Business-like, isn't he?


 

 



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ISSUE 400: THE HIGH-TECH OFFICE--Alan Zisman

Vancouver has yet to spawn a new Microsoft
but there's no shortage of homegrown software June 24 1997

There's always been a bit of a rivalry between Vancouver and Seattle. They have Starbucks, we have Joe's Caf?. They have Boeing, we have De Havilland Beavers landing in Coal Harbour. They have Microsoft, we have a software industry, too. Don't we? Here's the update about some of our local would-be Microsofts.

* Motion Works (685-9975; www.mwg.com), a Vancouver-based multimedia software developer, has released Version 3.0 of its CameraMan application for PowerMac users. This application lets users record computer screens along with keyboard and mouse movements, and then combine them with audio to produce training tutorials and other demonstrations.

* Seagate is best known as a manufacturer of hard drives. But as Seagate Software (681-3435; www.seagatesoftware.com), it also has a presence as a Vancouver software developer. Their best-known product is a database query and reporting application called Crystal Reports -- now up to version 5.0 and winning widespread acclaim. It ships with a royalty-free run-time Report Engine that lets users freely distribute its reports. The company currently has about 250 employees in Vancouver, and with $200 million in annual sales, has plans to hire another 100 or more this year.

* Another company that's big by local standards is Maximizer Technologies (601-8000), the world's second-largest developer of contact management software. It recently acquired the Tracker line of software, including Tracker's new Connexion software product, which Maximizer describes as "the next generation of contact management software."

* North Vancouver-based Pivotal Software (988-9982; www.pivotal.com) has released version 2.0 of its client-server customer interaction product, Pivotal Relationship. It works with Microsoft's BackOffice software suite to consolidate all customer information in one system, allowing sales, marketing, customer service and operations staff to target prospects, close sales, fulfil orders, enhance customer relationships and solve customer problems. The software was honoured with the "Best Solution by a Solution Developer" award at Microsoft's annual Solution Provider Awards. As well, the busy people at Pivotal are working with Tokyo's East Co. to produce a Japanese version of its product.

* On a smaller scale, Teledata Backup Systems (222-8224) provides small businesses with automated off-site backup services. Critical data is encrypted and backed up after working hours using a simple modem connection to store data in a remote location.

Not surprisingly, a number of companies are focusing on the Internet. For example:

* Carlson On-line Services has teamed up with Toronto's Canadian Corporate News to provide an Internet-based service providing information on publicly traded Canadian corporations to private investors, media and investment professionals. Everything from news releases to stock quotes to company profiles and contact information can now be accessed at www.cdn-news.com. Outside of the CCN connection, Carlson On-line Services maintains an extensive Internet directory of Canadian public companies at www.fin-info.com. The directory provides access to investment information on companies listed on all Canadian exchanges.

* Also on the North Shore is Peak Technologies (926-0630; www.peak-media.com). Using the popular Java software language, they've developed PeakJet, a product designed to turbo-charge surfing the Net. A trial version is available at their Web site, and they've clinched a deal to bundle the product with Supra-brand modems. A Macintosh version is in the works.

* Vancouver's Net Nanny Ltd. (662-8522; www.netnanny.com) has developed a program that lets parents and teachers limit children's Internet access. The firm has now released a version 3.0, which allows different screening settings for different children.

* If you hurry, you'll still have a chance to hack VirTech's (www.virtech-ca.com) Macintosh Net-server. VirTech, which operates an on-line mall for Future Shop, Club Monaco and more, is offering $10,000 to anyone who can get at the encrypted credit card number by July 15th. Check www.vanhacking.com for details.

* We may not be able to pronounce it, but Xceedx Technologies (www.xceedx.com) has produced the Xpress Internet Toolkit, an application that makes it easier for Web developers to integrate database information into Web electronic commerce sites without having to fuss with complex SQL, HTML, or programming languages. An evaluation version for NT/SQL is available for free download. You can see an example of a site using the company's technology at www.softworld.org, the site of next September's Vancouver Softworld '97 conference. Softworld's CyberShowcase page was created in about an hour using Xpress.

Vancouver also boasts a surprisingly large number of companies working on computer games and entertainment products. Even without much snow and ice, we've become the hockey-game software capital of the world, with best-seller NHL '97 coming from Burnaby giant Electronic Arts. And that game's main competitor, Virgin Software's NHL PowerPlay, is created by Vancouver-based Radical Entertainment.

There are also a number of smaller enterprises busily at work. For example:

* ParaSun Technologies (230-6216) is the premier Canadian developer of immersive entertainment products for the Internet. ParaSun's current project, Neuropolis, is scheduled for release in late 1997. They are welcoming back founder Dave 'Zoid' Kirsch, fresh from creating Capture the Flag, a popular add-on for the best-selling Quake game.

* Justonic Tuning (683-3456) has released Pitch Palette software to allow professional musicians to retune keyboards and guitars automatically to perfect intonation, thereby escaping the 300-year tyranny of equal-temperament scales. No, you won't need to buy this product for your business, but it could be a major player in the cultural industry! The company also expects to produce a state-of-the-art synthesizer.*



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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan