Washington Apple Pi

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August General Meeting Report

by Don Essick, Vice President, Macintosh

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 it.

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.

Send meeting comments to: don.essick@tcs.wap.org.

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