Presentation power. (using multimedia technology for presentations)
by Robert Bixby
Do you think that multimedia is getting too much attention? About four years ago, multimedia began to be hyped in the industry. If you're like me, your response was probably, "Sure, it's great for games, but what kind of serious work can you do with it?"
I have a CD-ROM drive in my PC at home, which I use as a dedicated CorelDRAW! server (I leave my CorelDRAW! CD-ROM in there to save hard disk space), and I have a nice sound card sitting on a shelf, still in shrink wrap. If you don't visit any dungeons or fly any stealth fighters on your PC, what relevance does multimedia have for you?
It could have plenty of relevance, if you're a salesperson or a teacher. One of the answers is that multimedia can add life to presentations. A presentation is generally either a computerized sales spiel or a lecture.
The list of presentation packages is long and growing. Freelance, Charisma, Power-Point, and Harvard Graphics are dedicated presentation packages, and CorelDRAW! and Micrografx Designer are among a handful of programs that were designed for other purposes but are capable of mounting presentations.
But last summer at PC Expo, Gold Disk demonstrated something a little different: its presentation program, AddImpact, now available for sale. AddImpact quickly and easily adds sound and animation to the most mundane presentation of data. For example, you might create a graph using data in an Excel spreadsheet. Using AddImpact, you could animate a hot-air balloon ascending to the heights of recent sales while a recording of the song "Up, Up, and Away" plays in the background--all within Excel itself.
AddImpact effectively turns any OLE-capable Windows application into a presentation program. Gold Disk is the creator of COMPUTE Choice Award winner Professional Draw, and it has brought the same kind of intuitiveness and intelligence to this product. You can create your own animation or use one of the animations provided. It has a runtime module, so you don't even have to install AddImpact on a machine to play back its animations and sounds. For more information, contact Gold Disk at P.O. Box 789 Streetsville, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5M 2C2.
NISCA recently announced an interesting 400-dpi, 8-bit gray-scale, full-page scanner. It's battery powered (it'll scan 20 pages on a charge, or you can use the AC adapter) and requires no expansion bus card (it feeds its graphic information to the computer via the parallel port), so it's the perfect scanner to use with a laptop. Measuring 2 1/2 x 2 3/4 x 12 inches and weighing three pounds, it'll fit in your briefcase alongside your computer, portable printer, and pocket fax modem.
NISCAN Page is shipped with OCR, fax, and image-editing software, and it costs $799. It can operate as a sheet-fed scanner, or if you have something that can't fit through the sheet feeder, you can take the bottom plate off the scanner, and it will "crawl" across a page. NISCA will also offer a sheet feeder that will allow you to feed a batch of up to five pages through the scanner (for long faxes). The scanner should be available by the time you read this. Contact NISCA, 1919 Old Denton Road, Suite 104, Carrollton, Texas 75006.
Do you ever draw flow charts? Have you ever tried making all the pieces fit, complete with connecting lines, using a conventional graphic package? Sheer madness. Visio, the new drawing package from Shapeware (not shareware), is specially designed to assist in the creation of flow charts. Who uses flow charts? Network administrators, project and program managers, engineers, MIS professionals, facilities planners, plant managers, human resources specialists, marketers, trainers, and writers, to name a few.
Visio's drawing tools are generalized enough to allow the program to be used for most drawing tasks by any graphic artist, yet it has special features that are of particular use in creating flow charts and maps. It includes libraries of standard boxes and symbols that you simply drag and drop on the drawing area. It has a collection of arrows (which can contain text) and intelligent connecting lines that maintain their connections as you move the elements around on the page to allow for new elements in the process you are illustrating. If you would like more information, contact Shapeware, 1601 Fifth Avenue, Suite 800, Seattle, Washington 98101.