Editorial license. (new products introduced at 1992 PC Expo) (Editorial)
by Clifton Karnes
PC Expo, held this past June in sunny New York City, saw the introduction of several new, innovative products. Some of these are major new releases, but many would be easy to miss. Here's a quick look.
First, many of the innovations at PC Expo focused on notebooks, which get smaller, lighter, and faster each year. The most exciting news for laptoppers is the introduction of PCMCIA cards. PCMCIA is a standard for credit card--sized add-ons that are machine independent, so any PCMCIA card can work in any machine. The first use for PC MCIA cards was memory. With the introduction of an enhanced specification (2.0), however, PCMCIA cards can be used for modems, ethernet adapters, and just about anything else.
At NCR's booth, the company was proudly showing its light and sexy NCR 3170 laptop, an enhanced version of the Safari, which made such a stir several months ago. Besides a state-of-the-art pointing device and battery-saving CPU, the 3170 has a PCMCIA slot, and the reps at the booth were running around with handfuls of every type of card imaginable, demonstrating how each worked with the 3170. They even hinted that the next generation of PCMCIA cards would allow a fully functional Winchester hard drive to be put on a card.
At the other end of the hall, one of NCR's competitors, Sharp Electronics, showed its gorgeous notebook color displays. And, behind closed doors, the company also unveiled a working version of its new Pen Wizard, a slightly larger Wizard with a GUI pen interface.
Aldus, famous for Page-Maker, upped the ante in the low-end draw market with its introduction of IntelliDraw, a draw program that uses intelligent objects. What's an intelligent object? It's a vector-based graphic that retains its shape and character when re-sized or stretched. This means you can manipulate intelligent clip art and never lose the object's identifying attributes.
Although PC Expo is primarily a show for corporate buyers, there were several entertainment companies represented, and one of them was a major surprise: Microsoft. Until recently the only Microsoft entertainment title was Flight Simulator, one of the most popular games ever. At PC Expo, the company introduced Microsoft Golf, a game it has licensed from Access, the creators of Links. (Look for a book on Links and Microsoft Golf this fall from COMPUTE books.)
Programmers at PC Expo were able to see demonstrations of two cutting-edge Windows code generators. A code generator allows a Windows programmer to draw an interface interactively and then have the program generate the code necessary to produce the interface. The programmer then takes this code as a starting point for a program. At PC Expo, Protoview and Caseworks were showing their stuff. The big news is that both companies offer an upgrade path for different compilers. Caseworks' Case: W 4.0 offers Knowledge Engines, add-ons that allow the same program to generate code for different compilers. There are separate Knowledge Engines for C, C++, MFC, OWL, and so on. With this approach, you can design your interface and generate code for one compiler, say Microsoft C, but if you decide to move to C++, all your interface design can be reused by simply plugging in another Knowledge Engine. Protoview plans to include all these code generators with its basic product.
As most Windows users know, Windows leaves a big footprint when it takes control of your system. Understanding what Windows does to your operating environment is difficult, but Renasonce's Skylight, a new diagnostic tool introduced at the show, is a big help. One of Skylight's most useful features is its system file editor. When you're inside the editor, you can right-click on any line and get an explanation of just what that line does. If you've every looked at your SYSTEM.INI file, you know how useful this can be.
Physiotrionics introduced Sherlock, a new tool that breaks the eight-character limit for Windows filenames. With Sherlock installed, all your Windows applications will be able to use filenames of as many as 254 characters. Looking through my Win-Word and Excel directories, I see filenames such as E0692PCX.XLS, REP0692 .DOC, M0692BT2.DOC, and F0592FD.DOC. Clearly, I need this program.
Stay tuned to future issues of COMPUTE for full reviews of these products.