans to release modules that support other server side scripting languages and a wide range of e-commerce servers. Next summer, Adobe expects to deliver an SDK that will allow third parties to integrate GoLive with their own customer solutions for e-commerce and dynamic publishing.

Beta versions of Adobe GoLive Dynamic Link for ASP can be downloaded by registered owners of GoLive 4.x directly from Adobe's web site. The company says that the version that works with JavaServer Pages will be released in the spring. You can find more information at the company's web site.

The Mac Observer Spin: This is an exciting development for those into web database development. The downside is that Active Server Pages are a poor solution for web database deployment. However, Microsoft always does an excellent job in making it easy for developers, especially developers like Adobe, to develop for their products first. This is something that Apple should take note of.


[11:45 AM] ViaVoice Speech Recognition Here At Last!
by Staff

A new day has dawned for the Mac as IBM is releasing ViaVoice for the Mac. ViaVoice is IBM's continuous speech recognition software that was demo'd at MACWORLD New York in July. The package is priced for consumers and includes a noise reducing microphone. According to IBM:

IBM today announced the availability of ViaVoice Millennium Edition 1.0 for Macintosh, the first-to-market continuous speech recognition software for the Macintosh platform.

ViaVoice for Mac provides users with an intuitive, easy-to-use interface to perform everyday computer tasks, such as creating e-mail and editing documents, by speaking. The software is available this week on store shelves, online and in catalogs in time for the holiday buying season.

"IBM listened to the thousands of requests from Mac enthusiasts and brought its leading ViaVoice speech recognition technology to one of the most popular operating platforms," said Krishna Nathan, director of consumer voice systems, IBM Speech Systems. "ViaVoice for Mac is part of our continuing effort to make it easier and more natural for people to interact with their computer. IBM is the only company to offer its speech recognition technology on all of the most popular desktop operating platforms -- Windows, Linux and Macintosh."

"We are thrilled IBM is bringing its award-winning speech recognition software to the Mac," said Clent Richardson, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations. "ViaVoice for Mac makes the most user-friendly Mac even easier to use."

The ViaVoice Advantage

Based on IBM's award-winning speech recognition technology, ViaVoice for Mac speech recognition software was created with simplicity in mind. The software incorporates an easy-to-use interface specifically designed for the Mac platform -- making it both easy and natural for all Mac users to conduct common computing tasks. ViaVoice for Mac provides users with the ability to create, edit and format documents in the most natural way. After text is created, the software's integrated transfer feature lets users transfer text into popular Macintosh applications, such as AppleWorks or Microsoft Word. Users can create voice shortcuts for commonly used phrases by literally "calling" them out with the software's dictation macro editor. ViaVoice for Mac includes a 64,000 active word vocabulary, the largest on the market for Macintosh, and also integrates Apple's text-to-speech function that lets Apple computers read text back to the user. Also included with the product is a newly designed noise canceling microphone for Mac users. This new mic has changeable colored accents to coordinate with all the popular iMac flavors.

Power for ViaVoice for Macintosh

IBM's ViaVoice for Mac runs on Mac OS 8.5.1, 8.6 and 9.0. The software requires a 233 MHz Power PC processor or higher, 48 MB RAM, 200 MB of hard disk space and a CD-ROM drive. The software runs on iMac, PowerMac G3 and G4, and PowerBook G3 computers, and requires an audio input jack that is compatible with Andrea NC-71 microphones.

IBM says the product should be available in stores this week. ViaVoice is priced at US$89.95. You can find more information on the product at the company's web site.

The Mac Observer Spin: Speech Recognition is one area where the Mac has had nowhere near as many options as Windows users had. DragonSpeech has long dominated the market and paid little attention to the Mac market until earlier this year. ViaVoice offers serious competition to their market lead, and our guess is that IBM will sell quite a few copies of this product to Mac users.

Voice-recognition will play a big part in the future of computing. While we have not yet reached the point where we can carry on converstations with our computers, that day gets closer all the time. ViaVoice for the Mac is a big step forward to that end.


[Column] iTeen - The Official iTeen iBook Review

[Review] StuffIt Deluxe 5.5, A Smooth Upgrade
by Michael Munger

[8:00 AM] Microsoft Once Again Demonstrates Its Ability To "Innovate"
by Staff

Microsoft shows their innovation yet again with some announcements surrounding their new streaming media and digital video efforts. According to a C-Net article, Microsoft has stumbled upon the incredibly innovative concept of giving their upcoming Media Player update a brushed-steel interface. Even more innovative, Bill Gates, Microsoft's Chairman, announced the company would be including consumer oriented digital video editing software in Windows 2000. According to C-Net:

Streaming media technology promises to offer a better experience on the Internet and improve worker productivity, but Microsoft first has to make it easier to use the technology first, Gates admitted. To that end, Microsoft demonstrated an upcoming version of Windows Media Player that allowed users to speed through an event such as a lecture by automatically taking out pauses in a speech and cataloguing changes in the presentation so that users can skip to specific segments of an event.

The new version will also feature a revised graphical interface that looks like a television with a brushed metallic face.

Gates also demonstrated for the first time how the upcoming version of Windows for consumers will have software that will make video editing easier. The software automatically takes video and automatically separates it into segments for editing based on pauses on the tape and scene changes. Users can drag and drop scenes they want onto a "storyboard" representing the final edited version that can be sent over the Internet, representatives said.

More information on Microsoft's Innovation can be found at the Freedom To Innovate web site.

Thanks to Mike S. for directing us to this article.

The Mac Observer Spin: Miserable Sods. This is another fine example of Microsoft aping the truly innovative technology companies of the world. While we have not seen the new interface for the Media Player, it certainly sounds like the interface Apple uses with the QuickTime Player and Sherlock 2.

Microsoft's consumer video effort also sounds a lot like iMovie that Apple includes with the iMac DV and iMac DV Special Edition.

Microsoft can scream til' they are blue in the face that they have to retain the "freedom to innovate," but it doesn't change the fact that they have created almost nothing of their own. Microsoft would be on more truthful footing if they were trying to protect their right to include technology and ideas found in other companies' products. Certainly they have the right to develop their own consumer video editing software, they should simply spare us the farce of claiming they are innovating while doing so.


[8:00 AM] Aladdin Moves One Step Closer To Cross-Platform Compression Ubiquity
by Staff

Aladdin Systems has announced a new product which moves a long way towards cross-platform compression defacto standards. The company has announced DropZip for Windows which allows Windows users to use either the Zip compression format or the Stuffit compression format. Zip is the dominant compression format for Windows while Stuffit has long been the favorite on the Mac side. According to Aladdin:

Aladdin Systems, Inc. today announced it is shipping DropZip(tm), a new Zip (.zip) and StuffIt(r) (.sit) compression product for Windows users to aid in cross-platform Internet communication.

DropZip includes the powerful StuffIt 5 compression algorithm that creates StuffIt archives that are up to 20% smaller than Zip files. Better compression means users save 20% more network bandwidth, making downloads and uploads 20% faster (saving time) and users save 20% more space (for Internet transmission when using archives for backups). Included with DropZip is Aladdin Expander(tm) freeware, the only Windows decompression tool that gives users access to all of the popular compressed and encoded files found on the Internet.

DropZip's Features and Benefits:

  • Easy StuffIt and Zip compression via drag-and-drop on a desktop shortcut, a convenient context menu or the DropStuff menus for easy compression and expansion with no new application to learn
  • Zip-Compress files for the following PK Zip- supported systems:
    • Unix
    • VMS
    • MS-DOS
    • OS/2
    • Windows 95/98
    • Windows NT
    • Minix
    • Atari
    • Macintosh
    • Amiga
    • Acorn RISC OS
  • New StuffIt technology squeezes file size 20% smaller than Zip compression
  • Choice of "Maximum," "Fastest," or "No" compression for creating StuffIt archives
  • New StuffIt format is Unicode compliant for improved international file support and cross-platform performance
  • Enhanced support options from the Help menu provides easy access to online support from Aladdin's Web site
  • Includes Aladdin Expander(tm), the complete and universal tool for accessing compressed files found on the Internet. With Expander, users can expand any StuffIt file and translate Mac file information to Windows extensions (.txt, .doc) for easy access to files
  • Automatically attach Zip-compressed files to new outgoing e-mail messages

System Requirements

DropZip requires a PC running Windows 95, 98 or NT 4.0. DropZip is fully compatible with all versions of PKZip on the IBM, Info-ZIP on Unix, and zip implementations on other platforms.

You can find more information on DropZip at the company's web site. DropZip is priced at US$20. Owners of DropStuff for Windows or Mac can purchase the product for US$10. The company offers a 30-day free trial.

The Mac Observer Spin: This is important for Mac users and Windows users alike. For many years, it was difficult for Windows users and Mac users to share compressed files. Utilities like ZipIt eventually appeared for the Mac that made it possible to open Zip files on a Mac, and Aladdin eventually brought both Stuffit and Stuffit Expander to Windows. Aladdin then added the ability to decompress Zip files in Stuffit Expander and the ability to make Zip files with Stuffit Deluxe. DropZip completes the last piece of the puzzle by allowing Windows users to create either Zip or Stuffit files with one utility. All these products combined basically eliminate most of the hassles associated cross-platform file sharing.


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