The August general meeting was held on August 24, 1996 at the Community
and Cultural Center of the Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale,
Virginia. As usual, the meeting opened with Questions and Answers, ably assisted
by Lawrence Charters and other members. I gave a (very) brief overview of
MacWorld Boston which, I understand, was the largest ever in terms of attendance.
Our presenter for the meeting was Mick Rinehart of CE Software
(http://www.cesoft.com/). Mick is the Product Manager for WebArranger, a product
that is hard to pin a label on. WebArranger started out as a Personal Information
Manager (PIM) built upon an Object Oriented Database (OODB). It has since evolved
into a "PIM on steroids for Web Surfers." I purchased the product several months
ago and let it sit on the floor under the desk, waiting for a few extra hours of free
time to install and learn the package. About August 15th, I decided I'd make the
time to install the package so that I would know something about the product before
I saw the demo at the meeting.
The installation was a breeze and the product comes with some entries in the
database which allow you to see many of the features of the product. There is a
"Jump Start" section which gives you an example of the types of objects contained in
the database. Each of the objects is extensible, that is, you can add or delete fields
from an object. You can make these changes for only a single object or for all objects
of this type in the database.
The first thing you notice about WebArranger is that its interface is a bit
different. There are little boxes and icons in odd places and a shelf. It takes a bit of
getting used to and after using the product for a while, you soon see why the
designers came up with these innovative ideas. To do everything this product does
with a standard menu bar, multiple windows and alert boxes would have made it
look like something out of Redmond.
Mick started off his demo with a quick tour of the "Page." That is what
WebArranger calls your workspace. To the right of the Page are the Contents and the
Shelf. The contents is an outline of the folders you have in your workspace. Below
them are icons for the different objects contained in your folders. Beside some of the
objects, there are boxes which call up tools such as a calendar, or sometimes a pick
list. The basic object element of WebArranger is the Note. There are many types of
notes, such as URL, To Do, Picture, Memo, People, etc. The shelf contains the
different objects and it takes only a click on a shelf object to insert it at the cursor
position. Once inserted, the object "pops open" to show its contents so that you can
add information. Here is where some of the other cool tools come into play. When
you click on the date icon, a calendar tool pops up to let you select a date. Similarly,
clicking on the time icon pops up a clock face which you twirl with your mouse to
set the time.
It is easy to link notes together and to make one note subordinate to another,
you simply grab it and drag it to the right. This is where the elegance of the interface
shows. To open or close a note, you click on the title line. To move it to another
topic or throw it away, you simply drag and drop. It takes a bit of getting used to, but
it is very powerful.
Bundled with WebArranger is WebWacker from the ForeFront group.
WebWhacker "whacks" or downloads entire web sites, complete with embedded
graphics and linked pages. In fact, Mick did his entire demo with pages "whacked"
from the WAP web site (http://www.wap.org/) the night before. This is a great way to spend less time glued
to your computer while exploring an interesting web site. You can start off
WebWhacker and download an entire site while you eat dinner and then come back
to it later and not have to wait while some intensive graphics pages load at 14,400.
Be aware, however, that some webmasters are getting wise to "whackers" and
cutting off access to such programs. These are the exception, however, as most
commercial sites want you to download all that they have to offer. One thing that
does not work, however, on whacked pages are Common Gateway Interface (CGI)
applications. You know, those sites which have a fancy graphic with clickable areas
in it to navigate around the site. This type of image map returns a click coordinate to
the CGI program at the host which is decoded at the host end. Since you aren't
connected to the host, it won't work. Also, since you aren't around to enter UserID
or Password, authentication protected sites won't work either.
Mick concluded his demo with a quick look at QuicKeys 3.5. This venerable
Mac application has been around for a long time, and is great at recording your
actions and assigning them to those silly F1 - F15 keys you never use at the top of
your keyboard. You can assign almost any keystroke combination to a QuicKey and
it works great.
Due to the largesse of CE Software, MacWorld vendors and others, there were
lots of things to give away at the drawing. The grand prizes, a copy of WebArranger
2.0 went to Judy Cabitt, R. Clifton Bailey and Ben Brown. A copy of Quickeys 3.5
went to Tony Taussig. Joe Belotte won a WebArranger T-shirt and Art Cheu won a
Quick Keys T-shirt. W.J. Whetzel, Jr., Frank Zappacosta, Walter Nunn, Ingrid
Berdahl and Thomas Boyan also won T-shirts, but didn't record the donor. (I guess
I'll need to give more specific instructions next time.) Clark Snead and Louis Steller
won the highly sought after KISS boxer shorts from Casady & Greene. Henry Ware
won the Apple Services CD, Eric Mackenzie won the Ziff-Davis Mac Benchmark CD
and Myron Harrison and John Barnes won the Macromedia Multimedia Showcase
CD. Don Franklin and íMike Haynes won the Internet Roadmap and CD-ROM.
Henry Ware was the winner of the MacSoft Hot Demos and a Tango T-shirt went to
Ben Smith. Caroline Quandt walked off with an AOL T-shirt and software. Jeanne
Cooper won the WINGZ is Back T-shirt and the Why Fight It T-shirt from Pre
Flight went to Marilyn Barrueta. The very popular Apple Computer canvas tote
went to Allen Kent and Ron Hinkel. The Apple Services drink bottle was won by
Charles Stancel and Ron Ostrow walked off with a coffee mug from an undisclosed
vendor [Symantec]. Last but not least, M.E. Esch won something but didn't describe
Thanks again to Mick Rinehart and the folks at CE Software for coming to
visit us and thanks, too, to all of the members who take the time to attend the
monthly meetings. Next month we will have Claris Corporation, who will be
showing their newest product, Claris HomePage as well as ClarisWorks 4.0 and
FileMaker Pro 3.0. Hope to see you there.