Show Support for local software
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1998. First
published in Vancouver Computes,
It?s a jungle out there? and for the software
industry, the jungle is
stuck in the Jurassic era. And like that long ago time, the jungle is
of big, meat-eating predators.
If you?re a software company here in BC, you?ve got to
evolve a strategy
like our long-ago mammal ancestors. If you?re small, you?ve got to be
and nimble if you don?t want to get eaten or inadvertently stepped on.
Find an ecological niche and become best of your class.
While lacking the T-Rex-like companies of neighboring
or California?s Silicon Valley, BC has quite a vibrant software
But you wouldn?t know it walking down the aisles of your local software
retailer. Most BC-made products aren?t going into the consumer
Seagate Software?s award-winning, made-in-BC Crystal Reports, they?re
at highly-focussed market segments?for Crystal Reports, corporate
reporting, for example.
But there are local products aimed at you and I. Here
are a few that
are worth a look:
- Slides and Sound Plus from InMedia. With the
explosion of digital
as digital camera and scanner prices drop, Slides and Sound Plus makes
it fun and easy to create slide shows. Aimed at home and small business
users, it features an intuitive interface that builds a multimedia
combining pictures, video clips, text, and sounds. A huge number of
transitions and special effects are included, along with a collection
Many camera models bundle software that will play simple slide-shows,
often with transistions as well. Slides and Sound Plus goes an
step further?it can create shows that can be run on computers lacking
program, so they can be sent as e-mail attachments, or even on a floppy
disk. The company offers to broadcast user slide-shows on their iMtv
It?s available for Mac and Windows PC for $49.95 (US)?about $65 CDN,
a time-limited version is available free on the Internet, at
- WebPainter from wonderfully-named Totally Hip
Software is perhaps the
web animation tool. Animation is more complex than simply linking
a series of digital photos, but like Slides and Sound, Web Painter
a collection of transitions and special effects. Both paint-style
images and draw-style vector images can be used, with separate
for each?like traditional animators, cel layers are employed to create
the illusion of movement against a static background.
The end-result is a GIF animation, typically used to spice up a
web page. 1,000 royalty-free animations are included. Look for the
version 3, for about $120(CDN). Again, Mac and Windows versions are
along with downloadable trial versions and a shareware light version
- PeakJet started life on the Lower Mainland, but the
up and moved just south of the 48th parallel to Bellingham.
The product is a Web-accelerator, software that replaces the caching
that?s part of Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer with a far
version. The result is a browser that looks ahead, downloading links
you?re reading a page, so if you click on one of those links (as you?re
likely to do), it?s already on your system ready to appear.
As well, the program?s smarts learn from your
browsing?it?s more likely
to pre-fetch links that you?ve visited previously. Your modem doesn?t
any faster, but by working in the background before you ask it to, it
dramatically more effective?even on high-speed cable and ADSL
New version Peak 2000 is just out, written for Windows
in Java, it may be useable on other systems as well. $29.95 (US)?about
Burnaby-based Infowave Imaging ships it with a special cable, and
a CD full of drivers?supporting over 1400 PC printer models. The
is also offering a new model designed for Apple?s popular but
from iMac. It combines the huge number of printer drivers with a USB to
PC parallel port adapter cable. Either version is about $100 (US) or
the equivalent in ever-changing Canadian dollars.
- PowerPrint is just for Mac-users?Mac-users trapped
in a world full of
printers that are otherwise tempting but unavailable.
More information from www.infowave.com.
Good products, all. And produced locally (even
admits that most of its employees stayed behind in BC). And that means
that if you buy a copy, your money stays here, helping to provide jobs
for your neighbors.
And if, as in dinosaur-days, the huge predators die
off, perhaps these
local equivalents of the agile mammals will be in the right place to
over the world.