We'd like to welcome our latest sponsor, InfoSeek Corporation. InfoSeek is among the first companies to make commercial-quality information available on the Internet for searching via paid subscription (using authenticated Web browsers). Although the concept of paying to search databases is still uncommon on the Internet, it makes sense when the only way to bring that information to the Internet is by buying it from a commercial vendor - few companies wish to give away information that they can sell in other venues. InfoSeek has gone far in providing inexpensive access though, by charging $9.95 per month with 100 free transactions.
Among the standard collections are ComputerWorld; Usenet News (either the current week or the last four weeks); NewsBytes; Cineman Movie, Book, and Music Reviews; FrameMaker 4.0 Help Notes; Hoover's Masterlist of U.S. Companies; and information from various wire services. Also included are premium collections that charge extra for each search or retrieval such as InfoWorld, Hoover's Company Profiles, and the Computer Select full text database of 100 computer publications. Unfortunately, although InfoWorld and Hoover's Company Profiles have reasonable additional rates, Computer Select requires that InfoSeek charge a ludicrous amount - $5 for a four-week subscription with one free retrieval and $5 per retrieval after that. Needless to say, I've limited my searching to the standard and free collections and have yet to use up my 100 free transactions each month. If you do research online in the sort of databases InfoSeek currently has, check them out at: [ACE]
Easy View 2.6.1 -- Akif Eyler <email@example.com> has released version 2.6.1 of his popular text viewing and cataloging application Easy View. In addition to being the pre-eminent application for viewing many digest and text file formats (including setext, the format in which TidBITS is distributed), Akif has added full AppleScript support and recordability, background searching, and command-click URLs (using Akif's Get URL BBEdit extension).
Using Easy View 2.6.1 with the Get URL extension, you can command-click URLs appearing in TidBITS or other files, including ftp, http, and gopher links, as well as the standardized file references appearing in the Info-Mac digest. Easy View automatically uses Anarchie and MacWeb to load URLs for you - note that although the Get URL extension is configurable, the applications it tries to use must have a concept of "bookmark files" for it to work correctly, which means it presently doesn't work well with Netscape. Congratulations and appreciative thanks to Akif for maintaining and enhancing this essential application! [GD]
DreamWorks Interactive -- Film and media moguls David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Steven Spielberg - cover boys of this week's Time Magazine - went on stage March 22nd with Microsoft's Bill Gates to announce the formation of a new $30 million joint company, DreamWorks Interactive. In the rumor mill since December of 1994, this new company is expected to focus on highly interactive computer titles, including games and entertainment products. DreamWorks Interactive will be located in Seattle and Los Angeles and is expected to start hiring employees out of Microsoft as early as 01-Apr-95. Considering the net worths of everyone involved, $30 million isn't a lot of money to start with; however, Gates did note that financial constraints weren't expected be an operational problem. The company expects to have its first products on the street for the 1996 Christmas season. Taken in the context of Microsoft's purchase of SoftImage last year, DreamWorks Interactive is expected to be a front-runner in the multimedia industry's content-and-technology battle. [GD]
Interior Decor -- Several people chastised us for not mentioning the $10 shareware program Decor, which does much the same thing as DeskPicture (see TidBITS-268). The two sport similar feature sets, although Decor fully supports JPEG files, but can't handle multiple monitors. In addition, Decor is scriptable and Power Mac-native. We hadn't intended to cover all the utilities that decorate your desktop, but if you want to check out Decor, it's at: [ACE]
Dressing for Decency -- A modified version of the Communications Decency Act of 1995, popularly known as the Exon Amendment and S.314, recently passed the Senate Commerce Committee and is attached to the telecommunications reform bill scheduled to go before the Senate as early as this week - despite Committee phone banks being so overwhelmed with calls that outside help had to be brought in. Previously covered in TidBITS-263 and TidBITS-266, this bill proposes to prohibit online distribution of materials deemed "obscene," "filthy," or "indecent." Though the bill has been revised to free some carriers from criminal liability, many groups feel new restrictions placed on the creators of online content are even more onerous than before, infringing on First Amendment rights and setting dangerous legislative precedents in electronic media. For current information and online initiatives (including an Internet petition drive that gathered over 100,000 signatures) regarding this proposed legislation, check out: [GD]
Word 6.0.1 Update -- The latest news from the Word team at Microsoft has the U.S. version of Word 6.0.1 in manufacturing. Hoping to make up for the ill-will brought on by the many problems in Word 6.0, Microsoft is making 6.0.1 available at no charge to registered Word 6 owners. By no charge, I mean that registered owners can acquire the update by calling 800/315-5081 and asking for either Word 6.0.1 or Office 4.2.1. Microsoft then ships the software with no materials, shipping, or handling fees of any sort. U.S. owners who don't call should receive update information via snail mail.
I asked Keith Armodt <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Macintosh Line Product Manager at Microsoft, about how people outside the U.S. can request the update, and he said the foreign subsidiaries would each handle updates for their regions. Apparently the other English-language versions are also in manufacturing, but other foreign versions do need to be localized and are "somewhat delayed." If you need contact information for a foreign subsidiary, look for it in the extensive contact information that begins around page xxii of the Word 6 User's Guide.
Kudos to Microsoft for shipping the update when they claimed they would and making it freely available to customers. Unfortunately, according to the Microsoft representative who I spoke with when I ordered my update, the Power Mac-native version of Word is still not available on the Office CD. Let's hope that Word 6.0.1 lives up to the user-friendly standard set by the free distribution policy. [TJE]
Info-Mac Mirror Lists via Email -- Info-Mac moderator Liam Breck writes: "Next week, the Info-Mac Network will publish a new Info-Mac Archive mirror list in both text and HTML formats. To assist Web sites in providing the HTML version to the Internet Mac community, we are creating an email distribution list. Sites on this list will receive updates to the HTML version by email automatically. We can only support a limited number of sites with this email list, so it is only open to reasonably popular Web sites. The public may obtain the mirror list from these sites and our mirrors. To get on the email distribution list, send email to <email@example.com> briefly describing your Web site. Please include a URL to its home or main menu page."
Better to Rule in Hell than Serve in Heaven -- In a story that hit everything from the New York Times to National Public Radio, SATAN creator Dan Farmer and Silicon Graphics, Inc., parted company last week, in no small part due to Dan's involvement with the SATAN network security analysis program (see TidBITS-268). Reactions have been mixed - even among SGI employees - although Farmer himself doesn't seem to have been particularly disturbed by the turn of events. He notes SATAN is still scheduled to be released 05-Apr-95. [GD]