Sometimes, Isolating Yourself Equals Guaranteed Productivity

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 3:26 pm

nmoaWHEN RICHARD TAFT HEADS TO WORK EACH MORNING, he follows a narrow stone path, winds his way past the tomatoes, and unlocks the glass door to his Washington, D.C., office 15 feet behind his home. During the 30-second commute, he’s transformed from a dad dealing with the demands of two tots into a marketing, communications, and fund-raising consultant, managing dozens of subcontractors hired to promote the Smithsonian Institution’s new National Museum of the American Indian.

“I’m a very disciplined person who can tune everything out as soon as I shut that door,” he says, pointing to the office entrance through which a six-foot totem pole peers from its garden post.

In this private 375-square-foot studio–yards from the noisy tour buses making their way to the Capitol–Taft launched the J. Richard Taft Organization three years ago. Upon signing his first-year contract, he had commissioned a local architect and sketched a rough draft. Six months later, his dream office was completed. Tatlay, in the one-room detached building, he’s free from constant interruptions and is the envy of most office workers.

Taft is no stranger to more typical office environments. His first company grew into a publishing empire, employing nearly 100 people. In the late 1980s, after receiving a multimillion-dollar offer, he cashed out. “I don’t miss those endless meetings. And I’d never go back to that lifestyle again,” he insists. He’s instead created the ultimate work space, one that balances work and family in one comfortable setting.

Profit from Privacy Taft’s responsibilities as consultant to the Smithsonian Institution range from helping to build membership and raise donations to overseeing direct-mail campaigns and publishing periodicals. To take on such Herculean tasks, he recalls, “I needed an isolated place where I could wheel and deal. I’m a very deadline-oriented person. And when I’m working, I might go until 4 a.m.” So the purpose for building the backyard refuge was actually twofold: Taft works undisturbed without disrupting his family’s daily routine:

Stepping into the studio from his garden tucked between two New England-style buildings, one notices a sudden design shift: Taft’s office smacks of a rustic, Southwestern decor–an obvious reflection of his work for the museum. The central focus of the well-lit room is an 18-foot oak workstation installed along the east wall. It was intentionally designed to face away from the house, allowing Taft’ s thoughts to shift toward work as he peers out half a dozen thermal windows placed at eye level. Another 20-foot vertical window to the right draws the ambience from the surrounding countryside indoors. Below the desktop, dead space was brought to life by installing two legal-size filing cabinets and a pullout keyboard drawer–both generously illuminated from the skylight above.

Arranged along the opposite wall, a pair of overstuffed oak chairs are angled to face a 13-inch television set. The space doubles as both a viewing room for videotaped proposals from subcontractors and a conference area for visitors who drop by. Most often, he says, meetings are held outside the office–which might include flying to an Indian community to discuss the making of a film or driving to Manhattan to see the progress of the new exhibition and education center.

Santa Fe Simplicity Terra-cotta tile floors, earth-tone walls, and aqua accents serve as a backdrop for an oil painting of New Mexico hanging nearby. The office is a showroom of Native American craftworks Taft has picked up while on business trips, such as the Navaho scatter mg and leather drum arranged on the floor. A six-foot totem pole–which keeps a constant eye on the office from the nearby garden-was shipped from Flathead, Montana.

Besides the Southwestern decor, functionality was an important consideration in the design of the office. Indian feather art dances on a wall from the breeze created by an overhead fan–an ideal energy-saving device in severe climates.

In the summer months, for example, the fan is used to pull warm air up toward the 20-foot, A-frame ceiling. In the winter it circulates heat thrown off by a wood-burning stove sitting in the corner. “I just throw a couple of logs on in the morning, and the entire office stays warm into the night. I end up spending about only $150 a year for wood,” Taft says.

Taft installed separate electric and phone systems to further widen the rift between his business and personal life. “I wanted the control over my expenses,” he adds.

Building Barriers To retain family harmony, veteran homeworkers know they must create physical as well as psychological barriers while on duty. “It starts with mutual respect,” Taft explains. “If I’m out here, my family never interrupts.”

While his kids are learning respect, an alternative workstyle, and time-management skills, rules in the house appear flexible. After about 6 p.m., for instance, the children might stop by the office to bring their dad a before-dinner drink or the family dog may wander in for his evening stroll beside the nearby Potomac river.

“This situation works beautifully for me, because I’m not the type of person who tries to combine work with family. Sure, I miss the days of having a secretary and support staffers,” Taft confesses. “But what I’ve gained in lifestyle is immeasurable.”

Creating an Office Refuge

Many homeworkers don’t have the luxury of building an isolated studio. But interior designer Connie Morgan of Morgan Design Co. in Denver says, “The presentation of objects in an area can make all the difference in the world.” To help separate your home life from office, here are some solutions.

Plant a tree. Foliage is an excellent way to create an instant room divider–muffling noise, blocking traffic, and adding vitality to the space. You can also use greenery to enhance the decor. For example, add a giant cactus to a Southwestem-style office or a six-foot silk ficus to enhance a contemporary look. “And for entrepreneurs,” adds Morgan, “office plants send a message about the business-growth, energy, and prosperity.”

Replace wooden doors with glass. If you allow family members to see you working, you will build respect and discourage interruptions when you’re crunching numbers or at the keyboard. And not only will glass enclosures let the kids see you, but you can keep an extra eye on them when you’re just socializing or chatting on the telephone.

Build a sense of privacy with vertical furniture. By arranging a row of, say, two or three wingback chairs into an L-shaped conversation area and stacking a floor plant above a table, you might create an ideal barrier to incoming traffic. “Or you can try adding a bookcase with a plant on top to create vertical lines that visually expand the space,” suggests Morgan. Psychologically, by building height in the room, you will convey a sense of grandeur and respect, thus reducing intrusions.

Hang a door sign. When you post a sign at the office entrance that states your hours, it’s a constant reminder to the family that you are busy–and they should think twice before entering.

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First Generation Antidepressants: Some Good, A Lot Not So Good

Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 3:28 pm

fgaTim doesn’t remember when he started to feel depressed, but he remembers when he started to feel better. At first, he thought he was just “feeling down.” He was sleeping a lot, felt nobody liked him, and was tired all the time. But his parents became concerned when he didn’t get better. They knew he was depressed and arranged for him to see a psychotherapist.

After six months, Tim’s therapist suggested he try a medication called Prozac. That’s when Tim became one of a growing number of adolescents who take antidepressants. And for Tim, that’s when things started to get better.

Miracle Drug?

When Prozac was first introduced in 1986, it generated a frenzy of media attention that made it sound like a miracle drug. By 1992, sales of the drug had zoomed to $1 billion. But Prozac is actually no more effective against depression than other available antidepressants, some of which have been in use for more than 30 years. Why has Prozac – and its close relatives, Zoloft and Paxil – been greeted with such enthusiasm?

One reason is that today being treated for depression carries less of a stigma. Another is that doctors are more willing to prescribe the newer antidepressants, in part because of some important differences in the way they work.

Old Drugs, New Drugs

Before Prozac was developed, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) were the most frequently prescribed antidepressants. TCAs work by slowing the rate at which chemicals called neurotransmitters re-enter brain cells. This increases the concentration of the neurotransmitters in the central nervous system, which relieves depression.

TCAs are effective against depression, but they also can cause distressing side effects, including dry mouth, weight gain, a feeling of being sedated, excessive drowsiness, constipation, blurred vision, memory difficulties, and rapid heartbeat. Some of these persist for as long as the drug is taken.

Prozac and the other drugs known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) slow down the neurotransmitters, but, as their name suggests, they do so selectively. SSRIs act only on the serotonin, whereas the TCAs also slow the re-uptake of norepinephrine and dopamine.

Because of their selectivity, SSRIs cause less severe side effects, most of which subside after a few days or weeks. These include nausea, headache, dry mouth, insomnia, nervousness or agitation, sweating, dizziness, and tremors.

Other advantages of SSRIs over TCAs are that they are less likely to be fatal in the event of an overdose and are usually taken once a day, whereas TCAs sometimes must be taken several times a day.

The chief drawback of SSRIs is their cost. One month’s treatment with generic amitriptyline, a TCA, costs about $6.50; a month’s supply of Prozac costs $60 or more.

It Takes Time

Tim didn’t experience any side effects when he began taking Prozac, and within three to four weeks, he began to feel better. More than half the people who take antidepressants notice a significant improvement within six weeks. Physical symptoms, such as appetite or sleep disturbances, usually disappear first. Changes in the way the patient thinks and feels take longer.

An antidepressant that works for one person may not work for another. The recommended length of time to take an antidepressant is usually six to nine months. It’s important to continue it until well after symptoms of depression have subsided. Studies show that once a person has experienced an episode of major depression, the chance of a recurrence is 50 percent. Taking the medication for six to nine months, or longer in some cases, helps prevent relapses.

Talk It Over

Tim has continued to see his therapist while taking Prozac. Many people find that taking an antidepressant helps them get more out of “talk therapy.” A 1995 study found that a combination of counseling and medication is the most effective way to treat depression and also less costly in the long run, since it may help prevent recurrences. Some experts, however, insist that psychotherapy is needed only when the depression is related to long-established problems, such as low self-esteem, but not when the cause is more specific, such as the death of a loved one.

The current trend is away from psychotherapy and toward treatment with medication alone. This is in part because many insurance companies will reimburse the full cost of treatment with medication but only part of the cost of psychotherapy.

Whether psychotherapy is included or not, periodic monitoring by a physician is important while taking an antidepressant, especially during the early weeks, to determine if the drug is working and whether it is causing any serious side effects.

Tim’s prescription for Prozac came from his psychiatrist, a psychotherapist who is also a medical doctor. Psychologists, clinical social workers, and other nonphysician therapists cannot prescribe drugs, but they can refer patients to doctors who can determine if medication is needed. Any licensed medical doctor – including family medicine doctors, internists, and pediatricians – can prescribe antidepressants.

Important points to discuss with the physician before taking an antidepressant include:

* What symptoms will it treat?

* How soon will effects be noticeable?

* How safe is it?

* What side effects may occur?

* What are the long-term consequences of taking it?

* How long should it be taken?

Antidepressants didn’t magically transform Tim’s life. He still feels a little down at times, but now he has more energy and enjoys activities like playing sports. For Tim, and for many young people like him, antidepressants have helped reclaim the pleasure in life that depression had stolen.

A Nation of Pill Poppers?

“Antidepressant” may be the wrong name for drugs like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and other SSRIs. These medications are being prescribed not just for depression but for panic disorders, eating disorders, chronic pain syndrome, poor self-esteem, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and sleep disorders, even though their effectiveness for these conditions has not been proven.

The drugs are also being prescribed for adolescents and even children as young as 3 years old, despite the fact that they have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for these age groups.

Are we becoming a nation of whiners who pop a pill at the tiniest sign of stress? Or is something more positive happening here? The verdict is still out on these questions, but barring new developments, antidepressants seem here to stay.

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DivX, DVD Battle Brings A Definite Winner

Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 2:53 pm

ddbbThe good news about DVD is that, like the atomic what-sit that Ralph Meeker can’t contain in the 1955 Robert Aldrich film of Mickey Spillane’s Kiss Me Deadly, DVD’s future range of applications won’t be contained. NO, not by the digital straitjacket in which the Hollywood studios and consumer electronics manufacturers have been trying to bind it. Or maybe not. As a business, DVD may indeed remain lashed to its movie-centric control model, and even more so in the Divx model, with its movie-as-rental object strategy. Is Divx ready to pile DVD with the roadside detritus that is heaped atop the other failed formats of yore: Betamax, quadraphonic stereo, and eight-track cassettes? Divx may indeed drive DVD to its Hollywood-scripted epitaph, if the Divx-supporting movie studios realize their wish to maintain real ownership of the movie on the disc through a disc/online connection that is both transparent to the user and subtly oppressive.

Divx (Digital Video Express)–the pay-per-view movie distribution system proposed by a partnership that includes principals from Circuit City stores and the Los Angeles law firm of Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, & Fischer–promotes a triple DES-encrypted DVD disc as a replacement for VHS video rentals. The disc allows a 48-hour viewing period and then requires a modem-assisted credit transaction to enable further viewings. Additional time can be purchased until a ceiling price is reached, at which point the movie will belong to the purchaser.

Or rather the purchaser’s player. Paying the purchase price means only that the title can be viewed ad nauseam on the purchaser’s registered player. Divx is decrypted to a user’s account which must be periodically verified for repeated viewings. But even at full price, from what is known of the Divx system to date, playing the disc is always dependent on a continuous account with Digital Video Express.

It’s revealing that Divx is foregoing the Web for its initial rollout of modem-connected players for encrypted DVD movies. The existence of Web-connected CD-ROM has become an accepted and expected enhancement of both Net bandwidth and stored libraries of software and documentation. A good example of this is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 4.0 Preview disc, which is a MarketScape-powered WebCD that contains the browser installation files along with its component accessory programs, documentation, Internet Information Server 4.0, Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 3, a complete tutorial, and Microsoft’s Internet SDK. This disc is a valuable archive for users–one that serves Microsoft by delivering interested parties to their Web site for sales, updated information, and software. Other HTML or PDF-formatted CD-ROM titles have also brought users to the Web and form the basis of a healthy library.

DIVX’S GREAT DARK EARS

In Divx, we see an unhealthy coupling of disc and modem that gets its initial real-world boost from the Disney movie companies. That’s the same Disney that brought us Mickey Mouse, the senior rodent minstrel of the Depression, who was always an affable and noncontroversial Everymouse, and whose wide-eyed smile greeted movie and television audiences for over 60 years. But Mickey has always been a blank slate–ripe for inference. His ears are more architecture and calligraphy than character: the architecture of Mickey’s ears is what the artist Claes Oldenburg extruded into his Maus Haus.

Divx, with its pay-as-you-go movie distribution that makes it seem like DVD for the masses, wears great dark ears of its own, trained on every potential viewer of encrypted Disney fare. Divx, apart from being a distribution technology for movies, is a marketing coup. If successful, Digital Video Express will be a premier port-of-call for marketers and demographers in determining both macro and micro trends in entertainment.

Any Divx-served household will have a library of films tracked in its account that will be associated with the account holder no matter who actually watches any given title. Of course the number of viewings will be tabulated along with the tally for repeated viewing of specific scenes, which is exactly what Hollywood most wants to know: how to craft future content to get the most bang for the buck, with every Divx renter a passive focus group participant. A few too many NC-17 titles show up in the rental records of a presidential Cabinet hopeful and it’s a good bet that the Senate confirmation hearings may become even more horrifyingly entertaining. In fact, looking at these records, almost any inference could be made by dueling spouses in a child custody battle. Ready to re-think that Divx player purchase now?

IT’S A SMALL WORLD: AFTER ALL?

While the business sections of the leading news dailies are reporting the running battles between the “traditional” DVD-Video-for-sale forces (such as Warner Home Video) and Divx’s perpetual leasing arrangement, the Christmas 1997 sales outlook might not be the most significant issue.

Might solid support for DVD-ROM, combined with meager sales of DVD-Video, inspire Digital Video Express to explore Divx-ROM in the near future? This could open up content other than movies to Divx’s pay-per-access. The basic Divx model bears even closer scrutiny under these circumstances.

Divx, as a plan, is optimized for the moment with little regard to the future. While Divx may allow a five-dollar title to be viewed for 48 hours now, there is no guarantee that they will continue their planned access options next year. When multiplied across an entire library of discs, this plan requires a great deal of faith on the part of the purchaser. The Divx plan begs potential customers to believe that Digital Video Express will always be in business, supporting and decrypting their purchased discs. With no manifest track record, Divx is a risky horse on which to bet. These titles are leased not from, say Disney itself, but a paper company that might be ripe for sale, acquisition, or merger. What guarantee comes with any Divx title beyond a possible future class action suit?

And Divx, while disc-based now, may have no special allegiance to optical disc when a better vehicle comes along like satellite, cable, or fiber-optic connections and the account license can be put on a smart card or a chip. In this arena, Divx will face stiff competition from companies such as IBM and Wave Systems, Inc. of Lee, Massachusetts. These other options just might prove less invasive to users’ privacy, with anonymous keys that open the doors to content without tracking who goes where and when, and with content that can be unlocked one time without regard to the billing status between one customer and one company.

Both DVD and Divx could learn a thing or two from traditional publishing. Most published media, be it a book or audio CD, are accessible to anyone around the world–no matter who originally bought or sold it. The Internet and digital revolution don’t really change this other than reducing the cost of publishing enormously. People who would be satisfied with worn tomes that have reduced aftermarket value will shop in used book stores. In the digital age, replace “worn” with “unreliable.” The big advantage of CD or DVD is that it is a reliable, indelible archive one that, when obtained from the original source or channel, should be both valuable and trusted. By trying to transform a sale into a lease, Divx jeopardizes both the sale and the stability of the object.

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Removable Storage Still Has Value

Friday, April 11, 2014 at 3:21 pm

rsshIn the months surrounding COMDEX/Fall, held in November 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada, a number of vendors jumped on the removable storage bandwagon. The key advantage of removable storage devices, as touted by the vendors themselves as well as users, lies in their portability. Unlike bulky towers, jukeboxes, and other storage configurations, removable solutions are easily transported and accessed from multiple sources. The latest removable devices are also claiming remarkable storage capacities of up to 120MB, true mobility with sizes measuring as little as 2×2 inches, and maximum data transfer rates of up to 290KB/sec.

Because portables have proven to be one of the fastest growing segments in the PC market, it’s likely that more vendors will emerge with their own brand of removable storage in the coming months. In the meantime, worthy products from Imation Corporation, Iomega, Micro Design International, and SyQuest, as well as a “cooperative product” offered by Mitsubishi Electronics America’s Electronic Device Group and Winstation Systems Corporation, have changed the face of removable storage and upped the ante for developers of these in-demand systems.

Imation Corporation helped fuel the trend toward high-capacity, high-speed, and low-cost removable storage by pushing its trademarked SuperDisk technology in the LS- 120 product line With a storage capacity of up to 120MB per diskette, dual compatibility for reading and writing both LS-120 and 3.5-inch disks, a drag-and-drop interface, and performance speeds that move files up to five times faster than conventional floppy drives do, Imation’s SuperDisk replaces the 1.44MB drive and is licensed by a number of removable storage developers.

Furthermore, SuperDisk may be incorporated into both integrated and mobile PC systems, or as an external parallel port drive. The external SuperDisk drive measures 147.6mm (length) x 101.6mm (width) x 25.4mm (height), offers maximum transfer rates of 290KB/sec for 120MB disks or 55KB/sec for 1.44MB disks and an average access time of 70ms. SuperDisk media in the 120MB format contains 512 bytes per sector, between 51 and 92 zoned sectors per track, 55 zones per side, and 1736 tracks per side. The external drive lists for $155-$199; diskettes retail at $1520 and are available in 3-, 5-, and 10-pack configurations.

Iomega Corporation, manufacturer of Zip, Jaz, and Ditto drives and media, may very well have the competition beat in terms of size (for now) with its Clik! drive, announced in November 1997. Designed for use with portable products like digital cameras, handheld computers, and smart phones, the Clik! drive operates on only 3.3 volts and weighs approximately 2 ounces. Clik! measures in at 3.37 inches (length) x 2.126 inches (width) x 0.256 inches (height) and provides an average seek time of less than 25ms and an average sustained transfer rate of 0.7MB/sec.

Touted as the “compact, go-anywhere” storage solution–a claim not yet made by most other removable storage device developers–the Clik! drive may be purchased in both internal and external models. The external version, set to retail for roughly $200, will be available through OEMs by the middle of this year. A low-power internal version is also expected to ship in 1998. Specially designed Clik! disks, with an MSRP of $9.95 and a storage capacity of 40MB, will include a shelf life of at least 10 years.

Micro Design International (MDI) and Maxoptix Corporation combined their respective expertise in optical technologies and drive creation with the U-Stor drive, a 2.6GB writable and removable optical drive providing data transfer rates of up to 6MB/sec. Designed by Maxoptix, the U-Stor drive uses magneto optical technology for read/write compatibility with all ISO standard media and LIMDOW technology for write speeds comparable to hard drive speeds. The drive includes a 1,024KB data buffer size and an average seek time of 19ms, and boasts a 200,000 Mean Time Before Failure.

According to the companies, the U-Stor drive offers a large-scale, removable storage solution for use in desktop publishing, Computer Aided Design, digital audio and video editing, Internet storage, and image retrieval projects. Furthermore, the product is said to provide the most reliable mechanism for secondary storage with a 50-year shelf life that requires no media maintenance. Shipping since mid-November, the U-Stor lists for $1,920 (internal) and $2,095 (external).

The Electronic Device Group of Mitsubishi Electronics America partnered with Winstation Systems Corporation to create the SuperDisk SLS-120 internal floppy drive for workstations and Macintosh-compatible desktop computers. Based on the SuperDisk technology originally developed by Imation, the SLS-120 combines Mitsubishi’s slim-height (1-inch) drive with Winstation’s SCSI solutions to offer SuperDisk technology across Windows (with its IDE interface), Macintosh, and UNIX computing platforms.

The SuperDisk SLS-120 is said to work seamlessly with current 1.44MB technology and to offer “the comfort and familiarity of the 3.5-inch floppy disk format,” says Russell J. Horn, CEO of Winstation. Operating at higher speeds than its IDE counterpart, the SCSI interfaced SLS-120 promises a transfer burst mode of 4MB/sec and an average seek time of 65ms. The internal version of the drive is priced at $199; the external version is available for $269. SuperDisk media match the standard 1.44MB 3.5-inch diskette in size and shape–but hold up to 120MB of data–and retail for approximately $15-20 each.

SyQuest–the inventor of high-performance removable cartridge technology–expanded the removable storage device market even further when it announced not one, but two new solutions in mid-November. The SparQ drive, a 1GB removable cartridge hard drive ideal for small or home office professionals, families, business travelers, Internet users, and PC gamers, is configurable with parallel ports and as an internal EIDE and offers burst data transfer rates of 2MB/sec and 16.6MB/sec, respectively. SparQ also registers an average seek time of 12ms and retails for $199. A three-pack of SparQ cartridges–each holding 1GB of data-lists for $99.

Also new from SyQuest is the 4.7GB Quest drive, which is said to more than triple the capacity of current removable hard disk cartridges. Featuring dual-stripe magneto resistive recording heads and an ultra-wide SCSI interface, the Quest includes a 2MB intelligent cache buffer and an air filtration system to minimize data corruption. Like the SparQ, the Quest drive features an average seek time of 12ms. However, the Quest performs at a sustained data transfer maximum of 10.6MB/sec and registers 40MB/sec burst synchronous in ultra-wide SCSI configurations and 20MB/sec in narrow.

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PDF And Java Made Fast Friends

Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 3:23 pm

pajmffPortable formatted documents are getting a boost from some new Java-powered software applications that are optimized for reading over the Internet or intranets. Largely the domain of Adobe Acrobat’s Portable Document Format (PDF), new Java developments look to give Acrobat a run for its money. Java’s object-oriented architecture is ideal for extending these Java document containers and viewers with classes that can control access and re-use as the document is being browsed.

Hummingbird Communications Ltd., of North York, Ontario, has introduced, in Common Ground 4.0, a Windows NT-based, automated intranet publishing solution that allows universal document viewing by any Java-enabled browser. Common Ground has been the traditional competitor to Adobe’s PDF; much like PDFs, CommonGround’s DigitalPaper (DP) files are created by printing with a special printer driver.

The latest edition of Common Ground’s Web Publisher features NetResults, a Java-based search and indexing engine, which can index any HTML, DigitalPaper, or text document. Printing and posting to a Web server happens by just dragging and dropping to one of multiple directories that are monitored by the DigitalPaper Express utility. Targeted at intranets, but also suitable for general Internet use, Common Ground’s DigitalPaper Viewer allows the DP files to be viewed seamlessly, without the need for an installed helper application. Common Ground’s WebPublishing System also allows users to insert hyperlinks, bookmarks, and pop-up windows, and it automatically generates and updates HTML navigation pages that link to the documents.

San Francisco, California-based Net-It Software Corporation has developed, in its jDoc technology, a “document delivery container” to allow sharing of formatted documents across the intranet and to manage end-user permissions and access. Net-It Now! 1.6′s drag-and-drop approach to printing and posting Windows documents is similar in strategy to Common Ground’s. Net-It Now! uses signed JAR security that is fully compliant with Netscape Communicator, and a limited-function version of the product is now bundled with that browser.

For producing portable Java documents on the Macintosh platform, J.Stream, of Vancouver, Washington–a business unit of DataPak Software, Inc.–offers WiredWrite. Scheduled for release in January 1998, with a Windows version planned for spring 1998 release, WiredWrite 1.0 for Macintosh produces a data-streamed document that maps fonts dynamically but still allows text to re-flow as in HTML. J.Stream calls its file format J.Press Document OPD). Unique words are mapped and indexed to produce a highly searchable document that can be smaller than a typical Word or PDF file. J.Stream president Dennis McNannay describes JPD as “ideal for large, text-intensive documents.”

Interleaf Inc.’s Xtreme is a Windows NT 4.0 Server application that leverages the Java in browsers to provide document viewing and management for its conversion and sharing environment. Xtreme converts most popular document formats, including ASCII text, MS Word 97, Lotus Word Pro 97, Corel WordPerfect 7, PDF, and Interleaf 6. Interleaf Xtreme features full-text searching and tear-off technology, which allows the user to keep one page or section of a document visible while viewing another page or section. For security, Xtreme provides secure access, revision control, distribution of nonrevisable files, and signed applets. Interleafs purchase of Jamba 2.0 from Asymetrix Learning Systems, Inc. will allow the company to offer a robust platform for what it is calling

Enterprise Active Publishing in its Xtreme Enterprise application, which is due to ship in second quarter 1998. In addition to employing Jamba as the front end for its publishing tools, Interleaf will continue to sell the Jamba authoring tool from its Web site, http://www.jamba.com.

What these tools’ emergence means is that the omnipresent Java environment is now providing a ready-made client for flexible and manageable formatted documents that can be relied upon as needed by interested publishers. Such developments bring home the reality–and the savings–of electronic publishing.

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